Ghosts and Hauntings

© 1997, Dennis Gersten, M.D. Excerpted with permission from ARE YOU GETTING ENLIGHTENED OR LOSING YOUR MIND? A Spiritual Program for Mental Fitness (Harmony, a Division of Crown Books, May 1997) This excerpt may not be reprinted without written permission from Harmony Books.


Some people's sixth sense is more highly developed than others, and can peer into other dimensions in a way that escapes the grip of time and space. Shama Smith is one such person, an extraordinary professional psychic and a friend of mine. As a psychiatrist I can vouch for her sanity. As a friend I can attest to her solid character, her loving, compassionate nature, her sense of humor, her solid business sense, her strong desire to be of service to others and her deep love for God.

Shama has solid credentials. She has worked with a team of psychics, who were part of the UCLA Parapsychology Department, in conjunction with the Metropolitan Los Angeles Police Department, the California Highway Patrol, the Santa Barbara, California Sheriff's Department, the Westminster, California Police Department, and other municipal police departments, as well as the FBI and Interpol. Shama was researched, examined and trained through the UCLA Parapsychology Department of the Neuropsychiatric Institute (NPI), before becoming part of their team of consultants. She also has advised and consulted for three heads of state and the governor of a foreign country. Because psychics are not part of a recognized profession in the United States, she has always worked for free for the government. Although the FBI may call her for an assignment, taxpayers would throw a fit if their tax dollars were going to a psychic.

It took Shama between five and six years to begin to differentiate clearly a bona fide psychic impression from an imaginative image. A psychic impression to her is clear without being dramatic, not accompanied by thunder or lightning.

With Shama's assistance I have gained some understanding about the differences among ghosts, non-human entities, and other "weird" phenomena. On several occasions, Shama and I have gone "ghost-busting" together, each of us bringing our particular outlook and skills to our dealings with people who think they are "haunted."

Before we dive into the story, you'll want to know the differences among ghosts, angels, and entities. Ghosts, according to Shama, and the vast literature on the subject, are souls of the dead who remain attached to a physical place, often a house. Ghosts may also be attached to a place that existed long before a house was built on a particular site. "Hauntings," unlike entities, are very long-lasting, some of them persisting for hundreds or even thousands of years. Ghost don't really care who's in the house. It's "their house!" Metaphysically-speaking, a ghost is a spirit that still believes he or she lives in a certain house. A ghost is really a lost soul that has gotten stuck on its way out of death's door and has not found its way to the light.

An entity, which is attached to a specific person, is a non-human being, usually the soul of a dead person. It is a very "low" kind of consciousness, the mental and spiritual remnant of an individual who was quite violent, abusive, promiscuous, or addicted. It is not attached to a particular place. Fortunately, entities don't "hang around" for very long, almost always disappearing within a few years. Entities require "two to tango," and are usually attracted to an individual who has intense sexual or aggressive desires. Entities are only attracted by our strong impulses and cannot co-exist with us unless we are feeding them with the energy of our desires. When a person afflicted by an entity has overcome his addiction to anger, sex, power, or drugs, the entity automatically leaves. Exorcism is of little value in these cases unless the "victim" is given tools to let go of his/her subconscious attachments that keep the entity around. If an entity is periodically attacking someone, it's called psychic attack. If the entity has entered the individual's life so completely that the mind and behavior of the living person are completely co-mingled with the entity, we call it spirit possession. More about that later.

A word of caution: The next two chapters - "Ghosts" and "Psychic Attack and Spirit Possession" - contain some potentially frightening stories. If you do not want to delve into this somewhat dark, strange, and scary territory, feel free to go straight to the chapter on the human aura. You will read at the end of this section how to live in a way that will not predispose you to psychic attack.

Here is an extraordinary story Shama shared with me about how she dealt with a ghost that was haunting her house:

"When my husband, Cass, and I moved into a house in Southern California, I was standing in the kitchen the first day and said to him, 'Honey, the house is haunted.' He said, 'Oh no, please don't tell me that.' I replied, 'It is and I know it is.' 'Well how do you know it is?' he asked. 'Well, number one, I can smell it and number two I can feel a presence around me here.'

'Why didn't you realize it was living here when we first looked at the house?'

'Because, Cass, I wasn't tuned into it and it wasn't making its presence felt. Besides that, we needed to find a new place to live quickly and I was feeling pressured. Now that we're settled in and the stress of finding a new place and moving in is over, I'm relaxed and can feel this presence.'"

According to her, sometimes if there's been a grotesque death on the premises, the house will smell, no matter how much cleaning you do. She knew she was smelling or perceiving an odor from another realm, something that would definitely be called "crazy" by most psychiatrists.

"Once I had the house in order and had things put away, I made myself an office. I was finally settled down in my office, doing my work when I began perceiving the presence more clearly. I was perceiving a 'woman' who would walk into the office and stay close to the door. The vision, the ghost, would stand there and watch me work. The ghost appeared to be in her late twenties and of medium height. I knew she was the presence I had felt the first day.

"The ghost started following me around the house everywhere. This went on for weeks. I wasn't frightened because I've had a lot of experience with this kind of thing - although most people feel a sense that their territory has been invaded. I began talking about the ghost with my husband. After we were in the house for a few weeks, Cass came down with bronchitis. He was coughing so badly, I couldn't sleep in the same room with him because he was keeping me awake all night. So I made up a bed in the office, the room where the ghost most frequently visited me.

"I went to sleep and woke up to the sound of violent screaming of a child. And the child was struck dead - struck dead by surprise. I knew the child was a young girl and had been killed without any warning. And then I saw blood in the rugs and I saw myself with blood up to my ankles."

For any of you who think being a psychic is fun, this story may make you re-consider.

"I came out of a deep sleep by the scream but then entered an altered state that was neither asleep nor awake. In this other state I was able to perceive the story of what had happened in the house. The information I receive in that state is received in a unit. It's not linear and sequential like the information exchanged in day-to-day conversation. So I experienced the whole story in one instant."

Certainly Shama was not in a normal state of consciousness; she was not in linear, time-and-space-bound consciousness. Shama feels that she wasn't just an observer in this experience but that she also played a part as a participant in the experience by actually feeling the blood coming up to her ankles.

"When I became fully awake, I knew that whatever had happened there was so gory that there was tremendous bloodshed. Psychiatrists perceive an object from the outside, walking around it, making notations, recording data, and making decisions. In a psychic's line of work, the idea is not to walk around the object but to enter into it, so it's a co-existence. And that's the only way a psychic can ever experience how another person really feels. Even though I was fully experiencing what was going on, there was part of me that knew that it was O.K. I was not terrified, upset or feeling victimized. I was in the experience but also witnessing it.

"At that point, I ran into the bedroom, woke up my husband and told him, 'Now I know someone was murdered in this house - a child. It must have been a savage murder because the child lost all of her blood. Tomorrow I'm going to speak to the landlord and tell him that I know.' Cass said, 'Please, honey, don't go tell the landlord that.'"

The next morning she did go to the landlord's house and said, "You can be honest with me. I'm not going to move out. I'm not upset but I want to tell you what I saw in the house and then I want you to tell me what happened." She told him the story and he said, "By law I don't have to tell you anything about the house... but I will.

"A woman named Kendra had lived there with her daughter. It was Monday. Kendra's daughter didn't feel well and stayed home from school. That morning while her daughter was watching television, Kendra struck her daughter over the head with a baseball bat and then stabbed her countless times with a butcher knife. Then Kendra stabbed herself to death. They both lost all the blood in their bodies. The carpet was literally soaked with their blood. We couldn't hire anybody to take out the carpets so my wife and I had to take the rugs out ourselves. My wife has never returned to the house."

As Shama tells the story, "After I heard the actual history, the presence of Kendra continued to follow me around the house. It was as if Kendra wanted to talk to me and was reaching out to me. I told Kendra that she was dead, because she didn't know that she was, in fact, dead. Many psychics, myself included, believe that if you die suddenly, you are so disoriented that your spirit may remain around the premises where you last lived or worked. "I sat down in a chair and began talking to Kendra like you would talk to a friend. I thought that if Kendra had any religious background, she probably had been exposed to Christianity, so I spoke to her about Jesus and told her that Jesus does forgive and that she had to forgive herself and ask God to take her into the Light. She needed to head to the Light to go on to a new life. Kendra understood me. She understood her own confusion and her death."

Consider how frightened most of us are to even think about death. It takes great courage, in my opinion, to actually try to face death and talk to the dead.

"I told Kendra that she was dead and did not live in this house anymore. I told her that she had committed the murder while she was not in her right mind and she needed to see it in that light and forgive herself. I spoke with her very compassionately as opposed to screaming at her, 'Get out!' Most people, of course, would scream at a being like Kendra if they could sense her, because they experience the presence as an invasion of their privacy and they're terrified."

Their conversation continued for about an hour and then Shama burned frankincense, lit candles and prayed for Kendra for several hours, to "purify body, mind and spirit - including spirits of the dead."

That night, after Shama had gone to bed, she was awakened by a candle that began burning spontaneously on its own. It was a brand new candle, which she claims she had never lit - "But it lit itself. I woke up to the illumination of the entire room. It was so beautiful and the illumination was so strong that it felt like more than the light of that one candle. That intense spontaneous lighting of the candle made me feel that Kendra had finally gone into the Light. And she never came around our house again."

Shama is able to enter a realm that exists outside of time and space, a "place" that is actually no place, but from which she can obtain information. Many people see ghosts, and how they choose to deal with them is important. By realizing that a ghost, unlike an entity, is only attached to a physical location, any of us can be better prepared to cope with the situation. When we're dealing with an entity, it is essential that we discover the part of ourselves that is attracting it. However, when we're dealing with a ghost, the love and compassion that Shama displayed is the key to defusing this potentially-frightening situation.

Ghosts have probably been around as long as has the human race, and have been researched and written about for centuries. The Brown Lady of Raynham Hall is one of the most reliably photographed ghosts in history, usually seen dressed in a long brown dress or cape and carrying a lantern. The ghost was first seen in 1835 and last seen in 1936. During the early period of her visitations, a Captain Frederick Maryat intentionally slept in the room where the "Brown Lady" was most often seen. The Captain was woken up by the ghost and was so startled that he pulled out his pistol and fired at point-blank range. The bullet had no effect on the ghost, which continued its haunting for another 100 years.

The Borley Rectory is considered to be one of the most haunted houses in England. The rectory was initially inhabited by Benedictine monks. In the late 1800's, Reverend H.D.D. Bull tore down the old rectory and built a new one on the same site, at which point in time, the hauntings commenced. One of the ghosts frequently seen at the Borley Rectory was that of a 13th century nun, who according to legend, had fallen in love with one of the monks. The monk and the nun tried to escape in a horse and carriage, but failed. The monk was hung, and the nun was imprisoned, and later died, in the rectory.

The Tower of London has a long history of hauntings. In 1483, two princes were murdered in the tower. Subsequently, their ghosts were repeatedly seen until 1674, when their bones were removed from the tower and were given a proper burial. Anne Boleyn, who was beheaded by her husband, King Henry VIII, in 1536, is the most frequently seen ghost of the tower.

Hauntings are not limited to Western cultures. The trampled burial sites of indigenous peoples are another source of ghostly visions. In Hawaii, native burial sites which have been moved or destroyed by the booming tourist industry, have become fertile ground for ghost-sightings.

Regardless of the time, place, or culture, the reason for hauntings appears to be the same. The spirit of the dead remains attached to a physical place, such as a house, a tower, or a burial ground, instead of leaving the material world behind and moving on to higher planes of consciousness.


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