Spiritual medium Erika Gabriel says the first sign of a haunting may be hard to put your finger on, but it's usually a general sense that something's off. "You walk into a room and just feel uncomfortable," she explains, adding that it can feel as if someone is actually hovering over your shoulder. You might feel confused, scatterbrained, or overwhelmed by feelings that you didn't have a moment ago.
If what you're dealing with really is a ghost (and not, say, a vermin infestation or a carbon monoxide leak), you'll start to notice other paranormal goings on, beyond just vague vibes. "This spirit wasn't able to cross over into the spirit world," Gabriel says. "They cannot let go. They cannot shake this life." Some sort of unfinished business (often of a negative nature, Gabriel says) is keeping the spirit tethered to the living world, and they believe that your space is still theirs.
In cases like these, Gabriel says you're best off calling a medium you trust or performing your own home-cleansing ritual, so that you can clear away the spirit's energy and replace it with your own. As scary as it may seem, it's important to claim your home. "They're not paying the rent anymore," Gabriel says. "It's your space."
There are all sorts of different cleansing rituals you can perform, but Gabriel recommends simply lighting a candle in the heart of your home, setting an intention to fill the space with light and love, then opening every door (including closets, cabinets, and drawers) in the house and cleansing every room with burning sage. She says you can do this as many times and as often as you wish. As long as you set a positive intention, you're on the right track.
Gabriel adds that you don't have to be haunted, per se, to receive a message from the other side. "Signs to the living will come from loved ones who have crossed over" as well, she explains. These spirits don't need to be cleared away — rather, they're reaching out to let you know that they are, indeed at peace. These messages may be a little unsettling, but they won't be scary, she says.