GLOSSARY OF TERMONOLOGY: Here I will attempt to define and explain key terms that we use during our work.

ANOMALY: An occurrence for which there is no normal explanation. This is one reason that I have surrounded myself with professionals on Agawam Paranormal. If something remains unexplained after these people get to work on it, there just might be something to it after all.

APPARITION: A disembodied ghost or spirit visible to a human being or camera. This can range from a “vaporous anomaly” to a ” shadow person” to a “partial bodied apparition” to a “full bodied apparition”.

ASTRAL PLANE: A level of existence separate from, and in some sense higher than, the physical world, according to certain philosophies and religious teachings. Both good and evil entities may be encountered here.

AURA: An energy field that surrounds the physical body and is believed to be a reflection of the astral body. The aura can be influenced by thought and emotion.

AUTOMATIC WRITING: A method of spirit communication where a spirit uses the hand of the living to write words or draw pictures. This form of contact requires the person to “channel” the spirit through their physical body and as such extreme caution should be applied here. (See “channeling” for more information)

AVP: AVP is Audio Voice Phenomena. While EVP’s are very common and require the use of a recording device, an AVP is something that is heard with the naked ear. These are very rare and a good example of one would be hearing someone call you by name when you are the only person there.

BANISHING: A ceremonial ritual to cast out negative energy or influences, it can refer either to a spiritual cleansing of a person or property. Banishment is the result of a successful cleansing. (See “cleansing” for more information)

BASE READINGS: These are the initial measurements taken during the beginnings of an investigation. They would include EMF and Temperature readings to be used as a base for the balance of the investigation in that area. Readings are recorded at this time and referred to during the area work later in the evening. All areas have base readings taken in order to remove some false positive measurements later.

CHANNELING: Communication by a spirit through a human being where the spirit comes through the channeler. Since this requires the allowing of a spirit to enter the physical body of the person involved, extreme caution should be observed here. If the person is actually dealing with a negative spirit or even a demon in disguise, they may not want to leave the physical body when the time comes. This could lead into a possession scenario.

CHI: Asian term for a “life force” or biological energy that is inhaled and can be manipulated for specific purposes. (Also referred to as Ki)

CLAIRVOYANCE: The ability to communicate with the other side, see the future, or be given other information using only the mind.

CLEANSING: A ritual in which negative energy and entities are banished through the use of prayers that are spoken aloud and may be adapted to the user’s needs. Also referred to as a Clearing.

COLD SPOT: A place that is inexplicably cooler than the surrounding area. It is thought by some to be an indication of a supernatural presence drawing energy from its environment in order to manifest it’s presence in some way.

DEMON: A demon is a spirit that was never human and has it’s own agenda. Demons can appear or project themselves in any form that they choose, such as a child to attempt to acquire the sympathy of the individual. Demons are also able to “possess” people, when left to their own devices, after a period of time.

DOPPELGANGER: The spirit of a living person viewed by that person. Doppelgangers are seen as a bad omen, usually as a sign of impending death.

ECTOPLASM: A filmy, quasi-solid substance that supposedly issues from the bodies of mediums while they are in trance states. Ectoplasm may issue from the mouth, nostrils, eyes, ears, navel, or the nipples. In photographs, ectoplasm resembles muslin fabric soaked in water.

ELEMENTAL: A nature spirit that can be either good or evil.

EMF: EMF’s are a very common finding in a suspected haunting. It is short for Electro-Magnetic Fields. This is basically a form of radiation that is both naturally and artificially created. When a reading is detected, it can usually be traced to a man-made source (such as electrical wiring, a digital display, refrigerator, etc…). However, sometimes there is no apparent reason for the reading, these are the interesting ones. We have experienced EMF readings that actually move about the room and seem to be watching investigators while they are working in a site. Always try to explain any readings before suspecting a paranormal connection.

ENTITY: A classification for a disembodied being, which may be a ghost, a spirit, an elemental, or a demon.

EVP: Electronic Voice Phenomena. Audio devices may record disembodied voices and other supernatural sounds that are inaudible to the human ear without mechanical intervention. Both digital and older style “tape” recorders work well here.  This is also the most common evidence captured on a paranormal investigation.

EXORCISM: Ritual expulsion of invading or demonic entities from a person or dwelling. The term was brought into the common vernacular by the 1973 movie The Exorcist.

FALSE POSITIVE: A false positive happens when we start to have readings on some of our equipment and later can find a natural or man-made explanation for them. One example would be an EMF spike that is then traced to electrical wiring in the walls. Until our readings have been attempted to be traced out, we consider all readings to be false positives initially. It’s when the readings cannot be explained that they become possibly something else.

FLOATING ORB: A spherical image, usually a translucent white though sometimes a reddish or bluish hue, which inexplicably registers on film or videotape. Its presence is thought, by some, to be an indicator of supernatural activity. Most orbs are debunked as natural things such as dust, water vapor or bugs and with experience most orbs will be explained. Rarely, orbs may even be seen with the naked eye too. Orbs that happen with either EMF readings and or an EVP response are much harder to discredit as a natural result.

GHOST: The soul of a dead person, reflecting the appearance of his or her living body but less substantial. Ghosts may exist in a state of semi-awareness or be completely cognizant of their living observers. It is believed that a ghost is trapped in this plane, for whatever reason, and cannot move on without help.

GHOST HUNTER / INVESTIGATOR: A person who attempts to gather evidence of ghosts or other paranormal activity. This may be accomplished by means of still photography, video, audio, EMF readings, EVP recordings, or other media.

HAUNTING: The manifestation of a ghostly presence attached to a specific person or location.

HOT SPOT: This is believed to be a spirit or ghost using energies to create an area that is physically warmer than the surrounding areas. Unlike a cold spot which is believed to be the attempted absorption of energy, the hot spot is the using of said energy. These are very rare.

INHUMAN ENTITY: A demon or other spirit intent on causing harm to living beings. Also known as a negative entity. (Also refer to the “Types of Haunts” tab for more information)

INSTRUMENTAL TRANSCOMMUNICATION (ITC): Two-way, real time communication with spiritual beings. The entities provide advanced technical information through radio, television, VCRs, DVRs, Telephones and computers. This is a basic term used to describe many forms of spirit communication, such as AVPs and Spirit Box sessions.

INTELLIGENT HAUNTING: A supernatural entity that is aware of it’s surroundings and of observers and is capable of interaction with them. (Also refer to the “Types of Haunts” tab for more information)

LEVITATION: A rare phenomenon in which objects or persons are lifted or sometimes hurled through the air. Encountered occasionally in cases of poltergeist activity.

MATERIALIZATION: The procedure through which a ghost appears. Materialization can be sudden or gradual, resulting in an entity that is indistinct or seemingly quite solid.

MATRIXING: The natural tendency of the human mind to add details to sensory input (perceived through the visual, auditory, olfactory, or tactile senses) so as to create a familiar or easily understood pattern. In effect, matrixing is mentally “filling in the blanks”.

NECROMANCY: This is a practice that goes back to ancient times and is forbidden by most current religious beliefs today. Necromancy is the attempted summoning of the dead in either a physical form or a spiritual one, that binds the spirit to the will of the summoner. Religious texts clearly warn that there is a very high and terrible price for such attemps. Some feel that “ghost hunters” are actually practicing a form of necromancy during their investigations, however I remind all that the investigation does not summon any spirits to a location but simply attempts to contact and communicate with them, not to mention to provide “peace of mind” for the client. Also, if possible and with the permission of the client, Agawam Paranormal will try to release these spirits into their afterlife.

NIGHT TERROR: A night terror has been described as a nightmare on steroids. The person experiencing a night terror cannot distinguish fact from fantasy as the terrors feel very real and not dream like in nature. A person wakes actually believing that they have been through whatever their terror was in their mind.

OBSESSION: The process by which a demon(s) gains their initial access to a targeted human. The subject literally becomes obsessed with the demon. The person may not even be aware of the obsessive behavior, this is why I warn people about using a Ouija Board, Dowsing Rods, Pendulums or other means of communication with the spirit world. If you try any of these items and you even begin to suspect an obsession forming, stop using them immediately. Just remember that each item is used to open a door and as such playing around with them is something that I strongly discourage as you never know just what you are letting in.

OUIJA BOARD: A wooden board preprinted with letters, numbers, and words used by mediums to receive supernatural communication. It is believed that these boards can open a door into the spirit world and allow anything to cross over to our world. This is not a toy or game and can become very serious. Caution should be taken here.

PARANORMAL: The realm of occurrences and phenomena removed from those to which people are exposed in everyday experience.

PHANTOM SMELL: Any scent through which a supernatural entity is attempting to express itself. Typically, phantom smells are reminiscent of flowers, cigarettes, or perfume, but they don’t come from any identifiable source.

PLANCHETTE: This is the name for the pointing device used with a Ouija Board.

POLTERGEIST: A ghost that manifests its presence through noises, rappings, the moving of objects, and the creation of disorder. The relocation of furniture is an indication of poltergeist activity. Another theory is that poltergeist activity is actually caused by the living and not a spirit. Most of these cases seem to center around an adolescent child, usually a girl, and loses its power upon the child exiting puberty. This creates a similarity to a demonic haunting and extra care needs to be taken by all those involved. (Also refer to the “Types of Haunts” tab for more information)

PORTAL: A theoretical doorway of energy, through which spirits may be able to enter or exit a location.

POWER DRAIN: It has long been suspected that a spirit or ghost can absorb the energies from their environment to allow them to manifest or respond in some way. A power drain is when these spirits or ghosts decide to take the energies from the batteries in our equipment, maybe this is easier for them to accomplish than to tap into their surroundings. However most times once the battery is removed from the device and the location, they will usually regain most of their charge. We have had cameras that have required four and five battery changes within thirty minutes. These were brand new batteries that were fully charged, yet completely drained within several minutes in the location.

PSYCHIC: A person that has the ability to use feelings and intuitions to communicate with the spirits. Beware of “Psychics” that are looking for money in exchange for their services, in my experience most that charge fees are fakes and simply read the person involved. There are even some that require a photo and information about the person that you wish to contact before the reading takes place. If you plan on visiting a psychic for entertainment purposes, research them before you go as this can actually make your session more enjoyable for you. Please note that not all psychics are fake, some have real abilities that have been documented. Again research is the key here.

PSYCHOKINESIS: This is the ability to actually move objects only with the power of the mind. This is one theory for poltergeist activity. (Also refer to the “Types of Haunts” tab for more information)

REINCARNATION: The belief that a soul will move on to another body after death to work out it’s karmic, debt.

RESIDUAL HAUNTING: A scene from the past that continues to be played out over and over again, like a recording, with the witness of the phenomenon essentially peering into a former era. The ghostly participants in these time displacements always seem unaware of their living observers. (Also refer to the “Types of Haunts” tab for more information)

SEANCE: The attempt by a group to contact the spirit world. A medium is usually the channel for the energies to manifest through.

SENSITIVE: A medium or clairvoyant. A sensitive can see or feel people, objects, and events in the realm of the paranormal.

SMUDGE STICKS: A Native American tool made of sage used for purification, healing, and cleansing ceremonies. The smoke is thought to clear negative energies. Also referred to as “saging”.

SPIRIT: A spirit, unlike a ghost, does have the ability to move back and forth between this plane of existence and the next, or between Heaven and Earth if you will. This definition lends itself to what is referred to as a “Trauma or Crisis Apparition” which appears to people in times of need or great stress. An example of this might be seeing the apparition of a loved one immediately after they have died (most times before the person even knows that the other has passed away). This type of visitation is usually very comforting for the person experiencing it. One of our investigators was an actual witness to this type of visitation. Her father passed away, while she was traveling to the hospital, and appeared to her to say “Good-Bye” (fortunately, she was not driving at the time). She was able to see his head and shoulders and hear him as he spoke to her. She actually noticed the time on the car radio and she discovered, when she arrived at the hospital, that that was the exact time that her father had passed away!!! My son, Rob Jr, also reported that on the evening that my mother passed away, he witnessed her sitting in a rocking chair in my living room. This startled him and when he immediately looked back, she was gone. He also reported a feeling of peace and love from the experience. They were very close and he thought that it was her way of saying “Good-Bye” one last time.

SYNCHRONICITY: Uncanny coincidences that seem too convenient to be truly coincidental.

TELEKINESIS: The psychic phenomenon where objects are moved solely by the powers of the mind.

URBAN LEGEND: Any story told as having happened to a friend of a friend. Many reported hauntings are recycled urban legends. Most times, during the research segment of the investigation, you will never be able to find an actual first hand witness to any reported event, it’s always the friend of my cousin’s junior year college, dorm roommate’s girl friend. (Did you follow all of that?)

VORTEX: An anomaly that sometimes shows up in still photographs taken at the site of a suspected haunting, appearing as a translucent white tube or funnel-shaped mass. Some researchers believe vortexes may be portals to the spirit realm.

WHITE NOISE: White noise is basically just static in the background of a recording. There is a theory that the addition of white noise to an EVP session actually adds to the chances of picking up a voice from any spirit present. I simply find the addition of such static distracting and to contribute to matrixing of the sounds heard. (See matrixing above for more information)

WRAITH: The semitransparent image of a person that appears shortly before or after his or her death, also sometimes used when talking about a ghost.

EQUIPMENT THAT WE USE: Here I will describe some of the basic and more advanced equipment that Agawam Paranormal brings to and uses on our investigations.

COMPASS: A simple everyday compass also works as an EMF meter. Since a compass is based upon magnetism, it is also disrupted by an Electro-Magnetic Field or EMF. While a compass does not give you the actual strength of the EMF reading, it will fluctuate the needle. For this reason, I recomend a liquid filled compass as it helps keep the needle much more stable. Agawam Paranormal always has two of these in our equipment cases.

DIGITAL BATTERY TESTER: This device is a simple tester for all sizes of batteries. Sometimes, during a power drain, after removing the battery from it’s device and the site, the battery actually regains it’s power charge. The tester shows the power levels within each battery.

DIGITAL INFRARED CAMERA: A device used to capture images invisible to the human eye at the “hot” end of the light spectrum. It is capable of feeding information to a computer, where its infrared images may be stored on a hard drive.

DIGITAL THERMOMETER: A device used to record the presence of cold spots and hot spots, sometimes during an apparent paranormal event. Some digital thermometers record temperatures second-by-second for PC storage and graphic charting.

DIGITAL VOICE RECORDER: A device similar to an old style “tape recorder” which records in an electronic format without the need for a recording tape. These files can be transferred to a computer for analysis and editing. Some recorders start around $25.00 and can easily exceed $200.00.

DOWSING RODS: Dowsing rods are a really interesting piece of equipment. They are simply a usually copper rod bent in the shape of the letter “L”. Some have hollow wooden handles that the rods are put through, so that the user’s hands do not come in direct contact with the copper rod. This is one piece of equipment that I cannot even come close to explaining how they work, but they do work consistently. They can be used for spirit communication, with extreme caution, and can also react to water and conductive materials. They are a personal piece of equipment that seem to read on and react to the owner’s energy signature and should not be shared between investigators. If you attend a library event and are curious, ask me to demonstrate them for you. (The rods that I own are copper, however they can be made of other materials including wood)

ELECTRO-MAGNETIC FIELD DETECTOR: A device used to detect electro-magnetic fields (EMFs). Its use is somewhat controversial among ghost hunters in that EMF’s from power lines, television sets, kitchen appliances, etc. surround us constantly, as well as the fact that it has yet to be categorically proven that ghosts emit EM energy. On the other hand, some researchers say that ghosts disrupt EMF’s. Agawam Paranormal uses several different types of EMF detectors in the field, ranging from a K-2 to a “Mel” meter (with a few others in between). While we are using these tools, we are very careful to eliminate natural and man-made sources from the list of possible causes. When in doubt, we bring in our Master Electrician to see what he can find.

EQUIPMENT CASES: While a simple tote is perfect for the extension cords and tri-pods, protect your investment, in the hand equipment, with a padded hard case. The best ones are customizable with form inserts. Most of the equipment that we use can be pretty expensive and it needs to be protected. Not to mention that it becomes a lot easier to transport to the site and then to make sure that when you leave, you have all of your equipment with you. The cases are a necessary and worthy investment.

FIRST AID KIT: This is another common sense item that is a must for all investigations. Keep it well stocked, just in case you may need it.

FLASHLIGHTS: A simple flashlight is a necessity for any investigation, I suggest the new LED style of light as they are very bright and you can apply a filter if desired. Filters change the color of the light so as not to interfere with night vision and such.

GEOPHONE: A Geophone is a device that detects and measures vibrations. They can be placed in an area where a client reports footsteps or knocking. When a vibration is sensed, the lighted display will activate an give a graphic representation. The stronger the vibration, the more lights that will come on. The ones that we use were made by Jeremy and are adjustable in intensity and sensitivity.

IR ILLUMINATORS: These are additional light sources for our Static Cameras. They produce an infra-red lighting that is invisible to the naked eye but, while watching the monitor in Command Center, makes a pitch dark room look like it’s daytime (just green). These allow us to capture a significantly higher quality video with our high definition cameras.

LASER GRIDS: A laser grid is a pencil sized unit that projects a laser beam that is deflected into multiple points of light forming a grid on a wall or other object. These come in different colors and can be battery operated (very common) or with an A/C power source that is simply plugged into any wall electrical outlet (more expensive). The theory here is that anything passing between the laser and the grid will cause a visible disruption in the grid. These are usually used with a camera set-up.

MOTION SENSOR: A device that is used to detect movement in an area that is not currently being directly investigated. This equipment is always placed in such a fashion as to allow a static camera to observe it as the reaction to movement is a light and not audible.

NOTEBOOK AND WRITING UTENSIL: This sounds very obvious but each investigation team needs to be responsible for their own team notes. I always assign each team a member to document things for all investigations. This investigator takes the notes for their team and later compiles and produces a written report for me to be added to the investigation folder. Things of note would be EMF spikes, Temperature spikes, observed activity or sounds, etc…

SPIRIT BOX: A spirit box is a modified digital radio and continually scans the AM and FM frequencies without actually stopping at any active band. This is very similar to a car radio when you hit either the seek or scan functions except that the spirit box continues to cycle through the entire frequency set. When used as a part of an EVP session, you would usually attach a separate speaker to the box for better clarity and record the session with your recorder for later review. This is really a technological version of an AVP as you hear the answers to your questions in real time. The theory with this device is that the spirits can manipulate the radio signal to communicate. Recording the session allows you to go back and re-examine the evidence. The scanning that the box does can be quickened or slowed for different results. For me, the jury is still out on this piece of equipment as we have captured results on occasion while other times nothing.

STATIC CAMERAS AND DVR SYSTEM: Static cameras are simply (night vision or thermal) cameras that are mounted on tripods and are monotered in Command Center on a computer screen. They can also be recorded onto a DVR system for later review. Agawam Paranormal currently uses an eight camera (channel) night vision system.

THERMAL-IMAGING DIGITAL CAMERA: A device that records images of long-wavelength infrared radiation (i.e., heat) that are invisible to the human eye. The thermal-imaging camera facilitates the capture of images in darkness, smoke, or fog.

THERMAL SENSOR: A device that senses changes in the area based upon heat. A slave unit is placed in the field, while the receiving unit is located in Command Center. This device works best when combined with a camera to discount false positive readings from an investigator walking in front of the sensor.

TRIGGER ITEM: An object that would be of interest to a suspected spirit or ghost haunting a location. This item would be placed in front of a camera for best results. The item would differ from investigation to investigation depending on the suspected age / interests of the entity. An example would be a Superman figure where a child spirit is believed to be the cause of the haunt.

WALKIE TALKIES: These are multi-channel radios that we use to remain in contact with each team as well as Command Center.

WATCH: A simple watch in order to accurately notate the time when an activity happens during an investigation. A digital watch with a backlit screen is the one of choice for most.