Spiritual Protection for Ghost Hunters

Spiritual protection for ghost hunters is an important topic.

Spiritual Protection for Ghost HuntersSeveral people have written useful books about it.

Remember, we usually don’t know how dangerous a site is until we investigate it.

It’s smart to arrive prepared, even if you think it will be a “lite” investigation.

Consider three main issues when choosing protection. Each can be important.

Look into:

  • Innately powerful tools.  What’s worked for people in the past?
  • Your own spiritual references.  What empowers you, spiritually? (Also, what spiritual symbols worry you? If they go against your faith, don’t use them.)
  • And, the spirituality of the ghosts.  What might impress the ghosts, based on what they respected or feared during their lifetimes?

Here are some of the most popular items ghost hunters use for protection.

Garlic

garlic cloves
Garlic cloves… you only need one.

Fresh garlic cloves are available at most grocery stores.  Garlic not only repels werewolves and vampires, at least according to folklore, it’s also supposed to keep demons at a distance.

You can carry it in a pocket or your backpack.  Some people have a clove in a pendant and wear it as a necklace.

If you tuck a garlic clove in your shoe and it’s against your skin, expect “garlic breath” within a few hours.  It will penetrate the skin, enter your blood stream, and carry the odor throughout your body.  That’s actually a way some people use garlic as a health treatment.

Salt

I use white salt, but it’s one of two kinds of salt for protection. (The other is black salt.)

White salt is everyday table salt.  You probably have it in your kitchen, and you’ll find it in your clients’ kitchens. You can use any table salt, including pink salt and other specialized sea salts.  In fact, I prefer sea salt, but others recommend Kosher salt and other specialized salts.  In a pinch — pun intended — any salt can work.

People believe that salt repels ghosts and evil spirits.  In fact, an old remedy from folklore is to lay down a line of salt… evil entities cannot cross it.

I’m not sure if that’s true, but it seemed to work the one time I tried it.

Black salt can be one of two kinds of salt. One is edible and the other isn’t.

One is a dark, pinkish, sulphur-y tasting salt mined in India. It’s usually sold in upscale grocery stores, among the exotic and colored table salts. It’s also stocked by some ethnic grocers.  Vegans and vegetarians use it to make tofu taste like egg salad.

The other kind of black salt is made by mixing table salt with something to turn it black, like ash or powdered charcoal, cast iron scrapings, or really black pepper. People buy it ready-made, usually at a shop related to witchcraft or a botanica.

In Voodoo and related traditions, black salt may lift curses and repel evil and malicious spirits.

Never eat black salt.  Do not give it to anyone to consume. Don’t leave it around where children might decide to taste it. Depending on what the black salt is made from, it could make them ill or even kill them.

Holy Water

Some people use Holy Water to bless houses that have very light (but annoying) paranormal activity.

Crucifix and Holy Water on a fireplace mantel.From what I’ve learned about demonic activity, I would use Holy Water only in situations where there is absolutely, positively no likelihood of malicious and demonic energy.

One thing I learned from the late Father Andrew Calder is:  If you’re dealing with something dark and demonic, Holy Water can make things far worse… quickly.

Andy had more experience with demonology and exorcisms than most people, and I trust his advice.   I wish I’d learned more from him while he was here, but his warning has stayed with me.

I used to routinely carry Holy Water with me. Also, at sites such as Traditional Catholic Priest, you can learn to make Holy Water at home, or even on-the-spot at a clients’ home.  (The Holy Water you’ll decant at almost any Catholic church is a little different, and — in my opinion — more powerful.)

Since talking with Father Calder, I don’t use it at all.  In my opinion, most ghost hunters don’t grasp the dangers of Holy Water — and other Christian symbols — if the problem is demonic.

I know that I didn’t.

First-person stories from John Zaffis and other demonologists made that very clear.

If the situation indicates the need for a house blessing, I tell the client to contact their preferred professional spiritual counsellor.

Most priests and ministers will expect a small donation to help offset their travel expenses, but it’s always worthwhile when a blessing is needed. And, to be blunt, it’s the safest approach.

Charms, amulets, and tokens

St. Michael the Archangel
St. Michael the Archangel. Click image to download a printable version, and keep it in your wallet or backpack.

In non-demonic settings, spiritual objects, symbols, tokens, and scriptures seem to serve as protection.

Weirdly, that’s true, even when the person using them doesn’t believe in the associated spiritual tradition.  I have no idea why.

It’s possible that the object symbolizes a religion that the ghost believed in, or still believes in.

These include holy medals (St. Michael medals are especially popular), pendants representing a lucky horseshoe, iron nails (may repel faeries more than ghosts), or a lucky rabbit’s foot (not widely used during ghost hunts, due to their association with animal cruelty and death).

Some ghost hunters wear “lucky socks” or a similar item of clothing. They firmly believe those items provide protection from evil… or at least bad luck.

Others wear a garment or piece of jewelry that was left outside on the night of February first or second. According to folklore, Brigid (or St. Bridget) blesses these items, making them especially lucky, healing, or protective during the coming year.

Liquor

In some folklore and spiritual traditions, pouring liquor on the ground as a gift is helpful if you’re requesting assistance or protection from the good spirits at the site.

On the other hand, offering liquor to some spirits in Vodun, Voodoo, and related traditions… that can bring out the mischief makers.

My ancestry and traditions are mostly Irish.  When I really need help with something, I visit the grave of one particular ancestor, pour good Irish whiskey on the ground, and then have a one-sided chat with her, telling her what I need.  It seems to work.

What I use

Quartz crystalHere’s what I carry:  I have a couple of crystals in my wallet.  One is a Herkimer diamond – the same kind used by “Ghost Busters” Dan Akroyd and his dad, to purify their Crystal Head Vodka.

(I carry a second crystal, but I’ve forgotten what it is.  It’s for physical healing, especially stress and headaches.  It’s clear, colored with shades of purple and green.  It’s probably fluorite.  All I know is: When I bought it, a miserable headache vanished as soon as I picked up the stone. I’ve never had another severe headache like that, as long as I’ve carried the fluorite with me… and that’s over 10 years, now.)

Sometimes, I carry or wear hematite.  Usually, I wear it as a pendant.  (Mine is on a simple cord.)  In folklore, it’s a general purifier.

In my wallet, I have a St. Michael the Archangel medal, blessed by the late demonologist, Father Andrew Calder.

It’s been one of my most valued forms of protection since Andy was called home in September 2012.  (Any priest can bless any medal you have.  The combination of the St. Michael imagery plus the metal plus the blessing… that can be powerful in some contexts.)

In my car, I usually have blessed salt as well as religious scriptures.  I use those only in extreme cases… and that’s very rare. I am very mindful that any case I consider “extreme” could be antagonized – and made worse – by any Christian symbols or scriptures.  So, if the situation is that dire, I usually have the client contact a demonologist, or at least a local priest or minister.

19th century divider - leaf

Every community, ethnic group and spiritual tradition recommends different kinds of spiritual protection.  Whether those methods actually work or it’s “placebo effect” doesn’t matter to me, as long as people who are nervous feel they are out of danger or less affected by it.

If you don’t believe in a particular religion but you’ve always wondered if one of their tokens or symbols might be helpful… well, it might be worth a try.  That small “maybe” window might be enough to help you when you need it, in a stressful and frightening situation.

Plan ahead

Spiritual protection can be important for some ghost hunters.

That can be a simple prayer or circle before entering the haunted site, or something else.

It doesn’t have to be an object (after all, what you’re dealing with probably has no physical form in our world), but these are things to think about before your investigation… not something to regret leaving out, once things get strange at a haunted site.

You may also be interested in these articles:

 

Wentworth by the Sea, NH and ME – Ghosts Revisited

Hotel Wentworth ghost hunting
Hotel photo modified from a picture by Chip Griffin.

On the northeast side of Portsmouth, at New Castle, a grand Victorian hotel overlooks sailboats, fishing boats and yachts.

For generations, the Wentworth Hotel, also called Wentworth-by-the-Sea, or “Hotel Wentworth,” was a summer destination for wealthy families.

Built in 1874, this hotel was synonymous with ‘opulence’ through the 1960s. However, times changed and – by the late 1970s – the next generation showed less interest in their parents’ vacation choices.

As a guest during the waning days of the Wentworth’s popularity, I encountered some of the hotel’s ghosts.

An Encounter with a Wentworth Ghost

At that point, the fourth floor was dusty and abandoned.

Decades earlier, it had housed servants. Usually, they were a mix of English and Irish immigrants. They’d arrived with affluent families staying at the hotel.

But, by the late 1960s, the fourth floor was strictly off-limits to small children… which was exactly why I went there.

I’d sneak off when my parents were busy with golf lessons, formal afternoon tea, or while they were swimming laps at one of the hotel’s pools.

My first trip to the fourth floor wasn’t an idle visit. I’d seen a woman in a long dark dress, and a white apron and cap, dash up a narrow staircase from the third to the fourth floor.

After waiting until she was near the top of the dusty stairs, I followed her.

But, at the top of the stairs, she’d vanished.

I thought she’d slipped into one of the tiny servants’ rooms on that floor, but I couldn’t find her anywhere. I roamed from one room to the next, noting torn floral wallpaper, rickety wooden chairs and sagging cots.

Eventually, I realized that the only footprints in the dusty hallway were mine.

That was the first of many encounters with ghosts on the fourth floor and the turrets of the Wentworth Hotel.

Every summer, I explored the “off limits” areas of the hotel. Now and then, I’d see an odd flickering light or shadow. Sometimes, I’d see translucent apparitions, and follow them. But – always – they’d vanish.

Those ghostly encounters are among the reasons I developed a lifelong fascination with ghosts and haunted places.

A Return to the Wentworth Hotel

In February 2008, I returned to the Wentworth. I was taking pictures and double-checking my stories for Weird Encounters, the sequel to the book, Weird Hauntings. (As I did in Weird Hauntings, I’ve described some of my favorite first-person tales of real ghosts.)

Entering the front door of the Wentworth hotel was like returning home. It took me a minute to get my bearings. The hotel has been remodeled at least once since I was a guest.

But, because I’d spent so many childhood summers at the Wentworth, I had no trouble finding my way back to the fourth floor and its cozy rooms.

Today, they’re not dusty little rooms any more.  The Wentworth is a Marriott hotel, so the fourth floor is as opulent as the rest of the resort.

Still Haunted… but only by the very best ghosts, of course

On the fourth floor, I could feel that familiar, homely ‘ghost feeling’, especially at the staircase landings near the hallway ends.

Twice, I saw figures appear and vanish, but perhaps that’s because I expected them. One was a man dressed in black tie formal attire… or he may have been a butler or valet.

The other figure seemed female, but I didn’t see more than a filmy outline that disappeared in a split second.

It may have been coincidence that the door to one of the most haunted rooms was unlocked and unoccupied during my visit.

Haunted New Hampshire's Hotel WentworthTo me, that suite of rooms feels happily haunted, perhaps by a man of the sea.

He’s a loner. He won’t bother anyone who doesn’t welcome his presence.

I had the idea that he was pleased that I remembered him, and left the door open.

I didn’t see anything, but I smelled the faint aroma of good pipe tobacco.

I said that I was glad to see him.  But, of course, I didn’t actually see anything unusual. It just seemed the polite thing to say.

After that, I left… with a smile. The Wentworth is still a sort of “second home” for me, and my memories are happy ones.

In the future, I’ll return to the Wentworth. On this short tour, I was able to confirm that the ghosts are still there. There’s something very comforting about that.

Cozy Ghosts at The Golden Fleece, York, England

Ghost of York, England - an orb discussion If you’re looking for cozy ghosts, and orbs that seem to feel right at home, make York’s Golden Fleece Inn (and pub) your destination.

The Golden Fleece is where I’ve seen some of the best, most convincing ghost orbs.

Of course, orbs can appear anywhere.

Some seem to be floating or gliding energy forms.

Context is important.

I’ve heard reports from people who successfully asked orbs to move to certain locations for photos.

For example, when someone told the ghost to move the orb to a particular doorway or gravestone… it did.

(Generally, I ask ghosts to manifest however they can, if they’d like to appear in a photo. I’m uncomfortable with ordering them around.)

Predicting Orbs

During many years of studying ‘ghost photos’, I’ve noticed an odd pattern among many orbs. They appear in consistent places. The trend is so predictable, we believe it’s beyond coincidence.

In an unusual number of photos, I’ve seen orbs directly over people’s heads. In most cases, the photos were taken at a significant event (such as a wedding or prom) or a family gathering.

The lighting and setting don’t matter. If it’s a family gathering or major social event among long-time friends or associates, orbs often appear in the photos.

An Odd Orb at the Golden Fleece

At other times, orbs appear – in surprising numbers – over chairs, as if the ghost is sitting there.

What follows is one of my favorite examples.

A group of us – experienced ghost hunters – visited “York’s most haunted pub” in June 2007.

The skeleton and other visual cues weren’t there at that time. It just felt like a nice, cozy pub with delicious food and great prices.

But, after a few minutes inside, the pub had a certain eerie edge to it.

And, as seasoned ghost researchers, we tend to be somewhat skeptical.  So, we sat, enjoyed our lunch, chatted, and took a few photos.

One surprised me.

My photo shows an orb ‘seated’ at the haunted Golden Fleece pub in York, England.

York - orb over chair in Golden Fleece

Because that restaurant has many shiny surfaces, I discounted other orbs from that casual investigation. Nevertheless, the placement of the one in the photo caught my attention.

Is it a credible photo? I’m not sure.  I’d need more evidence.

Is the Golden Fleece haunted? I believe so, and I wish I’d spent more time there. On my next visit to that part of England, I’ll definitely want to spend a night or two at the Golden Fleece. (Haunted Happenings has been among the groups organizing vigils at the Golden Fleece.)

The Golden Fleece is a Different Kind of Haunted

My main impression was: Yes, it has that “spooky vibe” we notice at haunted sites. Its ghosts are well-documented, too.

But there was something else… something I can’t yet put into words. It was a different kind of haunted, if that makes sense.

Usually, when I use a phrase like that, it’s because I’m uneasy. Something troubles me, and it’s the kind of place where I’d take extra spiritual precautions.

But in the case of the Golden Fleece… well, that site really is different.

I’d expect spirits like the cheerful ghosts in the 1988 movie, High Spirits… and perhaps a few truly creepy and unearthly spirits, as well.

In general, I believe the Golden Fleece is one of York’s most intriguing haunted locations. Whatever haunts the site, it’s unusual, even for York, one of England’s more haunted cities.

Haunted York Videos

Here’s a quirky (and slightly silly) four-minute video about haunted York, including the Golden Fleece.

Haunted York

York, England has been called the most haunted city in all of Europe. see more about WTHR’s Scott Swan’s story here: http://www.wthr.com/story/19191664/engla…

That YouTube video of haunted York is at: https://youtu.be/L_0KHH7_6NM

And another video of a Golden Fleece investigation.

YouTube URL - https://youtu.be/Q-GihuTQ3W8

The Orb-Ghost Connection

Are orbs proof of ghosts?

The context is important.

For example, if other odd things were going on, exactly when the photos were taken. Or, if someone – without knowing where an orb was hovering, in a photo or video – directly indicated something else “ghostly” at the exact same place and time.

In other words, orbs may be one of those “you had to be there” phenomena. Out of context, it’s difficult for others to take orbs seriously.

I understand that, and it’s frustrating.

Personal evidence can be the most personally convincing… and have the least credibility when you talk about it later.

So, What Are Orbs?

To be honest, I don’t know what orbs are.

Professionals check for normal, natural explanation. Those include humidity, dust, reflected light, and so on.

In 2013, after several years of intense study, I concluded that humidity, dust, reflected light, and other apparently reasonable explanations rarely cause convincing orbs in photos.

But, for over 10 years, I claimed that most orbs were the result of natural phenomena, reflective objects, and so on.

Well, they’re not.

Yes, that’s an embarrassing admission. I wouldn’t admit to it, except my tests have shown, conclusively, that most convincing orbs really are anomalous.

So far, ghost hunters recognized that:

  • Orbs appear in haunted places in dramatically higher numbers.
  • Orbs seem to appear in areas where EMF levels spike.
  • The actual orbs may contain higher levels of energy.

But are they ghosts? I’m not ready to claim that.

Some People See Orbs

A small – perhaps gifted – minority of researchers are able to see orbs in real life. However, the orbs that they see don’t usually appear in photos taken at the same time.

In most cases, researchers don’t see anything before, during and after taking photos that – when viewed on the monitor or printed – reveal orbs.

I’ll admit I’m still astonished when investigators see vivid orbs in photos, though we saw nothing unusual when the photos were taken.

Sparkles and Ghost Orbs

Years ago, I was the first ghost hunters to use the term ‘sparkles‘ to describe an odd visual effect that occurs with some cameras.

When people see sparkles, we usually find orbs or other photographic anomalies in our pictures.

Are Orbs Aware of Us?

Ghost hunters aren’t sure if orbs are related to spirits that are aware of us and can respond to the people around them.

However, we’ve seen enough ‘ghost photos’ to know that orbs often appear in similar locations, as if they’re comfortable among us.

Whether they’re posing for group photos or sitting comfortably in a favorite chair, the placement often seems deliberate.

York, England, is just one of many haunted places where orbs seem quite at home. When you research there, be sure to take photos of chairs, stools, benches, and so on.

To me, it seemed like the orbs were pulling up a chair and joining the party.

Stratford-upon-Avon – The Falcon’s Haunted Bedroom

The Falcon Hotel (Stratford-upon-Avon) – now the Hotel Indigo – was haunted when friends and I stayed there in 2007. It’s one of Warwickshire’s most charming hotels, with 20 rooms in its haunted 16th-century wing, and 64 rooms in the more modern wing.

In June 2007, several Hollow Hill investigators spent the night in the haunted wing of the Falcon. It was comfortable and quiet, even though our rooms overlooked the street.

Though we had a good night’s sleep, we encountered a variety of low-level paranormal phenomena. Odd noises, unexplained chills, creaking floorboards with no one there… it was routine for a cozy, haunted hotel. And, it was fun!

However, we’d heard that one room at the hotel is especially haunted. It’s a corner room in the 16th century wing.

It was one of the silliest hauntings I’ve seen in awhile… but, the UK is like that. It has the widest possible range of ghostly phenomena. (I absolutely love investigating in the UK, and especially in England.)

We were lucky to have brief access to the hotel’s most haunted room.

The room with the “broken air conditioning”… that wasn’t

Our adventure began when I was in the lobby and overheard a guest talking about how chilly his room had been.

He complained that he couldn’t find the air conditioning controls.

The hotel moved him to another room, and his previous (chilly) room had been prepared for new guests.

But…

One of the hotel clerks quietly explained to us why the guest couldn’t find the a/c controls: There was no air conditioning in that room.

We rushed to see if the door to that room was still vacant, and if the door had been left open.

It was.

A five-minute investigation

Our team had just a few minutes to explore the room. It seemed elegant and very comfortable.

Haunted bed, Falcon hotel, SuAOur EMF readings and pendulum work – as well as our ‘gut feelings’ – indicated that the bed was the focal point of the hauntings.

The bed seemed to have a ‘hot spot’ over the center of it.

It’s unlikely that the bed itself is haunted. But, if that’s an antique bed frame, the bed (not the mattress) might have its own ghost.

(If anything tragic happens in a bed, such as a death, hotels generally replace the bed immediately. Some even close the room for a week or so, as a precaution. The Driskill Hotel in Austin, Texas went to extremes with one room they sealed up for years.)

Also, in Stratford-upon-Avon’s Falcon Hotel, an earlier bed in the room might be where something – or several events over the past 400+ years – left an imprint.

Just as ghosts don’t always realize that time has passed, they may not realize that the current bed is different from the one that they slept in, centuries ago.

And so we took photos

We each took photos of the bed. I took several with my film camera and at least a dozen with my digital camera.

That’s when this story turned silly.

Only one of my digital photos of the bed shows the bed. That’s it, above.

All the rest show random corners of the room… the kinds of photos I take, but not in the volume that showed up when I had time to go through my camera’s files.

(I routinely take “extra” photos, in case an orb is hovering in a corner. But, in a case like this, every moment was important. I wasn’t going to waste time. Almost all of my attention was on the object most likely to be haunted… and that was the bed.)

The following represent nearly every digital photo from that room.  (The film photos were dark or weird, and pretty much useless to me.)

Falcon Hotel, another corner of the haunted room

Falcon hotel - one corner of the room

I know took five or six photos of a team member using a pendulum. At the time, I was sure I was being annoying, insisting, “Wait… wait… just one more picture…”

Also, in at least one photo, I focused on my own hand (holding an EMF meter). In that one, I’d made sure both the meter and the bed were in the frame.

But… my pictures showed almost everything but the bed.

It’s not a dangerous haunting.

It’s not a malicious haunting. What happened – the camera anomalies – are typical of a prankster ghost, possibly a child.

It was certainly an unusual experience. Annoying at the time, because – when I had a few minutes to review the photos and saw what had happened – we couldn’t return to the room. The housekeepers had locked it as we left.

I wouldn’t hesitate to spend the night in that room, and I’m fairly sure that I’d get a good night’s sleep.

However, I’d be sure to have enough blankets on the bed, in case the room seemed as chilly as described by the previous guest.

That guest’s innocent comments about the air conditioning convinced me that the room is haunted.

In fact, in early June 2007, the Falcon Hotel didn’t have air conditioning. The guest was describing a large ‘cold spot’ around the bed.

(Of course, if it’s a sultry night, that’s probably the room you’ll want to be in.  So, ask the concierge for information about the hotel’s most haunted room.)

This is a good example of how ghost hunters sometimes find haunted locations: We listen (overhear) others’ conversations about odd and unusual things. If it’s something that could be ghostly – like a “cold spot” – we follow-up, if we can.

Next time I’m in Stratford-upon-Avon, I’ll be sure to follow-up and – I  hope – spend at least one night in that same room.

New Orleans, LA – Brennan’s Restaurant – Ghostly Ecto?

Ecto-like image over Brennan's RestaurantWhen there’s a normal explanation for a photo, I want to find it.  Sometimes, I can’t discover a good explanation.  Not one that works for the setting and the circumstances, that is.

That’s the case with this July 2005 photo at Brennan’s Restaurant on Royal Street in New Orleans’ French Quarter.

I’ve written about Brennan’s Red Room ghosts.  The photo, above, is completely unedited.  I didn’t even lighten it.  The picture was taken in July 2005, about a month before Hurricane Katrina.

It was a clear night, drier than most July nights in Louisiana.  However, because it was July, I’m discounting the orbs near the light-colored area.  I’m focusing on the light area itself. (No light-related puns intended.)

It was too hot to be using a fireplace, and Brennan’s kitchen is in another part of the building and fully enclosed.  There was no mist above Brennan’s, so that’s not a reflection of the street lights.  In fact, we didn’t see anything unusual when I took this picture.  It was one of those ‘gut feeling’ photos… that innate, perhaps intuitive feeling that something would show up if I took a few pictures.

We were across the street from Brennan’s, so my flash was too far away to highlight the air above the restaurant.  There were no skylights or spotlights that night, either.

If the light area were caused by something natural, we should have seen this ecto-looking area ourselves.

So, I’m not sure what the light area is.  It’s almost directly above the room where, years ago, workmen in Brennan’s saw a terrifying face outside the window.  (Those burly workmen were so frightened, they ran down the stairs and broke out through the locked doors.  They never returned to Brennan’s.)

Sometimes, anomalies in photos are simply odd.  There may be an explanation for this picture, but we can’t be sure.  For every ‘normal’ explanation,  at least three of us can argue convincingly that the normal explanation doesn’t fit the time, location and conditions of the photo.

I’m reluctant to label this ‘ecto’, because it could be something else.  However, it’s the subtle kind of anomaly that’s easily overlooked when you’re expecting orbs, a vortex, or something more dramatic.

For many of us, the subtle anomalies can be more interesting than the obvious ones.

Portsmouth, NH – Real ghosts, private home – pt 2

[Part two of a true story that began at Portsmouth, NH – real ghosts, private home]

Often after this, I heard louder footsteps on the stairs to the second floor and upstairs, usually at dusk and for about thirty seconds at a time. I ignored them. Old houses make funny noises, I reminded myself.

It’s important to understand that I really wanted my own house after several years in rentals. Further, this house seemed such a great opportunity to buy a house at well below market value, I wanted it to work out. Also, I’d lived in a very haunted house in Northern California (which was later the subject of a Fate magazine article). I figured that it was highly unlikely that I’d ever live in a second haunted house.

When I couldn’t explain an odd event in the Portsmouth house, I ignored it.

But small incidents kept occurring.

FILE BOXES REARRANGED THEMSELVES OVERNIGHT

I kept heavy file boxes of papers and reference books near my work area in the dining room, and some mornings I’d find them rearranged.

I asked my family if anyone had been searching for something in my boxes, and they all said no. I wanted to believe them, but I also wanted the simple explanation that someone had been looking for something, and just didn’t want to admit it.

One morning, I found the white ceramic hippo that I kept on the center of the dining table, in one of my file boxes at the bottom of a stack. Annoyed, I brought him out of the box and replaced him on the table. That did not happen again.

The heavy, paper-filled boxes continued to rearrange themselves overnight, about once every ten days. I never heard this happening, though my bedroom was immediately above the area where the boxes were stored, and without carpeting, sounds traveled easily throughout the house.

A WARNING – THE SMELL OF SMOKE

A few weeks after the hippo incident, in the late afternoon, I started smelling smoke in the dining room, at the corner above the basement electrical box. I rushed to the basement, but the odor was not there. I went outside to see if a neighbor was burning leaves, or if a nearby chimney could account for the odor. The air was crisp and fresh outside.

In a panic, I had my husband check the box and our wiring as soon as he came home from work. He said some of it was old, but nothing looked particularly dangerous or in need of immediate replacement. Nevertheless, he did a little work on the wiring to the dining room, to put my mind at rest.

Soon after this, I paid to have an energy audit of our house, to lower our utility bills. The representative of the power company checked the wiring and said it was fine. He used a couple of devices to check for drafts in the dining room, and found that the area was tight so I probably was not smelling smoke from outside.

I was baffled, and these “little things” were starting to snowball. There were no single, frightening events at this point, but I began to have doubts about remaining in that house with my family. Something seemed not right, though I couldn’t say that a flying spatula, creaking floorboards, or shifting boxes were particularly frightening.

ANOTHER WARNING – DREAMS ABOUT A FIRE

Then I started dreaming about a fire. In my dream, could see the flames reflected in the rear window of the dining room. Sometimes I saw flames in the corner of the room. Generally, it was just heavy smoke and the reflected flames in the window. I don’t usually smell things in my dreams, but this was such a vivid nightmare, the acrid odor remained in my nose even after I woke up.

I mentioned this to my husband, who’s lived with me long enough to know that many of my dreams are prophetic. He looked anxious, but reminded me that there was no logical reason for a fire, and nothing we could do. We had a fire extinguisher in the kitchen, and he re-checked the electrical box and wiring, just in case.

The dreams persisted, as did the daytime smell of smoke from time to time. I started moving our belongings into a storage facility on the other side of town. This seemed silly since our huge attic was less than one-third full, and we also had a basement suitable for storage.

GHOSTS IN THE KITCHEN

I had located my writing area in the far corner of the dining room, where I could look out the window into our backyard, and also see the kitchen over my shoulder.

One early evening as I sat working, I saw something white pass through the kitchen. I looked straight at it, just in time to see (what I thought was) the back of a white shirt go past the doorway.

I thought it was my older daughter, and shouted to ask her if she had a new tee-shirt.

There was no answer. Then I noticed that she hadn’t turned the light on in the kitchen, and the afternoon light was fading fast. If she was cutting carrot sticks or another snack, I was ready to lecture her on safety.

I stood up to see what she was doing in the kitchen, but no one was there.

What had I seen that looked like someone in white, moving quickly past the doorway? I checked for a reflection from the yard next door, but the blinds at that side of the kitchen were closed. The window to the back was covered by a nice large ficus tree on the lower half. Light streamed in the top of the window, but only a foil balloon could reach high enough to reflect that kind of light,there. I returned to my desk, baffled.

Deciding that I’d been working too long and my eyes were tired, I left my desk and went out to the kitchen to start dinner. Everything seemed normal for the rest of the day.

However, over the next several months, I saw the “woman in white” more often. Many times, I was looking straight at her, and saw the filmy white shape of a woman in a long gown, float peacefully past through the kitchen. She was always going from the front hall towards the back door.

Less often I saw a man, mostly in brown clothing but still translucent as the woman was. He was sometimes on the stairs to the second floor, but usually followed the same path as the woman: From the front hall, through the kitchen, and vanishing towards the back door. Once, I thought I saw him at the window of the attic, but that may have been an odd reflection.

I still told no one about what I was seeing. I didn’t want to scare my children, and my husband was probably more afraid of ghosts than they might be.

THE GHOSTS APPEAR TO OTHERS

Finally, my older daughter announced firmly, “Mom, I saw a ghost in the kitchen.”

We exchanged stories and she had seen the same woman as I had: A filmy white shape in the kitchen, usually floating through the room.

I was relieved that someone else had seen her. But I was also concerned that my children were being affected by the energy–and perhaps spirits–in the house.

Next, more dramatic events lead to a decision.