Advice for the Haunted

                                                      Advice for the Haunted
Strange unaccountable noises rouse you from your sleep. Objects inexplicably disappear only to reappear sometime later somewhere else entirely. You glimpse snatches of something - a person? - and hear phantom footsteps in the hall where none should be. Odd scents permeate the air.
Guess what? Looks like you might be haunted! But don't worry, you're not alone. Hauntings occur with much more frequency than anyone realises, and can affect new premises just as effectively as they can old mouldering historical churches and halls. While many don't relish sharing their home or office with a spook, some people have learned to live with their spectres and rather enjoy the otherworldly dimension they add to an otherwise boring environment!
But, as many case studies attest, hauntings do not always involve fun, pranky spooks. Many people have negative experiences and fear for their wellbeing as a result. Hauntings can involve many sleepless nights for some, cause stress and worry, and in some poltergeist-related cases create dangerous circumstances for the living in the house - event though there is some evidence to suggest it might be the living who are causing the problem!
So what do you do? Well, for starters make sure your problem has a paranormal origin.
Step One: Rule out all natural causes - settling foundations, rattling window panes, gaps that drafts might escape through, smoke alarms and other electrical items - before you settle for unnatural ones.
Step Two: Once you're convinced there is something else in your house, try to confront it. Ask it to leave - nicely - and explain its time it just moved on. I should mention here that there are plenty of people out there who will offer to 'cleanse' your house for you - usually for a big fat fee! Be responsible and don't get suckered in by so-called bogus psychics who want to charge you $100-plus to put your mind at ease. While there are some good psychics out there (who do incidentally charge) they are harder to find than Australian-made and owned products! You can, alternatively, initiate your own house-cleansing if it makes you feel better.
Author and psychic Denise Linn, in her book Space Clearing (Ebury Press, 2000) has a few tips for cleansing your home. She says you should give your house a thorough clean and remove all clutter. She also suggests putting fresh flowers around the house, praying - appealing to your God(s) (depending on your belief system) for assistance with your goal in removing said spirit or negative energies, and burning cleansing essential oils like Bergamot, Lemon Grass, Peppermint, Fir Needle, or the Australian indigenous favourite Eucalyptus.
Salt, too, is an ancient cleansing ingredient. Sprinkle salt throughout every room and leave for 24 hours to allow it to absorb any 'negative energies', then vacuum or sweep up and discard. Many of these steps have clear psychological benefits as well, improving your mood and creating a more overall positive atmosphere. This is by no means the last word on house clearing - check your local library or esoteric bookshop for further information.
Step Three: Another possible avenue is to approach your local clergy or, if you're not from a strong religious background, your local spiritualist church (which can be found in the phonebook). Spiritualist churches are very open to discussing this sort of thing and can usually put you in touch with some reputable people. Again, do what you feel is right and what you're comfortable with. Explain your situation carefully. Many clergy are reluctant to pander to what they view as 'superstitious nonsense', however they regularly do house blessings which they view as quite legitimate. So if you're desperate - ask for a house blessing and keep the ghost thing under your hat - it might work!
Step Four: If you're curious, why not contact Ghostwatch and we, or another reputable group we know of, will come out and investigate the purported paranormal activity and try to capture something on film or tape. Free of charge of course! We don't de-ghost homes, by the way, we're strictly a research group.
Step Five: Keep a diary of events and urge others living/working on the premises to be forthcoming about their experiences. Most importantly, note when the phenomena started - did it begin when you started renovating? When the baby was born? When a spouse or relative died?
Step Six: Research your spook. Contact the local historical society, look up ownership records of the house or building, check back through old newspaper files in the State or National Library, look for books dealing with ghost stories and local folklore (often grounded in some fact) and see what you can find out.
Step Seven: If you're happy to, learn to live with your ghost. You might even notice - once you decide it's no big deal - that phenomena will start to die down and become less frequent.