We’re all familiar with digital technology – such as voice recorders, EMF pumps, Mel meters, and the like – that enable us to enhance or capture our evidence of the paranormal. More often than not, however, the results are inconclusive and, with so much fakery online today (no thanks to the likes of video editing software and various graphics programs), it makes it doubly more difficult to review our evidence objectively. As a result, perhaps we become naturally skeptical.
So, what if we simplify things and ignore technology for a moment? What if there were alternatives? Below are five soft options to replace or use alongside the conventional methods we’re familiar with.
One of the methods I used to use was placing flour on an area where paranormal activity was known to occur. This was one of the methods that Victorian parapsychologists would use for spirit detection. It’s rather primitive by modern standards, but it was determined to be a more reliable measure of paranormal activity.
White flour was determined to be the best, as marks made in the flour were clearly more pronounced. With wheat or wholewheat flour, they didn’t show up as well. Besides, white is a naturally reflective color, so even in the darkness the camera flash was able to pick up the right light and shadows and we could capture distinct impressions in the flour itself where suspected paranormal activity occurred.
Most of the impressions were lines or smudges where something had disturbed the flour, but we did capture some intriguing impressions resembling footprints on numerous occasions. Considering that no one been in the area at all after the flour had been sprinkled on the floor, and there were no pets around, it was compelling evidence.
Other powders we used were fine sugar, salt and talcum powder.
- The sugar crystals would almost certainly be disturbed, but the results were often inconclusive and even the slightest vibrations disturbed the sugar.
- Salt, long believed to be a deterrent, unsurprisingly was highly ineffective. Although in some investigations it was disturbed slightly, the results were still inconclusive enough to be paranormal.
- When we used talcum powder, we found this to be unreliable, as we discovered that since it absorbs moisture quite well, greasy handprints would sometimes show up on countertops that we’d mistake as paranormal. (As a further experiment to confirm this, I purposely immersed my hand in vegetable oil and stamped it on a small side-table. This was then left for a week, by which time most of the oil had evaporated and left barely a trace on the surface. As soon as the talcum powder was sprinkled on that same spot, the handprint showed up faintly.)
The problem with the flour method is, of course, the mess it makes. If it was in a client’s house, permission would need to be granted beforehand and it would need to be cleaned up thoroughly. It would make sense to put a plastic sheet down on the floor first to prevent the mess in the first place and make it easier to clean up.
Nowadays, laser grids and E-Pods are commonly used in investigations. When something passes through the light of the laser or within the vicinity of the electro-static field of the E-Pod, it will usually trigger an alarm, said to indicate the presence of a spirit. The alternative method is a simple ball of string.
The string is attached to either side of an open door or between corridor walls. If the string is detached or snapped, then that could indicate the presence of something paranormal has passed through. A method that I sometimes used was to tie one end of the string to the door handle and the other to an opposite door, or a window handle on the other end or the room if it was viable, stretched taut enough but with enough slackness so that its own tension wouldn’t cause it to snap. This method was successful twice where, when we went to check on it afterwards, the string had snapped, despite the fact that no one else had been near at the time.
Forget about using Sellotape or duct tape to attach the ends of the strings; the stickiness tends to fade after a time, resulting in one end coming off the surface it’s attached to. This particularly applies to a dirty or greasy surface, where it might not attach at all.
Blue-Tak tends to be somewhat more reliable but, just like the Sellotape, the ends can easily work loose on their own. Thumbtacks work particularly well; they can be embedded into surfaces with the ends of the strings knotted sufficiently, and then pushed more securely into place.
An alternative to motion detection is tying small bells (like those found on a charm bracelet) onto closed door and window handles can be used as an indication of movement. Bearing in mind that door latches can come loose on their own, giving the appearance that the door is opening anomalously, studies indicated that it’s relatively easy to rule out natural causes by the frequency and duration of the bell ringing.
Short tinkles tend to be caused by breezes, gusts of wind or natural vibrations and usually don’t last for very long. Longer, more consistent rings can indicate a spirit presence, commonly occurring immediately before the door shudders or opens on its own.
Bells can also be attached to a length of string, which is then fastened across a hallway or door. If something moves past or through the string, the bells will tinkle.