Samhain is a time for remembering the departed, including those who lived in our homes and on our land before us. Many of the dead carried pain with them when they left this life, but often they also leave it behind in this material world. In addition to haunting spirits, the effects can become imprinted on buildings and property. For those of us now living in these places, we can experience the ancestors of place suffering in a variety of ways, from ghostly disturbances to plumbing problems. In such cases, it’s necessary to offer healing to these ancestors of place.
Way back when I lived in the suburbs, we had an ongoing problem with one of the bathrooms. The toilet would flush on its own. I used to teach witchcraft courses in my living room, and the toilet had a way of doing this while we were all sitting around talking about spirits and such. My plumbing ghost became a bit of a joke. However, the spirit behind the spontaneous acts of flushing was nothing to laugh at. I brought in an expert, my mentor, to help solve this situation. In the beginning of our analysis we thought that this was the spirit of my father. His favorite chair was directly underneath that toilet. Upon discussions with him, it became apparent that it wasn’t my dads’ ghost. What we were dealing with was a spirit of place. A very unhappy one. The effects were far more significant than plumbing issues. The house suffered from a general sense of unease, relationships faltered and my sons were unsettled. We decided to offer healing to the spirit and to provide it with the chance to cross all the way over to the other side. Compared to the many souls I’ve helped cross over, this one was particularly difficult. There was so much pain. A life lived poorly, a soul full of remorse. Off he went after many hours of healing.
In my experience, hauntings are often the result of a life full of trauma or horrible events that happened in a place. I’ve been doing house cleansings for ages now. I’ve seen some things. The one thing they all have in common is that troublesome spirits are troubled. We should approach them just as we would any other human in pain. Energetic healing, such as Reiki, along with charms to help them recover helps to remove their energy, releasing them to cross over. Often what they need is to be heard in a way that they understand. Judgment has no place in healing our ancestors.
Then there are the residuals that are not human but embedded into structures and land. The ancestors who were involved in horrible events can have their energy infused right into a place, forever entwining them. Typically more difficult than healing a spirit, healing a building (or part of one) or a piece of property involves healing the ancestors involved and the enmeshed place. Once the spirit is released, a thorough cleansing of the place using salt and consecrated water usually helps. It can be necessary to get right into the bones of the house. I’ve crawled around on hands and knees searching for the hotspot since renovations can greatly alter the structure of a building. What was once the nursery can now be a closet. Plus, certain nasty residuals will retreat to difficult to reach spaces in an attempt to avoid being expunged.
I follow the traditional Full Moon system as a way of staying in touch with the spirits of my land, often incorporating aspects of the local indigenous peoples’ traditions with my practice of Hekatean Witchcraft. Far from being appropriation, it is a deep reverence for the ancestors of the land I call home. The Hunter’s Full Moon is the one closest to Samhain. This is the last moon before winter sets in, the time for the last hunt. A profitable one would reduce the likelihood of death visiting during the winter. The deer on my property have forgotten how their ancestors feared the hunter, instead they boldly munch offerings left for Hekate and the land spirits, barely noticing us. I hope that we don’t become like them – forgetful of the ancestors of place.
Ways to Heal the Ancestors of Place
If your home and property have restless or disruptive energy, you may want to reach out to the ancestors of your place, offering them healing. Samhain is an excellent time for doing this work since the veil between the material and spirit worlds is at its thinnest.
- Research the former occupants of your home. Talk to neighbors, google your address, etc. I visit the former owner of my home in the graveyard up the road. I know this is more difficult to do in the city and in new developments, but there are still ancestors of place to be found. What was on the site of your apartment building? Even if you can’t find out who exactly lived there, what type of people did? If you can get an archetype or general idea in mind, you can reach out using my death walking ritual.
- If you are comfortable doing so, speak directly to the spirits of your home and land. You can create an energetic focal point for them using a spirit bowl. Fill a black bowl with water from the property. Arrange objects representing them around the bowl if you have them, such as photos from the era they lived in, etc. In a dark room, light one candle behind the bowl. Ask the spirits to show themselves in the water. If this is a spirit who you want to heal and release, send energy into the bowl once they are in there. Cover the bowl with a mirror to trap the spirit.
- Always approach the ancestors with confidence. If they are cranky, make it clear that their behavior is not acceptable. Ask them what they need to feel better. If it’s a violent crime, cleansing the home and healing the victims is often required.