Things That Go Bump in the Night/Cemetery Tours by The WV Society of Ghost Hunters Bring Out the Spooks This Halloween
by Samantha T. Hall
It is an especially dark night. Fog starts to roll in from some unknown source. A glowing tombstone draws your attention at the far end of the cemetery. The fog has formed around you into the shape of a man. The hair on the back of your neck stands out and you are suddenly aware that you are not alone.
If this sounds like something out of a horror movie, it’s not! This is precisely the kind of phenomenon that you can expect to experience during a Cemetery Ghost Hunt led by The West Virginia Society of Ghost Hunters. Every Friday and Saturday night in October, the trained Paranormal Investigators visit a well known haunted cemetery with a group of novice ghost hunters.
Before they leave for the tour, participants are shown previously taken photographs and videotapes of the supernatural and played audio recordings of real ghostly voices. Then they are loaned and taught how to use ghost hunting equipment such as video cameras, digital and 35mm cameras, and audio recorders to use on the tour. Small groups are paired with a trained Paranormal Investigator and sent off into the eerie darkness to find their own proof of the supernatural. “This basic information on ghost hunting prepares participants for what they will experience in the graveyard and what they will see on their photographs when they get home,” says Susan Crites of The WV Society of Ghost Hunters.
So far this year, participants of the tour have been said to have “walked within ten feet of a full figure ghost, to have another entity run into the middle of a group of ghost hunters almost knocking one over, and to have heard the mournful howling of a lonely ghost from a remote corner of the cemetery,” shares Crites.
The Society does their own research prior to choosing a site for the tours to ensure plenty of paranormal activity for participants. The sites for this year’s ghost hunts have been selected because trained Paranormal Experts have found them to be haunted with multiple ghosts and have already collected proof of their own.
Investigators look for abnormal activity at each location they are investigating. A glowing tombstone, the sound of footprints when no human is moving, or fog forming in shapes of humans are all things to be investigated. “If we can’t find a manmade source for the abnormality, and most times we do, we look for other abnormalities,” explains Crites. “Is the tombstone hotter or colder than the ones that surround it? Is it enveloped in an unusual electromagnetic field? Multiple abnormalities are followed with photographs, and possible audio recordings. If the abnormalities are supernatural in origin, something strange and ghostly will show up on film.”
The Society believes that one cannot understand a haunting unless they understand the history of the site. For this reason, extensive research, interviews, and newspaper archives are an integral part of all their professional paranormal investigations prior to the tours.
Since the society was founded in 1989, they have used experts to train and assist them with their investigations. Professional photographers and photo interpreters have taught them what is normal in photographs, what bad film can produce, how raindrops, dust, and snowflakes appear on film. The expertise of architects, plumbers, electricians, physicists, geologists, botanists, and experts in a dozen other fields help the Society learn what is normal and abnormal.
“Knowing what is and what is not supernatural in origin is an important skill in a trained ghost hunter,” believes Crites. “Being willing to accept that a site is not haunted is an important trait of a credible ghost hunter.”
The focus of the Society is to find and photograph ghosts. However, they are also enlisted to help others investigate a site they believe might be haunted. “People call us at all hours of the day and night when they think they have seen a ghost. Others contact us if they move to a new home and think it is haunted,” adds Ms. Crites.
The Paranormal Investigators of the WV Society of Ghost Hunters may also visit a site on request that has received numerous reports of other worldly activity. Special and Annual events are held year round to raise awareness and funding to pay for the administrative costs of the organization. A monthly newsletter is published and posted on their website or sent to members of the Society. Complementary copies are also available to anyone who requests one.
At least once a month, the club meets to conduct Classic Paranormal Investigations. During these hunts, the members of the society visit sites where supernatural activity is virtually the same each time they go. According to Susan Crites, “many ghosts do the same thing repeatedly-week in and week out, decade after decade. While they don’t come out on cue, some are active enough that it is reasonable for us to assume we will see them if we are there.” The investigators have found that a general theme in encounters with the supernatural seems to be one of unfinished business. For this reason, some sites are good opportunities to learn about general paranormal activity and also provide the club with a good setting to train new members.
Currently, membership includes more than 200 adults and children, spanning six states. The WV Society of Ghost Hunters has members who range from age 12 to 80. Membership is $30 per year for an individual, or $50 per year for a family. The society provides training and lots of opportunities to encounter the supernatural “in a safe, organized, and informed setting.” Members come from all parts of the country and have a wide range of occupations and educational background. Anyone can join the club. The only requirement for membership is a genuine fascination with ghosts and a desire to see and photograph them.
Cemetery Tours begin at 8:00PM and 10:00PM every Friday and Saturday night in October. Tours will be available every night of Halloween week. Each tour is $15 for adults and lasts approximately one hour and a half. Special tours for groups of 10 or more can be scheduled Sunday through Thursday evenings. All proceeds will benefit the continuing work of the WV Society of Ghost Hunters.
To find out more about the Cemetery Ghost Tours and other events given by The WV Society of Ghost Hunters or to learn how you can join the club, call 304-754-6983 or visit their website at: www.wvsocietyofghosthunters.com.