Burning Sage – Ghost Protection

Informant is a student at USC. Theatre major, girl, brunette, an older sister, a cat mother, a child of divorced parents, and a resident of multiple states – CA, OR, WA, TX.

You said you wanted to share ghost stories. Have you had any personal –

No. Luckily, no. It’s like my biggest phobia, is ghosts. But my mom and my sister have seen them.  So I believe in them, because they wouldn’t lie to me. So, basically – our last house in Oregon was haunted. And I didn’t even know it until after we moved out, and they were like “By the way, it was haunted.” There was a ghost in my room. And in my mom’s room. And, they were really mean.

And they were really mean?

They were mischievous, as my mom puts it. But – that means mean to me. ‘Cause I don’t like pranks. And I don’t like ghosts playing pranks on me. So, basically, it was terrifying. For this newest house – in Texas – I made my mom – before I showed up, we had to burn sage around the house. And then when I got there we burned more sage. And we’re gonna have a preacher bless the house and everything. Basically anything to get rid of the ghosts.

What is this thing with the sage?

Supposedly when you burn sage around the house, in like – definitely in the corners, and you say positive things, like “Go away ghosts, this is a peaceful home,” it convinces them to go away. It also smells really bad. And then your entire clothes smell like you’ve been smoking cigarettes. But also, you can do that – and then you – it’s basically in the corners, and around windows, and door handles. Just so they can’t get through. It makes ghosts stay away. Or you can have a preacher bless the house and get rid of ghosts. Or I think you can burn oil on the door handles as well too.

Why in the corners?

I don’t know, maybe they can hide in corners.

Aren’t they supposed to be able to go through walls?

I try not to think about that. We just basically ran it all the way around the room. And said positive things, like “Go away ghosts.”

That’s a positive thing?

“This is not a good home for you? We’re too nice of people?” I don’t know. We got rid of the ghosts. That’s all I care about.

How did you learn about this ritual?

Mmmm, my mom’s friend knew about it. I think it’s just like – I feel like it’s an old wives’ tale kind of thing? But I don’t know – I had never heard it before. It was just something that I was told from my mom, who heard it from a friend.

Did you make your mother do it, or…?

I just freaked out enough so that she decided to do it. ‘Cause otherwise I wasn’t gonna visit her.

And then you did it together.


And you felt better about going in the place.


There’ve been rumors of any hauntings of the place? Or was it just a precaution?

Not yet. Just a precaution. And I think in Texas you have to – before you can buy or rent a house, you have to say whether someone’s died in that house before. It’s not a law in Oregon, but I think in California and Texas and some other places it is. So no one’s died in the house, but I mean I was a little afraid because apparently the owner’s wife died – not in that house, so, y’know, just a precaution.


Informant took part in a ritual to lay her fears at rest, because her belief in ghosts was threatening to interfere with her relationship to her mother. Informant recognized the irrationality of her behavior, early on using the term “phobia.”  Informant was a folkloric poster child! “I believe in [ghosts], because [my family] wouldn’t lie to me.” “This was something I heard from my mom who heard it from a friend.” Awesome.