My upcoming release, Wild Ghost Chase, follows two teams of “Ghost Busters” into a haunted house. They have the equipment and expertise to deal with ghosts (supposedly, anyway). What do you do if your house is haunted? Here’s some ideas from Fiona Bloom at HollowHill.com — The article is reprinted with permission —
What to do about your problem/household ghost First of all, be certain you actually have a ghost. There are several pages at our website–in the Ghost hunters guide section (many under False anomalies)–to explain what is–and is not–a ghost.
You may have a draft that’s slamming doors, a loose wire that’s making the lights flicker. There may be an underground stream that causes the house to moan and shift. A recent study in England discovered that some “paranormal” phenomena is actually the result of natural, very low-frequency sounds.
Also, please do not notice “orbs” in your home photos and then decide you must have a ghost. Indoor “orbs” are almost always from reflections and lens flares, unless the photo was taken by a professional.
In other words, don’t go looking for ghosts where there aren’t any.
If it’s a ghost, is it a problem?
If you do have a ghost, be certain that it’s a problem.
Even experienced ghost hunters are startled by ghosts now & then. We also jump when someone steps out of the shadows, when a car runs a red light, and any other time the unexpected happens. We’re merely startled. It’s not a problem.
Many people feel as if they have something odd and unseen in the house. They don’t mind sharing the space with the ghost(s). In fact, the majority of haunted houses are happily cohabited by the living and the spirits.
If the ghost is a problem
If your ghost is a problem, here’s what to do. You’ll probably want to print out this page, as it offers many solutions from our research as well as folklore. Start with one or two of these remedies. It should not be necessary to use them all.
* The simplest solution is also the most reliable: Speak to the ghost, out loud. Shout, if you feel you must. Explain to your ghost that you live there now and he/she is doing things that bother you. Explain exactly what those things are. Ask the ghost to stop immediately. If you want the ghost to leave altogether, you need to say that.This usually works. However, some ghosts won’t take you seriously, and you may need to remind it to leave you alone several times before it stays away.
* Holy Water is another tried-and-true remedy for ghosts.Respectfully and quietly enter your nearest Catholic Church, carrying a small jar or bottle from home. Somewhere in the public area, there will be a large container of Holy Water, usually stainless steel with a cross and a spigot on it.Fill your container with Holy Water. It’s nice to leave a small donation for this, too. (A dollar or two is customary.)
Upon returning home, pour a liberal amount of the water into a small bowl. Dip your fingers into the water, and stand in any doorway in the house.
Make a broad Sign of the Cross in the doorway, allowing the water to fly off your fingers as you gesture. (If you don’t know how to make a Sign of the Cross, ask any Catholic.)
It can be helpful to add an out-loud prayer, such as “I bless this house in the name of Jesus,” or, “I banish all evil spirits from this home, in the name of God,” or something like that.
(If you feel silly saying this, and can’t help laughing as you do it, don’t do it. This is not a light or casual ritual.)
Do this in every doorway, interior and exterior. Also do this at every window; don’t forget the attic and the basement.
* Prayer and religion – Your ancestors, deities, and saints are in the spirit world, as your ghost is. It’s logical to ask the help of these friendly spirits.If you have a shrine–formal or informal (such as a display of photos)–to your ancestors, have a chat with your favorite deceased ancestor. Explain the situation to him/her, and ask for help.
If you’re very upset about your ghost, we recommend the Irish saint, St. Dymphna, who is the patron saint of mental health. She’s great for calming situations. We save St. Jude for extreme situations when all else has failed. He’s busy enough with others’ urgent requests.
Pagans may want to use a banishing ritual, unless the idea bothers you, of course.
* Garlic – Don’t laugh! Garlic is a tried-and-true repellant for unpleasant spirits of all kinds. Hang one clove (not an entire bulb) in each doorway and window where you need protection. A clove in your pocket is a good idea, too.If you believe in folk magick, you can create a small pouch with several protection herbs in it, including five-finger grass, cinnamon, and echinacea. However, don’t overdo this. The point is to repel ghosts, not drive everyone away from you! *grin*
Along the same lines, hematite is a folk remedy too. Wearing it, or even carrying a piece of this unusually heavy black stone, will–according to legend–absorb evil energy. This won’t get rid of the ghost, just the negative effects of it.
* The shoe remedy – This one sounds silly but gets great results among our readers: When you go to bed at night, set out the shoes you’ll wear in the morning. Place them at the foot of your bed, on the floor, with one shoe pointing one way, and the other shoe pointing the opposite way.According to folklore, the ghosts get so confused by this, they leave after a few nights.
Update: Fiona used this as a last resort when she needed to get some sleep at The Myrtles Plantation. It did silence the ghosts for awhile.
(If you like this one, scroll down to see the sand remedy.)
* Incense and space clearing – Some professionals use sage incense, sometimes called “smudge sticks” at the health food store. We favor Nag Champa, but a nice apple pie or vanilla scented incense may be more suitable.Light the incense and carry it around, making certain that you get the smoke everywhere, particularly inside closets, room corners (use a sturdy chair or ladder for uppermost corners), attics, basements, and so on.
Or, you can ring a bell in every corner, and in every room. Or clap your hands.
There are books specifically explaining a variety of space-clearing techniques.
However, the whole idea is to get the air moving in stale corners where ghosts may be hiding.
If you can’t do anything else, vacuum!
* Convex mirrors – You’ll need one inexpensive convex mirror (from the automotive department of any discount store) for each room that’s haunted. You’ll need extra mirrors if your windows in the haunted room face more than one direction. That is, if your windows face North and East, you’ll need two convex mirrors, regardless of the number of windows you have.You’ll need one more convex mirror if your computer is in a haunted room, and your back is to the door when you’re working. If your TV room is haunted and the ghost enters when your back is to the door (watching television), you’ll want a mirror in that room, too.
Convex mirrors are usually very small and plastic, with double-stick adhesive tape on the back. They’re sold for truckers to place on the outside mirror, to improve their field of vision when they’re backing up. At stores such as Wal-Mart, these mirrors cost less than $2 each.
When you get home with your mirrors, select one window in a haunted room. Place the mirror discreetly in a corner, preferably behind a curtain. The mirror should face towards the outside of the house. When a ghost approaches your window from the outside, he sees his own distorted reflection and goes away.
In haunted rooms where you sit with your back to the door, place the mirror so that you will see anyone (or anything) entering the room, without turning your head. (This is also a Feng Shui remedy.)
* Flat mirrors – Any cheap mirror, even a plastic one, will work for this. Buy one for each room that is haunted.Place the mirror at eye level, inside the room that is haunted, against the door. The shiny side of the mirror should face the door itself, not you.
Supposedly, the ghost looks through the door and sees his reflection in the mirror. This scares him away.
We know this one makes no sense… why would a ghost look through a door but not a mirror…? Nevertheless, readers report excellent results.
We recommend placing a photo, poster, or something artistic over the area where the mirror is. Otherwise, your friends will raise an eyebrow.
* Sand, rice, split peas, etc. Randomly toss rice, split peas, sand, salt (but not sugar as it leaves a sticky residue), coffee beans or grounds, or anything small and granular, on your kitchen floor when you go to bed at night (if that’s when the ghosts are most bothersome).According to folklore, the ghosts will pause to count the grains of whatever-it-is. They aren’t very good at counting, so they have to start over again, repeatedly, or they forget the numbers.
Clean up the mess in the morning, and do the same routine again at night.
After a few nights of this, the ghosts will leave.
One variation of this is to hang a vial or tube of sand in the window of any haunted room. You can use a cheap test tube from a chemistry kit (or a feeding vial for hamsters, for example), or any similar small container.
You can use a thin ribbon and a pushpin to hang it in the window.
Like the grains of rice on the kitchen floor, any entering ghost has to pause to count the sand granules. After a few nights, he’ll give up and haunt somewhere else.
These counting remedies come from a variety of cultures, including Irish and Native American, so this may be a reliable way to rid the house of ghosts.
* Paint your door red – This is an old Irish tradition: Paint your front door red. Spirits won’t enter a home with a red door.A related tradition is the Irish Sheela-na-gig (regarded by some as vulgar), and other religious and cultural icons placed at a front doorway, for protection.
On many pious Puritan homes of the Colonial era, you’ll see a geometric pattern of nails. Whether these church-goers were aware of it or not, the pattern in the door was a protection, according to ancient folklore. (And at a time when nails were difficult to find, it’s interesting that the design on the door was such a priority.)
“Hex” signs, also called distelfinks, are popular in the Pennsylvania Dutch region. You can make or buy these signs and use them outside your front door, too.
* String hazelnuts at your door – Hazelnuts have been used for protection since ancient times. In our house, we have a string of nine hazelnuts, tied with green ribbon (held in place with discreet dots of hot glue). When we just hung the hazelnuts, they looked… well, odd. *grin*So we bought a small grapevine wreath at the local crafts supply shop, decorated it with fake ivy, and wove the hazelnuts through the ivy. It looks great.
You’ll want one of these at every doorway into your house.
You may want to bless the wreath in a ritual suited to your own religious beliefs, or have your local priest bless it. There’s no reason to explain what this is for, except to say it’s a “good luck” token for your front and back door, or something like that.
(You’d be amazed at the things that priests are asked to bless. Your wreath won’t even raise an eyebrow. Really.)
Hazelnuts are generally available in the autumn, between the middle of October and December. Stock up on them, then, if you might want to make extra wreaths for the protection of family members and friends, to have one for your office, and so on.
They usually cost about $1.99/pound in the bulk section of the produce department. They’re large, smooth, brown, and sort of the shape of a large olive, with a white spot on them. Out of their shells, they’re called filberts, which may work if you can’t get the actual hazelnuts.
* Sea salt – We have our own “blessed salt” that we use in particularly dangerous hauntings. Ours is specially prepared, but if you have your local Catholic priest bless some sea salt, it will probably work well enough for most hauntings.According to legend, ghosts cannot cross a line of blessed salt, so you can use it to keep a ghost in a particular area, or create a boundary that he/she cannot cross to get to you.
If none of these remedies works and you still have a significant, perhaps life-threatening problem, ask a Catholic priest to find out who is authorized to do exorcisms. However, they will perform this rite only if the case is documented and extreme.
Avoid charlatans who carry a Bible or a dowsing wand, and claim to be “ghost busters” for a hefty donation. And watch out for the crazies in this field anyway.
One final note: If you have a ghost, consider documenting it. We have several pages about taking pictures that reveal ghosts.