Over the last few months I’ve been growing discouraged about the paranormal. I found myself in doubt about one of my greatest passions I carry, and the two fronts that I’ve been a part of have been on the Ghost Hunters franchise and with my local group.
Paranormal television is entertainment. The shows exist to show people in supernatural situations, and people enjoy reacting to these things that are frightening along with the members on the television screen. At the end of the day the shows are always about entertainment and not the future of paranormal research. In many ways these television series have garnered and increased an interest in the field, and while this is not necessarily a good nor bad thing fully, the debate does rage about their effect.
On the other hand I’ve been witness and a part of the local front – As someone with a passion, encouraged by ghost hunting groups in popular media, I found a team locally and began work with them. Cases are small. The group began as a collection of people with different experience, levels of expertise, backgrounds, equipment, techniques and approaches. Since, in waves that ebb and flow but, I think at this point, are generally forward-moving, the group has come together and tried to solidify. But cases still are not in abundance. Residential emergencies are few, and in many cases succeed only in reassuring the homeowner that what they’re experiencing is in fact quite natural and that there is a normal explanation to the experience.
I’m not suggesting that this is a bad thing – these people are very scared and they do need help, and helping people in paranormal situations (potential as alike and important as a genuine happening) is one of the greatest things we as investigators are supposed to do.
But it’s not our only goal. Especially for a person like me. Where I see that there are two types of paranormal investigator, those looking for answers and those looking for verification. Most in the field are those who experienced something and want answers. It’s these people who also feel the drive most clearly to help others because of that kinship felt in shared history of need. The other group are the faithful, the ones drawn to the field, reasons unknown, searching for experience, drawn toward that dark. It resonates in most of us – 2.5 million people just watched the season premiere of Ghost Hunters, hundreds of thousands, millions even, turn out for horror movies in the theaters, they attend “haunted houses” when the leaves turn dark and fall from the trees, they ride roller coasters and drive fast, seeking thrills. And there is a thrill in the darkness, but where most are , thrilled, others are drawn. I’m one of these latter types, who are drawn without experience. From the start, it’s not the drive to forward the field – not from the very beginning, but to become a part of it, to experience, to validate that faith. Ant that’s where I am. Perhaps no longer an amateur of investigation, but certainly still an amateur of the dark.
So I’ve become discouraged. Local groups are pulling in cases to help people and are slogging their way to the more notorious haunted locations, gathering evidence with cheap equipment. Some groups pull down better and more frequent cases than others, some investigators have a larger budget to spend on better equipment, most following what they see on TV, fewer still going to conferences and learning what’s happening on the rest of the front, very few left with the creativity and accessibility to adapt and refine equipment to make better progress.
With this in mind, I wrote about what I knew. I tried to synthesize my information. The results, I decided, told that we were at a breaking point, a crossroads even. We are at a point where the field is almost at point of saturation, where our technology has reached a point that should be giving better results, and either will or won’t – the public will either have their eyes opened, or they’ll lose interest altogether and the field will fall back again into obscurity. (For the full article, see here.)
But this international travel and opportunity of a lifetime has paid off, even in the slightest, and it’s sparked realization that I haven’t been looking in quite the right direction. I’ve been studying it from the pop culture angle, and the public reaction to the entertainment. I haven’t seen what’s really been going on – I haven’t been privy to the real progress.
I’ve been so lucky to carry on an extensive conversation across a few hours with Barry Fitzgerald, who’s made investigating mysterious happenings a lifelong search. His stories and experience astounded me. I realized that there is a lot happening. Native to Europe, a full resume` across the world, evidence at hand, Barry opened to me that there are mysterious workings here more than doors closing, inaudible voices on recorders and bangs in the dark. Sometimes tables do life above your heads, sometimes spiritual workers in South America lay hands and work in the miraculous. He showed me evidence he’s gathered, shared stories about haunted locations, touched on theories and spoke of the world. We talked technology and details about equipment, focused investigation and study rather than satisfaction with popular tools. There’s a future here, I’ve seen. Our technology is not failing us. We’re not lighting up a hallway further down to see that there’s nothing there, we’re looking at what we’re using and how it effects the environment. We’re searching at the fringes to find ranges, to weed out what’s known. Instead of looking for the supernatural, we’re striking the natural to truly find the super. We are at a crossroads, not of debatable results or total failure, but at a fringe level of science between what is known and unknown, of furthering and breakthrough.
I’m still an amateur of experience, no ghost has made effort to say hello as yet. My beliefs have not been validated. But they’ve become encouraged again. The world is laid out before me and however fragile, offered to me, potential abound, progress made, the field has taken on new light and life for me and this is only the beginning. Barry shared his stories and struck up new light inside, but it’s time to find it for myself, it’s time to join in the fray, to catch up and chase down the breakthroughs, to see what’s next.