Living with Ghosts

Young woman, anxious.Are you living with ghosts? Most people who’ve lived in older homes, or stayed in a vintage hotel or inn, have encountered a ghost or two.

For many of us, the ghost becomes a companion or — after a while — seems like a member of the family. The ghost leaves the family alone, and they leave him or her alone. Except for the occasional fleeting glimpse of the ghost, or something slightly odd reminding you that the ghost is there, living with a ghost becomes “normal.”

As long as the ghost isn’t territorial or malicious, or prankish (waking people up at night), you can probably share your home with him or her, comfortably.

Personally, I talk out loud to the ghosts. They’ll usually respond favorably to requests that are made in a normal tone of voice, talking to them as if they’re a friend who’s visiting your home and needs to know the “house rules.”

Before doing anything else, talk to your ghosts. You may have to remind them of the rules more than once. But, most spirits respond to polite (but firm) requests.

After awhile, you’ll probably forget that your home is haunted.

If that’s not enough – short-term help for hauntings

Some places are too haunted to live in. The Myrtles Plantation is one of them.

Set your shoes, heel to toe.

On a recent visit, the only way that I could document The Myrtles’ hauntings without interruptions, was to put my shoes side by side, pointing in opposite directions. (See photo at right)

That successfully paused the manifestations for a few minutes, so that I could jot a few notes about what was happening.

(I have no idea why such a silly folk remedy works, but it does.)

That can solve a short-term problem at an inn or hotel.

But, if you want to continue living in a house that’s “too haunted,” that may not be enough.

Download my free Is Your House Haunted? checklist.

As long as you’re not living in fear, space clearing may help.  There are many ways to accomplish this.

Spiritual approaches to space clearing

If you are religious, any minister from your church or faith-based group can probably bless your home for you.  A small donation ($35 or so) is routine for this kind of visit, but not usually required.

That’s one kind of “space clearing.”

For a New Age approach, you might try incense, a singing bowl, or other simple space clearing remedy.

In a pinch, you could vacuum clean (hoover) your entire home. Be sure to vacuum every corner, especially near the ceilings, whether they’re dusty or not.

According to space clearing experts, the noise plus the electrical energy seem to banish ghosts.

Likewise, any incense can work, as long as it gets into every corner in every haunted room.

If you’re afraid of ghosts

Generally, ghosts don’t hurt people. Poltergeists can cause mischief. They may throw things at you, or push you when you’re walking.

As far as I know, there is no real evidence of a ghost killing someone.

But, if you are truly frightened, don’t waste your time with space clearing and don’t stay in the house. Visit friends or family, or check in to a local hotel for a couple of days.

(After a few good nights’ sleep, the situation may look much better.)

If none of these remedies help, I recommend John Zaffis, author of “Shadows of the Dark.” He’s had years of experience with frightening hauntings, and he knows how to work with malicious spirits such as demons.

(I get nothing for referring people to John Zaffis, and he generally doesn’t charge anything to help people.  He’s a friend, and I’d trust him if I had problems beyond my expertise.)

Other trusted experts include Peter Haviland of Lone Star Spirits and the Johnson brothers of NEAR.

Or, if you’ve recently moved into a house that’s too haunted, you may have legal options. See my article, Buying or selling a haunted house – When to see a lawyer.

Please share your encounter with a ghost.

If you have lived in a haunted house, or if you’ve encountered a ghost at a restaurant or hotel, or on a ghost tour, I’d like to hear from you. Leave a comment, below.

If a Ghost Hunt Frightens You

Young woman, alone.After a particularly vivid ghost hunt, people sometimes get nervous about what they’ve just experienced.

A few people may become genuinely frightened.

Generally, there is nothing to be afraid of. Not from the dead, anyway. Here are a few facts to remember, from an article I wrote in 2005.  My opinions haven’t changed much since I wrote this.

  • Ghosts aren’t likely to follow you home. Ghosts haunt a location, particularly cemeteries, for a reason. If they felt like they could leave, they wouldn’t be at the cemetery (or house, or battlefield) in the first place.  Except for legends like The Flying Dutchman (a ghost ship) and the John Alford Tyng hauntings, few stories describe a ghost that moves from one location to another.
  • Ghosts cannot make you do things you don’t want to do. Ghosts are not hypnotists and they do not have powers beyond those that they had in life. Frankly, any spirit of the dead that’s tied to the earthly plane, has a specific reason for being here. Usually, their powers are significantly less than an average living person’s. If you’re having “unwanted thoughts” after encountering a ghost, get professional help. Ghosts are not the problem. Hollywood imagery can be fun, but it’s not real. Steering wheels don’t jerk out of your hand. Bed canopies don’t sprout spikes and fall on people. People are not “taken over” by ghosts unless they agree to accept the trance state, or unwittingly give permission for something to use their bodies. Usually, if someone is “possessed,” something else is going on. It’s not a ghost.  Get help right away.
  • Ghosts do not “curse” you. Ghosts are just people living in another dimension, or perhaps on another plane. They have no superhuman powers other than — perhaps — enhanced telepathy. They cannot curse you. They do not turn into “witches” when they die.
  • Ghosts cannot hurt you. Poltergeists are the only “ghosts” that ever harm people, and even then it’s usually nothing worse than bruising. People often ask why I  warn against ghost hunting alone. It’s not because of ghosts, it’s because you might turn an ankle in a neglected yard or cemetery, and need help. Or you might encounter a bunch of drunk teens or (animal) hunters who don’t want you around. I’m not afraid of ghosts, but I’m very wary of isolated sites.
  • Ghosts will not haunt your dreams, keep you awake at night, etc. Unless you’re deliberately sleeping in a haunted house or camping at a haunted battleground, ghosts do not usually travel from their earthly locations to bother you.
  • Most ghosts “move on,” eventually. Spirits of the dead remain on earth for a specific reason. Usually, they’re fighting reality and want to turn back the clock. They want to change an event from the past. In rare cases, they simply have a message to pass on, or a minor task to accomplish. We’ve only encountered this once in hundreds of hauntings . One notable exception is when a spirit returns to help a friend or family member, or just check to be sure you’re okay. Spirit guides, angels, and totems, are a different topic. They are not malicious, ever. Don’t worry about them. You never have to worry about a ghost following you forever. It simply doesn’t happen.
  • Spiritual energy is pretty much all the same to a casual observer. If you’re in a setting where there is poltergeist phenomena, you probably won’t be able to guess whether it’s from a spirit of the dead, or someone nearby with RSPK. (RSPK is Remote Spontaneous PsychoKinesis, or the ability to move things using your thoughts, consciously or not). Don’t assume that the dish that flew across the room was propelled by a spirit of the dead. It could be a prank by an ESP-gifted person who is very much alive, and near you.

I hope this puts your mind at rest. 

Young woman, anxious.Ghost hunting is fun. For people like me, it’s fascinating to encounter ghostly manifestations.  Haunted sites can have risks, but they’re usually physical (like frail floorboards in the attic, or uneven stairs). It’s nothing directly related to ghosts.

Ghost hunting itself is not hazardous, and ghosts are not maliciously wandering the earth as portrayed in movies and novels.

Nothing bad is likely to happen to you if you go on a ghost tour or public ghost investigation and take proper precautions. (For example, always take a friend with you to an event or tour.  If you’re on your own, watch your back and never treat the evening like speed dating.)

Frankly, most of your concerns should be about the living, not the spirits of the dead.

Consider another hobby if spirits and hauntings really frighten you.

It’s worth repeating:  If ghost hunting isn’t fun, find something else for your spare time.

The more you go ghost hunting, the more spirits and manifestations you’re likely to encounter. If you’re nervous now, things will only get more intense if you continue.