What I’ve Learned about Ghosts in the Past 30+ Years

Fiona Broome learned during 30 years ghost huntingNote: This is copied from my post at Medium. I suppose it’s kind of a manifesto, but – mostly – it explains what I’m focusing on, now.


Okay… I won’t bore you with everything I’ve learned in those 30+ years. Instead, here’s what I believe is important.

Most ghost hunters are sure of two things.

One is: Something odd is going on at haunted places. Usually, it seems to be both earthly (like a living person) but also unearthly (invisible, in most cases).

It’s there. Then it’s gone. Then it’s back again.

The second thing is: We don’t know what that “something” is.

Our ghost hunting tools and devices confirm the anomalies. But they can’t tell us what that “something odd” is, or why we sense or detect it.

So, after years of observing various ghostly phenomena — with devices that often distance us from it — we still don’t have answers.

Maybe it’s time to accept that we have no proof of ghosts. In fact, we may never have proof. Not the scientific kind, repeatable in a lab.

I suggest that it’s time to set aside the distractions and, instead, experience whatever-it-is… the ambience, the eeriness, and — perhaps — an encounter with an actual ghost.

That doesn’t mean you should drop your guard. Not wholly, anyway. After all, we’ve learned that some of what lurks at “haunted” sites can be dangerous.

Instead, let’s increase our awareness: Feel the cold spot instead of fixating on the thermometer. See what accompanies the EMF surge instead of concentrating on the detection equipment.

After decades in the field, I’ve learned the value of experiencing the haunting instead of making it a science experiment. After all, this is reality, not a lab.

We’ve measured and speculated and produced lofty theories.

They’ve led us nowhere.

Maybe it’s time to admit it’s a mystery. Perhaps it’s time to step into the wonder, and explore what’s there.

The most valuable part of ghost hunting may be the opportunity to experience an extraordinary connection with another time.

Let’s not squander this, staring at devices that merely confirm what we already know: Something odd is going on at haunted places.

Observe the phenomenon closely. Let’s use our five (or six) senses to their fullest.

That genuine encounter with “something odd” may be among our richest, most exciting adventures.


Here’s a sort-of related video, from HollowHill.com. Though I recorded it to explain the purpose of that website, the theme is similar to the article, above.

Why Ghost Hunting – Hollow Hill

Why do people go ghost hunting? Are they “hunting” ghosts like people hunt animals…?In this video, Fiona Broome explains that ghost hunters are hunting for…

 

Summer News – Updates

As of August 2021, Hollow Hill contains around 300 articles (previously 500+). And, I’m continuing to remove really old & outdated posts (which will be updated as time permits).

I’ve also added a “News” page at that site, which includes site news (so I don’t need to keep posting it here), some general/recent news headlines that got my attention, and a list of my current/available books. (I’ll add to that page as more books are available.)

ALL of this is so YOU don’t waste time reading outdated articles (or getting lost at Hollow Hill, since it’s rather large), and I have more time for projects I’m working on for Halloween (aka “ghost hunting season”)… especially books. Including new books, such as stories from my favorite (and weirdest) investigations.

Speaking of books… I am revising my older books, and – as I release them – most will be in Kindle and (sometimes) in print, as well as at Kobo, Apple Books, Google Play, and so on.


Late July News

After weeks of work, Hollow Hill is back online. It’s far smaller (and continuing to be pruned & weeded), and navigation is sleeker with sitemaps organized by categories. That should speed load time, as well.

Hallowfields’ Ghost Hunting for Beginners course is now at HollowHill.com, too. (Hallowfields.com will redirect to it.) Merging the two websites streamlines maintenance. The course needs expanding, with links to content already at Hollow Hill… but that’s a later project.

In the near future, my Broome Theory info will be expanded with supporting evidence (pro and con), and become a book. Until mid-late August 2021, that site is mostly a placeholder… and, apparently, attracting a lot of attention.

I like that: What started in the 1990s as “what if…?” speculation (and tagged with my surname, jokingly, by slightly skeptical friends) is now fitting nicely into a larger context.

If some “ghosts” are alive & well in their own time, but we’re sensing them in our reality, perhaps that’s a two-way street. And that connects with the Mandela Effect, with the possibility that we – individually or collectively – can sometimes transit to, or at least sense things in, other realities.

Yes, that sounds terribly sci-fi, but… well, it’s fun to think about. Do I take it seriously? No, of course not, but there’s always that possibility that it might be true.

Now, with the Hollow Hill site redesign more-or-less complete, I’m fine-tuning this site and Hollow Hill – and working with the new managers of Ghosts101.com and MandelaEffect.com – before working on ghost-related books.

Mostly, I’m feeling good about progress!

Clarifying the “Rabbits” Reference

My copy of “Rabbits” just arrived. So far, it looks like a fun book.

Also, I’m always impressed when someone successfully writes fiction in the first person. To me, that seems far more challenging than third-person storytelling.

But, since – this week – several friends mentioned page 256 (hardcover edition) and journalists are now asking me about this, I want to respond immediately.

Most of the description on that page of “Rabbits” seems pretty good. And yes, it’s fiction, so I’m not going to have a meltdown over a few misstatements. Mr. Miles included a common, boilerplate summary of my role in Mandela Effect discussions, and – in the context of the story – it’s “good enough.” (I mean it.)

But, for purists (and enquiring journalists), here’s what I’d like to clarify:

  • I’ve never claimed that I coined the phrase, “the Mandela Effect.” It was verbal shorthand developed in a 2009 Dragon Con conversation. The phrase may have been coined by Shadowe, Dragon Con’s Security Manager. Or it may have been quipped by my husband. Or by someone else who joined that brief, “green room” conversation. It’s possible that I came up with the phrase, but unlikely.
  • My then-manager, Marc Tetlow may have been the person who suggested changing my description from “ghost researcher” to “paranormal consultant.” Or, it may have been someone else, when the Ghost Hunters’ TV series producers briefly objected to me using the phrase “ghost hunter.” I don’t recall. It was a long time ago. (Personally, my self-description of choice is “blip analyst,” usually said in a flippant tone of voice. Really, I don’t take myself – or job titles – that seriously.)
  • I have never claimed that I remembered Nelson Mandela dying in prison in the 1980s. I’ve tried to make a point of explaining that I’d thought I’d remembered that, but – since that was a very busy time in my life – it may have been someone else’s funeral. I do recall that it pre-empted the usual TV shows my family watched. You can read more about that at Nelson Mandela Died in Prison? (I have yet to find a reasonable explanation for what I’d thought I’d seen, but I’ve never claimed that what I recalled was absolutely, positively, Mandela’s funeral.)

So, I hope that answers people’s questions about the “Rabbits” references to me and the Mandela Effect.

Meanwhile, Mr. Miles’ explanation for alternate/competing memories – also on page 256 in “Rabbits” – is pretty good.

My own explanations are more diverse, and you can read them at The Mandela Effect, Explained (Sort of).

After I’ve had time to read “Rabbits,” I’ll write a review. At first glance, it looks amusing and fun. I hope the author does very well with his book, and any other projects related to it. (To me, it looks like a fascinating concept for a fun, engaging movie. I’m hoping Mr. Miles already has an option for it.)

And, in general, I’m almost rabidly (not “rabbitly”) enthusiastic about innovative fiction by original thinkers.

Ghost Hunting in 2021 – Changes, As Usual?

Since the tumultuous start to January (2021), I’ve been watching trends in ghost hunting and paranormal research.

They’re not quite what I’d expected… not that I had a clear idea of what might be next.

Frankly, I think anything is possible in the upcoming months.

The graphs – Ghost hunting v. paranormal research

In February 2021, two online search trends got my attention. The first was ghost hunting. It’s going back up. (My website traffic suggested that, too.) Here’s the trend since 2016:

Ghost hunting trends - Feb 2021

It’s not massively trending, but while ghost hunting had seemed in the doldrums since Halloween 2019, the 2020 spike was a surprise. The question is: will this trend improve?

It’s too soon to tell.

Another trend – but a downward one – also surprised me.

Paranormal research trends 2016 - 2021

For several years, far more people were searching for “paranormal research,” rather than “ghost hunting.” They were looking for anything weird and unexplained, not just ghosts but also UFOs, cryptids, Bigfoot, and so on.

Have those trends flipped?

Regularly – since 2004 – it’s looked as if the ghost hunting “fad” was fading.

Many people lost interest in ghost-related TV shows after they tried ghost hunting themselves and decided:

    • The TV shows were a lot of hype. (And yes, some were.)
    • OR, their own experience (at a haunted site) was interesting – and probably paranormal – but not worth pursuing.
    • OR, “real” ghost hunting was too expensive and time-consuming.
    • OR… perhaps a mix of all three.

But now, ghost hunting is showing signs of life again. (Pun intended.)

That’s partly because – spending more time at home in 2020 – people realized their own homes might be haunted... if only a little. Some paused and decided ghost hunting might be interesting, after all.

What’s next?

2020 may have changed how people think about ghost hunting. I’d like to believe that. The field was beginning to feel stagnant.

Meanwhile, a new generation of ghost enthusiasts are entering the field.

They’ve grown up watching their parents’ ghost hunting shows.

Now they want to experience it for themselves, in real life.

That doesn’t necessarily mean they’ll be ghost hunting as we did in the late 20th and early 21st centuries.

In fact, my instincts suggest people are ready to explore ghost hunting as a personal encounter with something extraordinary

Sure, I could be wrong. Six months from now, the phrase “paranormal research” could be trending again, and “ghost hunting” may ebb until its annual Halloween spike.

Does that matter? Maybe, but I’ve never been someone to follow the mainstream.

  • When everyone else was in ooh-and-ahh mode, gazing at their digital thermometers, I was showing friends how to use their hands to find anomalous hot and cold spots.
  • When others insisted ghosts only appeared at night and needed a “lights out” setting, I was identifying sites with daytime ghostly activity.

So, yes… I’ll admit it: I may not be the best predictor of trends.

And frankly, I’d rather create my own.

Whatever is next, I think we need to take a wholly fresh look at ghost hunting. There’s more to explore and far more to learn.

Let’s see where 2021 leads us, and what we discover. Every day is a new adventure!

This could be our best year so far.

December 2020 – Expect a Shift?

2021 looks like a year for major changes in paranormal research.

I believe that – like most everything we’d become accustomed to, prior to 2020 – a “new normal” will emerge in ghost hunting, and it may look very different from what we’ve seen in the past.

Or, we may want to revisit trends that flared briefly in the past. Those include trends from a decade ago, but don’t overlook what happened with Spiritualism after World War I. Much of the social upheaval – and tragedies – of that era bear a startling resemblance to our current situation. Will history – or at least trends of that era – repeat? Only time will tell.

My own projects

Recently, and with the help (okay: strong nudge) of one of my publishers, we’re updating several of my websites. If you’ve been to HollowHill.com recently, you’ve seen that redesign unfolding. This site (FionaBroome.com) is also a redesign-in-progress.

I’m updating past articles and deleting really outdated ones. Currently, HollowHill.com has 451 active articles. I’ve retired another ~130, at least for now.

We’ll redesign & update my other sites in 2021.

Speaking of 2021…

Right now, I’m expecting a shift of attention in the paranormal field. It’s going to affect both the U.S. and the U.K, at the very least.

Throughout 2020, ghost research has been on a roller coaster.

  • At first, everyone was distracted by political headlines.
  • Then, the pandemic sent people home. Suddenly, people noticed all the creaks and “weird stuff” in their homes, and worried they had ghosts, or worse. I scrambled to republish “Is Your House Haunted?” with a heavy emphasis on debunking, to help readers overcome their anxieties.
  • The enclosed spaces of haunted sites made ghost hunting a health risk. Cemeteries were safer, but – with fresh graves as reminders of the pandemic – even they weren’t so attractive. So, for most ghost hunters, investigations were on hiatus.
  • As Covid Fatigue set in, people turned to familiar entertainment for comfort. That included ghost hunting shows, apparently making a strong comeback. But… for how long, with what kinds of shifting interests, and how will that affect real-life ghost hunting in the immediate future?
  • As Covid vaccines and other health measures reduce health threats, people are eager to resume more normal routines… but 2021 may be a “new normal.” Will that include real-life ghost hunting, and what will the new version look like?
  • And we’re fast approaching a major political (and possibly social) shift as America’s leadership faces a change, and Brexit’s deadline is weeks away. That could shake-up even more of what we’ve thought of as “normal.”

What’s next?

Early in 2021, I’m expecting another somersault in paranormal research. I’m not sure how early. A lot hinges on the political scene, the weather, and the pandemic, as well as the jobs market and finances in general.

  • It might be a resurgence of local ghost hunting groups. (Traffic at my free ghost hunting course, at Hallowfields.com, suggests that.) People may want to get out of the house more. And telecommuters whose jobs are now permanently at home… they’ll have far more free time than they did, pre-pandemic. They’ll also want more social opportunities. Ghost hunting could be a good match.
  • As people get less of an adrenaline rush from news headlines, they may fill that gap with ghost hunting TV shows. Will they want the same kinds of shows, or new approaches, or both? I think the adrenaline factor may be key, perhaps returning us to preposterous, “Extreme Paranormal” style shows. (I hope not.)
  • I’d love to say that books about ghost hunting (and paranormal nonfiction topics) are doing well, but the average book in Amazon’s top 20 (for that category) is selling less than a copy a day in Kindle. Sales are only slightly better in printed editions; that’s normal in this niche. If people aren’t devouring ghost-related nonfiction books when they’re stuck at home, I’m not confident that will improve in the near future.
  • On the other hand, I think haunted inns, B&Bs, etc., will attract more visitors. People are eager to travel, and an almost-guaranteed ghostly encounter will give them a fun/chilling story to tell when they get home. (B&B owners should consider a nightly “ghost story” chat around the fireplace, or in the site’s most haunted room. At the very least, it’s entertainment.)
  • This isn’t a truly new idea, but one that’s gaining popularity: virtual and self-guided ghost tours.  Theatrical troupes may provide the most drama, but tech skills will help, too.  (Here’s one in Atlanta, GA.)

I believe people – both ghost hunters and TV show fans – will be open to something new. So, I’m working on a project that takes my ghost research in a very different direction. It’s a little radical, so it’ll be separate from my work at HollowHill.com; that will remain a how-to website for ghost hunters.

(My first article at Medium is a preview. I’m not sure how frequently I’ll post there, but it seemed the right place for that kind of statement.)

This new project is still evolving. Nothing is firm, yet, but I hope to be able to talk about it by mid-2021.

Meanwhile…

I’m continuing to update my websites, a little at a time. (If a site looks weird at one visit, check again in a day or two. We’re still in the “hmm… not so sure” phase of the redesigns.)

I’m revising past books that are now out-of-print, and may finally publish the topic-specific guides I’ve been musing about.

Trend-watching is also part of my daily routine. I’m using a variety of websites – far beyond, say, Google Trends – for that kind of research, because I’d like the new project to hit all the right notes.

And, of course, we’re celebrating the holidays at home. It’s going to be a quiet Christmas, but – for us – it’s the right thing to do. We’ll make up for it in 2021.

Happy holidays, whichever you celebrate – if any – and I hope your new year is filled with tremendous fun and great adventures!

Ghost Hunting – 10 Abandoned, Haunted Places to Investigate?

Of course, I’m always searching for spectacular sites that might be haunted.

Lately, I’ve been exploring a resource I’d overlooked. It’s lists and articles about abandoned places.

This morning, I stumbled onto this article: 10 Hauntingly Beautiful Abandoned Places. They really are gorgeous.

Though some of them aren’t suited to investigations, others look ideal for paranormal research, if only for residual energy.

I haven’t plotted a ley line connecting them, but a line like that might be intriguing. Or – more likely – it might be all over the place, with no more than two connecting dots.

(I’m finicky about ley lines. Mine have to be straight lines, not curves or spirals, and the line needs to fall very close to each location.)

When we can travel again, I think these sites – and similar locations – might be fascinating to visit.

Research notes

Checking the history (and allure) of Craco, Italy (the second location in that article, and one I’d love to visit), I stumbled onto what may be the most haunted place in India.

Well, if you know me in real life (or have followed my career for very long), you know that anything involving curses, demons, or anything that sounds genuinely frightening… I’ll stay far away. I’m involved in ghost hunting for the history, the science, and the quirky (but fascinating) experiences.

But, I’m linking to that for more intrepid researchers who have fewer scruples (or perhaps phobias) about potentially dangerous entities.

(And yes, I’m far more enthusiastic about Craco and similar towns. Visiting them could be delightful fun.)

Reviving Italy’s ghost towns with an unusual hotel – BBC News

An unusual hotel, scattered throughout the community, is breathing life back into Italy’s deserted villages. A film by Amelia Martyn-Hemphill for BBC World H…

On the other hand, I’m not sure Florida’s dome homes are worth investigating. I’d need to study the history of the location. The home structures were used so briefly, they’re probably not haunted.

Dome home was a millionaire’s dream. Now it’s Florida’s problem.

The dome home off Cape Romano in Southwest Florida is creating problems as it crumbles into the Gulf of Mexico. https://bit.ly/2PINBQf

I’m not sure the history of the Danish lighthouse suggests that it’s haunted, but something about the energy of a historic site that was being consumed by Nature… I’d investigate it, anyway. (But, I’d dig into its history – no pun intended – before going there.)

It’s been moved to safety, but I think it’s still abandoned.

Abandoned Lighthouse – Rubjerg Knude Fyr Denmark 2019 – Drone 4K photography

Early morning flight around an abandoned lighthouse in Denmark. It is called Rubjerg Knude Fyr. Built 1899 abandoned in 1968. Cool place. Wish I have been he…

Michigan’s Central Station has already been used as a “haunted house” attraction at Halloween. But… yes, I’d be tempted to investigate it, anyway. I mean, really, most of those old stations are haunted (or so it seems). Add layers of residual energy from the Halloween events…? That could be a fun location to visit, with permission, before or after the renovations are completed.

Michigan Central Station

What once was considered a symbol of decline is now a sign of Detroit’s revival! We toured Michigan Central Station as a $350 million renovation project is w…

And, for TV producers, I’d suggest a road trip to other abandoned Michigan haunts. Some are already known as ghostly, including two former psychiatric hospitals.

Last but not least, Eilean Donan Castle is a must-see, if only for the regional beauty. Of course, the castle has the kind of history that leads to hauntings… and plenty of ghost stories, as well.

The Highlands & Eilean Donan Castle Photography

Instagram: http://www.instagram.com/brendanvanson — The Drone I Use: http://amzn.to/2lXUzlR Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/brendanvanson Facebook: http://…

So, though many of us are just “armchair travelers” right now, I hope those suggested journeys give you locations to dream about visiting, with a smile.

quill pen

 

 

 

When Art and Paranormal Activity Intersect

When art and paranormal activity intersectOften, after standing in a cold, damp, miserable site for two hours – with  nothing paranormal happening – I think, “there must be a better way to do this.”

But I keep standing there, waiting, because all the evidence suggests the site really is haunted… perhaps dramatically so.

And usually, if I keep waiting, the bone-chilling tedium was worthwhile. If I thoroughly research a site before visiting it, and confirm that it is a likely paranormal site, there’s an 80% chance the site is haunted. Or something paranormal is going on, even if it’s not “ghostly.”

The problem is, ghost hunting can be like waiting at a street corner for hours, hoping to see a green, 1964 Ford Mustang. And your only evidence is that – over the past 20 years – lots of people mentioned seeing one pass that street corner.

Whether you actually see a ’64 Mustang – or think you do – may depend on how long you stand there.

Patience. That’s all.

Are There Better Options?

In paranormal research, I think we need to expand our horizons. Explore offbeat theories that might lead us to something useful.

I mean, really, we’re already delving into topics many people consider too “out there” to take seriously. Why not go all-in, and see where the fringes take us?

Start with speculation, test it, follow-up with brainstorming, and extract the most promising elements.  Amplify those to see what happens. Repeat.

But where can we find fresh speculation? Where are the fringes?

Well… that leads to an article I read. It connected art with a sort-of paranormal headspace.

Art as a Path to the Paranormal

Are you ready to go way out on a limb, into speculation…?

Here’s the link that started today’s “what if?” musings: Susan Hiller, Conjurer of Paranormal Activity Through Conceptual Art, Has Died at 78.

In that article, I learned:

“Hiller eschewed the term ‘conceptual art’, saying she preferred the word ‘paraconceptual’ to describe her practice, given her interest in the supernatural.”

Later in that article, writer Alex Greenberger explained,

“it often seemed as though Hiller wanted to transport her viewers to another dimension or headspace by cinematic or aural means.”

That’s an extraordinary approach.

Would it work? Maybe. I have no idea. I’m not sure whether her goal was more than slightly shifting viewers’ headspace.

Then, I was more intrigued when I read a related article in The Guardian, where Hiller said,

“All my work deals with ghosts.”

Many creatives have expressed something similar as a figurative reference.

I’d love to know how literally Hiller meant that, and how it fits with specific art installations.

EVPs from 1971

In that same article, I read,

“She worked with the experiments of Latvian psychologist Konstantīns Raudive, who believed that tape recorders left in soundproofed rooms could pick up the voices of the dead – including Winston Churchill and James Joyce.”

In the past, I’d read about Raudive, but hadn’t followed-up to learn more.

Today, I found a YouTube video of his 1971 EVP recordings. I didn’t realize anyone was working with EVP, that long ago.  Not this seriously, anyway. (It’s a 5-minute video, and the recording quality is scratchy, but the voices are intriguing.)

What Are We, and What Are Ghosts?

Here’s another point I’m pondering: Hiller said,

“You know, we are pixels; we’re light.”

That reminded me of one of Vivek Narain’s comments on a recent trends article. He mentioned holograms, and – as usual – suggested several unique ways of looking at paranormal activity.

To me, his observations resonate with Hiller’s “we are pixels” explanation. It was interesting synchronicity.

I’m not sure if anyone else follows the connections I see between Hiller’s concepts, experimental work by Raudive, Vivek’s comments, and my research which spans many apparently distinct fields of study.

(I say “apparently distinct” because I’m not certain they’re truly separate, except in how we categorize the phenomena and explain it to ourselves. I don’t mean to sound flippant when I say, “We’re making this up as we go along,” but that’s how it seems, most of the time.)

Question Everything

I believe we need to explore how, when, and where we encounter paranormal activity. We should always question whether there are better research techniques.

After all, standing around in a “haunted” site, waiting for something to happen… it may not be the most productive use of our time.

I’m not sure how far out on a limb we should go, with research techniques. Do we go more electronic, or back to “old school” ghost hunting methods? What about creating environments – as Hiller and Raudive did – that might be more conducive to paranormal activity?

Today, I have no answers to this. Not even a clue.

But, I applaud Hiller’s work and hope to see some if it in real life, in the near future. I might try some EVP recordings around it. And, I’d be intrigued if her installations resonates – no pun intended – with how we feel immediately before and during a paranormal encounter.

Maybe there is an access point to those experiences. I’m not sure we can deliberately create it, or if it would be safe to try to.

For now, the Hiller story and the Raudive recordings are the kinds of breadcrumbs I watch for.

Nonsense or an Invitation?

If this seems like nonsense, that’s fine. I grew up in the halls of MIT. I spent countless happy hours, playing with strobes and other toys in Doc Edgerton’s lab. That was my childhood context, and – even now – it’s part of who I am.

So, I sometimes geek-out on innovative approaches to research. For me, nothing is too “out there” to consider. (Whether I take it seriously is another matter…)

But, if anything in this makes sense to you, or you can put more of this puzzle together, I’m interested in your theories. Sometimes the “what if?” questions lead to the most fascinating answers.