David J. Marsden & Martyn Carruthers 2003

Online Coaching, Counseling & Soulwork Training

Are you entangled in other people’s lives, deaths and emotions?
Contact us if you want to untangle your life.

You’re Dead Right!

Can you talk to ghosts? Can ask them about how they exist, and why, and where they go next, and why not? Can enquire into their values and beliefs, into their perception of justice and love, and into their awareness of time?

You may ask about hidden treasures, but generous ghosts seem to be as common as generous people. Also, as in everyday life, many will claim to be victims. You can ask them if they know that their bodies are dead … and if they know how much time has passed since their bodies died.

What are ghosts? Let’s ask Encyclopedia Britannica …

Ghost: soul or specter of a dead person, usually believed to inhabit a netherworld and capable of returning to the world of the living. According to descriptions or depictions provided by believers, a ghost may appear as a living being or as a nebulous likeness of the deceased or in other forms. Belief in ghosts is based on an ancient notion that a human spirit is separable from the body and may maintain its existence after the body’s death. In many societies, funeral rituals are believed to prevent ghosts from haunting the living. Encyclopedia Britannica


(Martyn) You probably have about 10 to 30 living relatives that you know about. How many dead relatives do you have? Let’s say 10 to 30 million, depending on how far back you consider your ancestors to be human. Your more recent ancestors – in the last hundred thousand years or so – were pretty much like you – and at least as smart. They lived, they loved and they died. Where are they now?

As you might expect, most ghosts are – or were – ordinary people. They rarely offer profound revelations. They may be peaceful, relaxed and supportive of their descendents. Or they may be depressed or obsessed, sometimes taking the concept of tunnel vision to extremes. They are more often scared than scary.

Grateful Dead

(David) As a retired psychotherapist, I had many living clients. When I had clients who could not speak Canadian, we had to work through a translator. Lately I have worked with dead clients, and we work through a trance-later. But work it is – working with dead people can be exhausting!

(And although their gratitude can be tear-provoking, only one knew anything about a lost treasure … and that’s a pretty good story about one of the greatest lost treasures of all time).

(Martyn) I never had time for nor interest in ghosts … until I started studying with native Hawaiian healers. Since then, I find that ghosts and ghost stories help explain many relationship problems and family karma (intergenerational entanglements) that seems to transcend life and death. Whether you call them ghosts, spirits or imagination, they offer useful ways to increase the relationship harmony that gives sense to our lives.

Everybody wants to go to Heaven – but nobody wants to die

(Martyn) In societies where people are scared to death of dying, ghosts can be treated badly. In societies that accept death as an integral part of living, ghosts can be treated well. Many Catholic cultures honor the dead on special days, and light candles for them.

Many Asians assume that family ghosts can be helpful and friendly, and they regularly offer prayers, incense and food to their ancestors. (Such behavior might be called schizophrenic in the West …)

The Living Dead or Undead

Many ghosts that we meet seem stuck between two time zones – between the world of the living and the world of the dead. Most ghosts often have the following qualities:

1. Ghosts are dead people

(David) If this seems obvious – slow down. Some people who are still living have fully dissociated their “selves” – and may act as free agents. I remember a university professor – I knew him for years and I can’t say I that ever met him. I met a very intellectual and logical “mind” – but I don’t recall any sense of shared humanity. Ever. Where was his self? I thought that he haunted his classrooms – while still alive.

(Martyn) A person may die unpleasantly. In my experience, pain wasn’t much of an issue for ghosts – but suffering was. The suffering of being abandoned by family or deserted by friends, the suffering of living for some ideal which turned out to be empty. The suffering of watching your children die.

Many ghosts communicated that a painful end made it easier to accept death; while dying in one’s sleep or under the influence of psychoactive drugs could cause confusion during and after death.

2. Ghosts are disoriented

(David) Some of the most disoriented ghosts that I talked to were the ghosts of murderers, abortions and suicides. Some described horrible fantasies – but not deathly realities. Often these ghosts communicated that murder or suicide seemed to be an easy way out of some problem. Usually, it wasn’t, and the chaos continued.

(Martyn) Many ghosts seem confused. They may not know that their bodies have died. They do not know what year it is. Some ghosts seem senile – they don’t like where they are and they try to cling to somebody. Other ghosts are like people with PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder), which seems to makes sense. I’m sure that dying can be traumatic.

3. Ghosts do not know that time has passed

(David) A ghost may be unwilling to even consider that time has passed. It may cling to a fixed idea that in any moment he or she will wake up or be forgiven or that it will complete something important that it was doing around the time its body died. It can be interesting to ask a ghost, “What year is this?” or “Who is ruling your country?

(Martyn) A ghost may be frozen in time. One year or a hundred years – there may be little difference. A ghost may say that it is waiting for someone to return, or waiting for something specific to happen before it can move on.

4. Ghosts may not know that their bodies have died

(David) Many ghosts seem to be stuck at the time of their death, as if time seemed to stop before the moment of death, then a ghost may believe that it is still alive. A ghost may also believe that it was abandoned or betrayed and be quite angry, sad or scared.

(Martyn) A ghost might be shocked to find that it has no living body. A ghost may call you crazy, stupid or misinformed. “How can I be dead? Are you an idiot? I am here …!” This confusion seems more likely if a person died in their sleep or demented or under the influence of psychotropic drugs. If a ghost has no memory of dying – how can a ghost know that he or she has died?

5. Ghosts are enmeshed and cannot leave

(David) Ghosts are often vague as to their next step. Some are scared of taking it, and try to cling to the life or world that they once knew. Others seem to have no idea what to do to move on and cling to a living person, usually a family member. Others are held by the living, who grasp the dead person and may offer a warm human body for the ghost to call home.

(Martyn) A ghost may say that it wants to leave, but that it cannot. A ghost may communicate that it has to say something or prevent something before it can move on. Some ghosts communicate that they need forgiveness. We find that ghosts are often entangled with physical and mental diseases (particularly with miscarriages and spontaneous abortions) and that they may be a factor in suicides.

6. Ghosts have little leverage

(David) Some ghosts radiate emotions – usually sorrow, anxiety, guilt or anger. Some highly motivated ghosts can even move physical items or manifest strange noises, fluids, items etc – they may be called poltergeists. A few may be called energy vampires and are accused of sucking energy from the living – but I find that many living people freely give their life-energy to dead people, especially to their dead ancestors and other dead relatives. Such people are often sad or melancholic.

(Martyn) A ghost may try to attract the attention of the living, but most of the time they just wait. Ghosts may be bonded to a location – to their places of death or to their graves, or may be bonded to their genealogy – to their ancestral homes or to their descendents’ lives. I find that people are more likely to be haunted than places – although some places may trigger this weird communication.

Communicating with the Dead – Calling Ghosts

Glendower: “I can call spirits from the vasty deep! Hotspur: “Why so can I; or so can any man. But will they come when you do call for them?

William Shakespeare (Henry IV – Part 1)


(David) Many people communicate with ghosts – although those people may not recognize it. They refer to their communication as intuition or self-hatred, etc. Try this out – simply observe or pay attention to your thoughts – instead of responding emotionally to them. Is your inner voice inside – or outside; male or female; young or old … who or what is speaking to you? Some people call them dimensional travelers … or even demons

(Martyn) A profound method of communicating with ghosts is our Dreaming Together, which was inspired by native Hawaiian healers that I met. Expertise requires long experience or training in lucid dreaming and interactive metaphors – and in handling whatever comes up in shared lucid dreams.

Be aware that Dreaming Together can quickly bring unconscious stuff to consciousness – and that there may be reasons for keeping it buried! (If your dreams are horrific, maybe contact us and we can sort it out together. (We teach Dreaming Together in our Systems 3 training.)

Suicide . Identification . Systemic Magic

Exorcism: Do your Daily Exorcises!

(David) I find most exorcism to be brutal. Imagine inviting a confused and mentally distressed relative to stay in your home – and then paying a hit-man to destroy your relative, or to force him or her leave with no place to go.

(Martyn) Perhaps exorcism is better than nothing – although most ghosts have agendas, in my opinion. Sometimes the person or family being haunted is in debt to the ghost, or hurt the living person that the ghost represents, etc. Such enmeshments can cross many generations.

A place that is haunted is thought to be associated by the haunting spirit with some strong emotion — remorse, fear, or the terror of a violent death. Individuals who are haunted are believed to be responsible for, or associated with, the ghost’s unhappy past experience. The traditional manifestations of haunting include ghostly apparitions, the displacement of objects, or the appearance of strange lights; auditory signs include disembodied laughter and screams, footsteps, ringing bells, and the spontaneous emanation of sounds from musical instruments. Encyclopedia Britannica 2002



(David) I wrote about a Haunted House that seemed to have three ghosts and two … things … from a separate reality. What we call demons are not ghosts of dead people, but entities from a normally inaccessible level of consciousness. Demons are not as easy to interview as ghosts (because the trance-later may freak out).

Some entities are frightfully toxic – feeding on human emotional energy. Psychotics and addicts may provide fast-food and all you can eat services for hungry demons. But even on their best behavior, visitors from separate realities can cause confusion and chaos. The entities called demons seem to follow their own paths, uncaring about whatever chaos they cause us humans.

(Martyn) A common way of inviting problems into your life is to ignore unfinished business with dead people – for example if a family member dies in such a way that you feel guilty – especially if the death is a taboo topic that cannot be discussed and rationalized. Suicides and abortion seem the most common causes of death that lead to unpleasant entanglements..

We coach people to manage entanglements with dead people – and with the undead. See Consequences of Abortion, Suicide and Vanishing Twins. (We have coached a few people who were entangled with dead pets … and one person who was entangled with a dead tree!)

Haunted House . Curses . Black Magic . Dead Person Identification . Demon

Devils and demons are supposed to have horns and hoofs;
yet all animals with horns and hoofs are vegetarian.
But we don’t let that spoil a good story.

David J. Marsden was a retired psychotherapist living in Ontario. David investigates stories of ghosts, demons and curses etc. Martyn Carruthers teaches Systemic Coaching internationally. We can help you bring heart, science and humor into your dark emotions and difficult relationships.

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