On an exceptionally hot Summer day, a group of people have gathered on the front yard of a suburban house in southern Finland. Many of these folks are dressed in black clothing, and look like they’re getting ready for a metal concert.
In reality, they’re readying themselves for something way more terrifying and, potentially, electrifying: a ghost hunt.
This piece was written by my friend Oona, who accompanied me to the event. Follow her on Instagram: @sirutar
(The house where the ghost hunt took place)
The event has been organized by a Finnish ghost hunting team called Paranormal Investigations Group. Established a few years ago by brothers Mika and Markus Nikkilä, Paranormal Investigations Group do investigations into old houses and mansions, mainly using a ”ghost box”, an electronic device that scans radio stations non-stop, the belief being that it enables ghosts and spirits to communicate through the static noise created by the non-stop scan.
(The Paranormal Investigations Group guys set up their equipment)
Before we enter the house where tonight’s investigation is to take place, the owner of the property where the house stands briefs us on the backstory that has led to this particular dwelling being chosen for a ghost hunt:
”A man and his son used to live here. They were very close, and only had each other. When the man died, his son fell into a deep depression, and ultimately hanged himself in here, using a rope he attached to the top of the stairs leading to the second floor.”
Mika from the Group then gives us the final instructions:
”If anobody feels bad or has anxiety during the session, let us know and we will help you out immediately! Try to concentrate on just this investigation, and leave everything else out of your minds. Relax, breathe deep, and immerse yourselves in the story of this house and this moment we’re about to share together.”
And with these words, we enter the house.
Filled with excitement and anticipation I climb the narrow stairs. The upstairs is hot, and being in the same room with a dozen other people is a good way to cause anxiety by itself. There are some small items on the wall reminding of the past, of the fact that human beings once lived here, but otherwise the room is empty. The place has a moldy smell, that specific aroma of an old house that has been unoccupied for some time.
(the Paranormal Investigations Group guys and their medium, Sanna)
People gather to the back of the room, as the investigators set their equipment in the middle. Somebody switches off the lights, and we’re ready to begin.
The “ghost box” starts buzzing, and the crowd listens attentively. The investigators’ handheld electricity detection devices flash orange and red, the lights indicating that something is present. The investigators ask: “Has something bad happened here?” The lights flash red, the ghost box gives out some words and beeps which, to me, don’t convey any information. The medium explains that the spirit said ”yes”.
She scribbles things to her notebook, and in a moment says that the spirit feels uncomfortable with all the females in the room. I am not surprised, as the man who committed suicide in the house generally didn’t have female company around. Many of the questions asked get answers through the box and the medium. Some are left unanswered. The investigators ask the spirit to give a sign that he’s present. A couple of visitors inform they feel a burning sensation on their arm at that very moment.
The adjacent room is not as active. For whatever reason, the voice in the ghost box sounds more child-like in this room. The answers aren’t as clear or frequent as they were in the other room. I do notice a couple of people stroking their arms like something had touched them, so maybe this spirit just doesn’t feel as talkative, but instead prefers a different approach in making his/her presence felt.
(What it looked like with the lights off)
After a short break and some fresh air, we head back inside to see if the downstairs rooms will give us more info. We gather again around the room with more questions in our minds.
This time the lights indicate a spirit being definitely near one person in the room; even when this person is asked to move to another spot, the lights still signal the same thing. According to the investigators translating the ghostly messages to us less familiar with them, there seems to also be a female spirit present in the space. She responds to questions, and guides us towards certain topics. She briefly mentions “a lake” (Finnish “järvi”), possibly indicating some sort of a connection to a nearby body of water.
The folks taking part in this expedition seem to be getting a hang of this, and are more relaxed as we step in the last room of the tour. Our guides decide to let loose, and tell whoever is listening from beyond to use whatever means possible to make their presence known. Several people claim to feel rushes of energy, and dramatic changes in their body temperature. The ghost box is suddenly more active than it was before, but no grand narrative emerges; the ghosts keep their secrets with them.
As we prepare to wrap up this unusual couple of hours, one of the Investigations Group members asks: “Would you like us to leave?” The ghost box answers very clearly this time: “Heippa!” (“Bye bye!”)
As the participants walk out of the house, many of them gather around to discuss their experiences. Some are perhaps skeptical while others have had their deepest convictions fulfilled. One thing is for sure, though: we have all just spent our Saturday night doing something very unusual.
One less item on the bucket list.
1 ) Who are you guys? Tell us a bit about yourselves!
MARKUS: My name is Markus Nikkilä. I’m from the town of Valkeakoski. I’m in my thirties, and have been interested in paranormal phenomena for a long time.
MIKA: I’m Mika Nikkilä, 44 years old. This [paranormal field] has always felt like my “thing”. For the past four years, my brother and I have been delving deeper into paranormal phenomena [through Paranormal Investigations Group]
2) Where did this interest in the paranormal start?
MARKUS: It’s been with me ever since I was a kid, a really long time.
MIKA: Neither of us has ever had a paranormal experience of our own, not before this. That’s a good question, it’s really difficult to say where this started…
MARKUS: Yeah, I can’t really say either.
3) How do you find the locations you investigate?
MARKUS: We use Google to look for interesting spots: manors, strange buildings, et cetera. We also receive messages from regular people, asking us to come investigate their house.
MIKA: We receive literally hundreds of messages from people. Many of them want us to come over and investigate because they suspect they might be going crazy if they witness paranormal phenomena in their homes, and want us to come over and either confirm or deny the presence of something paranormal.
Over time, this [Paranormal Investigations Group] has gotten bigger, to the point where we’ve done some TV appearances even, but these are only side effects: our emphasis has always been and always will be in investigating paranormal phenomena, not on being famous.
MARKUS: The media has become interested in us because people in general are interested in these types of phenomena.
4) Why do you think that is?
MIKA: The way I see it, I think it’s partly because many famous people have come out of the closet with their paranormal experiences, and thus inspired and encouraged regular people to open up about their own experiences as well. They realize that these experiences are very common, and there’s nothing to be ashamed of.
What has been the most thrilling moment in your investigations so far?
MIKA: We were in a manor in Valkeakoski. Throughout the investigation, we could literally hear someone or something walking upstairs, right above us. This went on for maybe 8 or 10 minutes. But this is just one example – we oftentimes feel touches, hear whispers, those types of things.
And another memorable experience was the Kytäjä manor, because of it’s grim history. I felt like I constantly had to look over my shoulder while we were in there.
[Kytäjä manor has seen several suicides over the decades, and in the 1970s the lord of the manor, Kai Vähäkallio, brutally murdered three youngster who had camped out on the manor’s land. Vähäkallio, too, later committed suicide.]
One thing that’s oftentimes mentioned in connection with the kinds of investigations that you do is the potential danger of it. Do you think it’s possible that something might “follow” you home from an investigation, something malicious? Do you prepare for that somehow?
MIKA: It’s absolutely a real threat! We’re dealing with forces way bigger than us, and totally out of our control. But it’s a chance we’re willing to take.
As for how we prepare ourselves, I’m not a specifically religious person, but I always recite the “Our Father” prayer before we go into a house. Also, if things get too intense inside a house, it’s time to take a break and think about the situation for a while.
MARKUS: You have to be sensitive to your own emotions, and monitor your own feelings throughout an investigation.
Do you guys have a “dream location” you would love to investigate? If you could travel in time and space to anywhere you’d like.
MIKA: I don’t know if it would be appropriate to actually do so, but a part of me would like to spend a night in Auschwitz.
MARKUS: Mine would be an old castle of some sort in England.
Do you have any specific plans for the future?
MIKA: As long as our hearts and minds are dedicated to this, we will keep doing it. There are all kinds of cooperative projects in the works, and they are welcome, but ultimately the inner desire to do this is the most important factor. Once that disappears, Paranormal Investigations Group will stop what it’s doing.
Where will you be this summer?
MIKA: Next week we’ll be filming for a television channel. And in September, we will collaborate with magician Noora Karma on an investigation in a big manor. Those are a couple of certain plans.
But we’re always on the lookout for new houses to investigate, just the two of us, without any cameras or extra partakers.
Thanks guys, and good luck with everything!