When deciding on what might be a promising site to do a study, there are usually three main options; abandoned buildings, tourist sites, or family homes. The question is, which one is more likely to produce results?
Admittedly, abandoned sites leave a residue that anyone can feel, but it’s impossible with our dominating human sense of vision to be objective. When you see an abandoned building with leftover furnishings, graffiti, and other objects strewn about, it looks like it should be haunted. Would a savvy spirit know there’s no one to communicate within this site and move on? Would the site be less active with less human bodies present to perhaps “activate it?” Most especially, if the theory that spirits need energy to manifest is true, would the lack of power grid and lack of humans and batteries, make it a “drained” site. Would a building that’s used for regular tours such as those in abandoned jails, ghost towns, and battlefields be more haunted? You have a combination of an historic site and lots of human bodies passing by, any one of which might create activity for unknown reasons such as psychic sensitivity, body chemistry, equipment batteries, or mood. Then, again, does a family home offer more haunting experiences because it is actively lived in with all the dynamics and emotions that produces?
Yeah, it’s a tough one, so let’s break it down:
Abandoned site: Just because a building is abandoned, doesn’t mean it’s seen a history worthy of a haunting. An abandoned site often times is open to the elements, broken boards, leaking roof tops, and shifting objects in the rooms, not to mention open access for critters/bugs. It’s a dusty nightmare and one that’s often times hard to control when doing a study. As I mentioned earlier, an abandoned site just looks like it should be haunted. But, looks aside, we’re onto an age-old question. Like the baffling riddle “if a tree falls in the forest and no one is there to hear it, does it make a sound?” The question here is, “without people present, can an abandoned site be haunted?” Well…it depends on how you interpret that statement. On the sound issue, I say “no.” If a tree falls in the forest, it doesn’t make a sound—as we commonly consider sound as the waves our ear captures and our brain interprets as noise and our bodies react to it. If you ask a human what a sound is, it’s something “I hear in my ear” and that’s a process of receiving. If people aren’t present, I don’t think an abandoned site can be haunted. That’s probably rather confusing, but the truth is, without a witness, there is no haunting. A haunting is nothing more than what we see or hear or feel and deem to be unnatural and unexplainable. Without a human to witness it, it can’t be called a haunting. After all, technically, who’s going to be there to call it a haunting??? So, whether or not the building has activity, it means nothing to us unless we are there to witness it. I believe that without people there, it’s unlikely the site would have activity.
Tour site: Numerous group tours have folks who claim their hair was pulled or they got a face in a window when they took a photograph. You have a large mass of bodies going through these locations frequently with their cameras and so you have a large population to find evidence if there is any. Personal tales of shivers, cold spots, and hair pulling aside, given the number of people who actually frequent these locations, there’s an amazingly small ratio of reported events. Perhaps churning so many different people into a small area obliterates some of the site’s imprinted memories, perhaps the disruption alone could cause a spirit to go into hiding, or perhaps the site really had nothing to offer of the supernatural, only a lengthy history that would make historians agog while walking the noted halls. If you’ve ever watched episodes of “Ghost Hunters,” you’ve probably seen that when TAPS is called to a theater or library it’s going to be an exceptionally boring episode. One of the standouts in my mind was the “Birdcage” saloon in Tombstone, Arizona where there is a steady shuffling of folks through the building every day. I would probably consider the association of being on mining lands to give it a geological boost perhaps, but all in all, I’d not feel comfortable getting evidence in a toured site during working hours. After hours, even, it seems only a very small crew would be ideal for the least disruption and the longest period of quiet for the building. If it produces nothing at several of these sites, then I’d consider toured sites low on the haunted scale.
Private home: You have witnesses 24/7 in a haunted home. But, you also have family dynamics, personal psychology, and interpretive styles. I had an acquaintance once who thought for sure there was a ghost at her house. She had a tree scratching on her window. I pointed it out to her and even knowing it was the tree, she still thought it was a ghost and got freaked out, unable to sleep. I came by and clipped the limb. No more window scratching. She believed that I changed the dynamics of her house somehow and now the ghost had left. She had her own psychological agenda playing in the way she interpreted and explained things around her. When you put people and their family dynamics into the mix, it makes for high on the haunting scales. Just look at episodes of “A Haunting” on Discovery channel. I don’t think I’ve ever seen one episode where the family moving into the house didn’t have big-time family issues and emotional problems pre-existing. The house became sort of the scapegoat for things they didn’t want to talk about. Could a home with a family in it be more haunted? Probably of these three sites, this is the top of my list. I think the emotions of the occupants and the way they lay out furnishings and exist in this space and with each other has a huge influence on the haunt-ability of a house. Some might say the spirits are induced by emotions that they recall or perhaps those emotions are captured into the very structure of the house and become a giant amplifier of issues amongst the family. That’s a hard one to call, but if I had my choice to make a call to an abandoned site, a toured site, or a family home, I’d choose the latter. I know I’ll have a much better chance with the same folks living intimately with a house to find something happening. Whether this is partly a poltergeist phenomenon or the fact that people are attached to their homes when they die, I can’t say yet from my observations, but I hope to come to conclusions some day.
I’d be curious to hear which site you’d most like to investigate and why.