I’m a skeptic. When the scientific method can’t prove something exists, I usually opt out of believing in it. And when it comes to ghosts, I feel like the science is in my corner. Even with that bedrock of modern thinking, the entire concept of ghosts gives me the heebie-jeebies. So much so that, in spite of my insistence that ghosts aren’t real, I cannot watch movies about hauntings. Oh, I used to. But when ghastly images from Thir13een Ghosts were still keeping me awake at night months after I watched the movie, it became apparent that my skepticism was weaker than my fear, and I had to swear off scary movies. In fact, one could say that in real life, I AM afraid of no ghosts. Or something. Any way, check out the poltergeist advice here.
So, even though I’ll go on the record as not believing, I completely understand what you’re going through if you suspect you’re being haunted. That’s why I’ve collected the advice most commonly given by ghost hunters for getting rid of ghosts. The methods range from practical to herbal to spiritual, and can be used in any combination. What’s crucial is that the course of action you choose falls in line with your belief system. According to people who claim to know, banishing a ghost only works if you believe it will work. From any perspective, spiritual or psychological, that makes sense. So choose carefully, and happy sleeping.
What is a Ghost?
According to the prevailing theories, a ghost is a disembodied person who, instead of going to the spirit world, has stayed in or returned to the physical world. Sometimes ghosts are here simply because they don’t know how to go to the spirit world, or are afraid to, but some remain on purpose to accomplish something they left unfinished in life. They can interact with the physical world and appear as mist or balls of light called orbs, but they must absorb a lot of energy to do so, and people often observe cold spots when ghosts are said to be present.
What isn’t a Ghost?
Even firm believers in ghosts insist that many of the phenomena people attribute to ghosts have their source in the physical world, not the world beyond. If a slamming door or falling object could have been pushed by a draft, it probably was (and you should get rid of drafty windows). Likewise, flickering lights are often caused by the weather or faulty wiring, and a creaky floor is probably more settling house than pacing ghost. If you can explain a phenomenon without resorting to the supernatural, do.
Best Ways to Get Rid of a Ghost
Tell the ghost to leave, or to stop doing things that bother you. This may sound too easy, but it was by far the suggestion I came across most often. Paranormal researchers think the majority of ghosts don’t recognize their own activities as bothersome to the living; some ghosts may not even realize they’re dead. When you address a ghost directly, you can explain that it is physically dead, but you are alive and you want it to leave your home. If you think you might be able to live with the ghost if only it didn’t knock lamps off tables and flush the toilet in the middle of the night, try telling it that it can stay in your home if it stops doing those things. Never speak to a ghost when you feel frightened or angry, and always use a firm, unemotional tone.
Clear your home of negative energy and spirits by “smudging” with sage. You can usually buy sage bundles at stores that sell herbs, incense, and/or hemp clothing. Try an alternative gift shop, food co-op, or head shop. When you’re ready to smudge, crack all your windows and light the sage bundle until it starts to smolder. If there’s a flame, blow it out. Then, holding a dish under the sage to catch ashes, walk through each room of your house, letting the smoke drift through the air, concentrating on corners and crannies, and using a large feather to waft smoke into ceiling corners. You can emphasize your purpose by repeating a mantra to the effect of, “I am cleansing this space of negative energies.” You can, surprisingly, get Sage Smudge Sticks at Amazon.
Pray—to whomever you believe in, whether that means God, your ancestors, or the spirits of late family members or friends. When you have a problem with something from the spirit world, it can’t hurt to enlist the help of caring or benevolent spirits. They may be able to help the ghost find its way to the spirit world, or convince it to leave you alone.
Have your personal space blessed. If your ghost is malevolent or extremely persistent, you may be able to convince a member of the clergy to come to your home and bless the whole house or perform a religious ritual such as exorcism to banish the spirit. In less serious cases, or if you aren’t up for having your sanity scrutinized first, you can simply ask a priest to bless some objects—you don’t have to tell him why—and place one in each room where you have experienced ghostly phenomena.
Do not use a Ouija board or attempt to hold a séance. Both of these things are designed to invite ghosts and other spirits into the world of the living. If they work, you could end up with even more ghosts in your home, and aren’t you hoping for fewer? Many paranormal researchers recommend trying to communicate with a ghost, since you may be able to help it resolve a problem it left unfinished in life. But it’s safer to look for patterns in the ghost’s activity than to open channels into the spirit world.
Calling in the Ghost Busters
If these do-it-yourself banishing methods don’t work, you might start looking for professional help. But be careful—if a psychic, shaman, or ghost buster wants to charge you a fee to rid your home of ghosts, you may very well be walking into a scam. Usually, a ghost-busting scam separates the victim from thousands of dollars, but not from their ghost, since the “professional” merely pretends to remove it. Some reports suggest that hauntings often become worse after a fake banishment. If you think you need someone with more experience to help you get rid of a ghost, look for non-profit ghost hunters. There are organizations out there that, if your haunting sounds compelling, will travel to your home and advise you for free. These people love to hunt ghosts, and if you give them the opportunity to do so, they may consider ridding you of yours a fair trade.