Haunted houses to dripping taps: Behind the scenes with a paranormal investigator.

By Melanie Pearce

When there is a bump in the night or the glimpse of something unusual, most people dismiss it with rational reasons.

But for paranormal investigators, such as Stephen Barnes, of Lithgow in central west new South Wales, there is always the possibility it could be something more.

Armed with a gaggle of gadgets and a life-long belief in the supernatural, Mr Barnes is among those who are passionate about explaining the seemingly unexplainable.

Work of paranormal investigator explained

Mr Barnes said a paranormal investigator was contacted when people had something in their house that they could not explain.

“It might be the sound of a door closing, a bad smell, a dripping tap or the sound of a baby crying,” Mr Barnes said.

“It might be the feeling that you’re being watched or something [is] disappearing.”

Mr Barnes said sometimes people called the police or even a church minister to help explain it, but a paranormal investigator could also help.

“We try to give a rational explanation to the family involved and offer them some sort of comfort,” he said.

“We’re not always looking for the abnormal or the unusual, although we do love it when those things happen.”

He said in the majority of cases there was a rational explanation, such as a problem with the septic system or sewerage lines, but paranormal investigators always sought out the supernatural possibilities.

Trying to find rational reason first

Mr Barnes has done training through Western Sydney Paranormal Research to hone his investigating techniques.

"A paranormal investigator is contacted when people have something in their house that they can't not explain." Image via ABC.

He has an extensive armoury of paranormal investigating equipment that includes:

  • passive infrared cameras
  • a thermal imaging system
  • walkie talkies
  • a drone
  • an electromagnetic field meter
  • digital film cameras
  • tape recorders for electronic voice phenomenon
  • film stills
  • a laser tape measure
  • small toys that move or squeak to test for spiritual activity

He said he and others conducted their paranormal investigations by using their equipment to do a number of recordings and readings, usually at night.

Spiritual side of things

Mr Barnes said that all his life, he had been in touch with the supernatural side of things.

"My mother was a 'sensitive', which means she was able to sense paranormal things; if she went into a building she could immediately detect atmospheres that would indicate a paranormal presence," she said.

"As so often happens, my brother and I have inherited that sense."

He cited a life changing experience he had as a five-year-old.

"About two o'clock in the morning the doors [of a wardrobe in his room] both opened and two large boxes of a clockwork railway set just came straight out of the cupboard and crashed to the floor," he said.

"That was my first introduction with the paranormal."

All in the mind?

Mr Barnes said he believed he was not alone in wanting to find something out of the ordinary.

"Our belief system is such is that we're constantly being asked to believe things that can't necessarily be explained," he said.

"In religion for example, the cornerstone of pretty much all religion is understanding and acceptance of many things that the congregation can't necessarily explain."

He admitted some paranormal happenings could be in the mind of the person who experienced them.

"That's one of the things that makes people uncertain, because a lot of the time, there's a sensation that you're dreaming," he said.

"It is like a dream state and some of it may indeed be in a dream state or a higher plane, if you like."

Mr Barnes is among a group that has been investigating colonial-era buildings as well as ruins at Hartley and Lithgow in recent months, looking for possible paranormal activity.

This post originally appeared on ABC News


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