Investigative Protocol: The Key to Quality Investigations
Frequently, paranormal activity is not taken seriously. Over the years various medias have depicted ghost research as a game, and less like scientific research. Thus, as paranormal investigators it becomes crucial for us to behave in a professional fashion. In doing so, we lend credence to our research and bandage the wounds of myth carved by popular culture. Ghost investigation is not a game and should be taken seriously. An earnest approach to the study of ghosts can provide us with the most astounding experiences we will encounter.
Most paranormal teams establish standard rules for every investigation. Such rules are created to maintain a level of professionalism, a sense of team dignity, and to prevent undue mishaps while on a location. Despite the fact that extensive protocol can seem overly restrictive, such rules are truly beneficial to both the team and the clients. Likewise, upon first appearances, such rules can seem to curb the level of enjoyment one might have on an investigation, but that is not the case. By following regulated principles and limiting the amount of difficulties that can occur, in the end such rules make investigating both easier and more enjoyable.
Paranormal teams usually establish protocol based on their expectations and their experiences on prior investigations. Thus, many teams may have different protocol. Conversely, there are many basic tenants of ghost investigating that are pretty much standard across the board. Relatively speaking, because such protocol is a basic standard of investigative teams, it can be properly assumed that they are effective standards because they work! If you are an investigator or you are starting your own paranormal team, consider adopting, at minimum, the standards listed below.
Do a walkthrough: Always do a complete walkthrough of any location you plan to investigate. In doing so, you will familiarize yourself with the territory and will reduce the chance of injury-especially if you are investigating at night or in a dark area. Additionally, the benefit of following such a standard is doubled-by mapping out the site you can then determine where to set up video & audio equipment.
Bring a first aid kit: having a first aid kit on hand is an absolute must. When investigating the paranormal you never know what might happen.
No Ouija's or Sťances: Many teams do not permit the use of the Ouija board. The reason is twofold. First, the boards can be and sometimes are manipulated by whoever is using the board. Thus, scientifically speaking, anything contacted on them is useless. Secondly, many investigators believe that if you do manage to contact something, you do not necessarily know what you might be talking too! Likewise, it is not advised to practice sťances while on investigations. Remember, not only are you trying to maintain a level of professionalism, you are also trying to educate your clients about the paranormal.
No legal or illegal drugs: It is imperative to be at your very best while on an investigation; no alcohol or other mind altering drugs before or during investigations. By taking drugs, whether they are legal or not, anything you might see, hear, or feel loses credibility. Thus, certain prescription medications, alcohol, illegal drugs, and cigarette smoking should not be done on investigations. One final note on smoking: Smoking during an investigation, especially during a photo session can create false positive images that appear as mists or ectoplasm.
No trespassing: This is a fairly simple rule with fairly simple consequences. Trespassing is against the law and will get you arrested if you are caught. No one wants to stamp that kind of stigma on their team therefore you should always get permission to investigate a location-preferably in writing.
No stealing or vandalism: Another simple rule with clear consequences. It is imperative to respect the property of other people. In doing so, you present yourself and your team in a dignified manner.
Maintain equipment: Before an investigation you should always ensure that all equipment is in good working order. Likewise batteries should be replaced often. Arriving at a location and having equipment break down because it was not properly maintained can cause quite a bit of frustration as well as costly return trips to repeat the process.
Take notes: It is important to remember that tape recording does not always work. Do not speak all of your notes into a recorder and count on it being there when you review the evidence! Take notes always!.
Never go anywhere alone: This rule serves a dual purpose-if anything happens to you, you will have someone with you to help you or when you witness anything you will have someone there to collaborate your experiences.
Wear long hair pulled back: Investigators with long hair should always tie it back in an effort to prevent false positive photos.
Do not wear perfumes or colognes: Sometimes spirits make their presence known by scent. Thus, investigators should not wear perfumes or colognes to avoid confusion.
Avoiding orbs and other anomalies of natural origin: Many teams insist that photos are not to be taken in unfavorable weather (outdoors only), dusty areas, and/or near reflective surfaces. Although not all reflective surfaces can be avoided, you should not deliberately take photos of anything that may reflect light. Such areas often create orbs of natural origin or contaminate photographic evidence altogether. Likewise, camera straps should be removed or kept clear of the camera while taking photos for the same reason.
Always use new, un-expired film: Never finish off a roll of film that has been sitting in your camera, even if it has only been loaded in the camera for a short period. You might wind up with double exposures that look like paranormal evidence. New, un-expired film should be purchased for every investigation. There's nothing worse than taking a hundred or more pictures only to find that none of them develop because the film was expired!
Backup cameras: If you are using any kind of digital camera you should have at least one backup 35mm camera on hand. Digital cameras do not produce negatives. Thus, having a 35mm camera allows you to compare images later and also provides you with at least some negatives.
EVP and Video Protocol
Ask permission from spirits to speak to them: This is just a matter of common courtesy. If you are trying to capture electronic voice phenomena you are more likely to be successful with a positive attitude.
New Audio and Video Tapes: The same principles that apply to photographic film apply to audio and video. You should always have new tapes when taping. Additionally, when recording evps, you should only tape on one side of the tape to prevent bleeding of sound from the opposite side. Such bleed throughs can sound like evps.
Analyze all evidence via the process of rational deduction: This is a biggin'! Do not just assume anything about what you see or hear. When analyzing the evidence it is imperative that you maintain a healthy balance of skepticism and belief. Thus, you must use a logical system of deduction during analysis. Rule out any possible natural causes before labeling something paranormal. You're credibility depends on it!
Article written by: Dayna Winters and Patricia Gardner
Copyright © 2004-2008 ISIS Paranormal Investigations. All Rights
Credits: Graphic Allusions
and Tairo Designs.