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So Your Apartment Is Being Haunted by a Ghost. Now What?

Treat your ghosts how you want to be treated.

So your apartment is haunted.

Before reading on, make sure that your apartment is actually haunted. Signs of haunting can be anything from strange banging noises, technological glitches, shadows, inexplicable smells, and the sound of distant music. You may also start having strange dreams (though if you're in isolation during quarantine, you may just be having quarandreams). In addition, pets can usually tell when a ghostly presence is at hand.

Also, remember that there are all sorts of things that can make you think your apartment is haunted. For example, people with sensitivity to high electromagnetic frequency often experience feelings of being watched, as well as nightmares and hallucinations. Carbon monoxide leaks can also cause hallucinations and feelings of dread, so maybe check your carbon monoxide levels before calling a paranormal consultant. Remember, too, that houses are creaky, noisy things, and the wind is always howling, and mice often take root in walls and things like that. Also, humans are simply wired to read significance in random abnormalities in our surroundings. "We carry a prototype in our mind of what a house should be like," says Rich Robbins, a Bucknell professor of social psychology. "When something out of the ordinary happens, we may or may not seek to explain it in rational terms."

Patrick Swayze in Ghost Galore Mag

Follow the Golden Rule: Respect the Ghost

But most likely, if you're reading this article, you're still wondering what to do about the ghost that may or may not be there. You may feel the impulse to immediately banish your ghost; if you sense that the ghost's presence is malignant, then this might be a good option. The psychic and healer Keidi Pushi has an incantation for making sure that only benevolent spirits remain in your home. "I make sure I feel grounded and strong in myself," she says. "Standing in one area or walking around the house, I point a finger around the physical space I am declaring to clear. I say my name and my right to claim the space as pure and my own. I ask the physical infrastructure of the house to hold only loving spirits."

Just be real about your feelings; remember, that ghost was once a person. "Say, 'Hey, we're in this home, we honor the work you did, and we're going to make some changes in a very respectful way,' and they'll feel validated," says medium Maureen Hancock. "People may laugh when you say that, but there are so many experiences where someone just says, 'I have to sleep, you need to leave,' and it stops."

If you're seeking more spiritual solutions, you could try smudging if you happen to have sage (though don't go ordering it; it's endangered), or hang some crystals, sprinkle some salt on your window sills, or call a priest and ask him to bless your home (via Zoom, nowadays). You could also "load it into a car or stick it in a crate for a trip upstate on Metro-North," advises Lauren Evans at Gothamist. "Sleepy Hollow is widely considered one of the best ghost sanctuaries in the nation, and you can put your conscience at ease knowing that it will probably find community there without much trouble. At least you'd better hope so."

Remember: not all ghosts are trying to do harm. There are literally no documented cases of someone being harmed by a ghost, despite what horror films will tell you and despite the millions of people who believe in them (and the several who have apparently enjoyed some raucous ghost sex).

In fact, many ghosts are just lost spirits with some unfinished business to take care of. Some hauntings may just be loops of something that already happened, so there's no danger of actually being harmed. Medium Chris Medina advises that you befriend the ghost, or at least maintain a polite relationship with your new roommate. "Make sure you stay on your side and they stay on theirs," he says. "Some just want to keep doing what they were doing before, taking care of people." It's likely that the ghost isn't trying to hurt you.

Matt Chambers, an architect who didn't believe in ghosts until he moved into a haunted house, advises polite detachment. "Don't be frightened," he says. "Just pay attention, because somebody might be trying to tell you something. Don't talk extensively about it inside the house if you'd rather it not happen as I feel the more you speak of it the more the entity wants to make itself known. But perhaps you do want to experience it more. That's up to you."

So how does one befriend a ghost? Well, you could start by just talking to it. Remember, though, that if you open up a conversation, the ghost may grow more enthusiastic in its attempts to communicate with you. On the other hand, if you're annoying enough, the ghost might leave on its own.

It's also OK to speak to the ghost like you would talk to another roommate, and that includes setting boundaries. "Speak aloud to the ghosts and tell them your own personal boundaries," advises fortune teller Alexandra Chuaran. "Don't be afraid to tell them 'no' and when to 'stop' and thank them when any annoying activities cease. Be polite and treat them like roommates that mean well, but may be a tad on the socially oblivious side."

Of course, there's a lot more information about what ghosts might actually symbolize, both in the personal and collective imagination. You could examine the neuroscience of hauntings, or the psychology of hauntings, or other logical explanations of ghosts. From the more theoretical perspective, look into hauntology or decolonial theories of haunting or queer theories of haunting or feminist theories of haunting. If you're in Brooklyn, you're in one of the world's epicenters of ghost stories, so you may want to look into that, or specifically into the history of your building.

And last but not least, think of it from the ghost's perspective. How do you want to be treated, should you return from the dead?

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