Dealing with ghosts Pt.3- Doing it Wrong!

Welcome to the last of my ‘Dealing with ghosts’ series. If you haven’t read my previous posts, you can check them out by clicking here and here.

I was inspired by my relative asking for advice and thought it would be a good subject to write about during the Halloween/Samhain season. I apologise in advance because this last post is going to be a bit of a rant….

The Ignorance of Youth

Back when I was living in London in my mid to late twenties, a friend of mine in her late teens/early twenties was exploring Paganism and Witchcraft with new friends of hers with similar interests. I got a little concerned when she described some of their activities as “Visiting a haunted graveyard and Smishing the entity that resided there….” Smishing was their word for attacking the spirit of that place.

More recently (this year), the younger crowd who come to the open ceremonies held at every festival went into the caves of the pub we drink in after to hunt for ghosts and spirits. Within 30 mins I feel a “….disturbance in the Force” and head down there to find two of them shouting and screaming at whatever they supposedly found. The energy they shared (fear, panic) was palpable. I talked them down, spoke to the “being” one of them was in contact with until it quietened down. I used the Druid Peace Prayer and that seemed to help a lot. Once everything was calm, I told every one to get out of the cave and stayed behind, apologising to the spirits bothered about what had happened. The younger members are still banned from going down there when we hold our ceremonies.

Ok, in the latter, it was irresponsible to have let them down there in the first place. They’d done it before and there was never anything bad recorded previously. Except that one time when one of them got a stone thrown at them, to which I chided: “Well, don’t piss the spirit off then” or similar.


Two very different occasions, but one concerning outcome: these were young people who have been drawn to Paganism and Wicca and Witchcraft through books teaching them how to do things themselves. This in it self is not a bad thing, I myself, went down this path and then got my real experiences later and during my “education years”. The difference was they decided to go and try something out in a known haunted location and then see what was there…… with no respect or concern for the spirits who might not want their attention. The spirits in question certainly wouldn’t want any youths who, after maybe a couple of spells that worked and now thinking they were all-that-and-a-packet-of-crisps daring to invade their space, start doing shit and telling them what to do!

What happened to common sense? You might have read a couple of books, tried a few things out and then you get all panicky because this spirit in that haunted place didn’t behave as expected then you lost control of the situation. Who the fuck did you think you were?

I was lucky, I guess. I was interested, as a child, in ghosts and the paranormal before I discovered Paganism or even heard of Wicca. And yes, I know Wicca and Witchcraft are not the same thing. Back when I was reading those books on ghosts, I came upon lore. Such as a spirit known as a ‘Graveyard Guardian’. My memory is blurred, but this was either the spirit of the first or last person to be buried in a cemetery and supposedly protects the site from robbers and other undesirables, possibly to keep any other spirits in check? I might have made that last up. It was this entity that my friend was involved in “smishing”. The problem here is lack of respect as well as no guidance.

There’s a reason our ancestors had a respect for otherworldly beings, there’s a reason other cultures leave offerings.

We assume whatever spirit we come across was a person once and will behave as such. What about those that don’t behave as we do? Spirits of animals are one thing, elementals, spirits of the place, woodland and cave entities are quite another.

A ghost, a real ghost is just that. It’s an echo of someone doing the same thing over and over again. These are sometimes called “Repeater Ghosts”.

A spirit is interactive to a varied degree. And not all of them are Human. Not all of them are even dead, most never had a physical body to begin with. Spirits, to my limited understanding, can include, but are not restricted to:

  • People
  • Animals
  • Elements (spirits of the place, forces of nature- such as storms, water, the wind, earth etc)
  • Elementals (Type 2) beings that elicit a response to feed off emotional energy of a certain kind, e.g. fear, lust, anger, sadness.
  • Poltergeists
  • Barghasts (sometimes called Boggarts)
  • Woodland and household spirits

In fact, I’ve come to look at spirits like animal pests: they are only considered a nuisance when they start interacting and interfering with our world. It only becomes a “haunting” when it interacts with our everyday existence, sometimes with subtle or terrifying results.

And this brings me on to my next point: say there is a spirit present and you want it removing….. performing a Catholic exorcism isn’t going to work on a being that has A: been there for a very long time. B: it neither recognises or respects the religion now being pushed on to it. And C, really doesn’t like these beings of flesh telling it what to do.

With a few exceptions, those few spirits I have encountered have responded positively to being treated respectfully and as beings in their own right. For anyone who wants to give “Smishing” a bash, please remember you are dealing with either someone who was alive once, or you are dealing with something else…… neither of which deserve you disturbing it nor do they deserve you shouting and hollering at it because you want to play at being “spooky” and think you have a right to prod something you know nothing about.

NB: Please note that not all spirits are neutral in nature and some can not only be quite volatile, they can be harmful too, there are those that even seem to thrive on it. If you come across one of these, unless you know what you are doing….. leave it the hell alone and get away from it.

Merry Samhain and Happy Halloween!

Dealing with ghosts Pt.2- How Do You Know If One Is There?

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Photo by

As previously stated in Pt.1, 99% of phenomenon in hauntings and ghost hunting vigils are everyday experiences within buildings heightened by excitement, imagination, and expectation of something happening.

But what about that 1%?

How do you know if there is something there?

Well, chances are if something is definitely there, it will make itself known.

The Physical With my physical senses, I have heard footsteps, voices and felt hands upon my shoulder. Each of these was in different locations was ultimately quite ordinary until I realised with a “Did that just happen!?” The touching was in a seance and there was definitely no physical person behind me.

With my own eyes I have seen things I cannot explain, each time was very unlike a Hollywood ghostly encounter. If anything, they were so ordinary, that at first I just assumed they were either a customer or a colleague, or even my own mother (see below). But in all cases, they seemed as solid as you and me, which is why I discounted them until I realised there was no one actually there. And each time, they were slightly blurred, a bit like when I’m looking at someone without my glasses or contact lenses. It was as though I could see them, but wasn’t able to see them properly…. perhaps wasn’t supposed to see them, but at those points my perception must have changed. The examples I gave in the first post were other things I had seen and experienced, all occurred when I wasn’t looking for anything, I wasn’t even thinking about such things. Except for when I was in a seance.

One, which stands out, was from childhood. When we were kids, me and my brother shared a bedroom and slept with the light on. Yes, I was I scared of the dark….. anyway, I awoke one night and heard my brother stirring and my eyes were drawn to the figure of my mother standing at the doorway, she wore her green and blue jumper and her hair was long in those days and because of the way it fell, her face was in the dark. I turned to my brother and told him it’s ok, Mum was there. I asked her the next day why she was standing at the doorway and she claimed she didn’t. Mum was never one for sleep walking, and even if she did, she never went to bed wearing a jumper, especially in spring. So who or what did I see? Year’s later, Mum confided that many years ago, she awoke to see a little boy and a little girl dressed in turn of the century (early 20th Century) clothing standing at the end of her bed. Even if these are descriptions of being in a hypnogogic state, I still get chills thinking about the apparition at the doorway.

Another way, would be for a spirit to do things, open cupboards, move objects, slam doors, throw objects. I can’t say I’ve encountered these, except that one time my hole-puncher decided to leap from the back of a shelf and to the floor for no reason, but I know others who have….. especially when one of them (best mate, very down to earth fella, not one for making things up) lived alone in his grandmother’s flat (she had died a few years previously) and he came home to find all his cupboards wide open. Years later, back in 2016, I was visiting as we were doing a show together and I praised him for having a self boiling kettle…. turns out it didn’t self boil and had never had a history of switching itself on….. I made sure I thanked his gran and made myself a cuppa. Might as well.

The Psychic

Sometimes you walk into a place and it just feels odd. I’m a big believer in emotional resonance and that if an emotional reaction is strong enough, it can stay in that particular room. The rest of a building might feel placid, whereas one room might make you feel sad, afraid, angry etc for no reason whatsoever. Sometimes whole places feel like this, be it a building or even an outdoor space.

Though you might not see any spirits, you might get any of the following. Please bear in mind this is not an exhaustive list and I’m only going on what I have experienced myself:

  • Hairs standing on end and the feeling of not being alone.
  • Feeling emotional in one particular place, even though you were feeling fine and focused seconds before.
  • Images, faces, names, dates repeating themselves over and over and over again.
  • Voices in your mind that are not your internal monologue.
  • Your aura and personal space being “touched” despite no physical thing being there.

I’m sure there are plenty more ways to detect a spirit of some kind, you might have found your own ‘sensors’ in different ways.

A Note On Psychics: I would never go so far to say that I am a psychic. The genuine ones, or at least the ones I have met, tend to be very quiet about being such. And some of those people can’t switch it off, they live with it and carry on with life as best as they can. Others, have some ability of varying degrees and can sense some things, but even then only when something is being active (I would class myself in this category). Then there are those who want to stand out and be special and declare to the world about how they see spirits all the time and how they see “orbs” left, right and centre, yet are strangely quiet when someone needs help of a spiritual kind.

I believe the quiet, respect the unassuming and have no time for the loud.

Click here for Pt.3

Dealing with ghosts…..

Janine Melnitz: Do you believe in UFOs, astral projections, mental telepathy, ESP , clairvoyance, spirit photography, telekinetic movement, full trance mediums, the Loch Ness monster and the theory of Atlantis?

Winston Zeddmore: Ah, if there’s a steady paycheck in it, I’ll believe anything you say. – Ghostbusters, 1984.

Throughout my childhood, I was both fascinated and scared of the paranormal. I was all too ready to watch ‘The Real Ghostbusters’ cartoons, read the comics and shared the toys with my younger brother. (Ok, I hogged them, sorry Bruv.) Although when watching the film for the first time when I was 7 (I think?), I totally freaked out! I would loan books from the local school library about mysteries, ghosts, vampires, werewolves and all things generally spooky. Worry not, these weren’t ye olde demonick tomes in easy access of children, these were all children’s books printed by Osbourne, Hamlin, Penguin and others, all with photos and drawings (some of which kept me awake at night!) and were a little old fashioned, even back then- the most recent of which was circa 1982! I was very happy to believe ghosts were real and I could see them (safely) in children’s shows and in books….. I’d have been absolutely terrified to have seen a real one in my own house!

So, growing up looking into these things and wanting to be a real life ghost buster (at 8 years old, I had high aspirations!), earned me a bit of a reputation as being a bit weird. To me, that was interesting. Way more fun than football and sports! Even when I decided to become Christian, I couldn’t help but take notice that there were things in this world that people tended to…. ignore. That fascination stayed with me and so began my journey from Christianity to Shamanism, to Wicca, to Hedgewitchcraft and of course to Druidry. Even today, the partner of one of my older cousins refers to me as “Merlin” and jokingly asks “What’s Merlin up to now?” It’s a laugh and I often tell my cousin “Tell him Merlin says Hi!” And that’s as far as the “Merlin” thing goes for me. But, I digress.

And it was a member of the family who sought my advice on this very subject: One of my younger cousins messaged me recently, telling me she and her long-term boyfriend are putting a deposit down on a rather nice looking flat….. in a reconverted mental hospice from 1880. And she wanted to know if she had to be worried about anything spooky being there…..

Now, I resisted all urges of my sense of humour kicking in and making stuff up stuff about her having to watch out for her being possessed, climbing walls and seeing the patients in the mirror as well as messages of “REDRUM!” bleeding from the walls…..that would have only fueled her worries. I got the idea she wouldn’t have seen the funny side.

Instead, I did the decent thing and told her the truth: There was nothing to worry about. Truth is, a lot of it is all hype and expectation. Yes, you get reports of haunted hospitals and hospices. And yes my young cousin has had her potential future neighbours say there’s been a few strange things going on. But this doesn’t mean that every building of the type has to be haunted by spirits of the dead.

I haven’t followed the ghost hunter route, but I did take part in a few seances, ghost hunts and even carried out my own investigations. I’m not an expert in this field, there are others who are way more experienced than me. But what I found when it came to going around looking for ghosts was: a lot of it is down to what people bring with them.

99% of a haunting is in fact quite mundane in what causes it: houses move and creak, as do pipes and wood. Pockets of temperature occur in buildings, as do damp and dry spots. Even vibrations from a road can affect a building in some way. When you take these things into account, these are everyday things that go on in every buildings everyday. It’s amazing how terrifying they can be when you become all excited about being in a reputable place and suddenly the sounds of the automatic ventilation switching on become “psychokinetic phenomenon feeding on the collective psychic energy and interfering with electric machinery”. When looking for ghosts, people want things to happen and will jump at the most simplist thing when they are primed for an encounter or disturbance.

But what about that 1%?

What about when you are in a dark room with a group of others and the dark actually gets physically thicker, the air gets colder?

What about that time you walk past a door and you see the figure of a person and you discount it as one of your colleagues until you realise no one else is in the same area?

What about that dark shape that flies past the living room and not only do you see it, your housemate asks if you saw it too?

What are those lights you see in and above the trees after a Druid ceremony?

Those are my experiences, and they happened and I saw them, felt them with my own eyes and body. Do I know what they were? No. Ok, the palpable dark thing was most likely the fact no one’s eyes were adjusting to the dark as there was no dusk light to allow us to do so. And you know what physically happens when you become afraid? Your hair stands on end, and adrenaline is all ready to kick in that flight response. If you’re already expecting something to happen, then you’ve wound yourself up before you gotten started.

Do I believe in ghosts? Not quite. I have seen things but I don’t know what they were. Do I believe in energy? Absolutely! Do I believe that energy from people can not only be shared, but also affect a place where there is already a strong energy resonance? Yes I do!

So, how did I explain this to my younger cousin?

I told her that they’ll be fine. That Hollywood has a lot to answer for in terms of making what happens in hauntings waaaayyyyy bigger than what really happens.

I told her that if she wants to make absolutely sure, she can burn some smudging sage, taking it to every corner in every room whilst chanting:

“with this smoke I bring peace, for this space we bring peace, for this home we live in peace”.

The idea being that even if there is the remote chance of something there, if you let it know you are there and don’t want to bother it, it should leave you alone. Plus the smudging helps with ridding any negative energies. I did also recommend that if anything did happen, she is to keep a log, recording of any instances….. and to keep me informed. Just in case I’m wrong.

I am no expert on this subject, but I have found it is easier to make peace with a spirit (human, animal or other) than it is to attempt to force one out.

Click here for Pt.2 .