I was recently skipping through my Facebook posts, as many of us likely do on a regular basis, probably more likely around the beginning of year too; but to my surprise I stumbled across a little post about someones ghost encounter. Now this particular post carried with it all the usual elements that I often see, like a grainy photograph, and a zoomed in version with a red circle to outline the phenomena up for discussion.
On this occasion it was not this standard display of ghostly pictures claiming to be ‘evidence’ of a ghost in a derelict building; it was the narrative that accompanied the photo’s. Basically the author of the post shared how they experienced something a little odd and took that as their sign to run away from the situation. An explanation that always sounds like an episode of Scooby Doo, when Shaggy and Scooby see a ghost and run at speed from the scene. Which is equally ironic as the ghost in Scooby Doo is always Old Mr Peterson from down the road, who would have got away with everything too if it wasn’t for the pesky kids from the Mystery Machine.
As comical as this may seem though, it is more and more the norm these days in my opinion; so much so that I have even heard so called experts comment on how they have equally decided to vacate a location due to encountering some haunting spirit. This concept of running always seemed to me as being somewhat contradictory to the whole reason that many of us head out in the dark to these buildings with their abundance of history in search of the paranormal.
I guess from my point of view investigating the paranormal was always about solving a mystery, finding the truth or understanding something we still do not really understand much about. Whether that is understanding the concepts of psi and what we as humans are actually capable of or if there actually is a an afterlife, really depends on your approach in that moment. Personally I have explored both paths over the years and still have many more questions than I do have answers. Although my own research has also allowed me to expand my understanding and then theorise other possible answers to things I would have probably originally framed as ghosts or spirits.
It is this potential framing of the phenomena which is highly influenced by both the paranormal TV shows and internet influencers in the paranormal that have, in my opinion, pushed those with a spooky interest dow a path that leans more towards belief than true understanding or investigation. One reason that I suggest this, is simply because we see more and more ghost hunters providing subjective belief driven explanations for the possible phenomena they encounter. Equally in many cases I am seeing many provide sensationalised ghost stories of their own investigations that regularly knock on the door of a potential horror story or movie plot. The truth, as dull as it may be in some cases, has become remarkably exaggerated.
Now, it is important to note that not all investigators follow this overly dramatic path, there are some out there, still interested in the truth, the facts and gaining a true understanding of the paranormal. However, this is often something hard to find amongst the fancy YouTube films shot in low light at various haunted locations around the world; where a spec of dust floating through a sequence is described as an Orb or even the spirit of some dead local.
The reason that this subject has evolved into a blog post is simple; years ago I heard a story from a group of a few ghost hunters that always confused me. They described how they were walking though this particular location in the pitch black of course and a sequence of events occurred where they took the decision to leave the location that night and not return. I am purposely not saying which location this is or the group of ghost hunters, as I don’t feel it is fair to do so. Especially as there may be additional content I am unaware of here that may have led them to their decision to leave. Fundamentally, they believe they heard a growl or a similar noise from the darkness; I think one was touched or scratched; and finally one of the group either felt or was of the mindset that they were taken over by spirit. The last element is slightly odd, as many sensitives allow themselves to channel spirit, whereas this description always seemed to align more with the darker description of spirit possession; simply because it was against the ghost hunters wishes.
Whilst I am not someone to disrespect the beliefs of others, I feel it somewhat contradictory if you visit a location specifically to investigate it and learn more about its paranormal activity first hand, but then you leave early and do not return, simply because you stumbled on exactly what you were looking for.
Over the years I have encountered a few situations similar to the above where by all accounts presented by modern ghost hunters I should have certainly ran away, but my curiosity and desire to learn more about the paranormal ensured that my focus was to understand more, capturing as much information as possible.
One such occasion was an experience I had whilst investigating the Kelvedon Hatch Secret Nuclear Bunker; not so secret these days, especially amongst ghost hunters. As my group of investigators were hunting around some of the rooms in the lower levels, I spotted what can only be described as a grey apparition pass the small window in the door in front of me. I spent a few minutes to ascertain if the light or our movement had created the anomaly before venturing out into the corridor to see if the spooky women was still there. She wasn’t and I have always been annoyed with myself for not immediately chasing down the spirit.
However, I did rectify this whilst investigating the Old Nick Theatre. I heard from other Ghost Hunters that they had heard a distinctive jingle of keys in the corridors near to the cells and on hearing such a sound had decided to head upstairs away from the ghostly keys. Confused and hoping to hear the keys myself, I literally ran down the stairs, jumped through a hatch and headed off down a pitch black corridor in search of the sound of ghostly keys. I did not find any keys, but bumped into a pair of investigators attempting to communicate with a broken torch as far as I can understand. More on that another time.
I have also encountered some paranormal activity that actually does lend itself towards something more dark in nature. This was at a little pub I frequent, where in one of the top bedrooms I came face to face with what can only be described as a floor to ceiling black mass. Whilst many may have read into this something hugely sinister, prefer to attempt to approach it more open minded and gain a better understanding of this oddity. The experience never really frightened me to be honest, it simply fascinated me. Was the encounter purely something that my own mind was generating due to the locations stories and other activity; or was this something physically manifesting in my local environment. Either way I wanted to understand more. Unfortunately the mass disappeared as quickly as it had formed and as ever I was left with many more questions than I had arrived with.
That group I mentioned earlier, the one that made an early exit from their location, they returned years later to understand more. At least that was what I had hoped, but whilst watching their ghost hunt of the same location; it once again appeared that as they got close to a true experience they made the decision to run away again. Granted this time they remained at the location, but they still left the area where activity appeared to be occurring.
This approach of jumping to conclusions as to what you may be encountering or even experiencing; and then immediately vacating the area rather than remaining to understand more truly leaves me confused in regards to paranormal investigation. It is certainly not (as far as I know) the approach that the likes of Peter Underwood, Harry Price, or Guy Lyon Playfair. Whatever happened to truly investigating the phenomena in order to understand it better?
The paranormal field has certainly changed over the last decade. The divide between weekend ghost hunters and the academics appears to have grown; and continues to grow on a regular basis. Something which truly upsets me as I feel it would be something quite amazing if the two areas could align even a little to collaboratively deliver some good research. I still spend a lot of time, where I can, trying to connect with those weekend ghost hunters, but also with the academics; as I believe that there is so much to learn from both areas. Unfortunately the entertainment industry does seem to have captured the imagination of many people entering this field these days and as such delivers to them information in a way that sounds like fact. For example, if you see fluctuations on an EMF meter (like a KII meter) then a ghost is near by. My own daughter stated this to me after watching a few TV shows and YouTube videos. I had to explain that whilst there is a theory connecting EMF to the presence of ghosts; it is far from proven and more likely a fluctuation in the localised environment that has nothing to do with ghosts. We see this kind of misinformation around temperature fluctuations, audio pareidolia, visual pareidolia and so much more.
Whilst I am not attempting to discount anyone’s potential experience whilst on a ghost hunt, we need to be more analytical, document the experiences better and look to understand them better; rather than this blind belief in a subjective sensationalised view of anything that occurs within the ghost hunt. If we are to truly understand the paranormal mystery that draws us all in, we need to dig deeper and question more. After all, if ghosts and spirits are truly the remnants of those that have passed away the surely we owe them more, in the same way we should owe those that remain more to connect them to their lost loved ones.
2 thoughts on “The Runaway Ghost Hunters”
I Think you are spot on Ashley, I have always found it amusing that so many ghosthunters get the activity that they are supposedly after and run off screaming or leave the location. This is another thing that highlights the difference between a ghosthunter and a paranormal investigator. Paranormal investigators want to get to the truth, so when such activity occurs they will follow it or stand their ground to get more. As a private case investigator you need to find a resolve to the situation, so running away isn’t going to get you anywhere or be of any help to our clients. I agree that the academic field and paranormal investigators need to work together, whether it be practically or in discussions. I hope this is something that greatly improves in the future as it’s what the field needs to progress.
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