Salt as Protection – Ghost Hunting

In the past, I’ve talked about the power of salt to repel or block angry and malicious spirits.

I’ve only used salt a couple of times. I think it’s an extreme remedy.  However, I know people who rely on it regularly.

You’ve probably heard the saying, “sow the ground with salt.”

The origins of that phrase seem mixed.  In the past — according to Wikipedia, anyway –  salt was supposed to curse the location.

When I was growing up, I heard that salt was used to bless the ground.

So, those are opposite views of salt.

Salt as spiritual protectionAccording to folklore from my childhood — explained by people I trusted — evil spirits can’t cross a line of salt.

When psychics and paranormal researchers use salt, that’s usually the intent: To create draw a line – a physical barrier – between the entity and the people it’s affecting.

(I don’t think salt is strong enough to block something at the demon level, or I’m sure more exorcists would use it.)

In addition, I’ve recommended placing a bowl of salt near a bed where ghosts have been troublesome.

According to feedback from my readers over the past 15+ years, that’s been 100% successful.

In my research, I see many salt references in the Bible.

And he went forth unto the spring of the waters, and cast the salt in there, and said, Thus saith the Lord, I have healed these waters; there shall not be from thence any more death or barren land.

2 Kings 2:21 (KJV)

That’s clearly a healing reference, not a curse.  Similarly, the Bible describes a covenant of salt in 2 Chron 13:5 (KJV).

I’ve read other, very spiritual connections between salt and blessings:

There are frequent allusions to this practice (Jer 34:18). Such alliances were called “covenants of salt” (Num 18:19; 2Ch 13:5), salt being the symbol of perpetuity.—Easton’s Illustrated Dictionary

Salt was used when a baby was born, as well:

As soon as a child was born it was washed, and rubbed with salt (Ezek 16:4) —Easton’s Illustrated Dictionary

In other words, the connections between salt and spirituality are ancient, and most of them seem to indicate a blessed use for salt.  However, older records may emerge and shed a different light on this topic.

Which salt to use?

According to tradition, sea salt will work better than plain table salt.  Don’t feel as if you have to run out and buy sea salt.

In fact, from readers’ reports, table salt can be good enough for use in a haunted bedroom.

I’ve never compared the effectiveness of different salts.  Generally, I prefer to carry sea salt. It’s what I use in cooking, so it’s convenient.

For extreme cases, blessed salt is supposed to be more powerful than salt that’s simply bought at the store and used immediately.

However, if I needed salt in a hurry during an investigation, I’d use any salt that I could get my hands on, quickly.  Later, I might go back with blessed salt.

Blessed salt

Salt can be blessed in different ways, depending on your spirituality.

Start with salt you’ve bought at the grocery store.

If you’re working with a Christian context, you can bless the salt yourself.  Most people seem to gesture in the sign of the cross and use words that announce that they’re blessing the salt in the name of Deity. (Using holy water during the blessing is optional. )

You could also have the salt blessed by a priest or minister.  This usually takes about 30 seconds. A token donation for the blessing is nice but rarely required.  I usually donate between $5 and $15.

Not Christian? I’d still ask a priest or minister to bless the salt.

Are you working with an earth-based spiritual context?  Place a bowl of salt in the window so the light of the full moon shines on it for three consecutive nights.

If your beliefs are related to Voodoo, Vodun, or Yoruba-based spirituality, you may also add a small amount of black salt.

However, only do this if you are completely aware of what black salt does. (That’s imperative.)

If you’re not sure, leave black salt out of the mix.  (Frankly, if that’s your spiritual foundation, several floor washes may provide better protection than the salt, anyway.)

Remember, most of these beliefs about salt are based in folklore and in spiritual traditions.  I can’t promise that salt will work.

I keep salt in my investigation kit but rarely use it.

Even if all it does is act as a placebo — making me feel a little safer around something that troubles me — it’s worth having on hand.

Demon-Free Paranormal Research?

scared personMany people email me and ask, “I’d like to become a ghost hunter, but I’m afraid of demons.  What can I do?”

If I could answer that, I’d ask them, “What’s a demon?”

The answer is important.

According to my copy of the Oxford Universal Dictionary, the word “demon” comes from the Greek term for evil spirit. Since 1706, that’s what it’s meant in English, too:  Evil spirit.

Any malicious entity or spirit could be called a demon.  That could be an alien or a faerie or something we can’t yet define.  My dictionary also says those spirits could be the souls of deceased persons.

In recent and popular use, the word “demon” has been used in a religious context, particularly the Christian beliefs indicating the (singular) Devil or Satan, or — more rarely — one of the evil entities under his command.

A ghost is not a demon. No matter what your theology, they’re different kinds of entities.

So, are you worried about ghosts and spirits?  Or, are you anxious about a dangerous entity described in the New Testament?

If you’re afraid of unhappy, angry and aggressive ghosts — that is, spirits of the deceased — don’t get involved in paranormal research.  Many ghosts seem unhappy. Some of them vent their anger in aggressive ways.

There’s no way to be involved in this work without dealing with unattractive and threatening spirits of the dead.  Sooner or later — usually sooner — you’ll encounter something startling.

On the other hand, if you want to learn ghost hunting in an setting that’s relatively free of any dangers from the religious (usually Christian) concept of a demon, start with “hallowed ground.”

That is, develop your skills in haunted cemeteries, preferably church-related cemeteries.  In most cases, they’ve been blessed to keep Satan (or the Devil) out.

But, this is important: Cemeteries (and churches) can become unhallowed and unsanctified. That’s a separate topic, too complex to discuss in this article.

In other words, don’t drop your guard in a church or related burial ground. It may not be as spiritually protected as you think.

If you want to understand more about demons, a Long Island Paranormal Investigators’ article, Demonology 101, covers the topic in depth.

I also recommend a 2007 Coast-to-Coast AM interview with John Zaffis and the late Father Andrew Calder, Demonic Forces & the Paranormal.

I spent considerable time with each of them, and learned a lot about the dangers of ghost hunting. On the topic of demons, their advice was always 100% reliable.

That doesn’t mean that cemeteries are entirely safe. I’ve mentioned severe problems at Vale End Cemetery in Wilton, NH.

Those were extremely rare encounters, and what we encountered wasn’t a ghost.  I’m not certain it was a demon, either.

Either way, it was unique among hundreds (perhaps thousands) of sites I’ve investigated.

In my opinion, you have more to fear from the living than from the dead (or other entities), whether you’re in a cemetery or any other “haunted” location.

If you focus on relatively benign haunted cemeteries, especially if they’re in hallowed grounds, you’re as safe as possible from demons (no matter how you define them).

That doesn’t mean you’re 100% safe.  No one can guarantee that, no matter where you are or who you’re with.

If you’re frightened by any aspect of ghost hunting or paranormal research, don’t get involved in this field. 

Sooner or later — often when you least expect it — you’re going to encounter something terrifying.

It might be a ghost. It might be something malicious.  It might just be some guy you trusted, but he’s a sexual predator.

If you’re fascinated by ghosts and haunted places, and you’re willing to take risks despite the many potential dangers, this can be a thrilling field to research.

If you’re uneasy about ghost hunting, even before you’ve explored it… stop now. Find some other hobby or interest. Ghost hunting isn’t safe, and it’s probably not for you.

Finding Haunted Sites Using Old, Online Books

In my earlier article, Using History to Find Haunted Sites, I talked about visiting the public library to study dusty old books.

You may have similar success using old books that are online.  From Gutenberg to the Internet Public Library, you can search for references to forgotten haunts at book- and magazine-related websites.

Generally, I start my search with the name of the location.  I want a site I can visit, easily.

Then, I add words such as:

  • ghost, ghosts, apparitions, specters, spectres
  • haunts, haunted
  • tragedy
  • murder
  • massacre

(The latter three terms are because most hauntings relate to one or more of four themes:  Money, power, drama, and tragedy.)

Next, I browse the results to see if any seem worth further study.

For example, I wanted to find forgotten ghosts in Lexington, Massachusetts.  So, I entered “lexington ghosts haunted” … and found a ghost story in Germany.

Konigsmark’s ghost – Germany

It seems that Philipp Christoph, count von Königsmark, vanished in 1694 after a presumed affair with Sophia Dorothea, wife of the future George I of Great Britain, and mother of George II.

One version of the story claims that Königsmark was killed on the orders of George I’s father, and the body was weighted with stones and thrown into the river.  Another version says that the body was found, either strangled or in pieces (or both), beneath the floorboards of Princess Sophia’s dressing room.

According to the Quarterly Review (Volume 89) published in 1851, “It was long believed that Konigsmark’s ghost haunted the palace where we now know his body lay—and Mr. Cressett, in a subsequent letter, relates that it was supposed to have appeared on so incongruous an occasion as the ballet at a court opera.”

Sophia was divorced by her husband, and she was imprisoned for the rest of her life.  So, her story adds to the tragedy.

I’m not sure if the haunted castle is Hanover Castle, Leineschloss, and — so far — I’m not seeing any modern reports of ghost hunting at that site, or in connection with this tragic tale.  If I were in Germany, I’d definitely look for additional information.

Note: As I continued researching Konigsmark’s ghost stories in dusty old books, I found this odd reference — not to Konigsmark, but to ghosts in general, from 1852 — “Reichenbach says, that ‘thousands of ghost stories will now receive a natural explanation,’ from his discovery that the decomposition of animal matter is accompanied by light, or luminous vapour, which is visible to certain sensitive persons.”

I’ll go back and study this research, later.  For now, it’s an interesting theory and I’d want to see supporting evidence.

Narrowing the search for ghosts

Next, I narrowed my search with the words “lexington massachusetts ghosts haunted” and discovered ghost references related to Henry David Thoreau, Henry James and William Dean Howells… at Boston’s Beacon Hill.

Noting those for future research, I continued my search and discovered — in a magazine from 1873 — “…there are four distinct visitations which defy exorcism. One is the Newburyport school-house visitor; a second is a woman who haunts the tenders of the locomotives in Central New York; a third is a mysterious comer, always seen shovelling snow at dawn in certain villages of Massachusetts; a fourth is one who plays pranks with telegraphic instruments in Dubuque.”

I’m pretty sure that I know the Newburyport story — set at Charles Street Schoolhouse — since debunked.  The other tales sound a little vague (and therefore incredible) but they might be worth additional research.  I’ll keep them in mind if I see a second reference to any of them.

The research road leads to Concord

Finally, I found a reference that mentioned a ghost in Concord, Massachusetts.  It’s near enough to Lexington that I stopped my search there.

Though the story sounds like fiction, a few reference points might be worth exploring.  I’d be looking for the home of Jerusha Billings (b. 1818), and I’d also look for maps of the early highways around Concord, particularly the ones that are dirt roads today.  I keep seeing references to multiple haunted houses — perhaps abandoned sites — along those roads.

So, during a two-hour search this morning, I didn’t find detailed ghost reports that I can use for immediate paranormal investigations.

However, I found enough odd references to ghosts that my time was well spent.  Those are stories I’ll research in more detail, as time permits.

I hope that gives you some ideas for finding unreported and under-reported ghosts and haunted places near you.  Online or at the public library, you may find some great, forgotten, true ghost stories.

Photo credit: Castle Hill in Quedlinburg by Kriss Szkurlatowski

More Ways to Use History

Public sites are among my favorite locations for research, and also for training new team members.

I’ve also talked about the importance of using haunted cemeteries for those purposes. (That’s why I go into such detail in Ghost Hunting in Haunted Cemeteries.)

They’re still my most important research and training sites.

However, sometimes you’ll want a fresh and unusual location. To find those locations, dusty old books can be among your best friends.

Here’s an example of my book research.

Along coastal New Hampshire (USA), a massacre site — and related burial ground — are on property that’s open to the public.  The magnitude of the violence that occurred there… well, it should be an excellent investigation site.

Frankly, I was saving this location for my own research.  However, with an overloaded writing schedule in 2011, I’m not sure that I’ll have time for this Rye site… not in the near future, anyway.

The site is related to a 1691 massacre that I’ve briefly mentioned in the past.

I found it described in a dusty old book in the library at Harvard University.  Fortunately, the book is also online. It’s called The History of the Town of Rye, New Hampshire: from its discovery and settlement to December 31, 1903.  (You can tell from the title, this isn’t a book that many people look at.)

Several stories in that book suggest sites that could be haunted.  However, the story that begins on page 245 is probably the most lurid and promising for paranormal research.

The tale was summarized, “… a party of savages, variously estimated at from twenty to forty, came from the eastward in canoes and landed at Sandy Beach. They did not attack the garrison house there, but killed some of the defenceless families living on or in near vicinity to Brackett’s lane (now known as Brackett road), took a number of persons captive, and burned several small houses.”

The story is grisly, involving the loss of about 20 people.  Most of them were buried at the Brackett Massacre Burial Ground. [Link to photo & map.]

Driving directions: Brackett Road runs parallel to Rte. 1A.  From either the center of Rye or from Rte. 1A, take Washington Street (in Rye, NH) to Brackett Road and turn north.  Massacre Marsh will be on your right, shortly after you cross a small stream.  If you get to Geremia Street, you’ve gone too far.

Though some websites mention fierce mosquitoes at the burial ground, one person joked that the insects seem to attack everyone except descendants of the Brackett family.  (Yes, I know she was kidding, but I still pay attention to quirky comments like that one.)

The massacre occurred long ago.  The burial site may not be haunted.   The massacre site — around Wallis Sands beach — is far less likely to be active since the energy has be diluted by centuries of tourism.

However, this is such an overlooked episode in history, and the burial site has had so little attention (before this article appeared, anyway), it could be excellent for research.

You can probably find similar sites in your own area, using similar research methods.

During the chilly winter months — or sultry summer days — you may enjoy spending time at public libraries with really old, regional books.  Often, those books are kept in a room used by historians and genealogists.

There are no shortcuts in this kind of preliminary research.  You really do need to sit down and browse a lot of dusty old books.

Tip: Bring change for the copy machine or use your camera to photograph pages of interest.  Many of the best old books cannot be taken out of the library.  Though you may find several books reproduced online (such as the Rye, NH book), don’t count on it.

Whenever I think I’ve taken enough notes, I usually regret not getting copies of relevant pages in the book/s.

People often ask how I find such great haunted sites.  Though I’m now exploring obscure sites revealed by my paranormal patterns work, the simple version — browsing dusty old historical books — still works well.

If you’re not able to conduct much research during winter months, it may be an ideal time to identify sites for future investigations.

Visit the public library.  You may be pleasantly surprised.

Helping Spirits – My Advice

In the past, I’ve talked about time limits for helping ghosts during routine investigations.

Of course, someone has to help spirits if they’re ready to be helped.

I don’t mean to discourage anyone from helping… if they can.

Here’s the problem: Many ghosts seem to be  lingering for reasons that aren’t especially healthy.  They want to turn back the clock and relive their lives.  They want sympathy, or at least attention for their own poor decisions.

Giving them attention only compounds the problem. I don’t think it helps them.

I’ve related this to working with a toddler.  If all the child wants is attention, you have to be smart about it. You’ll reward good behavior and gently guide the child towards healthier choices.

However, the first step is to understand what’s going on with the spirit.  Rapport must be established, but — unless you’ve trained to safely interact with spirits — it may be safer to set time limits. That’s especially true if the rest of your team is there to investigate and collect data.

Time limits as protection

In my opinion, it’s good to set the time limit ahead of time.  Then, everyone knows what to expect and when to say, “That’s enough.”

Later, the psychic/medium may not be the best person to draw the line.   He or she may need to be reminded that you’d already said you’d stop after 10 or 20 minutes, or whatever the time limit was.

Remember, entities aren’t always what they seem. A malicious entity can put you at risk if — in pursuit of rapport — you drop your guard and allow that entity access to your thoughts.

I don’t want to sound overly dramatic, but this must be said: What may seem like rapport to you, may actually be an attempt to gain control over your mind, your body, or your soul.

That’s why psychics/mediums should never be left alone, and may need assistance from the team.

You’re probably not the first person to try to help the spirit.  Some sites — such as Edinburgh’s vaults or the Myrtles Plantation — have been visited by tens of thousands of people.  Some of them tried to help the ghosts.

If the spirits could be helped at those kinds of sites, surely someone else would have succeeded by now.

Everyone wants to feel unique and gifted. You might like to say, “I succeeded where thousands couldn’t.”

That’s bordering on pride, and it’s one of those “deadly sins” that can lure you into dangerous territory, spiritually and psychically.

Could you be the one to help that spirit?  Maybe.  I suppose it’s worth a try.

Keep your guard up, especially at sites with a reputation for being dangerous.

If you can’t, be sure your team knows when to come to your rescue, and acts quickly.

From the start, know your talents and set clear goals

I’m not sure that anyone can help a spirit that’s determined to remain at a site.   That’s something ghost hunters have debated for over a century.

We can agree that every paranormal investigator has unique talents.

Identify yours.  Put them to good use for the benefit of this field, and set clear goals in those areas.

If your goal is to help spirits find comfort and cross over, focus on that.  Don’t dilute your efforts by trying to be the EVP expert, and the EMF genius, and the person who pre-screens sites and… Well, you get the idea.

Remember that being good at something doesn’t mean it’s your calling.

I’m a good psychic.  So are a lot of people.  (I’m also a fast typist and I bake amazing chocolate chip cookies.)

However, what I do uniquely is:  I find unreported and under-reported haunted sites, and I explore innovative research techniques.

Those are my most unusual gifts.  That’s where my attention is, now.

Know where you shine, and focus on that.  If you’re called to help ghosts, one-on-one, that’s wonderful.

However, if it’s not, don’t feel guilty.  Each of us has something to contribute to this field.  Discover what it is, and share it with the paranormal community.

Helping Ghosts – My Time Limits

Recently, someone asked me why I don’t spend more time helping “trapped” spirits.

That’s a two-part question.

The main reason is about the focus of my work.

I identify haunted sites, particularly places that are open to the public.

I also discover and/or refine paranormal research techniques.

What I do is unique, and I need to focus on that.  That may sound selfish, but I know where my efforts can do the most good.

Every time I identify a new site, at least dozens of teams will visit it.

  • Many of them will conduct more in-depth research to learn more about the site and its ghosts.
  • Some will visit specifically to help the spirits there.

As a psychic, I could take more time to help spirits one-on-one.  However, that feels like squandering my talents.  (I hope that doesn’t sound too self-important. I’m trying to be objective about this.)

It’s all in the numbers

By identifying haunted sites and improving research techniques, my efforts are multiplied many times.

Hundreds (and sometimes thousands) of people visit each haunted site I identify.  At least one of them may help any trapped spirits.

So, the more sites I can identify — and the faster I do so, accurately — the more spirits may be helped.

In fact, that’s why I’m working on books, including my ley lines book. I want to teach others my research techniques, so they can expand the work that I’m doing.

It’s also why I wrote the article, Using History to Find Haunted Sites.

I want to show people exactly how I find unknown and under-reported haunts.

My focus is on what I can do, uniquely, and how it can be scaled for broad use in the field.

Likewise, I document every on-site research method I discover or improve. That way, my work is multiplied.  More people can use those methods to contact spirits that need help. Also, more teams can help frightened people living in haunted houses.

When I weigh that against how much help I can provide, doing one-to-one work with spirits… well, my efforts are best spent in the R&D side of this field.

But then there’s the other side of this question. That’s how effective I am, trying to help spirits to “cross over.”

In the past, I spent more time with spirits

In the 1990s, when I worked on individual cases, I did try to help spirits myself.

Over the years I learned: If I made no progress within 10 or 20 minutes, there was no point in continuing. This was proved over and over again… to the frustration of my team members.

Maybe the spirit wasn’t ready.  Maybe I wasn’t patient enough.  Maybe there just wasn’t rapport between us.  The “maybe” list could go on & on.

The fact is, others have better success with that kind of work.  That’s why I always included adept psychics in my team.  Their primary job was to contact spirits and — if possible — help them.

However, we ran into the same issue:  The work seemed to take hours.

After the first hour or so, it was difficult to find any team member who’d cheerfully remain with the psychic, but I won’t leave anyone alone during investigations.

I have tremendous respect for people who are willing and able to do that kind of work.  I’m very grateful for all that they do.

However, not everyone is good at that work, and that’s as it should be.  This field is so unexplored, we need experts with a variety of talents.

TV shows and the growing online audience

Once “Ghost Hunters” appeared on TV, this field expanded quickly.  At that point, my ghost-related articles had been in print for over a decade, and online since the mid-1990s. From a few hundred daily visitors in 1999 to where this site is now… it’s been a whirlwind.

As of early 2010, I could count on at least 70,000 unique visitors to HollowHill.com, every month.  That’s a lot of people, and most of them stayed to read about ten articles.

Since then, ghost hunting has become more focused. People looking for a quick thrill or a “good scare” have looked elsewhere. That’s a relief. Those still researching ghosts are more serious about this subject.

I’m grateful to have this platform to share what I’m learning.  My efforts are multiplied many times.

I’m a researcher. I find new sites to investigate.  I fine-tune our research techniques. In books and articles, I report what I discover.

I leave the spiritual aspects — helping ghosts “cross over” — to people more gifted in that aspect of this work.

That’s a personal decision. Individuals and teams may make other decisions based on the time available, their talents, and their interests