“The Beast” by William Blake.

The glamorous industry of paranormal investigation has spawned countless films, television documentaries, and reality shows. Despite the commonness of the paranormal, people continue to be victimized by con artists and scammers.

It’s most difficult for the layman. People victimized by paranormal activity tend to be in a vulnerable state, which makes the field rife with fraud. It doesn’t help when so many cases are actually worsened by incompetent or inept investigations. It’s better to have no group than to have someone who makes it worse. Since the area seems to be so vague, here are some general tips on what to look for in a paranormal group.

1. Legitimate Paranormal Groups Do Not Charge

Legitimate paranormal groups will not charge to help. It should be a personal interest, not a business. They investigate for the love of it, be it helping others, solving mysteries, or a combination. Some perform investigations just to gather real life evidence. This is a field where “you get what you pay for,” does not apply.

A solid paranormal group understands that most who seek their services are already in desperate circumstances. Many cases have unexpected medical bills, missed work, and a host of other devastating problems. In worst-case scenarios, victims may have resorted to living in an apartment or hotel room.

2. The Group Has Issues with Immaturity

Paranormal groups should be comprised of a variety of ages and experience levels. There should be members who are, if not mature in age, than mature in behavior. If they’re all “kids” who act as such, seek help elsewhere. Your home and your issues should be kept confidential and treated with respect.

3. Respect

This deserves its own mention. Legitimate groups will not treat your home, or your situation, as if it were entertainment. Needless to say, they should not smoke, drink, or bring in groups of strangers without your explicit consent. Investigators rely on periods of silence to detect paranormal activity, so if they talk and laugh through the entire investigation, they’re not investigating. If the investigation is treated like a party, find another group.

You should also research your prospective group. Try to find reviews or mentions online. You can more efficiently search by implementing quotation marks on search engines. Instead of looking for My Paranormal Group, try “My Paranormal Group.” Quotation marks tell search engines to look for that specific phrase.

4. Psychics and Shamans

It’s better to go with a group that does not rely on psychics. This is not because psychics are swindlers, simply to point out the tremendous numbers who are. It can be difficult to find a legitimate professional. It can often be just as difficult to locate documentation to support their claims, when there should be plenty. For example, an axe murder in the 1920s should be well documented. If there is faulty information the problem’s cause, the solution will not be any better. It’s akin to a physician prescribing a tonsillectomy for a kidney stone.

Keep in mind there is no such thing as a Native American “Shaman.” They did not use the term.

You should also beware of groups that use New Age or Alternative Religions as a solution. This is due to the number of fakes and frauds, as well as the implausibility of the solutions. If there’s no established belief system, there’s also no system of checks-and-balances. This leaves the field open to people who essentially make the solutions up as they go.

This also brings in risks that investigators will recommend a more unusual, or even bizarre, solutions the victim has no hope of implementing. Most people will not have access to a Native American medicine man, an ancient Turkish shaman, a chaos magician, a witch, a wizard, or a warlock. Solutions should be reality-based, and if they involve a faith, it should be a minister, pastor, bishop, priest, rabbi, imam, or other trained individual.

Things like Ouija boards, tarot cards, or attempts such as “smudging” can actually make the activity worse. Smudging is burning sage, a method of cleansing done by Native American “medicine men.” The majority of smudgings today are not done by Native American medicine men, so the results are often worthless. The same can be said of generic house blessings, cleansings, and a spectrum of dubious solutions. If they aren’t performed by an adequate professional with adequate knowledge, it’s simply too risky for the homeowner.

Any attempts to use Ouija boards, tarot cards, rituals, or rites should be abandoned and the group immediately removed from the home. It can’t be stressed enough. Legitimate paranormal groups know any of these activities can not only aggravate paranormal activity, they can make it far, far worse. Some groups will twist this to say they’ve “aggravated the entity,” as if they’ve done something effective. In reality, they’ve just made the problem worse and don’t have a solution.

5. Knowledge

The group should have very real knowledge that is accessible. If they’re pretentious, use terms you don’t understand, complicate the situation, make boastful statements, or treat you badly, end the investigation. The group should use laymen’s terms when talking to you, maintain reasonable communication, simplify the process, keep you as comfortable as possible, and keep you updated on their findings as they go.

They should know the difference between a vermin nest, and a “demon nest.” They should first look to natural, physical causes for the disturbances. They may recommend a professional check the home for structural or minor flaws. Does the noise come from the otherworld, or is it simply a faulty window seal or old water pipe? The physical and natural should always be considered first, not because anyone doubts your veracity, but because that is the standard, normal process. Every group should also have a few skeptics to balance an investigation.

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