Paranormal Activity

After a string of bad roommates, I ultimately decided that I wanted a place of my own. I found a three-bedroom house complete with a two-car garage, full basement, and big backyard. Sure, it was about twenty miles outside of the city, but that meant that friends couldn’t drop in without calling me first. Side note – guys, don’t do this. Call your friends before you show up! I moved in, and everything was great. Try as I might, I started noticing things that I couldn’t explain.

Like any good horror movie, it started with my dog. Sophie is a Lhasa Apso but thinks she’s a Doberman.  When she hears a noise, she goes to investigate. Early one morning, she woke with up growling and immediately headed out of the room. I got up to follow her and found her at the top of the basement steps. That’s when I heard the distinct sound of footsteps coming from the basement. Suspecting a burglar, I grabbed the poker from the fireplace and headed downstairs (like an idiot). I flipped on the lights, ready to attack (or more accurately, ready to scream and surrender) and found that the room was empty. I looked in the laundry room, bathroom, and the closet. Hell, I even looked behind furniture. There was no one else in my house. I repeated this ritual almost nightly until I explained it away as the house settling.

A few months passed with no developments. One Sunday afternoon, I was downstairs doing laundry. Tired of walking up and down the stairs, I decided to hang out on the couch outside the laundry room and watch some TV between loads. I was exhausted from being out too late the previous night and laid down on the couch. A few hours later, I woke up on the couch. I threw the blanket off of me and began to fold the laundry in the dryer. That’s when it hit me. I didn’t have a blanket when I went to sleep. I walked back out the couch and noticed that it was the blanket I keep in my upstairs guest room. I explained it as a sleepwalking episode, even though I’ve never sleepwalked before. Additionally, why would I go into my guest room when I only ever go in there to get it ready for a guest. I decided the rest of the laundry could wait until another time since it was beginning to get dark outside.

The basement continued to be the center of activity. I always leave the laundry room door open. The door is heavy and old, so it naturally stays wide open and is hard to latch. Plus, I’m usually carrying a laundry basket in my hand, so I don’t have a free hand to close it. I would go downstairs to do laundry and routinely find the door closed. I thought maybe I was being absent minded and closing it when I left without a basket in my hand, so I left a post-it reading “DON’T CLOSE THE DOOR” on the washer to remind me not to close the door. Despite this, I kept finding the door closed.

What finally convinced me was a friend having an experience in (you guessed it) my basement. The entrance from my garage opens into my basement. We walked in to pick up a bottle of wine to take to a party, and she came in to check out a painting I was working on. She took off her coat and threw it on the couch. While she was looking at the painting, she heard a voice behind her and turned to find her coat draped over the back of a chair, rather than crumpled on the couch where she left it. When I came back downstairs, she was sitting in my car.  When she recounted her story, I laughed and immediately exclaimed “I knew I wasn’t that crazy!”

When I tell these stories, I usually get asked two questions. The first is “why don’t you move?” The second is “what don’t you do something to get rid of the ghost?” My answer to either question is always the same. I don’t feel unsafe in my home. Based on my experiences, I think that the spirit is that of an older woman who has a motherly energy to her. She has never done anything harmful; she just wants her space to be clean and in order. I can live with that. Even so, I had to set some ground rules.

When I finally admitted that I might have a ghost, I had a conversation with it. I went to the basement with a few cups of tea and sat on the couch. I said “You are free to stay, but there’s a few things I need from you. Please don’t scare my animals or my guests. If any of us walk into a room, please keep your distance. With that being said, if someone else is here alone, do whatever you need to do to protect our home.”

I felt silly when I did this, but a few weeks ago I learned that she is keeping her word. I had to have a new washer installed after mine bit the dust. My work schedule is a bit hectic, so I asked my neighbor to let the delivery driver in and hang out while he installed the new washer. My neighbor texted that she had just let the driver in. A few minutes later she called me. I was in a meeting, so I ignored the call. She called back, so I ignored the call again. When she called a third time, I realized that the driver might have a question. I stepped out and answered her call. She was frantic and explained that door kept slamming when the worker was in the laundry room. When the driver stepped out, the door slammed again the lights turned off. With all this in mind, the driver was refusing to come back in the house and was waiting for his boss to show up. I left work a bit early to meet them back at my house. As luck would have it, my presence caused the activity to stop.

Having a spirit in my home and leaving semi-comfortably with her makes me feel incredibly witchy. I plan on moving in the next few years, and I hope my ghost will follow me. If not, I will do everything to make sure the future owners of my home will be as welcoming to her as I have grown to be.

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The Séance

As a witch, I certainly believe in the existence of disembodied spirits or, for the lack of a better terms, ghosts. I’ve had my share of “paranormal” experiences. In fact, I fully believe that I have a few spirit roommates that reside in my home. Luckily, they seem harmless and tend to spend their time in my basement. The worst part of it is that they open and close doors and like to make banging sounds to let me know they are there. If this the worst they’ve got, I’m fine with them staying for as long as they’d like.

The other thing you should know about me is that that I am one of the biggest skeptics in the world. People are usually confused when they hear this because people usually equate pagan spirituality with superstition. I don’t tend to take offense to this since I’ve met my fair share of bat-shit crazy pagans. With that being said, I tend to take any paranormal experience I have with a grain of salt and look for other possibilities before jumping to the conclusion of ghosts.

A friend of mine who has had her personal share of ghost stories heard about a séance at a local art gallery hosted by a local medium and occult teacher. I immediately agreed to go with her, even though I couldn’t tell whether this was a real séance or simply a performance art piece. Nevertheless, we were there when the doors opened.

We were led to our seats at the main table with the medium and shortly thereafter the séance started. We were told about the spirit we were attempting to communicate with for the night. The story sounded a bit farfetched. To sum it up, the medium purchased a needlepoint from a thrift store and found a letter hidden in the lining. After her discovery, the medium experienced paranormal activity in her home. I rolled my eyes so hard I almost traveled back in time.

We started the séance by extinguishing all the candles except for the one on our table. Once the medium asked for the spirit to give us a sign, the candle went out and we were left in complete darkness. The séance continued as one would expect, a ball was thrown from our table, a book flew from the bookshelf, and a glass shattered. Then, as one would expect, a darker spirit made itself known. The walls shook, a door slammed, and I felt a firm touch on my shoulder despite the fact that both the people next to me were gripping my hands.

The séance ended and after the medium cleansed the room, we discussed our experiences. I was prepared for everyone to share my skepticism, but they all felt as though they had a genuine experience. In the effort to remain fair, below are my cases for and against this being a true connection with a spirit.

Evidence that this was a true experience with a spirit.

  1. Everyone, including the medium and the gallery owner, seemed shook by the experience. Unless these two, one of which was admittedly drunk, are amazing actors, their reaction was too genuine to overlook.
  2. Some shared an experience that others did not have. For example, my friend heard the sound of a lullaby being sang, and I didn’t hear it despite sitting next to her.
  3. No one else reported being touched. To add, when I was touched my psychic senses immediately registered this as something threatening.
  4. The room was completely dark, making it unlikely that someone could navigate it unaided.
  5. Both of our hosts are respected by their communities. It may be too big of a risk to be found out as a fraud.
  6. After the séance ended I scoured that place like I was a Hardy Boy. I found no evidence that anything was staged.

 

Evidence that it may have been an elaborate parlor trick

  1. There were several people there who had helped set up the séance. Even though they were dispersed between the other guests, they may have been able to help with a hoax.
  2. The host did not join a table, but say alone at the front of the room. This left her available to possibly create the experiences we had.
  3. For a moment, I saw a green light that looked similar to the light of an IR camera. However, after I noticed it, I couldn’t find its source.

Who’s to say whether this was a real experience. Overall, I had a blast. It was a good way to end the Halloween season. To be quite honest, even if it was a stage performance, I’ll happily pay the admission for next year’s séance.

The Magick of Pendulums

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I first encountered pendulums at Jupiter’s Door, a metaphysical shop in Norwalk, Ohio. My friend Liz and I walked in to the shop and saw the display of pendulums on the counter. We asked what they were and Judy, the owner of the shop, gave us a demonstration. I, of course, immediately purchased one.

Most pendulums available at occult bookstores are made of a piece of polished stone attached to a chain. However, I’ve seen some witches use a charm necklace with remarkable success. Pretty much any object that can dangle from a string can be used as a pendulum. To use a pendulum, you simply hold the chain in your dominant hand and observe the way the stone swings.

Here are some ways I have used my pendulum in my practice:

  1. Simple divination

To start, I hold the chain in my dominant hand and place my non-dominant hand underneath the stone. I ask the stone to show me “yes” and note the way the pendulum swings. I then ask the pendulum to stop and ask it to show me “no,” again noting how it swings. Then, I simply ask a yes or no question and record the answer.

 

  1. Spirit Communication

One method of spirit communication with the pendulum is to repeat the steps for simple divination, but ask the spirit to move the pendulum.

 

Another method is to create a spirit board with the alphabet listed on it. Then move the pendulum slowly over the board until it reacts. The reaction might be a circle around the letter or you may feel the pendulum be pulled to a certain letter. Record what it spells out and you’ll have the answer to your question.

 

  1. Finding lost objects

I quickly create a makeshift map of the area I am searching (usually my house). Then I slowly move the pendulum over the map and note any reaction from the stone. Usually, the area of the reaction is where the object is.

 

  1. Checking Chakra Energy

I meditate and open my chakras. Then, one my one, I move the pendulum to the area of a chakra and note how the stone moves. For me, if there is energy flowing through a chakra, the pendulum will spin in a circle. The faster the circle, the more energy that is flowing. If the circle is wonky (a technical term) that tells me that there is something blocking the flow of energy.

I’m sure there are more uses for pendulums, but these are the practices I tend to get most traction with. Simply put, pendulums are fun! So, how do you use pendulums?