Part Two in my ‘Living With the Un-Living’ Series
The first option we’re going to explore after you’ve decided what to do with your new dead houseguests is allowing them to stay. In most cases, this is my family’s decision. You can leave this decision here, or you can go another step with a ‘Family Meeting Ritual’.
Establishing Ownership of the Property
It’s you house. You know that. What you have to have to do for this ritual is remind the spirits of that fact. There are a few good, easy, effective ways to do that:
- Verbally take ownership. This option will be used in-ritual (which we’ll get to later). You can use that alone, or you can back it up with action.
- Urine. If you cringed, that’s okay. The use of bodily fluids isn’t for everyone—but it is powerful. Urine sprinkled into the four corners of a property, at the gates; or dabbed on doors, doorknobs, and windows (you can water it down if you’re concerned about the smell) are all excellent for setting up a boundary of ownership. Another good option is to obtain a jar (yes, a jar) and drop a copy of your house key into it (a copy, and not your only copy), then fill it with urine (yours) and bury it on the property.
- Wardings & Blessings. Hanging wardings on your doors and windows or getting a house blessing, which may not affect the spirits (but sometimes come with a nifty certificate) are easy, urine-free ways to stake your claim.
- Home Improvement. Plant a tree. Paint a room. Anything you add or take away from a house is a sign or your owning it.
Having a Back Up Plan
Before you start this ritual—or any ritual dealing with ghosts—you’re going to want to look up a few good banishing rituals to keep on hand just in case. I’m not saying you should be afraid or expect things to go wrong. I’m just saying you should be prepared.
I’m going to call this a ritual just as a formality, but it doesn’t actually have to be a ‘ritual’. It doesn’t have to be a big deal. You don’t have to have candles or a circle or anything else besides yourself and your intent. This ritual should be held in the most important part of your house. In our case, that’s the kitchen. This ritual can be held with lights on or off; candles or no candles. It can be done at any time of day, but we usually do ours in the early morning or at dusk. The room and the people in the room are cleansed with smoke before the ritual. (We use sage and sweetgrass for this, but we’re very traditional and this is a part of our family identity. Since this ritual will require you to take full ownership of your home, it’s important that you use things that make you think of home. Some examples are cedar, lavender, or apple spice incense.) After that, we ask for a blessing on the house and the family and sit down to work.
- Step One: “Call a Family Meeting” – If you want candles and a Circle, you should do this prior to step one. Gather all the participants of the ritual in the main room of the house. This doesn’t have to be the whole family. It doesn’t even have to be family. You can do it alone, but it’s important to have a sense of family-like support and ownership of the house. Once everyone’s in the room and you feel ready, call the spirits into the room. (Example: “If there are any spirits in the house, we invite you to join us in the kitchen.” Let them know that you just want to talk, you don’t mean to do them harm and that you ask them to do the same for you.)
- Step Two: “Establish Ownership” – This is an extension of the previous establishment of ownership you should have done before. During the ritual, it’s as simple as saying, “We know you’re here, and you’re welcome to stay as guests; but remember that we own this house/it’s our house now/we’re been called on by the owners of the house/we live here and have authority.” Make sure you take a gentle tone of authority. You don’t want them to feel insulted or threatened, but you do want to let them know that your word is law in your home.
- Step Three: “Establishing House Rules” – This is the part where you let the spirits know that you’ve agreed to let them stay, as long as they follow the house rules. List your rules out loud and remind them that, if they break the rules, they will no longer be welcome. Tell them that, as long as they follow the rules, everyone in the house will get along fine. (Note: Don’t be afraid to make certain rooms off limits—like nurseries or kid’s bedrooms. Remember, it’s your house.)
Step Four: Ending – At the end of this ritual, we usually adjourn our meeting and dismiss the spirits by saying, “Welcome to our home” or some equal alternative. We then ask for a blessing a second time before closing the ritual.