By VON BRASCHLER
A dark, brooding spirit that disguised itself as a child and strangled people asleep in a mobile home in the woods changed my attitude about haunted houses forever. That was the last time I tried to remove a spirit for someone and the last of my three difficult, dangerous hauntings on Mount Hood in Oregon, USA.
Before I was trained to remove ghosts, I used to think that all spirits who haunted houses and other buildings were simply the reluctant, confused, or stubborn spirits of deceased people who refused to move on. Perhaps they were surprised and disoriented by their death. Perhaps they were afraid to fully leave the physical world behind. Or maybe they felt attached to a place or person.
I’ve always been able to sense spirits in rooms when they would come out to play. I wouldn’t see them all of the time, but sometimes I would ‘hear’ them or sense them on another level. I would sense an unusual coldness in one corner of a room or feel something amiss in that space. Often, I would see something out of the corner of my eye, if I shifted my gaze slightly left and out of focus. Then there are times when spirits just don’t want to be discovered and hide.
It’s important to remember that disembodied spirits have no physical form and cannot actually speak, make footsteps, or appear to us in a solid form. What they do is project thought forms whenever they want to be noticed. And they project very specifically who receives the thought projection and the message that person receives. They can be cunning and deceptive. You might believe that you are witnessing your dear, departed grandmother, only because that’s what the spirit wants you to perceive. So I never have put much stock in the value of recording equipment or everyone being able to see and hear the same unearthly spirits at once. Some spirits don’t play fair and don’t want to be bothered. When bothered, they can become dangerous.
Consequently, the recent outcropping of movies, books, and television programs that glorify ghost hunting worries me. What makes people think that spirits who haunt buildings are merely ghosts of dead people and what makes people think that stalking spirits who hide in buildings is a fun and safe sport? And why don’t we respect the dead enough to help them fully move on beyond this earthly plan and leave the rest of these spirits at peace?
My formal training as a ghost hunter was one-on-one instruction by an experienced psychic who would remove ghosts by establishing contact and encouraging them to move on. Moving on, she maintained, was a natural transition that every deceased person should be able to do. The shell of troubled people that sometimes remains behind is only a dim memory of the personality, emotional body, and lower mental body. The higher spiritual side of them would evolve spiritually beyond this physical plane, taking the soul or essential life force with them. The empty half-life that remained behind is stuck in time and place, walking through the same troubled events daily in mindless rituals, often oblivious of any physical forms or living people.
My teacher knew how to help troubled ghosts move on spiritually, which is the greatest gift that any ethical ghost hunter could give. Unfortunately, my teacher did not prepare me for the other things that go bump in the night – unearthly spirits that never lived a human life and never did belong here.
Actually nobody sees them in the normal sense with eyes or hears them in the normal sense with ears. Keep in mind that spirits have no material form and, hence, cannot make a sound or appear physically. They cannot make footsteps or shout out anything to you in the normal manner. Instead, they project thought forms using consciousness that remains with us beyond our physical demise. And we receive these conscious thought forms in much the same manner we ‘read’ people on a daily basis, often knowing what they are thinking long before they utter a sound.
As a result, phantom spirits can project just about any thought they want to imprint on us. They can make us believe they are shouting our names or posing as your dearly departed aunt. They can manipulate and trick you. Consequently, attempts to stalk them down and record them can prove deceiving. They have no mouths to speak or bodies for us to photograph in a physical sense, but will project onto your consciousness or recording equipment only what they want you to know about them. It’s questionable if we can ever truly trust what we think we see or hear.
Ghost Hunting in Oregon
Take, for example, my experience in attempting to remove a spirit who haunted a mobile home parked in dense woods in a national forest in Oregon. The old travel trailer sat in a dense thicket of old-growth trees that towered all around it. The owner of the trailer had been unable to rent, lease or sell it. So he offered it to a Native American herbalist, her husband, and teenage daughter to live there without payment, as long as they maintained it and kept a good eye on the property for the owner. In front of the mobile home was an old tree with many dog names and dates carved on it. In the back was a storage shed with many jars of carefully labelled and stacked preserves that had somehow been left behind, as though people had left hastily.
I met the herbalist and her daughter while mushroom hunting in the national forest near their home. She took my son and me on herbal walks and taught us how to identify eatable foliage while foraging in the old forest. Her daughter drew pictures of herbs we encountered for later study.
Unfortunately, the herbalist and her daughter both believed their mobile home was haunted. The daughter liked the little girl with golden curls who would sit with her on her bed while she sketched – something only she could see, apparently. Her mother and stepfather, on the other hand, reported an invisible spirit who choked them in their sleep. The daughter explained that her invisible friend did not like adults or dogs.
Knowing that I had been trained to remove ghosts from haunted houses, the family asked me to go into their home to see what I could do. I believed that I was dealing with the spirit of a deceased person, perhaps a small girl who had died in that trailer home.
I wandered through the trailer home and sat on the daughter’s bed, holding her sketch pad to attract the spirit. I grounded myself and got very still deep inside myself to receive an impression or message. Then I walked the length of the trailer and sat for a while, waiting for communication of some sort in the parent’s back bedroom. Particularly frightening was the dog’s gate that I had to remove before I could walk down a narrow, dim hallway with a washer and dryer jammed in there so that you needed to slip past them in the dark.
I went back outside where I had asked the family to wait on the front porch to ask the herbalist’s husband for a flashlight. I knew that he’d recently worked as a night watchman and had one of those big, long flashlights in his car. Armed with the flashlight, I entered the trailer home once again to walk in the dark with the flashlight.
On my second pass through the narrow hallway, I kept the light on the floor below to guide my feet. Halfway through the corridor, however, I bumped into the washer and dryer and then looked up at them.
To my amazement, a distorted, dark creature sat perched there! He glared down at me with contempt in red, brooding eyes. I was so startled by what I saw that I blurted out the first thing that came to mind.
“YOU are no little girl with golden curls!” I said.
Its lips curled into a sort of snarl, followed by a sort of twinkling of its eyes. Then to my surprise, it turned into a little girl with golden curls. I ran out of the hallway.
My teacher Helen had taught me certain tricks to encourage a reluctant ghost to move on, only I was not dealing with any ghost that I ever imagined. I didn’t know whether the bag of tricks Helen had taught me to bring would have much effect upon this spirit in the trailer.
Nonetheless, I tried. I sat on the daughter’s bed and called to it. I sensed it hovering and moving about the small area, upset with me.
At last, I remembered the mirror that Helen had instructed me to bring. I set the mirror against the back of the front door. I could see my face in the mirror faintly and smiled halfheartedly into the mirror.
“Wouldn’t you like to see yourself in the mirror, too?” I taunted the spirit. “You cannot do that, because you have no physical form. But I could help you. I could help you see yourself in the mirror. Then you would be whole and have form like me and the girl. Would you like that?”
I began playfully running the light from the flashlight around the area of the room in a sort of teasing manner. I was forming a pattern or labyrinth path that seemed to capture the attention of the spirit. I talked to it about wanting to be in the light, to possess the light, to feel the glow and energy of light all around it and inside it, as only a living being in the physical world could realise.
“Follow the light,” I urged it. At last, I brought the light of the flashlight to the base of the mirror. “Go ahead,” I urged. “Go into the mirror. Become whole. Become manifest.”
Then I flashed the light directly onto the mirror, causing a bright and garish glare of intense, distorted light on glass shining backward.
I sensed the spirit had wrapped itself around the mirror in an attempt to possess it. Immediately, I jumped up to grab the mirror and carry it outdoors.
I smashed the mirror on the front porch and stomped on it.
“Dispose of this, and I think your troubles will be over,” I told the herbalist.
From my bag of tricks I removed a box of kosher salt and spread an unbroken light of salt around the house. Then I staked out the four cardinal corners to the house with spikes and called on the four archangels with domain over the four corners to form a watchtower over the house. I ordered the spirit to stay outside the house and ordered it to be gone.
But asking for something doesn’t always make it happen. And some spirits are devilishly hard to chase away.
When I climbed into my little Triumph roadster and headed down the gravel logging trail from their home, I assumed that the spirit was now roaming the woods somewhere outside the trailer home. Suddenly the lights went out on my car. When I stopped to checked under the bonnet, the windshield wipers started working when I tried the lights again. Then I couldn’t get the car to start.
At last, I was heading home down the mountain road again and all seemed to be running well. Only then I felt something touch my back and then tickle my neck. Something grabbed my neck and started to strangle me. I slammed on the brakes and jumped out of the car to avoid the grasp. A car going the other direction came around the bend out of nowhere and nearly hit me in the narrow, gravel roadway.
I decided that I probably had two choices. Either I could try to drive down the mountain again, hoping that something dangerous didn’t happen to me in my descent homeward, or else I could return whatever was in my car to the herbalist’s camp. That’s where I sensed it wanted to be left alone. I thought about possibly surviving the drive home and then having a spirit in my own home. I wondered whether the spirit would stay outside the trailer home, if I brought it back to that small clearing in the forest. I am not proud of my decision.
After I pulled up to the trailer home, I knocked on the door and explained what had happened. I told them that I had little choice, really, and that the spirit would probably stay outside the trailer home now, content to roam the woods.
The herbalist and I agreed to give it a day to see whether the spirit had returned to their home. We talked about going mushroom hunting that weekend.
The next day I was busy catching up with work at our community newspaper. So I didn’t visit the family in the trailer house the very next day. The second day, a Sunday, I was also working late at the newspaper. I felt guilty about not making it back earlier and made myself a vow to do it soon.
Later that night the fire and police scanners in our newspaper office came alive with response calls to a fire. Since I had my camera and strobe nearby, I decided to trail the emergency responders and possibly get some news photographs.
The cars all headed up the mountain with me in the rear. They would occasionally stop, as though lost. After all, these were rural logging trails, and it was hard to see where they needed to go to find the spot on the mountain that was ablaze.
They got higher and higher up the mountain and I began to fear that the fire might spread through the dry timber to the herbalist’s home. Then they reached their final turnout and I could see the results of the fire myself.
The herbalist’s family trailer had burned to a crisp. Outside mother and daughter were crying in an embrace. A captain from the regional fire department was trying to question them.
They reported that nobody had been cooking, running the heat, or burning candles inside the home. They had no idea how the trailer suddenly burned. Stranger still, their dog which they never tethered had died under the trailer home. It was tied there with some chain which they didn’t recognise.
Then I remembered all of the dog names and dates carved on the tree in front of their home and understood. This mayhem had been going on for some time. It explained why the trailer couldn’t be rented or sold and why carefully stacked and labelled preserves had been hastily abandoned.
I used to tell people that spirits could not harm us because they have no physical form. I no longer say that because I know differently now. I used to think of haunted buildings as places where deceased people and pets were stuck in time and space, unwilling or reluctant to fully move on. I feel now that some spirits have never lived what we might term a normal, physical life among us on this earth. Some are unearthly and too dangerous to handle. If they prove bothersome, it’s probably wisest to walk around them or vacate the premises.
Nor do I encourage people to communicate with ghosts of deceased people. The dead deserve some respect and some peace. If some aspects of their lower selves have lingered here – confused or disturbed by their physical demise – then it should be the work of psychics trained to communicate and counsel them to leave on their own accord, which should be natural for them to accomplish once their reluctance, fear, or confusion has been removed.
It is natural for all people and animals in this earthly plane of existence to die physically, at which time their essential life force, soul, or higher spirit ascends or evolves. In the case of some deaths, however, people or pets might die suddenly and in a confused, startled state. So the lower self remains here, trying to grapple with the transition. What’s left is a shell of the total person or animal. We see in such a ghost the lower personality, emotional body, astral body, and dim memories of the deceased.
Spirits of deceased people who stay earthbound too long become entrenched and bitter. They live out ritualistic patterns of behaviour, based on dim memories and confusion. They often hide from view and often resent being stalked by so-called ghost hunters who try to taunt and expose them. Such entrenched ghosts might cluster with other ghosts who lived in other time periods but now form spirit communities that hide in buildings, disoriented and bitter. They will project their consciousness to resemble the way they once looked as they recall, including the clothes they once wore. But, when provoked, they can distort the way they appear to someone else, as well.
This sad situation with disoriented spirits of former family members and other loved ones brings to mind the importance of preparing ourselves to die without confusion or attachments. As suggested in The Tibetan Book of the Dead, we must prepare throughout all of our physical lives for the moment of death, so that we enter this transition seamlessly and without confusion or reservation. People who work with haunted buildings often encounter phantom fragments of deceased people who were startled or reluctant to die and had not prepare themselves on all levels to make a complete transition from this material plane.
Perhaps the only safe and ethical contact most people should have with ghosts of deceased people are cases when the recently departed come to visit us to say goodbye. The cat that pounces on your bed after death might do so only for a few days before fully moving on. Your relatives or loved ones might visit you shortly after death to say goodbye. Then we should leave them in peace.
The other spirits that go bump in the night might not be so friendly and should be avoided.
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Read more on the above in Von Braschler’s recent book Confessions of a Reluctant Ghost Hunter: A Cautionary Tale of Encounters with Malevolent Entities and Other Disembodied Spirits, available from all good bookstores and online retailers.
Von Braschler, Confessions of a Reluctant Ghost Hunter, Destiny Books, 2014
Louis Gittner, There Is a Rainbow, Louis Foundation, 1981
Anton Gross, Letters to a Dying Friend: What Comes Next Based on the Tibetan Book of the Dead, Quest Books, 1989
Elisabeth Kubler-Ross, On Death and Dying, Scribners, 2014
Elisabeth Kubler-Ross & Caroline Myss, On Life after Death, Revised, Celestial Arts, 2008
Brad Steiger, Words from the Source, Prentice Hall, 1975
VON BRASCHLER has lectured and led workshops throughout the US and the UK. He was on the faculty of Omega Institute for Holistic Studies in New York State. He is the author of several books, including Seven Secrets of Time Travel (Inner Traditions, 2012). His recent book is Confessions of a Reluctant Ghost Hunter. Von Braschler lives in St. Paul, MN, USA, and is president of Ancient Mysteries, a Minneapolis branch of the international Theosophical Society in the United States.