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Who you gonna call?


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POSTED: Tuesday, October 27, 2009

That thing that went bump in the night, it was most likely the cat. Or—was it? Bwahahaha!

Halloween, naturally, makes us wonder. Does Hawaii have many ghosts compared with other places? If so, where do they hang out? Buildings, forests, beaches ... Are Night Marchers considered true ghosts?

We asked Preston Galera of Hawaiian Island Ghost Hunters for some answers. His organization not only seeks out the unearthly, it teaches a class about it at Kapiolani Community College on Saturday nights.

“;Night Marchers are indeed ghosts. What type are they is the question!”; Galera said. “;It's our belief that Hawaii has as many ghosts as anywhere else. There are the regular types who may be from recent times, and there are the historical types of entities deriving from ancient Hawaiian times. Many hauntings on the mainland are tied to battles, similar to the wars in ancient Hawaii, and don't forget Pearl Harbor.”;

So far, HIGH has conducted 14 serious investigations here on Oahu: six residences, six businesses, a recreation center and a historical location.

“;But we've heard many stories regarding paranormal activity in the woods while guys are hunting, at the beach while people are fishing or camping, and even ghostly objects such as akualele (Hawaiian fireballs) floating above cliffs and shorelines,”; said Galera, adding that they don't “;intentionally”; investigate heiau, graveyards or similar sacred lands.

For those who may have some trouble sorting the costumed ghouls from real spirits on All Hallows Even, Galera took some time to answer questions about his ghostly encounters:

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QUESTION: What sort of ghosts are Night Marchers? Are there different categories?

ANSWER: “;Basically, you have your interactive or intelligent type, then you have your imprint or residual type, which would be more like a recording that was imprinted into the environment, replaying itself over and over again at certain times,”; Galera said. “;Because the Night Marchers appear to be doing exactly what they did back in ancient Hawaii, marching to bathe or marching to war, they can be viewed as an imprint. On the other hand, they have been reported to physically manipulate objects in the environment, which would give them intelligent characteristics.”;

Q: Is there any physical evidence?

A: “;To date, we have not captured credible evidence on video or photographs,”; Galera said. “;We have a lot of photos and video clips of unexplained anomalies, but what we want to present is credible and undeniable footage of an entity or paranormal activity as it is happening.

“;As far as audio goes, we've captured EVPs (electronic voice phenomena) at every single one of our investigations. We've captured voices telling us to go away, come here, help and even a couple that called out our names. We've also captured footage showing fluctuations in the readings of our equipment and instruments.”;

Q: Are ghosts as aware of you as you are of them?

A: “;When it comes to intelligent-type hauntings, the entities are very aware our presence,”; Galera said. “;They try to call out to us, they create cold spots and EMF fluctuations, they can slam doors and bang on walls, and they can physically interact with you by pulling on your shirt or your leg hair. In a residual haunt, the entity will carry on what it is doing, totally oblivious to the fact that others can see them.”;

Q: Who's interested in ghost-hunting classes?

A: “;Nowadays there are many shows on TV showcasing 'ghost hunters' and paranormal investigators trying to capture evidence of haunting activity, or trying to disprove the phenomena,”; Galera said. “;There are also a lot of books and Web sites containing information regarding how to conduct investigations. Thing is, they only show a small portion of what actually goes on during a serious investigation. What we offer is a way to learn about paranormal investigations, backed with the experience of actual investigators in the field. And we conduct an actual investigation with the class so they can have the experience of being in the dark, using equipment and devices, participating in the processes that we go through and using the knowledge they've attained.

“;Overall, they have the same question: What is a ghost and how can ghosts exist?”; Galera said. “;One of our goals is to let the people know it is OK to talk about ghosts or paranormal activity. People don't like to talk about experiences. Yes, they can talk about the legends and stories like Pele walking on the highway, Night Marchers or the faceless ghost in the theater, but no one really wants to talk about actual experiences. Nor do they admit they are fascinated by the unexplained.”;

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Q: Have you been scared?

A: “;No, we've never been scared,”; claimed Galera, probably putting a polish on it. “;We have had activity that surprised us or made us jump a little, but our immediate reaction is to go toward it. If we hear a loud bang out of nowhere or see something pop out in the corner of our eyes, we head straight for it. It's the only way we will be able to find answers.”;

Q: What scares you more than ghosts?

A: “;Perhaps dealing with a supposed dark entity or demonic presence,”; mused Galera. “;So far, we haven't had the opportunity to investigate such a presence. According to our colleagues in the mainland, it can be dangerous to confront negative entities, especially a demonic presence, which is totally different from a ghost. We believe that we're bound to come across one someday.”;

Q: So what is it about ghosts that fire the human imagination?

A: “;The possibility we can somehow survive the death of our physical bodies and that there may be something more out there, something we can't perceive with our physical senses,”; Galera said.

“;In the past, people were afraid entities had the ability to cause harm to you. This was mostly fueled by taboos established by religion or society. Nowadays, people are curious rather than afraid. Is our existence, the experiences that we've had and the knowledge we've compiled throughout our lives, destined to end abruptly when our physical body ceases to?”;

Q: How does one actually find a ghost, or do they find you?

A: “;We are here to help anyone who has a serious claim of haunting activity,”; said Galera. “;Thorough screening of our clients and their claims helps us to better our chance of finding and capturing an apparition. During an investigations, we use a wide variety of instruments and techniques in an effort to disprove claims by finding logical explanations for them.

“;If all logical explanations are exhausted, then we're possibly left with activity that can only be explained as paranormal in nature. From there we can fine-tune our activities and begin our research and hopefully capture credible evidence. But one thing we always keep in consideration; ghosts don't appear and activity doesn't kick up just because we are there and want it to. One of the theories is that many factors and conditions that have to be present to make an area ideal to house and entity or paranormal activity at any given time. Weather conditions, solar activity, time of day, month or year, individuals present are just a few reasons.”;

Q: What are examples of ghostly manifestations?

A: “;Manifestations include an entity physically appearing, either full-bodied or partial-bodied, to an individual or on equipment; voice manifestations that can be physically heard—disembodied voices—or captured on equipment; audio manifestations such as footsteps, taps, and bangs, and phantom manifestations of scent.

“;Many novice and inexperienced ghost hunters will claim anomalies such as orbs (really, dust, moisture or insects), vortexes (really, slow shutter speed, hair, dust, or camera straps getting in the way of the lens), and time shifts (again, slow shutter speed and inexperience in handling cameras).

Q: Are there things that instruments pick up that our natural senses don't?

A: “;There are many things that equipment can pick up. Camcorders can capture footage in complete darkness via infrared or night vision; EMF meters detect electromagnetic fluctuations in the environment, both natural and man-made, that are invisible to the human eye; our thermal-vision unit displays the varying temperature of objects in the environment; voice recorders can capture audio at frequencies well below the levels of human hearing and vocal capability.

“;On the other hand, instruments cannot detect phantom scents, or the sensation of something brushing up on your arm or pulling your hair, nor can they detect the emotions that are saturated in an area such as the overwhelming feeling of sadness or heaviness, or paranoia and anger. But when it comes down to it, our instruments and equipment will be the main source of evidence when it comes to scientifically proving the existence of entities and paranormal activity.”;

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Q: What kinds of instruments are helpful?

A: ”;There are many gadgets and gizmos available for the aspiring investigator. Many are very costly and require hours of research into the theories of how the instruments can be used to detect activity. What one basically needs to start investigating is a camera, camcorder, and an audio recorder. These are also relatively inexpensive. We have compiled a cache of instruments including temperature-sensing devices, a variety of electromagnetic-field sensing devices, instruments that can detect the slightest vibration or movement in an area, devices that emit certain types of energy into the environment, and instruments that can visually display the environment or area in different frequencies of light.”;

Q: Can a ghost affect a camera or video signal or audio recording?

A: “;In theory, yes. One of the theories is that entities are comprised of energy, energy that gives off electromagnetic fields. In this state, they are able to manipulate equipment such as cameras, video recorders, and audio recorders being that most of these devices utilize magnetics to transfer information to media such as video tapes, cassette tapes, and memory cards.”;

Q: What are the protocols for ghost investigation?

A: “;The main goal of conducting an investigation is to prove activity is being caused by something paranormal in nature. To do this, it is proper to first eliminate any factors that can logically explain claims and reports.

“;Next, you want to capture physical evidence utilizing the different pieces of equipment, instruments, and process that can provide objective evidence that can be viewed by others. Personal experiences are subjective and cannot be experienced by one individual in the exact same manner as another individual did. This makes personal experiences difficult to prove.

“;Investigators should also conduct themselves with respect to people—living and non-living!—property and the law. Always be sure to obtain the proper permission needed to enter areas and properties that are not your own. To be taken seriously, investigators should always conduct themselves in a professional manner. We are constantly being monitored, whether it be by the client, or the many pieces of equipment that are constantly recording throughout the length of the investigation. Recreational drugs and alcohol use is forbidden prior to, during, and immediately after an investigation. Again, this is for safety and also for credibility.

“;Lastly, if you are investigating a location in an effort to help someone in need, be aware and respectful of the individuals personal beliefs, religious beliefs, and emotions.”;

Q: Is ghost hunting actually spooky?

A: “;To certain individuals, it can be. Just being in complete darkness is enough to make some individuals back out! Honestly, even we started off with a healthy amount of intimidation. At the point we are now, we want stuff to happen. We're actually trying to coax an entity to appear to us, or touch one of us, or move objects. We're even trying to provide energy for entities to utilize to interact with us or manifest themselves. But, we always conduct ourselves with the utmost respect. You never know who or what you are going to be dealing with in a haunted location.”;