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Lesson learned: Ignorance is bliss when it comes to knowing who lived in your home before you did. But unfortunately, I didn’t have that luxury. Late last August, I moved into an apartment owned by my parents—so I’d already heard about the prior roster of tenants: the NYU grad students who woke up the whole block with their S&M escapades; the verbally-abusive father whose children left satanical “murals” all over the walls.

Needless to say, the space needed a refresh. My fiancé and I spent the summer plastering and painting walls, updating the bathroom and completely gut-renovating the kitchen. We moved in on one of the hottest days of summer, while the kitchen was still a construction zone. The air was stagnant, and particle dust clung to every surface no matter how much I dusted and vacuumed. Today, of course, the space is beautiful and clean. But call it a creepy former tenant placebo: Things have always felt off to me.

The day I received an email from Nancy Lucas, founder of the L.A.-based company, Creative Home Healing, I had woken up to a large puddle in my kitchen. We couldn’t find its origin and I was feeling kind of spooked. When Lucas reached out introducing me to her company’s many “home healing” services, including a “remote clearing,” I had to jump at the opportunity to experience it.

After I agreed to the service ($220/session), Lucas put me in touch with her remote clearing expert, Heather McCall, a Reiki master and kinesiologist who, Lucas assured me, has “cleared theatres in London, homes in New York and building sites where deaths have occurred!”

How does a remote home clearing begin? With a FaceTime, of course. McCall and I video conferenced for roughly 30 minutes, with me sitting at my dining table, talking through the home’s history. She was warm and friendly and looked more like Martha Stewart than a master of the healing arts. Shortly after I told her about the former tenants, she asked me if I’d had any plumbing problems recently. Gulp. “Poltergeist energy,” she declared. “I can tell.” She then explained that poltergeist energy is different than your average ghost or spirit. Poltergeists are more mischievous than dangerous, often attaching themselves to a young person and lingering in a given location well after that person has left it. She said this energy force is behind small grievances like lost keys, plumbing problems and flickering lights. 

poltergeist Pull Quote

But the creepiest part was when McCall diagnosed a sensation I hadn’t even been able to name: “I’m sensing that you’re feeling a stickiness,” she said. Stickiness. That’s exactly what I felt in the apartment: a weight to the air, a lack of circulation, and a sense of my limbs being slightly leaden. McCall then informed me she would be “remotely traveling” into the space using meditation, Reiki symbols and pendulum work. “I know it sounds mad!” she told me, “but I’ve been able to do this for some time now.”

After asking me when the space would be most quiet, McCall told me to “clock it,” meaning to look at my watch at and say silently to myself, “It’s happening”. Sound kooky? It's actually big business these days. According to the Washington Post, at least 1.2 million Americans have tried energy healing therapies, and Reiki services are offered at over 800 U.S. hospitals to date—despite major pushback from a) scientists who discredit the theories and b) the church. 

Following the clearing, McCall emailed me a full diagnosis, stating that my place had tested positive for entities: "Most places have some form or other," she reassured me. "It seemed as though the entity was a demonic form brought in by previous tenants. This can be very usual with drug use and sometimes they attach to a weak psyche, she continued. "I kept getting a young woman when I was clearing this out—girlfriend? Tenant? Although the male energy was the most dark in this area.” She also told me I had poltergeist energy in the flat, which was surely the result of "a period of trauma either in the space or people. This may be responsible for the mysterious water flood in kitchen." Thankfully, she reported, “the building, neighbors, street were never cursed and you have no ghosts.” (So at least there's that.) Finally, she suggested a number of tools to try, including tuning forks, Tibetan bells and general music playing. Apparently sound is the best way to chase off bad energies, which makes sense if you think about it.

I immediately called my dad with questions. Did we have tenants with substance abuse? You bet we did. Apparently, my parent’s closing on the property was held up for weeks because a drug-addicted cousin of the former owners refused to leave the bedroom he lived in (my current office). He padlocked the door and wouldn’t come out—and he was eventually evicted by force. Granted, it’s New York City and “drug abuse” is a healthy guess really anywhere, but l left that phone call absolutely and thoroughly spooked.

That night, while I should have felt relief, I was acutely aware of everything. Light flickering across my mirror (the wind), sounds of the old house breathing (wood adapting to the temperature changes), water trembling in the glass (the nearby subway). I didn’t sleep a wink. McCall warned me that rooms shift and may take awhile to settle, and three nights later, the apartment does somehow feel different. Maybe it’s the crispness of fall finally moving in. Maybe it’s peace of mind. Or maybe it’s because poltergeists are literally a thing and I no longer have one. (?!)

When I asked Lucas for some science to support her claims, she offered this: “Within a space, every cubic centimeter is filled with vibrating energy fields. In addition to the purely physical realm of your home and the physical objects within it, there are emotional, spiritual and etheric energies." Um...right...so maybe it is a lot of hooey. But whatever she did, I'm now sleeping like a baby.

RELATED: 
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