Spirits come in all kinds, and they can be provoked to
Stay in the world of the living by any kind of emotion:
Love or hate, sadness or confusion. Dad quotes the
English demonologist Ebenezer Sibly in his journals:
In the world of spirits is always a very great number
Of them, as being the first sort of all, in order to their
Examination and preparation; but there is no fi xed
Time for their stay; for some are translated to heaven
And others confined to hell soon after their arrival;
Whilst some continue there for weeks, and others for
Almost always, a spirit is tied to a material object. More often
Than not, that material object is the spirit’s own remains. We spend
A lot of time digging up bones. But we’ve also worked jobs where
The spirit was residing in jewelry, dolls, picture frames, you name it.
In a nutshell, here’s what we’ve learned:
Anything can be haunted.
After death, some spirits don’t want to go. They think their
Work on earth isn’t done, or they feel they have to right some wrong
Or avenge some injustice. So they don’t go. They hang around the material world, unable to touch anything or talk to anyone, and
Their only company is other spirits as lost and confused as they are.
It doesn’t take Dr. Phil to figure out that eventually all of that feeling
Is going to turn bad.
When it does, you’ve got a spirit that might be evil, or might be
Angry, or might just be lashing out from pure anguish. Whatever the
Reasons, these spirits tend to be fatal to the people who get in their
Way, and it’s our job to see them back on their path to the afterlife.
Dispelling a spirit is pretty straightforward, even though it’s not
Always easy. You find the remains, or the object the spirit is using as
A focus to stay active in the human world. When you’ve found it,
You salt it and burn it. End of spirit. Maybe it lacks a little finesse,
But it gets the job done. Sometimes you can even get away with just
Giving the body a proper burial. That works if the spirit hasn’t had
Time to go crazy in the limbo between this world and the next. And
If it turns out to be a death omen – well, they’re satisfied just to be
Here’s an old story, maybe one of the oldest, about a spirit like
That. It’s one of Dad’s favorites – well, was one of Dad’s favorites. It’s
Maybe the prototype haunted-house story.
PLINY THE YOUNGER, LETTER TO SURA:
There was at Athens a large and roomy house, which
Had a bad name, so that no one could live there. In the
Dead of the night a noise, resembling the clashing of
Iron, was frequently heard, which, if you listened more
Attentively, sounded like the rattling of chains, distant
At first, but approaching nearer by degrees: immediately
Afterward a specter appeared in the form of an old
Man, of extremely emaciated and squalid appearance,
With a long beard and disheveled hair, rattling the
Chains on his feet and hands. The distressed occupants
Meanwhile passed their wakeful nights under the most
Dreadful terrors imaginable. This, as it broke their rest,
Ruined their health, and brought on distempers, their
Terror grew upon them, and death ensued. Even in the
Daytime, though the spirit did not appear, yet the impression
Remained so strong upon their imaginations that
It still seemed before their eyes, and kept them in perpetual
Alarm. Consequently the house was at length deserted,
As being deemed absolutely uninhabitable; so that
It was now entirely abandoned to the ghost.