Ghosts 101: Haunting First Aid

How to Reduce the Scariness/Malevolence

Lillian Owl

This article is an excerpt from my recently published eBook, Ghosts 101, which is available as a download (cheap, only $3.75) or as a CD (also cheap, $8.25) from

I know this is a serious subject, and I'm not discounting the fear and discomfort that hauntings can cause us all to feel...but one of the first things to understand is that your ghost, entity, spirit, whatever name it goes by, feeds off human emotion. And one of the most powerful emotions is FEAR.

So if you are experiencing haunting phenomena of any kind, and it makes you very, very afraid, the first thing you need to do is to take some slow, deep breaths, and calm yourself. Calm...if you are calm, peaceful, you will not be throwing away your own energy and making the entity stronger at the same time.

No matter how many times you see smoky or misty images in the dark, no matter how many times you hear footsteps down the hall, no matter if this thing likes to rearrange small objects or speak your name out does not have as much power to affect your life as your own fear does.

You can potentially hurt yourself through your own fear much more than the ghost can hurt you.

You need to remember that this entity, ghost, spirit, has not broken into your home and is not a burglar, and cannot harm you directly. Long-term contact with the ghost is what ultimately saps your life-force...and long-term contact with the kind of fear that ghosts evoke in us is also harmful due to the emotional stress and loss of restful sleep.

The one most powerful thing to keep in your mind is--antidote. You are countering negative haunting energy by your actions and attitudes, just as a doctor would treat a poisonous snake bite with anti-venin.

If you are really, really scared, you can have a friend do this with you. Just make sure you both understand all that you will be doing.

No matter what the manifestations are, there are some simple things you can do:


If you are familiar with this process, just skim over this section to review, and go on to the next point. Smudging involves burning certain beneficial herbs, primarily sage, and wafting the smoke gently all through a structure and all over your body. Be careful of sparks and embers! You will need a metal dish or a large shell to hold the sage wand. You will also need a cigarette lighter to get the thing lit and keep it burning. You will want to use a hand-held fan or feather to push the smoke into every corner of the space you wish to cleanse. It is also a very good idea to fan the smoke across every area of your body and to inhale a little of it. This will help to cleanse you of negativity, to make sure that you are not adding to the problem.

I have found that it doesn't make much difference what variety of sage you burn -- it all works. The most convenient way I have found to do this is to purchase a sage stick or sage wand at my local New Age shop or even a health food store. The stick is just the whole dried herb bundled together with cotton string.

There are other herbs that help contribute to sage's power to cleanse the haunting energy. Cedar is my favorite, because it is strongly associated with the sun and with positive masculine energy. Cedar will help to negate both negative masculine and negative feminine energies. Placing a few drops of cedar oil in the center of the sage stick.

Sweetgrass is another good herb to have in the bundle, because it will tend to increase your psychic awareness at the same time as it helps to cleanse the energy. Sometimes, however, sweetgrass will energize the ghost as well. So I recommend sweetgrass for the more experienced ghost-helper.

Rosemary can be beneficial as well. In Wiccan terms, it is sacred to the Mother Goddess and invokes Her presence. It is a good idea to have rosemary incense burning nearby, even if you do not use this herb or its oil to smudge with.

When I smudge a room or even an entire house, I like to start at the main entrance and then proceed counter-clockwise through every part, into every corner, across every wall, and even under and around every piece of furniture. Closets must be opened and smudged; do not neglect the bathroom. Smudge all kitchen cupboards, especially under the sink. Keep thinking "antidote," purpose in your mind to *heal* the situation and cleanse the negativity. You can chant or sing or hum positive songs or prayers as you work. Or you can say "Antidote, antidote" the whole time. Whatever works for you.

If you have central air or a furnace, do not neglect the closet where this equipment is kept. You must smudge every window, every entrance into the house including water pipes and electrical conduits. Smudge the curtains, VERY CAREFULLY, and watch out for sparks!

If you have an attic, you must smudge every corner, the attic vents, the stairs, and anything that is stored up there, especially antiques or anything you got from a deceased relative or friend...or former owner of the house. Clear out the cobwebs while you're up there -- it will save you a return trip.

If you have a basement, smudge every corner, every water pipe and electrical conduit, the gas fittings, and the floor. Smudge whatever you have stored down there, just as you would for an attic.

No matter how creepy the attic or basement is, you must not show a lot of fear. Fear is how the ghost manipulates you into feeding it and starving yourself. In this respect, the ghost or spirit is a kind of a bully -- it manipulates you into obeying it, not because it is so powerful, but because it makes you *believe* it is powerful.

Smudge every doorway, and whatever steps, handrails, planters, etc. you have leading up to your doorways.

When every square inch of the inside has been smudged, and you have returned to the spot where you started, you need to mentally "seal off" your living space or house with the intention, "I have cleansed the negative energies in this space, and nothing negative can exist here. This is for my highest good, and for the greatest good of all." Tailor these words to your situation. You can then say "Amen" or "So Mote It Be," depending on your religious affiliation.

If you are cleansing a freestanding house, you need to smudge the entire outside of the structure, too. You might want to wait until dark, if you're worried about what the neighbors will think.

If you have properly smudged, the "feeling" or sense of the energy in the house is now changed.

You will find that certain areas of the structure will resist smudging more than others. Make a note of this. You will need to spend more time concentrating on these areas. Write it down if you can -- there are another couple of steps you can take for very tough areas of your home.


Once you have smudged, you need to *clean* the house or space of all dust, dirt, bug fragments, and so forth. I recommend doing this particular step in the daytime. Let the sunlight in -- clean the windows so that the healing and cleansing power of the sun can reach everywhere. Open the windows if the weather is good. If you do not have windows that let in the sunlight, use brightly colored candles (yellow is good) or oil lamps.

Make sure you have plenty of ventilation, and be careful if you are using a spray cleaner! DON'T SPRAY ANYTHING NEAR THE CANDLES!

If your curtains are dusty, cleanse them or replace them. Sweep, vacuum, mop the floor, and scrub the baseboards. Vacuum the upholstery, especially the crevices and between the cushions. Get all the crud out! Wash the walls if you have to, with something mild that will not harm the paint or wallpaper. Don't soak the wall -- a damp cloth should do it.

Let me tell you why you must do this: the dust in your very house is about 80% or 90% dead skin flakes. That's right! Dust is not all about dirt -- it's mostly about flesh! If you have dust from a previous tenant, then you have someone else's connective tissue in your house. You have fragments of their DNA. This is sufficient reason for a ghost to stick around -- perhaps the person's body is not in your house, but a *part* of the body is still there...the skin flakes. So get rid of it.

In getting rid of the old dust/skin flakes, you might encounter some heated resistance from the ghost(s). Speak softly to them, as you would to a child who is upset or acting out or grieving. Tell them that these actions are for everyone's benefit, everyone's highest good. Continue working until you have done the very best job you can do with this stage.

Then "seal" this stage of the process with your intention, in a similar fashion to sealing off the smudging. Appeal to the forces of good, the powers of Light, the joy of sunshine. Think "Antidote, antidote." Play pleasant, uplifting music. Whatever evokes peace, contentment, joy, and love, in your heart.


Any kind of salt will do, but I have a liking for sea salt. This is for the tougher areas, the parts of the house where the energies were the most frightening or the most resistant, or you just felt that the attachment of the ghost or spirit was stronger.

Take some kind of small dish or even a paper bowl. Put some salt in it, and then place it in that area. Do not cover it. You want the salt to be exposed to the air. You can put little bowls of salt under furniture, in closets, in the cupboard under the sink, under the bed...anywhere that you feel residual haunting energy. You can sprinkle it on the floor if you have a very scary basement, but don't do this for an ordinary house floor, unless you are going to clean it up right away. Salt cleanses, but prolonged contact will corrode wood, tile, etc. Cement shouldn't be harmed by it at all.

Now let me tell you why you should use salt for the tougher areas: negative energy can't exist in the same place as salt. For thousands of years, salt has been used to ceremonially cleanse things, especially food (Orthodox Jews use it to help make meat kosher). Epsom salt is used for cleansing the body and healing aches and pains. Salt water is also used to cleanse objects for consecration in Wiccan rituals, and can also be used to set up a protective circle and establish sacred space. It is a very powerful substance!


Sometimes, these three steps are enough to make a ghost want to leave. If you gently and lovingly explain to the ghost about going into the Light while you are working on the house, particularly when you encounter a sense of resistance, and you keep reminding the ghost that the Light is waiting and that he or she has somewhere else to go, there is a good possibility that these three steps alone could eliminate the haunting. In any event, the effects of the haunting should diminish, and you should feel safer and more at peace than before.

Some other steps to take to keep the cleansed energy clean are:

  • placing hematite in any spots that remain "tough." Hematite absorbs and neutralizes energy, particularly negativity. Since it takes energy away from the space where it sits, it takes away what the ghost needs to feed on. It gives the ghost less reason to hang around.
  • place amethyst crystals and rose quartz in cleansed areas that could use some livening up. Amethyst is healing to mind, body and spirit, and rose quartz helps to generate kind and loving feelings and a sense of tranquility. This is for *your* benefit, your sense of peace. This is energy that you can benefit from, but that the ghost will not be able to use.
  • you will want to cleanse your stones in salt water periodically and also put them in the sun from time to time, to recharge their powers and help them discharge the negative energy. I like to take my stones to the beach and let them bake in the sand.
  • if you can afford some kind of air purifier, with or without a negative ion generator, use this to help keep the air free of dust. It is hard to generate negativity in a room full of negative ions. The ghost will not enjoy being in the same room with that machine.
  • keep your air conditioner or furnace filter clean. It will help draw dust out of the air on a continual basis and give the ghost less and less reason to stick around.

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