How many times have you seen this on paranormal TV shows of one kind or the other? One of the investigators, acting on reports that the entity supposedly in the house, has left physical traces on one of the witnesses, goes into the room with the most alleged activity and says something like, “I hear you like to – pinch, poke, bite, etc. – people? Why don’t you come over here and do that to me?” If nothing happens, the provoker then goes on to challenge the spirit in question, “C’mon, I dare you do that to me !!” The individual may then go on to “talk smack” to the spirit, using any information at their disposal to cast the spirit in a negative light in hopes of making it angry so that it will manifest itself.
When I have seen this done, the investigator almost always seems to be a larger male. While I am sure that females on these teams use these tactics as well, I guess that the TV audiences want to see what happens if the tough guy on the team calls the spirit out. Typically, nothing happens, except perhaps the tough guy gets a chill or has a sense of presence. I have seen a show or two where the challenger actually ended up with scratches or other physical marks, at least one show where the provoker ended up having to leave the building because he suddenly felt ill and an early episode of one of the very popular shows where an investigator got knocked down.
This type of behavior is one of the reasons that I feel that every paranormal investigation team (and for that matter any group that looks for unknown critters or UFO’s) should have at least one experienced magical practitioner on staff. Such a person would know better than to provoke an unknown spirit and would be able to explain to the testosterone soaked tough guy precisely why such behavior can be extremely dangerous.
First, let me say that in most cases, the spirit that the team is dealing with will be relatively harmless. Most hauntings are caused by residual energies that are running a specific sequence or by intelligent or semi intelligent “ghosts” that are not really capable of causing anyone physical harm. In many cases, these entities are incapable of even manifesting themselves as a clear apparition. They might cause a few noises in the house or maybe even produce some interesting EVP’s but they are not going to take a swing at you. They have their reason for being there and can either be asked to leave or lived with without difficulty.
If, however, the witnesses are reporting activity that most Western investigators seem to classify as “demonic”, the investigation team has a whole different animal on its hands. If the reports turn out to be verifiable and physical phenomenon are present, then you have a potentially dangerous spirit at the site and you need to behave accordingly. Note please that I say potentially. Any spirit that can extend its reach into the etheric and thus manifest in the physical enough to cause damage to a human body is something to be worried about but is more likely to be indirectly harmful. In most of these events, I would be more worried about being nudged and falling down a staircase than I would worry about a direct assault.
There is though an old occult adage that all paranormal investigators should bear in mind: never summon what you can not send back. Magicians throughout the ages have practiced spirit evocation, the summoning of various classes of spirits to perform various functions. When the “tough guy” paranormal investigator goes into a room and starts calling out a spirit, he or she is, in essence, performing an evocation and the angry repartee is supplying the spirit with energy that it might need to manifest.
Here is the worst case scenario. Let’s say Paranormal Team X goes to a site where there have been reports of escalating activity. Footsteps, doors opening, things falling off shelves, growling in the back yard, foul odors, etc. Research has shown that the house was owned previously by a shady individual who was involved in less savory aspects of the occult. The activity seems most prevalent in the basement and, as the investigation progresses, the team gets EVP evidence of the growls, witnesses and photographs objects moving and perhaps even finds footprints of an unknown nature outside in the flower beds. The people who live in the home have reported being scratched and pushed so one of the investigators thinks that, in order to glean more evidence, it might be a good idea to go into the basement and provoke this spirit to see what will happen. This is where your occult expert would step in and pronounce this a VERY BAD IDEA.
The mage will know that people who walk the darker sides of magic often work with spirits, often in a dominating manner. Imagine how you would feel if someone jerked you out of your house and commanded you to do their bidding and you were compelled to do so. You would not be a happy camper even if you were up for sainthood in your next life. If you happened to be an entity who did not care for humans in the first place, then you might decide that it is pay back time at the first instance when someone calls on you without being able to send you back into your own realm or being able to defend themselves in this realm. The old stories about sorcerers being killed by “demons” that they lost control of have more than a grain of truth in them. Such a being, called carelessly into manifestation, could really ruin someone’s night . . . perhaps even permanently.
Thankfully, such entities are rare and provocation is not a universal technique. Provoking spirits may look good on TV but I strongly advise against it. I apply the same rules to dealing with unknown spirits that I do to dealing with unknown humans. I am polite but firm about my boundaries and, if those boundaries are encroached, I am prepared and properly trained to enforce them and get out of the situation. If you are going in to a case and you encounter hostility despite being polite with the presences around you, it might be time to call in reinforcements of a spiritual/magical nature. It is definitely not time to start calling the spirit names.