When hunting for paranormal activity, there are a few simple rules to follow. Go out in only good weather, preferably during a full moon, when spirits are more active. Make sure your lens is clean. And be respectful -- when in the presence of a ghost, you don't want to do anything rude. This means absolutely no smoking or drinking.
These are the guidelines offered by the experienced ghost hunters of the Spring Spirit Seekers, a group that investigates unexplained bumps in the night. Members snap photos of graveyards and other haunted places so they can hold up blurs and streaks in pictures as evidence of otherworldly goings-on.
The Spirit Seekers are hosting a gathering of authors, speakers and like-minded folk at their 2002 Paranormal Symposium.
Chris and Ginger Pennell founded the group in 2001, when they realized they weren't the only ghost hunters in the Spring area. "Going to dinner is a big part of ghost hunting," Chris admits.
But the group has some ambitious goals. "Everyone wonders what happens when you die," says member Jennifer Burcham, who videotapes many of the group's outings. "If I can get some inside info, all the better."
The Spirit Seekers call themselves semi-scientists, meaning they use fancy instruments like electromagnetic field readers and laser thermometers to do their investigations. Of course, the scientific process itself could be a little more rigorous. "Sometimes you just know things without knowing why you know them," Chris says.
By helping people understand where those creaking boards come from, the Spirit Seekers feel they're doing something worthwhile. And, they say, sometimes the spirits themselves need help understanding what's going on; for example, a ghost might not get that he's dead, and he may be wondering who's moved into his house.
Which leads us to another rule: Don't be frightened if a spirit decides to hug you. It's very common. After all, ghosts were people once, too.