Well I think we can all agree that 2020 and then 2021 has completely thrown us all for a six. Best laid plans are nothing but a memory and as we look towards a new normal in the world whatever it may be, it has many of us thinking about the things we once took granted. It has us planning how we will do things differently or perhaps new things we would like to try. It has us reflecting on the past and maybe thinking about the lessons we have learnt along the way. I know for myself this has rung true, particularly when it comes to the paranormal. As a person who spent most weekends out investigating or embracing the paranormal in different ways, like many of us, it was a shock to the system suddenly having to stay indoors. It made a lot of us think about our place in the paranormal field and coming out the other end of it, I can honestly say I do believe that not everyone will jump back readily into the paranormal. Don't worry, this is not a goodbye letter as I never left, but I wanted to reflect on some of the different lessons that many have learnt over the last few months that may change the way we approach our research or investigating in the future.
To many this is a given, but for a lot of people, they are just out for an experience when it comes to the paranormal. Not everyone wants to join a team. Not everyone wants to film videos for YouTube or write blogs. Not everyone wants to read books or research paranormal topics. A lot of people just like going out on an investigation for the experience itself. New paranormal groups are popping up every day. Many run tours or experiences, and many create content for others to enjoy. Some people have even made a business out of doing so. All of sudden, no one was able to attend investigations. People were refunded and we all sat in limbo wondering when and if we would ever be able to get back to our favourite location again.
In Australia, we have gone through some of the longest and harshest lockdowns in the World. The sad reality is that not all locations may even reopen. Some paranormal groups will not be reforming. Some people may be done with the paranormal field altogether. Now is the time to really look at what you want to do with your spare time. If you want to be in a team or go it alone. If you want to run tours or just book on and have some fun. If you want to spend your Saturday nights in a dark cold building or with your nose in a book full of research. What is it that you want to get out of the paranormal? Remember there is no right or wrong answer and just because someone is out there doing a million things doesn't mean you have to do that too. If you want to just enjoy watching a few shows and attend an investigation here and there you go for it! If you want to really go all in and dedicate your time to research then you do that. Most importantly, do it because you enjoy it and not because you feel you have to. Now is a great time for a fresh start and new beginnings.
We are all having paranormal withdrawals. I know as someone that used the paranormal for an escape on the weekends, while ive enjoyed time at home with my children, I have missed the 'me' time where I just get to be Sarah. You see Sarah loves spending an hour getting ready and maybe wearing a new outfit that will just sit in the cupboard for months. She likes to leave a bit earlier and listen to her favourite band nice and loud on the 45 minute drive to Black Rock House. When she arrives she likes to walk in and take in the atmosphere and the smell ......... and the quiet. Hear that? No kids! She grabs her recorder and sits in a room and hits record and listens. She talks and hopes the house will talk back. Soon guests arrive and she gets to have some real adult interaction and talk about all sorts of paranormal things. She gets to watch how people investigate and react to situations. If she is really lucky, she may get to witness or experience something really cool. She goes home thinking about the amazing night which then in turn usually sparks an idea for research or a new article or even an experiment. (She also doesn't always refer to herself in the third person but you get the idea!). Going to Black Rock House used to be a big part of my week and suddenly that was gone. So yes I do understand how much you are missing investigating, because I miss it too!
While I have been a person that always is reading and researching and working on things in the background, many people who had their paranormal escape on the weekend taken away. Suddenly they needed to get their paranormal fix. While they craved being in a physical location, many have turned to the illustrious book. Not just any book, paranormal books. They have been reading about things from different minds in the field. They have been thinking about new things they will try when they finally get back. In some ways, it has encouraged people to find another way to investigate the paranormal, and they are doing so through research. I can't wait to see all the amazing new ideas and perhaps new theories people will be coming up with. There will be more questions asked and we could really see a new way forward. People have embraced knowledge. Knowledge is power and what helps make us great investigators.
We started networking online and the online paranormal conference was born. Suddenly an event of speakers that had an audience that was originally limited to a room of people suddenly had the whole world listening. I know here in Australia, we don't get those events here or the high profile speakers so for us it was a big win. Suddenly we discovered fantastic researchers we hadn't heard of over here. We started watching webinars, interviews and lectures and learning from people we otherwise would not have. I do see this continuing. While many watched for entertainment, they were being educated at the same time, even if they didn't know it!
Many people within the paranormal field, myself included, will encourage people to pick up that book and empower themselves with as much knowledge as possible. I really do think it is an essential part of investigating. We shouldn't however underestimate the importance of being onsite and doing an actual paranormal investigation. It is how we learn. We can have all the ideas in the world, but until we are out in the field, we don't know how we react to certain situations. A lot of the time, we as people don't tend to believe something entirely unless we were there to witness it ourselves. We can easily write something off and say it is interference it is this it is that, but unless we are in a situation ourselves, maybe we are writing something off too quickly. At the other end, being on location teaches us and educates us on the different things that we know are not paranormal. We tend to only learn these by having to go through the process ourselves. I know myself know the different sounds of Black Rock House by being there. I know on a windy night, the wind flows through holes in the roof or walls and go behind the wallpaper and it makes a crackling noise. When you are standing in a room and hear this noise, it makes you feel like someone is standing behind you. It can cause cold spots. The wind and this wallpaper issue was the source of many reported experiences, until we worked out what it was. We would not have worked it out without that experience of being onsite.
So while we have found out how valuable and important research is, we also know that onsite investigating is important too. When you do eventually get to go on an investigation again, use it as a 'restart'. Try all the things you want to do. Try those new experiments. Ask those questions. Go back home and then read about a certain subject and how that can help you going forward. Most importantly, don't rush. As tempting as it to get back out there, do it when the time is right for you and the location. For some that is now, for others that time is later down the road. The paranormal has been around for centuries, it is not going anywhere. We have learnt to improvise and I think it has made us better investigators and better researchers. While I know there is a shortage of places you can indeed investigate, I beg you to be patient. Please do not trespass. Please do not do anything illegal or silly for the sake of an investigation. Stay safe and if you ever have to ask yourself should I be doing this? If you have to ask, then you already know your answer.
What have you learnt as an investigator during lockdowns and will you change how you do things?
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