Monday, April 19, 2010

Ghost Hunting with the Page of Swords

One of my guilty pleasures is ghost hunting. I’m definitely in the casual hobbyist category, so if you’re looking for a treatise on technical expertise in ghost hunting, you will definitely need to seek other sources. But I’ve stalked a spook or two in my time.

First, it helps to have some of the tools to hunt ghosts. This is where the “geek” part of the mystique comes in and, in fact, a make-it-or-break-it point for people who aren’t scared by the whole topic at the outset. The arsenal of cool tools for ghost hunters starts to look like the clubhouse for the Lone Gunmen from the X-Files television show: racks of gadgets with meters and wires, surplus batteries, hats with lights, cameras of all kinds to pick up regular light, infrared, heat signatures, full-spectrum cameras, and recording devices of all kinds.

This is the haven of the Page of Swords, who seeks the truth through observation and listening and uses passive energy. He may ignore truth initially, especially if it is handed to him, but he holds onto it just the same. He may have truth in his hands, but still look for more.

The Page of Swords often gets a bad rap as a guy you can’t trust, maybe even a spy. He may or may not be on your side. He’s not ready to say yet. He hasn’t made up his mind because he’s still in observation mode. Who is the Page of Swords? What does he want? What does he know? What will he do with what he knows? Can you trust him? Even if you’ve known him all your life, do you know him at all? Sometimes I think of him as being the Skate Board Kid who is a little angry, a little withdrawn, a little rebellious (not to characterize all skateboarders as the same, oh, please) who isn’t going to settle for what he’s been told. He has to find out for himself. He grows his hair his own length to see what that’s like. He doubts authority and therefore appears to be anti-social. He’s looking for the truth, but his own way. He may not even be very skilled at looking for the truth, but that doesn’t really matter because all the evidence he gathers is helpful to him somehow. It may point out flaws in his method, prove a new tool to be useful, debunk a myth or provide that something that drives him to seek further. He’s a work in progress.

In maturing, he finds that the more he learns, the less he is sure of what he knows. At some point, this may make the Page become bitter and abandon his search, or it can be the fuel that keeps him seeking, despite advice to the contrary. And so often our society thinks of those who continue pursuit of this knowledge as being rebellious and immature people who have not yet concluded their search is fruitless. Ah, but is it fruitless? And in that gap, in that possibility, there is room to continue the search for truth.

The amateur ghost hunter need not pump thousands of dollars/pounds/Euro into a thermal imaging camera to get some rewarding results. A tape or digital voice recorder can capture EVP’s or electronic voice phenomena, to my mind one of the eeriest pieces of evidence possible. An inexpensive digital camera can capture still photos. For a little more money, web cams can be set up. Some hunters like to use a Tri-Field Meter or EMF meter to measure electromagnetic fluctuations. And, for the even smaller budget, some people even employ dowsing rods. Of course, if you are the Page of Swords and your Dad is, say, the King of Coins with a soft spot for you, Dude, get that thermal imager!

All these methods have flaws of course. And yet that’s the romance of the hunt, in a way. Trying to hear, see or touch something that might be there, just out of reach is the fascination. It’s something of a hunt but the distinction is important. The hunters aren’t actually trying to catch a ghost, like a trophy to hang on the wall. In fact, there’s a strong argument from experienced paranormal researchers that you probably don’t want to bring Casper home with you. The hunters are actually much more aligned with the X-Files theme. For them, The Truth is Out There, or in a place reputed to be haunted. Their quarry is The Truth. Because we don’t know, not like we know lions and tigers and bears oh my! exist. If we have had our own experience with the paranormal, we know. But where’s the proof?

For nearly every piece of paranormal evidence presented, there is someone who can find a reasonable scientific explanation. Nearly. And then there are those tantalizing exceptions. Worse yet is when you’ve had an experience of your own. Well, worse or better, it’s hard to say. It’s worse because you know something happened to you but you don’t know exactly what. You can tell people and they might think you’re crazy. You can keep it to yourself and it will gnaw at you. But if you didn’t have a large group of people experience exactly the same thing, it’s just a personal experience. And if you did have a large group of people experience the same thing, well, there’s that delusion of crowds thing. So unless you actually caught it on untampered film, corroborated by other recording devices and have some physical evidence left that proves…well, what? Tough, isn’t it? What you’ve got is a great story that some people will believe and some people won’t, no matter what. But it can be better too because it happened to you.

So, OK, yes, I have had my own paranormal experiences. I think they were ghosts or hauntings or some kind of paranormal thingamabob. No, I can’t say for sure, Nobel Prize winning scientifically sure, that I bagged the Big One. I was startled, not scared, each time. And like many moments in life, I didn’t have my camera or any other recording equipment with me. But each time was pretty interesting. So I like to learn about other people’s experiences. And I would like to capture some evidence, in that casual hobbyist sort of way.

It’s a passive “sport.” It takes patience or more accurately persistence. You wait. You listen. You watch. You review hours of recordings. You do what you can to eliminate “pollution” during the hunt. You do what you can to eliminate anything that could be explained by any other means in the review of evidence. The hunt isn’t about you; you’re just there to get evidence.

Absolutely the most difficult part of it is just getting approved access to a place where purported paranormal activity is happening. Think about it. Are you going to let just any Page of Swords into your house when you’re having a weird problem? Oh, and “purported” is a very important part of the whole deal, too. Filtering out the crazy kid stuff stories from the reports from people who honestly think something is going on they can’t explain is hard too. Access is easier when the hunters band together under some organization for legitimacy so they don’t just look like scruffy kids with techno-fever. Since the Page of Swords is not particularly a joiner, these organizations tend to come and go.

People aren’t cards or archetypes though, so those dedicated paranormal researchers who have maturity, a sense of spirituality, and a need to assist people with their problems, whether their haunted location is overburdened with stray electrical emissions, noisy plumbing, curious rodents, anxiety-ridden occupants or something much more interesting, have a much longer lasting calling to find The Truth at last. And to you I say, “Good hunting!”

Best wishes.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Marcia,

    Fascinating post, yet again. You've helped me deepen my appreciation of the Page of Swords - brilliant comparison with the Skateboard Kid.