Trip to Haunted England

My ability to sense other beings jumped dramatically in 2001; that November I fell and suffered a traumatic brain injury on the job.  It was life changing on a number of levels.  I was off work for more than a month and on light duty for six months, leaving me with plenty of time to re-evaluate my professional and personal life.  The upshot of all my soul-searching led me to quit my job and move away to totally change career paths in less than a year.

The first inkling I had that something was different came in September 2002 on a family trip to the U.K.  After a previous trip to England, I often told friends it was the most haunted place I’d ever been.  I was looking forward to more ghostly encounters on this second trip.

I was amply rewarded.  Our first lodging, in Edinburgh, was a bed and breakfast situated at the very top of what had once been a townhouse.  The rooms were cramped and had been the servant’s quarters in other times.   A young maidservant as well as a boy and a girl put in several appearances with waving curtains, knocks and footsteps, childish giggles and the sound of a ball bouncing.  A few times the little girl whispered, “Will you come and play with me?”

From there we moved south to London and used it as a base to roam about southern England, staying in a small apartment.  We took ghost tours, more on those later.

I can only use one word to describe the Tower of London; overwhelming.

Even the apartment we stayed in was haunted.

My skin started tingling as soon as I walked into the apartment and the woman who still resided there made her presence known that night.  In the bathroom, blithely brushing my teeth and planning the next day’s events I felt the skin tingle and hair-raising tactile sensations of a spirit presence nearby.  The tub and shower behind me was clearly reflected in the mirror over the sink and she was standing in it, glaring at me.  She was all grey, like she was in a black and white photograph, dark-haired but colorless.  A dark smoky fog billowed in the shower like cold steam, surrounding her.

“I don’t want you here.”

Now, I’d talked to some ghosts in my time and wasn’t really afraid of her, but she was ferociously unhappy with us being in her space and was working hard to project all sorts of heavy emotions.  Anger, bitterness, jealousy and more just sort of boiled off her.  I closed my eyes, which really didn’t stop the vision of her, or her narrowed, glaring stare and held my ground.

“I’m sorry about that.  But we are going to stay here.  We’ll try and be respectful of you.”

“I don’t want you here.  I want you to leave.”  She was getting more insistent and the energies in the bathroom were getting more prickly.  I felt the urge to run, like I was being prodded in my fear center with a thorny stick.  I was strongly reminded of being chased down the stairs as a kid.  Somehow I didn’t think this woman was playing, she had my childhood friend beat in the malevolence department.

I gritted my teeth and fought against the emotions sweeping over me that screamed ‘RUN!  Get OUT!’

“I’m sorry.”  I repeated.  “But, you’ll just have to resign yourself.  We’ll try not to bother you.”

“Just you being here bothers me.”  She flung a wave of emotions at me then.  Jealousy, that I was alive and she was dead.  Hate, too was mixed in there.  “I just want to be left alone.”  But the deep loneliness that accompanied this statement made it a lie.  She radiated pain and heartbreak.

“I don’t want ANYONE here.  GO!”  Now she was shouting at me, and I got the sense I wasn’t the first she’d yelled at.  But I was the first to react by talking back to her.

Well, I was done and ready to go to bed.  She shot these dagger looks at me as I sauntered out that hit like dull psychic darts.

After a few more encounters with her unpleasant emanations I tried reasoning with her.

“Look, we’re gone most of the day and some of the nights.  We only eat and sleep here, so it’s yours most of the time.  We don’t watch much TV and we don’t make a lot of noise so, would you kindly tone down your angry vibes?”  She was quiet for a while then and stayed out of the shower when I was using it.  I only felt mild glares now and then in the bathroom so it seemed she’d taken what I said under consideration.

Until one night I decided to soak in the tub for a bit.  She took that opportunity to show me how she died.  It wasn’t pretty.

Her husband had been cheating on her, lying to her.  She was jealous and decided to ‘show him’ by slitting her wrists and bleeding out in the tub.  My vision wavered with the billowing steam and I saw her body in the water instead of my own.  Rounder, plumper with saggy breasts and two long gashes running up fleshy forearms, filling the tub with red.

Deep down though, she didn’t really want to die.

She wanted her husband to love her again.  When he came home she was already gone and so she blamed him twice; for cheating on her and failing to save her.  She showed me how he just stood in the doorway, saying her name over and over.  Stella.

“It was all his fault.  All his fault.”  She whispered.  She wasn’t sounding quite so angry, but it and all her other heavy emotions were still there.

After that, all I could feel for her was pity and nothing she did was frightening.  She soon saw that her scary act wasn’t having its intended effect on me.  None of which stopped her from trying, or pacing the hall at night.  I did my best to soothe her and tried to talk her into ‘going into the light’  but she would have none of it.

The day before we were to leave, the subject came up between my sister-in-law and I.  She admitted to sensing a female in the apartment.  We both looked at mom who only said.

“I thought it was you getting up in the middle of the night.  I could see a shadow walking up and down the hall.  I called your name but you never answered.”

Prior to 2001 I wasn’t always able to put a face, personality or sometimes even gender on the spirits I sensed, frequently it was just a sensation on my skin, a half-heard whisper, a flash of emotion.  Visions of the spirit were typically brief and I often questioned their veracity.  This trip was notably different.  I heard and sensed what the spirits was saying more readily.  Visions were clear and now the dead frequently used sentences when talking.  I was less doubtful of what I was seeing and experiencing and it was easier to distinguish between a separate entity and my own imagination.

Which at the time, I thought was really cool.  It still is.  When I got home, my new sensitivities did not fade and two years later I learned the term psychopomp.

A Psycho What?

 

Psychopomps deal with the dead.  With death.

Dying.

Whether we want to admit it or not, each of us is fascinated with death.  Death touches us all.  Whether it’s the horror of our younger self upon discovering our first expired little gold fishy or the screaming, tearing, aching loss of a beloved.  The kind of loss that makes you long for death too.  Yeah, you know that one, don’t you?

Some of us are obsessed with our own death:  denying, avoiding it, welcoming it, and embracing it.

Religions of the world comfort or terrorize us with their versions of the afterlife.  Teenagers are constantly on the brink of expiring, as in:

“But if you don’t let me go to the mall with my friends I’ll just die!”

At some point, everyone has (or will) truly wanted to die.

Clinically, death is defined as the permanent cessation of all vital bodily functions.  Thank you MedicineNet.com.

Does that mean we just stop, cease to exist?  Is it truly just like flicking the proverbial light switch?  ON:  you’re there.  OFF:  blankness, nothingness.  If all you’re considering is the physical body, then the answer is yes.

But what about that vital part that is you; the part that dreams and thinks, talks and loves?  Your mind, your personality, your soul?  According to all the spirits I’ve spoken with, physical death of the body is only one transition of many.

I’ve been in ICU’s; I’ve seen death firsthand.  I’ve held my beloved animal companions as the pink juice entered their veins and eased their final pains.  I’ve also killed animals to make food.

I’ve watched spirits cross the veil and shine brighter than the sun with the joy of finally going home.  When they turn back to smile and wave at you in thanks, it feels like being swept up in a loving, grateful hug and the very atmosphere sparkles and vibrates.

I can tell you this; that vital spark that is you, your essence, your soul, is eternal.  The part that is ‘you’ will continue to exist when the body that currently carries it is nothing but drifting dust motes.

In that sense, we do not die.  We only use a body for a while to experience the physical plane.

Think of a body like a car.  Maybe you’ve a pretty good one right now; sweet, fast and oh so pretty to play with.  But as the years go by things break down and that glossy paint job starts to oxidize.  Eventually, you’re going to want to trade it in for another, maybe an SUV this time instead of sports car.  Before you know it, you’ve forgotten all about that old junker and are busy playing in your shiny new SUV.

Yes, I mean reincarnation.

What about god, heaven, hell or the Bible, Koran or Torah?  Of the three, I’ve only completely read the first and someday I’m sure I’ll go into my opinions and experiences with religion.  Right now though, I’ll say; religion is a great comfort and spiritual fulfillment for many and I fully respect that.  So if Jesus and his camp, or Mohammed speak to you and satisfy you, then rock on!  I celebrate with you!

Are you Buddhist?  Do you resonate with Native American beliefs?

Everyone should experience the numinous.  Really, everyone.  The world would be a better place if all humans would take the time to allow the divine to shine in their soul.  It is our birthright.  The instant that light illuminates you, it changes you.

To know the spark of the divine within you makes it nearly impossible to look at another human being as anything other than your brother or sister.  It  gives you the compassion to look on other beings and see past their negative actions to the core divinity we all possess.

Psychopomp, from the Greek psychopompos literally means ‘guide of souls.’  A psychopomp is one who guides spirits to the afterlife, whatever that might be for the spirit.  Psychopomps can be non-bodied, purely spiritual entities or flesh and blood physical creatures.  Like me.

I didn’t know I was a psychopomp until a few years ago, had never heard the term, even though seeing and talking to ghosts became quite common.  I did notice though, where I had regular contact with a resident spirit, they would eventually ‘move on’ and I would no longer be able to sense the being.

My old lady friend in my parent’s house moved on sometime in my early twenties.

What makes me a psychopomp?  My friend and teacher says it’s in my energy signature, it’s easier for disembodied beings to ‘see’ me.  I’m sort of like a lit-up sign in the astral plane.

Once they find me, I point them toward the veil and call their loved ones on the other side to come and help them cross.

It really is very cool.

I get asked ‘aren’t you afraid?’ a lot.  It’s true from time to time I encounter beings who are doing their best to be big and scary, but typically my answer is, no.  Ghosts, spirits are still people, still related to me on the most fundamental level.  The beings that I help cross are often themselves scared or frustrated, lonely or confused.  It’s a joyful and beautiful thing to watch that fear and confusion drop away, revealing their true self as they cross.

My First Ghost

I used to see the old lady standing in front of my brother’s bedroom.  The upstairs bedrooms in my parent’s house were laid around the outside of a squared-off ‘C.’ My brother’s room was at the very bottom of the ‘C’ and the top of the stairs positioned at the top of the ‘C’ with a long hallway overlooking the stairwell.

Some of my earliest memories are of this old lady.  She had grey, curly hair and was somewhat short but neither thin nor fat.  She didn’t wear glasses.  I think I was around four or five when I first saw her.  I would smile and she would clap her hands and wave and smile back.  When I talked about her, my parents and siblings would tell me I couldn’t have seen any old lady and there was no such thing as ghosts.  I guess I believed them and for a while I didn’t see her and forgot.

But I still sensed ‘something’ in the hall outside my brother’s room.   I’d had any youngster’s exposure to Ouija boards, girly sleep-over games like ‘Light As A Feather, Stiff As A Board,’ the movies and books of the late 70’s; these combined with sporadic trips to church helped me develop a fear reaction to anything hinting of the supernatural.

That didn’t stop me from seeing the old lady again.  And yeah, it freaked me out.  There was no way to avoid heading down to that end of the hall because brother’s room was right next to the bathroom.  It made late night trips an exercise in will power.  Can I hold it?  Or will I have to brave getting past the hair-raising sensations and images of the old lady?

She would chase me.  Really!  She would chase me down the hall, running even!  I could still see her; it didn’t matter that I been told over and over ghosts didn’t exist.  The words of the adults were hollow and false when she was so plainly there and it was scary to the little girl I was.  The fine hairs on the back of my neck would tingle and rise and often she would just touch me on my back as I raced that looong hallway, causing a chill to tickle down my spine.

With childish rationale I knew that if I could make it down the stairs and into the TV room I would be safe or if I could make it back to my bed at night.  For some reason, I never saw her in the TV room and every kid knows if you bury under the covers you’re safe.

Why not the TV room?  It was not part of the original house plan; my parents added it on.  When I was older, and the old lady and I were on speaking terms I asked her.  She wrinkled her face in puzzlement and asked, “What room?  That’s the backyard.  I never wanted to scare you out of the house, and what if it was raining?”  She couldn’t see it, because it hadn’t been part of the house when she lived in it.

I think I was somewhere around thirteen when I got tired of being chased.  It just seemed silly to be afraid of someone who always ‘lost’ our little ‘race.’  It was also around that time that I realized as we ran down the hall, she was making goofy, funny faces and waving her arms wildly.

The next time I ran down the stairs I paused as the bottom and looked back.  The old lady was standing at the top and she was doubled over, clutching her stomach and laughing hysterically.  I could sense that she was truly tickled that she could still make me jump and run.  I continued on into the TV room but at a much slower pace.  It was a turning point.

The next time I came out of the bathroom and into the hallway I didn’t run.  She was there and my neck hairs were standing so tall I think it pushed the rest of my hair up like a scared cat’s tail.

But I stood my ground. I said to her, “You haven’t caught me this whole time, well I am not scared of you.  I am not going to run.”  And I walked.

It took forever to get to the top of the stairs, but I forced my teenybopper self to slowly plant one foot in front of the other.  She paced behind me the whole way and it seemed I was looking at two of her.  On ‘the outside’ she was projecting scary, but in a carnival ‘boogah-boogah’ way.  When I looked more closely, I could see that on ‘the inside’ she was still laughing at me.  She knew I wanted to jump and run and she was sort of poking at me energetically to get me to do it, but to her it was just a big joke.

A joke.  It was her entertainment because she was lonely, she was stuck in the house and there was no one to talk to.  She was bored, and chasing the kids of the house was some fun.  She was suddenly not so scary at all.

“I just wanted someone to acknowledge me.  Everyone thinks I’m dead and I’m not.  But I’m stuck here.  At least you could see me, even when you pretended not to.  Scaring you was the only way I could get your attention.”  She didn’t even try to hold in her chuckles.  “You really did look quite funny scampering down the hall.  The look on your face was priceless!”

She had died in the house, in my brother’s room she told me.  She didn’t mind being there, but she hadn’t expected the afterlife to be so very dull.  My family offered sufficient distraction; she would express fondness for and a desire to watch out for us.  Indeed, during the time the old lady ‘lived’ with us, nothing truly tragic ever happened to my family or the house, no break-ins, no fires, no serious accidents.

I began to think of her as a friend; she would knock on doors or walls to let me know she was nearby.  Once, I asked her if she would move something, to give me some sort of physical proof.

Later on that day, a small bottle sat prominently on the counter of the bathroom.  I saw it when I swept in after returning home from running errands and the sight of it stopped me in my tracks.  I’d knocked it off a few hours earlier when I was hurrying to get out of the house and I didn’t bother to pick it up.

No one had been in the house while I was away.  It had been empty of everyone but my friend, the ghost of the old lady.

It Can’t Be Like That, Really?

But what is truth? Is truth unchanging law?
We both have truths – are mine the same as yours?

-Andrew Lloyd Webber, Jesus Christ Superstar

I put off writing down my experiences for most of my life.  It was like there was this block in my brain that kept me from putting words down on paper or storing them in gigabytes.  Believe me I doubted as much as any and I’ll give you here my disclaimer: these are my stories as I experienced them.  They are my truths and hold great meaning for me, but when all is said and done (here I borrow and paraphrase from my friend and teacher) they are just that, stories.  I saw these things and experienced them in all their technicolor glory, but as with all supernatural and paranormal interactions, they are highly subjective.  I certainly hold opinions on them and I am sure dear readers you will have some of your own but I share my stories for a variety of reasons; to entertain, to enlighten, and to show others who may have similar tales that they are not alone.

I recently finished Supernatural  by Graham Hancock (a plug for you here, Graham) and can say that I recommend it highly.  He examines in great detail altered states of conscious and how they have impinged on our spirituality, ancient and modern.  Throughout he consistently delineates common features from a multitude of cultures and across the span of history.  I found much of what he described fit closely to my own personal experiences.

On a very fundamental level we all have the ability to part the veil and see the worlds that lie beyond.  Why some do and some do not is a matter of very personal choice.  Some do not think to look, some have forgotten they can and some willfully close their eyes.

For me, it’s been a roller-coaster ride, scary, exciting and profound.  When I was very young I fluctuated from being extremely fearful of the paranormal, to being open and practicing Wicca for a while, and the long journey that has brought me here.

I spent a brief time in my teen years as a born-again Christian.  Really.  I had the faith, I read the Bible, I went to church and I prayed every night.  And it wasn’t for me; never once did I feel an answer in my heart to any of my seeking.  From there I became agnostic with atheistic tendencies until a coworker shared a couple of books on Wicca and I dove in.  I spent a good many years identifying with Wicca and practicing it’s rituals.  It spoke to me as Christianity never had and I finally heard within my soul the hint of answers to my questions.  But it still wasn’t quite right and I gradually moved away from considering myself Wiccan or practicing that faith.

Now, I don’t know if it’s necessary to put a label on my spirituality and views of what comes after physical death.  Recently, it’s become more common to hear the phrase ‘I’m not religious but I am spiritual’ and I frankly love it.  The truth of it speaks to me and I find fascinating conversations when I hear someone say this.  One of my purest joys is hearing how someone else views the cosmos; it’s at the very least educational and often uplifting and inspiring.

So I’ve had paranormal experiences all my life, and I’ve practiced in some form or another religion, meditation and peeking into the astral realm.  But I will freely admit that while I had the passion and desire, early on I often did not have the internal discipline to achieve really consistent results when I tried activities such as astral travel or communicating with spirits.  I was something of a dilettante in my younger days.

None of which stopped things from actually popping up in front of me and intruding into my life.  It was by times thrilling, terrifying and awe-inspiring.  Over the last ten years I have deepened and expanded my practices; I began to study Reiki and recently completed my Reiki Master-Teacher training.  I am always looking for paranormal classes, lectures and ceremonies to participate in.  The worlds beyond continue to unfold and reveal themselves in ever-fascinating complexity.  Even though I have experienced the paranormal my entire life I am continually awed and inspired by what I see.  I really feel as if I am only starting on a thrilling and adventurous journey.