We, at WHP, will not say which cemetery we captured these EVPs to protect these old cemeteries from thrillseekers, vandalism, etc.
Cemetery Etiquette by Dusty Smith
Cemeteries are places of respect that generally have clearly defined rules posted somewhere on the grounds—usually at the front gate or office area. However, some older, neglected, abandoned or off-the-beaten-path cemeteries may not have these rules posted anywhere. I know of no state, county or city that doesn’t have some laws that protect these cemeteries, whether posted rules are visible or not. Most people who know me, or have read any of my published books, have read my Cemetery Etiquette, but there are also etiquette rules for ghost hunters & paranormal investigators. The reason being is that some people not only don’t understand the work we do, but do not condone it--especially in cemeteries where their loved ones are at rest. Therefore it is even more important that we adhere to a set of rules while visiting cemeteries—not just the “regular” cemetery etiquette rules, but a stricter set for just us ghost hunters & paranormal investigators. With that stated, I am now going to put into place the Cemetery Etiquette for Ghost Hunters & Paranormal Investigators.
Cemetery Etiquette for Ghost Hunters & Paranormal Investigators:
1. Follow the standard rules of cemetery etiquette at all times when visiting a cemetery.
2. Obey posted hours of operation. If there are no posted hours of operation—the rule of thumb is closed from dusk to dawn; this is the law in most states.
3. Get permission to be in the cemetery after hours. If you don’t have permission to be in the cemetery—don’t go in, especially after dark.
4. Survey the cemetery during daylight hours. Find out where dangers will lie in darkness and inform your team members of them prior to entering the cemetery in the dark. Many older cemeteries have open graves and vaults as well as local flora and fauna that make their homes in the cemetery—be aware of these things before going in at night.
5. Do not trespass. If you see a locked gate, do not jump the fence, gate or find another way in.
6. Respect the dead. Some spirits may feel that the cemetery is now their home—which technically it is—if you feel you are intruding on someone’s personal space, leave the area immediately. Some spirits can become territorial during death and can cause harm to humans—it is best to just leave the area and find another—more willing spirit to deal with.
7. Do not sit, lean or otherwise place your body on any memorials in the cemetery. This includes: headstones, vaults, crypts, sarcophagi, niches, fountains, monuments, mausoleums, or memorial benches. If you feel you are unable to stand for the time period you will be in the cemetery, bring a folding chair, take a break in your vehicle, or simply don’t go.
8. Do not bring alcohol (which should never be used before or during an investigation anyhow), firearms or entertainment items into the cemetery. If you have a permit to carry a concealed weapon discuss that with your team leader. Some cemeteries may not be safe at night—the choices are: carry your permitted weapon or find another cemetery to investigate. I would choose the latter.
9. Ask permission to take a spirits photo. Some ghost hunters and paranormal investigators choose not to take this step. I feel it is an important one because you are in someone else’s space taking pictures of them. We are supposed to be professionals, not paparazzi.
10. Speak in soft tones but loudly enough as to not be thought of as an EVP.
11. Do not leave anything behind. The only thing that should be a reminder of your visit is your footprints. It is appropriate to remove trash if you find it. If you see beer or soda bottles or cans, food containers or wrappers of any kind—pick them up and put them in a trash receptacle. If there are no trash receptacles in the cemetery, take it to your vehicle and dispose of it when you get home. The caretaker and the spirits will appreciate you doing this small act of kindness.
12. Take only photographs. In some cultures it is considered taboo to take photos of mourners and cemeteries or headstones. If told to put your camera away—do so with no argument.
13. Remove nothing from the cemetery. Don’t take flowers—whether growing in the cemetery or in a vase, ribbons, medals or other personal memorabilia left by loved ones. These belong to the deceased and need to stay where they are. Do not remove naturally growing plants or any animals that live in the cemetery either. If you find an injured wild animal—call animal control or the police for assistance with helping this animal. Do not move any items in the cemetery. If it looks like a floral arrangement fell and belongs to one of two graves—leave it alone. The caretaker will know which grave it belongs to and correct the problem if you make him aware of it.
14. If you are having trouble reading an inscription on a headstone—even with a good flashlight, come back during the day. You may want to bring a rubbing kit along as well. Do not use shaving cream as it can damage headstones. Using a mirror at right angles to the sun will also help in daylight hours.
15. Do not bring your pet with you. Some investigators now use dogs to help locate spirits. This is fine on an investigation in a private residence or business, but not in a cemetery. While some cemeteries do allow pets, it is not a safe situation for you, your pet, your team members or the residents of the cemetery to do this—especially at night.
16. Do not initiate a conversation with other visitors to the cemetery. Many types of people visit cemeteries. Genealogists, historians, loved ones, photographers, headstone rubbers, and others. Many of these people don’t believe in spirits and may not appreciate your presence or comments about what you are doing in the cemetery. Your comments about an interaction with a spirit may be offensive to them —especially family members—as many people like to feel that their passed on loved ones have crossed over and are no longer stuck here on earth.
17. Making verbal jokes is VERY inappropriate! Never say anything that includes statements like, “wake the dead”, “dead tired”, “you’re looking pretty grave”, “did you know ghosts eat boo-longa sandwiches?” and the like. I’m not saying that you need to be bored, but if other people hear you making these comments—including the departed—it can be very inappropriate and can get you thrown out of the cemetery and never invited back. If someone does start making jokes—because of boredom or fear—stop them politely and immediately. I have seen people who’ve made a joke get injured shortly after—possibly one of the ghosts getting back at them.
18. Do not drink, eat or smoke while in the cemetery. You may forget a soda bottle or can, attract insects, inadvertently leave food wrappers behind, and smoking can ruin photographic evidence—not to mention leaving cigarette butts behind is a form of littering. Do not litter!
19. Report any suspicious activity or vandalism to the authorities immediately.
20. Use common sense while visiting a cemetery. This is not your private investigative location. It is a place of respect where people visit passed on loved ones. Whether a cemetery is still in use or not—is not your place to determine who can act in what manner. Follow the local laws, the posted rules and these guidelines and you and your team members will have a safe and productive investigation.