Supernatural Magazine

When is Provocation Okay?

When is provocation okay?

The short and easy answer: Never.

The long and complicated answer: Never. Just don’t do it.

In the paranormal field, the discussion of provocation is rampant. Thanks to paranormal reality television, we witness the practice of provoking on a regular basis. Many amateur ghost hunters will resort to provoking as a way to get a reaction from an unseen entity for the purpose of data collection and in most cases, evidence presentation for the public. Even if you get that golden piece of evidence that proves the existence of the afterlife, at what cost did you obtain it?

As someone who wants to believe in the survival of consciousness after death. I have to wonder exactly what I’m looking forward to when I die. If we were to go about the idea that one can hang around this Earth before “crossing over” or going to heaven/hell/purgatory/limbo, etc. are we going to have to thicken our non-existent skins and get ready for some harassment from the world of the living?

First, let’s take a look at the definition of provocation:

Action or speech that makes someone annoyed or angry, especially deliberately.

When reading this definition, I quickly think about my classroom of four year olds and how they will provoke each other into doing something that will get them into trouble (hitting, shouting, etc.). In terms of the paranormal, when has it become okay to resort to purposely upsetting another individual, living or dead? And these same ghost hunters and thrill seekers are the ones who are surprised when there is a physical altercation with an unseen entity. It amazes me.

Putting out negativity will only ensure that we will get negativity in return in most cases of provocation. I can’t really think of a circumstance where provoking ended positively besides a more interesting session of data collection. If we find ourselves in a situation where the ghosts don’t want to talk with us, we need to respect their space and choices. Yeah, we may have paid a three figure dollar amount to investigate the location, but that was our choice, not theirs. This goes back to not treating the dead like a circus act that is forced to perform because we paid good money for a ticket.

How many times have we said the following:

“We traveled a long way to talk with you…”

“We paid a lot of money to be here tonight…”

“We heard a lot of stories about you haunting this place…”

Of course, the above sentences aren’t necessarily provoking, but I also envision the ghosts getting irritated at hearing these statements on a regular basis. It reminds me of going on a date where the guy buys dinner and then expects a treat at the end.

“I paid a lot of money for you…”

“I did all these things for you…”

This puts things in a different perspective. When I realized these parallels, I sort of went through an existential crisis when it came to my investigation methodology. I like to think that those who have passed on are well aware that their time period is over and they’re not trapped in the time period they lived in. But, who am I to make that statement? They could very well be stuck in 1863 reliving the second day of the Battle of Gettysburg. Isn’t that some form of hell?

While we’re on this little tangent, let’s think about the context of the deceased and why provoking is causing more harm than good. During a late night discussion with a fellow researcher who is known to me publicly as Joy, she mentioned that the mental states of the deceased has a major impact in their methods of communication in the afterlife.

Take for example those who were in insane asylums for the majority of their lives. Depending on the ethics of the location, the deceased likely went through hell and what is sad is that they most likely didn’t understand what was going on. They couldn’t grasp why these terrible things were happening to them and they were living in confusion for most of their lives. So, how is provoking going to make this entity open to talking with you? It is only going to further their confusion, upset them, and provoke discontent in their afterlife when they should be at peace.

Many will associate provoking with a response in anger. But let us consider that provoking could upset the entity to the point where they are pushed to tears and losing hope? What sort of bad energy will return to us for such a heinous action? Will it guarantee that we are doomed to a similar fate in the afterlife?

I know people feel that there might be some exceptions; like the deceased was a pedophile or committed a heinous act in their lifetime. I suppose there is some justification in wanting to let your opinions be heard. But in the end, when communicating with a dead criminal, what positive result will occur from this? A blip on your K-II meter? Getting that Class-A EVP?

I know of an investigator who went under fire by another group a little over a year ago because he was bringing about the context of the time period while establishing communication with the deceased. Instead of investigating with a modern approach like most teams do, this particular investigator works from the reenactment angle. While trying to communicate with child spirits from the Civil War era, there was a lot of activity going on where the tech was going nuts. The investigators simulated an evening of watching the children including reading time, games, singings, and finally…bedtime. But the child spirits didn’t want to go to bed. The investigators then said, “If you don’t go to bed, you’ll be in for a whipping.”

Was this provocation?

In this context, no. It was bringing a relevant context to a group of child spirits. It wasn’t done directly to upset or elicit a response, but instead bring about a familiar situation and conversation that these children may have experienced in their lifetime. Once hearing the choices of whether to go to bed or get a spanking, the activity calmed down, which is the opposite of what most investigators would want. But in this situation, it showed that the spirits understood what was happening around them.

Would this interaction be appropriate in all situations involving child ghosts? Of course not. You have to do your research and get an idea of who and what you’re potentially communicating with. It can be rather counter-productive to interact with a spirit like they’re seven years old and they’re actually seventy. How would that elderly spirit react when someone provoking them like they are a child? Will they feel insulted? Embarrassed? Who knows?

In closing, as you watch other teams provoke, whether it is on television or in the context of a public or residential case, keep in mind who you’re communicating with. I believe that what we put out there is what we will eventually get back in return. So if this means that we’re harassing, provoking, and purposely upsetting the deceased, we will atone for those actions at some point in the existence of our consciousness.

Regardless of what happens to us when we die, as living investigators, let’s bring back the “Peace” in “Rest in Peace.”

Alex Matsuo

Alex Matsuo

While Alex Matsuo is an actor and playwright by day, she is also a paranormal researcher and radio personality by night. Alex is also a paranormal radio host, earning herself a Shorty Award nomination in 2013 She is currently the host of the radio show, The Wicked Domain on Live Paranormal/History.FM, which airs bi-weekly on Sundays. Alex currently speaks and writes on numerous topics from basic paranormal concepts to advanced theory and methodology.