If you ask us, being able to hear ghosts sounds downright overwhelming — imagine the cacophony every time you drove past a cemetery. Nevertheless, there's a good chance that the Halloween season has put you in the mood to dust off the old Ouija board and try reaching out to the other side. Before you get in too deep and end up summoning a malevolent entity (if not literally Bloody Mary), there are a few things you need to know about communicating with spirits.
For starters, medium and author Elizabeth Owens explains that speaking to the departed might not come naturally to everyone who gives it a try, but that shouldn't discourage you: "While it is a special gift to communicate with spirits, it is possible to learn the process." She adds that the first sign that you may have an innate ability to interact with spirits is, simply, if you can see them from time to time.
Whether you can instantly connect with ghosts or not, Owens says it's important to practice and educate yourself before diving into a serious mediumship practice. Seek out books on the subject and, more importantly, find a mentor who can introduce you to the finer points of communicating with spirits. "Training with a medium is necessary in order to have ethics, know what is happening to you, and discernment [the ability to recognise different spirits for who they truly are]," Owens says. Even if you just want to try for fun, asking an experienced medium for tips is the best way to get started.
For the record, you might have a one-sided conversation the first few time, but you'll want to remain relaxed and open-minded. Back in August, medium Erica Korman told Refinery29 that she likes to keep crystals around when she reaches out to the other side, so that she can feel grounded and protected throughout the process. Then, just sit back and process what you sense — maybe the room's temperature changes; maybe your mood shifts; maybe you starts to hear sounds coming from seemingly empty parts of your home. These are all signs that a spirit may be hanging around. But, even if you don't pick up on any paranormal activity, you can still try sending a message.
Owens says it may be easier to contact a deceased loved one, since you know them better and have a clearer image of them than, say, your favourite dead celebrity. You can focus on a specific question you'd like to ask them about the afterlife or you can simply send them a message of greeting and comfort. Keep an eye out for indications they've heard you, keeping in mind that these will be very subtle (the scent of your grandmother's perfume wafting in the air, your uncle's watch turning up in your dresser).
For the record, you might have a one-sided conversation the first few time you try communicating with the spirit world. "We can talk to them. Whether we hear back is another story," Owens says. "It takes training."
Oh, and about that Ouija board — don't let their board game appearance fool you. Owens says they are, indeed, very real, which means they come with a set of equally real risks. "You are opening yourself up to any kind of spirit out there," she explains. "The spirit world is not composed of only lovely spirits. Like attracts like, so we could bring in something we don't want if we aren't the most positive person we could be." If you can't resist the temptation to play around with this slumber party staple, Owens recommends saying a little prayer and asking for spiritual protection before picking up that planchette.