Living With the Un-Living: The Khal’s Guide to Sharing a Home With the Spirits of the Dead, Part One

Making the choice to live as a witch and embrace our witchy needs opens a lot of doors. Here, the old adage ‘like attracts like’ holds a lot of truth. As witches, we put out a lot of supernatural energy. For that reason, we also attract it. 

Things That Go Bump In the Night

The most common (but not the only) form supernatural energy a witch will attract is a ghost. (I’m only referring to them as energy because of the argument that [scientifically] energy doesn’t go away, it changes form; hence [not-scientifically proven] life force becomes a ghost after leaving the body]).

Many hauntings are tied to a property. My garden, for example, is also the place where a clairvoyant’s house once stood—though the house, itself burned down years ago. (We’ve dug up a few of her newspaper ads. She performed seances and rituals in the same area I perform my spells.) Our actual home belonged first to a widow who died of old age in the house, and then to a family of three. (According to newspaper articles, the wife died at 37; and the little girl vanished about a year later.) So, some of the spirit activity in our home is tied to the actual ‘Hearth and Halls’, while some of it is traffic attracted by the years of magical/spirit work that have taken place here. 

So let’s talk first about these two types of activity and why they occur. 

Hearth and Home (or ‘Ground-Bound’) Spirits

These are the most common kinds of ghosts and actually have a great deal to do with the atmosphere of a home. This activity can be intelligent (in which the spirit has awareness and will) or residual (which is more of a memory than a haunting, in which a spirit repeats and relives moments of their living hours). Sometimes, a spirit can be bound to the ground by a traumatic death (or life). However, they can also remain in a house simply because they’re attached to the home and don’t want to leave. 

Common types of activity with these hauntings are:

  • phantom smells 
  • footsteps
  • conversations being heard throughout the house
  • laughing (not crazy, evil laughing; mind you)
  • a feeling of being followed or watch (this can be unnerving at first, but really sometimes they’re just curious)

If the activity fluctuates are seems to start spontaneously, you may find that your own energy (or that of your living housemates) is often the cause. Here are just a few things to look for:

  • A new person in the house with fresh energy, or a situation that may line up to a situation that was in the house before. (In the house I lived in before this one, a family before us had been one of three children and a single parent, just like ours. While none of the residents before us had complained about anything strange [and, yes, we asked], the haunting turned oppressive and violent shortly after we moved in.)
  • An illness or pregnancy in the household. (The energy we put off during these events is stronger and different from our normal energy. I know Mrs. Jarvis, our house’s former nurse, feeds off of these energies.)
  • Someone in the house makes a life choice that the spirits don’t approve of. (It happens. It could be religion, new relationship, the end of a relationship, anything. Keep in mind these spirits may have watched you grow up and they do have opinions.)
  • Music. (I know it sounds crazy, but music from a certain place or time can help to get your ghostsies going. And it can be really annoying if, like me, you happen to really like big band music.)
  • Witchcraft. (Magic is pretty magical like that.)

If you have a ground-bound spirit that you want to understand, the best place to start is by researching your home. Unfortunately, that can be easier said than done, because street names change over time. You can find some pointers here

The Out-Of-Nowhere (or Traveling) Spirits

How can you tell the difference between a ground-bound spirit and a traveling spirit? Usually, a traveling spirit will demand your attention. Traveling spirits are attracted to witches because 1) of the energy they exude; 2) they feel safe around them; 3) they require some kind of help. Think of your witchiness as a giant, neon MOTEL sign at the side of an otherwise empty highway. 

Now, let’s talk about the signs you might have a traveling ghost in your house:

  • Seriously, this stuff never happened before! It just started over night!
  • Being woken up in the middle of the night, sometimes rudely. 
  • Whispers that seem to be directed at you.
  • A traveling ghost is going to try to get your attention. They came to find you for a reason, after all. 

Communication is (Still) Key—even after death

There are a lot of options for what to do when you’re faced with a house full of ghosts. The first of these options (and the first step to many of the other options) is communication. (Note: I think it’s a great idea to go ahead and look up a couple of good banishing spells right off the bat [if you don’t already have them handy] just in case.) If the spirit you’re trying to reach is strong enough (and if you’re practiced enough), you can communicate with a spirit just like you would a person.  If you need a little help, however, there are lots of ways to establish communication 

  • Digital Recording Devices – This method, as seen on shows like Ghosthunters, requires you to ask questions and review your recording for response. 
  • Pendulums – This method will use yes or no questions, unless you have a dowsing chart/board. It can also be handy if you believe there’s a grave on your property.
  • Automatic Writing –  Writing that draws from a spiritual source, often in trance. 
  • Scrying – The use of scrying mirrors, water, fire, crystal balls, ect to focus your meditative energies into communication. 
  • The Knocking Method – One of the most common methods of communication is the knocking method, in which a spirit is given a prompt and asked to respond in knocks. 
  • Ouija Board/Talking Board/Spirit Board – The most well-known of spirit communication methods, and also the most frowned upon. A Ouija Board may not be the demon that is portrayed in the sensational media, but it’s also not a toy/game. I don’t recommend its use unless you’re experienced in spirit work.

Mommy, a Ghost Followed Me Home. Can We Keep It?

After you dive into the rabbit hole of communication and learn a little more about your houseguests, it’s time to decide how you want to handle them. Do you let them be, help them pass on, or cast them on on their ghostly booties? Let’s face it, it’s your house and that choice is entirely yours. But, if you need a little help in the decision, here are a few questions to keep in mind:

  • Is the spirit in question causing harm or making you uncomfortable in your own home?Of course, the automatic answer here is usually an emphatic yes. Why? Because there’s a stranger in your house! Of course that gives you the skeevies at first! Take a few days or a week to think on this one and get a feel for the spirit in the house. You may find that, after a few days, you’re much more used to the presence and aren’t uncomfortable at all. Note: Trust your feelings. If you really, really feel like something is wrong beyond the invasion of your space, get rid of it. 
  • Does the spirit seem to want your help? A spirit who wants your help may appear at the most inopportune times—when you’re in the shower, in your dreams, in the mirror while you’re doing your hair. They may call your name from the hall or wake you up in the night. Sometimes they want help crossing over. Sometimes, however, they seek permission to stay in the house. 
  • If the spirit is ground-bound and not trauma based, are you comfortable keeping them in the house? Remember, they probably put a lot of work into that house and are just attached to the memories there.
  • If the spirit is ground-bound and trauma based, would you like to rid your house of the energies of the traumatic events?
  • Are there children in the house? Children are much more sensitive to spirit activity than most adults. They are also much more trusting. Coming from a family who was deeply involved in spirit work myself, I have had my non-harmful ghost experiences, but I’ve also had some scary as balls ones. 
  • Is the haunting residual or intelligent? Remember that the energy of a residual haunting will stay the same forever, whereas an intelligent haunting is just like having a roommate. Shifting moods and all. 
  • As you’re deciding what path to take, remember these things:
  • It’s you home. Any reason you find to want a ghost out of it is a good reason.
  • Not every ghost wants to pass over. 
  • Not everything that seems like a ghost is a ghost. 

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