Countless tour guides call New Orleans the most haunted city in America. Psychic medium Cari Roy — the top-billed psychic in New Orleans, according to Travel Channel and BBC America — says this is due to the city's compact size, history of disasters and unrelenting violence.
"If you walk through the French Quarter, every brick has been bled on. We have so much history and drama in a small area," Roy says, citing yellow fever epidemics, floods, fires and hurricanes. "And disaster energy tends to hold ghosts and the energy of the event itself."
Many New Orleanians are enablers when it come to ghosts, thanks to their religious temperaments and slower-paced lives, Roy says. "We keep the dialogue open with the dead," says Roy, a professional psychic for more than 20 years. "It never really stops. We live in a more meditative state, and that's when you're more aware of hauntings. New York ... has a lot of the same things as New Orleans — it's old, there's violence and drama — but the pace is so fast, who has time to have a spooky feeling about something?"
Spooky feelings abound among Roy's clients, many of whom hire her because they're having paranormal problems: lights going on and off, mysterious sounds, cold spots, a sense that things aren't going right.
"People will say, 'Ever since I moved into this place, I have felt like crap,'" Roy says. "It doesn't have to be a health condition. That can be a ghost condition."
Roy recommends the following steps for people who are experiencing disruptive energies in their homes:
1. Talk it out. Most ghosts are humans without human forms, Roy says, and most of them can be reasoned with. Sit in the area where you're having the most activity and say, "I know you're here, but this is my home, time and space. You no longer have rights over this 3D world we live in. There are people on the other side who love you, and you would feel better being there. Follow the light."
2. Lay down some ground rules. Roy doesn't kick a spirit out of her home unless it is being disruptive. Say, "These are my rules: You can't scare anybody. You can't wake us up in the middle of the night. You are welcome to stay if you don't cause any problems."
3. Break out the sage and holy water. If reasoning with the spirit doesn't work, sprinkle holy water in corners and walk through the home with sage to clear its negative energy.
4. If all else fails, bring in the professionals. Rarely are cases this extreme, but Roy has got "other tricks" for dealing with particularly menacing energies. Sometimes a case is outside her purview, in which case she recommends calling a priest. And very occasionally, she tells people to move, because the situation will never improve.
A haunting doesn't have to be a bad thing, Roy says. A possessive ghost can make some homeowners feel protected. A loved one's lingering presence may ease the bereaved's grief.
"There are all kinds of hauntings, because there are all kinds of people," Roy says.