The Accidental Cleanser: How I Made Peace with Haunted Houses

    by Heather Carlucci

    Many spiritualists believe that every person walks with a number of spirits around them. Some of these spirits are quite specific.

    There is a belief system that says we all have the spirit of one child, a spirit who has lived of the earth/someone from an indigenous tribe, i.e.: an aborigine, an eskimo, an ancient Mayan, etc. , a spirit of unknown attachment and the people that you can imagine following you around: family and friends from this life.

    When I sit with someone for a reading I see, hear and/or feel these spirits. Specifically, I sometimes see one or all of these specific characters.

    When I do a reading with a client I hear myself say things that often I as an Earthbound human need to hear.

    I wish I could absorb all the messages I am the vehicle for in my own life.

    But I still walk into emotional walls, act on pride when I shouldn’t and forget that surrendering to the energies around me would feel so much better than pushing back against them.

    I’ve always been this way. It took me years to figure it out. As a child I always knew things, heard things, saw things. People (or spirits) to be exact.

    I look back on certain moments from my childhood and I can see the signs that this was my gift. I can also see now that my spirits like to bring me into houses.

    It’s amazing that my regular job wasn’t real estate.

    When I was about 9 years old, my parents started looking at houses to move into as they became more settled and upwardly mobile. We were a New York City family. My great grand parents on both sides had come to America and settled in New York almost immediately.

    So looking for a house was a huge deal.

    It happened quickly and we ended up settling in a neighborhood seemingly out of our means. We moved from working middle class projects to one of the most affluent neighborhoods in the City.

    The house was built in English Tudor style. The couple who had lived there previously was a German childless couple. The Reinharts. Her name was Frederica. His was Theodore.

    Whatever belongings were left in the house were in the hands of estate lawyers. I don’t know if they were the laziest estate lawyers ever or since it was the 1970’s we were in the Wild West of Wills but many of their belongings were left in the house until either my parents bought them (smaller items ie: their silverware set or a lighting fixture) or until the lawyers figured out what to do with them.

    One of these items was an original Tizian paiting. Tizian was an artist from the Renaissance period. Can you imagine? It hung in our house for about a year after we moved in.

    It was  a very grand house by anyone’s standards. And it was truly haunted. Never ever as a child did I feel remotely comfortable in that house.

    I always thought there was someone hidden in a closet or coming to get me. I heard Frederica say my name and felt her presence all the time. I distinctly remember the birds around the house say her name in their song all the time. THE BIRDS TWEETED HER NAME.

    It was so clear and so repetitive during this time that it was just commonplace for me.

    Now as I look back on it as a grown up and a mother I wonder if Frederica had actually wanted children.

    I had such intense moments of being in a warm safe space, of hearing the birds sing outside my window and knowing I could hear her name being said during that din that it makes me feel as though she was a mother to me during that time.

    That time ended up being a tumultuous one. I’m going to stress the insanity of moving from projects to this affluent neighborhood of mansions, history and vast wealth.

    We didn’t get there in a smooth transition. We didn’t stay in that house long. After about 3 years my parents ended up getting divorced. Times were stressful.

    I was suddenly a latch key kid as my mother went back to work to prepare for her life as a single parent.

    I remember vividly a phone call in which I called my mom at her new job to tell her I got home from school okay but in a fit of tears I told her I knew someone was in the house.

    And knowing what I know now it was an intense spirit. It was bold and needy. The feeling was like giving a child the responsibility of the health care of a sick adult.

    I ended up going next door to the neighbors until she got home.

    My poor mom. At work 40 minutes away while talking to her daughter and hearing how she’s sure she’s not alone in this big house.

    As I write this I can’t help imaging the energies that were in that house with such items as a painting from the Renaissance.

    I often wonder what got us there and why.

    I think about returning to the house. Sometimes if I’m in the neighborhood I’ll drive by.

    It’s a different house now. The people that bought the house from us took out a lot of the fixtures and plaster work that so much of the weaker energies clung on to. I can see it from the road. The large English style green house in the back seems to be gone.

    I loved the humid smell of the green house and all the plants that came with it. I also believe that it had the purest energies of the house. Nothing needy or clawing. (Yeah, clawing is how I’d best describe the feeling of the bolder souls.)

    Not like the big coat closet that almost spoke to me each time I walked by alone or the dark hallway that lead to my bedroom.

    The grounds around the house I absolutely loved. There was something so pure but still held energies. These souls were welcoming.

    I still marvel at how I learned of so many different spirits in one home. I realize as I write this that that house was meant to carve out this story at this time. Thank you, fate. You are a tricky one.

    image source

    Now let’s speed up to present day.  Actually, about 4 years ago. About 2 1/2 hours out of New York City my family has a house in the mountains.

    My grandfather bought the house after he came home from WW2.  In recent years, this house has become more my responsibility. I spend a lot of time there and have found just as vibrant a social life of artists and fruitcakes – people like me – as I have in the middle of the city.

    For some insane reason I offered to cleanse a house that a friend of mine was thinking of moving into.

    Me. Cleanse a house.

    Sure, a room or two. Or my own house. I’ve cleansed restaurants I’ve owned.

    But let’s face it, fellow witches, cleansing was not the work I did at that time. It was not my specialty. I have no idea what I was thinking.

    It was something so very out of my hands. AND IT WAS REALLY SOMETHING SO FAR OUT OF MY SKILL SET.

    What’s that saying? “Fake it till you make it?”

    “Fake it until it scares the freaking shit out of you” is more where I’m going with this story.

    One of my greatest mentors in my journey down the road of all that is metaphysical was a wonderful man named Woody. He lived far away but our friendship brought us to speak on the phone almost daily.

    Woody was a true southern gentleman. Part bon vivant, part Endora from Bewitched, part keen business man. A raconteur, a man of the world, a drag alter ego named Sharon Needles. He was the full package.

    Woody grew up in the south.  An older man, he was raised by his nanny whose whole family worked for his family for decades. Back through the times of slavery. The vibrations ran deep.

    His nanny saw his gifts from the time he was a small boy and taught him true southern voodoo. Magic of the earth. There were few things Woody couldn’t conger or at least get you enthusiastic for.

    I casually dropped that I was going to cleanse Alison’s house.

    Woody said to take what I usually do in a cleansing but to get a pen because I was going to jot down the structure of how to get this house clean. I had no choice in the matter.

    Pushy may have been occasionally used to describe my friend. Maybe.

    He asked, “Have you read the house yet?”

    I said yes.

    “Do you see the small girl and the man?”

    Yes I did. I also see a lot of people on the second floor.

    “Me too” he said.

    I always start to read before anything. Before a client walks through the door. Before I walk into the house. If my gifts are being put to work, I like to get to work early.

    It felt good to know my mentor and I saw the same things. Me 100 miles from the house, him 1000 miles.

    So I’ll give you the blow by blow of both what Woody said to do (because I did all of it) and what happened as I walked through the house.

    Because it all scared the living crap out of me.

    Yup, I said it. So Scared. Do I feel comfortable now doing the work I did that day? Sure. Would I jump to do it again as easily as I did then? Nope.

    Here goes:

    The house is on the Delaware River. There is a spot on the river not far from there called The Big Eddy.  It is the deepest part of the river and it is believed that that is where the meteor hit millions of years ago that created the river.

    I have had such unbelievable readings next to the river it was as if I was in the life story myself. Millions of years of energy that it took the meteor to get there remain.

    Woody said to have a jar of the river water, a pencil sharpener, a brand new #2 pencil and a timer/stopwatch.

    Should an area of the house feel too heavy or full of disturbed energy, I was to sprinkle some water in that area.

    Before I walked into the front door for the reading – and I’ll mention that I never saw the house before the reading – I was to set my timer to 7 minutes. Alison was to stay on the porch and also set hers simultaneously.

    Then I was to sharpen the pencil, keep it with me with my jar of river water and as I walked into the house, start to count walking through 7 doorways. When I got to the 7th doorway, I was to write a “7” on the door jam. That marked doorway would be my safe spot should I get overwhelmed by who was there. From then on I would go about cleansing the house as I usually do.

    We set our timers, I sharpened my pencil and walked into the house for the first time.

    Right into an old kitchen covered in wood shelving and cabinets.

    The first doorway to count was the front door… so #1. Then to my right #2, the basement.

    There were a number of things right out of a horror movie and I’ll make it clear right now that that basement was the first. Pitch black, broken stairs and an eerie feeling. Thanks a lot, Stephen King.

    Three and Four were bathroom and other kitchen doors. I could count closets but not cabinets. By the time I got to door #7, I was out one door of the kitchen (there were 5 kitchen doors. Old house.) into another foyer, through the living room and into the dining area.

    #7 was another kitchen door. It was a swinging wooden door held open by a wooden door wedge.  And apparently for a long time because when I tried to move it, it was stuck. Really stuck.

    I’ve been hauling full stock pots and 50lb bags of flour for all of my adult life. I’m no light weight.

    When I went to put the tip of the pencil to the side of the door to write the number “7” on it—as Woody instructed—the door flew closed, I put by hand out to grab it and SLAP!, the sound of the door against my hand was so loud and sharp it made me jump. I realized then and there the door was slammed shut by someone who did not want my 7th door to be my safe space.

    Fucking great. So much for my SAFE SPACE. It wasn’t the little girl.

    It was a very distinct, brutish female energy.

    I put the wedge back under the door and left it open.

    I was having a hard enough time with open doors.  Lord knows I wasn’t going to be messing with closed ones.

    Behind the door, when open, was a corner of the dining room.  That’s where the energy was that just put 10 years on my life. I opened the jar of river water and splashed some of it on that corner.

    I’ll be damned if I didn’t feel the energy shift immediately. It was suddenly lighter, calmer.

    Honestly, it wasn’t cold comfort but it wasn’t hot biscuits either. At least I knew I had a jar of water on my side and would have to trust that that doorway would possible be safe for me at some point. I moved on.

    Just to make this all the more unsettling. In the living room there was a small wooden desk with a small chair covered in spider webs. Yup. I couldn’t have made it up if I tried. It was hers. The little girl. I could feel her standing next to me.

    She wasn’t sad or lost. She was home.

    I realized I had seen her before in dreams. She was always looking out the window at me. Barely able to see over the window sill.

    There was a big fire place and more wooden shelving and the living room looked out over the river. It was day time and it still felt heavy like only the moon can make of it.

    I went upstairs. On the stair way I could feel hands on my arms. I felt cold and when I made it upstairs and looked down the hallway I could very clearly see a man passed out with empty bottles around him.

    image source

    It was the energy of addiction and depression. I could feel the little girl stay close to me during this time. There was also a man there. He was healthy and understood his time here. He chose to stay in the house.

    Once on the second floor I could see Allison and her family would have a lot of work to do. Painting, repairs, the bathroom was so poorly kept that it needed an overhaul.

    And talking fromthe completely Earth bound side of me, what is creepier than an awful bathroom?  Let’s answer that in unison: NOTHING IS WORSE THAT AN AWFUL BATHROOM.

    The master bedroom was airy and calm. It was surprising. You could see the river over the trees. The windows were open and without screens.

    The other two bedrooms on the second floor were heavy with that addiction energy. The feeling of emotional neglect was palpable. I did my blessings, sprinkled river water and moved the energy that I could.

    Just getting myself to the attic was about all I could handle. I felt like a crowd of people were with me.

    Please remember, Woody instructed me to do this – knowing I would finish my work later after the walk through – in 7 minutes.  7 MINUTES.  ALL THIS IS GOING ON.

    Was I frazzled? Well, yes but inside, that separate inside that we should all be listening to a lot more was calm. So calm that it spoke louder than all the souls in that house.

    I was supposed to be there doing this work.

    The attic was filled with piles of books. I would say there was about 30 piles of books, 5-15 books high.  Most had font from the ’70’s all over the covers.

    In great shape. The attic was in better shape than the rest of the house. Newer.

    But still filled with people. Milling about.  There was a man with a moustache letting me know the books were his. It was a relief to see a friendly face.

    I went down the three flights and out to the porch in just seven seconds. I let Allison and her son in and went about my usual cleansing process.

    Honestly, apart from the energy I liked the house. It was airy and right on the river.  It had great woodwork. It just had a good amount of baggage. Like the ex you loved but knew there were issues you couldn’t see. Oy.

    As we left, I turned around to take a picture of the house to send to Woody just for reference.

    I left to go a big outdoor party and then went home.  I was out of sorts for the rest of the evening and by the time I was about a mile from my house I was a bit spooked. I was excited to get home and be back where I felt safest.

    When I got home that feeling didn’t go away.

    I even checked the closets. I hadn’t done that since I was a kid and didn’t know what I was experiencing. I was tired and really just wanted to have that relief that only being home will give you.

    No such luck.

    Since I was up in the mountains I didn’t have reception since I left Allison’s house. Once I got home my phone kept buzzing. 7 voice mail messages, 17 texts. All from Woody.

    I called him without checking them.

    “Did you take a close look at that photo you sent me? The one of the house??”

    I didn’t.

    “Well get it up on a computer ASAP and look in the upstairs window. It’s the little girl in the window!”

    There was no way I was going to look at that picture there in the middle of the night by myself in a place I usually feel my best self where I didn’t.

    I felt there were lesser energies clinging to me that gave me the out-of-sorts, spooked feeling. Woody told me how to get rid of them.

    In a good twist, my other mentor, Bette, called just then to let me know she was feeling my energy and wanted to tell me what to do to shake it. It was exactly the same thing Woody said.

    I went to bed and the next morning closed up the house and went back to my apartment in the city. My mom was visiting and I told her the story.

    She asked if I had seen the photo. I hadn’t so I opened up my laptop to take a look. I gasped.

    In the master bedroom window there was a round shape with two dark eyes trying to peek out of the window just as I had seen her do in my dream.

    the original photo (author’s own)

    As you see in the photo, it looks like there’s a screen in the window. There isn’t. Those are other presences around her.

    ​I was speaking with Allison the other day – who has since moved out of that house – and she told me that even after cleaning out the house and then moving their stuff in, she would find sparkly marbles or small crayons rolling out of closets.

    Another doozie? The night before Allison moved into the house, an inebriated man started yelling at her neighbor from her front lawn. It was a violent scene. She knew she had to get her family out of there.

    The man sped off in his car and was in a lethal car crash. Clincher: he was the man I saw in the hallway.

    I still cleanse houses. Not all the time. I know where my gifts lie.

    When I do I bring far less fear and far more energy from the witches before me. I am able to finish the job.

    As a side note, a friend asked if she could offer the services of her uncle Jake, a native tribal leader.

    I was relieved that there would be back up. This worked in everybody’s favor. Though the little girl called for me, Jake let us know that there was a native burial ground on the property behind the house. I was glad they called for him too.



    If this essay resonates with you, please join our WITCH email list by using the forms on this website so we can stay in touch.


    About the Author:

    Heather Carlucci is a medium and medical intuitive. She works extensively with doctors and healers and her private clients. After 30 years in the restaurant business she came out of her woo closet. It surprised no one. Except for Heather. You can check out her website or say hi via Instagram and Facebook.


    featured image source




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