Tag: poltergeist

Samhain Spectres – Saturn’s Gift

Saturn by George PenczFour years ago in celebration of The Dead Time I began sharing some of my more creepy experiences of the wyrd. Sooner or later most people experience phenomena they can’t explain, or that occurs outside the bounds of their belief system. What it is and what it means is open to interpretation, and most certainly is in the eye of the boo-holder. Bless the darkness, hold the light.

This story is a fairly sad one for me, though it gives great insight into the kinds of things shamans encounter, and how they deal with them. It also speaks to the myriad sources of support along our paths. You don’t have to know about Saturn–the god or the planet to get the gist of the story, though if you do you will better discern its gifts. Saturn’s Gift.

Real Wyrd - A Modern Shaman's Roots in the Middle World by S. Kelley Harrell

Read more spooky stories in “Real Wyrd – A Modern Shaman’s Roots in the Middle World,” my collection of true paranormal experiences as a lifelong intuitive.

Samhain Spectres – Hotel Phillips and Murderous Insomnia

Real Wyrd - A Modern Shaman's Roots in the Middle World by S. Kelley Harrell

Read more spooky stories in “Real Wyrd – A Modern Shaman’s Roots in the Middle World,” true paranormal experiences of a lifelong intuitive.

Four years ago in celebration of The Dead Time I began sharing some of my more creepy experiences of the wyrd.  Sooner or later most people experience phenomena they can’t explain, or that occurs outside the bounds of their belief system.  What it is and what it means is open to interpretation, and most certainly is in the eye of the boo-holder.  Bless the darkness, hold the light.

In this particular story, I was on a business trip to Kansas City, MO, where I stayed at the lovely, vintage Hotel Phillips.  Despite that I traveled alone, at no point was I left to myself in the room…  Hotel Phillips and Murderous Insomnia

The Tribe of the Modern Mystic – Setting Spiritual Boundaries with Challenging Energies

In a recent discussion around disruptive energetic activity in someone’s house a question arose that often comes up in such dynamics: What do you do when a visiting energy doesn’t honor boundaries?

Many people at some point encounter energetic or spiritual activity in their home or workspace that they find disruptive, disturbing, or flat out frightening. Most often, how that energy is dealt with determines how well the dynamic finds balance. I’m careful to distinguish “energetic” from “spiritual.” Sometimes the activity in a space is due to odd fluctuations in the etheric field and has nothing to do with spirits. In this case, balancing the elements of the space can bring relief. Likewise, there can be a spiritual presence that readily exhibits a personality or humanoid traits, such as a female form or voice. Ultimately such disturbances indicate a different kind of energy out of balance and don’t carry a “good” or “bad” judgement. They just indicate that something needs attention. For most people it is the element of surprise that is bothersome. This is true whether the disturbance is another person coming up behind them or an insect popping out. Once they get their bearings on the situation they manage it by asserting a more suitable way to approach, or by determining if that particular bug can roam freely in the house. With the boundary set, things calm. It’s no different with spiritual energies. In the case of a spiritual interruption, we set boundaries, such as, “It’s OK if you’re here, though I allow no physical contact,” or “It’s OK that you’re here, though please no surprise visits.” What happens when the energy doesn’t hold up its end of the peace?

In order to understand why an energy doesn’t honor a boundary, let’s examine what that energy may be and its reason for making itself known to start with. There are many scenarios under which spiritual activity happens, and I can only touch on a few here. Figuring out what sort of visitor is present is key to resolving any unrest it causes. Some visitors warn about dangerous situations. Once the danger is removed, the energy moves on and disruption stops. Others are enticed into a peaceful environment and simply want to enjoy it. Some don’t know they’re deceased and don’t realize they need to move on. Others perished traumatically and are locked in a PTSD dynamic, acting out their demise until someone understands that’s what’s happening and helps them move on. In some cases a paranormal disturbance can indicate trouble in the home. The phenomenon referred to as “poltergeist” activity isn’t necessarily a spirit visitor at all, but an unconscious projection of a person in the household (usually a child) who has been traumatized and doesn’t have the communication skills to express their distress.

Spirit VisitorsAnother frequently occurring phenomenon is the visitation of spirit guides (or as some call them, guardian angels), who shake up the environment, particularly in the case of children, budding intuitives, or empaths who refuse to acknowledge their Other sight. Even in the case of a visiting guide–beings we often assume to be gentle angelic creatures–we question their need to sometimes be forceful or frighten us. Sometimes we have received gradual small signals that we may have ignored or just didn’t process as spirit communication, so a bigger display of need finally gets our attention. Another way to look at it is by considering that spirits are beings from a foreign country and they don’t speak the language, or don’t know the customs. They don’t know that disembodied voices in the night scare us, or that dropping onto the mattress while we’re sleeping is a bit rude. Again, that element of surprise prevents us from perceiving friendly interactions, or at least misconstrued actions with good intentions. Hence, this is the reason the accepted historic accounts with angels always begin with, “Fear not!” Moving past that initial shock is what determines whether we get the memo.

All of that said, when we have such experiences an opening for them has to be created somewhere. Sure we can feel so terrified by spirit interaction that we run screaming from it and never look back, and no such contact happens again. The cultural myth of “fire in the head” exists for a reason, though I think it’s somewhat misunderstood. We’ve all read legends of the old man who heard voices and went crazy, or the young girl who was visited by spirits that wouldn’t leave her alone. The message handed down has been that if we don’t accept the task of becoming a seer or conduit of the spiritual world in some way that bad things will happen. I think it’s more benevolent than that. In my experience we don’t have to take on the whole arena of what a spiritual encounter may mean, even ones that are very personal. We don’t have to quit our jobs and move to an ashram in India or suddenly become vegetarian and take herbalism classes. It may mean that kind of sweeping life change for some people. What it demands without question is that we honor that we had an experience outside of our understanding, that we allow that one little interaction to open our understanding of All Things. That’s all. In that light when we have a challenging spiritual experience and we refuse to acknowledge it, chances are the environment will become more restless, not because we are cursed or are refusing the leadership of a spirit guide, but because we are refusing some wisdom to light within ourselves. This is the reason that instead of dismissing energetic adversity we open a dialogue with it. This is why instead of shutting down that part of ourselves we set boundaries for how we can accept it. We do so not because we need to control the unseen, but because we have had a spiritual opening, an opportunity to learn something about ourselves.

Still, what if we go through all of these things and our visitor is still being obnoxious? I tell clients to keep two things in mind. The first is that All Things are connected, so when we speak from our truth, All Things actively participating in that connection recognize that fact and honor our needs. Create the habit of observing and regrouping when caught offguard–seen or unseen–and set a boundary not out of shocked fear, but from personal truth. It works. The second thing I tell people when a visitor isn’t honoring their boundary is, because All Things are connected, consider what All Things is trying to communicate something important. It may be about us, about the energy, or about the environment. There is a reason it is persisting, the least of which is to be merely bothersome. A final consideration is if the experience has traumatized the individual it’s very hard to find a place of balance from which to set boundaries. Activity will likely persist until the PTSD of the individual can be released.

In our western culture we don’t have the community Crone sitting by the campfire scrying out the best way to do this year’s crop planting or helping us make sense of experiences that don’t fit our norm. For this reason I actively teach people how to soften their experience of Other and to learn to integrate it into their lives. Western culture is the only thriving population on the planet that regards paranormal activity as astounding, riveting, or disturbing. All other cultures have integrated it into their experience of everyday. As a result of our separation from our spiritual perception, we panic when it seeks to reunite with us. I first met my spirit guide when I was about twelve or thirteen. I woke over years finding him standing at the foot of my bed, or at the end of the hall when I got up for water in the night. All he did was stand there, but that was all it took to terrify me. I didn’t learn who he was for another fifteen years. For that reason through private sessions, classes, and Distance Mystery School, I’ve committed to create a new tribe of support for children and adults whose lives are blessed with such experiences and an uncontainable inner knowing. I’ve committed to create The Tribe of the Modern Mystic.

As you feel led, I’ll be waiting by the fire.

The Dead Time Dawns – Saturn’s Gift

Every year for Samhain I publish accounts of my more charged, and in some cases creepy, spiritual pursuits. The Dead Time is a treasured journey to Solstice, and as it is a time of untime, the shadowed season presents a great opportunity to tell the stories that many who do shamanic work won’t tell–the occasions when things don’t go well or the unseen presents itself unexpectedly. You may recognize some of these accounts from my previous stories, while others are more recent. Enjoy the solitude of encroaching darkness. The light will return soon enough.

Saturn by George Pencz

Saturn by George Pencz

The first time I shared this story was last Samhain. It marks one of the most challenging experiences I’ve had as an intuitive, and certainly one of the saddest times in my life. I do think it a very classic modern glimpse of what I call the tribeless modern mystic, as only a gift from an ancient God can be–Saturn’s Gift.

Real Wyrd - A Modern Shaman's Roots in the Middle World by S. Kelley Harrell

Read more spooky stories in “Real Wyrd – A Modern Shaman’s Roots in the Middle World,” true paranormal experiences of a lifelong intuitive.

The Dead Time Dawns – House on Summit Drive

Real Wyrd - A Modern Shaman's Roots in the Middle World by S. Kelley Harrell

Read more spooky stories in “Real Wyrd – A Modern Shaman’s Roots in the Middle World,” my collection of true paranormal experiences as a lifelong intuitive.

Every year for Samhain I publish accounts of my more charged, and in some cases creepy, spiritual pursuits. The Dead Time is a treasured journey to Solstice, and as it is a time of untime, the shadowed season presents a great opportunity to tell the stories that many who do shamanic work won’t tell–the occasions when things don’t go well or the unseen presents itself unexpectedly. You may recognize some of these accounts from my previous stories, while others are more recent. Enjoy the solitude of encroaching darkness. The light will return soon enough.

Candles by Gail Fielding

Candles by Gail Fielding

The house I grew up in was a pretty busy place sometimes pipe got broke or the roof leaked so we have to get a Residential & Commercial Roofing in West Palm Beach, but also spiritually speaking. All who lived there, and select guests, had some creepy experiences. Years later, I learned that our neighbors did, too. I guess you could say, this is where it all began… House on Summit Drive.

The Dead Time Dawns – Hotel Phillips and Murderous Insomnia

Real Wyrd - A Modern Shaman's Roots in the Middle World by S. Kelley Harrell

Read more spooky stories in “Real Wyrd – A Modern Shaman’s Roots in the Middle World,” my collection of true paranormal experiences as a lifelong intuitive.

Every year for Samhain I publish accounts of my more charged, and in some cases creepy, spiritual pursuits. The Dead Time is a treasured journey to Solstice, and as it is a time of untime, the shadowed season presents a great opportunity to tell the stories that many who do shamanic work won’t tell–the occasions when things don’t go well or the unseen presents itself unexpectedly. You may recognize some of these accounts from my previous stories, while others are more recent. Enjoy the solitude of encroaching darkness. The light will return soon enough.

In this particular story, I was staying in a hotel in Kansas City, MO, and even though I traveled alone, at no point was I alone in the room. Hotel Phillips and Murderous Insomnia

Children, Spiritual Emergency, and Spiritual Will

Kelley, we’ve had paranormal experiences off and on in our home for years–nothing frightening, just evidence of spirits. At the end of 2009, I had some disturbing experiences in the house, after which I and my daughter smudged the house and cleared it. I did not feel that presence again. However, just this week, a couple of new things happened. Early one morning I heard a voice call out, “Mom,” repeatedly. One of the kids was home (daughter 9), though she was upstairs asleep. The other kids weren’t home (son 15, daughter 11). Later the same morning, my husband and I heard the upstairs toilet flush, when we were the only ones home. We live in an area that is very active with ley lines, but can you shed insight into what’s going on? Thanks, EJ

Thanks for your note! You definitely live in a place that is etherically active, quite upbeat and healthy. The level of energy there feels like the positive end of a battery. That high level of vibration attracts lots of etheric visitors, but I would wager that most of them are fairly peaceful sorts, if not higher consciousnesses. When I feel the atmosphere of your house and weave through traces of visitors, these disturbances are not unquiet dead. You are being visited by a troubled projection of one of your family.

The phenomenon you describe has been traditionally referred to as poltergeist activity. A facet of poltergeist activity is a suffering spirit, or “noisy ghost” in the literal translation, becoming enlivened by an unconscious projection of a living person. This person feels powerless to effectively express needs or concerns, or someone who feels that expressed needs and concerns go unaddressed. It’s usually a child or young adult. Most people report poltergeist phenomena centering around a young girl moving into puberty. Occasionally this disturbance occurs with boys, but males typically have a clearer sense of power in the family, so there is no need to feel displaced or unacknowledged. Young girls, on the other hand, are beginning to see the wider dynamic of where the feminine fits into Life, not to mention are usually embarking on radical physiological changes. While females traditionally are more likely than males to speak their feelings, culturally, females at puberty realize that though they speak them, no one is really listening. A sense of futility develops as a troubled unconscious projection, through which the unexpressed emotions are vented. Where there is a troubled psyche is a prime highway for restless energies to venture in. The angst of youth is powerful, and when channeled through the unconscious mind of a troubled child, it’s fertile ground for errant energies to tag along and act out their own frustrations. The troubled unconsciousness is what gives these energies power to make chaos in your home. This fusion of frustrated young person with restless spirit is what we call poltergeist phenomena.

That said, my feeling is that your disturbances are being caused by your youngest daughter. Around the age of 9-10, we become aware of our spiritual will, and our parents can no longer shield us as effectively, or consciously affect our soul’s growth. Your youngest daughter is feeling the natural pull to “drive” her spiritual will, but her soul is saying that she doesn’t have the faculties to do so. For this reason she is acting out unconsciously. Volatile emotional traces of her are throughout your home. She isn’t harmful. Rather there is a feeling of panic, a desperate need to belong, and a specific need to feel protected. On the mundane level, she is beginning to see that she is not equipped to deal with the world outside your home, though her age and society are demanding that she do so.

What your daughter is dealing with internally is out of your hands. At an emotional level, a professional in behavioral modification (preferably one who understands spiritual emergency) can help your daughter give words to her feelings and learn to express them healthily. She brought long-festering discontentment into this life and it will not resolve quickly. This unhappiness has created limitations in her inherent ability to cope socially, and in her ability to be in command of her spiritual will. Energetically, her inner world is fairly dark, which is heavy and quite frightening for a child. If it seems like her joy is superficial, that’s because it truly is and she feels pressured to fake it. She doesn’t have the social skills that most children her age do, and she definitely doesn’t have the ability to cope with the errant energies that she’s picking up on. Chakra balancing would be helpful for her. Verging on puberty, if this mastery of spiritual will hasn’t occurred, hormonal changes will be mentally taxing for her, more so than is common, and will require medical intervention. Medicating her pain away isn’t an answer. In some cases medication can cease the soul work that is needed. Rather, work a combination of approaches to allow her process to unfold as gently as possible, and create internal balance, now. She is not mentally ill. She is experiencing a true spiritual emergency, in which her soul is demanding work that her cognitive ability can’t provide. This state isn’t going to be a way of life for her, but some facet of her spirit is crying out for better means of rooting into her form during this hormonal transition, so that her adulthood can be quieter and more focused. Quite simply, what unrest she brought into this life has exacerbated in her childhood, and can’t be carried into her adulthood. That is the reason her spirit is crying out for help now. She is asking for help in commanding her spiritual will.

The combination of potent ley lines, the visitors they attract, and three youth verging on teen years is going to keep your home energetically interesting for some time. In fact, the ley lines may be adding pressure to your daughter’s spiritual emergency. It is within your parameters as her parent to ask the higher beings on your land and her guides to ease off her rapid growth, thus, calm your home. Likewise, make use of that etheric portal you sit on and invite into your home some relief for you all. Be well!

Saturn’s Gift

Real Wyrd - A Modern Shaman's Roots in the Middle World by S. Kelley Harrell

Every year for Samhain I publish accounts of my more charged, and in some cases creepy, spiritual pursuits. The Dead Time is a treasured journey to Solstice, and as it is a time of untime, the shadowed season presents a great opportunity to tell the stories that many who do shamanic work won’t tell–the occasions when things don’t go well or the unseen presents itself unexpectedly. You may recognize some of these accounts from my previous stories, while others are more recent. Enjoy the solitude of the darkness, and know the light will soon warm!

Saturn. The name of the Roman god elicits shudders from historians and astrology enthusiasts, alike. The wielder of justice, the task master, the great leveler of the playing field. Saturn, the planet, is no less all business. With the intention of forcing you to face what you have not, this stellar body moves into a new sign about every three years. Practically speaking, this means that it occupies the exact location in the natal chart once roughly every 28-30 years. Saturn Returns, as such are known, are surrounded by much hype largely because they bring three years of intense personal clearing and transition. Considered a cosmic vice that will bear down on what you have not prior been able to release or move, rumor was that after all the intense purging managed by Saturn, the impartial judge would leave his tenderized charge a gift. Little did I know how hard I would work for that gift, or what that gift would be.

For me the fun began in March of 2001, with a car accident that left me in extreme pain for about three years and health conditions to manage ever after. The first year after I had intense kundalini explosions commonly referred to as a spiritual emergency (when the soul evolves more intensely than the psyche can manage). That was the conclusion of my first Saturn Return. Next came Saturn taking up station in my sun sign, which is not a common synchronous event. Where most people have the approximate three years’ liaison with Saturn, I had six. It was a profitable time during which I wrote and published Gift of the Dreamtime, inadvertently bringing me a great deal of healing. Willing to accept that as my gift at the close of my Return, I elected to follow Saturn’s lead for the next three years.

In July of 2005 I was staying alone in a hotel when I became aware of a presence in the room. I had already cleared the room, as hotels usually require such, and I was surprised to find a spirit there. When I closed my eyes I saw a spiritual manifestation of my grandfather. He told me that he was leaving and that he wouldn’t be back in this realm in form again. It was a peaceful interaction, though I carried no particular sadness at his announced departure. In my childhood he had sexually assaulted me on numerous occasions, the healing of which was thoroughly brought through in my Saturn Return. The next day, the day that Saturn left my birth sign in 2005, my grandfather died.

Despite the fact that I wasn’t close to him in any loving sense the news hit me fiercely, literally leaving me dizzy and needing to sit. My life force changed on the spot, some primordial thread passed from him, to my father, to me. In my lack of grief I felt oddly raw for a long while after, in a way that I couldn’t articulate. I felt as though I was exposed energetically and couldn’t regain grounding or protection. Aware of this lack, I focused on connecting with my spiritual allies and left the situation in their hands.

During this time one of my cats, Phoenix, began to act strange. He had made clear to me early in our fifteen-year relationship that he was my familiar. I had asked him what that meant, exactly, and he said, “I’m your companion.”

“What does a companion do?” I asked.

“Keep you company,” he replied. I didn’t ask him anymore questions. In that timeframe after my grandfather’s death I frequently found Phoenix talking with a presence in the guest bathroom. He always sat facing a particular spot, staring at it and caterwauling deep conversation. If I interrupted he would glare at me until I backed from the room, then he would continue talking. I didn’t know what was happening but it was clear to me that Phoenix wasn’t alone. As Phoenix was unfazed, excellent energy judges that cats are, I left him to it. My sense of the dynamic was that Phoenix was orchestrating something and I was not part of it.

By February of that year we began finding blood in the house–huge crimson sprays on the walls and carpet about 6-8 inches in diameter. At the time we had two cats and a dog, all of whom presented perfect health. Two months later, Phoenix began to show signs of vestibular imbalance, and I was at last with him during a projectile nosebleed. Mystery solved, this condition followed a pattern of him being immobile for days, then he would bounce back to light, life and playful kittiness. Evident to us was that his body was under extreme duress, though his veterinarian found no cause for or proof of his symptoms. I felt keen dismay at his odd decline. Having facilitated the deaths of several animal friends, upon talking with Phoenix I expected him to advise me of his life plans and what role I might play in them. To my surprise, he told me to do nothing. He told me that he was finishing work on another plane and that he would tell me when it had been completed. Clear to me was the fact that if I did facilitate his death to alleviate my grief it would be against his wishes.

Saturn by George Pencz

Saturn by George Pencz

The pattern of gruesome explosions continued, along with Phoenix’ chipper little personality telling me to hold the space for him to complete his work. He began to talk to his friend even more. The presence in the house became overbearing and by this point in my grief, my ability to fend off unwanted spiritual influences was almost nonexistent. Phoenix had stopped sleeping at night and was talking nonstop. He still ate well, groomed, and kept to his usual routine of napping in the yard and his favorite sunny spots about the house. Frequently I asked him, to his annoyance, if he was ready to die. He told me repeatedly that he was not and that I was, with no ambiguity, not to euthanize him unless or until he specifically told me to. He told me that he had work to complete here that would be more beneficial to do while he was still in form, and that if I euthanized him before that point it would complicate his process radically. Sadly, I left that governance to him and listened closely.

All the while that we had been supporting Phoenix other strange things began to happen in the house. Our dog began to exhibit vestibular imbalance, and lights began to flicker randomly throughout. I noticed changes in my own health. Within the space of about two weeks my hearing degraded significantly and I suddenly manifest problems reading. It was as if I had rapidly become dyslexic, only it wasn’t just that letters and words inverted on a page. I began seeing symbols that I didn’t recognize suffused with blank spaces mid-sentence. I felt that something major was going on etherically, a very profound shift of wiring, so to speak. I consulted the neurologist I had seen after the car-crash. Brain scans came back clean and the neurologist insisted that I had always been dyslexic and didn’t realize it.

One morning that August, Phoenix began crying in the wee hours. I gathered him around 3am and we lay on the couch. About an hour later I was awakened by a bright flash that settled into a horizontal sheet of white light cloaking the room. I sat up and observed that I could see above and below the hovering blanket of light. Phoenix began crying in my arms while the dog and other cat became agitated and left the room. Again there was a blinding flash and one of the computer monitors turned on. Instantly after that the four computers in the room simultaneously turned off. The room was deadly silent in the absence of the technohum, and I felt a masculine presence in the room. It hit me then that Phoenix had been buffering this energy and that his ability to continue buffering it was declining. Initially, I was very startled. Then, as is common for me when entities create physical intrusions, I became angry. I approached the monitor and saw that despite the fact that the desktop was displayed, none of the computers were on. I switched the monitor off and was livid.

Realizing that I was too emotionally involved with the situation to affect it I called on a colleague to help. Right off the bat she isolated that my grandfather was clinging to me and was manipulating my lower chakras. She didn’t know anything about my past with him, and I was genuinely surprised to hear her assessment. She went on to say that he was intentionally interfering with my sleep cycle to disrupt my usual healing work in my dreamstate, and that he was specifically dumping his karma on me to avoid having to do the work himself. My many spiritual interactions with him had always been very peaceful, very compassionate. I was genuinely taken aback to learn that not only had he not transitioned thoroughly, particularly after his visit to me the night before he died, but that he was lingering to cause me more harm. When I told my friend this she informed me that the aspect of him clinging to me now was not the higher, balanced being I’d seen so many times and the night before his death; rather, it was the earthly consciousness that was deeply troubled and still perpetuating abusive patterns.

Properly armed, I came home and thanked Phoenix for his work and cleared the house. I closed those of my grandather’s chakras that had remained partially functional after his demise. Three days of persistent entity release rituals transpired before I felt this suffering aspect of his consciousness completely transition. When it did I told Phoenix that he could relax and that he no longer had to do the work alone. His relief was evident, but he told me that his work was still not complete.

DSCF0610On 21 November I was admitted to the hospital with appendicitis. While I was waiting for surgery Phoenix came to me and told me that he was ready to move on. I lamented that I couldn’t help him and he assured me that there was no rush. He just wanted me to know he was finished. On 10 December 2006 we went to the vet with Phoenix, though we came home without him. His deathwalk was very difficult for me, yet it became clear in that procession that Phoenix had released me from very old, harmful misogynistic life threads. I also felt that he was paving an opening for radical etheric change in my life and in his own destiny. At that point I realized in our time together just how much Phoenix had contributed to grounding my life force. Physical evidence of that etheric transition came in March of 2007, when after having further health concerns I went to a new neurologist. In the brain scans that she did scarring was present, indicators of a series of minor strokes that left several physical markers, countless unseen ones.

What, then, did Saturn gift me? A deep and lasting release from limiting patterns. It may not be as exciting as a science toy, but it felt really great nonetheless. A budding insight into the vast . A budding insight into the vast and incomprehensible nature of consciousness. An opportunity to work through lingering anger toward my grandfather. An understanding that part of grief is the changing etheric field. An appreciation for the physical manifestation of widening awareness. More than any of those Saturn left me thankful for unconditional love and soulful support most evident in a truth of Wise Women lore that says when her familiar leaves Woman steps into her true power.

House on Summit Drive

Real Wyrd - A Modern Shaman's Roots in the Middle World by S. Kelley Harrell

Read more spooky stories in “Real Wyrd – A Modern Shaman’s Roots in the Middle World,” my collection of true paranormal experiences as a lifelong intuitive.

Every year for Samhain I publish accounts of my more charged, and in some cases creepy, spiritual pursuits. The Dead Time is a treasured journey to Solstice, and as it is a time of untime, the shadowed season presents a great opportunity to tell the stories that many who do shamanic work won’t tell–the occasions when things don’t go well or the unseen presents itself unexpectedly. You may recognize some of these accounts from my previous stories, while others are more recent. Enjoy the solitude of the darkness, and know the light will soon warm!

At this point I hope it’s obvious that words like “ghost” and “haunted” don’t come up in my vocabulary. I’ve learned that those words conjure charged reactions in people, implying fixed ideas about spirit activity. My unusual education in soulful arts has taught me that spirits deserve to be put in categories as much as people, and every case of otherwise unexplained activity should be examined unto itself. It’s become very hard for me to call a suffering spirit, a mischievous faerie, a hyper-polarized piece of land, or the projections of a deeply troubled consciousness a “ghost.”

Of course I didn’t always make those distinctions. When I look back to my childhood, I recall having interactions with spirits pre- kindergarten. At that age and until my mid-teens, neither my culture, my upbringing, nor my emotional maturity allowed me to view those experiences as anything other than the traditional model we are given for ghosts. I filtered all those interactions through lenses of fear, trauma, alienation, and victimization. In recounting those experiences now it is my goal to present them as they were to me then: scary.

I lived with my mother, my older sister, and two collies for most of my youth, and we all witnessed some pretty creepy events together. The most recurrent of these events usually happened at night, and that was the sound of a man’s heavily booted feet coming down our hardwood hallway, stopping right at the juncture of our three rooms. We never had trepidation about the presence itself, but the shock of hearing those thudding footsteps never abated. Another frequent collective event involved our clock radios. Each of us had a clock radio in our room, and it was a regular pastime for all three of them to go off at the same exact second in the middle of the night. No other electrical appliances or timepieces in the house were affected, but playing with clock radio alarms was popular with our visitor. Again, no real terror involved, but the element of surprise never lost its edge. Another odd occurrence that while not as frequent but was loads more frightening, we would wake to what sounded like all the silverware being shaken inside the kitchen drawers, only to find not a thing out of place upon examination. Along that line, we were awakened on at least one occasion by what sounded like every window in the front of the house being smashed out, though found nothing harmed. Those very exaggerated events were just flat out unnerving. On rarer occasions we heard the piano play by itself while it was closed, just a few tinkling notes. (I have that same piano still and on occasion it plays itself, closed.) What seemed to be a favorite prank to play on me, in particular, was opening the kitchen cabinets. I could walk out of the kitchen and return later, knowing there was no one else in the house, and the cabinets would be wide open. It’s also relevant to add that the two dogs we had were always on guard when these things would happen. One of them reacted defensively to our bumps in the night, while the other cowered and couldn’t be coaxed into areas where something odd had recently happened.

My sister and I each had some harrowing experiences alone in that house, too. One morning when my sister was 12-13 years old she was waiting on our front porch for the school bus to come. Everyone else had already left. She was sitting on the front step when she heard a rap on the window behind her. She knew that she was the last one to leave the house, having locked the door herself, and she became afraid. Looking back over her shoulder she saw nothing in the window but the curtains fell back into place, as if there had been someone there.

Just after my sister was newly licensed to drive she had come home to an empty house late one evening. She entered through the dark kitchen and was standing near the sink when she heard slow, heavy footsteps coming from the far end of the hall toward her. Pulling a knife from a nearby drawer she stood frozen and the footsteps stopped. There was no one else in the house.

In my younger years it was the custom for my mother to put to put the little sister to bed so that she and my sister could enjoy the close of the day together. Though I was getting drowsy, I still heard their chit chat, teaspoons clinking in mugs of tea. I remember lying on my back on the bottom bunk of my captain’s corner beds staring fixedly at ceiling, tuning out all but what they were saying. After all, what kind of little sister was I if I missed anything? I lay on my back staring at the ceiling, trying for all I was worth to hear what they were talking about. I recall my vision cutting out for a split second, though I could still hear them, then I felt myself lifted three or four feet off the bed. I felt arms scoop me up, constricting my ribs so much they hurt. I was suspended for a few seconds, then the next thing I knew I was flipped completely over and flung rather unceremoniously face down on my bed. I hit the bed so hard it moved on the hardwood floor and I smashed my forehead into the headboard. I started screaming immediately, “That wasn’t funny! You scared the crap out of me!”

Of course they both came running, and my mother frantically switched on the light. I babbled on about what had happened, blaming them, and my mother assured me that neither she nor my sister left the kitchen, let alone come to my room. I listened to my mother talk, but I remember looking around the lit room reasoning that I had been lifted to a height higher than my top bunk. I also recall leveling with myself that neither she nor my sister could have picked me up, let alone thrown my body any distance. The bruise on my forehead the next morning indicated that someone could, and apparently had, as I also had faint red marks on my ribs. This was the only time I recall ever feeling physically threatened by the dynamic in our home, and that fear stayed with me for a long time.
I used to have slumber parties almost every year for my birthday. I recall the year I turned ten having several girls over. We’d had an evening of pizza, cake and silly television, then retired to my bedroom to listen to music. My mother had long since gone to bed, yelling at us every few minutes to turn the radio down. We were all sitting on the floor of my room, jamming, when we heard heavy footsteps pound down the hallway, stopping right outside my bedroom door. All of my friends knew that odd things happened at our house, but the house spirit rarely acted up when we had guests. We sat there listening to a light scuffle just on the other side of the door as my mother yelled at us for running down the hall. I don’t think my mother enjoyed having a bunch of screaming little girls to soothe, but it did make for a memorable party.

When I was about fourteen I went through a particularly difficult time. I recall one evening that I had an altercation with my mother and was very upset. I went to bed and cried for a quite a while when I felt someone sit down on the bed behind me. I was lying in foetal position and felt the mattress dip. I shifted subtly back against the form that pressed into mine. A cool hand swept back the hair that stuck to my damp cheek. I lay there for a minute or two considering that I was still angry at my mother, yet feeling I should address her given the concern her gestures showed. Raising up, I started speaking to her and turned to look back, only there was no one there. For a few seconds the cool touch lingered on my cheek and I could still see the dip in the mattress. Gradually the mattress raised back to an uncompressed state. and I knew my comforting visitor was gone.

Another night when I was about 16, I woke up for no particular reason to find a man and woman standing on my right, a woman at the foot of my bed, and two figures to my left. They were all dressed in black, and they stood slightly above me looking down to where I lay. The man was holding an open book in his hands, and was reading from it. I could see his mouth moving though I heard no sound. Their style of dressed was turn of the 20th century. I had the distinct impression I was crashing a funeral, and I had the vantage point of the corpse. The odd thing is when I jumped at seeing them, they stopped their ritual, gave me a shocked look, then vanished.

I don’t think about the events on Summit Drive terribly much, now, odd as that may seem. I register with detachment that they were frightening, yet they were also somewhat routine for us. I’ve also lived in a lot of different places and know now that every space has its unique spirits, imprints, and phenomena. I do wonder, though, if the current owners of the house where I grew up have the same spirit guests.

Hotel Phillips and Murderous Insomnia

Every year for Samhain I publish accounts of my more charged, and in some cases creepy, spiritual pursuits. The Dead Time is a treasured journey to Solstice, and as it is a time of untime, the shadowed season presents a great opportunity to tell the stories that many who do shamanic work won’t tell–the occasions when things don’t go well or the unseen presents itself unexpectedly. You may recognize some of these accounts from my previous stories, while others are more recent. Enjoy the solitude of the darkness, and know the light will soon warm!

Hotel Phillips - Photo by hotelphillips.comEarly Spring of 2002 I had the fortune of spending a week at the beautiful Hotel Phillips in Kansas City, Missouri, while on a business trip. I am quite used to loads of spirit traffic when I stay in hotels; however, my stay at Hotel Phillips offered a bit more than the luxury experience the lush establishment touts. From the first night that I checked into room 1513, I sensed many presences–again, not unusual at all, as I do quite a bit of psychopomp work. Staying in hotels for me is like being tapped on the shoulder constantly, far from restful, and Hotel Phillips was no different. Upon checking into their room, other people hang up their clothes first thing. I create sacred space and release errant energies, a gesture part compassion and part hopeful of a solid night’s sleep.

One presence in particular stood out right away, a female whose only visual aspect was a white lace hem that I saw close to the floor. I saw “her” in my room and hall several times the first few days that I was there, though she would not allow me to feel her. What was odd about this spirit was when I offered to release her she did not want to go. I also got a sense with this presence more than any of the others that she had indeed died in the building, and needed friendly company. Regardless, I couldn’t sleep in the room. She was not particularly bothersome or ever present, but her air of unrest was contagious.

Thursday morning I got up, showered, and was drying my hair in the bathroom when I felt that I was not alone. The feminine presence was with me. I opened the bathroom door to find a distraught woman standing there. She was about 22-25 years old with long auburn curly hair, a Caucasian woman in a rather formal 1930s style dress. Her white hem fell just above her ankles—the garment I had been seeing all week. As I gazed upward I saw a large bloody wound in her chest, which dripped blood and tissue onto the floor. She had been shot and was experiencing the panic of her death moment before me.

I stepped out of the bathroom and through her, as she stepped to the side of my bed. I did not learn her name, but I felt a strong sense of betrayal, that she had become involved with a man and the relationship could not for whatever reason come to fruition. This man is who shot her. I often learn information around the cause of death, and it’s always fascinating. Staying true to my role as psychopomp means that details are mere curiosities. The only real objective in working with the dead is to learn how I can facilitate helping them move on to the next phase of their destiny, and doing just that. Everything else is superfluous. That said, sometimes learning what I must from them and helping them shift is no easy feat.

I asked her if she wanted to move on, and she hesitated. I told her that she would not have fully shown herself to me if she did not want help and asked her what held her here. My sense was that she was waiting for the man who killed her–her lover–to somehow redeem himself. I told her that she may have a long wait, that she had already had a long wait, and that she could wait for him to make amends in a much better place than this hotel. After a bit more discussion, she allowed me to walk her into Spirit space and all was restful.

I went on to work for the day, but from the minute I entered the room that night, I was uneasy. The oppressive feel of the room was worse than it had been since my arrival, and I realized that whoever was there was angry at me, yet the spirit refused to communicate.

Once in bed, the lights were out for about two minutes when I began to hear extremely loud scuffling noises moving around the room. I lay there and listened for a few seconds, when finally the sound reached a crescendo behind my headboard forming a complete circle around me. The entity meant to frighten, if not threaten me. Though difficult to describe, there was palpable movement in the discordant sound and it pushed against my ribs. Non-consensual physical contact from spirits is an extremely disturbing phenomenon. When an encounter reaches that point fear becomes anger.

Enraged, I observed a male in the room, about four feet from the foot of my bed. Although well-dressed he was surrounded by black clouds. He, too, was Caucasian, though physically did not appear entirely human. I knew this man was the killer, and that he had killed many times. He was a nasty piece of work, and he was angry at me for interacting with the woman. He had killed her in the hotel, though not in that room, and he had never been linked to the crime. His pride was wounded that I knew what had happened, as he was used to getting away with everything. I had seen his dirty deeds and he wanted to eliminate me as a threat. He was afraid that I would hand him over to some authority for punishment. He was so stuck in a defensive consciousness that he didn’t seem to realize that he was dead.

Real Wyrd - A Modern Shaman's Roots in the Middle World by S. Kelley HarrellI told him that I didn’t care what he had done in his life, that I wasn’t there to judge him. Gradually his energy softened. The noise in the room stopped. I said that this was not the place he needed to be anymore, that whatever happened between him and the woman was between them, and if he felt ready to deal with that from a more useful place that I could help him. I also made it perfectly clear that I was ready to sleep and we would not be negotiating all night. When I said that to him, the clouds around him began to dissipate, but I still did not see him clearly. I held the space for a good 45 minutes or so, but he went relatively easily. For the first time since I checked into Hotel Phillips my room was quiet on all fronts.

The next morning I approached the concierge, asking if anyone had ever reported anything strange about room 1513. He, along with the staff at the front desk, went pale and asked me what had happened. When I told them that I saw a woman in my room, they stammered a bit, eventually going on to say that they had not had reports about that room, and had not had anything reported at all since the hotel had re-opened after renovations the previous Fall. They offered to assign me to a different room, and when I declined huddled in the corner whispering. Clearly they were aware of creepy occurrences, but I couldn’t tell if they would be relieved or disappointed to learn that their gangster spectre was no longer a guest.

Read more spooky stories in “Real Wyrd – A Modern Shaman’s Roots in the Middle World,” my collection of true paranormal experiences as a lifelong intuitive.

Also, read the 2014 followup to this encounter.