How To Clear Out Spirits
I receive many inquiries and the most common one concerns how to clear spirits out of a house. It is a simple question but I can tell you, the answer is not so simple. Is anything? Many people come to me because they feel supernatural forces are haunting them. In many cases, they are right, to some degree, anyway. I say it that way because while they may well have a spirit living in their house, they may not really be “haunted” in the truest sense. Let me explain.
In my mind, the mere presence of a spirit does not constitute a haunting. For that matter, the mere presence of a spirit does not constitute a spirit. Okay, I know that I have just confused you in a big way and you are wondering what I am smoking. (Marlboro, menthol. Full flavor.) Let’s start at the beginning. When you see what appears to be a spirit, you might be looking at something that happened in the past, not an actual spirit stuck in your living room. For whatever reason, and I have heard hundreds of them, energy can be “burned” into an environment in the form of vibrations. That energy can remain there for ages. Some people have the ability to see that energy or read that vibration. What they are seeing is not necessarily a spirit functioning in the year 2003; it may be a replay of something that happened in 1895. Of course, to the person who witnesses it, that makes little, if any difference. All they are concerned about is that there is something in their house that doesn’t belong there.
If what you are seeing is an energy imprint, there is no actual ghost present. In that case, there is nothing to clear out. Often, these imprints stop happening on their own. There is a simple enough way to tell whether you are dealing with an entity or an imprint. In the case of an imprint, the projection you are watching will not react to you. On the other hand, a ghost will react to you. If you yell, it will turn and face you or it may approach you. If it doesn’t react to you, then you have an imprint. Now, let’s assume that it does indeed react to you. In that case, you have a spirit on your hands. How do you get rid of it? That brings us back to the beginning.
As I said earlier, the mere presence of a spirit does not necessarily constitute a haunting. To me, a haunting is a negative term. Of course, even having a friendly ghost on your hands can be negative, especially when you don’t know who it is and what it wants, if anything. Yes, in many cases, the spirit has a purpose. It may be to get your attention. It may also be to drive you out of the house. Those types of hauntings do happen. I call them a haunting with a purpose. However, it is also possible that the spirit merely wants to stay where it was happiest on earth. It might be short changing itself in the process but that is really its decision to make. So before we look at ways of clearing a spirit out of a house, I first have to ask this question: Do we have the right to make it leave? As you will see, the answer is not always yes.
Suppose just as you finish reading this article and begin telling your loved one what an idiot I am, you have a heart attack, hopefully not induced by this article. Suddenly, you find yourself dead and presumably out of debt. (I am not so sure about taxes.) Now, maybe you decide to cross over. Perhaps a previously deceased loved one greets you and you make the transition to the next realm. However, you may decide that you want to stay where you are. Perhaps it is the first house you owned or it is where you lived for most of your life. For whatever reason, you decide to stay. Maybe the house gets sold to someone else. Even though your family may not live there anymore, you may still decide that you want to stay there. Now, after some period of time and nearly impossible closing fees, I move into the house. One night before going to bed, I walk into the kitchen to get a drink. Out of the corner of my eye, I see movement. I spin around and see you hovering in the doorway. In a state of fear and shock, I drop the glass and back away from you. Frankly speaking, you have done nothing wrong. You have not even done anything frightening. My fear is simply a result of seeing you and how my brain interprets what my eyes saw. The problem isn’t the spirit, per se; it is how we interpret it that matters.
In this scenario, I may call in paranormal investigators to help me with my haunting, because to me, that’s what it is. But, is it really? You are simply staying where you felt happy. Do I have the right to try to get you thrown out simply because you are existing? Do I have more of a right to be there than you do? On the surface, the answer is no. Would you be better off moving on? Probably, but that is your choice to make. However, when we scratch the surface a bit, the equation changes a little. Do I have the right to live there without any interference from you or without you scaring my family? The answer is simply, yes. I should be able to live on this plane free from spirits from another plane. God knows things are hard enough on this plane without any interference for the next one. That is where things can get dicey and we will talk about that shortly. However, before you look to throw a spirit out, you have to consider whether you have a right to. Again, you have to remember that the mere presence of a spirit is not reason enough to throw it out. It is all a matter of perception.
Let me explain. It is quite common for me to experience some activity in my home. Anyone who works as closely with the paranormal will say the same thing. It comes with the turf, so to speak. Most of the time, it is harmless activity; sometimes it is more serious. The more serious stuff comes when I am working cases, especially the malicious ones. When something minor happens, for example, a chair that moves a few feet, it is not upsetting to me. I will take note of it and wonder why it happened but it does not keep me awake worrying about it. That job is reserved for the rest of life. However, where I barely notice it, my wife reacts differently. The same act has different meanings to each of us. It is that way in a haunting. Some people do not mind having a resident ghost or two. Others are terrified at the very thought of it. However, to some extent, no one completely escapes the presence of a spirit since they are all around us. Some just don’t see them and not all spirits do things to make themselves known. What you have to do is weigh whether or not you feel that a spirit is actually causing a problem before you can decide what you are going to do with it. Now we will look at whether it is a problem or not.
You may indeed find that you have a resident ghost. The idea may intrigue you or it may frighten you. How do you deal with it? That depends on what type of spirit you have on your hands, why it is there and what, if anything, it may want. In the case of a benign spirit that simply wants to stay where it is, you can try talking to it. There are thousands of stories out there where people have moved into a house, found out there was a spirit present and asked it to leave them alone only to have it do what they asked. Yes, it can be that simple. One case in question involves the Eisenhower Farm in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. It is now a museum run by the National Parks Department. Shortly after they took over the house, odd things began happening. The Park Rangers often heard footsteps in the upper half of the house. Often lights would turn on and off, courtesy of unseen hands. Some of the Rangers asked for new assignments because they were frightened. At some point, a Ranger asked the spirit or spirits to stop frightening them. From that point on, nothing unusual took place. The ghosts living there honored the request.
Another example involved Eileen Hoover, current owner of the Cashtown Inn, a beautiful little place in Cashtown, Pennsylvania, about eight miles from Gettysburg. The Cashtown Inn is well known for its deceased residents. Shortly after she took over the Inn, Eileen made a deal with her usually invisible residents: “If you don’t bother me, I won’t bother you.” Guess what? They don’t bother her even though hundreds of people report strange activity there. (I had some great experiences when I stayed there. See the Gettysburg section.) The point is that there is no reason in the world to try to clear out the Inn. The ghosts don’t bother people in general but they are more than willing to show up for those who want to see or experience them. Of course, things are always so rosy, as you are about to see.
There are times when a human spirit may not only decide that it wants to remain in his house after his death, but he may decide he wants to live there alone. That can create a problem. When that happens, you will find legitimate haunting phenomena taking place. Instead of merely showing himself, he may decide to liven things up. In many cases, that “livening up” may include opening and slamming doors, opening and closing drawers, playing with electrical appliances and even damaging possessions. When these things or similar events take place, we have what I refer to as a “haunting with a purpose.” Of course, the purpose is to drive you out of the house. We talked about a spirits right to stay where it wants to but now we reach a point where the spirit is trying to take away your right to live in a place you own.
Now it is fine to say that a spirit can stay on the physical plane if he wants to since he is only shortchanging himself. However, being a living resident on the physical plane, you have the right to live your life free from harassment from spirits. When it gets to a point where a ghost tries to take away what is rightfully yours, something needs to be done about it. In my mind, that spirit has crossed a line and consequently, you have every right in the world to try to clear him out. His right to be does not take priority over your right to live. Once he has crossed the line, he has forfeited his right to stay there. It is one thing to want to stay in a place; it is quite another to try to drive out the residents.
So, now the question is how do you go about getting rid of the human spirit who is causing your problems? I am sorry to say that there is no easy answer to this question. What is successful in dealing with one spirit may be ineffectual when dealing with another one. So, how do you know what to try? Truthfully, you don’t. When I am faced with this problem, I tend to start off using the technique that I have had the most success with. If that fails, I have to adjust my strategy and try something else. Yes, trial and error is frustrating and time consuming but you have no way of knowing what will work and what won’t. Your gut instincts are often correct so I would advise following your instincts. You just have to be prepared to change your strategy if you determine what you have tried did not work. It is important that you give your initial strategy time to work but it is also important that you know when to say that it has failed. You are walking a tightrope here. Depending on the severity of the haunting, you may be walking that tightrope without a safety net. If strategy number one fails, you might have an even angrier spirit on your hands than what you started with. Let’s take a look at some of the things that are effective and some that often aren’t.
In the case of the benign spirit, talking to it may stop the problem. However, if the spirit does not want you living in his house and he is determined to drive you out, asking him to stop will probably accomplish nothing. It is possible that by explaining to him that he is no longer alive and that he has no right to interfere with your life, he may listen. However, if he were that reasonable, you probably would not have had a problem in the first place. Still, some spirits will listen to reason. The problem comes in when you try to determine whether you have an angry spirit versus one that is evil. Keep in mind that being evil does not mean demonic. There are plenty of evil people in the world and when they die, if they fail to completely cross over, they will be evil ghosts. Death alone does not wizen the spirit. A grouchy person in life is a grouchy spirit, at least until he sees the light, so to speak, and then actually enters it.
The cantankerous but not evil spirit can often be persuaded to cross over, if he is dealt with properly. This is where someone with good psychic qualities can be a great help. You can talk to the spirit and I am sure he can hear you. What he cannot do is have a dialog with you. However, if there is a medium involved, he or she may be able to have some sort of dialog with the spirit. I doubt it would be a give and take dialog but there might be enough there where you can convince him, through the medium, that he should leave. An advantage to having a medium there is that the spirit, should he be angry about the discussion, may convey that to the medium. If you are by yourself, he may “voice” his displeasure by breaking something precious to you. For that reason alone, it is good to have a medium present. However, they are not easy to find. Granted, there are tons of people out there who claim to be psychically gifted but in many cases, their only gift is the ability to suck money from the suffering and frightened.
I worked a case where we had a cantankerous spirit tormenting the residents of a house. He was not evil; he was just angry and he had something of a mean streak. We were able to clear him out without the use of a medium. We made it as clear as possible to him that he was tormenting the family and that because of that he would have to leave. What we did next was attempt to convince him that things would be far better for him if he made the transition to the next realm. Of course, by his continued actions, he showed us that he rejected the idea completely. However, that was not a defeat because it was laying the groundwork for what was to come. This is where you begin walking that tightrope I mentioned earlier. Because we did not have a medium available to us, we had to wait and see whether our strategy worked. Not knowing what he was thinking, we could only judge the situation by seeing what he would do. That took a lot of time. We would hope for the best only to find out that the problem remained. Sometimes days or weeks would pass without any noticeable activity and we would think we were home free. Then, slowly but surely, we came to find out that he was still there.
It would have been easy to say that after two weeks or so that our plan had failed. However, my gut feeling was that it needed to be given a chance. Fortunately, my partner agreed with that assessment. Patience is required and it helps if you are a bit stubborn. I can be very stubborn. If a spirit sees that you are quick to change strategies, he will resist what you try because he knows that you are going to jump to another track. The converse of that is that you cannot employ an ineffective strategy forever either. If you do, he will never leave. In a sense, he has the advantage because we measure time while he doesn’t. Several weeks on a case can take a toll on the investigator but to the spirit, several weeks can be a second. He can afford to wait you out.
In the case I mentioned, we stuck with our strategy, although there were many occasions where we discussed the possibility of changing it. However, we chose to keep plugging away. Once he knew what we wanted, that being him out, we worked on another angle. We had already tried to convince him that he would be better off crossing over. Since that didn’t work, we suggested to him that he think about a loved one who had passed over before him. Of course, since we did not have a medium with us, we had no idea whether he was doing that or not. However, we gambled a bit and assumed that he was. After some prodding, we asked him to simply call to that person. You will note that we did not tell him to leave or to go anywhere with that person; we simply asked him to call that person. The fear was that if we told him to go with that person, something he obviously did not want to do, he would not call them. On the next trip, we asked him whether he called on the person. We believed he did. Of course, that might have been wishful thinking on our part.
Since we believed he did, we then suggested, not told him, that he should let that person help him cross over. Our hope was that the person he called was trying to get him to go as well. We repeated this several times that night and towards the end of the evening, there was a palpable change in the way the house felt. The owners were the first to point that out. They said that for the first time in a long time, they felt what they described as a “sense of peace” in the house. We knew that time is the true judge and that the possibility existed that he would be back if he had backed away from crossing over. We believed that we would know within a week or two at the most and we were pleased when the majority of the activity stopped. In that case, it was more a spirit rescue than an attempt to throw him out. It took time and a lot of patience but it was successful. However, it is important to note that he was cantankerous, not evil.
Can this method work with an evil entity? It can but the odds are against it. All too often, the malicious spirit will not listen to anything you have to say, especially if he believes that he has you frightened. The approach has to be different. This is a situation where you are walking the tightrope but you most certainly don’t have a net under you. By that, I mean that the malicious spirit is doing things that are harmful and, almost certainly, destructive. Therefore, time is much more critical than when you are dealing with a cantankerous old grouch. The stakes are considerably higher and the weapons you have at your disposal are less. If you are reading this article as someone who believes you have a malicious spirit on your hands, you have to be careful. My advice would be to find someone who has experience in dealing with negative spirits. There are two reasons for this. The first is that an experienced paranormal investigator will save you a lot of time by employing strategies that have been successful for him. If you are doing this on your own, you may well employ strategies that have little or no chance of working from the get go. He may be able to save you some trouble. Also, if you do attempt an unsuccessful strategy, you will likely anger the spirit and he will retaliate. That is not to say that the spirit will not retaliate if an unsuccessful attempt is employed by an experienced investigator. It may but there are two advantages the experienced investigator has. The first is that he expects it and is in a better position to defend against it. The second is that most spirits aren’t stupid. They will do what they know will cause the maximum amount of angst and terror. If they know they will get nowhere with the experienced investigator, they will retaliate less because they know they are essentially wasting their time.
The second reason why it is better not to attempt the clear out a house on your own is because the malicious spirit knows what frightens you and it will employ those tactics figuring, usually correctly, that it will make you back down. Thus, the minute you start something, it will retaliate almost immediately and that may make you back off quickly. Another point is that there is the minute possibility that the spirit is inhuman. A good investigator will have a better handle on that possibility than you would. Granted, the chances of coming across a demonic spirit are extremely small but the possibility is there. This is not something you want to find out about the hard way. If you cannot find an experienced investigator, you may have to take your chances. Let us take a look at they ways you can clear out the hostile spirit.
I just told you that your chances of reasoning with the malicious spirit are slim, at best. That is true but while the approach is different, the principle is similar in that you want him to leave on his own. What you need to do with this type of spirit is give him an incentive to leave. That “incentive” may well be of the “leave, or else” variety. I am now going to say something that you might think is contradictory. One mistake victims often make is to pick up a crucifix and march through the rooms commanding the spirit to leave. Television propagates this myth and it can have damaging consequences. For openers, it probably won’t work. You may frighten away a spirit that has a fear of God but by and large, the malicious ones don’t believe in God. If they did, chances are they would not be doing evil things. All you accomplish when you do this is anger the spirit. Okay, that sounds cut and dried. Now it will get confusing.
The first thing I always suggest is that you get a bottle of holy water. Holy water is not a threat; it is a tangible substance that has considerable power. As I have said many times before, I will leave the ramifications behind this fact to the individual to consider. All I can say is that it works. Get it and use it liberally. When activity starts up, sprinkle it around. It will help. The next step is to pray to God and ask him to help you with your problem. I actually pray for the spirit, hoping that God will help him cross over. At that point, you can begin trying to clear the spirit out. I also believe that you should use incense, especially sage. For whatever reason, it seems to help with the removal of malicious spirits. I will leave the ramification of that up to the individual as well. Throughout history, different religious groups use it in many rituals. It is a tried and true method. You will most likely face some form of retaliation here too but keep in mind that the prayers and holy water are effective defenses.
A psychic can be used here too but I have found that their ability to help with a nasty spirit is limited at best because even though they may be able to have a give and take with the spirit, he is not likely to listen to psychic anyway. What they can do is tell you what kind of spirit you are dealing with and they may be able to tell you who they are. That can be a help in that it can help you formulate a strategy. You may be able to find out the name of a loved one of the spirit and you can then tell the spirit that he must call on that person. However, that does not mean he will listen. However, between the prayers, the holy water and telling the spirit that he has to leave, you stand a good chance of getting him to do so. However, it will take time and it will not be easy. You can expect a fight and you must be persistent and you must be willing to do battle because a battle is what you will get. However, the odds are in your favor. At this point, picking up a crucifix and blessing each room can be helpful. Have the holy water and incense handy when you do this and avoid trying “cast” the spirit out. There may come a time when you have to resort to that but it should be a last resort.
I have heard some say that exorcism only affects demonic spirits but I disagree. God can indeed force out human spirits as well as demonic ones. However, if you try to exorcise a benign spirit, God has no reason to throw him out. However, the malicious spirit does evil things and that changes the equation. However, it is a risky business because if there is a demonic spirit present, you can start a firestorm by trying homemade exorcisms. I never encourage haunting victims to try this method because it can have serious consequences. If the spirit is that mean and strong, your best bet is to seek outside help. I would certainly suggest you do that before you try to take on a malicious spirit on your own. Some prayers are more effective than others. Some religious disciplines are more successful than others when it comes to dealing with this type of spirit. However, the combination of prayer and coaxing may finally make it leave.
There are times when a spirit needs help from the living. That spirit may appear to be evil based on its actions. However, the reason why they are doing malicious things is because they feel they were somehow wronged and they blame everyone for their dilemma. They may try to get the attention of the current residents either hoping to drive them out or force them to help him. Of course, that reasoning is flawed because by frightening them and doing malicious things, they are simply driving those people to the point where they may try to drive him out.
There have been more than a few cases where, after some poking around, the terrorized residents learn something about the house. They may have checked land records or they may have searched the history of the house through town records or even newspaper archives. There was one case where a terrorized family did some searching and found out that someone had been murdered in their house, close to a century before they moved in. Once they knew this, they tried talking to the spirit and acknowledged the fact that he had been murdered. They then went ahead and had a Mass said for that person. The day the Mass was said, all of the bizarre activity stopped. They lived in peace after that. Sometimes the dead are angered because someone built a house on their grave. I have read of several cases where bodies were discovered on the grounds where the terrorized people were living. Once those bodies were given a proper burial, the problems stopped.
There is also the possibility that there is a vortex on the property. This is an area where, for whatever reason, possible geomagnetic in nature, there is an entry point for spirits. Many spirits may come and go and some of them are nasty. I have not heard of many solutions regarding how to close these vortex’. I am not sure there is one. Of course, it needs to be pointed out that there is little if any proof that these vortex’ exist. The geomagnetic influences in some hauntings are well documented but they do not fully explain the vortex theory. There is promising research being done however and it may only be a question of time before a way is discovered that will prove the existence of the vortex theory, and for that matter, how to close them.
Sometimes knowing why a haunting is taking place will tell you how to stop it. If for example, occult rituals have taken place in a house, having it blessed by a priest may stop the problem. In extreme cases, an exorcism may be needed. While we are on the subject of exorcisms, I must point out that if there are demonic influences operating in your house, only an exorcism will clear it out. You are not going to be able to do that yourself. In the near future, I will be doing an article on how to tell whether you have a demonic spirit on your hands. Generally speaking, there is little doubt when you have a demonic spirit present. If something extraordinary takes place, like the levitation of a person, you can bank on the demonic theory. I always tell people that if you think you have a demon on your hands, you don’t. If you have one, you will know it.
Under any circumstances, clearing a house of a ghostly presence is complicated. A big part of the puzzle is knowing whether you have a legitimate reason to try to clear one out. Again, the simple presence of a spirit does not constitute a haunting. However, when the activity is threatening in nature, you need to look at it closely.
© 2003 T. Cooney