It seems as though ghost stories have been haunting us forever. Whether in a Medieval castle with turrets or the Pine Barrens of New Jersey, stories of ghosts continue as part of literature. The fact is, I’ve written quite a few myself, both in short stories and novels.
Why the continued interest? Sarah Begley in her TIME article appropriately published in the
October 31, 2016 issue, discusses GHOSTLAND: An
American History in Haunted Places. Author Colin Dickey, is quoted as stating
in this nonfiction book that ghost stories reveal “the contours of our
anxieties” and “the nature of our collective fears and desires.”
Why are we inclined to want to believe that ghosts or spirits exist beyond death? There’s an old spiritual that says: “Everybody wants to go to heaven but nobody wants to die.” We would like to believe that we do in fact have souls and the possibility of an afterlife.
The popular 1986 motion picture, Ghostbusters, set off a virtual mania regarding ghost hunting. It was followed by an animated cartoon series which pursued the same theme for children and also met with enthusiasm. And now we have a recent updated adult film with a female cast.
But truth is stranger than fiction. Ghost hunting has become an avid though admittedly unusual hobby for many people. These individuals are joining groups or organizations that hunt for spirits of the dead. Groups are proliferating that attempt to use scientific methods to locate ghosts. In fact, it’s a hobby that many people enjoy throughout the world. These organizations research, photograph, document, and, in some instances, seek to remove those ghosts that have proved inconvenient.
Groups have sprung up across
in such diverse states as: America , Alabama , Arizona , California , Florida , Georgia , Hawaii , Illinois , Kentucky , Louisiana , Maine , Maryland , Massachusetts , Michigan , Nebraska , Nevada , New Hampshire , New Jersey , New Mexico , New York, Ohio , Oklahoma , Oregon , Pennsylvania , South Carolina , Tennessee , Texas , Utah and Washington, West Virginia . From the
number of ghost-hunting organizations with websites, there appear to be
hundreds of groups with thousands of members worldwide. Wisconsin
International organizations exist everywhere. Their purpose is to find scientific evidence of ghosts and an afterlife. Organizations exist in such places as the
, including United Kingdom , Scotland , Australia , New Zealand , and Belgium . There have been ghost sightings in Sweden Asia, in such far flung locations as --and in short, the entire world. Singapore
Today’s ghost hunting organizations take pride in using the most modern technology possible. A variety of recording and measuring technology are used by ghost hunters who visit haunted houses, graveyards and other eerie locations, attempting to capture empirical evidence of paranormal beings. These ghost hunters utilize the latest in sound, video and still-image recording, as well as sensors that detect changes in temperature, electromagnetic fields and radiation.
Every state, every country, has its own unexplained paranormal spirit phenomena. Many ghost hobby organizations make the distinction that they are not hunting ghosts so much as investigating paranormal phenomena. They even offer to examine private dwellings and businesses for free. One reason these groups shy away from the term ghost hunting is because the term “hunting” suggests the sport or hobby of pursuing something with intent of killing it. The groups merely intend to investigate, carrying out a detailed examination or inquiry, especially with documentation with intent of finding truth, reason, and cause. For the most part, they are ordinary people, curious and fascinated with the paranormal.
The groups take several initial steps when starting an investigation. They use video cameras, digital recorders, heat sensors, and motion and electric magnetic field detectors to record whatever may be happening at a particular site. Clairvoyants also provide their impressions. Psychic mediums serve as a channel between the living and the dead. Eventually, the groups puts together a report and discuss findings with the owner. Group members are known to specialize in electronic voice phenomenon, commonly called EVP; these are voices that supposedly do not come from a human source. Special software is used to determine whether a voice is in human or paranormal range. Findings are then authenticated by experts with a group called Haunted Voices.
Supposedly, there is a difference between “spirits” who died in a normal way and can communicate and move around and ghosts whose souls do not know they’re dead. In the case of the ghosts, they are believed to have died tragically and are stuck in space and time and can’t move or go from place to place; they don’t understand their predicament and need help in order to move on. Unlike poltergeists, who are nasty, and know they’re dead, ghosts don’t harm the living.
Do average people really believe in “spooks”? It appears that worldwide interest in the paranormal will not soon abate. Many people would like to believe there is an afterlife, a beyond. Ghost researching continues to remain an enthusiastic leisure activity for hobbyists.
As for me, I’ve written about the legends of the Jersey Devil in my co-authored novel THE THIRD EYE: A PINE BARRENS MYSTERY.
Some of my short ghost stories have appeared in the anthologies: BETWEEN THERE, VOL. 2, LIVING DEAD, and MISSOURI GHOST STORIES as well as such magazines as BLIGHT and HYPNOS.
If you are a writer, do you write ghost stories? Tell us something about your most recent work in the genre. As a reader are there any ghost stories you would recommend to fellow readers?