Staying, Chapter 3 – Emma’s House

Staying – When the Hereafter is Here on Earth

In this third chapter, I continue the theme of living peacefully with watchful spirits.

Chapter Three – Emma’s House

The commitment to a place after death isn’t restricted to sacred grounds.  Sometimes the connection is more personal.  These are cases where we typically see a more “traditional” haunted environment.  Haunted houses, churches, even barns are occasionally still occupied by long-dead former occupants.  And often times, when these tenants are still around it’s not because the endured some devastating trauma, but because they enjoyed the place where they lived or worked.

At another work assignment, my office was in an old, converted farm house.  If you’re getting the idea that many of my offices have been occupied by unseen friends, you’d be correct.  Many public properties, specifically historical locations that have been entrusted to a municipality after the owner’s death and then pressed into service, have a long history and many previous occupants.  This is true of the farm house and also my office.

Almost from my first day at the farm, I had been inundated with tales about how old Emma was still keeping an eye on her beloved farmlands and childhood home.  When Emma was alive, having no heir to whom to leave the farm, she deeded it the City to turn into a teaching farm and park.  For the most part, the City accommodated her requests.  On the rare occasion some misguided public servant attempted to host, say, a carnival on the old farm’s grounds, the event was met with nothing but calamity and misfortune.  Or so the rumors say.

But I was new on the farm, and just trying to fit in, so I listened to all manner of urban legend.  After a few weeks, I had heard just about every fable associated with the property.  This included the stories the neighborhood kids told about zombies in the basement (which we occasionally reinforced just for fun).  I was prepared to write it all off.  But one night after locking up the park, my partner, Wes, and I were preparing to leave for the night.  I had gone up to the attic, where the staff lockers were housed, to doff my gear and change to go home.  When I had changed, I turned off the lights, shut the attic door and set the security before deadbolting the front door. Now, I remember this sequence of events because, like I said, I was new. I didn’t want to disrupt the social structure of this close-knit work group through a seeming act of carelessness.  I was halfway to my car when I realized I had left my cell phone in my locker.  Cursing my forgetfulness, I ran back, unlocked the door and disarmed the security system.  I had gotten two steps up the staircase when my gaze shifted to my intended destination, the attic door at the top of the landing.  At this point, I froze.  The attic door was open, and the light was on.

At this stage in my psychic development, I hadn’t opened up fully, so I regarded the paranormal with a certain amount of fear.  So the sight of that door stopped me in my tracks.  I had no rational, logical or scientific explanation as to why the attic door was open or the light was on, except for maybe the cat.  And he was outside.  Also, he can’t reach the light switch, let alone actually need it.  At that moment I had never not wanted my cell phone more.  But since I was meeting friends later, and needed it, I took a deep breath and ran up the stairs.  I grabbed my phone and secured the building in record time.  I was frazzled by the time I reached the parking lot, where Wes was waiting for me.  I attempted to relay my experience to Wes as he attempted to not roll his eyes.

As the years went on, I heard more tales of Emma’s ghost.  Some of these were fabrications of over-active imaginations, but there were some that were very hard to dismiss.  One morning I arrived at the park to discover that my maintenance staff looked like a herd of spooked cattle.  Reticently, they described the events of the morning.  Apparently, during their morning routine, they entered the farmhouse and walked upstairs to retrieve their gear.  As soon as they were upstairs, all of the doors on the ground floor began to open and slam shut simultaneously.  At 6 a.m., the two of them were the only ones in the house, not to mention the park.  There remains no logical explanation to the events of that morning.

Now, do I think that Emma’s ghost is malevolent – no.  I just think that she was trying to get our attention.  Like the Shaman in the last chapter, she wanted to make sure that her space was preserved and that we knew she was still around to oversee the daily goings-on.  Living with Emma’s ghost was an easy and entertaining experience, far from the provocative melodrama that we encounter on television.  And that is the take-away message from this chapter.  Having a spirit living in your office, house, attic or barn doesn’t need to provoke fear and uncertainty.  It can be a pleasant experience, especially if you have the same agenda.


Staying, Chapter 2 – The Shaman

Staying: When the Hereafter is Here on Earth

This is the second chapter of my e-book, “Staying.”  This chapter addresses a typical haunting situation when old energy is attempting to reconcile with new energy within the same space.  By this I mean, when the former inhabitant of a space remains attached to the space after death.  This experience recounts my encounter with a Native American Shaman and how we came to co-inhabit his ancestral home peacefully.  I also discuss what to do if you encounter a spirit in your daily experience.

Chapter Two – The Shaman

When souls attach themselves to places after death, it is sometimes out of a sense of duty or responsibility to a place of importance or to protect a sacred space.  In the Unites States nothing embodies this archetype better than Native American lore.  The ancient sacred customs and religions of Native American tribes are often the subjects of fear and misinformation.  Archetypes such as an “Indian burial ground” have captured the imaginations of generations of Americans.  I’m even willing to bet this is true of the first settlers.

However, most people regard sacred spaces with a certain degree of reverence, if not fear. This would include the hushed feeling in a cathedral, for example, where many have gathered in quiet devotion and contemplation of the divine.  I speak here of the familiarity of Judeo-Christian practices.  When we step into the realm of earth-based religions, like those of native cultures, suddenly things can become uncomfortable.  The familiar feeling of awe and reverence and sacredness gets tossed out as we regard these ancient rites as superstitions or “witchcraft.” This does two things: It breeds fear, and allows us to be confrontational with that fear.  The only other alternative is to subvert and conquer said fear.  History has shown where that leads.  In this fear-based mind-set, we develop the belief that since we don’t believe in it, it’s not real.  This is why there is so much fear associated with these ancient spaces, but also why these spaces feel the need to fight back.

In my journey through public service, I’ve found myself working in some remarkable and historically relevant places.  A while back, I accepted an assignment at a lake in southern Santa Clara County in California.  As in any region of the San Francisco Bay area, modern culture is often thrust up against the ancient burial mounds and religious sites of the Ohlone Indians.  My first week at the lake I made my partner drive me around show me the burial mounds, middens and caves that were relics of a people who had long been absorbed by modern culture.  Yet even as an outsider, I felt a deep, almost holy, connection to these places. I had a deep sense of knowing that, unbeknownst to anyone else in our humble office, we were sitting in the exact center of these places of power.  Over the next few weeks I made every effort to respect where we were and walk lightly on the land.  Even so, I was new and my presence did not go unchallenged.  After a few weeks in my new office, far from settling in, I began to notice a presence – a conscious presence – lurking nearby.  I would feel this presence acutely when I was alone at in the office at night or walking out to my car.

At first, I was frightened, as I was clearly being stalked.  Then, one day, at my wit’s end and tired of being afraid of the dark, I decided to confront whoever or whatever was out there.  It was the end of a very long day and I had just finished putting my things into my car.  I felt the chilly March air become electrified as something approached me in the dark parking lot.  Unable to take the suspense of what or who had been prowling around, I said clearly into the dark, “ I am not going to harm you.” And then it drew closer.

The being was a Native American man, a shaman to be precise.  He did not appear to me visually, but rather as a consciousness.  That is, in my mind he clearly projected his consciousness and was able to convey his identity and energy.  Among the many images he shared with me were scenes of his life and the lives of his family who had lived and worshipped in the space my office now stood.  As he allowed me to see this vision, which I accepted gratefully, I knew that he now saw me as a friend.  He was a long-forgotten guardian ensuring that his land was respected.  As it was my job at the time to enforce such things, I’m sure he wanted to make sure I was up to the task.

His intentions were clearly illustrated a few months later when one of our office-mates decided to throw a retirement party for a popular supervisor.  The days leading up to the barbecue were filled with preparing and tidying the grounds around our office to make way for the many guests.  The day of the party, I was driving to work when all of a sudden the shaman appeared energetically in my car.  His rage was palpable.  As you can imagine, this was quite an experience, because, first, he had never appeared to me as an energetic body, only as a consciousness.  And second, I had a very angry ghost driving with me in my car.  For several minutes the shaman raged, showing me the disruptive presence of the guests and festivities that were occurring over at my office.  Eventually, he slowed down and I was able to interject and explain that they meant no harm.  I promised that I would make sure the land was respected and that everything would quiet down soon.  This must have appeased him, since he left me to drive the rest of the way to work alone.  When I arrived at the office, I found exactly the scenes the shaman had shown me.  I also discovered that normally amicable working relationships seemed to have been thrown into upheaval.  In short, people were at each other’s throats.  Sneaking away, I silently asked the shaman if this was his doing.  He answered in the affirmative, telling me that if people were having a bad time, they would leave.  Again, I promised I would see that his land was respected and asked that he stop interfering with my colleagues and their friends.  Suddenly, I felt everything go quiet and peaceful.  All of the tension left the air, and the party guests went on as though nothing happened (and to their perspective, nothing had).

I’d like to think that the shaman had considered me a worthy guardian since he never again came to me in such a manner.  In fact, he preferred to show me peaceful visions of his life as we communed in nature together.

In my experience with this spirit, as well as others, when they make themselves apparent negatively, they are trying to protect their space.  Remember, an overwhelming number of these spirits are human, and they retain their human sensitivities.  Whether it’s a sense of propriety or a sense of duty, if the emotion was deeply rooted in them during life, it will remain a part of them in death.  If you share a space with such a spirit, attempting to compromise with it can be beneficial.  Talk to it like it is still alive, acknowledge its presence and its connection to the place.  Ask to cohabitate peacefully, but do not respond to it in fear.  This can be difficult, especially if you are experiencing unsettling phenomenon in your space or if there are children involved.  However, emotion is energy, and fear has a particular signature.  It is of low vibration, and very pungent.  Feeding paranormal energy with fear can attract larger, nastier inhuman entities; playing with these entities is no fun and can be downright dangerous.

Living with a ghost doesn’t have to be scary, dramatic or necessarily disruptive.  Regardless of the origin of the spirit presence, you have more control over the situation than you think.  However, if you feel like you might be in over your head, or if the presence is clearly malevolent, don’t hesitate to ask for help.

Staying, Chapter 1 – Grandma’s House

Staying: When the Hereafter is Here on Earth is a book that has been struggling to be written for nearly a year now.  Even harder, though, is the struggle to publish it.  Since this information is something that I feel needs to be released from my creative consciousness and into the All That Is, I am choosing to share this in my own way.  So, I will be publishing each chapter on my blog separately and as they are completed.

Staying aims to explore why spirits choose to stay bound to the Earth plane.  I have chronicled my personal experiences using my psychic lens.  If you’ve lost someone, feel spirit energy or experience the paranormal in your life, I hope to give you a broader understanding as to why “haunting” happens.


Staying: When the Hereafter is Here on Earth

Chapter One – Grandma’s House

I think it bears mentioning that regardless of my family’s intuitive tendencies, they have guarded these gifts in a haze of fierce denial.  Talking to dead people was not considered appropriate Christian conversation – or even the conversation of rational adults.  Even today, my relatives speak about the work that I do in hushed tones and behind closed doors.  It is little wonder that I suppressed my, shall we say, unconventional talents as long as I did.
It is also not surprising that when I went to visit my Grandma Julie in the summer of 1999, she roundly refused to believe me when I told her that our dead relatives continued to roam the halls of her Minneapolis home.
It was a typical muggy, Midwestern summer when I landed in the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport fresh from my first year of college and eager to escape the teenaged emotional catastrophe I had created back home in California.  My grandma and grandpa bought their modest three bedroom home in the early 1950’s, and promptly began raising a family.  After four children, six grandchildren, and two husbands, both the house and my grandma had seen a lot.  As is typical with older homes, my grandma’s house served as the backdrop for domestic upheavals large and small.  It had that lived-in feel of a home that held many secrets.  It was also the home where both my great-grandmother and my grandpa died.

And yet the history of the house did nothing to convince my grandmother that her late husband and mother were wandering around there or anywhere.  To her, they had gone to heaven, and that was final.  I wasn’t so sure about that.


Night after night I approached her with, what I thought, was ironclad evidence of the persistence of our dead relatives.  And night after night, she rebuffed my claims, chalking it up to my overactive, and slightly dramatic, imagination.
From the first night of my stay in Minnesota, I heard all manner of strange goings-on in the hallway outside of my room.  This room, I should add, was directly next to the room where my great-grandma stayed during the last days of her life.  Every night, I would hear shuffling footsteps and hollow thumps – like the sound my 94 year-old great-grandma would make on the way down the hall to the bathroom using her walker.  The skeptic in me, trying to talk myself down from near-hysteria, tried to explain the noises away by blaming them on one of the three cats in residence.  But I knew perfectly well that none of the cats would set so much as a toe upstairs after I decided to go to bed.  They would sleep on my bed all day and evening, but the second I announced I was retiring for the night, they would march downstairs.  It was such an absurd show,  I thought I was imagining it.
Finally, the thing that absolutely could not explain away were the intense temperature changes coupled with the over-whelming feeling of someone standing near my bed.  Now, the late summers in Minnesota are extreme.  High heat and humidity coupled with wild thunderstorms made me yearn for the calming offshore breezes typical of my home in the San Francisco Bay Area.  Or at least for air-conditioning, which my grandma never had installed.  So when a cool breeze began wafting over me in the early morning hours, chilling my sweat-dampened skin, I was more than a little unsettled.  I was terrified.


As scared as I was, I knew it was more a reaction to the newness of the experience and not to any perceived malevolence.  Whoever was shuffling up and down the hall and standing over me in bed was not evil or demonic.  Once I realized this and got my wits about me, I figured that this presence as most likely my great-grandma and that she was simply dropping by to see me, sort of like a ghostly visitation.  I eventually calmed down enough to recognize this and acknowledge her. When I did, I felt calmer, I felt the presence subside and the cool cloud lift away from me.  My great-grandma had left.


Analyzing the experience many years later and through a psychic lens (after acknowledging said lens, of course), I began to understand a few things.  First, my grandma’s house was most likely not “haunted” by anything or anyone.  I was in a place that was familiar to my great-grandma, and that made it fairly easy for her to connect to me.  She had to be a little dramatic about it because I wasn’t paying attention.  But when I did, I realized that all she wanted was to be acknowledged by and commune with the great-granddaughter she loved dearly, but rarely saw.


I also realized that sometimes people can be “haunted.”  That is, that some human beings can trigger ghostly activity based on their emotional state or their sensitivity to paranormal activity.  At my grandma’s house, I was a sort of lightening rod for ghostly energy.  You could say I was simply in the right place at the right time.


To my knowledge, no one else has had any other type of paranormal experience in that house.  But I’ll never know.  In late 2001, my grandma succumbed to cancer while I was living abroad in Australia.  My relatives sold the house before I returned, and I never again set foot inside.  And while I can choose to communicate with my late relatives consciously, I rarely do.  They are together in the after-life and they are happy and they know that I am happy – and that is all any of us need to know.