First things first, in Spiritism we really hesitate to call places “haunted”. As a philosophy it has always sought to create calm, rational adherents, who are able to approach the spirit world with peace of mind rather than fear. One of the big questions that came up for budding Spiritists early on was that of haunted places, and whether we should be afraid of such locations. Allan Kardec in The Mediums’ Book encourages readers to rationally think through what exactly goes into a haunting. What is present? How is it affecting you or the family who lives in the place? And how are you able to help resolve the issue? There are many approaches to hauntings that we can look at through the lens of Spiritism, but below are just a few mentioned in detail in chapter nine of The Mediums’ Book.
What Creates a Haunting?
A haunting usually refers to what are called “spontaneous manifestations” meaning noises (raps, scrapes, voices, etc.) that seemingly appear at random in a location but have an intelligent origin. This is often tested through the use of questions, whereby the entity will be asked to rap out a certain pattern for letters or “yes/no” type answers. Today there are a whole host of other methods employed by paranormal investigators, but the same basic idea still exists and that is verifying the origin of certain “explainable” noises.
Kardec goes on to say that historically such noises would automatically create fear for people. Rightfully so, I’d say. I’ve lived in houses with such spontaneous manifestations and it can drive you nuts if you don’t have an explanation. But Spiritists would say not to worry about it, that such manifestations, along with others like moving furniture, or throwing objects, are often the result of a spirit that is “acting out” so to speak. They become like a toddler who is trying to entertain themselves by annoying their parents to no end. A situation like this doesn’t warrant fear, but patience more than anything. Answering the question of the origin of hauntings, Kardec’s channeled spirit has this to say:
It has grown out of men’s instinctive belief in spirit manifestations, a belief that has prevailed in all ages of the world; but, as I said just now, the aspect of lugubrious places strikes the imagination, and men have naturally located, in such places, the beings whom they have regarded as supernatural. This superstitious belief is upheld by the fanciful imaginings of your poets, as well as by the nonsensical stories told to you in the nursery. ~Allan Kardec The Mediums’ Book, 9:5
The hauntings we see now through the media always create a much more intense experience than normally anyone would ever have. They create houses that actually kill people, and demonic ghosts that are forever following certain people around. Kardec even addressed this notion in his works, telling us that ghost stories are almost always inflated versions of real events. We see this at play with eye-witnesses all the time, where their story grows and develops new facets the longer the person keeps telling it. That’s not to say all stories of hauntings are lies, of course not. Most are likely based on some example of a spontaneous manifestation that was allowed to build and build in the minds of the witnesses until it became something far bigger than the reality of the situation.
What Places Can be Haunted?
For Spiritists like Kardec this was a ridiculous question to ask. He urged readers to think about how many spirits they are surrounded by on a daily basis. If we had in mind that all locations containing ghosts are haunted, then everywhere we stepped would be defined as such. Spirits are everywhere, and most only really ever notice their presence when they become noisy by way of spontaneous manifestations. Essentially any location can produce these experiences, regardless of its age, or whether it was abandoned or “ruined”. Now, that said, I will mention that in my experience the more likelihood that a location is filled with errant or lower level spirits does tend to increase the chance that those spirits will be noisy. Take old prisons, for instance, where you’ve amassed a large number of executed individuals who might now act as “haunting spirits” until they are convinced to elevate. This still doesn’t created a haunted building in the way the media would like to portray, and should be approached with the same levelheadedness and skepticism as any other location. Spirits also can attach themselves to certain locations that they are familiar with, say a childhood home, or a school, etc. But again, these are lower level spirits who are still fixated on materialism, still connected to their former life.
What are the circumstances that may attract spirits to a given place?
“Their sympathy with persons who frequent that place, and, in some cases, the desire to communicate with them. Their motives, however, are not always so praiseworthy inferior spirits may desire to revenge themselves on persons against whom they have a grudge. Sojourn in a fixed locality may be, also, a punishment inflicted on them especially if they have committed a crime there, so that the crime may be constantly before their eyes.” ~Allan Kardec The Mediums’ Book, 9:9
Along these same lines, Kardec explains that spirits can’t possibly be attached to certain times or days (he mentions midnight, but I’d also like to add Halloween) as they are beyond the sense of time after losing their mortal bodies. Now, we do sometimes see lower level spirits that appear at certain times to recreate some event that they’ve become fixated on in death. This is actually rare, though, and Kardec warns to investigate such cases to make sure its not just a spirit playing a game. As far as night versus day goes, Kardec explains that spirits are sometimes easier to see at night because of the nature of their perispirit, or spirit shell, but that essentially spirits can manifest any time of the day.
…days and hours are measurements of time for the use of men, and for the needs of corporeal life; spirits have no need of any such measurements, and take very little heed of them. ~Allan Kardec The Mediums’ Book, 9:6
How Do We Get Rid of Haunting Spirits?
It’s wrong to think that you might be “getting rid of” a certain spirit that has been particularly nosy or troublesome. It’s more that there is a way of quieting the spirit, or also helping them to elevate, whereby they then realize that being annoying is of no use to them at all. Kardec encourages talking to the spirits to identify whether they are:
- tricksters, that make trouble for their own enjoyment
- suffering spirits, that might have issues you can help resolve
- guardians, that simply want to watch over the location and those who frequent it
The process of discovery is often a difficult one, but even without the aid of a medium, an ordinary individual can assess a “haunting” by talking aloud and talking often to the spirits present. Some would say this only encourages the ghosts to continue, but in the case of trickster or frivolous spirits, this will sometimes make them realize they haven’t tricked you and they with quiet down or move on. Some spirits enjoy playing games, so laughing at them when a manifestation occurs can sometimes show the spirit that they’ve been heard.
Spirits who come without any evil intention may also manifest their presence by rendering themselves visible, or by noises ; but the noises they make never degenerate into racket. They are often suffering spirits whom you may relieve by praying for them; they are sometimes kindly spirits, who desire to show you that they are near you ; or they may be frivolous spirits, who are only in sport. Since these who disturb you are, almost invariably, spirits in search of amusement, the best thing to do is to laugh at them they will tire of playing pranks, if they see that they neither frighten nor vex you. ~Allan Kardec The Mediums’ Book, 9:14
In most cases, unless the witness has a more level head about the situation, a case of “haunting” immediately warrants an exorcism, even if it’s just through the burning of sage to “drive away negative spirits” as I always hear. For Spiritists, the use of exorcism formulas or spells to send away ghosts is nothing more than wishful thinking, really. Imagine what you might do if you were just walking down the street and someone started yelling an exorcism formula at you. You’d probably think, “What the hell?” and just walk off, right? Most people wouldn’t react in any way other than to be confused and concerned when something like that happens, I imagine. The same goes with spirits, who tend to be more human than we give them credit. When faced with an exorcism or spell they simply laugh, or roll their eyes, or retreat away, confused by the situation. Kardec tells us that you can do much more through talking with the spirit than just reciting banishing formulas. By talking and listening you might be giving the spirit something they never had in life. Your actions could very well help them to elevate. And all it takes is some patience and kindness.
“That’s easy to say when there’s a demon in your house!” some might exclaim. Is it difficult to show patience and love in the face of evil? Yes, of course it is. But is it impossible? Certainly not. As humans we have the unique ability to passively effect the spirit world simply by our demeanor. By remaining as a calming influence in the world around us, and by surrounding ourselves with higher level spirits as protectors and guardians, we are actually able to transform those errant entities around us. Without even knowing it we might be helping countless spirits to elevate by simply being calm and happy within ourselves. And remember! The traits of the higher order spirits, that direction we are all progressing towards, is altruism, meaning love for and the want to help others without necessarily experiencing that sentiment back.
Is there any method of expelling them?
“Yes; but most frequently what people do for that purpose attracts rather than repels them. The best way of expelling bad spirits is to attract good ones, by doing all the good you can; the bad ones will then go away, for good and evil are incompatible. Be always good, and you will have only good spirits about you.”
– Many very good people, however, are greatly annoyed by the persecutions of bad spirits.
“If persons thus annoyed are really good, the annoyance may be a trial to exercise their patience, and to excite them to greater goodness.” ~Allan Kardec The Mediums’ Book, 9:13