Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Kinda Funny Story

Well, here's a story for ya:

The recent John Brown House investigation was overnight in the hills near Harper's Ferry, WV. Those who know me know that I'm very much a city girl and have never been camping in my life. Really. I was up to it though. I came ready with my sleeping bag, etc. Had a tent pitched for me and everything. I had on extra layers of clothes--fleece, long johns, even gloves, but as the night went on the temperature dropped and dropped. We're talking in the low 30s, when it should've been at least the 50s for Spring.

So, I was given a choice: Stay outside in the freezing cold tent or sleep inside the haunted house where I had just heard heavy footsteps walking above me in a very empty room a few hours before. Hmm...haunted house? Freezing cold? Haunted house? Freezing cold?

I took the house.

Sunday, May 22, 2005

Resting Places

While I'm sure there are some ghosts who hang around cemeteries, they aren't really a personal interest of mine. I guess I just don't see a reason for them to necessarily be there. What's the connection? Why would they be attached to their resting place instead of the people from their lives or a place they once were? I just don't know, but I have heard of people having experiences while in them, seeing ones in passing, and other stories, so I will not totally discredit the possibility. Feel free to share your stories if you've had experiences.

Could be wrong, but I'm not for hanging around in them. This is coming from someone who used to play in one as a child and learned how to drive in a large one here in town. My father's rationale?

"Well, better there than on the main road. It's not like you can kill anyone since they're already dead."

Thursday, May 19, 2005

Much Love to the Skeptics Out There

I love skeptics.


I wasn't a huge X-Files fan (gasp!), but I admired Scully's conviction as a skeptical scientist that everything was explainable. She could've been bitten by a chupacabra while having a conversation with Bigfoot in an alien spaceship and still would've been able to explain it all away.

I know that's an extreme example, but I think skeptics are a good thing. I mean, someone has to be the voice of reason, the control opinion to the unexplainable. As a ghost hunter, you encounter some pretty unusual things, but also things that often really are the knocking of pipes, the rustling of leaves, the sound a ceramic pot makes from the vibrations of the floorboards, drafts--you name it. Using your own inner skeptic helps to keep you on your toes thinking. Not everything is paranormal...

...yet not everything isn't either.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005



Simple as that.

If it looks like private property, assume it is and don't go into it. Not to sound preachy, but getting checked out by the cops is not my idea of a great investigation.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Ghosts & the 5 Senses

Well, according to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, a ghost is "a disembodied soul; especially : the soul of a dead person believed to be an inhabitant of the unseen world or to appear to the living in bodily likeness."

It's that whole "bodily likeness" part that gets people so excited. Everyone wants to see one, not realizing there are others ways they can be experienced. Yes, I know this isn't very scientific, but they can be a sensory experience. The thing is to consider these experiences in addition to your data.

Here are my top 5:
  1. Touch: Yes, some folks have reported being touched. It doesn't seem to be an uncommon experience. I know of times where it has felt like the touch of a solid person, and I also know of it feeling as if you've stepped into static: all prickles and tingles around you.
  2. Smell: One reason not to wear fragranced products while on investigation is that sometimes they--ghosts--can be smelled. Cigar smoke, flowers, perfume, gunpowder--all of these things have been reported before.
  3. Feel: Whether by temperature (sudden temperature drop, or the opposite--warmth), or that funny "thick" feeling some people get where they can become woozy or short of breath.
  4. Hearing: Footsteps, voices, and other unusual sounds that are not being naturally caused.
  5. Sight: Shadows, balls of light, sudden "mists" that are not fog, full or partial apparitions

Apparitions are rare things. You're more likely to have 1-4, or variations of 5 happen instead. If you go into this hoping for your stereotypical ghost, you're going to be one disappointed person.

Monday, May 16, 2005

Ghosthunting 101

Let me preface this by saying that you do not have to believe in ghosts, just the possibility of them. That's what I believe that ghosthunters and other paranormal researchers are trying to discover for certain.

I'll go more into theories, equipment and techniques in the future, but here's the basic gist of what we do. This is DCMAG's process: We hear about a possible haunting or are contacted by a client. It's assessed as to how valid it is and a preliminary walk through and interview are arranged. If it's deemed worthy of further investigation we go back again with equipment. We might even visit one or two times more. We analyze the data and follow-up with the client with our findings. Ta. Da.

What are you looking for? Anything out of the ordinary, as well as ordinary things that can create the look of something being extraordinary. You can't be quick to declare everything as being paranormal. You have to apply scientific thought and methodologies to your work, although I think that it should be more of a blend of scientific method and taking into account those unexplained things that go down during investigations.

Sunday, May 15, 2005

Ghost Theater: Movie Reviews

Every Sunday, you'll get a movie review--from a ghosthunter's viewpoint.

What am I looking for? Ghosthunting references, equipment, how the ghosts are portrayed, etc.

Saturday, May 14, 2005

Respect What You Can't See

People often ask me if ghosts can hurt you. I've heard reports of that happening before, but it's absolutely not the norm. To be honest? I'm more afraid of the living folks.

Once I was with a ghost group that told a story about a former member who taunted the ghosts at Gettysburg and promptly got shoved by one. I don't know how true that is, but it illustrates a basic common sense thing to me: You've got to have respect for something that can see you, but you can't see them. Hmm...if there's something there, who would have the advantage? You? I think not, so why take your chances.

When we investigated Leap Castle, ranked as #1 Most Haunted in Ireland (and that's saying something), we had some team members from a local Irish group along. While taking pics in the famous Bloody Chapel, one of them said, "Pose sexy for me." If that's not disrespectful, I don't know what is. We were really taken aback by their lack of professionalism. An investigation's not the time to play with the ghosts. Hey, if you don't give a rat's ass about yourself, at least take into consideration the folks who still have to be there when you're gone.

Friday, May 13, 2005

No, We Don't Catch Them, Dang It!

I'll admit that I loved the first Ghostbusters movie (the 2nd one sucked). I'll also admit that real ghosthunting is nothing like the movie. There are no proton packs, no ambulance w/sirens, no storage facility, no non-stop excitement. The reality is that there's a lot of boring downtime, monitoring equipment, and more often than not--no results.

I think a lot of people get into this expecting the holy grail of ghosthunting--full-bodied apparitions left and right. Nope. You're lucky if you get a temperature drop sometimes. Don't get me wrong...I have definitely seen, heard, felt and smelled some unusual, unexplained things, but the average hunt can be really uneventful. If you're in this for instant thrills, ghosthunting might not be for you. You have to love it to be outside in the cold at a location for hours on end.

And no, we DON'T catch them! You'd be surprised how often I'm asked that.

Thursday, May 12, 2005


People make a really big deal about orbs. Layfolk, I'm talking about those circular/spherical globules and balls that show up in photos.

To be honest and sorry to play the skeptic, but I'm ambivalent about most orb photos mainly because they're so open to debate. I mean, whether it's a 35mm film or digicam, so many things can affect them: dust, moisture, bugs, etc. And to me, digicams pick all of those things up even more. You have to be really careful about looking at orb photos and saying "Ghost!" because it--more likely than not--isn't. do you know when it isn't? Hard to say. It's like porn: you just "know it when you see it." If you could actually see that it wasn't a bug and dust wasn't on your lens or all stirred up, it moved in a different way than dust or bugs then... No, really. You have to examine the negative and take into account your film and photography conditions. For a digicam, it's more up in the air because it is what it is. See why orb photos make me think twice about them? Too many X factors involved. Shouldn't stop you from taking pics though. I'll be the first to admit that I'm not the most enthusiastic person when it comes to taking ghost photos sometimes.

I dunno. Give me a good "mist" or shadow or holy grail--apparition--photo anyday. I'm just not feeling orb photos right now. If anyone has any better criteria, hey, I'm open. Let me know.

Wednesday, May 11, 2005


I was raised in a family where ghosts aren't considered unusual. When I was about 7 or 8 I was at my family's country home--one of those places where there's a winding long road and you can account for everyone who's down there with you. I was walking across the lawn to my uncle's cottage across the way and a man was standing there at the end of the path looking at me. I didn't know who he was and wondered how he got there. He looked at me. I looked at him. Then I looked away and he was gone. I ran to my grandmother and told her and my great-aunt. I found out it had been my great-great grandfather who died when they were teens. I have fictionalized this account in my writing works before, but it did happen and is part of my family's lore now.

This initial sighting is what triggered my interest as an adult. When I was able to have a free website in 1999, I thought ghosts and hauntings of the D.C. area would be a fun topic to write about and found info through books and other early ghosting sites like the Int'l Ghost Hunters Society . As I learned more and more, I found that my own theories differed from IGHS, and that's OK. You should think about the info presented and form your own opinions. I then joined the Ghost Hunters of Baltimore where I learned a lot from them about investigations. I enjoyed myself, but they became less active as time went on and I wanted to be closer to home. I lone wolfed it for about three years, so when I had the opportunity to become involved in DCMAG I gladly did so.

You've got to love ghosting to do this, and I do love it.

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

History & Hauntings

History isn't rote memorizations of dates and events--it is about people's lives at a particular point in time. Why is this important to a ghost hunter? You need to be able to separate fact from legend and history can give you that insight. You're looking for clues that will help you in understanding what may/may not have happened there. As DCMAG's Historian, I've found that my history background comes in handy.

Look at the architecture and location. Is it original? Renovated? On a major route? What style is it? Colonial? Victorian? Brand new? How was it constructed? These are major clues to help determine a time period. Even a brand-new home could have a haunting if something happened on the land itself. Most locations have changed hands at least once--even if it's within the same family. Sometimes you need to dig a little deeper. Check articles, deeds, wills, city and phone directories, maps, and surveys if you have to. These can give you a better idea of owners, the land, and events that may have occurred there. Sometimes the owners have a wealth of information, and other times might involve a little sleuthing on your part: whether online, at your local library, city organization, or historical society.

Sometimes you go into a location knowing some of its history already. Your job is to determine what's what and where things may have happened. Sometimes you will hit a dead end. It happens.

Monday, May 09, 2005


About three years ago, a guy named Al sent me an email saying that he was starting a group that focused on the D.C.-Metro area--something that I thought had been really lacking and I didn't have the time to do myself. He just wanted to let me know about it since I had been kind of lone wolf-ish covering that area for about 3 years by that point. I really appreciated it. He asked me if I'd be a trustee--someone they could consult with--and I agreed. They decided to call themselves DCMAG--D.C. Metro Area Ghostwatchers and the group just recently had its 3-year anniversary.

As I read more about them and their cases, I wanted to take a more active role as a Sr. Agent and went out with them more. At the time, I missed going out on cases regularly and was glad to have a group to do it with again. I found all of the members to be great folks: honest, friendly, dedicated, and serious about ghosthunting.

I'm glad to be a part of the team.

Sunday, May 08, 2005

The Haunteds

I am just coming back from an overnight investigation at the John Brown House in MD. This historic site is where he planned the raid on Harper's Ferry in 1859. It is privately owned and restored to its 1859 appearance, but visitors are allowed to see it and tours can be arranged by appointment. We're not sure who is still there. The place has changed hands many times from 1859 to the current owner. We don't believe it is any of the Browns though. The current owner and their family and friends have had some experiences there and the Team has as well. Mainly audio, such as footsteps. It's an intriguing place.

The group has been there twice before, but we were there this time in conjunction with the filming of a pilot episode for a TV show called The Haunteds. Imagine The Apprentice for ghosthunters. They are still casting for local D.C.-area candidates if any of you in the area (and you must be from the area) are interested. We worked with three very enthusiastic candidates and I don't want to have any spoilers here, but it was a very interesting day and evening to say the least.

Friday, May 06, 2005

Who is Ghosthunter L?

My name is Lawana, a ghosthunter for almost 6 years. I have my own website at and that is what started it all. I never expected it would get so much attention or interest and I'm still shocked by it. All from that little site. I'm considered a national expert on ghosts and hauntings of the Metropolitan Washington, D.C. area and I have been featured in every major newspaper in D.C. (Post, Times, USA Today), national, and international ones. I was also interviewed by the White House about their ghosts for their official site. I'm just in this because I truly love it. I am also a member of DCMAG, the D.C.-Metro Area Ghostwatchers, a great local ghosthunting group. You'll see that I'll reference them a lot because, well, they're my group and friends. Who knew that my interest in ghosts and haunted places and history would lead me on this path and enable me to have such interesting experiences over the years?

I love what I do. I enjoy helping others and finding out more about ghosts and related paranormal activity.

I am a ghost hunter.

This is my blog.