Not everyone gets a warm, welcoming feeling when they walk in their front door. Novelist Stacey Halls, whose own first flat gave her the creeps, meets the ‘house healers’ clearing people’s homes of negative energies and spooky vibes.
The first home I ever bought was a mistake. I knew it from the minute we arrived as first-time homeowners with hundreds of bags and boxes piled in the street behind us. On paper, the flat in Southeast London was just what my husband and I wanted: two bedrooms, high ceilings and a large garden. But in the chaos of moving day, a niggling thought that we’d got it wrong just wouldn’t leave me alone.
Damp appeared in places that didn’t make sense, and I always felt cold there. One winter evening, when I was home alone, a standing lamp in the corner of the living room suddenly started to shudder violently, shaking and ringing like a bell. My husband raised an eyebrow when I told him; friends offered up the bus route on our road as an explanation. It didn’t feel like a haunting, just a physical manifestation of the gloom that had settled in our rooms.
I never wanted to be alone in the house, and stayed with friends if my husband was away. Home should be a place of sanctuary, yet it felt like a stranger’s house, like a relationship I didn’t want to be in. I developed TMJ, a painful jaw condition, from grinding my teeth. I spent as little time as possible at home, and wrote my second novel from the local library.
I pined for our previous rental, where we lived for six years, and in which I felt totally comfortable. I combed Rightmove on a daily basis, looking at what we could have, should have bought, and spent as little time at home as possible. Unable to afford the stamp duty on somewhere else, we stuck it out for two years before putting it on the market. I am aware how nauseatingly privileged that sounds, to ‘not like’ the house I was lucky enough to be able to buy. But not feeling at home in my own home was a hard feeling to ignore.
I’ve always been sensitive to the energy of old homes, attuned to their moods and histories. I grew up in a new-build, but ever since I was a child, historic buildings have fascinated me, and I’ve felt as though I connected with them in some way.
On the same road as my childhood home was a former workhouse, a colossal Victorian relic that had been home to more than 300 inmates. I would play in the gardens, but never went too close to the building. It seemed such a melancholy place, as though it was carrying the weight of the world in its bricks.
A ten-minute walk from my parents’ house is a small museum in a former mill owner’s home where there is a drawing room I’ve never been able to go inside without feeling intense dread. There’s a heavy, oppressive atmosphere that has nothing to do with the period furnishings – it’s as though a person crippled by grief or depression spent a lot of time there.
On school trips to historic houses my classmates would be bored and uninterested, but I wanted to look in every room. I recall an almost visible bustling energy in the kitchen at Towneley Hall in Burnley, and the smell of woodsmoke in the medieval hall at Tatton Park in Cheshire, though a fire wasn’t burning.
It might sound strange to some, but I can read the mood of some rooms and buildings as if they were people. It’s similar to walking into a room and sensing something has just happened; an awkward silence indicating an argument has just taken place. This sensitivity has caused me to move hotel rooms before, particularly in old buildings.
I’m not the only person who experiences confusing and unsettling feelings in a building with ‘bad energy’. Georgia Coleridge is one of London’s most in-demand energy healers, who clears houses of bad vibes (georgiacoleridgehealing.com). ‘I get a lot of calls from women who say: “I can’t tell my husband I’m calling you, he’ll think I’m completely mad, but there’s something not right with this house.” There are little bits of evidence, like a room the dog won’t go into, or feeling a cold spot somewhere.
‘If you have people living in a home for a long time, they affect the vibe,’ explains Georgia. ‘As a house healer I can feel the chair where the husband sits, and the side of the bed my client sleeps on. Humans and computers can store information and the walls of houses can, too – whether that’s emotion, illness, sadness or happiness. Certain houses have a vibe that impresses itself on the family.’
Angi, 50, a bank worker from Skye, lived in a home that felt unwelcoming, but only to her and to female visitors. ‘There was a hallway that every woman who entered felt they had to hurry along, but another house I lived in felt like it was physically looking after us and saying: “I’m glad you’re here.” When we moved I went from room to room and thanked it for giving us happiness.’
Workplaces, too, can have an atmosphere. Miranda, 48, a writer from Dudley, recalls working for a company in an old manor house, where her office on the ground floor felt overwhelmingly sad. ‘I got talking to a lady who had worked there when it had been an asylum. I mentioned the room and she told me it was where mothers were separated from their babies when they were put up for adoption. It had full sun for most of the day, and heating, but it was cold and felt utterly hopeless – a completely visceral emotion that took your breath away.’
Adrian Incledon-Webber is a former estate agent who trained as a house healer. In the past 15 years he’s cleared the energy of thousands of homes and published two books on the subject. The problem, he says, is ‘emotional junk’ left not just by previous inhabitants, but also our own family and friends. ‘Anybody who comes into your house will leave an essence of themselves behind.’
He first became aware of house energy working as an estate agent in Surrey, with a property he christened the ‘divorce house’. ‘It was a beautiful house, perfect for most people – four beds, two baths, big reception rooms – but it did have an air of doom and gloom about it,’ he says. Its owners were getting divorced and asked Adrian to put it on the market. It sold quickly to a young married couple with a baby. Three years on, the same couple asked him to sell it: they were getting divorced. ‘Over a 25-year period, pretty much every three years, the house would come back on the market due to divorce.’ Already working as a house healer, he had a lightbulb moment. He offered to clear the house’s energy for the next couple to move in – and those buyers have stayed ever since.
Adrian – whose methods are detailed further in his latest book Heal Your Home 2 – works remotely from the Yorkshire Dales and heals homes worldwide via his website dowsingspirits.co.uk. He gets rid of what he terms geopathic stress – or noxious energies – caused by both natural events and human actions. He has identified more than 40 causes of bad energy in the home including trapped souls (who – be warned – do not have to have lived in your property) and dark energies left behind by previous owners.
Adrian uses a combination of intention, visualisation and breath work to eradicate the negative energy and can spend anything from a few days to several months on a project. ‘If it’s an 18th-century house, for instance, it’s going to be a lot more complex than, perhaps, a brand-new flat,’ he says.
He explains that some people are more energy-sensitive than others. ‘A third of people are so completely bulletproof that nothing bothers them. Another third are mildly sensitive, such as with the divorce house, where it took a few years to penetrate the barriers. And some are so sensitive, they walk in and get filthy headaches straight away.’
So what can be done if your home or office is in need of a spring clean? ‘If you have stuck energy you can move it in all sorts of ways,’ says Georgia. Sound and smoke are good ways to get things moving. ‘You can ring bells or burn sage.’ One method, Georgia suggests, is to imagine a net of love and light and pull it through a room or the whole house. ‘Then use a finer and finer one,’ she says.
Another method is to clap and use the vibrations to ‘scatter’ the stuck energy. Energy, says Georgia, builds up around electronics thanks to the waves they emit, so she recommends starting to move the air around TVs, computers and radios, and opening windows to let energy circulate.
Last year, my husband and I moved to a brand-new house in Oxfordshire, where the air is clean and so is the energy. Opening the door, I breathed a sigh of relief. I love our new home so much that on a recent trip to Wales, like a lovestruck teenager, I couldn’t wait to come home. What defines good energy? For me, the word safety springs to mind. But it isn’t just how secure a house’s locks are: in the most basic sense of the word, to be safe means to be protected from harm or danger. In the homes I’ve loved living in I have felt protected. ‘Everybody should feel like that,’ says Adrian. And if you don’t, perhaps it’s time to start the healing process.
Stacey’s latest novel Mrs England is published by Manilla Press, price £14.99*
*To order a copy for £12.74 until 8 August go to books.mailshop.co.uk or call 020 3308 9193. Free UK delivery on orders over £20.