A decade ago ghost hunting used to be considered a bizarre pastime. Few people were involved in the hobby and most people never head of the concept. Back then ghost enthusiasts were on a cutting edge with the possibility of actually discovering something new. Then TV started multiple ghost hunting series and suddenly the subculture has become mainstream. The movie Paranormal Activity made over 100 million dollars showing how widely recognized the concept has become. In the process there seems to be less activity with the amateur community, many who have lost interest and left “ghosting” behind.
The difficult part in trying to record paranormal phenomena is finding a genuine haunting. Spirits come and go, and a location with a reputation for being haunting one decade may no longer be haunted another decade. Spirits of the dead may linger for a short time after their death, but a long-term haunting is really rare. If someone encounters a true spirit once or twice in a lifetime they are lucky.
I suspect the world is filled with temporary ghosts, as nearly everybody who dies will have a brief period of time when their spirit is earthbound before they depart the physical world forever. I’d guess a hospital would be filled with such spirits. However, most spirits don’t have the capacity to interact with the physical and let their presence be known. Only those who are sensitives may notice signs of their presence. Most of us would be oblivious if a ghost stood next to us.
Sometimes a spirit may be so attached to the physical world they refuse to let go. Terrible tragedies, extreme emotional states, unfinished earthly business, or deep regrets can trap a soul. It they are able to retain a connection to this world, they become that rare thing…a ghost.
For the ghost enthusiasts the lack of ghosts is a hindrance to the hobby. However, if the world is filled with temporary ghosts, instead of trying to find the ghost, why not invite the ghost to visit us instead? This could have a higher (albeit still slim) chance at success then walking around cemeteries at night.
In the distant past sorcerers would try to contact the dead with necromancy. Necromancers would use ceremonial magic, elaborate rituals using magic circles inscribed on the floor to protect the operator from hostile spirits. Eventually these involved rituals were abandoned for a more direct method to contact the dead…spiritualism. Mediumship and channeling came into fashion. Seances, Ouija boards, and automatic writing replaced the old style necromancy.
If we want to photograph the souls of the dead, why not ask them to appear for us? How to accomplish that? Many methods could be tried. I’ll relate my own experiment at summoning the spirits of the dead.
1. The timing
Awhile ago I visited a friend on a Saturday evening. My friend and I decided to try summoning any wandering spirit to join us late night. Timing is very important when it comes to summoning spirits. It was 2 am, the perfect time for this operation. It is said that during the “witching hour” the spirits have a highest capability to manifest their presence. It is suggested spirits are somehow able to manipulate electromagnetism, explaining much of ghostly phenomena. The Earth’s electromagnetic field is at its quietest point opposite the sun during the dead of night. Less “static” allow ghosts to interact with the physical world.
In addition, late night is a time when the environment turns quiet. Most people are asleep, or preparing for slumber. Importantly, there is less distraction for the attention of wandering spirits. With less going on late at night it is easier to attract the notice of a passing lost soul. The point is to be the only game in town.
2. Choosing the place
It is assumed that cemeteries are the best place to encounter ghosts. I doubt that. The dead tend to dwell at the places they knew in life. If we were spirits, why would we want to stand around a desolate cemetery without anything to do? If a known haunted location is not available, the best place to summon the dead would be in a populated area. It makes sense, since cities and towns are where most people pass away, sometimes tragically. The chance of someone dead being close by is pretty good.
Our experiment took place in the backyard of a crowded city neighborhood home. By day this residential city neighborhood was busy but late at night it became very quiet. The backyards were fairly sizeable and all were empty that night. We were alone and it almost felt like we were in a rural area.
3. Attracting the dead’s attention
A spirit may be in a semi-somnambulant state, half conscious and vaguely aware of its surroundings…drifting imprisoned unable to free itself. But if a ghost has retained a sufficient measure of consciousness, it will be an observer of its surroundings. What strikes its interest will attract its attention…and presence.
I wonder if the point of elaborate magic rituals is simply to attract attention to its self. Rituals for attracting spirits often included ceremonial costumes, masks, drumming, dancing or unusual physical movements and proclamations. If we were walking by and saw people engaged in a weird ritual, we would want to stop and see what was going on. So it is for the spirit world.
We decided to use music to attract spiritual attention. What music would work best? Since the dead tend to be older people, and since a ghost remains among the living usually for tragic reasons, we played the Blues. Muddy Waters in particular. In the quiet of the night, if a soul passed by they would hear blues in the distance…and might want to see what was going on.
4. The invitation and an offering
As we sat listening to the music, we would talk to any invisible presence and invite them to stay with us. We welcomed all who wished to share our music and our company. We set aside a spot at the table for any invisible visitors. There was an empty chair with a drink sitting there as if it were waiting for someone. An offering is important, and is a part of many ceremonial rituals. A spirit cannot partake of the physical substance, but it can remind them of what it was like in life.
A proper, respectful attitude is required. If this is attempted in jest, like a big joke, don‘t expect results. One should open their mind and accept the possibility. The dead may want to contact you and it takes a heightened sense of awareness to perceive clues to their presence. If we are perceptive, we’ll notice something. It could be a sudden cold spot, a tingling, a feeling that someone is beside you. How far you want to open your mind to communicate with spirits is a personal choice.
It will become time to capture any results from the summoning, depending on your equipment. Eventually I began to take pictures, after a polite request to any unseen visitors for their indulgence. If someone wanted they could use a digital recorder for any EVPs, or set up a camcorder and just let it record.
On a chilly autumn night we tried our experiment. We invited any wandering spirit to hang out with us. I took a number of photos and caught an orb that seemed to float around in different photos (images shown at the top and bottom of this page). My friend felt a presence behind him and asked me to quickly take his picture. I took two pictures in sequence and sure enough there was an orb right beside him and behind his head. The orb in motion is intriguing. Ghosts or just a trick of the camera? Either way it was an uncanny coincidence. I’d like to imagine a friendly entity spent some time with us that night.