Although most established investigators have a plethora of equipment that they use, please don’t feel the need to spend too much or think that this equipment is necessary. Equipment, for the most part, is merely used to help credit paranormal experiences for the sake of documentation and having a better understanding of the paranormal.
full spectrum/infrared cameras
Most digital cameras are fitted with lenses that block out light that isn’t in our visible light spectrum so that the colors that show up in photos and on video match the colors that we see. For a full spectrum camera, the filter that blocks out the UV (ultraviolet) spectrum has been removed, giving the photos and videos taken on these cameras a slight pinkish/purple hue from UV light, which is present all around us. It is believed that some entities can be seen in the UV spectrum, which is what makes these cameras so popular for paranormal investigations. (Fun fact: many animals, like cats, can see into the UV spectrum. This is why our furry friends sometimes alert us to entities that we cannot see, but they can…)
Most full spectrum cameras are also fitted with IR (infrared) light, which is what enables us to see in the dark without any actual visible light to our eyes. Being able to see in the dark isn’t as necessary as paranormal TV shows have made it seem, because activity can occur at any time of the day. It is also silly to always investigate in complete darkness, because you might not see something with your own eyes that could have been seen with some amount of light.
That being said, some people theorize that solar radiation might drown out entities who try to manifest, which is why paranormal activity does sometimes tend to occur at night more often than it does during the day. This could also be due to the fact that night hours tend to have less noise from day to day life (such as cars and other traffic sounds) making it quieter and easier to notice this activity after dark. Because of this, infrared cameras for night investigations are very popular.
POLAROID VS. digital CAMERAS
Cameras are, of course, a must on investigations. But something we have found over the years is that entities do tend to show up more often in polaroid photos than digital. This could be due to the fact that the film used in polaroid cameras contains ingredients, like metals, that could potentially react better to an entity than the technology used in digital photographs. You want to be careful though, polaroid photos are rarely perfect, and a lot of supposed spirit photographs taken on polaroid cameras can be easily debunked. Some of the biggest mistakes include:
- The shutter not closing all the way, causing light to shine through the lens of the camera creating “sun spots” on the film that is next to be used. These usually appear as a bright ball of “light” in the photo.
- Over-exposure in the photos. This happens when a very bright spot in the area being photographed, such as sunlight shining on a metal object in the photo, shows up as a blue/silver color.
- Dirt or dust on the track in the camera. As it rolls the photo out, these specs will cause a line of small dots in the photo that appear as it develops. It is easy to tell when this is the case because the dots will be equally spaced apart.
EMF meters are devices that measure electromagnetic fields. They were initially intended to be used purely for debunking, seeing as high levels of EMF that are produced by every day household items (wifi routers, microwaves, electrical wiring, etc.) can cause haunting-like symptoms, such as headaches, nausea, and paranoia (the feeling that you are being watched). Incidentally, we discovered that some entities can produce a strong enough electromagnetic field that can be picked up on these devices, so they are now used not only for debunking, but also as a means to communicate with an entity or be alerted to their presence. When using one, be sure to check for baseline readings in the area first from household electronics and wiring, and put cellphones on airplane mode or turn them off to keep them from setting off the device.
Digital voice recorders
Humans can typically only hear in the 20-20,000 Hz range. Some digital recording devices pick up sounds slightly outside of our hearing range, sometimes up to 90,000 Hz or more. The device will then compress the audio into wave-lengths that we can hear. Many common recording devices, like our cell phones, cannot do this and are designed to record just in our hearing range. That being said, some scientists have created a sound that our phones cannot technically hear, but it will somehow play back in the recording. Is this how spirits communicate with us? We are not sure. Many people also believe that spirits might interact with the device electronically, without verbalizing anything out loud. It is also possible that most EVPs that we could not hear with our own ears were simply too quiet for us to pick up on at the time. Either way, audio recording devices have now become a must for investigations!
Pro Tip: Make verbal notes as you record to help you not mistake actual human voices and sounds for spirit ones! For example, if your stomach gurgles, state out loud for the recorder that the noise was just your stomach, and not a demon growling!
A spirit box (or ghost box) is an ITC (instrumental trans communication) device that sweeps through radio stations to produce a white noise effect. It is believed that spirits can communicate with us better on these wave lengths, letting us verbally communicate with them in real time. Like a lot of ghost hunting equipment, these can also be a bit faulty. Using a slower sweep-rate means you will hear actual human voices playing on radio stations, which can be mistaken for spirit responses. You also want to keep an eye on the stations as they sweep; many people think they hear the same spirit voice coming through, when in reality it is just the same human talking or singing on the same station as the device loops. We recommend using faster sweep rates to avoid this, and to look for consistent answers to be sure you are communicating with a spirit.
You can also use the Estes Method to further validate that it is indeed spirit responses you are hearing. This method was first started by Karl Pfeiffer, Connor Randall, and Michelle Tate who were brainstorming on a new way to make contact with a spirit box. The Estes Method is done by using noise canceling headphones with the spirit box so that one person in a group can only hear what is coming out of it, and not what anyone is saying around them. Someone will then ask the spirits questions, and the wearer of the noise cancelling headphones + spirit box will listen for answers coming out of the spirit box without knowing what question was asked. This is done to keep the human mind from performing any sort of pareidolia, or matrixing, and thinking that it hears the response that it wants to hear in regular garbled radio sounds. (For example, if you ask “is anyone here with me” you might unknowingly try to hear sounds that sound like “yes” or “I am” because it is the type of answer you expect/want to hear.)
maglite mini flashlights
Maglite mini flashlights are small flashlights that twist at the top to turn on. Flashlights are not only practical for night-time investigations, or investigations in dark/abandoned places, but they can also be used for spirit communication. This is done by twisting the top of the flashlight until it is almost on, then laying it down and asking entities to turn if on/off. You can also ask them to flash once for yes and twice for no to ask questions. Be mindful of the fact that the battery connections will slightly fluctuate on their own, so if the flashlight begins to flash in a pattern, or seemingly for no reason, it is likely just the flashlight. If it is flashing just in response to you, seems intelligent, and is giving the same consistent answers to the same questions, then it just might be a spirit!
A REM Pod is a device that produces its own electromagnetic field through an antenna. When the field is disrupted, it will make noise and flash lights (depending of the strength of the disturbance) that will alert you to it. When the batteries are very low, the device will make a constant high-pitched sound to let you know, which some investigators mistake as being an entity interacting with it. REM Pods also have temperature detection, which is also used to investigate the paranormal…
temperature reading devices
Under the “Types of Entities/Manifestations” we mentioned cold spots; this is when temperature reading devices come in handy. Investigators who can afford to spend a little extra can also invest in thermal-imagine cameras, which takes this to a whole new level. These cameras will show you the temperature on-screen of everything in front of you, essentially letting you “see” the temperature of people/places/items. The device in this photo is a standard infrared thermometer that Ivy uses to measure the temperature of trigger objects.
A trigger object is an item that is brought to a haunted location in an attempt to bring out spirits/entice them to interact with you. For example, if the former owner of a home passed away and you know that they liked to smoke cigars, you can bring some to set out and use them to engage with their spirit. Another common example that you will see is people bringing toys to the location where a child spirit is believed to reside, and offering them to the child spirit/asking the child spirit to play with them.
Pendulums (a heavier pendant at the end of chain) are held by the user who will then ask questions for entities to answer. Typically, the user will ask them to swing it clockwise for yes and counter-clockwise for no, or left and right for yes, up and down for no, etc. Be wary of your micro-movements while using them; it is impossible for us to hold them completely still.
Tarot cards can be used to read the intentions, personality, etc. of the entity, or to read the general energies in the location and environment. Just like most tools, this also isn’t fool proof. Not every card will be relevant, so it is important to use critical thinking while reading them in a location. If you have yet to memorize all the card interpretations or don’t feel “in tune” to your own intuition with them yet, have a website pulled up on your phone (Ivy likes to use the Biddy Tarot website) to make reading the cards quick!
Ouija boards, or spirit boards, are another means of communicating with the spirit world, similar to a pendulum. These boards have been heavily demonized by Hollywood, with many investigators refusing to touch one or even go near one. The users of the board will lightly place their finger tips on the planchette (the arrow shaped piece) and ask questions to the spirit world. The theory behind this is that spirits can channel through us to make the planchette move and hover over letters and numbers to spell out messages for us, although it is possible that they influence the planchette and board externally as well. Ivy and Hannah do not get to use them as often as they would like while investigating haunted places, because many locations and private residences do not allow them due to the fear that people are now programmed to have towards Ouija/spirit boards.
Other Wicthy Things
Cleansing/protective herbs and incense are not needed often, but it can be reassuring to keep them on hand in case they are needed. (Coming across a truly dangerous or malevolent haunting is rare.) Some of our favorite herbs and incense to use for spiritual cleansing and protection include juniper and juniper berries, cedar, pine, patchouli, lavender, mountain sage or blue sage, vervain, valerian root, mugwort, and dragons blood. If you are going to take the smoke-cleansing route and burn the herbs/incense, be sure to look up possible risks for smoke inhalation, and take general fire-safety precautions. Pets are also very sensitive to smoke, so be mindful of this as well! Keep windows open or cracked to help, and confidently + kindly stating intentions while burning the herbs/incense will aid in the cleansing greatly. If you do not feel comfortable or confident doing this, find a professional to “cleanse” your house for you. For added protection, we enjoy using smoky quartz, citrine, and anything iron (like old horse shoes or nails) and leaving them around the home and at entry ways. There are plenty of other cleansing methods that can be found easily online, or in the books we recommend.