A Code of Conduct for Paranormal Investigators Based on the Wiccan Rede

© 2015, Gary Gocek ... Site home ... Pagan and paranormal oriented content

Wicca is a mid-20th century revival of the pre-Christian, pagan practices. Modern paranormal investigators use mechanical and electronic equipment, as well as humans "sensitive" to paranormal activity, to attempt to discover or verify events caused by, well, dead people. There is no direct relationship between Wicca and the paranormal. However, the next time you visit your neighborhood psychic fair, count the pagans and paranormal investigators. There will be some of each, and there will be overlap. I have had only limited interactions with paranormal investigators, and I am not a Pagan, but the subjects interest me. In this essay, I may make mistakes from ignorance, but there is no intent to insult or denigrate. Scroll to the bottom for references and the usage policy.

Why a code of conduct? Well, investigators clomp around graveyards and old houses, sometimes at the request of frightened citizens who have experienced inexplicable occurrences. Bad behavior can cause damage to property and to people. Some paranormal investigator groups already have codes of conduct, and they draw ideas from each other. Often, the codes were developed after experiencing bad behavior by some individuals. Some codes go beyond prohibitions agains bad behavior and proceed to codify good behavior, but I think these were just fortuitous accidents of wise leaders.

Since there is an overlap of Neopaganism and paranormal investigation (unofficial, but it is what it is), my essay takes a step back and starts with Wiccan wisdom which has roots in ancient ways and applies that wisdom to a code of conduct for paranormal investigators.

See my essay, The Mundane Guide to the Wiccan Rede. The Rede is a poem attributed in 1975 by the late Lady Gwynne Thompson to the late Adriana Porter. The Rede contains obscure references and is not universally accepted, but it was written to provide guidance to Wiccans.

EVP (electronic voice phenomena) – recorded sounds, typically claimed to be the voices of human spirits that were not necessarily audible to the living human ear at the time the recordings were made. This is a subset of ITC, and therefore, ITC is the preferred term.
ITC (instrumental transcommunication) – recorded video, still images and sounds, typically capturing the activities of human spirits that were not necessarily discernable to living humans at the time the recordings were made. This includes EVP.
mundane - secular and non-spiritual; experienced through the five physical senses.
Pagan - refers to a person who believes in or adheres to specific Earth-centered religions such as Wicca.
PI – Paranormal Investigator. This is a generic, not legal, abbreviation. Any "licensing" of PIs is performed by self-proclaimed (unlicensed) authorities. That's why you often see warnings at psychic fairs that the events are to be considered as entertainment.
sensitive (n.) - A person claiming to have a heightened sensitivity to paranormal activity.
skeptic (n.) - With respect to paranormal investigations, a skeptic is a person who believes that all events have a natural, rather than supernatural explanation. Some PIs are skeptics who try to show that all perceived phenomena are, in fact, natural.

Proposed Vision for a Paranormal Investigation Group

People who experience phenomena with no obvious natural explanation feel confident that the members of the group can provide relevant information, resources, and comfort.

Proposed Mission for a Paranormal Investigation Group

Group members investigate phenomena with no obvious natural explanation, with minds open to the possibility that some explanations may, in fact, be supernatural. Clients will be provided with data, theories, and explanations in order to help understand observed phenomena and take action.

Proposed Code of Conduct for Paranormal Investigators and Groups

Bide the Wiccan Laws ye must In Perfect Love and Perfect Trust.

Read this code, comply with all rules and point out violations. Non-compliance is likely to be perceived as unprofessional by skeptics, non-skeptics and paranormal entities.

Admit that paranormal investigations sometimes reveal information that cannot be naturally explained.

Investigators need not practice Wicca, but the rules for conduct are derived from the couplets of the Wiccan Rede. The use of the Rede does not subvert your own religion or beliefs, nor the beliefs of clients; it's just a framework around which this code of conduct is designed.

Live an' let live - Fairly take an' fairly give.

Be sensitive to the needs and wishes of clients as well as paranormal entities. If resistance to actions is perceived from natural or supernatural sources, the investigator risks negative consequences. Investigators should comply with requests, from any perceived source, to the best of their abilities.

Give proper credit. Honor property rights. Be honest. Be trustworthy. Honor agreements.

Share all information with clients. Avoid melodramatic diatribes about "handling the truth."

Cast the Circle thrice about To keep all evil spirits out.

Always consider the safety of investigators, clients, bystanders, pets and animals, natural and supernatural surroundings, and property.

To bind the spell every time - Let the spell be spake in rhyme.

Learn the craft, practice the craft, and strive for quality.

Document fully. Clarify intended uses and copyrights with clients.

Soft of eye an' light of touch - Speak little, listen much.

Skeptics should remain open to explanations for the inexplicable. Non-skeptics should focus on observing that which is present, not what is expected to be present.

Agree that the attitude of an investigator has an effect on the results of the investigation.

Electronic equipment can be more fickle than even a spirit. Be careful when using software that can modify or delete data. Bring extra batteries. Run anti-virus software. Clean your lens. Extinguish anything that produces smoke.

Do not rush to review data after an investigation. Back up your data as soon as possible. Do not accept mysterious data corruption as "part of the territory". Transfer analog recordings to a hard drive. Download digital photos to a hard drive. Back up hard drives. After all that, then look for the paranormal evidence.

Handle electronic equipment, cables, accessories (such as lenses) and media (disks and film) carefully. When a digital task fails, recheck everything, uninstall and reinstall software, and try alternate software and devices.

When dealing with journalists, respect client nondisclosure agreements. Reveal what reporters need to know, and nothing more. Mainstream publicity can be positive; tell reporters about this code.

Do not play practical jokes while investigating.

Observe the environment before jumping to conclusions and tripping over a critical power cord.

Deosil go by the waxing Moon - Sing and dance the Wiccan rune.

Widdershins go when the Moon doth wane, An' the Werewolf howls by the dread Wolfsbane.

We live in a world of at least three dimensions. One observer's deosil may be another's widdershins, and the observers may be natural or supernatural. Be open to unusual perspectives and unexpected occurrences.

Do not associate with werewolves, they break your heart every time.

When the Lady's Moon is new, Kiss thy hand to Her times two.

Be courteous. Watch your language. Dress appropriately without offensive slogans. Avoid substance abuse and annoying habits during investigations.

When the Moon rides at Her peak Then your heart's desire seek.

Sometimes, investigations are a blast. Most of the time, they're tedious, but there's no way to know when you'll gather interesting evidence. Have fun, but work hard.

Heed the Northwind's mighty gale - Lock the door and drop the sail.

When the wind comes from the South, Love will kiss thee on the mouth.

When the wind blows from the East, Expect the new and set the feast.

When the West wind blows o'er thee, Departed spirits restless be.

Learn from experience to recognize recurring situations and the expected outcomes. Plan investigations carefully in advance according to clients' needs.

Nine woods in the Cauldron go - Burn them quick an' burn them slow.

Always strive to improve investigation skills, and to pass on knowledge and wisdom to other investigators.

Elder be ye Lady's tree - Burn it not or cursed ye'll be.

Investigators should not feign knowledge in areas that the investigator has no training. If a client needs a psychiatrist rather than a psychic, don't provide psychotherapy without training.

When the Wheel begins to turn - Let the Beltane fires burn.

When the Wheel has turned a Yule, Light the Log an' let Pan rule.

Work hard when at work, but once in a while, stop to celebrate and worship.

Heed ye flower bush an' tree - By the Lady Blessèd Be.

Be respectful of natural and supernatural surroundings, indoors and out of doors.

Where the rippling waters go Cast a stone an' truth ye'll know.

Sensitives and psychics are part of the investigative community, and sometimes participate in investigations. Their gifts are difficult to assess, even for other sensitives and psychics (whose gifts are difficult to assess). Avoid "crying wolf". All members of an investigative team should be comfortable with each other, and personal issues should be resolved before investigations begin.

When ye have need, Hearken not to others greed.

Practice moderation. During an investigation, make your observations and get out.

Investigators may charge for services or expenses, but be reasonable. Financial transactions are subject to government regulation.

With the fool no season spend Or be counted as his friend.

Paranormal investigators work around skeptics, other people who think they can communicate with dead people, and, well, dead people. PIs have a job to do, so be sure to comply with the code. We all make mistakes; try to use those occasions as learning or teaching opportunities.

Merry meet an' merry part - Bright the cheeks an' warm the heart.

What great advice for all our days! Investigators spend hours on end in strange places, unsure of the outcome. Then they spend hours on end with recordings, trying to figure out what they've got. Their spouses think they're nuts. Keep smiling and be nice to other people.

The customer is always right.

Mind the Threefold Law ye should - Three times bad an' three times good.

There are consequences to group members for violating this code, up to and including banishment.

When misfortune is enow, Wear the Blue Star on thy brow.

Paranormal investigations can present frustrating or even frightening situations. Remember your training and remember this code. Take a deep breath and stay calm.

True in love ever be Unless thy lover's false to thee.

Understand and comply with all sides of agreements, formal or informal.

Eight words ye Wiccan Rede fulfill - An' it harm none, Do what ye will.

Carefully consider the consequences of action or inaction, and harm none. Be consistent in these considerations - don't change the definitions when the going gets tough. Set a good example for others, inside and outside the paranormal investigation activity.

Participate in the group to make a contribution, not to collect the most recordings.

Respect the privacy and confidentiality of clients and other investigators, as well as perceived paranormal entities. It is acceptable for investigators to use pseudonyms or aliases, but be prepared to provide legally true identification to clients who also agree to confidentiality.

Be sympathetic to clients who have lost loved ones and may believe they are hearing from them.

Avoid service to family members and close friends because it is difficult to remain objective.

Obey the law and cooperate with authorities and emergency response personnel.

A paranormal investigator is always stomping on thin ice. "Do what ye will" gives PIs permission to track down dead people, but not free reign. Watch thy step.

Usage Policy

Please DO:

  • Suggest changes to improve this code of ethics and let me know if you'd like to be acknowledged.
  • Print a copy for personal use.
  • Tell your clients that you conform to this code.

Please DO NOT:

  • Do not print multiple copies.
  • Do not republish this code of ethics on another web site.
  •      (It's OK to link to this web page.)
  • Do not publish this code of ethics in a book or other publication.
  • Do not copy this code of ethics into your client agreement forms.