title Information Courtesy of
August Night Paranormal

Ghost Hunting 101

Welcome to class! :)

Ghost hunting is the process of investigation places with a reputation of being haunted. These locations run the gambit from private homes, castles, businesses, battlefields, jails, etc.
During the investigation, ghost hunters use various pieces of equipment to collect evidence of the paranormal. Everyone, and every group, has a preferred technique for investigation, which can include interviews, scientific methods, and psychic methods. The key is to find the combination that works best for you, which usually comes with practice.

This is an ever evolving field of exploration, and thanks to the many television shows on cable, it has gained a wider acceptance by the general public. Everyone has a different reason for getting into ghost hunting, and this often drives how they conduct their investigations. There is no right or wrong way to ghost hunt, but it is a good idea to have a basic understanding of what you might expect before you head out into the field.

Here are some of the things we'll talk about:

Types of Hauntings
Suggested Reading
Etiquette Terms

Apparition -Visual representation of a disembodied entity or spirit. This might take the full form of a person, or appear as a faint mist.
Cold spot -Cool or cold patches of air. Ghosts draw energy from the air, which leaves the cold spot behind.
DVP -Direct Voice Phenomenon -audio that is heard live rather than on a recording.
Dowsing -Movement of rods or pendulums to communicate with a spirit.
Ectoplasm -Mist associated with paranormal activity.
EMF -Electro-Magnetic Frequency (or Field)- combination of electric and magnetic energy, which is generally experienced in the presence of spirits.
Entity -Intelligent being who may or may not have been human.
EVP -Electronic Voice Phenomenon -audio that is heard on a recording's playback that wasn't audible in real time.
Ghost -Human paranormal entity.
Ghost lights -Unexplained lights that appear in groupings, usually outdoors.
Haunting -Activities by a spirit
Manifest -Presentation of paranormal activity.
Orb s -Unexplained balls of light.
Paranormal -Experience/activity that is beyond the normal.
Poltergeist -Paranormal activity that is the result of psychic-kinetic (PK) energy -usually the outflow of pent up emotions.
Shadow Person/People -One of the more controversial terms in the field. Some say these are human spirits who couldn't fully manifest. Others say these are non-human entities with malicious intent. (There are many theories for shadow people)
Spirit -Former human.
Vortex -Central point of spiritual activity or energy.

Types of Hauntings

Conscious hauntings(sometimes referred to as intelligent hauntings)

These are ghosts/entities that are aware you are there. They may be interactive, and can answer questions. This might be in the form of EVP's, DVP's, or sounds such as knocks or bangs. They may also touch you, or even throw things. A lot of the interaction with this type of a haunting will depend on their general disposition and intent.

Residual hauntings

This type of haunting is energy that's been left behind, and is like a tape recorder playing back. It doesn't know you are there, and any interaction is purely coincidental. These hauntings generally take the form of an activity being repeated over and over at certain times of day, week, month or year. Sometimes these are just a build of energy that has soaked into a location. For example, on a battlefield, you may hear phantom cannon or rifle shots as the battle is replayed over and over.

Human vs. Non-human

Human spirits were once people who walked this earth. Non-human spirits are entities that never had human form. There are a range of beings that fall into the non-human category, such as elementals, demons, animals, etc. Keep in mind that just because activity might be negative, doesn't necessarily mean it is the result of an evil entity. Most of the time, they are just unpleasant human spirits. Non-human entities are rare -they do happen, but not often.


This kind of haunting occurs when a spirit or energy has been attached to an object, and can be either a conscious or residual haunting. Like anything with consciousness, these types of attachments are aware of their environment and can interact with it. A residual attachment generally takes the form of energy associated with the objects or room. These can be especially common around jails, or anywhere else that experienced high levels of emotion.

Urban legends

These aren't really a type of haunting, but they do warrant a quick discussion. Some locations get built up over time until it is just accepted that the place is haunted (example: Seven Sisters Road). It can be fun to set out on an adventure to investigate a location, but it can also be a waste of time. Most things that require a ritual or repetition of some kind of activity is most likely an urban legend.


Don't be intimidated by this list. All you really need is yourself, a flashlight and a camera. You will most likely add to your personal equipment list over time, as you learn what works best for you. Eventually, you will have a few pieces that you will always favor over others.

Equipment List

Batteries--Always good to have back-up, regardless of how new the batteries in your equipment are.

Cameras --There is a wide variety for different purposes:
Digital Video Recorders
Full Spectrum

First aide kit Basic kit -let's face it your wandering around strange places in the dark, and someone is bound to hurt themselves eventually.

See above about wandering in the dark. They can also be used for communication.

K-II EMF detector -- that can also be used for communication.

Laser grids-- Will show the path of an entity moving through it.

Mel-Meter Combination of EMF and thermometer -some have built in flashlights.

Motion Detectors --Provide notice of movement in unattended areas. Can be lights or noise alerts.

Notebook -- Keep a log of activity and experiences (time, who was there, what happened, etc). You will forget things after the investigation, and this is a great way to jog your memory.

Pendulums/ Dousing Rods
Can be used for communication and as indicator of paranormal activity. They will also pick up strong electrical frequencies. Will also detect unmarked graves and vortices.

Recorders Digital and tape recorders --can be used (never reuse a tape due to the risk of bleed-through). Protection Prayer: Psalms, Lord's prayer, etc.


Hematite, black garnet, black obsidian, selenite, black tourmaline, rose quartz, citrine
Herbs: Hyssop, frankincense, myrrh, sandalwood, lavender, sage, salt(Not allowed at all locations-check first)


Warding, psychic protection(Not allowed at all locations-check first)


Personal shielding is the foundation for psychic protection.
Essentially, you are establishing a barrier between yourself and any negative influences that might attempt to get through to you or attach to you. It can be done sitting or standing. You can vocalize your intention, or do it silently. Personalize it so that it works for you.

Rem Pod Detects vibrations.
Thermometers Detects temperature fluctuations and can be used for communication.
Tri-field EMF with the ability to be set for just electrical or magnetic frequencies, or both.
Trigger Objects Anything natural to the environment that might get a reaction (example, handcuffs in a jail, dolls for children, etc). Be creative!
Yourself Your 5 senses (sometimes 6) are your own best pieces of equipment.

Miscellaneous None are necessary, but all often come in handy.

Face masks/respirators
Glow sticks
IR lights
Painter's tape
Screw drivers

Some General Tips

1. Never go alone -this is a safety issue.
2. Always have permission -this is a legal issue.
3. Educate yourself about a location before you go -this can help eliminate urban legends.
4. Bring extra batteries.
5. Know how to work your equipment before you go out into the field.
6. Be professional.
7. Be respectful -we have always gotten better evidence when we show respect.
8. It's OK to leave if you do not feel safe.
9. Trust your instincts.
10. Be observant.
11. Don't get discouraged if nothing happens right away.
12. Don't be afraid to try new techniques/equipment.
13. Be critical of your evidence -if you can find an alternate explanation, it probably isn't paranormal.
14. Never go into the field under the influence -this can be a safety or legal issue.
15. Pay attention to your surroundings.
16. Don't jump to conclusions.
17. Tie back long hair.
18. Know where your team members are -this can eliminate false results.
19. Dress weather appropriate.
20. Be aware of camera straps when taking pictures.
21. Have fun!!

Contact us...

(712) 323-2509


Historical Society of

Pottawattamie County

County Seat Council Bluffs, Iowa