So Your House Is Haunted–Now What?

So Your House Is Haunted–Now What?


With Halloween rapidly approaching, our fancy turns to ghosts, goblins, witches, demons, and all the other beasties that go bump in the night. I love reading about this kind of stuff–but stick me in a haunted house and I’m not going to be happy.

If you think your house might be haunted, there are a few time-honored ways to encourage the spirits to move on.

Columbia Pictures

Cleansing the Space

Step one: smudge like your life depends on it. Actually, smudging–the ritual burning of dried sage wands to clear negative energy–is a bit controversial. It’s the go-to for wannabe witches and new-age types these days. It’s gone totally mainstream.

Seriously, I saw a three-pack of sage bundles at TJ Maxx over the weekend!

But burning sage, palo santo, or other plants is also a practice belonging to many indigenous peoples. The jury is divided on whether burning sage is cultural appropriation or not. It’s something to consider as you build your very own ghostbusting kit.

Less contentious tools include salt or salt water. Sprinkle a little across the home’s exits–and don’t forget the windows. Burning white candles can also invite good energy into your home while banishing darkness. Another trick is to nail a horseshoe over the front and back doors of your home.

Maybe Try Beans?


In ancient Rome, the festival of Lemuralia had nothing to do with lemurs. But it did involve beans.

The feast day was a time to exorcise any bad ghosts from your house. Lemures–the ghosts of the restless, angry dead–could infest your house like cockroaches, and you needed to fumigate every once in a while.

One of the rites to banish the spirits involved walking backwards and barefoot around your house, tossing black beans over your shoulder.

Incidentally, the Romans also believed in benevolent protective spirits, called Lares, who watched over their homes and guarded the wisdom of the family’s ancestors.

Whatever You Do, Don’t Engage

If you want to take a more scientific approach to ghost hunting, consider this. Ghosts are a type of energy–one that we don’t really understand–and our attention only adds to that energy. The Tibetan tulpa is a great example of this–a thought made real through intense concentration.

Or, if you’re a determined skeptic, consider that thinking about ghosts is more likely to make you scared and paranoid.

The more you pay attention to the ghosts haunting your home, the more real they become. If the folks at Hill House or Bly Manor had possessed a lick of sense, they would have skedaddled the minute they heard a creepy children’s chorus start singing.

If you ever find yourself in a similar situation: run and don’t look back. And maybe carry some salt, iron filing, and dried beans in your pockets, just in case.