Ancestral energy lives in the stars above us, the stones beneath us. Their memory gathers in oceans, rivers and seas. It hums its silent wisdom within the body of every tree.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Spirit World: Ghost Visitations

Why can you see ghosts and I can’t?

It’s a question I get asked, mostly by people who ache to see a deceased loved one. Technically, I don’t see ghosts, at least not like movies, such as The Sixth Sense, would have you believe. Sometimes I see them, sometimes I hear them, sometimes it’s the hairs on my body standing on end that alert me to the presence of something Other. It’s not something I can control at will. I can’t call my Grandpa up and ask him to come visit. I think the more we ache and want a thing, the more we are blind to it.
Opening to other worlds is an intuitive knowledge. It demands a relaxing of self and a separation from want or need. The more open you are to the impossible and the more in touch you are with your intuitive body, the closer your connection to the spirit world can be. Seeing spirits doesn’t come hand in hand with the ancestor work that I do, but if a person dedicates themselves to connecting with the spirit world, interaction with other beings is inevitable.
The worlds overlap, the physical world and the ones of ether. Sometimes there is a cross over, where humans can hear whispers from another world. Sometimes the space we are in will shift slightly sideways as the echo of a past world blinks in for a moment.
Reality is fluid, like time, and currents shift and change at random intervals. Overlapping worlds do the same. Sometimes the streams merge. I have sensations of rooms being crowded when they’re not. I now trust that to mean there are spirits about. That doesn’t mean the spirit acknowledges or takes notice of my presence. We’re just sharing the same space for a moment.
When the spiritual presence is strong enough, I can see apparitions like a flickering image from an old movie. But mostly I see them out of the corner of my eye, a human form, and when I turn around there is a blur of vapor- like when you look at the wavering air over the top of a bonfire. Only, at the same time in my head, I get moments of flesh tone and hair shape and color. Clothing silhouette and notion details. It will fill out like flashes of photographs… but at the same time, it’s all at once and immediate and whole.
It’s okay if that doesn’t make sense. Sometimes I barely comprehend it myself. I just trust that what I’m experiencing is happening. Truthfully, I saw more ghosts when I was little than I do now. Kids often lose their wonder around age 8, because there are societal rules to follow and ways of fitting into this world that we are taught. Everything else falls away in the learning of this adult framework. And the grown-up world tells little children that magic is not real. And we close ourselves off to it.

I’m learning to reopen those doors. If you want to learn about the spirit world I experience from movies, try watching The Others instead of the processed haunted house fare. In my experience, it’s an accurate example of what the overlapping worlds are like.
Dawn and dusk are powerful times to do Otherworld magic. In the same vein of thought, we are susceptible to openness in the first moments drifting into and coming out of sleep. One morning, senior year of high school, I woke up in my pale pink bedroom and opened my eyes to see my Great-Grandmother Elsie sitting at the end of my bed. She was wearing a pale blue housedress with a sweater on over it.
“Good morning. You know I love you.”
Love you, too, Grandma, I said in my sleep, mumbling it nonchalantly before the notion of speaking to her woke me.
When I sat up, I assumed I’d been dreaming. She wasn’t really there, she was in Florida. She had just had surgery on a broken hip she’d gotten from falling in her nursing home. I had forgotten about the exchange until a few hours later when my Grandpa’s car pulled up in front of the house. And then I remembered the morning visitation. And I knew. With every fiber of muscle and bone of my being, I knew what had happened. I slipped up to my bedroom before he got out of his car.
My Grandpa came over every Saturday at noon on the dot to visit. I’d tease him if he was a minute late (once I learned how to tell time). And he’d tease me back, wondering what I was having for lunch that day with an impish twinkle (I ate the same thing for years- a bologna, cheese, mustard and potato chip sandwich). But the day his car pulled up in front of the house was Sunday, not Saturday.
When my mom came upstairs to tell me, all I could do was say that I knew. Elsie had died from complications of her surgery. She was 89 and had been suffering from Alzheimers in her last years. I had been torturing myself for months over the prospect of not being able to see her again.
History and legend are littered with stories of people seeing deceased loved ones moments before discovering they died. I imagine it’s like a last exhalation of intention. If I take no other consolation from the apparition at the end of my bed, in that moment of visitation, when she looked at me, she knew me. It doesn’t have to mean more than goodbye.

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