Maybe you believe in ghost. Maybe you’ve had an encounter with a ghost. Maybe you are a skeptic but are interested in the folk lore. Or maybe you’ve turned someone into a ghost. I hope not. Of course if you’ve done so to one of your characters in your writing, that’s totally ok, which brings us to the other reason you may be interested in ghosts. You may have one or several as characters in your books who are ghosts. That’s the group I’m in. After all with the Victorians’ fascination with death and the afterlife, ghosts blend in so well with Steampunk stories.
The paranormal investigation panels at Comicpalooza consisted of Britt Griffith from the TAPs crew of Ghost Hunters and Ghost Hunters International on the Sci-Fi channel, Author Michael Vahola of America’s Haunted Road Trips, and an investigator with the Pasadena Paranormal Research Team from Pasadena Texas. The taps team has been able to debunk 98% of paranormal activity at homes and businesses they’ve investigated. By finding out what the problem really is, it can be fixed.
Several things that may appear to be paranormal activity can be debunked. High electromagnetic fields cause a great deal of abnormal activity but can be corrected by an electrician. Rats, good at hiding and staying unseen, cause noises and knock things down, of course an exterminator can get rid of them. Also noises in walls, attics, and basements can be caused by animals of some type. If you have wood floors, house popping noises can sound like footsteps. Air trapped in water pipes causes loud banging at random times. Doors opening or closing by themselves can be attributed to a house which has a good seal, opening or closing an exterior door can create suction, so an interior door will move when the exterior door moves. Having two or more windows open can have the same effect on interior doors. Also if a gush of wind enters through one window and exits through another, the reduced air pressure may cause doors to open or close.
If an investigation results in evidence supporting the presence of ghosts, there are paranormal investigators who do rewarding cross over work to help spirits into the light. In that line of work, the investigator with the Pasadena Paranormal Research Team has experienced an incredible sense of sadness when first contacting spirits at those haunted sights, but when the ghosts cross over the sensation shifts to one of intense joy and peace. The work is so rewarding for her.
Of course one of the most interesting things about ghost hunters is the equipment they use. There are many types of equipment popular with paranormal investigators but here are some of the basic ones.
The simplest piece of ghost hunting equipment, which fits in perfectly with Steampunk, is a compass. During any type of paranormal activity, a compass will spin wildly.
Recording devices are used to pick up EVP, electronic voice phenomena. It’s said EVP began in the 1950’s when Fredrich Jurgenson, a bird watcher and retired opera singer, recorded bird calls near his home in Switzerland on a reel to reel. When he listened to the tapes he heard voices on them, though no one else had been there. An ancient Viking burial ground happened to exist in the area he recorded at. After discovering this method of recording communications with the dead, he continued EVP research and wrote the book, Voices From the Universe.
A recorder with an external microphone is recommended; otherwise if your thumb movies around, the recorder it will create Satan sounds. Use one with zoom, full spectrum sound as it picks up noises similar to the way the human ear does, otherwise a recording of a cricket chirp may sound like someone calling for help. Also stay with the equipment so, for instance, if you know you heard a cricket chirp at the time of the recording, then play it back and hear a strange noise on it, you’ll know that’s no EVP, just a cricket.
Don’t use any video cameras that shoot less than 30 frames per second. It’s wise to use one with night shot vision. Britt showed us a film of a great debunking case where bottles were knocked off the shelf by an entity. So the TAP team arrived and set up the cameras, then left for a few minutes. When they returned they found the bottles on the shelf broken. They thought, wow has it already started. That’s a lot of activity. Upon watching the film, they saw a rat crawl on the bookcase and knock over the bottles.
For Thermal cameras, B2 is recommended and it is used for thermal Imaging on the Ghost Hunters and Ghost Hunters International TV shows. Britt showed an excerpt of a thermal imaging film of a man telling a ghost, “Do something right now, right in front of my face.” He and those with him saw nothing, but when the TAP team looked at the thermal imaging film, they saw the entity had moved right in front of the man’s face. The human eye and regular cameras couldn’t pick that up.
Regarding Infra red illuminators, Britt discourages there use, he feels IR light has wiped out a great deal of evidence. It’s like spotting a shadow then shining a light on it, the shadow can no longer be seen, it’s the same with infra red light.
The Paranormal Puck is a great data logging device for the research side to track and monitor environmental fluxuations in temperature, electro-magnetic fields, and natural magnetic fields.
Carbon monoxide detectors are necessary for ghost hunters, who go to a lot of air deprived, rusty environments. As Britt Griffith said, “When stuff rust it’s burning oxygen so there is little air flow and carbon dioxide can kill you.”
KII Meters also called K2 meters are used in reading electromagnetic fields. If the meter spikes on these small, handheld devices, it reflects a change in the magnetic field, which along with other evidence can give proof to paranormal activity.
Mel Meters measure both EMF and temperature. They allow paranormal investigators to record the temperature right where it’s at. After Gary Galka lost his oldest daughter Melisa, in a car accident, he created the Mel meter, named after her, to communicate with her after death as it helped his healing process. The model numbers in the Mel-8704 are the year of her birth and the year of her passing.
|Also you can place Weather Stations out to track the temperature during the investigation. Significant drops in temperature along with a lot of EMF readings are evidence of paranormal activity.
I wanted to add, though I’ve been using the term ghost hunter, and it’s the term I use in my Steampunk/Romance, To Love A London Ghost, the preferred term is paranormal investigator. These investigators gather paranormal evidence but no one knows if it’s actually caused by ghosts. There are so many theories. We might share our world with beings we can’t see due to our vision of light. Britt Griffith pointed out that babies and animals see a little bit wider outside of a human adult’s visual range. We’ve all noticed babies and pets looking at things that aren’t there, at least as far as we know. It could be the lingering energy of the dead, the spirits might have gone into the light yet some of their energy was left behind. One idea is aliens. Britt mentioned the interesting Vasin-Shcherbakov spaceship moon theory. The moon may be a hollowed-out planetoid created by aliens and placed in orbit around the earth.
You’ll want to do more research. This is just a brief introduction to paranormal investigations based on panels at Comicpalooza, but it’s a good start to kick off your own Steampunk ghost hunting stories.