Tuesday, June 03, 2008

tele-psychics, smudging, and holy water, served with macaroni and cheese

So much has been going on with Rock Bottom, my dear readers! Things are really hopping, and we’re having some great times. We’re all close friends outside of the band, which is so, so important when you start grinding these shows, weekend after weekend. Despite the redundant song list, the familiar haunts (interesting choice of words), and similar faces, every time I see my other three mates, we have a great time, and it makes everything a positive experience.

On top of that, we were stunned by Tom Ackman’s sudden departure from Just Mr., one of the area’s top acts, and his subsequent request to join us! Where the hell did that come from? Don’t ask me! But, I, for one, welcomed the thought as I’ve always felt more comfortable in the two guitar band structure, plus it allows me to plays some keyboards, which keeps it interesting and adds so many great songs to our mix. Or fills out the ones we currently do. More work for me, though! Like I’ve got time to practice!

And there were other considerations, namely where do we fit him onstage, and splitting what we make five ways sure doesn’t go as far as when we split it four ways. While we’re not really in this for the cash, it helps when every night I sweat it out, I have some money left over after my bar tab and filling my gas tank. Since I’m fortunate to have my beautiful girlfriend that I adore, I’m not in this for the chicks! So, cash is king!

But, the addition of Tom will help us get into some A list venues that know him like The Phoenix, House Of Rock, and Sharkey’s, which flat out pay better. Bigger stages, too. So, it’s all good! Rock Bottom is going to rock even better! Tom adds vocals, top notch guitar expertise, years of experience in top area acts, and he’s a good friend, which ultimately is the most important factor, we feel. Expect great things! We do!

So, as you can tell, I’m starting to get excited about playing again, and I figure, if my schedule allows, I be writing some more chapters in the long epic here that is my life. That is, if I can remember them, and find a way to present them that’s interesting, and not repetitive. A tall order, sometimes!

But, I have unfinished business with my last chapter, one dealing with “the paranormal”! As you remember, my lovely and gracious Rebecca was experiencing what we believed to be paranormal activity in her home the past year, and I stumbled on some local investigators who’d agreed to check it out. It was a fun, interesting time, and they came away in agreement: something was going on! Now what?

Basically, Brian, the lead investigator for St. Louis Paranormal Society, left that all up to us. I must admit, he is very laid back, never pushy, always allowing the homeowner to dictate what is allowed. He offered to bring in a psychic and “cleanse” the home, should we wish to go that route. Bec was more than willing! They also asked permission to film the proceedings, as they were putting together a documentary. Again, not a problem for us. As with the investigation, there was no talk of being charged for any of this.

Brian had Star, the psychic associated with StLPS, phone Bec to get some preliminary info, and do a reading over the phone. She had not been told of our investigation’s findings, just that we were interested in getting the paranormal activity to cease.

I wasn’t present at this reading, but Brian said those that she’s done reading for that he’s spoken with have come away like her abilities were uncanny. Janet from Mineral Springs Haunted Tours also spoke very, very highly of this woman’s gifts. It wasn’t long before Becca shared these same observations. After providing the woman with merely her birthdate, and what color the house was, the psychic began to tell Becca about her past failed marriage, talked of negative energy surrounding the house, named off various relatives and things about them, and even said “does the name Thomas, or Tom, or Ken mean anything to you?” Bec replied that it didn’t, but Star then said, “it will to your boyfriend. Pass that along to him.” Later that weekend, Tom Ackman approached us at Eddie’s about joining the band! Holy shit!

She got to the matter at hand at the house, and she seemed to believe there were three people, or spirits involved. There was a little girl, a baby boy, and a mother, one who was very sad, like she had post partum. They had been there a very long time. Perhaps even before this house was built. Something on the land, or tied to it. There was a fire, and the mother got her baby out, but the little girl perished. The mother feels so much guilt, and she wants to reunite with her. On and on. Said the owner previously (and called her by name) knew of the ghost, but was reluctant to tell Bec.

The little girl doesn’t know where her mother is, and is trying to communicate with Becca, thinking she is her mother. She’s hungry, and doesn’t understand why she won’t get her some food. Interesting stuff. Nothing we’ve been able to co-oberate, but, we’d always seemed to think what we’d been sensing was a small child, and we heard the EVP’s of a small girl on the tapes that my daughters made during the investigation. Star had no knowledge of this prior to the reading. And, she said she could remove her, move her along, reunite her with her mother. There were a few things Bec needed to do first, counteract some negative energy around the place, but she was pretty confident she could “cleanse” the home.

They arrived at noon on a sunny, spring-like Sunday. Basically, it was the two investigators, Brian from StLPS and Adam from Midwest Paranormal Investigations, along with Adam's young fiancée, Lauren, a bespeckled, bearded guy named Joe something that was going to film the "cleansing", and the psychic, Star. She was a pleasant, middle aged woman, about what I’d expect a psychic to be like; a little free spirited, somewhat disheveled, earthy, understated, wearing a loose fitting white blouse and long, flowing red skirt that almost touched the ground.

We showed them around a bit, and Star checked out the house, and at one point, stood in a spot in the spare bedroom directly behind the computer and said "she left an imprint here". That was interesting. "Here," Star told me, "stand here." So, I did. "Can you feel it? Like a tingling from the floor?" No, I didn't feel anything. Nothing odd whatsoever.

So, anyway, at that spot, the investigators put some things to try and draw her out. Milk and cookies, some stuffed toys, a ball. Etc. Things to attract a young girl. They set up a camera on them, shut the door, and filmed to see if anything moved. We'll hear back on them from that, later.

We went into the living room where they played the taped interview we’d conducted at the prelim to give Star a feel for what we've been experiencing since she’d never been informed. Boy, watching yourself on a video tape can be very disturbing! I felt like a boob! I wanted to crawl under a table and hide!

Star kind of half listened, but it was obvious she was picking up different things, and was already onto what was going on. We kind of shut the tape off once it became apparent this wasn’t of any great use, and I mentioned that the only thing left on the tape was the encounter where I saw the unexplained flash of blue/white light in the living room moving towards the closet that I chronicled in my last blog.

"There is a portal!" Star exclaimed in a sudden, almost spasm like gesture. "It's right outside. On the side of the house.” She turned and looked towards the closet, pointing.

“Over there, on the other side of the wall?” Brian asked. We all turned and gazed towards the infamous closet.

“Mmm hmm, that’s it!” she said. “I just figured it out."

She then turned to me and laid THIS on me!

"You are very gifted. In many past lives you were a powerful shaman, medicine man," She said, looking up at me from the couch, staring into my eyes. "With the Druids…"

"Ok…" I said. I was taken aback. Where is this coming from? She continued to speak directly to me.

"And Native Americans..." she continued, searching for something, her eyes roaming, "Vikings! You were a powerful Viking priest, too!"

"Wow, I'm Norwegian! And Scot." Very strange! "But not any Indian that I know of."

"And they took your powers away," she went on, almost seemingly as though I wasn’t there. She was looking off into the distance now, past me, past the walls, past everything. "You,” she continued, with a broken pause, “you made some people angry for something you did."

"I do seem to have that ability!" I flippantly chimed in.

"You were associated with some people, and they thought you were part of this group, and against them, so the punished you, and stripped you of your powers. We're going to get your powers back. Umm hmm.” She said as she nodded, looking as she was formulating something in her head. “You will be able to use your intuition again. Read peoples feelings, get your magic back." She went on, explaining how I was without all this, and it would be returned to me.

Really? Will this help my poker game, I thought to myself? I didn’t say this aloud, though. She was serious, and strangely, I had to respect that. Because she had been right on about so many things thus far.

She went on: "We need to right that karmic wrong, show them that you aren't the person they thought, so they quit screwing with you. That portal is allowing them contact, to fight you. I want to "smudge" you,” she said. Brian’s face lit up.

“We need to smudge him, then?” he said with a child-like smile. Then he nodded.

“Yes,” she said, “we’ll need to do that. We’ll smudge you, which will protect you, and then you stand there at the portal, stand up to them, show them you're not what they thought, that you weren’t who they thought you were, or associated with, or whatever, and you'll get your power back from them. Mmm hmm." She nodded again, and looked away, as though she was talking aloud more than talking to me.

Well, I can do that... sounds easy enough! I have no idea what she means, though.

"Because until we close that portal, we can't get the little girl out. So, I hate to break it to you. That's what we have to do! Yep. It’s gotta be done."

"I don't mind," I told her.

"Good, good," she said. "I wasn't sure how you'd take it."

I wasn’t sure how I was taking it! Not everyday some psychic says to you “you have some Karmic wrongs from past lives, and you need to be smudged.” That doesn’t happen everyday! How does one take that?

So, what the game plan seemed to be was "smudge me" which was supposed to protect me, and I guess cleanse me of some Karmic wrongdoing, or whatever, then go close this portal outside the house, then attempt to lead the girl out. From what I could gather, the psychic seemed to think the portal was connected to me, or that I was interfering with it, or it had drawn attention to me because of these alleged "past life" events. Without closing that portal, there was no way to get rid of the girl. The girl probably wasn’t even aware of this portal, they actually weren’t related.

Hey baby! Smudge me!

So, Star and I wandered outside, where the sun shone brightly. She stood next to the house right in front of the driveway, next to where this famous closet is inside the house that seems to be a focal point of activity. In fact, it was the highest EMF spike in the house last time the investigators checked in March, and a source of a gas leak when Becca first moved into the home, a pipe fitting located directly under it.

"Oh," Star said with alarm, standing in the patchy grass next to the window where the TV sits, staring at her feet. "Yup, right here! The portal is here. Oooo! Lots of nasties! We're going to have to close this. Here!" she motioned to me, "stand right here. Can you feel it?"

Do I want to? Again, I stood where she told me, and I concentrated. But, I felt nothing. I sheepishly shook my head no.

"Well, we're going to smudge you, and do like we talked about, ok?" I nodded. Sure, no prob. "That way we'll close it up, get rid of the nasties! Ok." She said, and wandered away. "Don't want to do this there, let's come over here." She also confided in me that she preferred it not be done while filmed by StLPS’s crew. It was personal, for me. She suggested that I not allow it, which I agreed to.

In the back, by a tiny pond, we took some salt and encircled me and Star. We were assisted by Adam and Lauren from Midwest Paranormal. Adam had taken a few EMF readings outside.

“Any spikes?” I asked. He showed me the meter, resting at 0.2, the typical ambient reading. Nothing.

They lit some Native American sage, got it smoking after some difficulty, and Star proceeded to perform some ritual around me of basically brushing smoke all over my body. Harmless enough.

"Who here has relatives in Chicago?" Star blurted from nowhere. I shook my head no. I’ve never even been to Chicago.

"Uh, I do," Adam muttered.

"Ah, good, ok! I was picking that up, wondering. Call them! Yes, you should call them."

Adam respectfully nodded, grabbed for his cell phone, and wandered off. I never did hear more about that from him or what it meant.

“Ooh, good!” Star exclaimed. “I made contact with your Guardian Angel. He’s here!” she told me. Uh, ok. That’s comforting, I suppose. The stream of consciousness continued from her.

"What is wrong with your knee. Did you have knee problems?" Star asked me.

"No,” I said, staring down as the sage smoke wafted up into my face, “but my entire leg was destroyed in a car crash. The knee was fine."

"Well, something about your knee," she insisted.

"I have a scar here where they did the surgery to the bone," I said, pointing to my jeans along the underside of my kneecap.

"AH! That's it!" Star said, and proceeded to waft sage smoke towards it. I had to chuckle. She’s something!

After all that, they wandered off to start the next phase. I kind of stood alone by the little pond in Bec's garden, and started to think about things. I felt kind of distant. When Star mentioned that there was a portal outside, and that it was connected to me, something strangely made sense. Why?

I'd always felt a sense of unease, especially late at night when the living room was dark, connected with that closet, and that side of the house. I very often, when putting my shoes on to leave late at night, would stare over at that closet, over in the darkness, and, well, just sense something I couldn't explain. I thought it might be tied to the girl. Often, when I'd walk out to my car parked in the driveway, I wondered if it was even tied to that closet at all! I thought to myself, "maybe it's something outside the house? Maybe the neighbors have had this, too?" I swear I've always felt that. Now I have a psychic telling me what I strangely had sensed before!

As Adam approached me, I mentioned it to him. "It's like, she says these crazy things, but yet, I know she's right!" I told him. "There's no proof there's a portal, or any of that," I said. "But, when she pointed it out, I KNEW she was right. I knew something was there!" Adam just had this coy smile. He's been to several of these with Star, and I think he's never ceased to be amazed.

Something else started to wash over me. I was overwhelmed about an understanding of my relationship with my old buddy, Paul Joseph. Paul, in younger days, has dabbled in occult, and paranormal. He would have enjoyed seeing this. Paul and I, in fact, have a notable relationship of many things in common. Spirituality, and Zen. I've joked that I've known Paul for a very, very long time, like two kindred souls. It became apparent to me that that isn't a joke. I sensed now, or felt a bond with Paul that I think goes back a very, very long way, through lifetimes. It's no wonder we are the friends we are. We always have been. It was making strange, perfect logical sense to me. I wish I could explain, or prove it. But, strangely, I just know.

I went in to check on Bec as Star had instructed me to while they were to start the process outside at the "portal". I kinda talked with her, attempted to assuage her fears. She was pretty freaked out by all of it. Growing up Catholic, this is freaky shit for her, not something she can wrap her head around. She had confided in me before hand that she was nervous about doing this at all, fearful of what could be conjured up. Would this make things worse? I tried to console her. Eventually, when I realized I could comfort her no further, I thought "well, time for me to see what the hell's going on outside.”

The whole group was out there minus Bec, and they had created a circle in salt along side the house over to the fence/property line about 14 feet. Inside the circle was a cross, or an X. When I came out, Star handed me some salt, and said "now, I want you to run along and trace that circle. Go ahead and do that.” So I did.

But, as I started to do this, I was overcome, and I mean, I want to tell you OVERCOME with a sense that I should NOT do it in a clockwise fashion. I should trace this circle in a counter-clockwise direction. I started to ignore that bizarre impulse, but, then, I changed my mind, in fact felt compelled to stop, and did exactly what I thought I should do. I traced it backwards. I mentioned this to no one.

She went through some ritual, and she warned us about how she speaks in tongues, so pay no attention to it. Don’t get freaked out. Then, did her little thing. Very Native American in its nature. There was a very Judeo-Christian component as well. Very spiritual. I watched intently, with an open mind. There was no Hollywood, nothing flashy. Very earthy, and matter-of-factly.

Then, she handed me holy water, and told me to sprinkle that along the cross, or the X inside the circle. I started to, facing the house, stepping backwards towards the fence, when AGAIN, something came over me, and I KNEW I mustn't do this walking backwards! I turned and faced the direction I was sprinkling, and did as she directed. Something, well, no, my INSTINCTS were to do it this way, and it was overwhelming. Never once did anyone motion to do it this way. I was guided to by instinct.

I stood back, and she said some more things, people were talking, etc. But, I started to feel something. Remember, when I stood in that one place, I felt NOTHING. Just a mundane, bright, spring Sunday afternoon; nothing out of order.

Yet now, standing outside here, I was feeling something, and I couldn't explain it, or tell what it was, or where it was coming from. But it was positive. I tried to quantify it, put a label on it. It was difficult. I was searching myself. What is this I'm feeling? I can’t deny it. I can’t explain it. I’m starting to feel something. The nearest thing I could attribute it to was, triumph! I felt a sense of triumph, and vindication, but, yet not like I'd ever felt it before. It was, just, different. It also made absolutely no sense, and was related to no event that had taken place! Wow! Strangeness!

Then, it was followed by a complete and TOTAL sense of calmness, and clarity. I fucking kid you not! While the first sensation, the triumphant sensation, was more vague and subtle, I was washed over with calmness, more so than at any time that I've ever experienced meditating in my Zen practice. It was powerful, complete, and encompassing.

I felt compelled at this point to let everyone know, as this was, in a way, still an investigation. I frankly explained the feelings I was finally having during this, basically just the later part of the “ceremony”, and the also regarding the compulsion to follow my instincts on the tasks Star had asked me to perform.

"You're getting it back," she said, and then turned away, making no other issue. I can't explain it, but, something happened to me. I'm dead serious.

Also, I began to sense something else. While watching this go on, I paused to study Brian. He’s a young guy, about 28 years old. I began to understand his role in all of this. I had a sense that Brian's mission, or role is to bring people together, like Star, and these clients, and solve these issues. I don't think he even understands that, he probably thinks it's his curiosity that does it, but it's not. Like a strange, karmic dance, his role was as a catalyst to bring all the elements together. I was starting to think I was losing my mind! Why would I start thinking this way about someone I hardly know? Why do I think I know motivations that probably he doesn't even know he has? It was almost creepy. It was like I, I know you’ll think I’m fucking looney tunes here, but it was as though I could see, for just a moment, into Brian’s soul.

We went inside, and did that whole rig-a-marole. They had the “smudge” going, we were making noise shaking bells and such, which Star explained would help draw out the spirit. Star had given me the holy water to sprinkle, Bec was to spread salt, and Star kind of chanted, and directed us through the house. Yeah, it looks as silly as it sounds, but, hey, after what I just went through, a little salt and water sounds good to me! No harm it. Like I said, open minded is the word of the day, here. And, for the most part, nothing much seemed to be coming of it.

There was this, however: we entered the spare bedroom to do what we needed in there, the place where Star had felt the presence of the little girl during the initial walk through. Nothing had appeared moved from the various items they’d laid out, so I don't think they will catch anything on tape as they were hoping. Nothing pointed to any paranormal presence.

Star did what she does, chanting, praying, directing “traffic” with the rest of us. Beck tossed salt, Brian spread the sage smoke, and I sprinkled holy water. All good. We shook our various noisemakers. Star was speaking towards the spot on the floor, and began to call out to the little girl, trying to talk the little girl in to going towards the light, telling us to pray, etc. It was a rowdy, raucous sight to behold.

She directed Lauren to stand in that spot we’d marked earlier as we continued to shake our noise makers, which Lauren did. But, I don't think she felt anything. She just shook her head and stepped aside. Star then directed me to stand there, which I obliged, standing right where I stood earlier, and had felt nothing before.

Friends, as I stood in that same exact spot, I was overcome with deep, sad, powerful emotions, those of longing, loneliness, sadness. I felt it. I felt her! "She's here!" I announced. My skin started to crawl.

I’ve felt this once before. At an old girlfriend’s allegedly haunted apartment in South St. Louis City, I'd been inexplicably overcome with a cold sensation of longing and loneliness while looking at a poster of a regional Minnesota band I was acquainted with, until I was forced to step away from the poster. This was the same! Exactly the same! There was no denying it, no explaining it, as I had stood exactly here earlier, and felt nothing of the sort!

Now, I was feeling such fear, deep sorrow, even detachment. And they weren’t my emotions! I tried to wrap my head around it, but, I honestly couldn't. I continued to stand there, not shying away, and the ritual continued around me as the feeling began to fade. Then, it was gone, as though sand had slipped through an hour glass, and I stepped aside, trying to get a grip on what I just experienced.

This is just speculation after the fact, but I think the little girl was afraid to leave, was afraid to go, because she was scared, and didn't know what was ahead of her. She didn't want to let go. It was a letting go, and she didn't want to do it, but she did. She was so afraid to let go, afraid to be alone, but she finally did. That seems to be what I felt. As crazy as that sounds! I was overwhelmed with questions. There were no answers.

"Everyone tell her bye!" Star said as we continued the ritual. "Bye, bye!" they all said, dutifully. “Bye,” I muttered softly. But, I knew she was gone. I felt her go already. I think Star did too. The others might have felt it silly, saying “bye” to no one they could see. But, I knew. She was leaving, and Star had it exactly right. Then, Star put her foot on the spot, tamped down on the hard wood flooring, and announced "she's gone." And, I knew it to be true as well. We moved on.

We did a couple more ceremonial things to close the cleansing, nothing really that special to mention. Then it was done. We gathered in the living room, all of us pretty quiet. I was at a complete loss for words. Star pulled out boxes of macaroni and cheese from a cloth bag. A strange non sequitor.

“It’s important to have a feast, to eat at the conclusion,” she said, handing them to me. “So, I brought this as a gesture. If you don’t like macaroni and cheese, just donate it to a shelter or something. It’s just symbolic. No big deal. Ok, then.” She was done.

Adam mentioned something very, very interesting, breaking the calm. He'd taken an EMF reading again at the closet when he first arrived, and photographed it. As before, there was an EMF spike of around 3.4 at the closet, just as in the first investigation. The highest in the house, same as last time. But now, after the "cleansing", he took another reading, the EMF reading was normal, about 0.2! WOW! I was stunned.

I really wanted to stay and talk with them, but I had to get to Greenville. My daughter’s softball game was to begin in about a half hour, and I was an hour away. So, I said my goodbyes. I also hugged Star, because, again, I had a compulsion, and instinct to do so. Very, very odd, but I knew I couldn’t leave without that gesture to her.

When I walked out to my car, I caught a glimpse of my reflection in the passenger door window, and, my God, it's like it wasn't me! I saw myself, well, differently! It was me, but, it was different. I mean, I've lost some weight, so my face has changed a bit, but, I don't know. And, while it was scary, startling more like, it was good! Like, I dunno, a different aura? Beats the fuck out of me! But, that was what I saw, and what I thought when I saw it, honestly.

Time will tell if what we did that afternoon did what we wanted. Thus far, the house has been very quiet, and very comfortable. But, I'm telling you, I personally feel different today because of it. And I have no explanation for it.