“He was trying to tell me something.” Derek snorted. “Aren’t they all? Must be a rule in the ghost handbook—if in danger of evaporating, make sure you’re in the middle of a dire pronouncement.”
– Kelley Armstrong, The Reckoning
Something Spooky’s Going on: Say you’re moving into a new residence. How can you make sure the house, and its contents, are a spirit-free zone? Some ghosts are so quiet that you may only sense their existence on the farthest reaches of your awareness. So the first step in protecting yourself from spirits is becoming more aware of them.
Learning to extend your senses into other realities takes time and practice. We are used to interpreting the world in very concrete terms. Expanded sensory perception requires that we believe there is something beyond our awareness. We must also start to trust the instincts we once dismissed as “just a feeling:’
A Witch’s Psychic Senses and Spiritual Awareness
- Gut Feelings: Pay special attention to gut feelings and intuitive impulses for an entire year. They take notes of these and review this intuitive list once a month. Guage how often you were correct. You’ll be amazed at how insightful you can be once you start paying close attention to that inner voice.
- Sensing Auras: Team up with a friend. Begin by burning incense for heightened spiritual senses. Options include mint, bay, and rose. Each of you places and amethyst in their pocket. According to folklore, this stone increases psychic ability. Next, sit about one foot apart with hands held up, palms facing your partner’s. At first, the hands nearly touch. You should begin sensing energy dancing between their palms, sometimes feeling it as increased warmth. Begin to visualize that energy as a glowing ball together. Slowly move your hands apart, letting the ball grow. When the sphere is about eight inches in diameter, the exercise turns into a game of energy catch−the sphere is projected back and forth between two auras.
How does this practice session help with ghosts? In life, a person has an aura. After death that energy imprint remains. The more sensitive you become to the spiritual atmosphere of people, places and things, the more awareness you’ll have of ghosts!
The Three-F Guide: Faith, Fear, and Folklore
Faith is indispensable: any protective measure you take against ghosts will be worthless if you don’t believe in its effectiveness. A devout Christian may trust in holy water as an effective safeguard, but a Buddhist may not.
Fear is used against you by some spirits−especially malevolent ghosts. Never let your apprehensions about the unknown get the best of you. Know your power as a living soul. If you can overcome fear, you can usually overcome the presence bothering you. You are an independent spirit with free will. No entity has the right to interfere with your personal space. Even so, some spirits try to encroach, desperately or ignorantly: these must be told their place in no uncertain terms.
Try the “knock first” policy. This means that any spirit who wants to drop in has to announce his or her intention like anyone else. Any ghost or spirit who does not do so is politely but firmly asked to leave, using whatever expulsion method necessary. Using this approach you can conversely create an open house designation for those spirits whose presence is always welcome like deceased family members or friends.
Folklore and superstition about ghosts is full of practical tips for preventing hauntings and banishing wandering spirits. An abbreviated list of this wonderfully rich tradition follows below. Remember to supplement your personal folklore list with traditions you choose from your own culture−or your own family. Personalized approaches always prove more effective because we relate to them intimately and trust in them on all levels of experience.
A Pagan’s Mini-Guide to Ghost and Spirit Protection Folklore
- Broom: Place a piece of the herb broom under your pillow. This keeps away ghosts and the bad dreams caused by spirits. This according to Romanian tradition.
- Coral: Hindu tradition recommends carrying coral as a protective talisman against evil spirits.
- Broom: Place a piece of the herb broom under your pillow. This keeps away ghosts and the bad dreams caused by spirits. This according to Rumanian tradition.
- Salt: Salt has cleansing protective qualities. Moroccans carry it as a ward against hauntings, and rural Americans tossed it on the butter churn to expel malevolent spirits.
- Musical Instruments: Many South American and South African tribal cultures use noisy instruments, like drums, for scaring away any spirits whose presence is detrimental to the region, such as a sickness spirit or a drought spirit.
- Rowan: Hang rowan wood in the form of a sacred symbol over the door and place iron pieces beneath the threshold. This measure also keeps out unwanted fairies and other elemental spirits.
- Quartz: Leave a quartz crystal near an object or in room that seems haunted. According to Chinese belief, this stone keeps ghosts that may sneak in unnoticed content.
- Seed or Bean Charm: The Victorians created a decorative item called a charm wand for keeping their homes safe from random or malevolent spirits. To make your own: fill a clear tube to capacity with tiny seeds or beans, then cap it. Hang it near your door. Any spirit must count the seeds before it enters your house; this takes all night, however, and the rising sun drives it away.
- Garlic:Among the Anglo-Saxons, bundles of garlic and rosemary or hot cross buns made on Easter (spring equinox) hanging in homes safeguards it from spirits. The garlic also banished the undead.
- Mirrors: To discharge a spirit who visits a home or object often, turn all the mirrors around, or change a door’s location. This will turns spirit away or confuses it into leaving.
- Angelica: In the Middle Ages people used angelica to keep ghosts away. Baneful spirits could also be expelled by fennel.
Protection from the Dead
Besides keeping ghosts and spirits away, there may be times when you feel protective measures are necessary. You can certainly use spells and rituals for this purpose. Here are some other ideas that you could add to your magical methods for greater Oomph.
Components for Spiritual Protection and Defense Against Spirits
- Lodestone: A protective talisman against nasty spirits. This may be due to its association with iron, a common safeguard against the Fey.
- Houseleeks: plant them on your roof. The Latin name for this plant, sempervivium, means ever living and the dead cannot bear its presence.
- Mirrors: Cover all your mirrors immediately after a death. This keeps a spirit from using them as a portal (an example of Mirror Magic).
- Running water: If you are chased by a spirit jump over any source of moving water. A spirit cannot follow you there: moving water represents life.
- Jimson Weed: The Aztecs considered jimson weed a sacred plant that would protect any area in which it grew from ghosts.
- Fire: Bonfires and other light sources drive away malevolent spirits, like those that walk the earth more freely on Midsummer, Hallows, and Lammas. In the Middle Ages, people left candles near their beds to drive away spirits.
- Rosemary: Place a sprig of rosemary inside a seashell. Bind it within, using a red thread. Carry this with you as an amulet against ghosts.
- Rowan & St. John’s Wort: Hang rowan and St. John’s Wort over the doorway of your home, and no malicious spirits can enter therein.
- Angelica and Nettle: worn or carried as an amulet protects the bearer from evil spirits. Consult an Herb Witch for more ideas along this line.
- Violets: Grown in or around a home wards against wandering spirits.
Another option for giving your annoying specter a spiritual eviction notice is regularly burning banishing incense. Aromas associated with rites for the dead (i.e., giving them peace) include Sage, Cedar, Pine, and Frankincense. Keep the incense burning in a central location. For a little magical sympathy, use oils with the same scents on doorways, windows, etc. Warning: make sure you’re not allergic first!
Gloomy spirits make the whole house feel maudlin. If a spirit’s presence seems depressing, discouraged or down-right dismal try making your space as bright as possible. Open those curtains and bring in sunlight. Play comedy tapes or shows when you’re not home to keep your ghost company. After a time the energy should shift. If not, you’ll have to ponder more drastic measures. The next step might be using sigils, sacred crystals, protective herbs, etc. throughout the haunted pace. If you have a Spirit Guide or Guardian Angel, call on them for assistance.
If you know a sensitive or channeler who can have a sit down with your ghost, learning his or her story usually resolves the haunting. They just want someone to listen and understand.
Your ghost has very refined tastes. They prefer a specific chair, lamp, ring, clock or another item. In this instance, you need only move the fetter to a location the spirit likes. Finding that location may require several tries. When you hit on the right location, it feels like putting the last piece in a puzzle. The ghost, contented, will calm down immediately.
Angry or Malevolent Ghosts
These are the most difficult critters because you’re not about to find them reasonable. In other words, don’t invite them to a tea time séance. This type of haunting typically requires some professional assistance. Get someone who knows their Ghostly Gifts and how to use them effectively. Work cooperatively with that person by noting exactly what types of activities you’ve experienced. This helps develop a plan for banishing.
Cleansing a Haunted Home or Object
If after all your examination, deductive reasoning, and protective measures-you conclude that a ghost is present, you must decide what to do about it. Hauntings that interrupt your sleep cycle or personal life, or that scare guests, pets and children, call for action. Exactly how you react depends on the severity of the haunting.
Adapted from “Ghosts Spirits and Hauntings,” by Patricia Telesco. All rights reserved.