In celebration of my favorite time of the year, I’ve decided to take a departure from my regular column format for this month, instead electing each day to write out as many of my creepy ‘spirit visitor’ stories as time allows between now and Samhain. I started writing some of them down a few years ago with the idea of publishing them in a collection at some point. For now I just want to feed the veil.
Early 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 (deathwalking). 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, which was what 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 and that she had become involved in a relationship with a man that 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 stuff. 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 to her. 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.
I 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.
If you’re not familiar with deathwalking, it’s a shamanic approach to releasing unquiet dead. I teach classes in it, and it’s a big focus of my shamanic work. Learn more about deathwalking:
–Be sure to read the 2014 followup to this encounter!