Having the rare ghost encounter in a creepy hotel or at a historic landmark makes for a great story and can be a thrilling (even fun) experience. But, if a spirit happens to take up a more permanent residence in your life — or in your home — things can go from spooky to downright scary very quickly.
Luckily, rituals for removing unwanted ghosts abound. But, before you schedule a full-on seance just because your stairs are creaky, there are a few steps you should follow, based on our conversations with occult experts and online research, which we've listed below. These won't help you combat straight-up demons or anything, but if you believe you're dealing with something less-than-benevolent (reminder: some ghosts can make for excellent, well-meaning roommates), here's where to start.
Step 1: Rule out non-paranormal sources of activity.
No matter how convinced you may be, bear in mind that your problem might not be otherworldly at all. In fact, there are plenty of things, from pests to noisy neighbors, that might lead you to believe you aren't alone. It won't hurt to find out if anyone next door has taken up the drums or call an exterminator to check for mice. Of course, just because your problem might not be paranormal, doesn't mean it isn't dangerous. There have been a few cases where people have mistaken symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning for signs of a haunting. If you don't already have a CO monitor in your home, now is the time to install one.
Step 2: Cleanse the space.
Many spiritualists will tell you that cleansing is an important part of home maintenance, ghost or no ghost. It's a simple way to maintain the energetic balance of your home and, since it may involve actual cleaning, it'll keep your space free of clutter, too, which is always a plus. Burning sage, or smudging, is great first step — it's essentially an all-purpose spiritual cleanser that will send a message to your ghost but won't offend it. Make sure to smudge every room of the house, with special attention paid to any outward-facing corners, since it's said that these corners act as boundaries between your home and encroaching negative energy. You can also try salting your home's entryways and corners. (This is a little more aggressive and will work if your spirit resists the smudging.) Certain crystals, religious talismans, and holy water are also useful cleansing tools to have on hand. Their presence alone should send a message.
Step 3: Speak up.
If cleansing didn't solve your problem, you might need to take a more direct approach. This could mean reciting specific prayers (the serenity prayer, for example), reciting a positive mantra, or simply making yourself known to the ghost. Announce yourself when you come home and speak up when you feel your spirit's presence. Yes, this will feel silly at first, but it can help to establish boundaries and show the ghost that you aren't a threat. We particularly like this Redditor's approach to hauntings, which features the following recitation:
"By the power of all my good karma, direct connection to Source, agape love, and selfless acts, I ask the universe to please remove all negative entities from this house. You are not welcome here, so please go back to where you came from."
That's pretty witchy, but it's a great reminder to draw from your inner strength when you're talking to an unwanted entity. If you aren't ready for such an intense invocation, saying something like, "Hey, I feel your presence, and that's pretty scary for me. I don't mean you any harm, but I would like you to stop," will have a similar impact.
Step 4: Take a stand (if you have to).
You're dealing with a pretty powerful spirit if you've gotten to this step. There are plenty of more confrontational banishing spells you can perform, but we don't recommend those unless you're quite sure of what sort of ghost you have. That said, not doing anything isn't very helpful, either. If you don't feel confident performing your own banishing spell, you can seek out a psychic or medium who specializes in house clearings (a common term for cleansing unwanted spirits from a house). They'll be able to cleanse the home more thoroughly, hold a seance to contact the ghost directly, and even help it cross over from this plane into the next.
Once you've successfully cast out your ghost, don't forget any of these steps. As we said before, continuing to cleanse your home on a regular basis can be helpful, if for no other reason than affording you peace of mind. And if it looks like your spirit isn't going anywhere, that's okay, too — there are worse things than a friendly ghost.