07 May 2015

Psychic Self-Defense for Ghost Hunters (2015 edition)

Last weekend I gave a lecture on Psychic Self-Defense for Ghost Hunters down at the Spooked in Seattle's Metaphysical Market.  I wanted to share the important points of that lecture for those that were unable to attend.  

These days it seems like everyone and their grandmother wants to have an exciting paranormal experience like the ones they see on TV - hearing whispered voices, having their hair be moved by unseen hands, seeing shadowy figures, etc.  Just a few days ago I was telling a friend about the haunting of the restaurant we were eating in (Kells in Post Alley, highly recommended)  and the table next to us got terribly excited and asked how they could experience the haunting for themselves.  For most people most of the time ghost tours and ghost hunts are a fun and completely benign way to spend an evening.  However, every once in a while something goes amiss.  There are a few quick and east things you can do to make sure your experience is as safe and fun as it can be, avoid the dangers of attack, attachment, or bringing something home with you.

Visit the dead but don't join them prematurely

Brief Disclaimer: The following tips and techniques are things that will make you safer, not safe.  You will certainly be better off doing them than doing nothing at all, but the unseen world is unpredictable and nothing short of sealing yourself in a psychic bubble and never leaving your house again will guarantee that nothing metaphysically untoward will happen to you - and perhaps not even then.  Use common sense - if you ever feel like you are in danger in a haunted location you should leave.  Ghost hunting is about interacting with the dead, not becoming one yourself.  


There are certain things you should do before visiting a potentially haunted location:

  • Know your environment - For maximum safety you should learn as much as you can about the types of experiences people have had in a location and what types of entities are generally believed to be present.  The more you know going in the more appropriate your protections can be.  However, knowing too much about what other people have experienced in a location can bias your own experiences.  The human mind is amazing at seeing what it expects to see.  As a result, you may choose not to find out too much about a location in order to guarantee a more authentic experience.  Most of the time that's an acceptable risk as long as you have something at hand that can increase your protections if necessary (I'll talk about that in a moment).  At the very least, find out if the paranormal activity in a location is generally benign or if it's considered malevolent; if it's benign then going in blind is probably an acceptable risk, if not then your safety should trump the desire to be "surprised" by paranormal activity.

  • Choose how much protection you want going in - Psychic protection, at its core, is something that strengthens the barrier between you and the world around you.  It makes it more difficult for unseen entities to do things to you that you don't want - like pushing, scratching, or attaching themselves to you.  However, it can also make it more difficult for entities to do things you do want - like touching or talking to you.  Think of it like the difference between wearing rubber gloves as opposed to wearing a full hazmat suit.  They each put a protective barrier between you and something potentially dangerous, but one dulls your senses a lot more than the other.  Ideally, you want just enough protection to keep you safe, but not so much that it deters activity.  After all, the whole point of going on a ghost hunt or tour is to experience something.
  • Basic Pre-Hunt Protections - These techniques are good for most situations (e.g. mild/med hauntings).  Do these before entering a potentially haunted location.    
    • Prayer - If you are a person who prays it will probably be beneficial to pray for protection and good fortune before entering a haunted place.  The powers (gods, spirits, angels, etc.) that are a part of your personal belief system generally have a vested interest in helping you out and are probably willing to do so.  It never hurts to have a little outside muscle on your side.  However, keep in mind that prayer alone is almost never enough to be considered complete protection.  Also, depending on how your faith views the unseen world, the protective entities you call on might scare away all the ghosts.  Think about it and do what makes you comfortable.
    • Ground and Center    
      • When I use the term “grounding” I mean the act of flushing out negative or excess energy you have in your body into a place where it is naturally neutralized.  This is generally done by visualizing all the energy you don't want as static electricity and then moving it down your body and into the ground where it is neutralized.  Grounding helps to make sure that your energy doesn't interfere with the energy of the place you're visiting and it makes you more energetically stable.
      • The act of centering is essentially finding the place in your body where you feel your energies the strongest and aligning your energies to concentrate and flow from that place.  For many people that place is the lower abdomen or the base of the spine - it make be different for you.  I generally center by visualizing my center (just below and behind the navel for me) and breathing into it until I feel my energies focus and stabilize there.  Having a calm and focused center makes it easier to pay attention to what's going on around you and adapt accordingly.  
    • Shield - Shielding is the practice of forming a layer of protective energy around yourself in order to strengthen the barrier between you and the outside world.  The easiest way for most people to shield is to visualize an egg of white or pale blue electricity surrounding them like a bubble - just like the shields around the Enterprise on Star Trek.  Depending on how safe you feel in a given location you will want to make your shields thicker or thinner.  The nice thing about shields it that you can modify them at any time in response to what's happening around you.  This is also a great technique to use when dealing with angry co-workers or relatives.  It helps keep their negative energy off of you!
During a Tour or Hunt

  • Statement of Intent - I consider it a common courtesy to introduce myself when first entering a haunted location.  You can do it out loud or in your head, paranormal entities are generally able to hear thoughts expressly directed at them, though I like to say it aloud unless it would make me look like a crazy person in the given situation.  I recommend introducing yourself, expressing your respect and compassion for the unseen entities present, and inviting the experience you would like to have, e.g. let the entities know that you'd like to hear them speak or be gently touched and that you do not want to be pushed, scratched, or otherwise harmed.  By expressly saying (aloud or silently) what you do and do not want to happen you actually make it easier for the entity to do what you want and make it more difficult to do what you do not want.  Clearly expressed desires create their own energy that can help or hinder paranormal entities to act.  It's also just the courteous thing to do.  Wouldn't you be more likely to be friendly to a stranger that introduced themselves and asked you to do thing rather than just barging in an making demands?    
  • Protective Items - These are things to have on hand in order to escalate your protections as necessary.  Depending on the item and your own risk assessment you make choose to carry some of these things on your person (in a pocket or bad) or choose to leave them in a secure and easily accessible place just outside the haunted location.  I recommend choosing just 2-3 items to have on hand for most investigations.    
    • Talismans/charms     
      • Objects of faith (cross, star of david, pentagram, hand of fatima, etc.)  
      • Personal objects of special significance (family heirloom, love token, etc.)     
      • Bundles or small bags of protective herbs (Angelica, Bay, Cinnamon, Cloves, Fennel, Garlic, Mullein, Rosemary, Rue, Sage)    
      • Mojos (bundle of protective objects in a red cotton bag worn next to the skin - to begin I recommend choosing an herb, a stone, and a metal charm, eg. a bay leaf, a hematite, and a small pewter dragon)     
    • Protective stones (hematite, jet, obsidian, malachite, black tourmaline, etc.). 
    • Salt water, salt, black salt - Salt has a unique ability to disrupt and neutralize negative energy.  Black salt is salt that also contains charcoal or crushed lava rock and it cannot be beat for absorbing and grounding negative energy.  Something as simple as putting a few grains of salt on your tongue or rubbing salt on your hands or feet can make a huge difference in mitigating negative energies.  You can also wash your hands or feet in salt water for the same effect.    
  • Shielding - As I mentioned earlier, you can and should adapt your shields in response to what you feel in a haunted location.  If you feel threatened you can thicken shields or change their opacity, e.g. if your shields are a translucent electric blue you can change them to be made of solid steel or concrete.

What you do after a paranormal experience may actually be more important than anything you do before or during it.  If you do nothing else, I urge you to always do all three of the following:

  • Closing statement - Before you leave a location, inform the spirits that you’re finishing up and give them one last chance to communicate with you. Thank them for allowing you to share their space and wish them well. (Being kind and courteous costs you nothing and can go a long way towards ending things on a positive note - especially if you think you might come back!) Then tell them that you’re done and that they are to remain where they are, that they are not allowed to follow you home.  As with your statement of intent, just saying that the spirits are not to follow you will make it more difficult for any troublemakers to do so.    
  • Ground - After any paranormal experience you're likely to be either keyed up or extremely tired. Take a few moments to consiously let the energy of the experience calm down.  The easiest way to do this is to have some food and drink (fruits, nuts, cheese, bread, water or fruit juices all good - stay away from over processed or sugary foods for the best results).  Eating has a wonderful way of closing any open psychic connections and bringing down energy levels.  Rubbing your hands with salt or putting a little in your shoes is also an easy way to help you ground. 
  • Cleanse - Cleansing after a paranormal experience is absolutely critical.  You never really know what energies have gotten on you during an investigation and you do not want any potential negatives lingering. Here are a few things that you can do to cleanse yourself energetically:    
    • Smudge - A Native American technique of essentially fumigating yourself with the smoke of smoldering herbs, most often sage, cedar, and/or sweetgrass. 
    • Spritz - Have a spray bottle with a few drops of cleansing essential oil in water or hydrosol (rosemary, cedar, sage, lavender all good) and give yourself a good spritz or three.  This technique is particularly useful while traveling. 
    • Wash hands in salt water 
    • Bathe/Shower -  If you can, I highly recommend taking a shower - standing in running water does wonders for washing away negative energy.  Try using cedar or sage soap, florida water soap (available at your local Hoodoo supplier), or a van van wash (also available at your local Hoodoo supplier).
Try out these techniques the next time you visit a local paranormal hot spot and see how different your experience is. 

tl;dr - be courteous (ghosts are people too), be firm (say exactly what you do and do not want to experience and mean it), be prepared (have some quick and easy methods of increasing your protection if necessary)

My previous post on this topic - I've refined things quite a bit over the last few years.

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