How To Communicate With Spirits & Ghosts, According To A Witch

Ask A Witch

Ask A Witch: How To Communicate With Spirits & Ghosts

Your guide to safely contacting spirits, ghosts, and entities from beyond the veil.

by Napaquetzalli Martinez

This is Ask A Witch, NYLON’s column with Indigenous healer and herbalist Napaquetzalli Martinez that answers your questions on the esoteric, the spiritual, and so much more.

We’ve all seen horror films of children playing with Ouji boards, only to release “evil” spirits and become possessed by them: Spirits are nothing to play with. But despite what Hollywood’s spookiest films might suggest, spirits are some of the most valuable and powerful allies we have. Communing with spirits requires conscious awareness and a baseline of protective measures. When we speak of spirits, we are often referring to deceased people or loved ones, “ghosts,” or other entities that exist on the “other side” of the living world. We should engage these beings with the respect we would want to be treated with one day, when we transition to the other side; not as a scary or haunting apparition, but a wise and powerful spirit that can aid and guide those still living. Ahead, find all the best ways to prepare before contacting spirits.

Mindset is Everything

When we focus on the fearful image of ghosts and ghouls, we open ourselves to those lower frequency beings.The world is filled with all sorts of trickster spirits that can cause chaos and confusion if we’re not careful. Unless you're an experienced medium or spirit worker, you probably don’t want to be opening yourself up to just any entity. Focus on those spirits you actually want to communicate and connect with, and do so with respect and caution. Make sure you have a clear and calm mindset before engaging in any spiritual work. Anyone can create a connection with their spirits and ancestors, but don’t engage in anything outside of your comfort zone. Focus on your direct ancestral lineage, as well as spirits you would consider protective guides. Visualize those angels and ancestors that guide you daily, only allowing in those that are in alignment with your highest good.

Protection and Grounding

First of all, always be careful visiting graveyards and cemeteries. Restless spirits can attach themselves to you or attempt to steal your vital life force. Spirits who may be lost, or have unresolved trauma from their lifetime, are usually the ones we hear about “haunting” people and places. Leave offerings at the cemetery gate or entrance -– things like alcohol, coins, and candy make great offerings on the go. Say a prayer for protection for yourself and to leave behind any unwanted entities. This will ensure no strangers follow you home.

Offerings and Altars

We often associate opulent altar offerings with holidays like Día de los Muertos, celebrated in Mexico, the U.S., and other Latin American cultures. These traditions are not exclusive to these celebrations, but are actually a daily way of life for those that practice ancestor veneration. Altar offerings are a way of expressing gratitude and building reciprocity with your guardian angels and spirit guides. Keeping your spirit team happy and fed is its own reward, and it also increases their protection over us. Offer your ancestors whatever they enjoyed in life, especially special treats: Coffee, sweets, tobacco, and liquor are common offerings. If you make a special meal, offer them a plate. Even a glass of water, replaced often, is a potent offering that keeps those lines of communication clear and open. What is honored and remembered will never be forgotten.

Cleanse Your Objects

Beware of the energy you invite into your life and home. When buying used, thrifted, or antique items, make sure to thoroughly energetically cleanse them before using. You never know what energies of spirits might be attached to an old or used object. Even receiving gifts from strangers should be done cautiously; think about their possible intentions and if you consent to inviting that into your energetic field. Objects can be cleansed easily with water, salt, or incense of your choice. If anything creeps you out or gives you bad vibes, listen to that inner guidance, and take it as a red flag!

Interdimensional Communication

Spirit work and communication can take many forms: It’s not usually a dramatic possession or a vision of a phantom. The spirit world is always communicating with us, and we can strengthen this connection the more we deepen our intuitive gifts. Dreams are of the most common ways we can connect with those souls who’ve passed on. Pay attention to those dream visitations, and what messages they might give you. Spirits may visit you in the form of animals, numbers, or other divine messages throughout your waking day. Make note of these messages, especially if they remind you of a spirit guide you feel close to or a guardian angel. Those guides are always communicating with us if we pay attention.

A simple way of opening spirit communication: On a designated ancestor altar, place a wine glass filled with water and a small white taper candle. White is the color most associated with ancestor worship, especially in mediumship traditions, like espiritismo. The altar can include any items you deem spiritually significant: pictures of deceased loved ones, objects they owned, offerings they love, crystals, religious or spiritual books, or talismans. Dress in white or light colored clothing to keep your energetic channels clear. Say a prayer for whatever insight or clarity you are seeking, specifically calling your ancestors and spirit guides by name and welcoming them into your space.

Light the candle and pay close attention to the communication you receive; the candle flame may be large, or small, signifying that spirits are close and paying attention or need more strengthening. Typically you would smoke a cigar at the altar and make an offering of alcohol as well, as spirits are drawn to these substances and they activate more intuitive communication. Alternatively, you could also burn your favorite incense. Continue making your prayers, singing, or sitting in silent meditation until the candle is completely done. Once the candle is burned, you can interpret the wax’s shapes as the candle burns and drips, which always contain a message or symbol of significance. Listen to your intuition and trust what you see and feel. Say thank you to your guides and ask that all spirits return where they are needed to close the energy once you are done.

Trust your guides. Because spirits are outside of our normal reality, they have a greater perspective than we do. Express your gratitude often for their divine protection, and make it a practice to do so. Listening to their guidance can help us avert chaos and danger in our lives, and increase our blessings. There really is no final end; we simply transform and shift dimensions. When we feel connected to a soul or living being, that connection remains even after passing. We all possess an eternal soul, a lifeforce, that can never be extinguished. Whether or not you can see and feel them, trust in the guidance of your guardian angels. Keep those lines of communication open, keep their memories alive. Treat them with the reverence you hope to be honored with one day. Be a good future ancestor.