In one of his many books on the occult, Colin Wilson tells us of a television show that featured a “created” ghost. The show was one of those psychic phenomenon shows that were very popular in the early seventies. This particular show explored the notion of mediums, seances, and communication with spirits across the Veil. Well, prior to the show, the sitters got together and decided to “make” a ghost. They came up with a name and an elaborate history for this fellow, and they put a good deal of time, effort, and energy into imagining what he would look like, how he might speak, and how he lived his life.

The purpose of this experiment was in part to see whether or not spirits were truly being contacted by the medium during such sittings, or if the details typically gleaned by a medium from a “spirit” were actually being telepathically picked out of the heads of those present.

The experiment proved inconclusive, unfortunately, because this created spirit did not limit himself to the details that sitters were thinking about beforehand. Instead, he proved quite lively, rapping and tilting the table and elaborating on details of his history the sitters had not agreed upon. In essence, he behaved just like a real ghost.

The results of this experiment of course raised the question for the paranormalists, “Is it possible to ‘create’ a ghost?” Most students of the paranormal, if they acknowledge the existence of spirits, assume that the spirit-world is populated exclusively with human ghosts. So the notion of a spirit that was created through the collective thoughts and focus of a small group lay out of the realm of what they could conceive. However, though the parapsychologists might find the notion puzzling, the creation of spiritual entities has long been known to practitioners of magick. With the proper focus, it is of course possible to “create” a spirit. In some traditions, such a created thing is known as a thought-form or an elemental. I tend to refer to them as constructs. Another more technical occult term for a created spirit is “egregore”.

People can make constructs intentionally, or they can create them accidentally by focusing a lot of energy on a particular thought form, force, imagined entity, and so on. A good example of an accidentally, but very real, construct, would be the “spirit” that haunts a certain house in Greenwich Village of NY, as cited by John Keel in “The Mothman Prophecies” (now a major motion picture). Anyhow, this spirit wears a slouch hat and a long flowing cape and goes stalking about the hallways with a sort of menace to his step. The spirit was well documented, but when people researched the history of the place, there was no one who had died there who even remotely fit the description of this thing.

However, as Keel notes, there was an interesting fellow who had lived there for several years. He was a writer, and he spent some of his most prolific years in that place. His name was Walter Gibson, and he was the creator of the Shadow — he “who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men.”

The Shadow, for those born too recently to know, was a dark and menacing figure who stalked about in a broad-brimmed hat and voluminous cloak (and no, the original was not Alec Baldwin).

Basically, by pouring so much energy, imagination, and intensity into his character, Walter Gibson has left behind an astral construct of the character, and this construct now perpetually goes through the motions of its created existence.

Constructs, from this example, are basically thought given form in the subtle reality. The more energy you put into them, the stronger they are. They can be created for many purposes. A lot of magickal workers create them as guardians. They are kind of like computers or robots in the fact that they function on a simple program and can be made to carry out basic functions — like the Shadow, who stalks around menacingly in keeping with his character. With a lot of effort and focus, they can be made to be more complex, though this often depends on the skill of the person or persons creating them.

Constructs tend to fade over time unless they are sustained. Some of the more complicated constructs can be self-sustaining and will feed upon energy just like any other entity in the subtle realm. Others will be sustained as long as you continue to put some thought and focus into them – whether you consciously intend to do this or not. Thought is energy, and the more you focus on something consciously, or in daydreams and nightmares, the more energy you provide to strengthen and sustain it.

Some really powerful egregores seem to achieve sentience over time, and these may become independent of their creators, essentially becoming indistinguishable from “true” spirits.

Of course, as constructs and egregores are typically used as what amounts to servants by magickal practitioners, this raises all manner of questions about ethics. If an egregore can achieve sentience, does that make it “real”? Do such entities simply follow programs and patterns that are worked into them, or can they achieve something akin to free will? And since we seem to be able to generate these entities both consciously and unconsciously through our focused emotions and thoughts, what does that say about our relation to them? Are we creating “life”? And if this is the case, do we then have any kind of responsibility toward our creation?

These are very sticky ethical questions that are beyond the scope of this short thesis. But they are questions that certainly bear consideration, especially before you sit down and decide to create an egregore to baby-sit your altar or guard your home.


A spirit sensor can be any weighted object that is depended from a string and hung in an area where you plan on working regularly with spirits. The spirit sensor should be heavy enough that it will not be set into motion by a simple disturbance in the air, but light enough that it will not take a spirit too much effort to set it swinging.

Constructing Your Spirit Sensor

A spirit sensor can be constructed from pretty much anything. I recommend using materials that you resonate with and which are receptive to energy. As you construct the sensor, you will be investing it with the energy of your intent, and you want it to hold this energy for as long as possible. The spirit’s interaction with the sensor will also involve an exchange of energy.

The spirit is not literally reaching out on a physical level to set the sensor swinging. Instead, the spirit expends energy, directed by intent, which manifests in the physical world as kinetic energy – the motion of all or part of the sensor. As the spirit must exert energy in order to affect the sensor (or accomplish any manifestation perceptible in the physical world) it is also a good idea to charge some part of the sensor with vital energy that the spirit can draw upon. Such a gift of vital energy always gives a spirit an extra incentive to respond to your call, as energy is the food and the currency of the otherside.

I have constructed my spirit sensor from a collection of bones. I took these from a necklace that was given to me, so they were already sanded, shellacked, and drilled lengthwise with holes. Using garnet, onyx, and hematite beads as endcaps, I wired the bones together in a three-dimensional pattern that is basically two pyramids attached together, base to base. I added a small pendulum of carved hematite to the center of the main structure, and this hangs in the very center of the open diamond of bone. Five bones hang in a pattern from the bottom, one connected at the very base and the rest hanging down from the other four corners.

From certain angles, it looks like a three-dimensional hexagram. The geometric pattern seems to significantly increase the strength of the item, although this is merely an unexpected benefit of a largely unintentional pattern. The shape just came to me as I was working with the bones. I had eighteen pieces of bone to work with, and a few were shorter than the others, so in all, there were only twelve that were of nearly the same shape and length. A couple of different pattern combinations were possible with these twelve bones, but the open diamond had the best feel to it.

The bones of course serve to attract spirits because they resonate with that particular energy associated with death. I worked garnet, onyx and hematite into the structure for several different reasons. First of all, I have a special affinity with these stones. Whenever I’ve constructed an object, I’ve been drawn to working these stones into the item, as they seem to help me connect better to that item. The stronger the connection, the easier it is for me to invest the item with energy as I work, thus adding to its effectiveness. There was also an aesthetic choice in using these stones. The bones of the necklace are a beautiful aged ivory color, and the rich red of the garnet combined with the black of the onyx and the dark sheen of the hematite served to accent this wonderfully.

Finally, of course, there are the magickal associations of these stones. The solid black of the onyx has long made it a stone many believe to have protective powers, mainly by absorbing negativity into its depths. Of course, black is also the color of night and all things hidden in shadow, and by extension, becomes a color associated with death and the dead. For the garnet and the hematite, there is an association between both of these stones and that quintessential source of vital energy: blood.

Garnets, at least in my opinion, are the gems that most resemble drops of blood – especially those deeply colored garnets that have something of a rusty tinge to their hue. Hematite has long been associated with blood because of the connection between blood and iron. Iron oxide is what gives our blood its rich crimson color, and this is also the main constituent of the gemstone hematite. Because of their associations with blood, I’ve found that both of these stones are very receptive to being charged with vital energy. This becomes very handy in any item that is intended to attract the dead, for all spirits feed upon energy, and the vital energy of the living is especially potent for the dead. For this reason, I keep the central hematite pendulum charged with vital energy so the spirits have something to draw upon to fuel their manifestations.

During the construction, my intent was to attract only those spirits who meant no harm and were willing to sincerely work with me. Whenever I do a summoning, I ask that a spirit announce its presence by making the sensor, or at least the bones hanging from the bottom, move. The strength of the spirit tends to influence its ability to interact with objects in the physical world, so my results have varied between a barely perceptible quiver that trembled once through the entire thing to one entity that sent the entire sensor swinging like a tetherball.

In time, as you adjust to sensing spirits as they manifest in your ritual area, you will learn to sense the energy of spirits on your own. In this way, you can measure the accuracy of your perceptions against the activity of the spirit sensor. As you hone these perceptions, you will even be able to differentiate between one spirit and the next so eventually you’ll know just through its energy if a spirit is who (or what) it says it is.


Every culture the world over has had traditional tools and objects intended to protect the living from unwanted the spirits. You might think that the dead, once they were finished with their lives, would move on and not bother with the living. However, especially among less modernized cultures, the dead were perceived as being very jealous of the living. Thus, on nights when the wall between the worlds grew thin, such as Samhain, it was believed that the dead would return to their living relatives and attempt to feed on their vitality or to steal them away altogether in order to join them on the otherside. When there was no immediate family for the dead to prey upon, it was believed that any living person would do.

In addition to the dead, there were all manner of other spirits and entities active on the otherside. As an old Scottish prayer specifies: “From ghosties and ghoulies and long-leggedy beasties, and things that go bump in the night – good Lord deliver us!” All of these were thought to hover, just beyond our ordinary reality, waiting for a chance to attack, play tricks on, or otherwise annoy human beings. For these reasons, cultures around the world developed many techniques and tools for driving unwanted spirits away.

Gargoyles and Grotesques

Many items functioned on the notion of chasing spirits away by scaring them. For some reason, living people, who find spirits frightening and often depict them as malformed and hideous, seem to think that making things with hideous faces on them will in turn frighten away these unwanted spirits. Tribal masks from the Innuits to the various African peoples demonstrate this notion very nicely, with their distended faces, enlarged mouths, and protuberant eyes. Similar masks used to frighten away evil spirits can also be found among a number of primitive Asian cultures, with quite a few of these recently finding a receptive market here in the West as decorative pieces.

The jack o’ lantern, such a common sight in the United States around Halloween, also functions on this principle. Originally used in Ireland (and made out of a potato or turnip before it was ever carved from a pumpkin), the jack o’lantern was placed outside of a family’s home with the hope that its hideous face, lit by a candle from within, would frighten the spirits away. The gargoyles and grotesques on old churches also served the same purpose, although I have heard it argued that they were actually intended to impress upon the living attendants of those churches just how ugly and frightening the spirits of evil could be.

I have found that a grotesque, be it a gargoyle or other mask, functions very nicely as a guardian over a doorway. You may coax a spirit to inhabit the item, or you may work an energetic construct into the item with the specific intent of using it as a guard. Either way, placing this object just over a door has the effect of scaring lesser entities away. Think of the item as a sort of keeper of the threshold, and remember to charge it with energy and intent fairly regularly to maintain its function.


Another spirit-chasing item that the old churches employed were bells. Like masks and grotesques, the use of bells to clear the air of negative energies and to scare spirits away crosses the boundaries of culture and time. In the Catholic Mass, for example, when the host is solemnly raised for the moment of transubstantiation, a small set of four bells is often rung by one of the altar boys. This ritualistic ringing is only partially meant to draw attention to the mystery unfolding within the priest’s hands. The high chiming tone of the bells, ringing throughout the silent church, was at one time also intended to chase off any unwanted spirits from the place. Furthermore, it was a common belief in the British Isles that the sounding of church bells would drive faeries away.

A lot of folk-beliefs are founded on some grain of truth, although in many cases that truth has become greatly distorted. For example, the ringing of church bells was believed to keep faeries away because it was a sanctified and holy sound. Since the fey weren’t part of the Christian belief system, the Medieval Church automatically identified them as “evil” spirits, in league with Satan. Therefore, anything that was holy or blessed by the Church was believed to repel the fey.

In Eastern countries where bells were employed to ward off spirits, the effectiveness had little to do with what god was in charge and more to do with the actual tone of the bells. The vibrations of the bells were thought to clear negative energies and to disrupt the energy of spirits. From many personal experiences, I am inclined to agree that it is the sound of the bells – very specifically their vibration and resonance — which has the greatest impact on clearing energies and chasing spirits away. To clear energy, a resonant, deep-throated bell seems to work best, while for most spirits, bells with high frequencies or a slightly dissonant tone seem to irritate them and drive them away.


Drums, cymbals, and other percussion instruments are also thought to work along the same lines as bells. Typically, the loud and dissonant playing of percussion and other instruments is used to chase spirits from an area. By this reasoning, the claims of some conservative Christians that heavy metal music is used to summon demons might be completely off base. Instead, such ear-splitting tunes blasted at loud decibels is much more likely to disrupt spiritual energies and send entities packing.

Rhythmic drumming is used by shamans to aid them in achieving an altered state for working with spirits and with the dead, so be certain not to get confused. Generally, for the effect of chasing spirits away, the sounds you make on drums and other percussion instruments should be disruptive and unpleasant. As with many other spirit-chasers, this functions on the logic that if it makes your mother-in-law want to flee from the room, it will likely chase away any other nasty entity that’s out there.

Tibetan Ritual Tools

The Tibetans, who had a highly evolved spiritual “science” before the Chinese invaded and drove them out of their land, had developed a number of tools for driving off unwanted spirits. The phurba, a three-edged ritual blade popularized by the late nineties movie “The Shadow”, was used when dealing with spirits. The three edges of the blade are supposed to cut on the physical side, the spiritual side, and the spaces between. Similarly, the three faces of the traditional phurba, their countenances distorted in demonic fury, are supposed to scare spirits away, once again hitting every possible angle between spirit and solid realities.

The phurba is also used to “nail down” spirits so they may be dealt with in other ways. This can be helpful when binding spirits so they do not get away, and it can be helpful when performing a more involved attack intended to weaken a spirit to the point that it will be rendered incapable of doing harm for a very long while.

In addition to the phurba, another ritual blade, known as the dargu, is intended to cut spiritual attachments. This is the sacred blade of the dakinis, the feminine embodiments of the peaceful and wrathful deities. While the dargu is intended to sever the attachments a soul may have for things in this life, I have found that this blade works nicely for severing the links that some entities will forge to attach themselves to people in the here and now.

Another Tibetan tool, the dorje, is a symbolic representation of a lightning bolt. This item, often used in conjunction with a bell, amplifies the energy of the person holding it and can be used to great effect in clearing the energy of a room. Two dorjes forged together make a kind of four-spoked wheel and while this item can be cumbersome to hold, it is a very potent tool for amplifying and spreading out the wielder’s energy. Thus, a double-dorje, when energy is focused through it, can be used to clear out the stagnant and blocked energy over a wide area in a ritual space or other room.


A very popular Native American device, the dream-catcher, has gained widespread usage in recent years. Originally woven of sinew within a circle of wood or vines, the dream-catcher is symbolic of a spider web. Typically, there is a small, polished stone suspended from the web at some point within its design. This stone is said to represent Grandmother Spider, a Native American goddess of wisdom who watchers over any who use her dream-catchers.

The purpose of a dream-catcher is to capture nightmares while allowing good dreams to pass through the spaces between the web. Dream-catchers are traditionally placed on the walls just over the head of the bed, where they are supposed to encourage restful sleep. In recent times, dream-catchers are employed to capture any manner of negative energies, while presumably allowing more positive forces to pass through the web.


Just as the nasty-looking faces of gargoyles and grotesques were thought to drive spirits away, so, too, were nasty-smelling substances thought to repel visitors from the otherside. This is where we get the tradition that garlic can keep vampires away. Garlic has a strong and very pungent odor, and if one is wearing a string of garlic around their neck, it is likely to keep not only vampires, but also friends, family members, and perfect strangers at a safe distance.

Moving beyond garlic, there are a number of incenses that were traditionally burned to dispel spirits and drive them from a place. The ancient practice of fumigation, that is, filling a room up with a thick cloud of pungent smoke, was used to dispel negative energies as well as physical pests and vermin from a home. Fumitory is one incense that was traditionally used for this, as was the herb asafoetida. The word “fetid” is part of the root for “asafoetida” and this is very apt, for the herb has an exceptionally strong and amazingly unpleasant odor. Although it is employed in some forms of Indian cooking, asafoetida, in my book, is best reserved for exorcism, and even then, it should only be employed when a situation calls for the “big guns”.

Other incenses often used to purge energies and to exorcise spirits include frankincense, dragon’s blood, and myrrh. All of these have a more pleasant odor, and will probably not have the effect of driving you from the room along with the spirits.


Nearly every religion and spiritual tradition recognizes the purifying qualities of fire. Returning to Medieval days, peasants would erect huge bonfires, called “need-fires” in times of calamity, especially during outbreaks of plague. The fire was allowed to blaze up, and when it had burned down a little, sheep and cattle were driven through the smoldering coals. This was thought to burn away any harmful magicks or negative forces that were causing the plague.

In a ritual setting, fire can be used to dispel unwanted forces from a person or from a place. If the name or sigil of a spirit is known (especially if it is something you have called up yourself), this spirit can be dispelled by inscribing this on a piece of paper and committing it to the flames. As the name or sigil is burned to ash, the spirit is banished.