by Karen Frazier

Photo used under Flickr creative commons license (c) Aunt Owwee

When we research the paranormal, we sometimes forget that the devices we carry may be unfamiliar to spirits. I know in my investigations of the Wellington avalanche disaster site when I've used things that appear quite modern (such as laser grids or very bright lights), the spirits have indicated via a ghost box they are a little afraid of those items. This isn't surprising, given the spirits at Wellington are likely from a period about 100 years ago. I try to alleviate a spirit's concerns about the equipment we use by carefully describing and explaining it, but apprehension is to be expected given the pace of technological advancement over the past 100 years. 

One of the ways SSPR attempts to overcome apprehension about technology is by using trigger objects - period pieces that may spark a spirit's interest. Many investigators use them. They can be anything - jewelry, toys, spiritual items, books, or clothing for example. At Wellington, I've tried to bring objects relevant to the time period. I have a post card sent from Wellington in the early 1900s, for instance. I've used that. I've also used toys the children at the site might recognize, such as a small wooden toy train, jacks, or a ball. One of our satellite members, William, goes even farther, making himself a trigger object. He does that by dressing in period clothing.

William, the human trigger object  

Using trigger objects may help increase activity, or it may fall flat. I've seen it work both ways, but it is another way paranormal researchers attempt to establish contact in a way that makes spirits feel comfortable communicating with them.

It doesn't necessarily need to be an object that triggers activity. I've also used pre-recorded and live music (I have a small wooden recorder I use to play simple songs), spoken phrases in foreign languages (in appropriate situations), read passages from books, shared photographs, and even offered whiskey and cigars. Another team I know has invited spirits to join them in a game of poker. These are all methods that may engage spirits and help them trust that we are there to communicate.

Using trigger objects is part of SSPR's compassionate approach to paranormal research. We believe that ghosts are people without bodies who deserve to be engaged with kindness and treated with compassion. We never use provocative language, an angry tone of voice, or aggression to engage spirits. Instead, we seek to communicate with them just as we would with a living human being by using a friendly tone of voice, interesting conversation, humor, and understanding.