Oh joy, VSPI is preparing for an investigation in July of a comedy club. We are all truly excited, as we've heard a number of interesting claims of paranormal activity, as well as stories linking the property to a possible burlesque background, a fire, and even a murder taking place. So how does one go about verifying this information? Do we have to? Or can we just go in believing what we've been told and simply concentrate on gathering paranormal evidence during our investigation?
Taking time out to investigate the history of a building/dwelling is important to any paranormal investigation. Yes, we could walk into this blindly and simply believe anything that is told to us. However, that is not how this works. We want to know what the building went through before the present owner(s) purchased the property. This helps us in verifying whether paranormal activity could be tied to a past event. It often even changes what people believe may be going on.
So how do we go about it? It's actually not as easy and quick a process as many think.
- Contacting the historical or heritage society in the area for information, is a wonderful way to begin any research. Not only can they assist you in the history of the building, but often in whom owned it previously and/or finding any critical events that may have taken place in the premises or surrounding area. Remember, often a haunting can be linked to the energy of the land. Therefore knowing such information is absolutely helpful. They can also find old photos connected with the area, building and/or land. Neato!
- Go to your local library and talk to a librarian on how to research timelines of important events that may have taken place on the premises or in the area. I.E.: the report of murder(s), death(s), fire(s), demolition of the building etc. Librarians love to help out, and they truly are experts in research.
- Talk to neighbours, friends, even the local police and/or fire department. If the premises has history that goes way back, often people who have lived in the area most of their lives, if not all, are full of information to help you more the research forward. A neighbour (even if it's a business) may know something about the place you are investigating. If the town is a smaller one, the police and/or fire department may be able to move your research forward with interesting facts of the past. Ask anyone you can think of. Most people love to talk about the past, especially if it's linked with something unusual.
- Learn to search online. Yes, using key words often gets you what you want. Knowing a date or even a year helps. Then there are blogs where people talk about things that have happened. Don't pass them by of your search links to them. Read about the history of the town and/or area you are investigating in. Clues to what may be effecting the place you are exploring often are linked to historical facts found about the area.
- Read books or articles written by locals or those interested in the local area. I'll never forget when I picked up an article written by a photograph enthusiast who captured a photo of the alleged "apparition of Jesus" on a cross in a German church I was going to visit just a few months later. I had a great time researching that once I was there, for not everyone knew about it.
- Check out old books of maps of the area. I found a wonderful book for the lower Fraser Valley and Vancouver area during my research. It is a great book! It holds maps that were created by the first white settlers of the area, as well as information of who was on what land, what was it used for etc. Telegraph trails, First Nations Land (villages, hamlets and spiritual areas), Railroad land, what the land was prior to zoning it.. so much information to be found.
- Ever heard of museums? A great place to find interesting information, and often even material that you can bring back to a client. Remember to ask someone working there for help. They are well versed in history.
Remember, our clients are counting on us to stand by them, support them, and help them figure out what is truly going on. Information you gather before hand, during and after an investigation can prove to explain a few things before you meet up with the client for your evidence reveal. It can also connect with information a medium/sensitive may be sharing with the client. To know you can confirm someone else's finding with historical facts is truly an amazing feeling. Then again, it feels good to be able to "debunk" information as well, or provide other possibilities for what may be happening. I always felt that honesty is the best policy. Your team will gain respect from your clients and other members of the paranormal investigative field, if you present all the evidence you can, especially historical facts.
Well, I must be getting some sleep. I've been up checking and cross checking facts I've already put together, and boy, I can't wait to head off to the library this weekend to dig into some more to connect a few time lines of the interesting place we are about to investigate. Researching can be fun! So whatever you do, don't give up, ask for help, and look into the facts of the past! You can be surprised by what you find out. Perhaps a ghost may be haunting the next place you investigate for different reasons than you thought, or the owners thought.. and remember, that can lead to wonderful resolutions.