Last week’s guest, Blaine Duncan, got me thinking about an old article. I have some other ideas planned for later in the week, but thought I would reshare this.
This article originally appeared at the Ghostvillage News section at www.ghostvillage.com/news
Ghosts do not discriminate. The mass of haunting that go documented, especially in this time of local paranormal investigators, are found inside the home where a family suffers through things they cannot explain. In an era where evidence gained through investigation motivates many of the teams out there, the purity of a residence is the best testing ground for the science of ghost hunting. Is there a need then for paranormal landmarks, those national and international locations most people in the paranormal community can rattle off by memory?
Anyone who has ever been to a famously haunted location knows it is hard to gain any evidence that cannot be disputed. Groups walk around behind each other creating orb photos with their flashes and EVPs with their constant chatter about how great it is to finally be at Waverly Hills. Many are not even open to investigators. People can name the DeFeo children by heart, but they have never been there. They know the genealogy of the families but have never stepped foot in Dudley Town. They will never have the funds to travel to the Queen Mary or Eastern State Penitentiary, but they know of them, and go to chat rooms to discuss them.
That may be why they are needed. Haunted landmarks are the common denominator for the paranormal world. Ghost hunting is still considered deviant behavior, but reading about ghosts and watching the paranormal media is not. Someone who would never investigate a house can visit the Lizzie Borden Bed and Breakfast can escape for the night, touch the paranormal for a brief time, and then go back to their normal life. There is no commitment so they can drop in, like someone visiting a Web site about ghosts, and allow that small indulgence to satisfy their curiosity.
The same is true for people who make an investment in the paranormal. There is no better place to meet other people of a like mind, especially from different parts of the country, than to show up at a landmark and get a conversation started. These locations become touchstones for people, something in common to begin a conversation about other locations you have investigated. They also become concrete hauntings for people, something others can relate to. Someone way have investigated two dozen houses, but it becomes more relatable when they can say they have been to the Winchester House. Others now know where you are coming from, and the weight of the back story becomes part of your paranormal resume. They carry these locations as part of their personality, often fighting to keep them open when they become endangered.
Perhaps the most important social aspect of haunted landmarks is their exposure to the world. Trends come and go and our national attention span is unpredictable. These buildings remind the world that ghosts may exist. They contain the constant paranormal motifs that people apply to ghosts (the abandoned military base, the haunted asylum, the place of a famous murder), so they keep these ideas, and the idea of what a ghost is, fresh in people’s minds. Jeff Belanger is famous for saying a building is usually haunted by the most famous person associated with it. These landmarks become the most famous person, and the details surrounding them become a remembered narrative to ghost hunters and casual paranormal consumers alike.
In the coming months there will be more conferences and events making the pages of Ghostvillage News. Organizers and promoters have caught on to the power of these landmarks to draw people in, so many are choosing to hold events at famously haunted locations. We will offer as many as we can to you, so try and take advantage. They offer a unique look into those places you have only read about before while presenting you with some quality speakers.
Our draw to our ghost landmarks continue to help define the paranormal, and that may be truest reason why they are needed. They cay something about who we are as people, and if a society can be revealed through its ghosts, they represent our need to connect to something bigger, especially in a field asking the big questions.