It was a cold, windy day in Oshkosh, Wisconsin. I was at my friend's house for a sleepover during Halloween. Our stomachs were full of candy and we just settled for a fun game in my friend's breezeway (the place where you take off your snowy clothes and boots). We hid there while we played a forbidden game on the Ouija board. Our fingers trembled as we waited for the answer to our question.
“If you are here with us, show us a sign?” we asked.
The wind picked up outside and suddenly the door, which was locked, swung open and slammed shut making the whole house shutter. We screamed and ran into the house. From that day forward I believed in ghosts and began my journey into discovering and hunting the paranormal.
Hunting ghosts is fun, and anyone can do it, but to be successful you must be equipped with the right tools and knowledge to find them. I’ve put together a simple list that I’ve learned in my ghost-hunting escapades that can help you get started.
1. Location, location, location!
So, it’s true ghosts are everywhere but active ghosts are only in certain locations. You can try to find a ghost in your house, but it sometimes will not be the ideal location. Plus, do you really want to know if your house is haunted? (I never slept over again at my friend's house after my experience with the Wee-Ja board) Therefore, go to the places that advertise or ARE haunted. You know those places. Either you heard the stories from your friends, or a neighbor told you about the such-and-such haunted abandoned house or creepy cemetery that is haunted. Look no further. Many historical hotels, houses, and places offer ghost tours and hunting.
My sister and I took a ghost tour of the Crescent Hotel in Eureka Springs, Arkansas, a former Cancer hospital in the late 1800s and early 1900s. It’s considered one of the most haunted hotels and it’s been investigated by several ghost hunter shows, such as SyFy’s Ghost Hunters, who found some unusual ghost activity in their investigation.
During our tour, my sister took a picture in a room that was located in the cancer wing of the hospital. This is where they used to put the dying cancer patients so no one would hear their cries and screams as cancer ate away their bodies. The tour group left the hotel room and my sister decided to take a picture after everyone was gone. You can see her shadow over the bed but if your look in the far left corner there is another shadow. After many conversations, we have no idea how it got there since no one was standing there and the whole group moved on (including me) into another room. We both feel this was a lost soul.
When you are looking for an active location to find ghost, jump online and Google “ghost tours, ghost walks, cemetery tours”. You’ll be amazed at what pops up in your area and around the world. In the United States, there are over 1,200 professional haunted houses based on a post from AmericaHaunts.com.
(This is the image I’m speaking of above, it’s not that good so you can use it if you want)
2. What to bring?
So, I always bring my phone, a flashlight, and a handheld audio recorder for my investigations. I don’t need as many tools as Paranormal Investigators use because my hunts are for my personal gain (for my books and short stories). But if you’re serious here are some tools that will give you some great results as recommended by Amy Bruni and Adam Berry, Professional Ghost Hunters.
Handheld audio recorder - While your smartphone’s recorder may work it doesn’t work well in filtering noise as a handheld recorder. Also, you can make time stamps with an audio recorder which is not always possible with your smartphone.
Flashlight: this one is a no-brainer, but it’s often left behind, particularly in my case. The best time to haunt ghosts is at night. There are less activity, noise, and disruptions during the night, which is why most folks will encounter a ghost during this time.
KII-EMF Meter: This will help you measure electromagnetic frequency in space. This device is used to debunk ghost activity. Typically, high EMFs cause visual and auditory hallucinations and other side effects that people often associate with ghosts.
Spirit Box: This scans electronic waves that pick up supernatural interference. This one is normally used by experienced ghost hunters since they can tell the difference between a faint radio signal and what’s a ghost. If you want to become a professional and use a spirit box, I would recommend shadowing an expert to know what constitutes a radio wave or paranormal activity.
SLS Camera: This is a light sensor camera that will help track an unseen presence in a space by using the same motion tracking that video game developers use. While this is a fun tool, it is most definitely very expensive and not necessary when ghost hunting.
3. What to look for?
So, when you are out there what do you need to look for to find a ghost? Well, there are many theories on this but all result in the same conclusion – ghosts absorb energy. In order for them to appear, they must gather as much energy as possible, which is why when a ghost is around it’s cold. So, when there is an uncomfortable draft that may be your ghost. Be ready to take a picture and get your equipment ready. Also, when you see orbs of light that is a good indication that it’s a ghost. Most ghosts can only conjure an orb, if they have enough energy, it will soon form a figure. When you see these orbs get your camera ready because you found a ghost!
4. How do you talk to a ghost?
Okay, you found a spirit. Now, what do you say to them? Well, talk to them as you would anyone else. Be respectful and sympathetic. They may have suffered a horrible death or are still not sure who or where they are, so a kind word will help. Keep it simple, ask “ Who they are?”, “Why they are there?”, and “What do they want?”. Simple is best, never tell them you can help them because, well, you can’t. I would say be friendly and hope for the best.
5. Always, eliminate all possibilities…
So, the key to a great ghost hunt or paranormal investigation is to look at all possible, scientific explanations for what has happened. Is there a shadow that is a result of a curious spectator or is it a result of an electric magnetic pulse that is creating a hallucination? To find the best results is to squash all scientific explanations. As a ghost hunter, you need to uncover all possibilities. You must debunk the possibility of a ghost to make the find creditable.
While ghosts are a mystery. Those who hunt them know that they do wander in our world. Whether they rustle your papers on your desk or a cool breeze runs down your spine they’re there wanting to know, “Do you hear and see me?”
Kim Bartosch is a novice ghost hunter and has been to many hotels, homes, and cemeteries across America looking for the paranormal. With her love of ghost stories and history, she wrote her young adult novel Ask the Girl, set in Parkville, Missouri. While the ghost story in Kim’s novel is fictional she does believe there are lost souls out there waiting to be found.
I was told every person experiences three deaths.
The first is when the body stops working.
The second is when you’re sent to your grave.
The third is in the future, when the last person who remembers you dies, and speaks your name no more.
My father has died twice but still lives on in my heart. But this doesn’t comfort me.
I pressed my forehead against the cold glass as I stared out the car window. Trees and buildings whizzed by sending a wave of nausea through my body. I inhaled deeply pushing it back along with a deep ache of loss. No more late night movies. No more corny jokes about how I’m not allowed to date. No more childhood home as the car pulled onward to our new lives in Missouri with my aunt and uncle.
A furry black blur dashed out from behind a billboard sign. “Mom, watch out!”
The car lurched as Mom and Rose jumped from my outburst. “Lila, what is it?”
I waited for the thump but instead only heard the steady rhythm of tires on pavement. I whirled around to find a flattened animal out the back window but nothing. “Didn’t you see it?”
“See what?” Rose asked, peeking out the back.
“I think it was a cat or dog?”
“I don’t see anything.” Rose turned back around. Her head was shaking as she nestled her earbuds into her ears. She thinks I’m making things up, again. I know she thinks I’m being the dramatic, unreliable older sister. The sister who she can’t count on, stirs up trouble, and starts fires. But I didn’t start the fire. No one believes me that I didn’t do it. It was me at the wrong place at the wrong time. I tried to explain that to Mom and Rose but they didn't believe me. But it’s been that way ever since they diagnosed me with bipolar disorder. When people know they treat you differently, even your family.
“Whatever it was, I missed it,” Mom said. Her eyes met mine in the rearview mirror. “Lila, Are you okay?”
“I’m fine.” She thought I made it up too.
“Mom. I’m fine,” I said.
Mom held up her hands. “Okay, okay.”
The car went silent.
Rose turned up her music, blocking me out. Mom gripped the steering wheel so tight her knuckles were white as sun-bleached driftwood. She mumbled to herself, sighed and clicked on the car’s blinker. It ticked loudly announcing our descent into the Parkville exit.
The car turned down Main Street lined with old western-style brick buildings. Ancient homes perched on the bluffs and cliffs above the town. On the other side was a muddy, choppy river flowing a few hundred feet away from the road.
“This place hasn’t changed much,” Mom said.
Rose squirmed in the front seat as she stared wide-eyed out her window, her phone held up as always, recording a video. “I can’t wait to do my documentary. I found out that this town has a ghost!”
“Well, there’s a lot of history in this town. That’s for sure.” Mom drove the car slowly up Main Street. “Too much history,” she mumbled. Mom caught her reflection in the rearview mirror and fixed her hair frantically. She had the same blond hair as I did, but her eyes were a brighter green.
Aunt Theresa and Uncle John are nice but a little different. They’re complete opposites of one another, my aunt a true Midwest lady who hugs, kisses everyone and makes the best baked goods ever, while my uncle is a rough tattooed, bald biker who tells long stories about his good old days. We only see them once a year, which is enough for me. Now I have to figure out how to live with them.
We drove through the downtown part of Parkville and entered a subdivision of Colonial-type homes sitting high on steep hills above the road. Tall oaks and maple trees shaded the street and sidewalk where families in shorts and t-shirts walked their dogs, rode bikes, and pushed baby strollers. Eventually, the houses became fewer and Mom turned on a small gravel road with a sign that read, “Cooper’s Inn”. The road wound up and our small car groaned as it climbed the steep hillside. The trees closed in around the driveway but soon opened up to a grand three-story Victorian home with a broad wrap-around porch and four spiraling pillars much like Juliet’s tower.
“Wow!” Rose was gazing out of her window. The house rested on a bluff overlooking the Missouri River, rolling hills, bluffs, and some of the town. “I always love the view here.”
My aunt waited at the back door with a warm smile and waved as we pulled up. Her long dark hair sprinkled with gray blew into her face when she stepped outside. She wiped her hands on her apron dotted with flour and dough before tucking her hair behind her ears. Mom and Rose went to greet her but I walked to the back of the car to get my bags to avoid the hugs and pinched cheeks. A flash of bright light appeared out of the corner of my eye. Near the forest small globes of lights floating around the trees. I squinted to get a closer look.
“Yoohoo, Liiilaaa!” My aunt walked toward me, arms wide open. My heart dropped and my chest tightened, bubbling up against the urge to scream or cry uncontrollably but I knew I had to get this part over. So I closed my eyes and let my aunt drown me in her arms.
It will be fine Lila.
Kim is a young adult writer of paranormal mysteries and thrillers. She is fond of ghost stories and has experienced many hauntings during several paranormal investigations. She has contributed many articles regarding travel, hauntings, and more on various sites. Kim has been on several ghost hunts across the U.S. with her sister. She photographed a ghost at the Crescent Hotel in Eureka Springs, Arkansas.
As an advocate for Autism and Bipolar Disorder, Kim offers her support to many charities and programs, such as Joshua Center and Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance (DBSA). Kim feels there aren’t enough programs for mental disabilities. Her goal is to give as much help to set up these organizations for success so individuals, such as her autistic son and bipolar sister, will have the support they need.
Kim is an avid member of the Society of Children Book Writers & illustrators (SCBWI.org) contributing her time to many events and conferences.