The ghost trackers

Who are you going to call? Try a ghost watcher.

The D.C. Metro Area Ghost Watchers is a volunteer organization, founded in 2002, that provides free ghost-hunting services to clients.

Ghost watchers travel to suspected haunted sites and use scientific equipment to determine if there is a ghostly presence, said Lawana Holland, the group’s historian and folklorist.

But be careful with terminology-there are no ghostbusters here. If a spirit is detected in a building, DCMAG members don’t try to get rid of the spirit. Instead, they counsel the people there, Holland said.

“A spirit won’t leave a location if it doesn’t want to,” she said.

The ghost watchers use an electromagnetic energy meter, infrared cameras, digital cameras and electronic voice phenomenon recordings to detect a spirit’s presence.

“You want to try to find a natural occurrence before you say it’s supernatural,” Holland added.

Scientific measurements are not the only tools the ghost hunters use. They often rely on personal observations.

“There is something going on that science can’t necessarily explain,” Holland said.

DCMAG members, many of whom work full-time for the federal government and have high-level security clearances, pay for their own equipment, travel and food, according to the group’s Web site, www.dchauntings.com.

Most spirits tend to be “benign,” and despite popular Hollywood renditions of ghosts, it is rare to see full-bodied apparitions, Holland added. People tend to see shadows, hear voices or feel a presence rather than seeing a full person, said Holland, who noted that the movie “The Sixth Sense” is one of the more accurate representations of ghosts.

“You don’t necessarily have to believe in ghosts,” she said. “Just the possibility that they exist.”

–Malak Hamwi

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