by Tom Cooney of NEBPI
True hauntings are rare but they happen more than most people realize. Very often phenomena will take place in someoneís life that appears to be unnatural but may indeed have a logical explanation. However, there are those times when there simply are no logical, rational explanations. When that point is reached, you may need to start thinking about a haunting.
How can you tell the difference? Common sense must prevail. If you hear odd banging noises coming from your basement, there may indeed be a natural explanation for it. Perhaps you hear scratching coming from the far corner of the room. Before you call in an exorcist, it might be a good idea to look for any of a host of animals that may be making a nest nearby. Of course, if your couch slides across the floor with you on it, you can probably rule out squirrels. At that point, it is a good idea to look for help.
That can be tricky because those who deal with paranormal phenomena do not advertise in the yellow pages. With the Internet, it becomes easier and harder. A quick look will show that there are umpteen organizations that all claim to be top paranormal investigators. Some are and some are not. Look around and donít be afraid to contact several of them. Ask questions. That is the best piece of advice I can give you. Ask them how many cases have they done. Ask them what type of cases have they worked on. Ask the ages of the investigators. When they tell you that they are all 19, it is a safe bet that they do not have a lot of experience. They may be good but it is likely that they have not worked many cases and probably few if any serious ones. However, before you contact anyone, there are some things you should do first. This can save you a lot of time and if you are experiencing a real haunting, every minute that you have to endure is terrible.
The first thing you should do is organize your thoughts. When you talk to someone (or write to them) you will want to give them as much information as possible. When you first contact someone, you will probably be nervous and in that state of mind, it can be difficult to remember details. Personally, I cannot remember my own name half the time and that is under stress free conditions, assuming there are any. However, every single detail is needed when someone is trying to determine whether there is a serious problem or not. The first thing I always tell a potential client is to take a notebook and section it off. In one section, list anything that you can remember from the past. Jot that down in as much detail as you possibly can. Obviously you cannot be expected to remember all of the details but list as much as you can. It is fine to say that such and such happened about 3 months ago and I think so and so was there. Simply be doing that you may remember other incidents that have taken place. Believe me, the more information you can give an investigator the better. Jot down everything you can think of, even if it probably has a rational explanation. I always tell people that I would rather sort through 99 items that were natural then miss one that is not.
In another section, list everything new that happens. Here you have to be detailed. List the activity, who was there, the day and date. Take note of the time and list the location and the duration of the activity. You can even list the weather conditions. The first thing I like to do when I take a case is look for any patterns that may be there. Knowing that the activity always seems to center around one person can be extremely valuable. Discovering that activity always takes place on Thursdays means that I know when to be there. Does the activity always start in one room? If it does, we know where to set up. Patterns often hold the key to the haunting. The trick is to find the pattern.
Another key to solving a haunting is to know why it started and what
type of spirit we are dealing with. Some people believe it is easy to tell
the difference between human and inhuman spirits but that is rarely so.
Sure, if someone in the house levitates, it is a safe bet that it is not
human and that it isnít a squirrel. However, that type of activity is rarely
seen. Much of the activity that takes place in a haunting is borderline.
Thus, if we know why it started, we may also know what is there. For example,
if someone has been using an Ouija board, we know that we are dealing with
something that has been invited in, most likely inadvertently. It could
be either human or inhuman but we know why it is there. In order to get
rid of it, we need to take back the invitation. In a bizarre sense, that
spirit has a right to be there because it was invited in. Before anyone
can get rid of it, that invitation must be closed off.
If someone in the house tried playing with a conjuring book of some sort, then we know we are dealing with a spirit of the occult and it is probably going to be demonic. Also, once we see the spell, we will have a good idea as to how to stop the spirit. For those reasons, tell the investigator whether or not you may have done something that caused the haunting. Do not be afraid that the investigator will start pointing the proverbial finger at you. If one does, tell him to cop a walk and contact someone else. Anyone who wants to judge someone does not belong in this business. In many cases, hauntings begin because of something that was done to invite spirits in. If you are sincere about helping others, there is no place for blame. If you have some sort of evidence, photos or tapes, let the investigator know that. They may be very helpful.
Always tell the investigator what your religion is and whether or not you practice it. Make sure that you tell the investigator whether or not you have been using prayer as a weapon and what affect that has had on the haunting. That can be crucial information. Has the house been blessed? If so, tell the investigator that and explain any reaction that took place afterwards. Tell the investigators whether or not you believe yourself to be psychic. Try to find out if other family members are. You may be experiencing problems simply because a spirit knows that you have the ability to feel or see him. Try to get as much info as possible on the house. If you know the previous tenants, perhaps you can ask them if they ever had a problem there. Another key question is when the problem started for you. Did it begin in that particular house or did you have problems in other places. In some cases, it is not the house that is haunted; it is the people themselves. If you have pets in the house, you should tell the investigator how the pet reacts around the time the activity starts. Dogs and cats tend to be very sensitive to spirit phenomena. Providing as much information as possible is important. There can be a lot of time wasted with back and forth communication. This is especially true when you are working with e-mails. Someone will e-mail me and I will then send them a list of questions. That person will answer them but maybe leave out something important. I will read the list of answers and then ask more questions. Back and forth it goes. Do you see how much time can be lost?
Before you even contact an organization, there are some things that you can do about the haunting right away. The first piece of advice is to give the activity as little recognition as possible. Certainly this is hard to do if your kitchen chairs go flying through a window but in many cases, the activity is minor. Negative spirits, be they human or inhuman have a strategy. Part of that strategy is to create fear and negativism. Spirits literally feed off of that. The more they do, the more they can scare you and the more emotion you put out. They want attention. Give them as little as possible and you can lessen the effects of the haunting. Be sure to tell the investigators about this. They need to know what happens when you use this tool.
Another extremely helpful defense is the use of holy water. Whether
you are a Catholic or not, it does not matter. Holy water works, plain
and simple. When activity breaks out, use the water. In most cases, it
will stop or reduce the activity. Again, when you contact an investigator,
tell him/her that you have tried this and what affect it had on the situation.
Another helpful tool is prayer. Whatever religion you subscribe to, pray.
Many people do not want to hear about prayer but the fact of the matter
is that there are no physical ways of stopping spiritual problems. Sorry.
Be sure to tell the investigator of anything you have tried designed to
stop the problem.
As there are things you can do to help the situation there are also things you can do to make the problem worse. One very important rule must not be broken. Do not, for any reason issue a challenge to a spirit. No one is a match for a spirit one on one. However mad it gets you, do not challenge it directly. Under no circumstances should you try to exorcise the spirit on your own. That is a very dangerous process and the results can be catastrophic. Leave that to those who have been trained in doing it. Also, however bad things get, do not despair. The haunting will end. However it may be a battle and sometimes these battles are won or lost by attrition. No matter what, keep up hope. As always, tell the investigators what you have tried and what the results have been.
These are pretty much simple things but they can help the investigator greatly and speed up the process of getting help. The quicker the investigator gets involved, the quicker the problem can be dealt with. The more information the investigator has, the better the chances of solving the problem.