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There are so many forces that we don't understand. We must always proceed with caution, respect, and protection. Don't get in over your head!

If someone takes something from a graveyard for a good purpose, be it dirt or whatever, and takes it home, would the house get haunted or would the person be haunted no matter if they move? Thank you.

Interesting question. I guess the first thing I’m curious about is this “good purpose” for taking something from a grave. I know that there is a long standing tradition of using dirt from a grave in spells and rituals, but I confess I don’t have any experience with it, and from what I understand it is often used for cursing. Of course there are other uses as well, really anything the practitioner can dream up, so I will give you the benefit of the doubt. Using dirt from the grave of a loved one for protection or luck comes to mind.

The next thing I’m curious about is the “dirt or whatever” part of your question. While dirt is a fairly common ingredient in witchcraft, I’m wondering what else you might gather from a grave. Flowers? A piece of headstone? Bones?? It’s my feeling that each of these items might have varying degrees of significance as well as danger, both in the use and in the obtaining. In general it is illegal to remove anything from a graveyard, so proceed with caution and common sense. Don’t waltz into a cemetery with a shovel and a big container.

Regardless, the most important thing here is going to be permission. Ideally you would gain consent from the inhabitant of the grave you are sourcing, which of course presents difficulties but isn’t impossible. Most agree that one should only obtain dirt from the grave of someone they know, so you will probably already have a good idea of how this person would feel about it. There are different ways to ask for permission from the dead, but basically it comes down to sitting at the grave and simply asking, then waiting for an answer. The answer could come in many ways, in the form of a sign, a voice, an image, or a feeling. You’ll have to quiet your mind and open your eyes, paying close attention to get the response you’ve asked for. If the answer is yes, take only a small amount and leave an offering in gratitude, honoring the spirit for sharing.

Now, if you skip these steps-asking for permission, taking a small amount, leaving a gift, gathering from the grave of a stranger, or ignoring a clear “No” answer, and you take something anyway, then, yes, there is a good chance that a haunting could certainly occur. In this case I would speculate that it would be the person that was haunted, though that could certainly present in the form of a haunted house. It would depend on the anger of the spirit if these stayed around in the house after the person moved, followed them to their new location, or went back to resting in peace after the rude disruption.

So, my final question to you would be, did you take something and are now experiencing a haunting? Or did you move into a house that you suspect is haunted from a previous tenant’s behavior? If it’s the former, it sounds like reparations need to be made. Start by returning the dirt (or whatever) and asking forgiveness. Make an offering (flowers, food, and stones work well, pleasedon’t leave anything that will turn into trash) and vow to never do it again. If it’s the latter, you may need to do a house clearing (see previous column “Sanctuary” for detailed instructions), and, if that doesn’t work, hire a pro to come in and extract the angry spirit. Read my advice below for ways to protect yourself from harmful energy if none of this works.

I’ll conclude by saying that using graveyard dirt is pretty advanced magic, and definitely not for amateurs and dabblers. Be very careful of getting in over your head with the dead. They have laws and rules that we can’t understand, and messing with spirits can have serious consequences. Be careful.

* * *

I’m worried for a friend. I was kind of drawn to him with a weird vibe at the beginning of school. I found out his biological family is into some bad stuff and he found the bracelet in front of his house missing a bead and he feels very drawn to it in a bad way. His grandma is into some very dark magic and it scares him. She's thought that he is his grandfather and confessed to something saying " I'm sorry I made you bury all those children." I have a bad feeling that the missing bead is for him in some way…

It sounds like your intuition may be correct, at least in so far as the bracelet being potentially harmful for your friend. The first thing he should do is clear it energetically. There are several options for this, so feel free to do what calls to you. He could bury it in the earth, or cover it in salt, and say something over the object to dispel the energy around it. For example "I release the negative energy to be mulched and transformed into something fresh and new. I am free and clear, disconnected from harmful intention. Let this be for the highest good of all." More or less. The important thing is to remember to use positive language (I am free and clear vs I am not cursed) and to set a strong intention that all will happen in the highest good (to ensure that no repercussions befall you or anyone else). Smudging the area (both where it appeared and where it ends up) with sage, cedar, paulo santo, or copal couldn't hurt. Objects can also be cleansed by fire, water, moonlight or sunlight. Intention is very important here. I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again, ALWAYS open up safe and protected space around yourself before any ritual. Especially when working with potentially dangerous people or objects.

Your friend (and maybe you, since you’ve become involved) will need to go on the defensive. Start in the home. Salt the entire perimeter of the outside, and also sprinkle some salt in doorways and windowsills. As you do so, say aloud or in your head, “creating a safe space, a ring of protection, and only energy of love and light may enter.” Certain stones can also work well for protection (black tourmaline is a favorite of many). Enter a crystal shop with the intention of finding something with powerful protection and let yourself be guided to the stone for you. Take saltwater baths to release any negative energy that may have already attached itself, imagining it seeping out of you into the water and then disappearing down the drain.

Next take a meditative journey- in your mind’s eye, go to a safe space (from anytime/anywhere in your life, or even a fictional place from your imagination), and start to feel a light glowing in your heart. Using your breath, expand the light, letting it grow until it surrounds your body, with some extra space (a few feet) all the way around you, including under the ground-a full sphere of light. In that space, invite someone you trust completely (animals work well, as do children) to arrive outside of the circle, and invite them in. Notice how easily they can enter the safe space. Next, have someone you don’t trust arrive outside and let them try to come in. They shouldn't be able to, but if they can, you'll have to bring more strength and intention to the place in the sphere where they entered, and continue to reinforce until they can't come in. Keep the sphere open around yourself, night and day. Check in with it often, making sure that the space is holding strong, reinforcing as necessary.

There is a chance that you and your friend are in over your head here. It sounds like you may both be minors and could be dealing with experienced sorcerers. I hesitate to guide you towards deeper magical work, because dabbling can be dangerous. If these measures don’t help, you might need to enlist the help of a witch, shaman, or light worker to break any curses that may have been cast, and bind his family from doing harm. Right now, however, the important thing is that you both stay safe and protect yourselves.

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