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Gary Jansen has lived an unusual life.

A senior editor at one of the largest publishing houses in the world, Jansen has worked closely with numerous bestselling religious authors over a long career. He is an accomplished Catholic author and thinker, and most notably, has served as editor and publisher to both Pope Francis and Pope Benedict XVI.

But we haven’t even gotten to the unusual part yet. Because apart from these impressive credentials, Jansen has done something even more incredible.

He’s come up against ghosts—and won.

Many of us have had brushes with the unknown—that soft creak in the hallway, a subtle movement in the darkened corner of a bedroom, or mysterious figures glimpsed through the ruined windows of a rotting house. But most of what we attribute to the work of ghosts is really just the human mind doing what it does best: keeping us alert to potential dangers, even when none are present.

And yet, something very real is going on when it comes to ghosts. A recent study conducted by the Pew Research Center shows that 18 percent of Americans not only believe in ghosts, but claim to have seen one. Further, a full 29 percent claimed to have felt the presence of the dead.

Most of the time, these encounters are fleeting and harmless. But when objects start flying and the scares get a little too intense, who you gonna call?

Forget the Ghostbusters. To get rid of spirits, we’re going to look to Jansen’s otherworldly memoir, “Holy Ghosts,” a book which details his family’s terrifying—and very real—encounter with a pair of spectral intruders. Within, you can find out how these ghosts affected his family, how he eventually got rid of them, and most poignantly, how the experience unexpectedly strengthened his faith.

If you think you might be suffering from the presence of a ghost, and need relief, we’ve distilled Jansen’s experience into a set of steps that will help you heal your haunting right now.

This is what worked for Gary Jansen, and it can work for you, too. Let’s dig in.

Find Out What’s Really Going On

It’s easy to blame the supernatural for the things that go bump in the night, but the truth is this: what you’re experiencing is probably natural. Strange sounds can be the result of the structure of a home expanding and shrinking in response to changes in temperature. Inexplicable movements can be blamed on drafts. And the feeling of being watched can stem from, well, thinking about being watched.

These natural problems have natural solutions, and so if you try banishing ghosts when all you really have is a drafty house, you’re still going to be left with a drafty house.

Gary Jansen, ever a rational thinker, experienced mysterious electrical surges tearing through his body, watched his young son tearfully refuse to enter a certain room of his home, and even witnessed toys begin activating themselves, and still did his best to rule out natural causes.

Of course, in this case, there were none. His was a real haunting. And if strange things are happening inside your home that have no natural cause, it’s time to move on to the next step.

Seek Professional Aid

When it comes to ghosts, it’s dangerous to go it alone. You’re going to need help.

When Jansen found himself in need of answers, he turned to one of his more unusual editorial connections—a woman who could communicate with ghosts.

Mary Anne Winkowski is not a psychic. She doesn’t even like the word. All she knows is that she sees and hears things that other people can’t—namely ghosts. And when Jansen called her up, she immediately diagnosed his problem.

There wasn’t just one ghost haunting Jansen’s house. There were two.

Over the phone, Winkowski gave detailed information on the human identities of the ghosts, all of which Jansen was later able to independently verify. One of these spirits was relatively harmless. The other? Not so much.

If you suspect that a ghost is in your home, you’ll need help, too. Your local priest is a great resource, but Winkowski recommends giving the priest every detail you can concerning your particular haunting. In order to bless and protect a home, she says, “a priest needs to know what he’s blessing.”

But beyond describing Jansen’s haunting, she also proposed solutions, giving him the tools he needed to rid himself of his uninvited guests. Let’s take a look at a few of those tools.

Arm Up

Smudge stick? Check. Water and sea salt in a spray bottle? Check. Prayers? Check.

Congratulations. You’re ready to take on a ghost.

These are the tools Mary Anne Winkowski recommended Jansen use to drive the ghosts from his home. Some of these may sound like New Age mumbo jumbo, but they’re not. These are tools that, inexplicably, work again and again in situations involving troublesome human spirits.

A smudge stick, as Winkowski explains, is made of sage and sweet grass. She mailed a few sticks to Jansen, instructing him to light them on fire on a fireproof plate or pan, and then put them out, creating smoke. He was to take these smoking sticks through every room of his home, praying the Lord’s Prayer as he used the sticks to outline every door and window he came across.

This calms a spirit and drains its energy, making it all the easier to convince it to cross over. It is not unlike the incense a priest might burn at a funeral.

She also instructed him to take a spray bottle, fill it with water, and add in a tablespoon of sea salt. This, she said, should be used to spray the corners of his house, as well as any secondhand objects which might have come into his home, bringing spiritual forces with them.

Hauntings, like everything else, run on their own set of rules. While our limited human senses can never fully come to know these spiritual rules, experience tells us that certain tools simply work. Arm yourself with these tools, use them with wisdom, and you’ll cure your haunting.

Seal the Deal by Healing Your Haunting

The most important tool at your disposal, when it comes to ridding yourself of a ghost, is an unexpected one.


Ghosts aren’t evil, as something like a demon is. Ghosts are confused. They’re hurting. They’re lost in a sort of purgatory. And so, if you remember only one thing about them, let it be this: they were once people, just like you, and they deserve your mercy. A ghost isn’t an enemy to be vanquished, but a diseased being to be cured.

In the end, Jansen and his family emerged from their ordeal with a normal, happy home. But the final act that did this wasn’t the battle to the death so often depicted in film and literature. No—“Holy Ghosts” gets far more real than that.

Once Mary Anne Winkowski confirmed that the ghosts were weakened enough and ready to depart for “the light,” she instructed Jansen to invite the spirits to cross over. He did, praying not for their expulsion, but for their good, as he led them out of his home.

“I’ll always pray for you,” he said, in a moment of kindness. And that was it. When Jansen awoke the next morning, he found silence and a sense of lightness, where there had previously been an air of oppression and a symphony of strange noises and happenings.

Jansen helped his ghosts move on, and if you follow these steps in a spirit of love rather than hate, you can, too.

Don’t fight your haunting. Heal it, and you’ll find that peace replaces the chaos you’ve endured.

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