Grovedaughter Witchery

 Dealing With Dead People: Banishing & Exorcism

For those of us who deal with the dead on a semi-regular basis, the phenomenon of being visited or "followed home" is probably not too unfamiliar. For those who don't engage in spirit work or who aren't familiar with the paranormal, the experience is a good deal more unsettling. Either way, one of three things usually happens:


  • The entity is pleasant to have around, causes little to no trouble, and is easy to live with, so the living occupants have no problem with it staying.
  • There is some conflict, usually in the form of startling apparitions, noises in the night, or objects moving on their own, but nothing is severe enough to cause alarm; or alternatively, the living occupants do not know how to get rid of the entity, so they either grin and bear it or move out.
  • People or animals are harmed, there is large-scale destruction, verbal or physical threats are made, or possession occurs. When this happens, it's time to tell the entity to kindly get the fuck out of your home.

There are a number of methods for banishing malevolent spirits from your home. They range from a simple cleansing and reclaiming of territory to a full-blown exorcism.

House cleansings are a simple and easy way to clear the air, so to speak, and regain control of your environment. They are gentler, but no less powerful if you're willing to really put your foot down and can get your hands on the right supplies. (Don't worry, the basic ones are pretty inexpensive.)

Banishing is the next step up. Where cleansing will help keep your environment free of pests, it won't dislodge most things that have gotten in and started nesting. You can't expect to rid your home of an intruder by simply sweeping the floor and lighting a candle. You need to give them a shove.

Exorcism is generally a more ritualized approach to the problem and can (and often does) involve religious rites. This is usually employed in severe cases, or in emergencies. Banishing is to exorcism as a fistfight is to all-out-war.

If you choose to perform a banishing or an exorcism, or have one performed on your behalf, you should understand that things can get worse before they get better. The first go-round may not work, repeated sessions may be needed, or the entity may simply be too strong to be expelled.


Step One: Prevention

"No, You Can't Come In."

If you find yourself working with spirits often, or you just feel like covering your ass (which is a legitimate concern for more than just ghosty things), a regular warding of your person, property, and house can help keep out those invisible interlopers before they get in to start trouble.

The most common ingredient in many warding mixtures is that darling of the Supernatural fandom, good old SALT. Salt has a purifying and barrier-like effect in protective applications, and is fairly easy and inexpensive to obtain. Oh and don't fret in the spice aisle over whether to get that grinder of sea salt or the canister of Morton's. Table salt works just fine.

Other warding and banishing herbs you can find in the spice aisle include:


    Black Pepper


    Bay Leaf

    Cayenne Powder

    Chili Powder



    Curry Powder







If you're willing to pop over to the produce section, there are a few other things you can pick up to help you out.

    Apple (the seeds, specifically)

    Garlic Cloves




    Peach (you just need the pit)



Using these super-simple ingredients, you can put together some pretty badass household protection charms or property wards, whatever suits you best.

For a simple household protection charm, you can put together a charm bag. You can use any of the herbs listed about, but my usual formula is:

    1 pt Basil

    1 pt Bay

    2 pt Rosemary

    2 pt Salt


Simple, elegant, easy to acquire. Put a spoonful of each into a sachet bag (muslin or cotton works well to keep dust and small particles from falling out) and hang the bag by your bedroom door, front door, kitchen door, wherever you feel it will do the most good.

Salt can also be used to line the thresholds and the windowsills. You don't need to go overboard; a simple sprinkle will suffice. Rosemary oil or rosemary-infused water can be added to floor washes to keep things cleansed, not to mention smelling piney-fresh. A string of garlic cloves or bundle of dried herbs hanging in the kitchen pulls double time as an ornament and a protective charm.

In addition, you can try out the following:

    Personal Warding Tutorial

    Simple Protections for Yourself and Your Home

    Wall of Fire Property & House Protection Spell

Of course, no system is foolproof, and sometimes troublesome entities may slip by your defenses. That's when it might be time for...


Step 2 – Banishing

"Get Out..."

About nine times out of ten, a ghost that is firmly shown the door will oblige you by leaving. So long as you're strong and stand your ground and don't get hysterical or issue a challenge, you should be fine. Never say "Get out or else" or any permutation thereof. Anything remotely confrontational will see it as a challenge and then shit can get real in a hurry.

Lots of people, pagan and otherwise, will recommend some form of smoke-cleansing. (Smoke-cleaning. Or recaning. Don't you dare call it smudging. Don't you DARE call it smudging. I will FIND you.) White sage is the most commonly recommended substance for this, but since white sage can be hella expensive and the New-Age demand for it is starting to threaten wild populations, here are some cheaper, equally effective alternatives:



    Bay Leaf

    Green Sage




    Cedar Tips


There are a few more expensive herbs that I recommend for banishing bags or incense blends. These are available online, if you don't have a specialty shop near you. Here are the online shops I most recommend:

    Starwest Botanicals

    Ruth Roy's Well-Cat Herbs

    The Magickal Cat

    Mountain Rose Herbs


The herbs you'll want to look for to include in high-powered banishing charms are as follows:

    Angelica Root

    Cascara Segrada Bark

    Dragon's Blood (resin or oil - use sparingly, this plant is also overharvested)

    Rowan Wood or Berries

    Solomon's Seal Root



Keep in mind: these herbs are great if you can get them, but they aren't necessary.

It's also a good idea to determine exactly what level of haunting you're dealing with, in order to determine an appropriate response. I have my own scale, but you should feel free to make your own. The more severe and threatening the activity, the stronger your response needs to be.

Now then, on to the banishing methods.

  • Make another charm bag with any of the ingredients listed above. Hang it by the front door or wherever you feel it is needed.
  • Smoke-cleanse with a bundle of dried herbs, fanning the smoke through every room. Open the windows if you need to, but close them directly after you're done, or line them with salt to keep things from getting back in.
  • Simmer an herb (basil works best) for a few minutes and use the water to spray the corners of every room. The proverb is "Where basil grows, no evil goes."
  • Or you can just walk through the house and metaphysically piss in all the corners if you want.

The most important thing is to OWN the space. This is your home. Defend it. Your wards and banishings are only as strong as your determination to hold them.

If you feel the problem warrants an exorcism instead, you may want to contact someone who has had experience doing them, or a local member of the whichever clergy you prefer. If you feel confident in doing the exorcism yourself, or if you have your own realm of experience to draw from, any of the banishing methods listed above can be altered to include religious rites or activities. In general, however, it's best to call in a professional.

Now that you've cleared your house, it's time for...


Step 3 - Post-Op Protection

"...And STAY Out!"

Be aware that multiple banishings may be needed if the first one doesn't stick or if the entity you're dealing with is particularly stubborn or malevolent. Don't be afraid to reach out for help. Sometimes you need a team effort to get the job done.

Warding your house after a banishing or exorcism is essential. Once you're done kicking ethereal butts out of your house, you'll need to lock the doors, in a manner of speaking. Any of the warding methods from Step 1 are acceptable at this juncture.

Refresh your wards and protections regularly, especially if you regularly engage in spirit work, ghost-hunting, divination, that sort of thing. These are not "bad" activities, but they can attract spirits like a freshly-baked pie in an open window. It's important to maintain the safety of your space and of your person.

Note: This advice is not meant to replace prompt and practical action in the case of physical emergency. If you or a member of your household are harmed in any way by a supernatural entity, seek professional help as soon as possible and ensure that you have a safe place to go in case you have to get out fast.
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