I recently finished up watching the Holzer Files and it got me thinking about paranormal cases. The TV show looks at some of Hans Holzer’s cases and revisits the locations to understand more about the case. Often finding that there was activity still occurring.
Of course you have to take what happens on a TV show with a pinch of salt, especially as its main aim is to entertain. The Holzer Files was certainly entertaining and the format of the show is one that I found quite refreshing. I liked how they looked at the older cases of Holzer, used old footage and audio of him to show his own investigation. It added a nice angle to the show in my opinion.
Whilst the Holzer Files had a good format, it also got me thinking about case files and how we perceive them. Especially as paranormal TV shows appear to present cases as something that can be solved, often after one investigation. The Ghost Hunting teams would spend what always seemed like a single night at a location investigating the paranormal claims. After one night and a few pieces of ‘evidence’ the team would often appear to have all the answers, like the origins of the haunting. At some point the TV shows seemed to agree that each show should have a reveal segment at the end to show what the team caught during their investigation. This would conclude the investigation and provide insight into how the haunting may have evolved.
The Holzer Files approach to paranormal cases had me realise something, which was actually relatively simple. Paranormal case files are in fact longer than a single nights and actually take a great deal of time to compile properly. It takes time to gather information related to a case properly; its certainly not something you can capture overnight or in a short space of time.
However, this thought process of mine was more about the concept of a haunting being something that is present at a location over time. Rather than something that occurs somewhere, then the Ghost Hunters visit and resolve it somehow. This dramatic “Ghost Hunters to the rescue” to send away the spirits infesting a home is very much a Hollywood type of understanding found in the fiction of popular ghost stories. Yet it has now found its way into the popular culture, belief and has began to be seen as fact. As such many believe that each possible haunting has a narrative, which requires the Ghost Hunter to save the day. The most popular being one where there are scared children spirits at a location, where a woman spirit is trying to protect them. The of course no story would be complete without an antagonist and in these scenarios its generally a large dark figure of a man. This is not always the case, but in my experience often the one found by Ghost Hunters.
This dramatic view of a haunting appears to present this common viewpoint that the team are at a location to resolve something or save a spirit by sending it into the light. Obviously aspects here are rooted firmly in belief and not in true research or investigation.
As such we must be cautious in our belief when investigating the paranormal as it can quickly lead to bias and it is that bias that can then prevent us from investigating properly. We end up spending our time seeking the story rather than the facts, and that confuses the picture for anyone that follows.
Let’s return to that earlier thought process of mine though, where a haunting is not something that is resolved by the presence of our friendly neighbourhood Ghost Hunter. In reality when you investigate the paranormal you observe, you capture information and you evaluate. Holzer’s method often included the use of a Medium to gain additional information, which is fine, but also something to do with caution. I have personally witnessed and read many times where information provided by Mediums is taken as fact without it being properly reviewed. Part of an investigators job is to take information such as that provided by a Medium and then; 1) establish if the information is fact; and 2) establish how easily the Medium may have come to know the information. This is because information is incredibly hard ton quantify as having a source that is a spirit these days. Especially as we have direct access to the likes of Google on out smartphones. Even if we do recognise a piece of information not being readily available online, then we must establish who knew it and how it may have been passed to the Medium. In my opinion in most cases the potential for telepathic transference of the information is more likely as a paranormal avenue prior to it being obtained from a spirit. Making spirit communication potentially an unreasonable possibility.
So, if hauntings are more associated with the transference of information; and this could also relate to moving objects and visions of ghosts, then there is only one common-denominator that provides causality for their occurrence; us! The one thing that is always present when something paranormal occurs is us, but that doesn’t always mean that we are present at the same time. If we take things that occur to have a point in time when they are observed, then we have to recognise that this can happen out of time. An apparition can be caught on camera (rarely) when no one is around and later observed when the footage is played back. If we consider that the footage was always going to be reviewed, then perhaps it was that intention that led to the capture of something paranormal.
So, I guess at this point we have to consider that if we are the common-denominator of paranormal activity then is a location ever really haunted? In my opinion, the answer is yes, but not because it is full of ghost or spirits roaming its grounds. It may be that some locations provide us with the appropriate sensory triggers to experience psi in some way. This is likely to be similar to attending something like a seance, the stage is set for such things to occur. However, this also brings us to those true spontaneous cases that occur in environments like an unremarkable council house in London; what could have possibly been the trigger for events to transpire as they did there? Perhaps in those scenarios its more about the individuals psi abilities than anything else.
If the haunting of a location is less about the ghosts of previous occupants roaming its hallways and more about its ability to trigger psi activity, then what does that mean for ghost hunters. Well personally I still think there is value to be found in observing the interaction with a location or the oddities that may occur when we are present. Observing the activity may also help us better understand our own psi abilities and what is triggering them. That was we could better evolve them. Equally if information really can be transferred telepathically we could learn more about how to refine that ability. Perhaps there is even some strange ability that allows us to connect to the past and better understand it, a kind of psi-archeology.
Most importantly though; it is obvious to me that you cannot conclude or resolve a paranormal case. How could we if we are still yet to fully understand them. Surely it would be ignorant and arrogant for us to believe that we had stopped a haunting just by being there. Belief and attention likely can increase activity to a point, but once things get to a level beyond belief or where attention slips, then perhaps activity reduces and resolution is believed to exist. However, what we are likely seeing is the evolution and devolution of psi-activity within a single location. Which given the right circumstances can probably reoccur over and over again throughout time. Equally given the right questions people may associate some quite normal occurrences as being paranormal. So, there’s always a margin of misinterpretation of information in all this.
Our job as paranormal investigators is to observe and document all these strange things, so we can gain understanding from the information. As much as would like to be hero’s in our own ghost stories, in reality, hauntings may never conclude and spirits may not be sent into the light.
That said, there’s still a lot to learn in this area and that is key to what we do. It is why I continue to ask questions.
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