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DOES RELIGION PLAY A PART IN GHOST RESEARCH?

by Dave Juliano - davejuliano@theshadowlands.net
Article courtesy of South Jersey Ghost Rsearch

The answer is a resounding yes! Before you instinctively stop reading what you think will be someone preaching to you, take a moment to read on. I want to point out some things that may not be obvious to all of you without pushing a certain faith at you.

Religion plays a roll in the actions and reactions of the witness, the investigator and the spirit themselves. We all have our own belief system that we subscribe to and that is the same for the residents of a haunted home and, if the spirits are human, the spirits too. Since each case is different and combinations are endless I will just elaborate on a few instances here and hope that you take away a new point of view on how religious views impact a haunting.

Let me start with good example from a case I worked on in New York City with John Zaffis. The resident was experiencing events that made the case seem like something extremely dark and negative was the source. This was not necessarily the case in this instance. The woman, a practicing Catholic, was living in a home that had been built on top of part of an old Jewish cemetery. Her next door neighbor had unearthed some old grave markers written in Hebrew in his backyard and they were dated in the mid-1800s. She had consulted with her church and she had hung up a crucifix, said certain prayers and blessed the house with holy water. All of these things only made the situation worse. Many people would jump to the conclusion that it was something demonic and try to escalate the actions that were being taken. That course of action would have probably had no effect and made the situation worse for the resident. The spirits that were in the home were most likely the residents of the cemetery which now had houses on top of it. Let me clarify that a bit. They were Jewish spirits who were buried in consecrated ground and were awaiting the final judgment so they were staying close to their physical bodies because they would be physically resurrected at that time. These Jewish spirits now had a Catholic household sitting on top of them and practicing those beliefs on the spirit’s holy ground and body. I know that would make me a pretty angry spirit. Instead of taking the typical course of action, in this case we had to go outside our own belief system and consider the spirit’s. We instructed the resident to relocate a crucifix that was always being taken off the wall. We also told her not to use the holy water anymore. Instead of saying strictly Christian based prayers, we gave her prayers of protection based on Michael the Archangel. Michael is recognized as an archangel by Christians and Jews alike so these powerful prayers were not going to be inflammatory to the spirits. Short of tearing down the home and re-consecrating the ground, this was the next best solution. The negative activity stopped and while there was still activity in the home, this approach had enabled the resident to coexist with these spirits.

This is a more dramatic case than most and we had the benefit of lots of background information but the main thing we did was to keep an open mind and not force a solution onto a situation. We found a solution based on the situation. There are no cookie cutter solutions to helping people in haunted homes. When investigators only approach a case with their belief system and refuse to adapt to the residents and the spirit’s beliefs, there is unnecessary friction caused.

Researchers should always ask and consider the beliefs of the residents of a home. While you may firmly believe that only your method will help, you have to be willing to bend and adapt to the situation. In many cases in which the spirits are annoying or negative, it requires the resident to continue doing certain things after the researcher leaves in order to keep the spirits from returning or continuing their negative activity. If you do something that the residents don’t really believe in or is against their beliefs, they will not continue to do what is necessary to keep the spirits away and you’ll be back at the house right back where you started. I am not saying betray your beliefs or forget them all together. There may be certain cases where a researchers beliefs clash with a resident and in those cases the residents are better served by looking elsewhere for help. I have had people criticize me for the actions taken in the case I mention above but I did nothing to go against my beliefs. I am Christian and even though I told them to say different prayers and geared the solution to the Jewish spirits, I did not disregard my beliefs. Jesus and the 12 apostles were all Jewish after all. Successful researchers will work with any major religion in order to help the living and the dead if that is what it takes.

Let’s look at this from the spirit’s point of view. Many people believe that when you die you go to heaven. So what does the spirit, who in life fervently believed this, do when they find themselves still here in a spirit form? They may have no idea what to do and hang around this plane for awhile but this doesn’t mean they are earth bound and can be sent on easily. Their whole belief system has been challenged and it will take varying degrees of time for them to adjust. Some religions believe that they will go to sleep and be reawakened at a later time. Are they surprised when they find themselves in spirit form? I would be a little confused I think. It’s easy to see how the living could easily mistake the intentions of a spirit they find in their home. Contrary to popular belief, not all haunted houses were sights of a murder or suicide.

Residents of haunted homes are often confused too. They will see the spirit of a deceased relative and assume that this person has some unfinished business and is earthbound in need of rescue. It’s more likely that the relative is just stopping by for a visit but it also could be that they had a different belief system than their living relations. Many families are split religion-wise today. For example, the spirit of dead Uncle Al is seen by his niece when she moves into his old house. She is afraid of him and wants him to go away. Uncle Al was told he would go straight to heaven or hell. Since he isn’t in either, he is going to wait things out in his home. He sees his niece and tries to ask her for some answers but she is too afraid because her belief system tells her that any spirits that appear are from the devil. These are all real situations and beliefs. It’s easy to see how inexperienced or closed minded researchers could go into this case and make it worse by trying to force in a third belief system.

As a researcher your beliefs are very important but you have to give plenty of weight to the beliefs of the residents of the home and the spirits if that can be determined. Many times the way to come to a livable solution for a resident of a haunted home is to customize a solution for that particular case and not force a pre-fab solution onto it.

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