It can be a Catch-22, this cemetery thing. They (cemeteries) are intended as a memorial for the living…a repose of peace and tranquility, and a temporary separation from the hectic antics of day to day life. But honestly, the dead don’t care; they have moved beyond that.
For the newbie investigator of the paranormal—and even those of veteran standing—it is a progression of sudo-reasoning: this is a piece of ground with dead bodies just six feet below the surface—it must be haunted! It is also just an assumption.
It might just be an oasis of quiet reverence where one contemplates his or her own mortality amidst a calming setting of tree, grass, and monuments. Life holds a certain degree of important relevance. For the paranormal investigator, however, they may very well get more than they bargained for.
New paranormal groups seem to gravitate towards the shadowy world of cemeteries, and it is a great training ground for equipment and personal reactions to adrenaline fueled situations. But at the end of the day, is it basically an intrusive and foolish game?
One question that always comes to mind is—just how many people physically die in a cemetery? Not too many we would imagine. Cemeteries just don’t fit in with the theories of typically reported haunts of private residences and larger venues. There is just not that link. And there are those nagging legal ramifications of investigating a graveyard: public cemeteries are open from dawn until dusk, and then figuratively the gate slams shut. Private cemeteries are a harder nut to crack—you need permission at all times! The police always frown and grow a tad upset on “trespassing.” At the end of the day they don’t care who you are or what paranormal television show you have been watching. Vandalism of cemeteries can and has been a result of numerous excursions in the darkness by individuals with a different agenda, and frankly puts people on edge when it hits home at the final resting place of their deceased loved ones. It all comes around to respect!
For the paranormal investigator there are two terms to remember while in cemetery mode: respect—you are just there to observe. Cemeteries are not a playground for ghost hunting, but rather a tribute to honor those that have lived and loved before us. Cutting up and joking is not a good thing. And the other…never ever trespass! It’s not a good precedent for those that will come after you.
Some say that older cemeteries tend to be more haunted, reasoning that rigid religious beliefs of the time helped to create a mindset that contributes to activity. I suppose it is possible.
Older cemeteries are also a wealth of symbolism…just look at the monuments and engravings from days past: the symbol of the dove—purity and peace; the willow tree—grief, sorrow, and immortality; a lamb—innocence; a finger pointing upwards—the soul rising to heaven; and broken branches—a life cut suddenly short, to name just a few.
Another question that we might entertain—why would a spirit linger to stand watch over their physical body? Or is it something else?
There is a belief circulated among various cultures that until the body completely disintegrates the soul is not fully released, so it waits and bides its time. Opinion on this varies….If this were the case then the spirits of those who died many years ago should be long gone. Some theorize ( and remember, paranormal investigation is nothing more than a hodge-podge of countless theories) that spirits remain behind to reconnect and “energize” with their bodies. It’s a cycle of Energizer moments at best. This doesn’t make a whole lot of sense and is a perfect example of false reasoning. The “spark” which is our soul/spirit is the key element that guides the mortal body throughout our journey of life. When the body succumbs and this “spark” is released, what is there to go back to and draw energy from? A shell that begins deteriorating at the moment of death? Crazy silly and oh so wrong!
There are cemetery theories that also align with spirits that choose to frequent residences and countless other locations: they don’t realize they can move on ( of the newby spirit class); they don’t know they’re dead; they are dazed and confused at their sudden change of mortality and waiting for answers; they are unhappy with the state and circumstances of their demise; unresolved issues; they possibly have an association to that location—yes, even a cemetery—in the capacity of an employee, caretaker, or director.
Perhaps, some souls can’t let go of their mortal shells. Is it vanity or a longing for the way things used to be? And there’s the family and friend’s visitations (at least initially)…putting out waves of emotional energy that imprints the environment. This conceivably could be very satisfying for a lonely spirit and cause them to hang around.
Is the cemetery placed upon a key or lay line—hypothetical earth energies that can fuel and be a highway for paranormal activity? Many feel that the most haunted places…cemeteries, churches, ancient monuments, and scores of other haunted locations are inadvertently, or deliberately, placed along these lines.
Is the cemetery really haunted or is it just a good story? You must pause to remember what a powerful and sometimes unpredictable tool the human mind can be in inciting “activity” and fueling the adrenaline rush associated with the creep factor of a cemetery in the darkness. Keep rational, grounded, and in focus!
Are there repercussions from focusing vast amounts of energy and time in cemeteries? I would expect so. Has it become an unspoken obsession? I would hope not. You really need to ask yourself these questions. Because many feel there can be a bad side to cemeteries. Many—Indiana included—have rumors of the “Big Nasty”, a dark, ominous force that will bum-rush you, and watch silently as you run for your car. And, there’s always the possibility that whatever lurks among the gravestones might just hitch a ride home.
Some paranormal investigators feel that cemetery ghosts are the complete opposite of benevolent or confused spirits. They reason that a “wise” spirit would never linger in such a place. They are non-human entities…negative and hostile…and very predatory in nature, clinging tightly to the material world and using the hapless visitor to continue their “life.”
It’s not always a happy, reflective visit for those that live on. Family and visitors can put off a truck-load of depressive energy—grief and sadness—that many feel only feeds the entities left behind.
And for those chowder-heads ( investigators included) that stroll into a graveyard armed with Ouija boards and the aspiration of a stirring séance—things can quickly come around full circle and bite you in the ass!
Cemeteries have the possibility of housing spirits with a bad attitude—waiting patiently ( because apparently time has no relevance) for not only the sweet and trusting human soul, but also the ever present wise-ass skeptic. There’s one in every bunch and it’s all fresh meat! In the spirit world it’s always about waiting for the opportunities. And they are never disappointed.
Some paranormal groups would never consider conducting an investigation in a cemetery, citing the old adage—“Let the dead rest in peace.”
Paranormal bloggers, as always, have their opinions on the issue:
I confess that I have never hunted ghosts in a cemetery, because quite frankly I think a cemetery ghost might be boring. Would you come back to haunt your moldering body? Not me! I’m going to come back to some place I loved in life when I am a ghost. I’m going to jump out of walls and scare the willies out of people! But, that’s just me.
If our consciousness can transcend the dimensions, then what we are observing could be nothing more than shadows of a 4th dimensional existence.
Why are cemeteries haunted? Unless someone was murdered or hung there, there really isn’t any reason. If a ghost knows it is dead, why would it choose to hang around in a cemetery when it could go somewhere else? Some believe that lay lines are because our ancestors could sense these energies better than us, and they subconsciously placed cemeteries and churches on these places to neutralize the “bad” energy.
I’ve wondered the same thing. If I were a ghost I certainly wouldn’t choose to hang out with my shell.
You know, for all of the people who say they could never understand hanging around a cemetery after death—I have the perfect answer. In a word—MySpace. Think about it. You have this little thing ( be it a profile or a tombstone) there with some basic information about you…humans are all terribly vain in our heart of hearts…whether we dare admit it or not—we want to know that someone is paying attention….
…they like their time in the cemetery to see loved ones that come to visit.
…if there are spirits in these places it is purely in visitation and out of curiosity I for one wouldn’t be hanging around a cemetery if I were dead…hell, it must be boring!
Let’s say that the person in spirit returns to the place where the physical body is, trying to re-enter the body, but can’t because it’s not only dead, but six feet in the ground. Maybe the spirit is trying to reunite with the body, and will spend a good amount of time trying.
Maybe sometimes spirits just want to reminisce about their time in that body. Kind of like when you go visit a childhood home?
One EVP I got was of a little boy who said, “I can’t find my mom.” Did he mean her grave? Another one I got was of a man who asked, “Can you please take me home/” That makes me wonder if ghosts can leave the places they haunt? At the cemetery I go to the most, there are quite a few ghost children there. Maybe after they died, somehow they saw that their grieving parents stayed at their grave talking to them. How often do people only speak to their loved ones at their gravesite? Maybe the ghosts feel more connected there. But why would they stay? Maybe they have no awareness of time and are waiting for their loved ones, who probably themselves died long ago.
And to sum it all up….
Who knows, but the fun is in the guessing!
Outdoor investigations create certain problems, especially in photographic endeavors: wind, dust, moisture, insects, heat and cold.. The camera’s auto focus feature at night is almost non existent. Video, especially during the darkness, can be rather inconclusive due to the limited range in front of the lens, even with infrared lighting; during the review monuments can appear as figures. Even with audio recorders you are at the mercy of the elements and surrounding terrain. Outdoors is always a challenge.
I don’t personally have an overwhelming passion for investigating cemeteries, but I must admit I do on occasion embrace the peace and solitude, and study the life histories that are reflected from the stones. It most definitely has a calming effect on the soul to realize even in the act of “passing” life goes on its steady course unabated.
Crown Hill Cemetery in Indianapolis, Indiana can have that affect as you survey decades of local history amongst a park like setting. It’s an old and massive cemetery, and at one time used as picnic grounds on a sunny Sunday afternoon in the early years of the century before the advent of air conditioning caused folks to huddle indoors. Are there ghostly specters inhabiting the Orphans, Confederate Lot, and the Pioneer sections? Some say there are. Those not saying anything are the employees, only offering a tight smile and the thousand-yard stare. Go figure….
Stepp Cemetery in southern Indiana is heavily immersed in folklore…some resembling stories from other cemeteries across the country. It is also a favorite destination for Indiana University alpha males to scare and impress gullible dates on a balmy weekend night. Stepp is one of the few graveyards where the rangers will allow you to stay until 11:00 PM. Go in the summer when school is out and not a party atmosphere. Do I believe all of the stories…the wailing woman sitting on a stump guarding the grave of baby Lester? Hardly not. But, there is something peculiar going on in the dark, thick canopy of Morgan Monroe State Forest, and Stepp may very well be guilty by association.
There have been things happen there that I can’t readily explain: banks of mist on a hot summer night appearing in photos; red eyes in the tree line surrounding the cemetery…and not a reflection from flashlight or camera flash; unearthly voices popping up on audio recordings; a child’s pinwheel, embedded in the ground at a grave, spinning crazily on a windless sunny afternoon; the nagging feeling (spidey sense) of being watched.
The investigation at Stepp Cemetery continues…and probably always will.
Should you “hunt” in a cemetery? That’s up to you and where your heads at. There is nothing inherently bad about doing it, but at the same token nothing inherently good either. It is what it is, and should always be approached in a respectful manner. Respect the living—not everyone will be enamored or interested in your scientific foray in contacting the deceased. In fact, it may have the opposite reaction—they may find it disrespectful and offensive. This is the final resting place of loved ones, and they might like to hold onto the belief that their loved ones and friends have moved on to a better life. If you’re in a cemetery when they come to call it’s best to keep quiet, put away the equipment, and either move on or wait for them to leave.
Keep the respect in the forefront at all times. It’s the right thing to do and separates you from the novice.