New Plymouth man gives up retail management to be a ghost-buster
Herman Petrick's first experience with banishing what he calls demonic energy came out of the blue in a home in Wellington in May, 2012.
He says he was staying the night at a friend's house when she sat up in bed at 2am and started screaming.
"The next day she told me all of these things that happened in her house and she's had family and friends stay over and they'd had issues with this house too," Petrick says.
"She was being terrified every night. Just like demonic type stuff. She was going to church and the church came and blessed the house to get rid of these things and they couldn't do anything.
"I remember just the next day walking through her house with my arms spread and I was speaking out loud and I said 'Whatever this thing is in the house you need to F-off. This is my space, you need to leave'.
"Then about a week later I called her and I asked how her house was and she said it was the weirdest thing, because whatever it was, it was gone."
Petrick, who has worked in retail for most of his life and is the manager of New Plymouth's Farmers store, didn't really understand what had happened.
To this day he describes the event as bizarre and yet claims he has gone on to research, study and, in his words, clear negative, dark or demonic energy from houses, humans and even household pets.
Now he runs a business called Global Energy Clearing that has become so successful that he and his wife Rebecca have quit their high paying jobs and are leaving New Zealand in early 2016 to travel the world as energy clearers.
"People contact me when they feel like they have ghosts or something in their house, or if they feel like there is something attached to them," Petrick says.
"What I do is I connect to the person and I find out what energies they are carrying around and remove that energy and in most cases that really changes the person.
"Sometimes people say they feel lighter, in most cases everyone sleeps a lot better and sleeps a couple of hours longer."
The other side of his claims come from the countless people who are skeptics of his work, the fact Petrick has no scientifically tested evidence to back up his claims of healing, and the open admission that he is not a medical doctor.
Despite this the 45-year-old, who is originally from Portland, Oregon, claims that about 85 per cent of the population carries what he calls "negative energies". He says he can clear that energy from people or from their home remotely, while he is sitting in his house in New Plymouth.
Exactly how he does that is quite boring, he says.
It happens in his mind. There's no chanting, no sage burning and definitely no crucifix waving.
"What I do is I connect with the person, in my mind. It could be your brother's girlfriend's sister, you can tell me that and I can connect with that person just through the intent and find out what they have and do the clearing with them.
"It's not like I have this super duper ability where I can see negative energies on people. It's more of just like a feeling I suppose."
He describes people's auras as an invisible force field and says they protect the person from outside energies. However, the invisible force fields can get damaged. Traumatic events can lead to gaps, holes or creases, meaning the "the little energies that float around" can get in and attach themselves to people.
Petrick, who grew up in a highly religious Christian family, claims these negatives energies show their presence in various different ways, including mental illnesses, chronic headaches, sleeping issues and bad dreams.
Petrick, who charges between $50 and $250 for each individual job he does, says not everyone believes him, not even his family in Portland, Oregon.
When asked about how his religious family reacted to his new found calling, Petrick shifts in his seat for the first time during his interview.
There's a pause.
"They are really concerned about me, ya know, from a religious standpoint. So I talk to them a little bit about it, but they just don't want to know.
"They think I've gone off the rails, basically. And that's alright, they are just living what their truth is."
But it's more than just his family who refute his claims.
The chairman of the New Zealand Skeptics Mark Honeychurch says there is no evidence that the type of negative spiritual energy Petrick talks about exists, and no scientific basis for the concept of these energies.
"Although it can never be positively proven that this kind of energy doesn't exist, every attempt so far to prove that it does exist has failed and this lack of evidence suggests that it's unlikely there is any such thing as spiritual energy," Honeychurch says.
He goes on to say that there are many potential risks when dealing with people who claim to have a connection to, or understanding of, other-worldly powers or energies.
"The most immediate concern is that people are often asked to pay money to the practitioner, and it's generally not a good idea to pay for any service that doesn't have a good evidence base," he says.
"Beyond monetary issues, belief in pseudo-scientific ideas such as those of spirit energies, ghosts and other supernatural entities and powers can cause people to make bad life decisions. People have been known to refuse proper medical care, make harmful financial choices and act on bad work or relationship advice."
Petrick doesn't see it that way. He believes he is helping people and he has a collection of stories and testimonies that seem to back up his claims. Among them is the story of a 5-year-old Taranaki boy.
"Since he was two years old he was too afraid to even walk down the hall by himself and he couldn't sleep in his own room," Petrick said.
"So I did the energy clearing for this boy, and he'd been dealing with this for three years and then the next night he sleeps by himself, he finds himself walking down the hall by himself. He just completely changes who he was.
"That was over a year ago so it's really cool to see things. One of the really exciting things is working with kids who have issues, like sleeping issues or being afraid."
Honeychurch says recounts and testimonies should not be sufficient evidence to convince a potential client.
"If you're considering employing the services of someone who claims to have supernatural abilities, ask for evidence that the claims they make about their abilities are true.
"The level of evidence should be proportional to the strength of the claims being made. If someone is claiming something that sounds unlikely to be true or doesn't line up with what science has taught us about the world we live in, make sure you set a very high bar for the quality of evidence you are willing to accept from them as proof of their claims."
Honeychurch also recommends taking a trusted friend along to any meeting with someone who claims to have special powers.
"Especially if the issue you are seeking help with is a very emotional one for you, it's a good idea to have someone there who will help to ensure you don't make any rash decisions," he says.
Petrick says he is hoping to help as many people as he can while travels the world for a decade.
"That's a big step for me. I've been doing most of it for free because I really like to help people, but I've got to start charging money so I can pay to eat.
"The whole point of our trip is to work with local people, talk to people and help people around the world.
"And hopefully earn enough money to pay for our food and shelter."
Petrick also claims to do removal of curses or hexes, soul retrieval, the cutting of soul ties, chakra balancing and the closure of dark portals.
Honeychurch said if Petrick was serious about his claims, the NZ Skeptics would be keen to help him to test his abilities under controlled conditions.
"It is important that he takes the time to back up the claims that he is making."