Spiritual House Cleansing

From my experience, when a human being dies and his or her spirit lingers, that spirit retains its personality, memories, and ability to reason. Depending on how you accept that ghosts (human remnants specifically) become earthbound, this retention of a large portion of who and what they were in life is a fundamental characteristic of lingering human spirits. There are phenomenon labeled as ghosts which are not human spirits. These can manifest as an apparition of a person, as a sense of their presence, the sound of their voice, even the scent of their perfume. In some rare cases, these manifestations will involve all of these things. The manifestations are not necessarily static. Quite typically, they repeat a specific series of actions, over and over again. The vast majority of manifestations witnessed on the field of Gettysburg fall into this category.

These manifestations are what I’ve called “memory ghosts.” They are an imprint or an echo that has been stamped upon the energy of the subtle reality. They are almost always the product of a highly emotional situation or event: a murder, a battle, a suicide. They have all the sentience and free will of an image projected onto a screen. They repeat the seem actions endlessly because they are nothing more than a recording on infinite repeat. As the energy that made the impression fades over time, the repetitions can fade or cease altogether. But the spirit of the actual person who generated the energy to create this effect is long, long gone.

Some constructs exist that might be perceived as ghosts. The most famous example of this is one given by John Keel in The Mothman Prophecies (now a completely inaccurate motion picture!). There is a house in Greenwich Village where residents kept seeing a figure in dark clothes, a flowing cape, and a wide-brimmed slouch hat stalking through the corridors. The face of the figure was always indistinct, but some said it had a very piercing, intense gaze. This apparition was seen numerous times by a succession of people. Concluding that the house was haunted, the history of the house was researched, but it seemed that no one had ever died in the residence (I could go on my rant about how everyone seems to think that someone has to have died in a house in order for their spirit to haunt it — suffice it to say that it just ain’t so). Someone came up with the theory that this figure was the ghost of a Civil War soldier or even a spy — it projected a sneaking, almost sinister air about it to those who perceived it.

After coming up with dead-ends on the identity of this mysterious figure, someone learned that the house had once been the residence of a rather prolific writer by the name of Walter Gibson. Gibson had spent some of his most productive years in the house, turning out page after page in a series which revolved around one specific character. The character was The Shadow — “Who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men? The Shadow knows … “ as the old radio show used to go.

It just so happens that the Shadow stalked around in dark clothes with a muffled face, a flowing cape, and a wide-brimmed slouch hat. The “ghost” in the Greenwich Village house was a construct birthed by Gibson’s fertile imagination and all the energy he put into the form as he worked on his series of tales.

So this brings us back to real, legitimate ghosts. Once again, I define “ghost” as the spiritual remains of a human being who has died and lingered here as opposed to moving on to whatever version of the Afterlife exists beyond this place (The Tibetan Book of the Dead offers some good insights into this, and I’d have to say my own views on the whole process are largely in keeping with that of the Tibetans). These spirits are just like people — except they no longer wear flesh. As such, they can lie just like people do; they can have agendas just like people do; and they can be varying shades of beneficial and malevolent just like people are.

It’s a common belief, propagated mainly through Medieval necromantic traditions, that ghosts, once they’ve crossed over, become omniscient. This is the root of necromancy being a diviniatory technique. It was beleived that the dead were privy to all manner of knowledge and secrets that were obscured from the living by the veil separating the living from the dead. But this belief in the omniscience of spirits is just another misconception that’s grown out of the mystique living people tend to apply to the dead. In my experience, while their perceptions from that side of things are different, they are not omniscient by any means. They do tend to be more empathic/telepathic than your average incarnated human, but this is mainly because they exist on the level of pure energy and all communication and/or interaction occurs on this level.

Energy does sustain them. However, they are perfectly capable of taking it for themselves. When you are alive, you are both spirit and matter — and just as your physical body sustains itself with food and water and air, your subtle body sustains itself with the energy from the world around you. Some of this energy is in the food you eat; some of it is exchanged with the environment through the process of breathing (hence the layered meaning of breath/life/spirit with such words as prana, chi, and even the Swahili roho); and some is gained through more subtle means (we can get into the ramifications this has on the reality of vampirism in another thread). For the most part, a living being’s interaction with and intake of energy occurs on the same unconscious and instinctual level as breathing — you don’t need to know the mechanics of it or even what muscles you’re flexing in order to do it — it’s hard-wired into the organism. Survival’s great that way.

The ability to take in sustaining energy (and expel energetic byproduct) is similarly a natural process for the spirits of the dead. However, there is usually a slightly more active element involved. Consider energy the food of the dead. You don’t eat a hamburger just by thinking about it. So it is with the spirits — they do have to actively forage for their “food” although it’s not necessary for them to consciously understand the whole process by which they eat and digest it (consider how many embodied beings would be in trouble if we had to understand the mechanics of physical digestion just to gain any benefit from our regular meals).

Spirits certainly appreciate gifts of energy — and this is one way I have of thanking them for a service rendered. Think of all the funerary systems the world over that leave food offerings to the dead while acnowledging that the food itself serves as a symbol for the subtle nourishment that the spirits derive from such sacrifice. However, if you’re working with spirits, don’t let them feed off of you without restraint. There’s no reason for this. Set guidelines and groundrules for what is acceptable and unacceptable behavior. Make sure the spirits know that these don’t apply only to you, or else you may have visitors to your home complaining of being tired all the time. Be very clear that the spirits you work with are to take energy that is offered willingly only — and if they start breaking this cardinal rule, make certain there are consequences.

As for what use a human spirit can be put to? You can sit around and talk to it — I find some of them vastly entertaining. They can be put to work as house guardians. This runs much along the same lines as creating a construct to do that job — except most constructs have a limited intellect and frequently can only do what they’ve been programmed to do. A human spirit is just like having another person in the house, but someone who can watch it from the otherside. They can think, reason, make judgement calls on what to do, etc.,

Summoning any other sort of entity for this work yields about the same results — it’s just that some entities don’t operate on remotely human principles, and so their behavior & reactions are harder to predict. I suppose I like the predictability of human spirits — with a good grasp of human psychology, it’s pretty easy to know what they want, how to make them happy, and how to get them to do a job for you. The other benefit is you’re working with something that you can meet on equal terms. Unlike a lot of others who work with spirits, I prefer not to bind or compel otherworldly entities. Constructs, as created things, are a little too much like servants or slaves to me, and bound entities are worse. So I prefer working with spirits that I can relate to as friends, companions, and equals, which means the vast majority of the disembodied I work with wore human flesh at some point in their existence.

Notes on Spirit Work

From my experience, when a human being dies and his or her spirit lingers, that spirit retains its personality, memories, and ability to reason. Depending on how you accept that ghosts (human remnants specifically) become earthbound, this retention of a large portion of who and what they were in life is a fundamental characteristic of lingering human spirits. There are phenomenon labeled as ghosts which are not human spirits. These can manifest as an apparition of a person, as a sense of their presence, the sound of their voice, even the scent of their perfume. In some rare cases, these manifestations will involve all of these things. The manifestations are not necessarily static. Quite typically, they repeat a specific series of actions, over and over again. The vast majority of manifestations witnessed on the field of Gettysburg fall into this category.

These manifestations are what I’ve called “memory ghosts.” They are an imprint or an echo that has been stamped upon the energy of the subtle reality. They are almost always the product of a highly emotional situation or event: a murder, a battle, a suicide. They have all the sentience and free will of an image projected onto a screen. They repeat the seem actions endlessly because they are nothing more than a recording on infinite repeat. As the energy that made the impression fades over time, the repetitions can fade or cease altogether. But the spirit of the actual person who generated the energy to create this effect is long, long gone.

Some constructs exist that might be perceived as ghosts. The most famous example of this is one given by John Keel in The Mothman Prophecies (now a completely inaccurate motion picture!). There is a house in Greenwich Village where residents kept seeing a figure in dark clothes, a flowing cape, and a wide-brimmed slouch hat stalking through the corridors. The face of the figure was always indistinct, but some said it had a very piercing, intense gaze. This apparition was seen numerous times by a succession of people. Concluding that the house was haunted, the history of the house was researched, but it seemed that no one had ever died in the residence (I could go on my rant about how everyone seems to think that someone has to have died in a house in order for their spirit to haunt it — suffice it to say that it just ain’t so). Someone came up with the theory that this figure was the ghost of a Civil War soldier or even a spy — it projected a sneaking, almost sinister air about it to those who perceived it.

After coming up with dead-ends on the identity of this mysterious figure, someone learned that the house had once been the residence of a rather prolific writer by the name of Walter Gibson. Gibson had spent some of his most productive years in the house, turning out page after page in a series which revolved around one specific character. The character was The Shadow — “Who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men? The Shadow knows … “ as the old radio show used to go.

It just so happens that the Shadow stalked around in dark clothes with a muffled face, a flowing cape, and a wide-brimmed slouch hat. The “ghost” in the Greenwich Village house was a construct birthed by Gibson’s fertile imagination and all the energy he put into the form as he worked on his series of tales.

So this brings us back to real, legitimate ghosts. Once again, I define “ghost” as the spiritual remains of a human being who has died and lingered here as opposed to moving on to whatever version of the Afterlife exists beyond this place (The Tibetan Book of the Dead offers some good insights into this, and I’d have to say my own views on the whole process are largely in keeping with that of the Tibetans). These spirits are just like people — except they no longer wear flesh. As such, they can lie just like people do; they can have agendas just like people do; and they can be varying shades of beneficial and malevolent just like people are.

It’s a common belief, propagated mainly through Medieval necromantic traditions, that ghosts, once they’ve crossed over, become omniscient. This is the root of necromancy being a diviniatory technique. It was beleived that the dead were privy to all manner of knowledge and secrets that were obscured from the living by the veil separating the living from the dead. But this belief in the omniscience of spirits is just another misconception that’s grown out of the mystique living people tend to apply to the dead. In my experience, while their perceptions from that side of things are different, they are not omniscient by any means. They do tend to be more empathic/telepathic than your average incarnated human, but this is mainly because they exist on the level of pure energy and all communication and/or interaction occurs on this level.

Energy does sustain them. However, they are perfectly capable of taking it for themselves. When you are alive, you are both spirit and matter — and just as your physical body sustains itself with food and water and air, your subtle body sustains itself with the energy from the world around you. Some of this energy is in the food you eat; some of it is exchanged with the environment through the process of breathing (hence the layered meaning of breath/life/spirit with such words as prana, chi, and even the Swahili roho); and some is gained through more subtle means (we can get into the ramifications this has on the reality of vampirism in another thread). For the most part, a living being’s interaction with and intake of energy occurs on the same unconscious and instinctual level as breathing — you don’t need to know the mechanics of it or even what muscles you’re flexing in order to do it — it’s hard-wired into the organism. Survival’s great that way.

The ability to take in sustaining energy (and expel energetic byproduct) is similarly a natural process for the spirits of the dead. However, there is usually a slightly more active element involved. Consider energy the food of the dead. You don’t eat a hamburger just by thinking about it. So it is with the spirits — they do have to actively forage for their “food” although it’s not necessary for them to consciously understand the whole process by which they eat and digest it (consider how many embodied beings would be in trouble if we had to understand the mechanics of physical digestion just to gain any benefit from our regular meals).

Spirits certainly appreciate gifts of energy — and this is one way I have of thanking them for a service rendered. Think of all the funerary systems the world over that leave food offerings to the dead while acnowledging that the food itself serves as a symbol for the subtle nourishment that the spirits derive from such sacrifice. However, if you’re working with spirits, don’t let them feed off of you without restraint. There’s no reason for this. Set guidelines and groundrules for what is acceptable and unacceptable behavior. Make sure the spirits know that these don’t apply only to you, or else you may have visitors to your home complaining of being tired all the time. Be very clear that the spirits you work with are to take energy that is offered willingly only — and if they start breaking this cardinal rule, make certain there are consequences.

As for what use a human spirit can be put to? You can sit around and talk to it — I find some of them vastly entertaining. They can be put to work as house guardians. This runs much along the same lines as creating a construct to do that job — except most constructs have a limited intellect and frequently can only do what they’ve been programmed to do. A human spirit is just like having another person in the house, but someone who can watch it from the otherside. They can think, reason, make judgement calls on what to do, etc.,

Summoning any other sort of entity for this work yields about the same results — it’s just that some entities don’t operate on remotely human principles, and so their behavior & reactions are harder to predict. I suppose I like the predictability of human spirits — with a good grasp of human psychology, it’s pretty easy to know what they want, how to make them happy, and how to get them to do a job for you. The other benefit is you’re working with something that you can meet on equal terms. Unlike a lot of others who work with spirits, I prefer not to bind or compel otherworldly entities. Constructs, as created things, are a little too much like servants or slaves to me, and bound entities are worse. So I prefer working with spirits that I can relate to as friends, companions, and equals, which means the vast majority of the disembodied I work with wore human flesh at some point in their existence.

Egregores and Astral Constructs

In one of his many books on the occult, Colin Wilson tells us of a television show that featured a “created” ghost. The show was one of those psychic phenomenon shows that were very popular in the early seventies. This particular show explored the notion of mediums, seances, and communication with spirits across the Veil. Well, prior to the show, the sitters got together and decided to “make” a ghost. They came up with a name and an elaborate history for this fellow, and they put a good deal of time, effort, and energy into imagining what he would look like, how he might speak, and how he lived his life.

The purpose of this experiment was in part to see whether or not spirits were truly being contacted by the medium during such sittings, or if the details typically gleaned by a medium from a “spirit” were actually being telepathically picked out of the heads of those present.

The experiment proved inconclusive, unfortunately, because this created spirit did not limit himself to the details that sitters were thinking about beforehand. Instead, he proved quite lively, rapping and tilting the table and elaborating on details of his history the sitters had not agreed upon. In essence, he behaved just like a real ghost.

The results of this experiment of course raised the question for the paranormalists, “Is it possible to ‘create’ a ghost?” Most students of the paranormal, if they acknowledge the existence of spirits, assume that the spirit-world is populated exclusively with human ghosts. So the notion of a spirit that was created through the collective thoughts and focus of a small group lay out of the realm of what they could conceive. However, though the parapsychologists might find the notion puzzling, the creation of spiritual entities has long been known to practitioners of magick. With the proper focus, it is of course possible to “create” a spirit. In some traditions, such a created thing is known as a thought-form or an elemental. I tend to refer to them as constructs. Another more technical occult term for a created spirit is “egregore”.

People can make constructs intentionally, or they can create them accidentally by focusing a lot of energy on a particular thought form, force, imagined entity, and so on. A good example of an accidentally, but very real, construct, would be the “spirit” that haunts a certain house in Greenwich Village of NY, as cited by John Keel in “The Mothman Prophecies” (now a major motion picture). Anyhow, this spirit wears a slouch hat and a long flowing cape and goes stalking about the hallways with a sort of menace to his step. The spirit was well documented, but when people researched the history of the place, there was no one who had died there who even remotely fit the description of this thing.

However, as Keel notes, there was an interesting fellow who had lived there for several years. He was a writer, and he spent some of his most prolific years in that place. His name was Walter Gibson, and he was the creator of the Shadow — he “who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men.”

The Shadow, for those born too recently to know, was a dark and menacing figure who stalked about in a broad-brimmed hat and voluminous cloak (and no, the original was not Alec Baldwin).
Basically, by pouring so much energy, imagination, and intensity into his character, Walter Gibson has left behind an astral construct of the character, and this construct now perpetually goes through the motions of its created existence.

Constructs, from this example, are basically thought given form in the subtle reality. The more energy you put into them, the stronger they are. They can be created for many purposes. A lot of magickal workers create them as guardians. They are kind of like computers or robots in the fact that they function on a simple program and can be made to carry out basic functions — like the Shadow, who stalks around menacingly in keeping with his character. With a lot of effort and focus, they can be made to be more complex, though this often depends on the skill of the person or persons creating them.

Constructs tend to fade over time unless they are sustained. Some of the more complicated constructs can be self-sustaining and will feed upon energy just like any other entity in the subtle realm. Others will be sustained as long as you continue to put some thought and focus into them – whether you consciously intend to do this or not. Thought is energy, and the more you focus on something consciously, or in daydreams and nightmares, the more energy you provide to strengthen and sustain it.

Some really powerful egregores seem to achieve sentience over time, and these may become independent of their creators, essentially becoming indistinguishable from “true” spirits.

Of course, as constructs and egregores are typically used as what amounts to servants by magickal practitioners, this raises all manner of questions about ethics. If an egregore can achieve sentience, does that make it “real”? Do such entities simply follow programs and patterns that are worked into them, or can they achieve something akin to free will? And since we seem to be able to generate these entities both consciously and unconsciously through our focused emotions and thoughts, what does that say about our relation to them? Are we creating “life”? And if this is the case, do we then have any kind of responsibility toward our creation?

These are very sticky ethical questions that are beyond the scope of this short thesis. But they are questions that certainly bear consideration, especially before you sit down and decide to create an egregore to baby-sit your altar or guard your home.