Today, the influx of ghost shows has changed the way everyone talks about the spirit realm. This is particularly true in the way paranormal investigators approach their fieldwork.
In So You Want to Hunt Ghosts? A Down-to-Earth Guide, I identify four main â€śapproachesâ€ť to amateur paranormal investigation, although many teams and investigators embody a little bit of each one. However, most paranormal teams have mission statements that easily fall into one of the following perspectives:
- Faith-based groups are those who approach investigation through a spiritual lens, be it mainstream religion, Occult, Pagan, or Spiritualist perspectives. The main objective is to help the living, but also to lend assistance to the departed. This â€śold paradigmâ€ť uses psychics and Mediums, and remains misunderstood and often unfairly stereotyped. Faith-based investigators prioritize spiritual aspects and frame their philosophical approaches in the metaphysical.
- Client-based groups are those primarily focused on helping a homeowner or historic site. Due to shows like Ghost Hunters, this perspective is now the dominant model for paranormal investigation: a team goes into a private home with the objective of helping individuals understand unusual events. In some cases, the faith-based perspective is not high priority as the desire is focused on debunking and â€śsolvingâ€ť the haunting by empowering the client. Psychics and metaphysics play marginal roles, if at all. Many client-based groups often openly claim to be scientific, therefore deliberately distancing themselves from the metaphysical.
- fully expand the â€śscientific approachâ€ť and rely on technical methodology to document paranormal events. Experimental techniques and equipment are sometimes used, and this experimentation is possible specifically because there are no obligations to a client. Although research-based teams may take on an occasional client case, the primarily goal is to objectively collect data of anomalous events for research purposes. Some client-based teams may occasionally organize a research-oriented investigation at a historic site specifically for experimentation, for example.
- Legend Tripping is a new type of paranormal investigator, and comes from a term coined by author Jeff Belanger to identify those who are into experiencing a haunted location. Such investigators prioritize documenting the event itself in efforts to create a final, multimedia product. Legend Trippers often pursue story and focus on history and may engage in various, sometimes competing, investigative philosophies. While some investigators have strong opinions against this approach, responsible Legend Trippers are important in preserving local history and folklore. Most rarely take on client cases.
I discuss these perspectives, as well as how to organize a paranormal team, in So You Want to Hunt Ghosts?. In reality, most teams have a central philosophy but dip their toes into all four approaches, depending on each case. It is important for those involved in investigation, as well as clients, to understand each approach and find a team (and a investigative philosophy) that best fits with their worldview.
Our thanks to Deonna for her guest post! For more from Deonna Kelli Sayed, read her article “Investing in the Work of Ghost Hunting.” To learn more about Deonna, visit www.deonnakellisayed.com, follow her on Twitter (@deonnakelli, and join her official Facebook page.