The investigation of the paranormal is constantly changing and evolving. New theories are brought to the fore from scientists and amateur investigators alike. New techniques and new equipment are introduced regularly.
It's not unusual to hear about something new that has become popular among investigators and fans of the paranormal.
The latest is house cleansing.
Many years ago, before I extricated myself from paranormal investigating groups, I noticed that groups who styled themselves after Ghost Hunters TAPS, claimed to be scientific in their practice of investigating. They used scientific instruments, debunked whenever possible, and, when finished investigating a reported haunted location, would supply the client with their evidence. All of this was done free of charge.
Many groups encourage donations to help with the high expense of investigating. When I was with a group that averaged one to two investigations a week, we went through dozens of batteries, and traveled distances that ranged from 10 miles to 150 miles, without being reimbursed for gas or travel expenses. It is, if you aren't aware of it, a very expensive hobby. We all felt it was the cost of being an investigator. Charging for an investigation was never considered. Back then, we even believed that we, as a group, should never pay to investigate any location. We made it a policy never to go anywhere that dared to charge admission. This put a taint upon them as possible scammers. Besides, we were the ones doing all the work, bringing all the equipment, spending all the money, and giving of our time and expertise to them, so why should we pay them?
That was then. This is now. I noticed that many groups, a number if years ago, began adding "occult" practices and rites to their investigations: dousing rods, pendulums, consulting and even adding psychics and sensitives to the group; demonologists and those claiming to be able to cast out demons, and, more recently, the people who claim to be able to cleanse your home of entities, negative energy, send trapped spirits on to the light, etc. All of these services went along with the investigation. Or, the group would recommend someone, a psychic, medium, Wiccan priestess, etc, to come and cleanse their home by doing some sort of ritual. More often than not, the ritual would involve "smudging" the house. This is a Native American rite involving the burning of sage. This almost never involves an actual Native American who is knowledgable in doing the ritual correctly. Most often it is someone who simply does a ripped-off, self-styled smudging, burning whatever sort of sage or sweetgrass they purchased at the most recent para-con. This sort of stealing and mis-using another cultures' religious ritual drives me crazy with anger, but the reader of this blog already knows that, so I will move on.
All of this mumbo-jumbo was done for free. Now professional house cleansers come in and will cleanse your home of spirits or, as they put it, negative energy, so as not to offend the non-religious home owner. They are all different in style. Some will only smudge. Others will pray or chant. Others will also bring holy water and sprinkle or spray. One cleanser was even known to drink and then spit holy water onto the walls. (the Today Show, reporter Jeff Rossen, Oct 29, 2014)
Of course, none of this comes cheap, or free. It is done for an agreed-upon price. Often, the person will insist that it has to be done more than once, or must include regular maintenance cleansing, also for a fee. The fees can range anywhere from $50 to over $1,000 dollars for each visit. There is never any sort of guarantee of success. If the paranormal activity continues, well, they will gladly come over and cleanse again, for a fee. However, if you are still left with your haunting, well, good luck to you.
Ok. This sort of thing is questionable from the start. First, there has never been any sort of evidence that a house or location can be cleansed of negative energy or spirits, either good or bad. Invisible entities cannot be chased off a property with a little smoke and water, chanting or spitting, spraying or yelling. It is illogical. Have too many people been watching reruns of The Ghost Whisperer? No one can escort a spirit to the next room, let alone to the light, Heaven, or the next plane,(I don't think).
Let me be clear on this issue. I am not talking about possession and deliverance from demons or exorcism. That is an entirely different animal. Locations, as well as people can be possessed and in need of an exorcism. I am not talking about that.
This behavior disgusts me on many levels and for many reasons. It gives people with serious issues, problems, and even possible real hauntings, hope for something that they cannot possibly promise or do. It is perpetrated by people who don't have the faintest idea what they are doing. They are self-proclaimed, untested and inexperienced, and are often disreputable individuals with hidden agendas.
The biggest surprise is finding out that house cleansing for money is considered fraud and the people doing it can be arrested for a crime. In Canada it is a crime. In the U.S. this sort of fraud was rampant over a hundred years ago and is making a huge comeback. These con-artists use updated, modern terms, even branding themselves with outlandish, grandiose titles, claiming to be doctors, psychologists or parapsychologists, light workers, Reiki Masters, Wiccan Priests, ordained ministers, healers, angel mediums, sensitives, even exorcists. The one thing they all have in common is exorbitant fees for their "services."
Some claim to be able to cleanse your home from afar; no need to travel when they can cleanse over the phone, or even over email!
Some of these cleansing practitioners also do the paranormal conference circuit, write books, give lectures, even offer on-line courses, all for expensive fees.
What makes it fraud is the very common practice of veiled threats or overt threats of physical, emotional, or financial harm if you do NOT have your home cleansed by them. The threats can be very mild and subtle, like "Please hire me to cleanse your home before something negative effects you, your health or well being." Or much more overt and extreme threats, such as "If you do not do a cleansing immediately, you could be in danger of losing your life, or become very ill, or loose your job/wife/husband, etc." This is extortion, this is illegal.
The next time a paranormal group, or someone claiming to be an expert, offers the service of cleansing your home or place of business (one person actually charges by the square foot), run the other way and warn your friends. This is FRAUD. This is criminal behavior. The law enforcement agencies have not really caught onto this in most places. However, big cities like NYC are seeing so much of this sort of fraud that it is becoming a serious problem.
If you feel that someone is trying to pull a scam of this sort on you, or extort money from you, do not hesitate to report it to law enforcement, especially if their offer for cleansing comes with a threat of any kind. An example of this would be if a psychic told you that if you do not hire her to cleanse your house immediately, you could be in serious danger, danger of physical harm, emotional harm, loss of income, depression, etc. Any sort of even mild threat of certain harm from not doing a cleansing with them is considered a direct case of fraud and is actionable.
My advice is to NEVER, EVER PAY FOR an investigation, paranormal advice or have a cleansing done for money.
What can you do? Call your parish priest, minister, paster, Rabbi, or believing friends to come and pray and bless your home. They NEVER charge money for this.
Have an investigation done by a reputable and experienced group who uses scientific methods, if at all possible, in order to eliminate the natural explanation of the activity. More than 80% of most paranormal activity ends up being natural in origin and explainable. They should check for high EMF, electrical problems, water pipe or plumbing issues, animals, birds, bat or bug infestations, structural issues, and organic problems such as mold or other toxic environmental issues.
Examine yourself, your behavior, and make sure you have not or are not currently inviting anything into your home, intentionally or unintentionally.
If you are fearful that you may have demonic activity, which is, contrary to popular TV shows, extremely rare, you should never call in an amateur who claims they can exorcise whatever it is. Call your church, synagog, or ordained minister of whatever faith you are for help.
I hope this has been helpful. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me and I will be glad to answer your questions.
...and I don't even charge a fee. :)