Quite often in my travels whether it be during my independent research or my work with S.O.N.A. Paranormal I am asked “how do you become a Paranormal Investigator” That question always makes me giggle. For me it was just a natural progression. I have always been aware of the paranormal, it has always surrounded me so I always felt close to it. I was always around it so about six years ago I dove into the research aspect of it but it wasn’t until I found myself unable to work anymore a couple of years ago that I got more involved in the investigation end of it. While the how can be different for everyone, it’s the why that most of us have in common.
My suggestion to people just starting out is to find like minded people and find teams or individuals that are willing to work with people that have less experience. This hasn’t always been an easy task however until recently. For many years the subject was taboo and not talked about simply because people feared the judgment of others for being assumed to be crazy. I would like to also mention that before the technological age because it wasn’t a mainstream subject, the task of finding like minded people was a lot harder as well. It wasn’t like in high school were the cliques were very prevalent and you could identify who was into what hobby or sport because they openly gathered in the same groups of people.
I am from that oddball generation x where we were just being introduced to the internet age around or right after high school, so while we remember life before the internet, it certainly opened a lot of doors to be able to find more like minded people in this field or any other field for that matter.
Many are drawn to it simply for the same reason as I was and just had never been involved with a group or had done an investigation and many have developed an interest in recent years because of all the recent popular media making it mainstream. The situation that peaked their interest is not an issue however I also try to point out that before you attempt getting into the field, if you’re only knowledge of it is based on what you see on TV that you might want to do more research on it. TV shows are not bad, in fact they have done wonders for the Paranormal field, but I find in many instances, to those who are not as experienced it tends to add a bit of glamour and neglects to show within the one hour time slot that investigations are hard work , not always fruitful with evidence on your first visit and take several more hours than people realize. I once had someone ask me if they could tag along, my response was “sure, but do realize it could be an 8 to 12 hour ordeal”. It was that point the person reconsidered their interest. While there is no set time on how long an investigation can last, they can be very productive in just a few hours or they can go on all night. It does take a certain level of commitment if you are seriously interested.
There are some suggested guidelines I give to people when looking to join a team or an independent to learn from. Due to the “overnight” popularity of the field from TV and written media and the fact that there is no required formal education or lack of formal education in this field (No matter what anyone says, none of us are “experts”) this field tends to draw people into it for the wrong reasons. People tend to use it as a way to gain popularity and status. You want to look for people who are in it for answers, not fame. The common thread between serious investigators is we all just want to learn why and how these occurrences come about. Now I’m not saying everyone who gets recognition is in it for the wrong reasons, I am just saying that you need to weed out early on in your learning experiences who is in it for the right reasons or you will find yourself frustrated.
You want to find people who don’t mind if you ask questions or will offer advice on using equipment. And won’t get upset with you for asking. Also while this field can be expensive, it is not required to spend a lot of money you don’t have. You don’t need equipment right out of the gate and when do decide to purchase equipment, you want to find someone you can trust who will not steer you in the wrong direction and will point out the differences between good equipment and shotty equipment. As I stated earlier, none of us are “experts” but I would like to add there people who are more educated and more experienced. When I come across a person who asks me advice and I can’t help them, I have a list of teams I personally trust to give them the right guidance. I regard these few teams highly just for their generosity in time and advice and have never steered me wrong.
I also recommend looking for team that will be understanding. Many of us have different personal issues outside of this life that we have to work around. Several work full time jobs, have families and other obligations. You don’t want to get involved with a team that will not tolerate your personal situation. In my case I don’t have the energy to make every investigation and I may have to take breaks now and again because of my medical situation or other personal situations, but I was lucky to have found such a great team to work with who understands these needs and welcomes me back aboard when I am ready. It needs to go both ways though. If you bail on a project you must be understanding that they will proceed without you. I tell people I work with the best of the best, because in my opinion I do. We work well together, no drama and it’s all for the team. I stress it is very important to find people to work with that you trust and trust you. Team SONA is definitely an extension of family to me as it goes with many teams I am sure. They know my health and my child always come first.
Always keep your eyes and ears alert for fly by night teams. Too many times I have seen teams come in, collect footage and stories and then abandon the owners. I am a firm believer of follow up. I like going back to the owners with our findings and explaining what we discovered. Even if it was not a paranormal occurrence it could clear some other issues causing these events. For example the owners may not realize because they live 2.5 miles from a landing strip that their house shakes slightly and is more noticeable at night because all the occupants are settled in bed or the headaches they get when going into certain rooms is due to poor chemical storage or mold etc. We can help them see problems and offer solutions that may have never occurred to them. Some clients simply just want to know if their place is haunted and that is fine too but you can’t abandon the clients that want help or answers either.
Steer clear of teams who aren’t helpful in any instance. There is an unnecessary amount of competition in this field. It’s not a race. While there are probably some legitimate reasons a group won’t work with another specific team or another, you also need to be willing to work with those who do approach you for answers or help. I have found that hoarding evidence and keeping “secrets” does not do anyone any good. Now I am not saying release every piece of info you have, but don’t be afraid to talk to other teams if you are unsure of something. They may offer a different possibility that didn’t cross your mind. That’s how you learn, by talking to people and asking. If the person or team you are asking is trust worthy, they are not going to “run off with your evidence and take credit for it”. However be willing to do the same when one comes to for advice as well.
I wish all newcomers well and many haunting.