Ghost Hunting Definitions & Tools!

Ghost Hunting Definitions & Tools!

The following is a list of ghost hunting definitions and tools you should use on a ghost hunt. It is important that you familiarize yourself with these terms as they are used quite frequently during a paranormal investigation. And as for the tools you don’t need to rush out and buy this gear. A basic camera, video camera is the minimum otherwise there is no point in going on a ghost hunt if you can’t show others what you may have captured

Amulets – Amulet Jewelry

Some ghost hunters wear jewelry called amulets because they believe the amulet jewelry
provides protection; because it is enchanted and charmed with powerful spells – which
some believe make it an effective weapon against harmful spirits – ghosts. An example
of a common amulet might be a crucifix – a cross. I believe jewelry is only powerful to the
mind that believes in it. An amulet is the same as a charm or talisman jewelry.


Something found on a picture, photograph, video or voice
recording that has no explainable source.


These are the holy grail of ghost hunting.
A spirit that is in human form and usually visible to the
naked eye; or may appear in a photo undetected originally by the
naked eye. Often this anomaly is dressed in period clothing. Very
hard to capture on film but many have reported seeing this type of
ghost. This is the “Hollywood Type” ghost featured in many movies.


Cameras are an invaluable tool and a must for investigating a haunting. They provide
visual documentation of the investigation and the phenomena occurring. Since, cameras
are neither for or against the paranormal, they allow what we do not see with our closed
minds to be photographed. Digital cameras provide more results and are best for ghost
hunting because they can show you what’s in your picture right after you took the photo.
Digital photos are available to upload to your computer immediately after the ghost hunt,
while the events are still fresh in your mind.

Psychic photography is simply just following what you feel or sense, and taking pictures
using intention and intuition. When attempting psychic photography you should load the
film into the camera on arrival of the investigation site. Many say this will show the
intention you have and draw spirits to you to photograph. When taking pictures it is also
wise to notify others in the area you are taking a photo, so they are prepared for the
flash. Psychic photography is usually best achieved during the hours between 9 p.m. and
6 a.m.; but the best time for you will be when you have the feeling something is near you
or watching you – you should go with that instinct. While photographing at the
investigation site, you should try to avoid mirrors, glass, lights, poles or any other
obstruction that will interfere with evaluation or determination of the photograph and it’s
elements; otherwise you may want to note the possibility of a false result with those photos
taken. Also, make sure your camera strap is removed and fingers are not in front of the
lens, as they can appear as convincing paranormal evidence. It is good to catalog your
photos with the corresponding negative for archival storage. If using a digital camera,
simply save the ghost photos and corresponding notes to a cd disk.

Dowsing Rods

Traditionally, a forked branch or stick that is believed to indicate subterranean water or
minerals by bending downward when held over a source. Divining rod, a rod, commonly
of witch hazel, with forked branches, used by those who discover water or metals under

Dowsing or divining rods can also be made of metal, and bent in an “L” shape – one for
each hand. In ghost hunting, when the rods cross while being held out in front of the
“dowser” they indicate spirit presence at the spot the dowser is at.

What is ectoplasm? It is the name given to a form of dense energy liberated by
living things which is believed to make possible the materialization of ghosts. In
short, it appears in photographs like a fog or mist, and is spirit.
We prefer to see orb vapor trails (such as in the above ghost picture), to determine
conclusively that it is indeed ectoplasm. Vapor trail cannot be re-created through fog,
breath or smoke. Many ectoplasm pictures are created by mistake, when the
ghost hunter has not been careful. Moisture, fog, cigarette smoke and human breath in cold weather can
produce some believable ectoplasm ghost pictures. Be sure to hold your breath
before taking ghost pictures, and do not smoke during your investigations for positive results.

EMF Meters

The Electromagnetic Field Detector, also known as an EMF meter, is the
ghost hunters tracking device. Using this instrument, it is possible to
locate and track energy sources. Before using the EMF meter as a
ghost hunting tool on an investigation, be sure to walk around the area
taking readings around energy sources such as light poles and electrical
outlets to be sure of the readings you will receive while scanning the
area during the investigation. Some EMF meters come with a manual
describing common household appliances and their corresponding
electromagnetic reading. When using this device be sure not to leave it
on for the full length of the ghost investigation, as this will prevent the
instrument from burning out.

When a positive EMF meter reading occurs, take as many photos as
possible. Be sure and point the camera in the same direction as you are
pointing the EMF meter. This is also a good time to take a temperature
reading. Be sure to always report the times of positive EMF readings,
temperature drops, and the times and numbers of each photo. This
provides collaborating evidence of the paranormal occurrence. At the
end of your ghost hunt, you may find that positive EMF and temperature
readings occurred at the exact time you took the photograph which
shows an anomaly.

Energy Lights

These show up on photos as colored lights during
some manifestations of hauntings. They usually are not visible to
the naked eye and can appear in different colors such as red, orange
or green.


Electronic Voice Phenomenon is the recording of audio tapes
at a suspected haunted site; and although no voices were heard at
the time of the recording, unexplained voices may be discovered
during playback of the audio tape. Both digital recorder and
traditional tape recorders may be used with an external microphone.

Kinetic Energy

Description for the movement of objects by a ghost.
A physical manifestation of an unseen force which may move, throw
or even destroy objects. These ghosts are known as “Poltergeists”
(German for “noisy ghost”).


Not all orb ghost pictures are ghosts. In fact, most orbs are caused by moisture, dust,
flash reflection, solar flare, and insect. Many have videotaped orbs flying around rooms –
some are dust with light reflecting off of it; others are balls of energy that
many ghost hunters are not sure just what they represent. We do not
claim to have the answers, but we seek to present the evidence we
receive and allow our viewers to research and decide on their own.

It is hard to determine exactly the source of an orb for sure. But one test
is pretty cool. Take a picture while stirring up some dust and watch how
many “orbs” appear in the picture. This is a good test to learn about
orbs caused by dust.

Motion Sensors and Detectors

Motion sensors and detectors are another investigation tool that many ghost hunters
use. Simply put, motion sensors or motion detectors are used to let the ghost
investigator know if something is moving in another room, while the investigator is
elsewhere. Motion sensors work well when left in a room during the time when no
investigator is present. Motion sensors have alarms that sound when movement is
detected in the room in which they are placed. Typically, they will sound in rooms
where no previous activity had been reported; and upon further investigation, one may
find much evidence of paranormal activity in the room where the motion detector or
sensor sounded its alarm. The motion sensors used by ghost hunters project an
infrared beam. When the beam is disrupted by movement of any kind (natural or
spirit!), an alarm will sound that the investigator can hear while in another room: a clue
that spirits may be present in that area where the motion detector resides. Usually
motion sensors have an alarm mode and chime mode. The chime mode will only
announce the visitor or movement, but will not blare as a siren for a long time. Most
ghost hunters prefer the chime mode setting on their motion detector, as it is less
offensive and won’t scare the dickens out of you!


Moving orbs caught during the time of camera
exposure. Orbs have also been filmed moving, on video. In photos,
they appear as streaking light or as an orb with a tail showing the
path of motion. These are also known as “supercharged orbs” in

Poltergeist Hauntings

Poltergeists or poltergeist hauntings may be the most misunderstood type of haunting, as
some believe that poltergeist hauntings are not even a haunting at all. The German word,
“poltergeist,” means “noisy ghost.” The best defining mark of a poltergeist is if there is any
manipulation of the physical environment such as the movement of objects, physical attack,
spontaneous combustions, etc, then this is a poltergeist-type of haunting.

A common thread between different poltergeist hauntings has strongly indicated that they
are caused by psychokinesis (the ability to move things by power of the mind alone). The
question becomes whether the psychokinesis is from the people who live within (or visit) the
place where the activity takes place, or if it is actually occurring from an unseen troubled
spirit, called a ghost. The reason for this is because typically poltergeist hauntings center
around an adolescent girl (although young males and even adults have exhibited the same
phenomena) in the household. Typically, this central person is usually emotionally disturbed
in some fashion, and is somehow the root cause of objects moving, knocking sounds (and
other noises), the turning on and off of lights and electrical appliances, etc. What is
interesting is that the person whom the activity centers around, is unaware that they are the
one who is bringing about the disturbance. But in true poltergeist hauntings, none of the
activity will continue after the person is removed from the environment, as they are not there
to create it or influence an unseen entity. However, it has been reported that activity can
return later if the “right” person visits or lives in a notably poltergeist-haunted place. This
would lend one to believe that it requires a combined psychic energy to manifest such
terrible hauntings.

Author Brad Steiger contends that the central figure in a poltergeist haunting actually brings
additional energy which the troubled ghost then uses to manifest with physical attacks or
manipulation. This can be especially true if one is somewhat psychic and/or full of fear. The
ghostly entity seems to feed off of low energies such as fear. This is when more harmful
attacks can occur. Sometimes the effects of a poltergeist are more playful than harmful, but
have been known to be downright nasty. Reports of scratches, bites, harmful objects being
put in one’s way (such as glass shards on a pillow or tacks under a bed sheet) have been
noted, as well as ghost possession. Perhaps Brad Steiger’s best phrase is, “Ghosts haunt
houses; poltergeists haunt people.” Perhaps many times, the troubled spirit wants only to
communicate a message to those who still are in bodies.

Residual Haunting

When a spirit is seen doing the same thing over
and over, many believe this to be simply an energy imprint or
residual haunting. In other words, a strong, traumatic event that
occurred in some other time, repeating itself over and over. Usually
these spirits do not interact with those who see them. My opinion, is
that this could simply be a state of mind I call “hell;” being trapped by
one’s own mind in darkness or lack of understanding. Sort of reliving
of an event perhaps through fear, guilt or condemnation until that
spirit finds truth and freedom.

Think of a residual haunting as a movie being re-run on TV day after day. It is believed by
ghost hunters that some events, due to perhaps strong emotional energy attached to it,
imprint themselves somehow on the environment where the event took place. Sort of
“trapped in time,” the event is recorded in the atmosphere of a place. If one were to see a
ghost doing the same activity over and over, and with no response to the present
environment, it is most likely a residual haunting. Residual hauntings are past events playing
in the present, but with no interaction with today. It is a common ghost hunters theory that
most residual hauntings occur in places built over top of limestone, quartz stone and/or
water. These seem to act as a transmitter, perhaps creating the perfect environment to
allow the residual haunting energy to manifest.

How can residual hauntings occur? Energy is spirit and spirit is life. All of us are spirit, with
or without the physical body, and we live and exist within spirit. Spirit is the life-force of all,
whether plant, animal or human being, and is everywhere. Everything that is, exists within
spirit. Spirit or energy is everywhere. Thus, is it possible for an event or person to imprint its
energy upon a place? Most ghost hunters believe so…

Dark Shadows/Shadow People

Dark shadows in ghost pictures usually appear as a black
smudge or fog over an image. Some certainly could be caused by
a finger or something else over the camera lens, but many are not.
There have been many interesting observations of shadow ghosts
(dark shadows or shadow people). They are usually seen out of
the corner of one’s eye, hence this is why some call them shadow
people – they often observe others. Also, dark shadows have
actually been recorded playing with one another. This has led
some ghost investigators to believe they can be children, as well
as adults. Some have seen shadow ghosts 6 feet tall with broad
shoulders, for example. Shadow ghosts can see and react with
people. We have theorized that perhaps their darkness may be
just an indicator of their lack of progression into the light and unto
their life review…call it “in darkness,” or “lack of understanding of
truth” – unaware of where they are, having unfinished business, or
afraid to move on.

Thermometer / Thermal Scanner

Thermometers are an instrument that are also very useful. There are two types used regularly:
digital thermometers and infrared non-contact thermometers. When used on an investigation this
will aid as a detection system for spirit presence. Rapid temperature drops of 10 degrees or more
could indicate spirit activity. I recommend using the infrared non-contact thermometers because
they react in less than a second to temperature drops and can scan a large area quickly.

As mentioned, good thermometer can detect changes in room temperature quickly. But some still
use the old-fashioned mercury-filled, red-line, thermometers. Electronic thermometers should be
used, but in high paranormal, haunting activity where electromagnetic forces have been reported
they may fail right when you need them. So bring an old mercury thermometer with you as back up,
and you should be o.k. during your ghost investigation.


A long streak across a photo that may be
caused by a very high-speeding “orb;” some believe vortices are a
gateway between both realms (physical and spirit realms). They are
usually white in color and may appear as a funnel-shape. Camera
straps, human hair, a tree branch, etc., right in front of the camera
lens during exposure have been notoriously mistaken for a vortex. It
is important to make sure anything that may interfere with your photo
is removed from within the front of the camera.