The ghosts within

16th July 2022. Reading Time: 6 minutes General. 195 page views. 0 comments.

Paranormal investigating is so much more than 'hunting ghosts'. It allows us to develop a sense of self.

You only have to watch or read any sort of interview with a paranormal investigator and the same question always comes up.  

"How did you get into paranormal investigating?"

While the answers vary as every individual story is different, there is often a common purpose.  It sometimes comes from the death of a loved one.  Other times it is an experience as a child.  Then you have people who use it as a way to move forward from some sort of personal trauma - this was certainly true in my own case.  We sit and we debate about the paranormal, orbs, evps, grainy photos and the like, but in some ways our pursuit of the paranormal gives us a sense of purpose.  Often we feel like we have found a place where we finally belong and can be free to express our thoughts and experiences freely without the taboo and ridicule that was once attached to the field.  In essence, it gives us a sense of self whether.

The recent proliferation of ghost hunting television shows reflects the broad public interest in what participants refer to as “paranormal investigation.” Currently, over 3,000 paranormal investigation teams exist in the United States, and more exist worldwide. Paranormal investigators use a wide variety of investigative methods in their attempts to find evidence of ghosts and, therefore, life after death. Based on three years of participant observation and 32 interviews with paranormal investigators, this article argues that paranormal investigation functions as a spiritual practice for participants. Investigators' motives, methods, and the meanings they attribute to investigating are all imbued with spiritual significance. For some investigators the practice helps validate existing religious beliefs, while for others it prompts a spiritual transformation. Many participants rely upon conventional religious or New Age beliefs to interpret experiences during investigations, but even those who primarily rely upon science and technology find the practice spiritually meaningful.

Marc A. Eaton, “Give us a Sign of Your Presence”: Paranormal Investigation as a Spiritual Practice, Sociology of Religion, Volume 76, Issue 4, WINTER 2015, Pages 389–412, https://doi.org/10.1093/socrel/srv031

It's all about the journey

I use the word 'journey' a lot when I refer to paranormal investigating because that is really what it is.  If you talk to anyone that has been investigating or researching the paranormal for a certain amount of time, you will hear words like growth, evolving and change.  That is what stepping into the paranormal does.  It opens your eyes.  Someone who was once extremely spiritually may suddenly become more skeptical.  The reverse of course happens too and you have some of the most skeptical people saying they may have just been wrong this whole time.  Who is right and who is wrong is a question that we will likely never have answered .... while we are alive anyway.  Maybe that is the point.  I guess on some level we all know we aren't going to get our questions answered, but maybe that is the whole point.  It instead sets us off on a journey of self-discovery where all of our beliefs are questioned and we are challenged to look within ourselves and even confront some of our innermost skeletons in order to move forward.

So for me it has allowed me to creatively express myself in ways I have always wanted.  After having children, it made me discover myself again and who I wanted to be.  After some false starts I found a sense of worth that I myself was missing and I was able to find a whole support network of people I'd have otherwise probably have never met.  I have had to challenge my way of thinking and my whole belief system.  I am not the same person I was 10 years ago when I started on this journey.  I will likely still not be the same person in another 10 years.  It has given me some confidence on a level I didn't know I needed.  It comes and goes and I have written before about a term we used called Imposter Syndrome which does tend to hold us back when exploring the paranormal.  Along the way we sometimes feel like we are not worthy nor qualified to speak out about certain things within the paranormal field.  

As much as you doubt yourself and social media can be a daunting and sometimes unkind place, it is important for the progression of the paranormal field that you do share your thoughts and ideas.  How can we move forward if we can't talk about it?  How can we learn from each other if we don't share our findings?  Sure we can be wrong about a lot of things, but what if there is something we get right?   Be kind to yourself and also be kind to others.  Most of us are here because we found a place where we feel comfortable even if our imposter syndrome makes us feel like we don't belong.  I assure you that you do belong.  The great thing about the paranormal field is that there is room for anyone with an open mind that is willing to challenge everything they have ever known.  It can be frightening, emotional and overwhelming, but there are people eager to listen to what you have to say.  

https://llifs.com.au/blog/a-paranormal-investigator-and-imposter-syndrome/

So much about the paranormal is unknown and I guess that is where a lot of the intrigue and mystery comes in.  It can also be a way that people process their own grief.  In the early Victorian Era, people would turn to spiritualism and psychic mediums in order to process their grief by attempting to make contact with their loved ones.  Paranormal Investigation has become the modern-day spiritualist movement and for a lot of people has almost become like its own religion to them.  People sometimes turn to religion for a sense of belonging and comfort among many other reasons.  In modern-day paranormal investigation, people have found this sense of belonging and comfort just from the act of participating in a paranormal investigation.  Whether it helps them to validate their beliefs, or maybe it gives us a sense of comfort or relief that life goes on, for many, it becomes a weekly ritual (just like heading to a spiritualist church would).  A lot of people I have spoken to no longer practise the religion they grew up following.  As they have grown up and lived life lessons, some have changed to another or ditched it completely.  Some have adopted religion for the very first time.  Many people like myself also find themselves in the process and feel like they belong to something. Maybe it is being able to talk to people about things you have seen or experienced without people raising an eyebrow or calling you weird. Maybe it is finally being able to embrace that spiritual side that was hidden away in you for so long.  There are many similarities that are almost what could be described like a calling that attracts a person both to religion and to paranormal investigating.

Whether it helps us to process grief or help establish our own worth, the paranormal has given us a place to be ourselves. It is so much more than 'hunting for ghosts'.  Perhaps we are really hunting to find a sense of ourselves.


References

Marc A. Eaton, “Give us a Sign of Your Presence”: Paranormal Investigation as a Spiritual Practice, Sociology of Religion, Volume 76, Issue 4, WINTER 2015, Pages 389–412, https://doi.org/10.1093/socrel/srv031

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