One question I’m often asked is how someone might go about cleansing or clearing their home of “uninvited guests” or “unpleasant energies.” Sometimes people ask me how to clear a home they’ve just purchased or rented. At other times, the person is asking because they feel that their home has suddenly become unwelcoming or even outright haunted.
Since winter is on its way out in my neck of the woods, and many folks are starting to think about spring cleaning, I figured it was a good time to write a post about this.
How do you clean and prepare a new home when you move in? How do you maintain that home while you live there? How do you “evict” unwanted entities or energies?
Step right up, and I’ll try to answer these questions!
Don’t clear a house unless you have to
Right off the bat, I should share with you that my first rule for house clearing is…don’t.
In almost every home cleansing situation I’ve been asked about, I advise a gentle, nice approach to the spirits and energy of the home. I don’t recommend aggressive, “nuke the site from orbit” methods of home clearing unless there is a real and present danger of harm to the people living there.
This is because a large part of my magical and spiritual practice is working with spirits, and seeing them as persons not much different from myself or other living humans. I treat them with respect, understanding, and patience whenever possible.
Because I approach spirits with this attitude, I usually see unruly entities for what they typically are: confused and frustrated. If I can connect with the spirit, and “settle them down,” there’s no reason to evict them. And let’s face it, evicting someone from their home without good cause is just plain rude.
Shopping for a new home
I’m going to start from the very beginning of your home-owning/apartment-renting journey. What things should you look for (and look out for) when shopping for a new home, and what should you bring along for the walk-through?
Keep the rain off your head
First, let’s talk preparation. I never leave my house without wearing a hat. In many, many magical and spiritual traditions, the act of covering one’s head is a protective one. It’s like wearing a hard hat to a construction site. It’s just good practice overall, in my opinion, and it’s a fairly good way to keep “stuff” off of you when going through a strange house or apartment.
Unfortunately, some people (particular among the older generations) consider wearing a hat or other head covering indoors to be rude. If that’s the case, you can forgo the headgear in favor of cleaning yourself off after you leave.
Dust yourself off
I use Florida water in my practice quite a bit. It’s a kind of universal solvent or cleaner which is excellent for clearing away unwanted energy and getting “hitchhikers” off of you. It’s employed by many people in many different traditions for just this purpose. Also? I like the smell.
You can either use a little bit straight from the bottle, or you can mix it with water and put it in a small spritzer or old hand sanitizer bottle. Either way, when you leave an unfamiliar home or apartment, rub a little on your hands, a bit on the back of your neck, and wave your hands about your head (or “through your aura”) to clear away anything that might have stuck to you.
Your first walk-through
Now that you’re equipped, and you’ve shown up to view your prospective home, what should you look for?
Mainly, just trust your instincts. Look through the place just as anyone would. Does it have enough room? Does it get enough light? Is it clean? Is it within your budget.
If the house or apartment seems like a good fit from a purely mundane perspective, odds are pretty good that you won’t get much in the way of paranormal problems. Just be sure to use all of your five, “natural” senses when exploring the place, especially your senses of smell and touch.
If the house has an odd “funk” to it, or smells “off,” that’s usually a sign to be a little more cautious. Similarly, if certain rooms or walls feel especially cold, or seem to have a “clamminess,” that should be another red flag. Neither of these are deal breakers, per se, but they are things to keep in mind.
Overall, though, what you’re looking for is how does the house feel to you? Does it seem welcoming? Can you easily see yourself living there a long time? If you’re planning to move into this place with others, such as your family, do they all feel the same way?
Now, if you’re reading this post, it’s probably fair to assume that you have an interest in magic, and may have done some work on cultivating clairvoyance or other, similar senses. In general, I recommend doing your best to subdue such senses when you’re first checking out a possible new home. Give your “mundane” senses some time to work, and only open yourself up once they seem to give the “all clear.”
The bottom line is this: if a house or apartment doesn’t seem right to you, trust your intuition, and keep shopping.
Do your homework
This should probably go without saying, but always, always do your homework when looking for a new place to live. Ask the realtor (or building manager, or previous owner) about the place’s history. Do web searches for the address. If it’s an older building, take a trip to the town’s historical society and see if someone can’t fill you in on the location’s past.
Depending on where you live, certain information must be disclosed to you as a matter of law. For instance, in most places, if someone was murdered in a house, the real estate agent and/or previous owner are required to tell you this.
That said, not every “bad thing” which can happen in a home falls under such laws. As with almost any purchase, follow the advice of “buyer beware” and get all of the facts you can before committing to a sale or rental agreement.
Okay, assuming your house-hunting/apartment-hunting experience went well, and you’re about to move into a new place, what now?
Your right to bear arms
I’m going to let you in on what seems to be a “big secret.” I’m not sure why it’s a secret, but here goes. When you close on a house sale, or you’re accepted and cleared to move into an apartment, you receive two phenomenally powerful magical items.
You receive a deed or lease, and you receive a key.
The deed or lease is a written document which details your rights and responsibilities regarding the property, and it should include one or more signatures. In magical terms, this is a contract or pact. It provides you with not only legal proof that you belong there, and have possession of the place, but also metaphysical or magical proof of the same.
As for the key, it is literally an object which permits you to pass through the place’s “defenses” (the locked door), but also gives you the ability to setup or activate said defenses.
You can look at these two items like the crown and scepter of a king or queen, the tools or regalia of someone who is the rightful regent of the land that is your new home. No amount of incense, chanting, or “positive vibes” will come even close to equaling the power held in these two objects. Walk softly, but carry these big sticks.
And by carry them, I mean walk through your new home with these in hand and introduce yourself.
I mentioned above that my magical practice is spirit-focused. This means that I spend most of my day interacting with entities which are either formerly-living humans or other-than-human. Take that as you will, but for our purposes here I want to stress to you a fact that most people either aren’t aware of, or don’t give enough credit to: your house is a spirit.
Let me share a personal story with you.
Many years ago, my daughter and I moved back into my parents’ house. This was partly because the economics made sense, but also because my parents were growing older and I wanted to be close to them and support them.
One morning, in October of 2018, I was using the bathroom when my daughter started banging on the door. “Nana fell down!” she shouted.
As it turned out, my mother had suffered a massive stroke.
Paramedics arrived, a helicopter got involved, and after three weeks in the hospital my mother passed on. It was hard for all of us, but we pulled through.
Two years ago, I was sitting in meditation and “journeying” about the house. That is to say, I was exploring my home with what some might call my “astral” or “ethereal” form. Everything seemed more or less fine until I got to my parents’ bedroom, where I perceived an odd shadow lingering by my mother’s side of the bed.
This shadow didn’t seem particularly hostile or dangerous, but I’m not exactly keen on unexplained entities loitering about my home. So, I reached out to it.
A brief conversation ensued, and I realized that this “shadow” was actually the spirit of the house. Why was it concentrated there, looking so dark and negative?
It missed “the nice old lady” who took “such good care” of it, and it didn’t know why she hadn’t been back.
Very few spirit contacts have floored me as much as this one.
My mother was a fastidious housekeeper, and always made sure our home was both spotless and in good repair. She loved this house, took pride in making it our home, and as it turned out, the house noticed and appreciated this, too.
No one, not even me, had taken the time to explain to the house what had happened when my mother was called away.
I sat with the spirit of my house for quite some time after this. I explained what had happened, how my mother would not be returning, and both of us grieved for her loss.
This is what I mean by “explain yourself.” The house or apartment you are moving into might not have any idea what is happening to it. People were living there, those people went away, and now you’re there. Take some time to sit with the spirit of the house and tell it your story. Why are you there? What happened to the people who were there before? What do you intend to do with the place?
If you can connect with and befriend the spirit of the house or building or apartment, you’ll have a much easier time not only living there, but dealing with any “unwelcome guests.”
I spoke above about the power of the deed and the key. These are symbols of responsibility and obligation. Show them to the house, make your introductions, then commit yourself to looking after your new home in exchange for it looking after you.
Before your move anything into a new house or apartment, give it a proper cleaning.
The usual rule with such cleanings is that you start from the highest point of the house, then clean from top to bottom and back to front. Break out the broom and really go to town. Maybe the house is spotless when you move in, but even if so, give it a once-over yourself.
Top floor to ground floor, basement to ground floor, back to front. Get all of the debris, dust, and detritus out of the place and outside. You might make a “floor wash” using some water with a dash of Florida water mixed in, but I usually reserve this for when things are becoming “challenging” (see below). Regardless, clean the place and while you’re doing so keep speaking to the house spirit.
“Oh, I’m cleaning you out. Doesn’t that smell nice? Let’s get all of this dust out of you. You’re such a beautiful home!”
It might seem silly to speak out loud to your house this way, but trust me—it works. Do everything you can to show the house (or apartment) that you mean to take good care of it, and to love it, and it will return the favor.
Once you have cleaned the whole place, it’s time to break out the incense.
Good vibes only
I could write an entire blog post (or even a full magical course) on the use of incense. Suffice it to say, after you’ve swept and mopped your new home, you’d do well to burn a little frankincense. This is a good, non-offensive, “elevating” incense.
When you burn Frankincense, the goal isn’t to dispel or drive anything away. Rather, the goal is to “raise the vibrations” of the place you’re in, so to speak. That is to say, you’re making the environment around you exceptionally positive, and in doing so, most anything negative is going to want to leave, and to leave quickly.
Whether you’re using a stick, cone, or a bit of resin on a charcoal disk, it doesn’t matter. Light up some frankincense and walk it from room to room, expressing (out loud) a desire to elevate the space and make everyone and everything within happy, positive, and vibrant if they mean no harm.
And here, with that caveat “if they mean no harm,” we get to our first bit of “filtration.” We’re wishing “good vibes” upon everything in the space, so long as they wish good vibes upon us.
Embrace the mellow
For the first week or two, and ideally the first full Lunar cycle, do your best to give off “good vibes only” in your new home. Do what you can to limit yelling, arguing, or fighting within your new place’s walls.
The goal is for you and the other occupants of the home to continue “raising the vibrations” of the place through your actions. Moving to a new place can be stressful, so this part of the process might be a little challenging, so just do your best.
One thing you can do to help ease the strain on your relationships, and cultivate a peaceful atmosphere, is to sprinkle a small amount of dried basil in the corners of each room. Basil is a remarkable plant ally which works at the level of relationships: it helps to create and maintain peaceful and warm interactions.
Another thing you could add to the mix is a bit of lavender. Lavender is used in many traditions as a way to mellow out an environment, to the point where the scent of lavender is known to be a wonderful and natural sleep aid. Small bouquets of the fresh herb are best, but lavender essential oil also works well.
Some people use essential oil diffusers, but I find that one or two drops of the oil on a folded washcloth placed on a shelf in the bedroom to be just as effective. Start with just one drop, though, and see how potent the scent is. The first time I used lavender oil in this way, I used five or six drops and the smell was rather overpowering.
Now that you’re all settled into your new home, what’s next? Assuming everything seems fine, the vibe is good, and you’re not experiencing any disturbing or unwanted activity, things are pretty easy.
Keep the house clean
There’s a rather bad habit among magically-inclined folks in the “West” to consciously (or even unconsciously) separate the “magical” from the “mundane.” That is to say, magical rituals are things which only happen in special circles or rooms, or at special times, or require special tools.
If you look at all of the various magical and spiritual practices found throughout the world, you’ll find that this is not the most common view. Rather, most people and cultures see very little if any separation between magic and the mundane tasks they undertake throughout their daily lives.
This is the view that I take myself, and it’s why I see the “simple” act of cleaning one’s house to be an important magical ritual. You are literally cleansing and clearing your home of unwanted detritus! Ritualize the act if you must, but every time you clean your home, understand that you are cleaning it magically just as you are cleaning it physically.
More importantly, though, if you aren’t keeping your house clean, debris and dirt of all kinds could start to creep in.
Fix things when or before they break
Household maintenance also includes putting oil on that squeaky door, or fixing the faucet when it starts to leak. Remember, your house has (or is) a spirit, and you can think of the walls, floors, and fixtures as its body. You shouldn’t let these little “injuries” pile up, any more than you should let your own body fall into disrepair.
Not attending to these problems in a timely manner puts you and your home at risk of infection.
Up until this point, everything I’ve suggested is in line with the idea that you have moved into a new place, are trying to build a good relationship with the spirit of the house, and are doing your best to peacefully co-exist with any other spirits which might happen to be there.
In my opinion, this is the best way to inhabit a place. It acknowledges that these other spirits are also persons deserving of love and respect just as you are.
Now we come to the first bit of “potentially-disruptive” magic: the use of protective objects.
Any magically-protective object or amulet has the potential to be viewed as a “challenge.” Whether we are talking about horseshoes over the front door, hands of Fatima, Evil Eye amulets, God’s Eyes, or labyrinths hung by the entryway, sometimes spirits can see these items as “lines in the sand.” And, very rarely, you’ll encounter spirits that try to step over these lines just to see if they can.
I say very rarely, because I have almost never encountered such spirits directly. In fact, there’s only one account that I’m personally aware of where someone hung an item in their home for protection (in this case, a labyrinth painted on a mirror that they’d purchased at a garage sale) and began to suffer some ill effects—and these effects were quite minor. They started misplacing small items, like their car keys or pens, and everyone in the house began to experience a bit of “brain fog,” where they hadn’t had any before.
Even in this case, though, I don’t think the act of putting up a protective object caused the issue. Rather, I think it’s more likely that the labyrinth itself came with an uninvited guest or unwanted energy. Once they got rid of it, everything went back to normal.
That said, just be aware of the extremely outside possibility that decorating your home with protective items could stir things up.
If you do decide to go this route, which sorts of items can you use? I listed several above you could look into, although some of them have cultural connections you may want to investigate before trying them on for size. If none of the ones I wrote of seem a good fit, a Google search or two will almost certainly give you a dozen more ideas.
Use what you feel is best, and what seems to be most in line with your own magical practice.
The house as protective object
I should also point out here that, of all the spirits in the house, the spirit of the house can be seen as sort of “king of the hill.” In other words, if you have a good relationship with the house spirit, and you keep the house clean and in good order, it is itself a powerful protective “object.”
You can think of it a bit like a fortress, guarded by a very formidable ally.
Just be sure to keep talking with it, especially if you’re planning on making any big changes to it. I can’t even count the number of people who have began a remodeling project and suddenly started experiencing disturbing paranormal phenomena.
“Oh, you decided to take out two walls and tear out the old fireplace? Did you ask the house how it felt about that?”
I’m not saying that you have to get the house spirit’s permission for every little change you make, but I mean come on! If someone started randomly cutting your hair without warning, and without your permission, I’m pretty sure you’d consider that rude.
Before you embark on a remodeling project, or hanging up wallpaper, or painting, or whatever, talk to the house. Let the house know what you’re planning on doing, why you’re planning to do it, and at least get an idea of what it thinks about it.
And you know what? Involving the house in such decisions is really, really rewarding. Not sure what color to paint the dining room? Grab your swatches, sit on the floor of that room, and ask the house for its help. Treat the swatches like an oracle deck, or use a pendulum to ask the house yes or no.
Maybe you and the house have a favorite color in common.
In case of emergency
Apart from the slim chance that something might take offense at the amulet above your door, everything we’ve discussed up until now has almost no possibility of causing problems where there weren’t any.
Here, we start to cross that line.
Let’s get something straight: unexpected spirit contact is almost always disturbing for people who aren’t used to it. You’re home alone and hear footsteps walking down the hall? Odds are pretty good that’s going to freak you out. Ditto goes for waking up in the middle of the night because you feel something watching you from the corner of your bedroom.
In the immortal words taken from the front cover of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy: don’t panic.
If things start to feel a little “spooky” in your home, unless it’s immediately violent or obviously malevolent, don’t automatically assume that it means a hostile spirit or destructive energy has moved in. Spirits come and go for all sorts of reasons. Remember, they are persons. They could just be passing through. Or they could be curious. Or maybe they sense someone in the house is “magically-operant” and either want to say “hello” or are looking to establish a relationship.
The best emotion you can embrace when you sense things getting “weird” is curiosity.
Try talking with whatever it is that’s decided to show up. Maybe this means literally speaking out loud to it and trying to hear or feel out its response. Maybe this means throwing some Tarot cards and asking who it is and why it’s there. Or maybe you prefer to work with a pendulum.
Whatever your chosen form of divination or spirit communication, use it to try to engage with whatever is making its presence known.
As part of this process, it’s a good idea to establish and communicate some healthy boundaries. What kind of communication are you open to? What sort of behavior will you permit? What do you not want to see or experience?
A good rule or guideline to follow here is to be polite but also firm. Again, this is your home, they are a guest, and like any guest they should be expected to observe some reasonable etiquette. Keep in mind what I wrote above, though: all spirit contact can feel “spooky.”
There’s not much a discorporate entity can do about that sort of thing.
In my experience, it’s relatively rare to get a clear and unambiguous conversation out of a spirit on your first, second, or even fifth try. However, after a session or two, you should have a pretty good idea of the spirit’s intentions and, more importantly, whether or not you are okay with it hanging around.
If you’re more or less fine with it staying, clearly set the same expectations you did when you first moved into the place. They can remain if they “cause no harm,” etc., etc.
Also? Don’t forget to consult with the spirit of the house, too. Remember, the house itself has a significant say over what happens and who (or what) gets to be within its walls. See what it has to say, and ask it look after (and keep an eye on) your new guest.
Mellowing them out
If the activity in your house starts to become a bit more intense than you’d like, or becomes too disturbing for your taste, the next thing I suggest is trying to mellow it out. Again, I’m a fan of “live and let live” whenever possible. So unless things are getting violent or overtly malevolent, start gently.
Burn frankincense in each of the rooms, and follow this up with lavender. Play some peaceful, uplifting, and happy music. Bring in some fresh flowers. Speak with your housemates and institute another temporary “good vibes only” policy for a few days.
The idea here, once again, is to create an extremely positive and peaceful environment.
In nine out of ten situations, this is enough to either make the spirit calm down and behave, or else make it decide to move on of its own volition.
Polite house clearing
If you can’t calm the spirit down, and it doesn’t seem to want to leave on its own, it might be time to send it on its way.
Clean your house just as you did when you first moved in, and this time add a “floor wash” to the mix. You’ll find a ton of recipes online for this, but honestly all you need is a little Florida water in a bucket of water. Wipe down your woodwork and baseboards with this mixture after dusting, sweeping, and vacuuming.
While you’re cleaning, speak directly to the spirit almost like you would a person you’re breaking up with. “Sorry, it’s just not working out. It’s time for you to go. Depart in peace.” Whatever words seem right. Also, talk to the spirit of the house and make sure it understands that your guest needs to be checking out.
As the very last step of the cleaning, take the trash (including whatever’s in your vacuum cleaner) outside through the front door. When you do this, politely but firmly say goodbye to the unwelcome guest and bid it farewell.
Then, follow the process I wrote above for “mellowing them out.” Reset the space with as much positive energy as you can.
The “nuclear” option
I have only ever recommended this approach to house clearing once, and even then I wasn’t convinced that it was strictly necessary. If you follow all of the advice I wrote above, you should almost never have a need to do even the “polite house clearing.” And in almost every case, that polite approach is more than enough to get whatever is causing trouble out the door.
However, if you’re experiencing violent or clearly malevolent activity and need it to be done with once and for all, this method is what I recommend to others.
You will need: a stoneware or other heavy-duty ceramic bowl which can handle heat (and you are willing to throw away); self-lighting charcoal you can burn incense on; sea salt; rosemary; asafoetida; dragon’s blood; and a bottle of water. You’ll also want to be carrying your house key and your deed or lease.
You’ll be using the bowl, filled with sea salt, as a safe way to hold and burn the charcoal and incense as you carry it around with you. You’ll be throwing it away after using it for this ritual. Do not keep it around.
Rosemary is a common herb which can be burned to drive away malevolent spirits, particularly the dead. It’s perfectly fine to grab this from your cupboard, or the baking aisle of your grocery market.
Asafoetida is another herb which is also traditionally burned to drive away malevolent spirits, particularly those of a demonic nature. You might be able to find it in the “Asian” food aisle of your grocery store, but it can be found online if needed.
Dragon’s blood is a type of plant resin which is one of the most powerful incenses for exorcising or cleansing a space. Most “new age” or “metaphysical” stores carry it, but online ordering is also a possibility.
Mix these three substances together in roughly equal parts. You won’t need a ton of this mixture, but you will need enough to burn some in every room.
Now, for the ritual.
First, if you live with other people (or pets), have them leave the house for the duration of this process.
Next, go through the “polite house clearing” as described above, though hold off on doing the “mellowing them out” bit. You’ll do that after the process below. Not only does this help set the stage for the “big show” to follow, but it gives the unruly spirit one last chance to leave before things get serious.
Next, open all of the windows and doors in your home. There are two reasons for this. First, the incense is very pungent (it really, really stinks). Second, you’re giving anything stuck or trapped in the house a chance to flee.
Tell the spirit of the house that you are about to drive away the entity causing all the trouble, and ask the house for its help. If you’ve been cultivating a strong, positive relationship with the house, it should be more the willing to help you evict the troublemaker.
Fill the bowl with the sea salt, which will help to insulate your hands from the heat of the charcoal. Light the charcoal, then burn some of the incense in each of the rooms. Make sure to fill the house with the smoke, but not to do it so much that you’re setting off fire alarms or making yourself or others sick.
While fumigating the house, firmly and loudly tell the unwanted spirit to get out, using as much “colorful” and “vulgar” language as you like.
Seriously. At this stage, you are past the point of politeness. If you’ve followed my advice so far, you gave the entity multiple chances to behave, or to leave on good terms. Now it’s time to throw the thing out on its ass.
Once you’ve gone through the whole house with the incense, and your best “I’m tired of your crap” attitude, bring the bowl outside, douse it well with the water, and throw the whole mess in the trash, preferably well away from your property.
After this, return to your house and do all of the “mellowing out” steps again. Good vibes only, etc. etc.
It’s also a good idea to do whatever personal cleansing ritual you have, such as taking a spiritual bath or even just using a bit of Florida water on yourself like I wrote about above.
If I have only one rule to share when it comes to relating with the spirits in your home, it’s this: “Be nice, until it’s time to not be nice.” And yes, that’s a quote from the movie Roadhouse.
I work and play with spirits all the time. Some I get along with, some I don’t, and all of them are persons. I do my absolute best to treat them all with love, respect, and a desire to mutually co-exist and flourish.
In my experience, this is the best way to not only handle “troublesome” spirits, it’s also the best way to prevent spirits from becoming “troublesome” in the first place.