Questions and answers:
Question: When was WRGS founded?
Answer: WRGS was founded as Fox Valley Spirit Hunters in the summer of 2006 in Oshkosh Wisconsin. It grew out of an amicable split of East Central Wisconsin Paranormal Investigations into two investigative groups, WRGS and Heartland Paranormal Investigations. We changed our name to Wolf River Ghost Society to separate our team from a few other teams with similar names who are working in the same area.
Question: What is your experience?
Answer: We have a variety of experience in residential, institutional and commercial sites. We also have a group of consultants we may call in on a case by case basis who also have experience in specialized areas.
Question: Why do you investigate ghosts?
Answer: Our reasons for investigating are varied as the people we work with. Everyone has a story or an idea they want to disprove or validate. Some of us have had experiences with the unknown we wish to know more about, while others may consider themselves skeptics and want to help a client ease their fears with logical, rational explanations.
Question: Are you just a bunch of young ghost-huntin' yahoos out to scare yourselves in my home?
Answer: No. We are both in our 60s and are grandparents. We pride ourselves on not drawing negative attention to your home. We arrive unobtrusively in unmarked vehicles, set up quietly and conduct ourselves in a friendly, professional manner. We don't dress outlandishly, have tattoos in unusual places or have metal things stuck in our faces. We are interested in conducting your investigation because we have a true interest in the paranormal, but also want help you feel safe in your own home.
Question: Why don't you charge a fee for investigations?
Answer: We don't believe it is ethical for charge for ghost investigations. Historically, the paranormal research field has been overrrun with charlatans who charged for their fraudulent services. Even today, there are so-called "ghost hunters" who try to charge for these services, even on Ebay! There is no verifiable proof to date that ghosts even exist so how could we charge to find something that may or may not exist? We appreciate our clients allowing us into their homes to investigate and perhaps be able to put their minds at rest over possible paranormal events going on in their lives and providing us an opportunity to further expand our knowledge of the paranormal.
Question: Is my house haunted?
Answer: It is rare that we will tell a client that their house is actually haunted. In most cases, we can either find rational explanations for their experiences or validate that something unusual is going on. Unless we find indisputable evidence to the contrary, we will not try to tell you that your house is haunted.
Question: Do you use psychics?
Answer: We do not use psychics, sensitives or mediums as a main part to an investigation but we may bring someone along with those gifts who can help us focus our investigation on where we might find activity. However, we do not base our conclusions on evidence gathered by such means.
Question: Do you believe that photographic orbs are ghosts?
Answer: In the vast majority of cases, photographic orbs are nothing but dust, bugs, moisture or other explainable phenomena. If you want to experiment with this, shake out a quilt or pillow or similar and then take a photo of the area. You will see orbs. We do not count orb photos as any sort of evidence so if you take a photo and see orbs in your home, don't think that your house is haunted by anything but dust bunnies. It is also why we don't recommend cleaning your house immediately before an investigation--even the cleanest of homes will still have a lot of dust in the air after you finish.
Question: Do you get rid of my ghosts?
Answer: We do not normally do house "cleansings" but can make referrals if you wish. There is no guarantee that any kind of "cleansing" or blessing will work however. Sometimes after we've visited, phenomena will quiet down or disappear altogether for awhile, but there is no way of knowing if it will come back. Also, remember, the spirit you are trying to "cleanse" may just be a deceased family member trying to communicate. Do you really want to exorcise your grandma?
Question: Do you believe in demons/evil spirits?
Answer: My personal belief does not include demons or evil spirits. However, I have run into possible energies that may never have been human. Since there is no way to "prove" the existence of these things, I can only say that if they do exist, they must be incredibly bored. Perhaps that is why these supposed creatures choose to harass people--they have nothing better to do. Elemental spirits fall into this category--fairies, elves, leprechauns, trolls, etc. Whether you believe in these mythological creatures or not, there is some thought that they actually be based on actual experiences people may have had with them. Is there any way to prove this? Of course not, but to get back to the question, if you are talking about demons as represented in major world religions, the answer is no, I don't believe in demons. If you are asking if I believe in non-human spirits or energies, then I would answer that the jury is out on that one.
Question: I am thinking about paying for an exorcism/home cleansing/ghost investigation/whatever. Is it worth paying for this service?
Answer: NO! Do NOT pay anyone anything for their service. There is NO WAY that any of them can guarantee their work. How can they possibly guarantee that you will never experience the problems that prompted you to call them in? Show you the ghost in a jar? The only exception MAYBE would be for a clergyperson to come and bless your home. It is part of their duty to help you in this way and a donation to their church/synagogue/organization is a nice way to thank them for their time. But in no way does this guarantee that their blessing will work nor should it. There are plenty of shysters out there who are more than willing to come and "exorcise" your home in exchange for cash. Not only is this considered unethical in this field, it is also a great opportunity for you to be separated from your money and still have the same problem that prompted you to call the "exorcist" in.
Question: I am not a member of any organized major religion. Can I have a blessing done by someone other than one of those?
Answer: I believe a major reason that a blessing may help is your faith in its ability to work. If you are an atheist or agnostic, then perhaps a blessing isn't the answer for you. One of the other beliefs or religions may have more meaning for you, such as Wicca or Native American or other ancient beliefs. If you wish to have a cleansing done by someone from those traditions and don't know where to turn, we may be able to help you find a resource for that.
Question: A lot of paranormal teams have photos of "ghosts" and evps on their websites. You don't have nearly as much evidence posted as they do. Why not?
Answer: Because we don't believe photos/videos of dust orbs, moisture, bugs, etc constitute much evidence. If we get a photo/video we can't quite explain, we may post it here just to get some feedback on it. As for EVPsf and "ghost box" (radio) voices, we do post a few on our site, but only those of special interest or content. Or that are just plain FUNNY! Do we believe these are ghosts? We honestly do not know for sure. But as these voices were not present at the time, we can't say positively that they aren't either. Take them at face value, enjoy them but remember we can't prove they are ghosts any more than the shyster teams can.
Question: Is there anything I can do myself to protect my home and family from ghosts and/or evil spirits?
Answer: Since we do not do house cleansings ourselves, we can only make suggestions and relate how other people have dealt with similar problems. There are no guarantees however. In fact, some historic cases have only gotten worse after attempts to get entities to leave. But if you want to try, doing research on the web might give you some ideas. For example, if you belong to a particular church, there is historic data suggesting that regular prayer groups in the problem building might help. Some people have had success in "smudging"and/or blessing the house with holy water. Others sprinkle holy water (available free at most Catholic churches), salt water or sea salt at any orifice where a spirit might enter, including drains and cracks in the foundation or gaps anywhere in the structure of the house. Still others might ask their family and friends who have passed on, spirit guides and angels to help rid the house of evil spirits. In the case of possible ghosts, simply telling them aloud that they are dead and should go to the light or that they are scaring children might get the activity to lessen or cease. There are as many solutions as there are problems. All of them or none of them might work.
Question: Why don't you publish a full list of your equipment like other ghost investigation teams do?
Answer: It is our opinion that the type of equipment isn't as important as the quality and knowledge of the people operating it. Also, since we are always adding new equipment and replacing old, the list would be difficult to keep up to date. Please be assured that we are equipped as well or perhaps better than most other investigation teams.
Question: Why don't you publish your investigation protocols?
Answer: Our protocols (methods) fluctuate with each new investigation. A procedure that might work in one location may not be feasible in another. We also take the client's and other witnesses reports into account and try to tailor our investigation toward disproving or validating their stories. Having an iron-clad "protocol" for each procedure would make it difficult for us to try to answer clients' questions about what is specifically happening in their home if our protocol won't allow us to try to reproduce the effect witnessed. However we do have certain requirements on investigations that might be construed as a "protocol":
No outlandish clothing--clean t-shirts and jeans without holes are ok but no weird graphics such as skulls, etc.
No obvious piercings on the face (remove facial jewelry)
No overdone makeup, such as "goth"
No perfumes, colognes, scented soaps
No whispering at any time
Make a verbal note of any extraneous natural or artificial noises during recording sessions
Precede each photo with a verbal warning such as "flash"
Always take two photos, not just one, of the same area
Never venture anywhere alone
Above all treat the client with courtesy and respect
Question: What should I expect to happen on my investigation?
Answer: We normally begin by interviewing everyone who has witnessed phenomena in the site. This might take an afternoon. On the day of your investigation, one or two investigators will come to your home before the rest of the group to do a "walk-thru" during daylight hours. This helps us to familiarize ourselves with your structure before the other investigators arrive. This also lets us map out "hotspots" with our EMF readers so we know where in your building we are likely to find stray EMF. We also look for possible natural or structural answers to your experiences, such as pipes expanding/contracting, loose branches banging against the side of the house, rodent infestations and so on. Assuming we don't solve your ghost problem with an examination of the property involved, the full crew of 4-5 investigators (or more, depending on the size of your site) will arrive later to conduct the full investigation. We also research the history of the building and site to see if any previous owners or events may have an impact on what is happening. After your investigation, we will take up to two weeks to evaluate our gathered data and will set up a time to meet with you to go over results. We may also schedule a followup investigation to try to recreate any recorded phenomena. In the end, we will summarize our findings, give you our opinion on whether your site is haunted or not and give you copies of any recorded phenomena we may have to support our summary.
What are "orbs"?
Answer: "Orbs" are thought to be spheres of energy that might be related to ghosts and/or ghostly activity. There is no proof to this. Most "orbs" appear in still photographs from digital or 35mm cameras as white or colored glowing circles. Some have glowing outlines, others appear solid. There is no true way to tell if an "orb" is paranormal because moisture droplets, dust, insects, dirt on the camera lens, etc. can all appear as "orbs" in a photograph. Therefore, if you have taken a photograph with an "orb" in it, there is no need to think your house is haunted. ADDENDUM: 10/22/07 - An article in the Oshkosh Northwestern has Katie looking at a photo and pronouncing it an "orb". What they didn't include was the rest of her comment about orbs likely being just dust, moisture, as above.
What is "EMF" and why should it concern me?
Answer: EMF stands for " electromagnetic field". EMF is created naturally in the earth's atmosphere in the form of thunderstorms (for the electricity) and the magnetic poles of the earth. It is also artificially created by high voltage wires, consumer electronics, the wiring in your home and other man-made sources. Investigators will use an EMF scanner to detect fluctuating EMF in your home. EMF can emanate from almost any electrical device, such as refrigerators, stereos, TVs, light fixtures and so on. Some people believe that fluctuating EMF readings can mean the presence of ghosts since it is thought that ghosts will draw energy from the surroundings in order to manifest. Also, it is thought that high EMF can actually affect the brain and cause a person to sense, feel, see or hear things that aren't there. This could be the root of some "ghost sightings". It is recommended that any device emitting high EMF be repaired or replaced by the site owner. Also, buildings located in close proximity to sources such as high voltage wires might be adversely affected by EMF. It is common to build public buildngs such as schools under these wires because the land is cheaper, so it is possible that high doses of stray EMF may be passing through these buildings. So while high EMF readings don't necessarily mean that you have ghosts, they could be a health hazard that should be rectified.
Question: Why do you investigate mostly at night?
Answer: It is usually easier to hear or see unusual events at night, when daily activity is at its lowest and noises from outside are less likely to disrupt an investigation. Historically, most ghostly activity seems to occur in the wee hours between 9PM and 4AM. However if you feel your site should be investigated during the day, that can be done too. Also most clients work during the day, but anytime is a good time to investigate!
Question: Why do you "go dark" when your investigation starts?
Answer: In many cases, "going dark" seems to encourage activity of the sort that the clients are reporting. Some phenomena is only visible in darkness while witness accounts tell us that the events are happening during the darkness at night. But often we don't go completely "dark" and use lanterns and flashlights for illumination when necessary for safety's sake. If we are investigating during the day, we don't "go light", we just observe and try to experience the sorts of activity that is being reported.
Question: Can my friends/kids/pets be present?
Answer: Normally we ask that children spend the night elsewhere so that their activities aren't disrupting and they don't become frightened. Also, we prefer that you only have one or two people in the building with us while we are investigating. This can be you and a friend or maybe one or two other people you designate if you do not wish to be present. The reason we limit the number of people in the building is to keep the noise levels and disturbances at a minimum. If you have quiet pets, they might be allowed to remain as long as we know what and how many of them there are. Noisy pets such as birds should be removed for the night.
Question: What do I do while you are here?
Answer: Usually our client and any friends are welcome to join our teams investigating as long you are attentive, quiet and do as asked. If you are uncomfortable joining a team, we will designate an area that you can stay in where you can read or do some other quiet activity by flashlight. Usually we will have our investigators take turns staying with you if you are in an area that is out of our view. This is so we can keep track of your activities just as we do with our investigators. Most clients like to join our teams.
Question: Do you travel for investigations?
Answer: Yes, we are willing to travel up to two hours from our home region of Neenah/Oshkosh/Appleton for normal investigations. We will go farther for investigations of exceptional interest.
Question: What do you know about Native American burial/sacred sites?
Answer: North America has been peopled for many thousands of years. As a result, burial sites are myriad and the locations of most are actually not known. Therefore it is possible that nearly every inch of the country has either had someone die on it or be buried in it, on it or over it. Because of this, most of the continent could be considered sacred ground. As ghost investigators, we do not seek to investigate known indian burial sites. Disturbing such sacred/burial sites is considered bad luck and in fact is prohibited by Federal law. If you have an indian mound or other possible site that you want investigated, please contact local tribal authorities in your area so it can be documented and you can find out more about it. Do not dig into it or otherwise disturb it.
What do you think about ghost hunting shows on TV, such as "Most Haunted" and "Ghost Hunters"?
Answer: We have no official stance on them. We enjoy watching some of them just like anyone else but are perhaps a little more critical than the average person. However, most real-life ghost investigations are generally much more mundane than might be pictured on TV. Personally, I tend to yell at the TV quite a bit, usually saying "it's DUST stupid!" That's just me.
Question: If my site was investigated by another group, will you still come?
Answer: If you can pass on the contact information for the other group, we will normally offer to compare our findings with theirs. So yes, we will still investigate even if you have had an investigation done previously. Perhaps we can verify the earlier group's findings or find something new.
Question: Why don't you accept third-party referrals?
Answer: We don't accept them because it is not unheard of for pranksters to give us fake names/phone numbers or those of real people without their permission. We require the person having the problem to be the initial contact.
Question: I want to become a certified paranormal investigator. Are there courses I can take?
Answer: There has been debate in this particular aspect of the field. Many people feel it is impossible to become certified in a field that isn't even proven to exist. Others debate what kind of education and techniques should be required to be "certified". Also, most certification programs require an approval panel or board in each individual state or a national overseeing organization to set its curriculum and standards. If you are just interested in learning more about investigative techniques and not so concerned with the "certification" aspect, then there are a few people out there who offer online courses for a fee. I would carefully check out the backgrounds of these people and talk to former students before making a decision as to whose courses to take. A friend of mine who is a real skeptic has taken courses from Loyd Auerbach and enjoyed them very much. His courses offer a certification as well, although I doubt if any state recognizes any paranormal certifications at all. I have no other thoughts on other instructors.
Question: Can I become a ghost investigator with WRGS?
Answer: Right now we are a two-person team, so unless you want to marry us, sorry. We already have a group of investigators that we call upon when we need additional help. However if you have a special expertise in a related area, I would be glad to talk to you about occasional consulting.
Question: Do you believe in ghosts?
Answer: This is what we are trying to find out.
Katie Kintner is the founder of Wolf River Ghost Society. Along with her husband, Keith she has been investigating ghosts since 2005.