By Rosemary Ellen Guiley
I began my ghost hunting and paranormal investigation activities in the 1980s, and it was a much different field than it is now. For decades and decades, up until the 2000s, paranormal investigation was mostly benign: residual activity and the occasional active ghost or spirit, and many nights of nothing at all. Sometimes investigators and guest participants were frightened, but usually because they were startled.
Today, it’s a sea of demons and negative, hostile entities out there. Rarely does an investigation go by without some team member or guest being pushed, scratched, choked, cut, or possessed. It seems to be some badge of distinction or honor to be attacked by a negative spirit. Home owners are routinely told, “You have a demon here.”
Why has the field pivoted so dramatically? There’s an obvious answer, but also some subtle ones – ones which place responsibility squarely on the shoulders of the investigators.
The influence of “reality” television
There’s no doubt about it, television has forever changed the paranormal landscape. Recall the early days of The Ghost Hunters, where Jason and Grant and crew often said, “Nothing here.” No paranormal show today could survive on that.
Since reality TV invaded the paranormal, we have witnessed a steady trend toward the negative and demonic. Audiences are jaded. Plain ghosts don’t hold interest anymore – victims and investigators must be horribly assaulted and scared witless (or so they portray and play it). Every haunted house harbors something nasty that gets progressively more violent. The unspoken message is, if you move into a haunted house, it won’t involve wispy, benign residual phenomena – you will be in danger for your life and your soul.
I’m not denying the existence of negative cases, as I’ve investigated plenty of them myself. In the 1980s and 1990s, I rarely had a call for something “demonic.” Now it’s a daily thing.
We must allow for the possibility that some of these demonic cases are genuine, and that the increase in media attention has encouraged more people to come forward.
However, the shows have also conditioned the public to expect that any haunting will be caused by something from hell. If investigators do not play along, the inference is that they are defective in their ability to recognize evil.
The real presence of evil
What is the real presence of evil? Evil exists, but how prevalent is it in hauntings? No one knows the real answer.
Is it possible that the increase in paranormal investigation – a veritable explosion since the early 2000s – has enabled more evil presences to manifest? We must consider that as a possibility, too. Keep opening doors and something will come through.
Do investigators cause or influence dark hauntings?
Human beings create and contribute to negative hauntings. I am not limiting that to their so-called “ritual” activity, their sloppy spirit summonings, their own dark psyches, and historical events. I am referring to the expectation factor that has infected the TV show audiences and in turn has infected investigators.
The entanglement concept in physics demonstrates how everything is intricately interwoven. There is no such thing as the separate observer; the observer participates in and shapes the action being observed.
When the paranormal investigators take on a case – even before they arrive on the scene – they bring the baggage of their own consciousnesses to it. I have often said that human consciousness is the wild card of hauntings and investigations. This baggage doesn’t have to be conscious, or deliberate. It can be subconscious, operating in the background, but nonetheless sending out waves of subtle energy into the etheric environment, which in turn is affected and altered by it. Investigators have been conditioned, just like their audiences, to expect the negative and demonic. In fact, it’s not much of a performance if something bad doesn’t happen.
An axiom in spiritual laws holds that like attracts like. If you send out the expectation of negativity, something negative will answer you back.
How much people influence and even create haunting phenomena depends on mixtures unique to every situation: the people and their energetic baggage; the building; the land; historical events; and a host of unknowns. There is no uniform “rule” that can be applied.
However, investigators must realize they are influencing, and perhaps even causing, the phenomena they are investigating.
Is there a resolution?
I believe that this expectation of the demonic and violent is now the Number One factor operating in the background of paranormal investigation. What can be done about it is uncertain. As long as the TV shows and conferences ride high on shock value, this problem will persist and worsen.
Investigators would be wise to invest time in their own thought conditioning. How many people know the true nature of their thoughts? Very few. I have long advocated the practice of meditation as a way of improving psychic protection and strengthening spiritual grounding. It also improves the quality and nature of thoughts, and helps a person become more aware of their thoughts.
Another axiom in spiritual laws is, you become what you think.
I am not advocating a rosy, Pollyana approach that denies evil, but rather a more balanced approach. Evil exists and human beings encounter it. However, investigators should be mindful of not inserting evil into their investigation expectations.
This fall my publishing company, Visionary Living Publishing, releases Watch Out for the Hallway: Our Two-Year Investigation of the Most Haunted Library in North Carolina, by Tonya and Joey Madia, both skilled investigators and, Tonya is an excellent psychic medium. There’s plenty of activity afoot at this library, both positive and negative. The Madias provide a textbook example for how to conduct a paranormal investigation and evaluate the evidence. It is one of the most balanced and thoughtful books on the subject that I have ever read, and should be on every investigator’s desk.