One of the more mainstream popular topics in magic, perhaps even one where it overlaps with the interests of the general public, is that of hauntings, ghosts, and so on. This seems to fall under the broad umbrella of the “paranormal” and so is approached somewhat differently than magical work or sorcery or conjuration or so on. And interestingly, this is despite that the tools of sorcery and magic are in fact some of the very best for working with ghosts or haunting spirits and so on. Most people, when asked about “tools for ghost hunting,” are more likely to talk about EVP recorders, EMF meters, or infrared cameras than they are to talk about salt, whiskey, and candles, but it doesn’t need to be that way.
Ghosts, or whatever the source of a haunting, are, after all, spirits, and spirits have needs and wants. Beyond that, spirits are just spirits, and conjurers have been contacting and evoking spirits using ritual tools for generations. Increasingly we have moved many fields into the domain of the hard sciences, and I’m not disrespecting that. Real scientific investigation of all sorts is meritorious. But as with psychology, when it comes to the paranormal, the spiritual, it’s not always the case that physical science is the best approach. When dealing with spirits, often the tools of ritual and magic are a better approach. If, indeed, spirits are real as we understand them to be, then the tools of magic are the best suited; and if, in the end, they are not real as we understand them, then still the tools of ritual remain the best. After all, if the haunting is all a projection of our minds, then a solution with a profound psychological effect will be the most fitting.
I am not going to spend too long talking about the possibilities that hauntings are not as they present themselves. For my own part, I think often hauntings are legitimately the presence of spirits. I also think sometimes they are purely mental projections or fabrications, though usually not intentionally deceptive. And I think much more often it is somewhere in between, an interplay of psychology and genuine activity of spirits. I don’t know that spirits are often or even ever actually the “soul” of a person left behind – I do not in fact really think “souls” are a thing at all, at least not as we commonly speak of them in the West – but it is my experience that in many cases there are genuine hauntings where a spirit is present and in at least some of those cases even that spirit believes itself to be the remains of a deceased person. And that is technically true, as we’re all reborn from a being that has died before us.
None of this, however, is really critical to the reality of a haunting as an experience of a being being in a place, which is what I think interest most of the viewers of these very popular shows about hauntings. It isn’t the reality of the ghost’s actual nature, there isn’t much interest in the anatomy or biology of ghosts, nor should there be – instead, I’d like to share a brief and simple ritual for evocation of haunting spirits of various sorts, finding out a little bit about them, and starting to develop a relationship. It’s not dissimilar to how one would do the same for a deity, and while it may not be an earth shatteringly new ritual to bring about enlightenment or invoke the wisdom of the ancients or so on, I think it has great utility for those dealing with haunted houses, particularly those who are not well versed already in magic.
**A Peaceful Ritual for Haunted Houses**
In an appropriate place, wherever spirits haunt or cause problems in the house, assemble the following materials: a candle, a bowl or cup of water, a small plate of unprocessed food (grains, vegetables, fruits, etc.), a small bowl or cup of whiskey, a small bowl or cup of milk, and incense of juniper or a locally found plant. Arrange these objects on a table in front of you, leaving space on the opposite side of the table. On the opposite side of the table, arrange a large iron nail, a small piece of natural wood, a mirror, a stone, and using salt, make a small circle.
For pagans, begin with the invocation of your deity of choice. For Christians, begin in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. For Buddhists, begin with a short Refuge and the Four Immeasurables.
Lighting the candle, then lighting the incense using the candle flame, recite:
“Oh unknown spirits of this place, please come to me now. I come to your abode [NB: if it is your own home, you may say “I invite you to my home. . . “] to offer you these various substances, humbly prepared and pleasingly arranged. To you I offer these things for your enjoyment.
“Water that cleanses and refreshes thirst, fire that warms us and grants us light, incense that purifies the air and pleasant fragrances for our enjoyment, delicious food that nourishes, please come and enjoy all these things. Lively spirits that bring enjoyment and mother’s milk that nurtures children, please come and enjoy these things.”
Now, we invite the spirit to inhabit a physical object, reciting:
“Iron of the earth that binds and builds; wood that reaches from earth to heaven; a mirror that reflects our nature; mountain’s stone, stable and strong; ring of salt, pure and clean, I invite you to enter whatever abode you like and stay here a while. Enjoy these offerings and rest where you please.”
Having invited the spirit to stay a while, we can now make a request for the spirit to reveal itself or communicate. Using methods such as pendling, Tarot, or so on, we may try to communicate with the spirit. Whatever method you choose, you may do this now. You may ask the spirit to indicate which offerings it enjoys, to be more precise in the future. If you have a request to the spirit, now you can ask that. Remember that this is a peaceful ritual where the spirit has been invited as a guest, or where you have visited the spirit as a guest, so do not make demands but rather polite requests or suggestions.
Having finished, thank the spirit and dismiss it accordingly:
“Spirit that now resides here, I welcome you to accept this humble offering. Thank you for granting me your presence. Accept my apologies for incomplete or offensive offerings. Having enjoyed these offerings, please return to wherever you abide. Go peacefully, remembering our pleasant time together. Rest happily, without fear or worry. In peace having come, in peace having enjoyed, so in peace please go, and return when I call to you again.”
If you are Buddhist, dedicate the merit of the practice of generosity. If Christian, complete the practice in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. If pagan, close the prayer in the appropriate manner of your tradition.
As we have invited the spirit to reside in an object, it is appropriate to leave the offerings for a period of 24 hours. Allow the incense and candles to burn out naturally. After 24 hours, discard the food, water, whisky, milk, and so on outside if possible, allowing it to be eaten by animals and so on. Store the iron nail, stone, wood, mirror, and salt for future practices with the same spirit. If you know absolutely which object the spirit chose to inhabit, through divination, or some sign, or so on, then you can store only that object for use in the future.
This ritual can be practiced for any spirit in any location. It is encouraged to perform this ritual a few times before making requests of the spirit while you cultivate a relationship, unless the spirit is already positively disposed. If during the ritual signs indicate the spirit is unhappy, complete the ritual in the correct manner but do not repeat it.
This ritual is an early draft of several that will be included in a book I am now working on about the ceremonial or ritual approach to “ghost hunting” and dealing with “hauntings” and so on. I plan to post future excerpts here as writing progresses.