I received a press release in my email the other day about a new "fan-powered," "interactive" webseries about ghost hunting. As I understand it, amateur ghost hunters are encouraged to join the online community and share their paranormal stories through video. The Ghost Club, the group running the website and the title of the series, will comment and assist in helping participants learn the tricks of the trade and votes will be cast on the most authentic ghost hunters.
Ghost hunting is not something I am very familiar with, but it has been on the rise lately, what with multiple reality shows currently airing. I also have a friend who recently went through a ghost-hunting course, of sorts, and swears that he saw something. Rather than dealing with the virtual world (they lost me at "log in"), I decided to give the Houston Paranormal Research Team a call and see what they could tell me about the afterlife.
The Houston Paranormal Research Team (HPRT) has been in existence since 2008. Two ghost hunters, Anthony Montalvo and Scott Zarosky, founded the group with the intent of helping out those troubled by spirits. Since then, the team has grown to roughly seven team members who regularly spend their Saturday evenings hunting spooks. And this time of year, they are really busy!
Meli Trejo, the team's administrator and an investigator, says the fall/winter time period is when people witness the most apparitions.
"Ghosts feed off of electricity," says Trejo, "and the fall and winter is the time when there is more electricity in the air."
This week alone, the team has had three phone calls, a high number for them.
People who think they have some sort of spirit running amuck at their house can contact the team through their website or phone. A breakdown of the situation is discussed so that the team knows that there is some actuality to the request (as you can imagine the team receives quite a few hoax calls), and then they sets up an appointment. Generally speaking, they will go out to a home on a Saturday evening, obviously after dark.
If you are looking for some sort of exorcism or ghostbusting, HPRT is not your group. They are primarily concerned with getting in touch with the ghost and getting to know what's what. Many times, Trejo explains, ghosts don't even know they are dead and so the team breaks the news to them gently (BTW, you're dead). Other times they just try and deduce why the ghost is there and what it wants.
The team records the whole process with night vision cameras and has all sorts of fancy toys such as temperature guns, EMF detectors, Franks Boxes and a handful of other pieces of equipment traditionally found in this type of work. With their equipment, they will attempt to converse with the spirit, and often, according to Trejo, they are successful.
So they talk to ghosts? Kind of. Trejo says that the ghosts usually take the form of electric orbs as it is very difficult to manifest into a person. They may make noise or move about or suck the battery life out of the team's equipment, but when they want to make their presence known, Trejo says that they do.
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The team does this for neither money nor fame, but just for the pure thrill of experiencing something paranormal, and they want to help people and ghosts out. Ghosts were people once too and they "deserve our respect." Sometimes, Trejo explains, having a spirit "cross over" creates a sense of closure for the homeowner and the ghost. She recalls one of her favorite huntings that involved a dead husband who had come back to apologize to his wife for his suicide. That's a movie if I have ever heard of one.
The HPRT is also attempting to turn some of the skeptics out there. The team is made up of true believers, and they do their ghost hunting in their own time - they all have day jobs - and they genuinely want to learn more about the other side and share what they've learned.
I asked if they bring people along, not for myself but for a friend, and Trejo said that at this point they keep their team quite tight. However, they plan on doing larger huntings at more historically haunted venues in the next year, and perhaps then they will start to take along willing participants. Sounds too scary for me.
If you think you have a ghost in your house and you'd like the HPRT to try their hand at chewing the fat with it, their website is hprt.org.