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Ghost Investigation F.A.Q. Section
 

Please click on the questions to view their answers.

 
What is a ghost?
A ghost is conscious being (human or animal) that no longer has a physical body. Unlike spirit guides, ghosts are generally thought of as not having fully completed their transition to the afterlife, nor have they yet done their life reviews. Because of this, they tend to have the same personality and beliefs as they had while living. They aren't smarter or more enlightened. But neither are they necessarily evil -- although they certainly can get frustrated or sad for being ignored.

Why do ghosts look like they do?
How you see psychic information (which is how you see ghosts, not really with your eyes) depends on two things -- the sender and the receiver.

SENDER: Ghosts can appear in different forms and as different ages depending on how they feel that day or what kind of impression they want to make on you. They tend to reflect their self-image in obvious ways, as their actual appearance. Their clothes (ever wonder where ghosts get them?), age, shape, and form, can be reflections of how they feel about themselves.

RECEIVER: Your unconscious mind acts as the filter for psychic information. It literally colors the image. Thus, the color, shape, size, form, and even temperature of the ghost can be your personal code for the ghosts, rather than a literal depiction of them. It is this aspect, the personal filter, which often screws people up because it allows your own biases, wants, needs, and desires to warp the psychic information that you receive. To some extent, it makes understanding yourself -- your own personal wants, needs, desires, and issues -- important for you to look at. The more a person understands themselves and is on good terms with their unconscious mind, the more accurately they are able to perceive the information they receive psychically.

What is place memory (sometimes called "residual haunting")
Living people release energy, especially when experiencing a traumatic or emotional event. This energy can be recorded by the environment. Some people, who are sensitive to this information, can then pick up on, read these impressions of past events and feelings which have been stored in objects, buildings, and the environment.

Place memory is an old recording. It can't react, or interact with you, the way a ghost can. There is no consciousness involved. However, it's critical to understand that that place memory is made by the living. And that means that you person who created it could still be alive and well, living in Cincinnati. It cannot be created by the dead (although I did find one case where they used that place memory as a kind of energy store they could draw on).

Perhaps the easiest way to think of it is as a case where the environment acts like a camcorder. If the conditions are right (involving sufficient repetition, environmental factors, and/or really strong emotions), then events can get recorded. People sensitive to this information (like psychics) can later play back what was recorded, like with psychometry. In these cases, there is no ghost, simply an old rerun of the past. It won't interact with you and the story always remains the same one. Not a lot is known about the actual way place memory is stored, but the recordings themselves seem to have an electromagnetic component.


How can I tell the difference between a ghost and place memory?
It's easy. Pay attention to whether it interacts with you or simply repeats the same actions over and over. It is useful to think of a haunting case as being where the environment simply records strong impressions (either from highly charged or frequently repeated events). Sensitive people may be able to pick up on these recordings, and see or hear events from the past (but not necessarily from the dead -- the living can make these recordings, too). With a haunting you see reruns, over and over. A ghost is different. A "ghost" can sometimes see or react to your presence -- and it's not uncommon that they are the one running away in fear. Ghosts generally don't want to harm you. Some are lost, some confused, some have messages they want to pass on, and some just like hanging out.

Can a ghost hurt me?
It is rare (but not impossible) for a ghost to be able to hurt you. Why? Because you have everything a ghost has and more. You have a body. Not only do you have just as much mind/soul/spirit as they do, but you have the advantage of being able to do things physically. It's pretty much true that they can't hurt you unless you think they can (with only rare exceptions, involving mind-matter interactions). In some cases, however, they can unwittingly influence you with their emotions if you are sensitive to their energy. I talk more about these issues in Handbook to the Afterlife, but it helps if you suddenly feel a mood swing to try to sort out whether it is coming from outside or inside. Place memory can have a similar influence if the emotion imprinted is really strong.

What should I do about a ghost?
What you should do, if anything, depends on how you feel about the ghost. It's somewhat like a haunting in that respect. You might enjoy it or ignore it if it isn't bothering you and the ghost seems happy. However, I think the ethical thing is to often consider the ghost's needs, too. Are they confused? Do they need you to explain to them that it is time to move on to the light? Do they need help moving to the light? After all, if you believe in reincarnation, it may not be in their best interest to remain stuck as a ghost. If you want to move them on to the light, there are many ways to do so (some mentioned above). The simplest is to imagine the tunnel of light opening up, and/or friends and loved ones coming to help the ghost move on. Of course, if it's a spirit guide, don't expect it to go anywhere. It's supposed to be around.

Can animals become ghosts? What should I do about them, if anything?
I've seen and felt animal ghosts, including cats, dogs, and horses. They can haunt a place, whether as place memory (old recordings or residual energy imprints) or as interactive spirits. Many of these spirits seem to continue their daily routines (jumping up on beds or trotting around their favorite locales), which could be either place memory or ghost activity. However, that at least some of these animal spirits are consciously aware would seem to be suggested by parapsychology experiments with small toys placed around a room haunted by a cat. The room was sealed. But when investigators returned, the toys had been moved around the room, like they had been batted about by the ghost cat. (Note: This still is not a proof a ghost cat was responsible since there is no way to guarantee the experimenters did not use their own mind-matter abilities to toss the toys about.)

My own belief is that some (and possibly all) animal's personalities can survive death. This seems to be particularly true for pets, who may visit their owners in dreams or as ghosts, or wait for them until their owners die. Many who die have reported (through channeled material) seeing well-loved pets as part of the welcoming committee that greets them to the other side. There appear to be some lovely places in the afterlife for spirits to play and roam while they are waiting for their loved ones to join them.

Why do some animals become ghosts? Probably for the same reasons that people do. The desire to be with, and comfort, loved ones. Unfinished business. Possessiveness of their territory or belongings. Confusion. I'm happy to say that I don't see ghost animals very often. I think that spirit guides bring as many over to the light as they can. However, as with people, some animals may be afraid, unwilling, or (for whatever reason) unable to finish their transitions and become stuck in that in-between state of a ghost. Being stuck as a ghost is not a good thing for animals anymore than it is for people. Since most can't see them or play with them, they get lonely. And there's no way to reincarnate, as I've heard some do to be with their last owners or other loved ones. Although some animal souls may choose to re-merge with a kind of group soul energy, others grow and develop spiritually as individual beings. The kindest thing is to move them on so that they can take whatever option they prefer (see below).

What is a poltergeist? Is it a ghost?
The word "poltergeist" comes from old German, and means a "noisy" or "rackety" ghost-- which probably relates to the fact that in addition to unexplained lights, fires, object materializations, and the movement and breakage of items, poltergeist phenomena often involve raps or other loud sounds. The word itself is somewhat of a misnomer, since most parapsychologists believe that the vast majority of poltergeists are not ghosts at all, but instead due to the living (and not ghosts) performing unconscious human mind-matter interactions. Because of this, most parapsychologists prefer to use the term RSPK, which stands for recurrent spontaneous psychokinesis (an older, but still used term for mind-matter interaction). Poltergeist activity has been reported in every culture and era around the globe.

Poltergeist activity often centers around a single individual, often an adolescent. However poltergeist agents can be any age and may involve a group of people. Poltergeist cases differ from hauntings in that apparitions are rarely seen. Poltergeist agents often appear to be using mind-matter interaction (MMI) as a stress reliever and the activity (like most forms of spontaneous MMI) is often deeply personal in meaning. Because of this, the events can be interpreted like metaphors, in must the same way as a dream. To understand what's going on, the investigator needs to act like a newspaper reporter, figuring out the who, what, when, where, and why. Once you've done that, the story usually becomes obvious.

Most poltergeist agents aren't aware that they are the cause of the activity, and, in fact, the activity usually stops when they accept responsibility for it. Psychological counseling is often helpful for these folks, if only for the stress of what's happening.

What kind of haunting investigations do parapsychologists get to do?
Parapsychologists tend to see four kinds of cases when doing haunting investigations:
  1. NOTHING PARANORMAL IS OCCURING: This can be because the person reporting the events is: a) crazy; b) wants attention; c) is opening up psychically and doesn't understand what is happening to them (very common); d) is misinterpreting normal factors in the environment, whether it be faulty wiring or a creaky house; e) they made up the story so they could sell the movie rights; and f) is a skeptic trying to make parapsychologists look gullible and/or stupid.
  2. PLACE MEMORY: Place memory is where you have an old recording, which was made by someone while they were still living. Perhaps the easiest way to think of it is as a case where the environment acts like a camcorder. If the conditions are right (involving sufficient repetition, environmental factors, and/or really strong emotions), then events can get recorded. People sensitive to this information (like psychics) can later play back what was recorded, like with psychometry. In these cases, there is no ghost, simply an old rerun of the past. It won't interact with you and the story always remains the same one.
  3. POLTERGEIST ACTIVITY: The word "poltergeist" comes from German, and means "noisy ghost" -- which probably relates to the fact that poltergeist phenomena often involve raps or other loud sounds. The word itself is a bit misleading, since most parapsychologists believe poltergeists are not ghosts at all, but result from human psychokinesis (PK), or mind over matter. The people involved often appear to be using PK as a stress reliever. Furthermore, the events are meaningful in the same way a dream is. They are metaphors. To understand what's going on, you need to play newspaper reporter, figuring out the who, what, when, where, and why. Once you've done that, the story usually becomes obvious. Psychological counseling is often helpful for these folks, if only for the stress of what's happening.
  4. THERE IS A GHOST: Ghosts are the spirits of the dead, who no longer have bodies but are still conscious and able (if they want) to interact with the living. Some people like their ghosts and just want confirmation while others consider their "visitors" unwanted. Psychics can be helpful in clarifying what is going on (assuming said psychic is the real deal and experienced at investigations). There are many ways to get rid of ghosts. See the fact sheet pages for more information on this and other, related topics.
NOTE: Seeing an apparition does not necessarily mean you have a ghost. Although it is possible that an apparition is of a human or animal spirit, it can also be caused by: 1) human PK; 2) place memory; 3) the imagination (sometimes partly due to misperception); or 4) be a hallucination (whether due to environmental factors, temporal lobe seizures, drugs, illness, or some other cause).

It is important to understand the difference between a real, "live" ghost, and a haunting. The environment can act somewhat like a camcorder or videotape recorder. It can record people, animals, and events from the past (especially when they have high emotional impact) which you can "watch" later. The simplest way to tell the difference between a ghost and a place memory is whether it interacts with you or simply repeats the same actions over and over. It is useful to think of a haunting case as being where the environment simply records strong impressions (either from highly charged or frequently repeated events). Sensitive people may be able to pick up on these recordings, and see or hear events from the past (but not necessarily from the dead -- the living can make these recordings, too). With a haunting you see reruns, over and over. A ghost is different. A "ghost" can sometimes see or react to your presence -- and it's not uncommon that they are the one running away in fear. Ghosts generally don't want to harm you. Some are lost, some confused, some have messages they want to pass on, and some just like hanging out. A great book on this subject is Loyd Auerbach's ESP, Hauntings, and Poltergeists: A Parapsychologist's Handbook. His book, A Paranormal Casebook is also good for beginners. To read Loyd's do's and don'ts click here.

How do you do a haunting investigation?
Before you do ANYTHING else, be sure you have permission to do the investigation. This should be done in advance, BEFORE you set foot on the property. If you're investigating a private home, you may want to get that permission in writing in advance. Never investigate without permission! You may also want to read Loyd Auerbach's do's and don'ts of ghost investigations as a PDF file in that gallery. What you do on an actual investigation varies tremendously based on the information that you initially obtain. However, in all cases, you want to take a careful history. If you have people living in a haunted house, ask them to start keeping a journal of experiences. Be aware that a lot of activity reported may be wrongly attributed to ghosts even if a ghost is present.

In a typical haunting case, you need to differentiate between fraud, trickery, misperception, and malobservation, and true paranormal activity. The latter can include three types of thing:
  • Apparitions: An apparition is the paranormal visual appearance of something that looks like a being (whether physical or nonphysical) that can be the result of one of two things. Most often, it appears to be a result of our personality (or spirit, soul, consciousness, mind or whatever you want to call it) surviving the death of the body, capable of interacting with the living (and presumably other apparitions) -- what we classically think of as a ghost. However, there are a few reported cases where apparitions can be seen that are not true, discrete, entities, but creations that have been made manifest by human PK (in essence, a form of poltergeist activity).
  • Place Memory: A location (or object) holds/records information about its history. Our own psychic abilities allow us to pick up certain play-backs of this history, including sightings of people. However, these are recordings, not conscious beings. Referred to as "place memory" and "residual hauntings." For more on place memory, download the journal article on it in the PDF gallery.
  • Poltergeist Activity (Human PK): Physical effects, such as moving objects, in a situation caused by the subconscious mind of a living agent, generally someone in the household undergoing emotional and/or psychological stress. Effects are caused by mind-matter interaction (MMI).
Ghosts are people too. They have personalities and aren't any smarter than they were when alive. Likewise, they have feelings. As Loyd Auerbach likes to say, "If you really want to get rid of a ghost, embarrass it out of your house." He's also been known to use marathon knock-knock joke sessions and playing "It's a Small World After All" repetitively to drive ghosts away - they can't stand it anymore than a normal adult can.

Most spirits aren't evil. This is because most human beings aren't evil. Ghosts can be sad, depressed, pissed off, confused, embarrassed, mischievous, or happy, but they aren't generally evil.
A key thing to remember is that dying doesn't make you smarter. All it means is you're dead. This is similar to the fact that dying doesn't make you suddenly become evil. You don't suddenly become enlightened. Of course, spirits may change in the afterlife as they go through the debriefing process of reviewing their lives, walking in the shoes of those they helped and harmed, and considering how they could have done things things differently. This can lead to their coming back to ask for forgiveness.

Key Points to Remember - Most investigations involve a minimum of two people, partly for safety issues (we sometimes encounter rather odd people or situations) and partly to have extra eyes, ears, and 6th senses paying attention.
  1. NEVER do an investigation alone. The dead can be the least of your worries.
  2. Most hauntings that do not involve conscious spirits (ghosts) are patterns that repeat themselves. They may vary a bit in how long they go on, but they don't interact with you. This is typical of place memory.
  3. You don't have to be dead to haunt a place. Because place memory is recorded by the living, haunting cases can involve seeing or hearing people who are still alive -- including yourself! This is the so-called Doppelganger effect. Emotional experiences tend to be better recorded and/or better received. It doesn't matter whether the emotion is a positive one or not, as long as that emotion is strongly felt.
  4. On a poltergeist investigation, you need to think of yourself as being like a newspaper reporter. You want to know the who, what, where, why and when. And once you've learned all that, you'll know exactly what's going on. Because the phenomena are always symbolic, like a dream. Pay attention to the metaphors and everything becomes clear.
Afterward - When you finish the investigation, it's time to talk to the people being haunted. Of course, if there's nothing paranormal, it may simply be a matter of explaining this to the family, or reporting the problem to the Environmental Protection Agency (Swamp gas and sewage seepage have been responsible for more than one "haunting"). With poltergeist cases, it's best to refer the family to a licensed, professional therapist to help them examine, and work out, their issues. If there's place memory, there are three basic courses of action that people can take:
  1. Enjoy it, the same as you would a favorite old movie.
  2. Ignore it. This is easier to do when you recognize that it can't harm you. It's just an old program on reruns.
  3. Erase it. The old pattern can be destroyed by the use of a videotape bulk eraser or strong magnets. Often, redecorating (especially repainting a room) seems to break up an old recording.
  4. Record over it. I've already mentioned that the dead aren't the only ones who can record impressions. You can do it, too. Have a great party with friends or do something really fun in that spot. Put your impressions there, replacing the old ones.

If there's a ghost, then it's a question of whether this is a problem or not. Some ghosts are friendly and helpful (I know of one that is a terrific baby sitter). If so, acknowledge their presence and let things be. However, if they are problematic, I'd suggest moving them on to the light.

What kind of equipment is used in a haunting investigation?
It's important to remember that we don't really have ANY equipment that truly detects ghosts. All we have are environmental sensors that may pick up anomalies, which are only SOMETIMES ghosts. In some ways, your most important piece of equipment is yourself, and your own observational skills. That said, basic equipment you want to bring with you on an investigation includes:
  • A notebook
  • Polaroid, 35 mm film, and digital cameras
  • A trifield meter
  • A natural electromagnetic field meter.
  • A thermometer or infrared thermal scanner
  • Digital and audiotape voice recorders (both for interviews and EVPs)
The trifield meter is easy to find. They can be used to measure leakage from a microwave oven, or locate bad electrical wiring. We use them because ghosts seem to leave behind an electromagnetic (EM) footprint. What we look for are moving EM fields, especially if they correlate with what a psychic is seeing. However, be aware that there are many artifacts you can get from bad wiring, fuse boxes, radio alarm clocks, etc. It picks up ANY electromagnetic field, not just those of ghosts.

The natural EM meter (or one of its many variations, such as a Mel Meter or Ovilus) measures a more limited range of EM activity. It is not supposed to pick up humans or typical equipment. Unfortunately, it has two drawbacks. One is that it is affected by movement, so you have to put it somewhere and leave it. The other is that if I'm in an area where there's a lot of psychic activity, I can set it off from as much as 12 feet away, which means I can't get close enough to it to read the dial without changing the reading. As I said, people aren't supposed to do set it off. I'm not sure why I'm the exception to the rule, unless the ghosts (if present) just like me and hang close by. Nonetheless, I don't personally use that one.

Other equipment you can use includes:
  • A Geiger counter or radiation detector - it's a somewhat disturbing fact that ghosts can sometimes set these off.
  • Thermal video monitors - these measure small changes in temperature and can put them on video, but you are talking of something that is very expensive.
  • Geomagnetometers - fluctuations in geomagnetic field can sometime be associated with paranormal phenomena (not just ghosts). However this equipment is expensive, and the human body can affect its readings, which means you need to record the findings from standing 12 feet away (preferably on a laptop).
  • Audio amplifiers - some people feel you can hear EVPs with these, but given that a lot of ghost hunting goes on in urban areas, it's difficult to say what you're really hearing. I don't recommend these.

What are EVPs? (co-written with Al Rauber of Haunted New Jersey)
There's a lot of interest now in trying to get Electronic Voice Phenomena, or EVPs. What is an EVP? It is the imprinting of sounds (usually voices) not heard at the time the original recording is done on a blank tape (or digital voice recorder), which appear on playback. EVP enthusiasts claim these sounds are of spirits. There are probably thousands of researchers throughout the world taping these voices. And there are all kinds of voices. Voices that are recognized as belonging to departed loved ones. Voices that answer direct and specific questions. Voices that instruct. Voices that warn. Voices that amuse. Voices that beg. And, of course, voices that simply blabber, growl, cry, or scream with no apparent purpose.

But are these voices truly voices of the dead? Critics of EVP usually put forth two basic arguments:
  1. Voices or sounds on tape are merely random radio signals.
  2. Voices or sounds on tape are actually being imprinted by someone present through mind-matter interactions (MMI, sometimes called psychokinesis).
The first argument is certainly true to some extent. Everyone can relate to electrical devices attracting radio transmissions. How many times have air traffic signals or local rescue squad calls disrupted our television viewing? Musicians oftentimes pick up transmissions through amplifiers, and people have even claimed silver tooth fillings to be potential receivers. However, this possibility tends to break down when we consider the meaningfulness of some EVPs. After all, how many times do random radio transmissions address us by name or nickname? How many times do we put forth questions and have them specifically answered by a stray radio signal? How many times have messages that were very personal and meaningful only to us come across as a random signal? Not too often.

Argument number two is more interesting. Are these messages being imprinted by some form of MMI? Could the researcher's mind be imprinting the sounds on tape through a mind-over-matter process? It's certainly possible, and poltergeist phenomena tells us that the conscious mind need not be involved at all. To take this concept a step further, let's consider the following. Many psychologists contend that human personality is merely a "dominant" personality among many. Could these taped messages find their source in a secondary personality belonging to the researcher? Could submissive or secondary personalities be answering the questions put forth by our dominant personality through our own ability to affect matter? If we allow for the fact that mind-matter interaction IS the process by which these voices are imprinted, than this possibility cannot be ignored. This concept might also explain what appear to be segments of conscious conversation between two people, which are sometimes found on the tape. This conversation is normally between two distinct personalities, and often between a male and a female.

But what about the voices that sometimes come across in languages not known, or spoken by, anyone present? Is that super-ESP? Such answers would seem to be more complex than to accept survival. Furthermore, even if MMI by the researcher IS the method that imprints the voices, how do we explain the many other sounds recorded by researchers? Sounds of doors slamming, sounds of footsteps, sounds of furniture moving, sounds of glasses coming together as if in a toast, and other non-vocal sounds? If MMI is the vehicle, wouldn't EVP researchers be getting many more messages from easily identifiable living sources? In my opinion, we seem to be asking an awful lot of MMI.

In some cases, EVP is being used to gather historical data. Researchers have set up recording devices in historical structures or areas, and have received messages relating to the historical significance of the structure. Sarah Estep is the Founder and Director of the American Association of Electronic Voice Phenomena (www.aaevp.com). Sarah once recalled a taping session which took place in a building which was once part of a Civil War prison complex. Thousands of Confederate POW's were held here and died here. Her taping produced EVP messages relating to the prison and to the war including a male voce stating: "I have seen the war."

Sarah believed that these beings are leaving a magnetic voice imprint on the tape by manipulating available sounds in the atmosphere. As far as the researcher being the source of the message, she argued: "I have voices on the reverse side of the tape, and I have voices coming through OVER my own voice as I am speaking. I don't think that I'm the source." However, it should be noted that most believe the person recording does have an effect, acting in part as a psychic medium. Furthermore, it's possible that human MMI may be fully responsible for some EVPs (i.e. no spirits are involved).

What helps you get EVPs? Doing it. Having enthusiasm. Plus some investigators will run water while recording. This may improve the class A voices (as easy to understand or hear as the speech would be of a normal person) with this technique. Others have used white noise generators, electronic feedback loops, or even Tesla coils to produce stray energy.

Once you're done recording, it's time to listen to it. This is really the hard part, because you may have to train your ear to hear them. It helps to have a denoiser program or sophisticated editing software, such as Adobe Audition or Adobe Soundbooth.

EVPs are rated as falling into one of the following categories:
  • Class A: As clear as a normal human voice or clearer. Does not require headphones and people generally agree on its content.
  • Class B: Requires a headphone to hear the voice, and not everyone may agree about what it says.
  • Class C: Requires a headphone to hear the voice, often needs amplification and filtering, and will seldom even be heard by others.
If you want to know more about EVPs and hear some samples of what you may be able to get, please visit The American Association of EVP

How do you talk to the dead?
I decided to write this FAQ in part as an answer to a joking comment made in a book, about the "five easy lessons" for talking to the dead. Because it's really not that difficult or complex. Anyone can talk to the dead and probably be heard by them -- of course, whether or not they chose to listen is another matter, and it's hard to carry on much of a conversation if you can't hear or sense their end of it through EVPs or psychic abilities. However, these are general things you may want to tell the dead.

FIRST
Orientation Comments

The dead are often genuinely confused as to what's going on. Unless I think a spirit is a guide, I always start off the same way I would with a person in the ICU or waking up from an anesthetic (which are other disorienting and confusing situations). The only difference may be that they usually don't need to be orientated as to who they are (which odds are they know better than you do). Basics include what, when, and where. Ask if they understand that they are dead (they often don't) and need to move on. Explain the physical location of where they are (e.g. "You're in my house in Kalamazoo"). Point out the current date and year. If you know it, you may also want to mention how they died (e.g. "You were in a car accident" or "You had a heart attack"). Keep your statements simple and straightforward. You may want to also orient them as to who you are and why you are there. Re-orientation often has a calming or soothing effect.

SECOND
Explanations

There can be many reasons why the dead stick around. It isn't uncommon that they simply don't know how to move on. There's a couple ways you can approach this. One is to tell them to look for the light and move into it. A second method is to tell them that there are spirit helpers already around them (if you're worried this isn't true, then mentally ask for some guides to show up -- they will always respond), to just look/think/listen for these beings and they will be able to see/recognize/hear them. Remember that these are often really stressed out folks. And just like the living, who mentally code terms in auditory, visual, and kinesthetic terms, not every modality will be equally clear to them. If they are visual, saying "listen for your guides and you'll hear them" won't be as effective as saying "look for your guides and you'll see them." How do you know which phrase to you? You often don't. The solution is to simple use different combinations of terms to cover all your possible bases.

There are rare occasions when the dead know what has happened and are simply too possessive or stubborn to go. For these folks, I'll explain firmly that this is no longer their house, it belongs to someone else and it is time for them to go. Period. No arguments.

THIRD
Reassurance

It's sad, but true, that a fear of what might happen to them (or those left behind) can cause some spirits to be afraid to move on. This can be especially true with those who held rigid, fundamentalist beliefs or who think that the bad things (real or imagined) that they did in life have condemned them to an eternity of suffering. Hanging around when you're stuck really serves no good purpose. You can approach this in a variety of ways.

  1. Explain that it is safe to go to the light, that all can be forgiven.
  2. Ask people whom they love or trust who preceded them in death to come from the light and explain what they will find. These beings can then provide their own reassurance and guide them back to the light.
  3. Explain that they CAN return to visit the living again after they've gone to the light. A lot of folks are afraid to go because they want to help those left behind. They can actually learn how to communicate better (often via dreams) and acquire guide skills if they finish their transitions, which lets them better connect to those left behind. Going to the light is not the end. They have choices afterward, which can include visiting (and aiding) loved ones.
FOURTH
Assistance

Every once in a while there seems to be a spirit who just can't "see" the light. I may visualize or imagine the tunnel of light opening up, "seeing" it as very bright and them walking into it. Sometimes, once I can mentally visualize the light, I will tell them, "Look, there it is. Just go into it. You'll be okay." If necessary, you can ask an angel or guide in the form of a spiritual or religious being to provide reassurance (or, in the case of Catholics, a priest to hear their confession and administer last rites) so they feel safe to move on. You can read the FAQ below for more ideas of ways to deal with ghosts. In the case of pets, you may want to visualize someone coming from the light to get them and care for them (whether their owner or a loving spirit who can fill in until the owner makes his or her own transition to the light, when they can be reunited with their pet).

There are a few cases when the ghost feels like it has unfinished business that it needs your help completing before it can move on. Typically, this involves a message they want passed on to someone who is still living. Murder victims may want to name their assailant. Others may just want to say "I love you" or "I'm okay now." If you aren't psychic yourself, you may need to find someone who is to get this message. HOWEVER, just because a spirit asks you to tell someone something, doesn't mean it's a good idea to do so. There are times when I tell a ghost that I won't do it, that it's simply the wrong time, or that it's better for them to communicate the message themselves after they have gone to the light, through dreams. You need to use your own judgment and common sense here.

FINAL COMMENTS
Basics

Nearly all of the spirits I run into are guides (who don't need help), people (who usually only need reorientation and reassurance), or the occasional pet. The best overall approach is to talk to them in a kind, compassionate way. Some ghosts are smart, some stupid, some mean, some delightful. However, they're seldom dangerous. Calm is the order of the day. You don't need to yell at them -- spirits don't have ears anyway, and they "hear" mental conversation as well as what is said out loud -- and fear tends to escalate situations in a distinctly unhelpful manner.

If you need one rule of thumb in all your dealings with the dead, it's to talk to them like you would the living.

How can you get rid of a ghost?
Loyd Auerbach points out that you have to remember ghosts are people too. He's been known to use such drastic measures as telling hours of knock-knock jokes (guaranteed to send ANY being, living or dead away screaming, vowing never to return) or singing It's a Small World, After All over, and over, and over. They are like people in having personalities, likes, and dislikes. However, that may just make the ghost someone else's problem, and doesn't really help the spirit. I prefer to move them onto the light. Sometimes it can be a challenge, but I enjoy the opportunity it gives me to be creative. The options are only as limited as your imagination. And you don't have to be in the place as the spirits you are moving on. In fact, sometimes with unpleasant entities it is even an advantage to work from a distance. Remember, time and space do not exist. Here is everywhere. So, there is no reason you can't shift a ghost on working long-distance.

Regardless of which technique you use, you need to do certain things before you start. And I don't care whether you consider yourself psychic or not -- humor me and go through the motions. You might be surprised at how effective they can be even if a person isn't "psychic." So, let's start by listing the things you should ALWAYS do, regardless of what technique you use (this will be familiar to those of you who have read the Psychic Basics fact sheet):
  1. Before you start, surround yourself with white light for protection. This must be a complete sphere that goes all the way around you, without any holes or gaps.
  2. Visualize a gold cord that goes from your root chakra (or your solar plexus, your choice) to the center of the earth to ground you.
  3. Visualize a silver cord from your crown chakra (or your solar plexus) that goes to the highest source of inspiration for those who serve the light.
  4. Take a moment to really feel and enjoy that sense of balance, safety and protection. This can help make it stronger or more solid in your mind. Remember, intention is everything in psi. Believe you are protected and you are.
  5. If you are psychic and have others you are working with who are unable to provide their own protection, take a moment to shield, ground, and balance them. As a psychic, you are responsible for those around you if they cannot take care of themselves. At the very least, imagine them safely encased in white light. This need not take a lot of energy on your part. Simply visualize it and set the intention that the shields be self-maintaining without effort on your part. Also, it's nice is you can add the extras with seeing the cords. The more the people around you are balanced, the easier it will be for you as a psychic to work.

Once you've completed those steps, you can choose how you want to deal with the ghost. There are a number of techniques that anyone can use to get rid of your average ghost, which don't require any particular psychic ability at all. Mostly these revolve around understanding that ghosts are people, too. Even if they're dead people, they still have the beliefs and feelings that they held when alive. So, you can think of them as simply unwanted house guests. They can leave if they want to. You just have to make them want to. It's about psychology. I've divided the basic options into six categories.
  1. Ask them to leave, explaining that they are dead and it's time to move on. Explain that they need to look around them and listen for spirits who are trying to get their attention to help them into the light. There's nothing wrong with being courteous the first time you ask someone to leave. The newly dead are often confused. They don't understand what's happening to them or why everyone is ignoring them. So, explain it to them kindly. Point out there are those in spirit that are there to help them. In some cases, you may also need to provide reassurance that they aren't going to Hell to burn forever (since if they're afraid of that, there's no way they're going to leave their ghostly existence no matter how bad it is). In the case of family and loved ones who have died, it may also help to let them know they can come back and visit you once they have completed their transitions. The bond of love does not end with death, and they may want to be able to reassure themselves that we are okay.
  2. Tell them to leave. This is a case of being more firm. Sometimes it's just that simple. But say it forcefully, as if you really mean it.
  3. Make the place they're haunting unpleasant to be around. This can involve telling nonstop knock-knock jokes ad nauseam, playing It's a Small World After All for hours on end, or doing just about anything else that would drive a normal adult mad. Personally, I think rap music would work well, but I wouldn't be able to stand it long enough to be effective .... Verbal abuse is another method of annoying them out of your house. Someone I know did nothing but harangue the ghost and say horrible things to it for days on end. It left and didn't come back.
  4. Embarrass them out of the house. Believe it or not this works. Laugh at them.
  5. Ask their guides (or yours) to move the spirit on for you. I always figure your guides are there to help you. Furthermore, since it's really not in a ghost's best interest to be stuck as an earth-bound spirit, their guides don't want them to stay, either. So you can call on both your guides and theirs to move the ghost on. Some people do this in prayer.
  6. Use ritual banishing objects, such as candles or incense. This sometimes works, depending in part of the strength of your beliefs and those of the ghost. See the FAQ on House Cleansing for more about this.
NOTE: It doesn't hurt to be culturally sensitive. I know this may sound odd, but it's smart to do if you want to be really effective at dealing with ghosts. Jewish ghosts, for example, are not apt to be terribly impressed by having a crucifix waved at them. If you know who your ghost is, think about what would or would not impress them and tailor your tactics to their belief system.

What techniques can intuitives use to move ghosts to the light?
Psychics can use some other techniques in addition to the ones above. Basically, you can think of what you are doing as falling into one of these categories:
  • You can force them to go (push them out).
  • You can entice them to the light (pull them towards it).
  • You can do a mixture of the two (a push-pull).
What makes this fun is that you can be really creative here, no holds barred. Again, it helps to think about psychology. I tend to ask the following questions, using my intuition to scan for the answers.

FIRST: Why are they stuck? Is something holding them back? Often ghosts are afraid of going to the light. This can be as simply as ignorance—they don't realize they CAN go anywhere (either because they don't realize they are dead or simply don't know they have a choice after they die). You may need to explain to them what has happened, and, if they lived on the land or in the house before you, that it is no longer their home and it is time for them to move on to continue their journey by moving on to the light. Occasionally they are staying for unfinished business. This can be as simple as being that they just want to say hi or communicate a message before they cross over. Alternatively, they may be worried about those left behind and want to watch over them, not realizing they could do a better job of this if they completed their transitions. However, most of the time it seems to be a fear of moving on, perhaps because the ghost is worried it will end up in Hell or somewhere even worse than it is now. This leads to the next question.

SECOND: What would make it comfortable for them to go? Do they need education? Reassurance? Forgiveness? I ran into one ghost that was a devout Catholic when it died. It had not received absolution and was certain it would be go straight to Hell if it moved on. My solution was to ask a spirit (or angel if you prefer that term) to come from the light in the form of a priest to give the ghost its “last rites” and absolution. Then the two returned together to the light. This leads to an important concept: You can ask for anything you need to come from the light and assist a ghost to move on. The spirits that come can take on any form that they desire. So, if you ask for a ghost's mother or grandfather to come from the light and help them to understand their situation, it may not matter whether that particular original soul has reincarnated or is available, an angel or higher being can take that form with knowledge from the Akashic records. Sometimes, particularly with the ghosts of abused children, it is good to ask for a puppy or kitten to come from the light. The trick is to scan for who or what would be most trusted and reassuring to the ghost. Then have that being or thing come from the light to assist the ghost.

THIRD: Can you make it a happy and enjoyable experience for them to leave? This is something I always try to do. Of course, I've occasionally had a ghost have so much fun leaving that it comes back just so it can leave again, but that’s rare. Mostly, it ensures they won’t balk at the last minute and refuse to finish their transition. I will sometimes send child ghosts off on moving rocking chairs, or adults in whatever vehicles they most enjoyed—whether surreys, a Model T, a plane, or a sports car. I like them to not only be comfortable moving on, but happy about it.

Do you have to move spirits on one at a time, or can they be moved in groups?
I sometimes get the impression people think that the tunnel of light can only be opened up for one spirit at a time, and you have to move them on individually. Untrue! They can be moved on as a group! Nor does this have to be draining or a lot of work.

When I am dealing with large numbers of  spirits, I will often ask for something like a train to come from the light. Then I'll imagine a spirit conductor (a guide) - or even a number of conductors and other attendants from the light - who can come out and assist passengers onto the train, perhaps even giving out free “lunch boxes” and goodies like balloons or candy to the children. Again, you have to imagine this happening. See it play out in your mind's eye. Often you'll be aware of whether it is working, “see” the ghosts smiling and happy, disappearing into the light with whomever you called to accompany them. If one train isn't enough, you can always bring in more. Similarly, you can imagine a luxury bus, cruise ship, or jumbo jet to take large numbers of spirits back to the light. The main thing is to have it be something that would feel safe for them (if they died in a plane crash, I sure wouldn't expect them to get on another one to go to the light). You are only limited by your imagination (next time I may try a space ship). However, it's not a bad idea to mentally feel in advance out the likelihood of success of different options, I always trust what my instincts say the spirits would respond to best and go with that.

What do you do if a ghost just won't go?
Occasionally, I'll run into a spirit that simply won't go. It knows it’s dead (or in rare cases, was never alive). It refuses to be annoyed or enticed away. And what makes it really bad is that some of these spirits really enjoy tormenting  the people they are haunting. I don’t like to use the term evil, but some of these entities come close, and they clearly qualify for the tag "unenlightened." I have three techniques for moving on stubborn spirits, depending on how difficult they are to shift and whether they are really nasty or not. These are:
  1. Ask for angels/guides to come from the light and forcibly move the spirits on. I will sometimes visualize a couple of burly angels picking the ghost up by either arm and carrying them away.
  2. Visualize a sphere of white light encasing the ghost like an impenetrable bubble, then either visualize the bubble, ghost and all, floating into the light or imagine angels/guides moving it into the light. You can, of course, play with this a bit. It doesn't have to be a bubble. It could be a bell jar or anything else that traps the spirit inside and can be moved by you (with or without the help of others) either outside of your room/house or all the way into the light. Personally, I don't see the point much of just putting them outside. Why not get rid of them altogether by having them go to the light? Then they can begin their life-review, re-education, and spiritual development process.
  3. You can surround and encase the being with love, then bundle them up in white light and hand them over to angels/guides to be transported into the light. When I'm dealing with something really nasty that may be powerful, I use quite a bit deeper trance state. Then I focus on sending the entity love. Pure, deep, unconditional love that flows around them like a thick pink blanket. Truly evil beings hate love. They enjoy fear, rage, and anger. In fact just about any negative emotion pleases them. But love is something they simply can't deal with. They shrink away from it. But in this case, they can't, because I have them utterly surrounded by that energy. Then I encase the entire mass in a sphere of white light, making sure to wrap them up tight like a mummy, and hand them over to angels/guides to bear away to the light for re-education. I can't stress enough that if you have any fear you can't do this technique. Your feelings of love for that lost soul must be deep and sincere. But when you can do that, it's an incredibly powerful technique.
One last thing. If the spirits are guides you won't be able to get rid of them. This is because they are supposed to be with you. Of course, you should be able to tell the difference between them and a ghost so that you won't want to try to move them to the light. It should be clear from your interactions with spirit guides that they have your best interests at heart and are encouraging you in positive, helpful ways.

How can I move the ghosts of animals to the light?
If you think you have an animal ghost, and not just the place memory of one, then you can use the same basic techniques as you would to move on human ghosts. Your explanations may be simpler and you may want to focus more on visuals than words (seeing them playing joyfully with others in a delightful place or other appealing images), but the basic concepts are the same. Comfort. Reassurance. Orientation. Visualize the Light opening up. Finally, have companions to come from the light to help them move on. You don't need to be specific, either, in terms of the guides you want to come for them. You can simply ask that whomever or whatever is best or most appropriate be that which comes from the light to help them cross over. This can be any kind, gentle, and loving spirit -- whether human or animal, owner or stranger.

I'll say this again, because it's an important concept. Moving spirits on does not require micro-management. You don't have to be specific when asking for others to come from the light to get lost souls, even with people. Just ask that the best possible being come from the light -- whomever or whatever that might be -- and get it. What is best for one ghost (a well-loved pet) is not going to be best for another (an animal abused by people).

Why move spirits on to the light?
Why move spirits on? There are a couple reasons. If you have entities that are saying bad things to you or getting you into trouble you DON'T want to let them stay. Likewise, if you believe in reincarnation, allowing a ghost to remain stuck is really not in its best interest because it keeps them from progressing. So, even if you like their company, I'd recommend encouraging them to finish their transitions. Remember, they can always choose to come back and visit you again from the light. They just won't be earth-bound if they do so.

Is there anything I have to do after I've gotten rid of a spirit?
Once you've finished getting rid of a spirit (whether moving them on to the light or otherwise) you still aren't done. It's time for a bit of cleanup. After all, you don't want to take chances on it or a similar spirit coming back, and some of that energy may hang around for a while afterwards even though the spirit itself is gone. I think of this cleanup work as involving three stages:
  1. Shielding the person/location that was being haunted. The simplest way of doing this is to visualize white light surrounding the person/place that you evicted the spirit from. This is no different from the ordinary shielding you should be doing regularly as an individual. Make sure that you aren't providing the energy for that shield. Set the intention that it be effortlessly self-maintaining, allowing only those with the highest and best intentions to pass through and blocking out anything negative. Also, if I am dealing with a person/place that has had repeated trouble, I may ask some angels/guides to stand guard and ensure nothing gets through. If you do this, it's a good idea to tell the person or people in the house what you've done so they don't get spooked by these protective guardians (remember, they may be feeling pretty jumpy). Regardless, the idea is to make sure whatever was getting in before cannot come back.
  2. Erasing any negative energy. If the entities were nice ones, you aren't likely to have evicted them, and even if you did there's nothing you need to erase. After all, we all like to be surrounded by love and joy. But if (as is more likely) the spirits were unpleasant ones, it's a good idea to do a bit of “house-cleaning” to get rid of any left-over energy from them. This can be any way that is easy for you to imagine—whether a white tornado, Mr. Clean with a mop, a vacuum cleaner of white light that can suck up any leftovers (and spirits, too, if you wish—just have them trapped in the bag and taken to the light or sucked up a hose into the light), or any other visualization that makes you smile. Make sure the place looks and feels squeaky clean when you finish, with no stray shadows or entities around.
  3. Adding positive energy. I think of this as redecorating. There's an old saying, "Nature abhors a vacuum." So, I don't leave the room/house energy as a blank slate vulnerable for anything to fill it. Instead, I'll "decorate" the place in the astral, adding flowers and teddy bears as appropriate. (Can you tell I often get asked to "clean" the rooms of psychic children?) Also, if you are doing the work late at night and people need to be able to sleep soon in that house, keep the energy you put in nice and gentle. There's no point buzzing them to the point that they won't be able to get any sleep. Think soft, pink, love energy. NOTE: You can do this even if you aren't psychic by putting real flowers or live plants in a room or using a nice incense. Mickaharic's book on spiritual cleansing is full of such techniques that anyone can use to shift the energy of a place.


What can I do about place memory?
Place memory is nothing more than an old recording that was made in the past by someone still alive. That's good for you, because it gives you a lot of choices for how to handle it. You have three basic options - none of which require being psychic:
  1. Enjoy it, the same as you would a favorite old movie.
  2. Ignore it. This is easier to do when you recognize that it can't harm you. It's just an old program on reruns.
  3. Erase it. The old pattern can be destroyed by the use of a videotape bulk eraser or strong magnets. Often, redecorating (especially repainting a room) seems to break up an old recording.
  4. Recording over it. I've already mentioned that the dead aren't the only ones who can record impressions. You can do it, too. Have a great party with friends or do something really fun in that spot. Put your impressions there, replacing the old ones.
If you want to know more about place memory, you can read two journal articles I published on the topic in my PDF gallery.

How can I move the ghosts of animals to the light?
If you think you have an animal ghost, and not just the place memory of one, then you can use the same basic techniques as you would to move on human ghosts. Your explanations may be simpler and you may want to focus more on visuals than words (seeing them playing joyfully with others in a delightful place or other appealing images), but the basic concepts are the same. Comfort. Reassurance. Orientation. Visualize the Light opening up. Finally, have companions to come from the light to help them move on. You don't need to be specific, either, in terms of the guides you want to come for them. You can simply ask that whomever or whatever is best or most appropriate be that which comes from the light to help them cross over. This can be any kind, gentle, and loving spirit -- whether human or animal, owner or stranger.

I'll say this again, because it's an important concept. Moving spirits on does not require micro-management. You don't have to be specific when asking for others to come from the light to get lost souls, even with people. Just ask that the best possible being come from the light -- whomever or whatever that might be -- and get it. What is best for one ghost (a well-loved pet) is not going to be best for another (an animal abused by people).

Why should investigators be "sensitive" to the ghosts? Doesn't provocation work?
Setting aside the issue of appropriate behavior (I mean, would you tell rape victims that you think the weren't raped long or hard enough and you want to do it to them again as a way of getting their cooperation?), let's look at this from a practical standpoint. If you are dealing with place memory (in essence, an old recording sometimes called a "residual haunting"), then it the only thing you are doing with an enactment is entertaining yourself. There isn't anyone else around to react. And when it comes to the dead, provocation works to the same degree on the dead as it does on the living.

Think about it. If you provoke a bully or someone who's already angry, then yes, you'll probably get a response. If you provoke someone nice, they'll walk away. Provoke a victim, and they'll run and hide. So, if you want to get results and have a spirit interact with you, in two of the three situations, IT WON'T WORK. What this means for investigators is that you need to tailor your approach to the specific personality of those you're trying to make contact with. By and large, it only works with spirits who are bullies or evil. Do NOT use it with victims of horrific crimes. Not only is it insensitive, but practically guarantees that you'll have a long and boring investigation with no results to show at the end of it.

What is the purpose of reenacting events from the past?
TV shows love enactments and do them all the time. This has led to some confusion about WHY they're doing it. It's not for the ghosts, but their human audience watching the show. Television is primarily a visual medium and the enactments are dramatic, entertaining and illustrative. They are NOT FOR THE GHOSTS. I capitalized that because I see amateur investigators copying that behavior without understanding its purpose (TV ratings).

Ghosts don't have eyes to see with or ears to hear with. Instead, they're picking up on whatever energy (which includes thoughts but is fueled primarily by emotion) that you're projecting outward. If you don't believe we project our emotions stand next to someone who is really angry and close your eyes. You can feel it. Ditto with other strong emotions. You don't have to use your eyes to sense the feelings rolling off of someone.

Can enactments ever be useful in an investigation? Sometimes. If they help you to create an internal experience of thoughts and (more importantly) feelings that will draw the spirit closer or make them feel more willing to communicate. However, keep in mind what I said about provocation above. It's true for enactments, as well.

 
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