GHOST-HUNTER, OR INVESTIGATOR?
Quite often, when we discuss with others our perceived role in this amazing, bottomless field, in which we are all immersed in some way, we seem to instinctively refer to ourselves in terms of one of the categories I defined in the title of this piece- we call ourselves a ghost-hunter, or an investigator.
These categories can overlap to a small degree, in regards to some similarities in mindset, conduct, and approaches to some of the many areas of study involved in the exploration of the unexplained..and I tend to think that no matter which we identify as, it's quite alright to be any of them- or to "wear a couple of hats", as long as we are clear on what it is we are, or are aspiring to be.
All of us who are in some way or another involved in the paranormal have had our journeys- we each have our reasons for firstly stepping into this field, for continuing in it, and for being at the point at which we are currently. I do feel it important, however, that we try to understand and acknowledge exactly what we are, so that we can therefore do what we do with utmost effectiveness..and so that if we wish to progress beyond where we are, we can perhaps see what might be limiting us- what we need to learn in order to move forward.
Last year, I read a fantastic book called "Detecting Paranormal" by Greg Lawson, in which he illustrates the application of Law-Enforcement thinking and methodology in paranormal investigating. As Greg is a veteran police detective, it's fair to say he knows what he's talking about..but I digress..
In his book (p.25), Lawson quite effectively illustrates the difference between a ghost-hunter and an investigator, and states the importance of being aware of the impact we may have on people's lives, and the level of involvement that we wish to accord to the pursuit, and also the importance of taking into account the level of motivation we possess regarding the fulfillment of expectations that may be placed upon us, which is accordant to- dependent upon- what we identify as. Lawson states:
"When self-identifying as a hunter or investigator, ask yourself what kind of impact you want to have on people's lives, and what level of involvement matches your motivation. Are you "Star Trek' or "Star Wars", "Lost" or "Gilligan's Island", "Scooby-Doo" or "Ghostbusters"? Determine your mindset before you set sail. If you choose to be both at times a hunter and investigator, that is cool too, just recognise where and when to switch roles.
To some, there is no difference between the words hunter or investigator, but for purposes of evaluating your level of involvement, we will use the word investigator to indicate acts that are more thorough and researched. This would be someone who academically wants to present a complete report and provide recommendations where applicable. A hunter may be someone that takes a less formal approach. Not to indicate a lack of excitement or intensity, but this may be someone who is more interested in the adventure and would report findings as a topic of interest rather than facts.
Often, a hunter will assist more in an investigation event itself rather than researching or evaluating the evidence of an investigation. Distinguishing between the two is important as in the example of ghost hunting. The amount of energy and seriousness devoted to an investigation might have a direct effect on a person's life.
If you are invited into a home, provide a founded haunting report, and as a result that homeowner moves because you are being seen as the trusted expert, your actions carry weight. Consider your moral obligation in the way you sell and present yourself, your intensity behind the research you do, and the way your actions reflect on your fellow investigators. There is also a motivational issue for you to identify and decide. Are you hunting to find out the what or are you investigating to find out the why?"
That's an important distinction to make, I feel. When people go to a location merely to have a fun and spooky experience, and don't wish to accord much mental effort to considerations beyond that of "looking for a ghost", that's quite alright..but to call that an investigation does a disservice to the word. To truly investigate the paranormal, a great deal of further research-based work needs to be done. In fact, the majority of an investigation is not conducted at a location, but away from it.
THE POWER OF TV COMPELS..SOME
There are many "reality" type paranormal TV shows around these days, and whilst they have in a way done a service to the field by bringing the paranormal a little more to the attention of the general public, they have also sadly perpetuated a great many unfortunate misconceptions too.
My main points here are several- firstly, that a heavy reliance on "gadgets" is depicted as a requirement for anyone who wants to conduct an investigation. Of course, this is fallacious. I've been guilty of that reliance in the past too..but these days I now have several cases of almost-pointless equipment taking up space under my bed!
The most relevant use for any equipment, I feel, is environmental monitoring, and to document the timeline of an investigation so that if something unusual or anomalous does occur, we have an accurate idea of who was doing what, where, and when, and can at least perhaps rule out human interference as a possible cause.
Something I should touch on briefly around human interference is that by that term I mean physical interference- because of course we can't rule out the possibility that if we were to use a device and it shows or records some response, that could be due to psychic projection- unconscious psychokinesis (PK) from a very much alive agent.
I feel it's equally fallacious to assume that any response from a device can be definitively categorised as "intelligent communication" with a surviving personality. Firstly, a response could once again be caused by an incident of unconscious PK, and thus anyone present could be responsible. Unfortunately, none of the TV shows seem to acknowledge this.
Forty or fifty years ago, most investigators had a very basic "kit", and most of that was not battery-powered. Yet some great results were still achieved; it's really only since the TV ghost hunters popularised gadgets that many people decided they were important.
For experimental purposes some may still fulfill a role- for instance, I'm interested in experimenting with the possibility of psychic projection- PK- being able to cause a response in some of them.
But there is nothing to prove beyond doubt that we can use them as a means of communication. To each their own though, and many people use those devices, which is all well and good, but I do feel all the aforementioned points should still be considered.
There's a point of distinction to be made there between a ghost hunter and an investigator though, and a good illustration of Lawson's point about seeking "what" versus seeking "why".
For an investigator, a decent amount of learning and studying the "why" will mean such considerations as those above may perhaps be a little more automatic, whereas a ghost-hunter may not have had that extent of study, and therefore may automatically assume the devices are helping them communicate with ghosts.
AND WHAT ABOUT DEMONS..
Another misconception made quite popular, especially by one particular (unnamed) TV team, is one that could have the capacity for harm if taken on board to too great a degree..There seems, sadly, to be a great deal of talk about demons these days.
A little fun fact about the word "demon"- the word actually comes from the ancient Greek word "Daimon", which came from the verb "Daiesthai", which meant "to divide or distribute", and had positive overtones. Daimons were considered guardian spirits, angels, or divine powers who gave guidance and protection. Idols (statues) of these were dressed, and even fed, and were worshipped at festivals.
When religions- namely Judaism, Islam, and most importantly Christianity, reared their heads, Idol worship became considered blasphemous, because it disagreed with the thinking of those who wrote the holy books for each religion at the time.
The term demon acquired negativity with the Septuagint Bible, the Greek Old Testament translation of the Hebrew Bible. This could absolutely have been a case of “Lost in Translation”, as was the case when the The New Testament was translated from Greek, the Old Testament from Hebrew and Aramaic, and the Apocrypha from Greek and Latin in 1611, and those combined became The King James Bible. The Greek word Daimon was translated as "Diabolos", or "Devil" in English. Thus the word demon acquired negative connotations.
For those in this field with religious leanings, and those who have perhaps not considered the sway religion has held upon the beliefs and perceptions of their flocks over the centuries, or have not stopped to consider the evolution of the term "demon", it again differentiates between our level of involvement or motivation. Investigation is more about the "why" and "how" than the "what". The questions of why and how are perhaps the first that should be asked.
It's often our beliefs that hold us back..and also the input of some who are still (sadly) considered influential by those who have not read or studied beyond their statements. This can indeed be dangerous, especially when lack of research, or lack of consideration of the importance of the "why" or "how"- is added to the mix. There have been many cases reported in the media of exorcisms gone wrong, and some of these have ended in loss of a life..and any of us who identify as an investigator should hopefully be aware of such things, and have considered not only the evolution of the word demon (or daimon), but the importance of their own beliefs, perceptions, and the influences on those before crying "demon".
If indeed there is a realm occupied by surviving personalities of the deceased (and there may well be, but there's as yet no proof), then those entities one might label "demonic" are not necessarily so..perhaps if a person was not nice in life, death may not change them..once an asshole, always an asshole, perhaps..
If the current definition of the word Demon springs from a loss in translation, and if one has not researched and learned that, and has instead bought into popular belief..perhaps they should consider looking beyond the words of others, and looking into the past- if investigation, and self-education, is important.
ENOUGH ABOUT DEMONS..ONE LAST THOUGHT..
There is much to be gained, if someone wishes to call themselves an investigator, from learning and studying the origins of the concepts they are going to be dealing with..and realising the impact our words or opinions can have on others.
If one is only in this field for the experiences, that's quite alright too- experiences are lots of fun!..but I feel some thought should be put into what we call ourselves. This can make a lot of difference, not only to us, but to those we interact with. If one wishes to be a ghost hunter, and seek experiences, moments in time, then that's fine..but if we wish to be an investigator, that term carries more significance. I think the importance lies in motivation..how far are you willing to go?
As always, feel free to share your thoughts in comments- they're always welcome, and I'd be happy to talk on the topic!