Contacting Ghosts, Ghouls, Spirits and Spooks

I was surprised to get a message from someone this morning about a spirit that was giving them trouble. I’m not the best sort of person to ask on these things. I was once interested in paranormal stuff but I’m afraid I’m a bit of a stuff-shirt about it now. I stopped paying random spirits attention years ago and they don’t bother me now. My ancestors give me enough trouble without inviting more.

This is the time of year for things that go bump in the night, though. Either for spiritual or entertainment reasons ghosts are popular in the time leading up to Hallow’s Eve. Legend says at this time of the year the veil thins, that is, things spiritual and incorporeal hold more sway over the material world. If you’re interested in contacting those from beyond, this is a good time of year to try reaching out to the other side.

While I haven’t been involved in such things for awhile, I can tell you that setting out to contact the departed has some basic common sense rules to abide by.

  1. Gather with people you trust. While I don’t hold with the idea you need to keep skeptics away, having a group of friends who will provide honest feedback, sincere support and won’t try to scare the bejeesus out of everyone for kicks is important. Besides, it will be more fun this way and you’ll likely talk about the experience for awhile.
  2. Try to find someone with some experience. It’s not necessary that your group of friends be venerated psychics, but having at least one person with some experience in the spirit realms helps.
  3. Ground, Center, Shield, Purify. Make sure everyone take the time to clear their heads, find their center, erect even just a rudimentary shield against harm and take some time to bless and smudge the place you will be using. I’m not saying you must erect elaborate ceremonial magick barriers or put on your psychic riot gear, but take some time to feel comfortable, relaxed and signal to your mind something a bit different is about to happen.
  4. Have a clear idea of how to establish connection. Maybe you plan to use a ouija board, a pendulum, automatic writing or a channeler, but read up on the method you plan to use. Talk to someone who has used it before if you can.
  5. Have a clear idea of who you are trying to contact. The spirit world can be a bit like an internet chat-room: full of useless chatter. Have an idea of who you want to contact, or at least what sort of entity you want to contact. A trivial session will result in trivial results. You should contact people you have a genuine need with which to converse. A spiritual authority for instance, may answer questions you have about spiritual matters.
  6. Someone needs to act as scribe. If all goes well you and your friends will be successful and excited and not remember too much afterwards. Getting someone fairly level-headed to record the experience will be something you will be thankful for a week later.
  7. Set the scene. Like any religio-magical working, the ambiance is important. Use color, light, scent and sound to create the atmosphere you need. Although try not to use an expensive stereo or any electronic equipment you are attached to. Sometimes magical energy makes electrical contraptions go poof! Leave your cell phone in another room, turned off, if you can to protect it.
  8. Have all the supplies you will need handy. Candles, matches, incense, drinking water in unbreakable containers, hearty nutritious finger food, something sweet to snack on, salt, blankets, bandaids, neosporin, and if anyone has asthma or some other condition that might be aggravated be becoming excitable make sure that those people have their meds where they can get to them easily. Assume someone will get over excited and make sure you will be able to keep them warm, get food and water in them, and that there isn’t anything breakable in your working area to lessen the chances of people getting hurt if they get a little freaked out.
  9. Remember that you are flesh and blood and the spirit world can only harm you if you allow it. Treat the entities you contact with respect and courtesy, but if you feel uncomfortable remember that you are in control of the situation.
  10. Have fun. Even when you are reaching out to realms beyond for matters of serious guidance, don’t forget that there should be mirth  as well as reverence for the work you are doing. If the entity you are trying to contact was once human, it’s likely they have a lively sense of humor.

If, like me, you won’t be formally trying to converse with the spirit realms but still want to feel that spooky chill up you spine I recommend you go ghost hunting from the comfort of your own home. The Willard Library in Indiana is reportedly haunted and strewn with webcams. You can read about the live encounters, the webcam ghost sightings, the spoof sightings and try to see if you can see a haint yourself one spooky October night. While I no longer have a copy of the picture, I did once see the ghost of a small boy via the webcam, and occasionally I visit the site in hopes of spotting him again!

Here’s one of the webcam captures from the site featuring what appears to be a ghost in the bottom left corner:

Have fun, be safe, and relish both the mirth and reverence of the season!

About Star Foster

Polytheistic Wiccan initiated into the Ravenwood tradition, she has many opinions. Some of them are actually useful.

  • http://wyrddesigns.etsy.com K. C. Hulsman

    I’d like to offer a word of caution. Please do not contact the dead because you think it would be ‘neat’. Please only do so because there is some sort of more substantial nead than mere novelty. Otherwise it’s rather disrespectful and could be grounds for stirring up the ire of the dead.

    The dead are not there for our entertainment.

  • http://www.patheos.com/ Star Foster

    K.C., I think Alex Sanders might disagree with you!

    Seriously though, you’re right. I tried to cover that in point 5 but i probably didn’t stress it enough.

    Of course, if this is an art you wished to perfect then you need to practice it and to practice it enough you can’t always wait for a dire need. I think there are ancestors who are more than happy to have a chat. Alex Sanders is a great example of that.

  • Kauko

    I definitely agree with K.C. I, personally, don’t mess with contacting the dead as I think that it can be dangerous. I leave that kind of thing to well experienced people who know what they’re doing.

    On an interesting side note, though, some friends of mine recently found their house becoming active over the last few weeks with some kind of haunting activity. The most dramatic thing that happened to them was their dining room furniture rearranging on its own including the chairs ending up on top of the table. I was over there this past weekend but I didn’t personally witness anything, though.

  • http://www.patheos.com/ Star Foster

    I don’t think speaking to the dead is dangerous. It’s nothing like scary movies make it out to be. People tend to reach out to their dead, their ancestors and spiritual leaders, but those aren’t the only spirits out there.

    “There is more in heaven and earth than is dreamt of in our philosophy, Horatio.”

  • http://wyrddesigns.etsy.com K. C. Hulsman

    @Star Foster – I just wanted to add a word of caution. I’ve seen one two many folks decide that hosting a ritual at a cemetery is a good idea.

    Reaching out to speak with a friend or family member who has passed, or perhaps if there is a haunting spirit at a location to see if you can help the spirit pass on or find some way to navigate the relationships between living and the dead to co-exist… those aren’t bad things.

    But people who want to do it for nothing more than the sheer novelty of it, are the ones that irk me, and who usually don’t approach it with enough respect and thus usually _do_ upset the dead.

    P. S. As to Sanders, wasn’t that whole thing a stunt to distract the press from another story? So Sanders wasn’t serious about it, and never intended for it to be a real ritual, just real enough to fool the press.

  • Kauko

    I don’t mean I won’t pray to or talk to my ancestors or the spirits present in my home and land. What I don’t mess with are things like Ouija boards or a séance that people do without experience and training. Just because Hollywood exaggerates things doesn’t mean that their aren’t genuine dangers to messing with things that we don’t completely understand. As K.C points out, you can upset the dead and, I believe, you can open yourself up to spirits that weren’t so nice in the first place.

  • http://www.patheos.com/ Star Foster

    Oh, what I was referencing regarding Sanders was his chattyness from the grave. He did many fool things while alive and his relationship with the press is a whole other tangent. “A Voice In The Woods” details one group’s conversations with Alex after he passed, and his widow agreed it sounded authentic.

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  • http://ianphanes.livejournal.com/ Ian Phanes

    One thing I am surprised not to see mentioned here: offerings.

    Every single tradition of ancestor reverence from any culture that I’ve seen mentioned includes making offerings.

    My personal practice is “spirits for the spirits”. That is, my standard offering to my ancestors is whiskey. As part of my weekly practice, I offer a piece of fruit to the wights and other beings of the living world; whiskey and water to the ancestors and other beings of the spirit world; and a flower to the gods and other beings of the shining world. On a daily basis–including just before the weekly offerings–I light an oil candle and stick of incense at that shrine.

    I would suggest that anyone who chooses to reach out to the dead make offerings to establish a positive relationship.

  • http://www.patheos.com/ Star Foster

    Ian, you are so right! I didn’t think about it. Sometimes when you’re writing for the “home team” you take things as “given”.


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