Living In A House of Spirits

Living In A House of Spirits October 21, 2019

While there may be those who don’t care for the prospect of having a house full of spirits, I’m not one of them. Spirits are everywhere among us; the challenge is for us to let the right ones in and banish the harmful ones. Cleansing of our home and following up with excellent protection wards helps to ensure that the home and its resident spirits are happy.

Spirit altar. Sweetgrass for the local ancestors,  garlic for banishing the unwanted, sage for protection. Keys for Hekate and her horde.

A Childhood Full Of Spirits

Some of my earliest memories are of terrifying spirits haunting the halls of my grandmother’s home. I grew up in a family where any sort of spirit that wasn’t approved by the fundamentalist Christian church of my parents were unwelcome. We certainly didn’t discuss the dead, ghosts, or anything else that was disincarnate. Still my experiences with house spirits persisted throughout childhood and into my teen years. Perhaps if I had someone to talk to, without fear of being seen as devil possessed, I might have learned that I wasn’t evil or crazy. I could have known that house spirits can be quite wonderful members of the family, like my children know. We have spirits that visit for a short time, some are frequent flyers, and others never seem to leave. Spirits of the former occupants, our beloved departed, and random curious wandering souls are all to found within our walls.

Little Cyndi was already dealing with spirits who hung out behind these curtains. Children are more connected to the departed and entities because they haven’t yet been convinced not to be.

What House Spirits Are

House spirits can be those of the departed or they can be entirely etheric, never having known human form. Generally, house spirits are of these two groups, although higher order spirits, like deities and even angels will certainly visit us in our homes.

Etheric House Spirits

Shadow spirits are entities that never knew corporeal form that often become attached to a place or person. They are often misunderstood as uniformly malevolent, but they aren’t necessarily. There are many types of similar spirits, from the sidhe to elementals, that are purely etheric. Sometimes these are house spirits because they are attached to the property, such as the Mikumwess, a type of forest spirit native to where I call home. Spirits of place can become stuck in a built structure, causing all manner of disruptions. They can also be unhappy with the structure and people living on their land. I keep peace with my land spirits through being a good steward, and also by being very clear with them about my intentions for our shared piece of the world.

From The Algonquin Legends of New England by Charles G. Leland. Public domain review: https://publicdomainreview.org/collections/the-algonquin-legends-of-new-england-1884/

When The Spirit Is Attached To Us

Then there are the etheric spirits that get attached to us. Let me tell you about The Burning Man. Even now I get the chills straight through me when I think of him. He lived in the woods surrounding my childhood home. He horrified me, to such an extent that I started doing everything I could to avoid a certain part of the forest I loved. Now I believe him to have been a shadow ally, a protector sent from The Other Side to keep watch over me.

He was the stuff of nightmares, but he was keeping away even worse spirits that were attracted to me. He would appear in the wall beside my bed. Unable to talk openly about what I was experiencing; I developed a phobia for the wallpaper in my room that my mother couldn’t fathom.

The Burning Man lived in the dusty rose and sage green stripes. That wallpaper was bad enough without a shadow living in it. The Burning Man has followed me around the globe and through the years. Unlike other spirits, he isn’t attached to a specific location. He belongs to me, whether I like it or not. I’ve made my peace with him, and with all the spirits that inhabit my home. However, The Burning Man and I have had our firm boundaries for many years. He is not allowed in the house, but he can hang out in the shed. He respects this rule.

Living With The Dead

Over the years, I’ve done several home cleansings, where the current embodied occupants want the spirits residing with them removed. Right away. All the way. Immediately. Sometimes, these spirits have been malevolent, but at others they’ve merely been discarnate residents, departed loved ones, or curious noncorporeal creatures who only wish the occupants well. There’s all the world of difference between the two. For those unaccustomed to sharing their space with noncorporeal beings, it can be disconcerting to perceive such a spirit. Truth is that we are always surrounded by such beings, but we’re usually not paying attention.

Stuck In The World Of The Living

Sometimes the dead are stuck in limbo and need help to cross over to The Other Side. They can be former occupants of our home, or hitchhikers that we bring into our abode unwillingly. They want our help to get to where they need to go.

Residuals Of The Past

Then there are residuals, which aren’t the actual souls, but specific moments that have become spirits themselves. For example, violent events often become such spirits, although joyous ones can also become their own sort of entities. We’re not likely to get freaked out by too much happiness, though. In my experience of cleansing homes, it’s often residuals that are the problem since it is stuck on continual replay. This forms a vortex that can especially impact the very sensitive.

Just Passing Through

We have a house spirit who’s a ghost of a young adolescent boy who was killed nearby in the 19th century. We started calling him Toby long before I learned that was indeed his name. Toby is welcome to visit, as long as he refrains from breaking things. Electricity, especially light bulbs, were a particular interest of his, so this rule became necessary. He’ll stop by to see what’s going on and then be on his way. Toby isn’t trapped, but the consciousness – his personality – of that particular incarnation of his soul loves the village where he lived so he still hangs out here. At times, the former occupants of my home, who were descendants of the original colonists, have visited to see what we’re up to. They are quite unconcerned and move on quickly. Again, it’s the spirit of them in that life that lingers.

Welcome And Unwelcome Guests

I live in a tiny fishing village where the dead far outnumber the living. There are many tales of spirits, witches and “the Irish” (meaning the fae) woven into the history of this place. Some of these spirits are welcome in our home, but most aren’t. I keep a firm barrier around the perimeter that keeps any wishing to cause trouble out.

Friends And Family

I had a neighbor, Blake, who was instrumental in us coming to live in the village. He was a peculiarly fascinating man who died only about a year after we met. He is always welcome to visit. There are times I forget he’s discarnate. My dad likes to check up on us, whether in the dreamtime or by watching when we do renovations. He’s the cool breeze out of nowhere that calms me down.

Setting Limits

One discarnate who isn’t welcome is the spirit of the ex-wife of an ex-boyfriend of mine , although she often tries to get into my house. I send her away, telling her that she’ll have to get the help she needs elsewhere. Not all the spirits are my responsibility.

The dead are not different than the living; there are good and bad. It is true that many of the departed who were terrible when alive feel remorse and seek forgiveness. There’s no obligation on our part to give it to them, but we can heal from their damage if we choose to. It takes a lot to do this. Then there are the departed who don’t acknowledge the harm caused when they were embodied in a particular life or are disinterested in us no matter how hard we try to get their attention.

Seeking Attention And Paying Attention

It’s easy to get caught up in attempting to get the attention of a specific type of spirit instead of paying attention to all the ones already in your home. Instead of seeking out certain spirits, open up the ones currently surrounding you. Get quiet, get out the cards or spirit board and let them talk to you. Don’t judge what comes through. Just listen.

Creating A Happy House of Spirits: Cleansing And Protection

Before you sit down to chat with your house spirits, cleanse the shit out of you home. Fumigating with smoke works very well, juniper is amazing for banishing unwanted spirits. Create a bundle, let it dry out for a week or so, and then go through each room, saying “I banish the unwelcome from my home.” You can, and should, also add spiritual cleansing to your household chores. Add a few drops of an essential oil suitable for cleansing to your cleaning products or make your own. I have different formulations I use, but my current all-purpose cleanser consists of about 2 parts vodka, 1 part my concentrated rose water, and 1 part mugwort/yarrow/dittany/juniper decoction.

Garlic bulbs work exceptionally well, too, especially if you’ve got a situation with a troublesome spirit. Cut off the tops, put under beds and in closets, then open all the windows. Throw out the cloves after they become gunky. You’ll see what I mean.  It’s folk wisdom that works.

Banishing Troublemakers

If you want the spirit gone, tell it so in a commanding voice. Sometimes it’s beyond our skill to get rid of the nasty, so calling in professional help may be necessary.

Sage, as popular as it is, is not my choice for banishing, but it is great for protection. Banish, then protect or else you run the risk of trapping what you don’t want.

Continued protection can be achieved through a salt perimeter or an open dish by the threshold. I keep a juniper broom by the front door and refresh it with a new one when it grows weary. Activate with an incantation with explicit directions.

Just like our homes have spirits, when we travel to others, we also encounter them. My eldest walked off with a such a spirit when we visited this early settlement. Be respectful when in the presence of such spirits, you’re on their turf.

Like Attracts Like

Keep the toxic living out of your home. Like attracts like. The witch’s home should be a sanctuary for ourselves and our beloveds whether they are corporeal or not. Establish a shield over your home and property that only lets the desired in and banishes the unwelcome that applies to all beings, flesh or spirit.

Establish a House Spirits altar or shrine for those you want to visit to make them feel welcome. Honor them with a place at your table. Talk to them like you would any welcome guest.

The Prayer To Hekate For The Dead

Ancestors, at least certain ones, can be great house spirits. Excellent article on Why Spirit Contact Should Begin With Ancestors.

Wondering how to communicate with your house spirits? Read this from Three Pagans And A Cat.

Join our House of Spirits in Open Circle.

 

About Cyndi Brannen
Cyndi Brannen, PhD, is a healer, teacher and author focusing on personal development, spirituality and true magic. Founder of the Keeping Her Keys Mystery School, she teaches and writes about the true magic of healing and personal power. The bestselling Keeping Her Keys: An Introduction to Hekate’s Modern Witchcraft explores Hekate from her ancient origins to our modern understanding through magic and personal development. True Magic: Unleashing Your Inner Witch, based on the sacred seven principles, is now available. You can read more about the author here.
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