One day on a rather gloomy Saturday afternoon, late July 2007, my younger daughter went to a friend’s house for tea. It was the friend’s fourteenth birthday. The little girl, let’s call her Nadia, had, if I remember correctly missed a lot of school in recent months, due to health difficulties.
There were four girls altogether; and Nadia’s mother and father.
Nadia blew out the candles, and her mother was cutting the cake when the lights began to flicker out in the hallway, and the mother said, ‘oh, here we go again. You really need to come and see this, everyone.’
She shepherded them to the foot of the stairs, calling to the father in the sitting room, ‘it’s happening again!’
He grunted some reply over his newspaper but didn’t move to join them. My daughter didn’t hear what he said. There they stood, four girls and the mother as the lights flickered and then my daughter saw a man standing at the top of the stairs.
One minute, there was no-one there. The next, there he was, looking entirely solid and real as real; a young man with brown wavy hair, dressed in jeans and a pale yellow shirt.
They stood looking up. He was looking down as if looking at them, but gave no sign that he saw them, or any indication of being in any way aware of their presence.
Then, just like that, he disappeared as suddenly as he had appeared, and the lights stopped flickering.
Nadia explained, the family had been terrified when it first happened, and had asked the council to re-house them, but now they’d got used to it.
They had no idea who he was (or who he had been) But was he necessarily even dead, or was it some manifestation of astral travel…though transference on the part of the young man who had presumably, once lived in the house.
But because the hosts were so matter of fact about it, my daughter wasn’t frightened, though a little freaked out. Well, you would be, wouldn’t you.
“Alas, poor Yorick. I knew him well…”
“There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy.”- Hamlet
It’s like that old conundrum, does a falling tree make a noise if there is no-one there to hear it? It takes a living person to perceive a dead one, and in this case, if there was a conduit, or a conjuring, the Tarot suggests it was the father who was the psychic ‘enabler’ in this household, though it was completely unconscious on his part. Maybe he had been worried about his daughter’s health.
My reason for wondering was the appearance of the reserved, moody, kindly psychic King of Cups, a man of deep waters, particularly associated with mature males born under Pisces, Cancer and Scorpio.
The young man was shown as The Hanged Man, suggesting all manner of tragic possibilities.
I once did a reading for a young man, and this card appeared with other cards in a troubled picture that prompted me ask if a friend had died recently, and his friend had hanged himself, and he was hoping I could tell him.
I couldn’t. Nor would it have been right. He was not a family member. But no-one had realized he was so deeply depressed, and there was a strong sense of a secret, and a great fear this secret would be discovered.
The Hanged Man , it is important to note, almost never refers to suicide. But the Tarot can talk in absolutely literal terms, and does what it says on the tin, such that a card means exactly what it says in the picture.
Say I draw the Eight of Swords, for example. Most interpretations will talk about entrapment, helplessness, passivity, and so on. But I have learned through doing readings for other people, that tarot might well be telling me about a problem with someone’s plumbing or drains.
Yes, the Tarot talks toilets. Quite right too. It needs to go wherever someone needs it to go. Just as when you’ve got to go, you’ve got to go.
As the famous anchoress, and one of the earliest woman authors Julian of Norwich once put it, ‘God does not disdain to serve the body.’
It is thought that the Lady Julian kept a cat, shown here in a depiction in a roundel in Norwich cathedral, to hunt rodents, and this too, served the health of the body; hers and the cat’s.
Am I saying the Tarot is God? Of course not. We are discussing the interconnectedness of the Everything, though I see no reason why God would be a man in the sky with a big white beard either, and if he is, does He need to go to the toilet?
The Hanged Man is ruled by Neptune – the suit of Cups again. This is a deep, Piscean card.
Once upon a time, the Tarot was saying, there was a young man who was very worried about his future. He felt somehow shut out from other people (The Five of Pentacles) But he couldn’t seem to make his mind up what to do or where to go next, or to muster the effort required. Maybe he managed it in the end. I feel that he did. But probably not undamaged.
Meanwhile, he had left his mark. This.
Surprisingly, only a small percentage of paranormal sightings are true ghosts. The majority of them are really sightings of what we call “residual energy” — when an emotional event is replayed over and over again, at the same spot, and at the same time.SOURCE link to SummitDaily
Maybe the young man was a complete stranger, or actually an echo of a living psyche, or if we want to go truly spiral, the ghost of the father himself as a very young man.
What is the valley of death? We know it as a poetic expression from the Bible, but what might it mean in reality? What is the limit of the definition of reality anyway, when it comes to the imponderables. In algebra, we have to rely on symbolic placeholders too, as in X and Y.
Is the valley of death a poetic description of the end of life experience, a final sensory experience, a vision explainable in terms of a firing-off of neurons by the dying brain, or could it be something more?
I do not advertise as a psychic or clairvoyant or a medium, but tarot readers may get listed as such because there is no separate listing for Tarot in the telephone directory.
But why don’t I advertise as such? Well, Tarot card reading for divination, strategy and support is the service I undertake to guarantee to deliver, as my professional promise, and this is the bottom line and this service depends on acquired skill underpinned by knowledge. OK. But am I psychic? Yes. So are you, most likely, but psychic insights and experiences happen when they happen. Like a wind that ‘bloweth as it listeth’ – psychic insights may be confidently expected, but cannot be guaranteed.
Learning how to read cards, or any other system of divination, although card reading can facilitate them however, as the reader goes down a rabbit-hole, descending into a sort of Hades, seeking to find the ‘right’ interpretation of the cards in any given context. A reader can be asked absolutely anything about anything, and can never prepare, but only prepare to respond.
Every reader has their own story to tell, about how and why they started to learn to do readings. It need not start with a history of psychic experiences. Not at all. But often, it does and in a way, it did with me
‘The Mind has many corridors’ wrote Emily Dickinson. The world is older and stranger, not only than we do imagine, but more than we can imagine.
All animals are pattern seekers, pattern makers or pattern breakers, whether in order to hunt or to hide. Man is hardwired for the power of pattern, and communicating pattern, and the meanings of pattern, and of breaks in pattern, is the eternal task of storytelling. Man – meaning all of Mankind- is a storytelling animal.
‘In the beginning was the Word’.
The Day I met a Dead Man
Many years before I ever so much as opened a pack of Tarot cards, to be grabbed by the art and story telling embedded in them, I met a dead man on the street, a stranger, though we didn’t so much meet. It was more of a case of receiving a summons.
Leicester, 1988. I had just had coffee with a friend I’d used to work with at the Costume Museum in Wygston’s House, now a restaurant. My friend had been the curator at that time and way, way back, the eponymous Roger Wygston had been a wealthy wool merchant and several times Mayor of Leicester.
“Roger Wygston was born about 1430. His father, William, made the family fortune from the wool trade in the first half of the 1400s. Roger was elected chamberlain in 1459 and mayor of Leicester in 1465, 1471 and 1487. He was Member of Parliament for Leicester in 1473 and 1488. He died at Whitsun 1507.” More HERE
I worked in a little room upstairs, putting the Museum’s collection records, index card system on to computers for the first time, and helped put together an exhibition telling the story of hosiery and featuring our star exhibit, a Coptic sock from about AD 400. It had a bifurcated foot and horizontal stripes in red, brown and green.
I had coffee and a catch up with my friend, and then we said goodbye. I had a legal appointment at the top end of New Walk at 2.00 PM.
There was a time I walked up and down New Walk almost every day, and I worked a short while in the Museum there too. The portico entrance seen here on the right. This one, Wygston’s House and others were all part of the Leicestershire Museums Service run by the County Council.
I was selling a house among other things, with a lot going on at this time, some of it stressful. Anyone reading this may dismiss the following account on those grounds if they feel so inclined. This would be a perfectly reasonable option, if personally somewhat uncomplimentary in relegating the writer to the role of unreliable narrator, but that would certainly be the easiest, least challenging take on it.
Hardly sooner had I set off walking heading off to this appointment than I began to feel peculiar. Not exactly unwell, but certainly not good. There was a crackling in my ears, white noise like an un-tuned radio. Spots started dancing in front of my eyes, fizzing red and black. My body felt weirdly heavy.
I had never fainted in my life to recognize what that felt like, but, thinking maybe I was about to faint, I decided to keep on walking, thinking it would clear my head. But I was unaccountably scrambled, disorientated.
I could not for the life of me, remember or think where I was supposed to be going. I was on autopilot.
My feet took charge, leading me as it were, one step in front of the other until only a few minutes later, I had crossed a busy street.
I followed a small pedestrianized back street round the curved back wall of what was still called Marks & Spencer then, now M & S and then I came to a standstill.
There was a man lying on his back in the narrow street, sprawled across the pavement. A paramedic was attempting resuscitation, another kneeling by them, a small crowd anxiously watching, an ambulance waiting, .
There he lay, defenseless against exposure; an older man, but not exactly elderly, his trousers unbuttoned and unzipped, showing purple underpants, while the paramedics worked on him. His purchases, a few oranges presumably just bought in the market, had rolled out of his striped canvas shopping bag, and into the gutter.
I kept a distance, standing alone, with a blindingly sudden feeling of certainty, a sensation of astonished comprehension, ‘oh, that’s why I came this way. He fetched me.’
The fog rolled back and now I remembered I was on my way to the New Walk. I was by no means far out of my way, but nor would I have naturally thought to come this way.
I knew it was no good them trying to resuscitate him. I remember thinking, ‘he’s not in there anymore’.
I had the feeling, not only was the man not in his body any more, he was standing close beside me, on my right.
I saw nothing, heard nothing and felt nothing in that moment except a pang on his account, but this, with a dissociated neutrality. I think perhaps I was a little shocked, but I wasn’t frightened, only sad, not so much at the suddenness of the man’s death, but that he was caught so unprepared, and was so very frightened, finding himself unable to get back in his body that he had sent an SOS and pulled me off my own path to bring me, a perfect stranger, to where he lay, so abruptly evicted from his own body in a city centre back street on a sunny day.
Maybe it works something like radio waves, and I happened to be in the right place at the right time, and I was tuned in on the right frequency, like the story of the haunted house in my previous post.
I talked to him, and told him he had done the hard bit, and not to try and get back in, that he’d had a most tremendous shock, but it was OK, it was all right, and there was somewhere else he needed to go now, but it was perfectly all right.
Had I thought of it I might have said a prayer. I’m not religious, but words have power across the boundaries of time and space, and who knows what other boundaries.
I reckon that the old Wakes, company, food, alcohol, song, were a wise tradition rooted in this ancient understanding. That the dead might need a bit of time to process what has happened. That they might need encouragement and reassurance before they set off on their lone but universal odyssey once more to greet the rising sun. Read Here about Wakes.
A friend of my mother’s once told her that she had not been close to her father. But after he died and she went to see the body and say goodbye, she thought his face did not look quite right. She felt he looked frightened. The mouth was twisted. She sang to him ‘The Lord Is My Shepherd’, and she thought he must have heard her, because his mouth relaxed, and all at once his face looked quite different.
Some go swiftly and easily through the Valley. Others, not so.
The archangels Uriel and Michael are psychopomps; escorting the dead as they ascend back up to the heavens via the Gate of the Gods in the constellation of Capricorn.
In Greek and Roman mythology, the god Hermes or Mercury, would escort the souls to the banks of the River Acheron, or The Styx if you prefer, to wait for Charon the Ferryman and the crossing to the Isle of the Dead and the Fields of Asphodel.
Wiki: Psychopomps (from the Greek word ψυχοπομπός, psychopompós, literally meaning the ‘guide of souls’) are creatures, spirits, angels, or deities in many religions whose responsibility is to escort newly deceased souls from Earth to the afterlife. Their role is not to judge the deceased, but simply to guide them.
23 The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.2 He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.3 He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. 4 Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.5 Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.6 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever.
But I didn’t think of that. I was young, inexperienced in such things, too astonished and unprepared. So that was all I said to him, and then I went on my way and I put it out of my mind for a long time to come.
But I hope that he did hear me, however inadequate the response, if only to know that yes, he might have left his body, but he still existed and he stil lhad agency.
The living were still trying to help him, and though they could neither bring him back nor accompany him on his forward journey, whatever that might be, still, he had sent out a distress signal, and someone had received it and responded.
We send them. We receive them. Messages in bottles, sailing to shores near and far.
Halloween is designated the season of ghosts. Why is that?
Halloween or All Hallows Eve is celebrated 31 October each year, marking the cross- quarter of the year, half-way point between the autumn equinox in the northern hemisphere, 22 September, and the winter solstice, which in 2021 will occur on Tuesday 21 December.
Halloween began as a pre-Christian Iron Age festival 2000 years ago among the various peoples of Britain and Northern Europe popularly known as the Celts.
In parts of Britain and the Republic of Ireland Halloween is still called Samhain (pronounced Sow-an, from Gaelic/Irish) meaning ‘summer’s end.’
This is a critical turning point of the year from the ancient survival point of view of food production, harvesting and storage, as the days grow shorter, the nights longer, vegetation decays, temperatures drop – and possibly more people get sick. We are now in the zodiac sign territory of Scorpio, and the Tarot card correlating with Scorpio is the Death card.
From Halloween in the Anglosphere, to Alfblot in Scandinavia, to The Day of the Dead in Spanish speaking countries, the period 31 October – 3 November is a festival marking the end of the harvest season.
Now we are preparing for the decay of vegetation, the coming darkness, the time of hibernation of many animals, and the hardships of winter. This seems a natural time to be marking the remembrance of the Dead.
Russia does not celebrate Halloween as such. It is not recognized by the Orthodox Church, though it has been gaining popularity among young people since the 1990’s.
In France, again, Halloween is not a traditional festival, though certain elements may be catching on nowadays, cultural imports in the twentieth century. But La Toussaint or All Saints Day, is a widely celebrated national holiday celebrated on the first of November.
The Tarot card that in a reading can suggest a vivid dream, a vision, a psychic or supernatural experience or even a ghost is The Moon card.
This time of year represents a ‘liminal’ space, a threshold – a doorway of some kind, an ‘in-between’ space between outside and inside, one room and another, or between summer and winter, night and dark, and therefore symbolically, between Life and Death.
Being half-awake or half-asleep is an ‘in-between’ state of mind or consciousness, when we are might have a powerful frightening or psychic dream experience or even experience sleep paralysis, traditionally known as a visit from The Night Hag, as portrayed in his famous painting, The Nightmare by Henry Fuseli.
This is a not uncommon experience that can occur when the brain is in-between deep and lighter sleep stages. The person thinks they are awake when they are not. There is a strong sense of threat, a malevolent presence, and they cannot move a muscle to defend themselves. I have experienced it myself, very unpleasant. Read here for the scientific medical explanation.
Any liminal ‘in-between space’ is understood as a sacred or magical space, a gateway through which ghostly or magical (magickal) things may manifest. A threshold, a doorway is a space to be protected. Crossroads are in-between spaces, representing a choice of directions or possibilities.
Hekate, goddess of ghosts
There is no presiding god or deity of Halloween in northern Europe. Hekate comes from further south. She is an ancient goddess of the night, the heavens and the waning Moon. Over many ages she has become inextricably linked with ghosts and witchcraft, and by association, with Halloween. Today Hekate is viewed as the chief goddess presiding over witchcraft with followers today among neo-Pagans, Wiccans and solitary occult or magickal practitioners (NB magickal, is spelled this way to be distinguished from stage or performance magic of entertainer magicians).
Hekate, like Hermes was a necromancer- one who can speak with the dead. In a sense, we all do that, speaking to our loved ones who have gone. But in Greek mythology, Hekate and Hermes were the only personages who could enter and leave the Underworld at will.
Likewise, you don’t have to be dead to be a ghost. Perhaps when we sleep we become the ghosts who haunt our previous homes. When we dream we are back there in that house, we might be giving the current residents a fine old fright, glimpsing our ghostly ‘thought form’ somewhere round the place. Astral travel.
The name Hekate comes from the ancient Greek meaning ‘worker from afar.’
This working at a distance is in the very nature of a spell.
Hekate was the daughter of the titan, Perses, and the nymph Asteria, and this gave her powers in heaven, on land and by sea. But her story goes back way before the Greeks, to the Anatolians (Asia Minor) and before that, possibly to the Babylonians and Sumerians who knew her as Innana, Queen of The Heavens, and later as the goddess Ishtar, who was associated with love, beauty, sex, war, justice and political power.
Later, these more ancient story traditions became absorbed into Greek Mythology, passing next to the Romans, who spread the mythology as they expanded their Empire.
The Kindness of Hekate
Hecate is a patron goddess of dogs, horses, owls and serpents.
In Greek myth, the tragic queen Hecuba/Hecabe of Troy deliberately jumped overboard a Greek ship and drowned as she was being taken away into slavery after the fall of Troy. Hecuba was broken by grief, distraught at the deaths of her king, Priam, and so many of her 19 children, and at the fall of her city, and the ruin of her people at the hands of the Greeks.
“And when fortune overturned the pride of the Trojans, who dared everything, so that both the king and his kingdom were destroyed, poor wretched captured Hecuba,after she saw her Polyxena dead and found her Polydorus on the beach,was driven mad by sorrow and began barking like a dog”… Dante
Hekate rescued the soul of Hecuba and transformed her into a dog, comforting her with forgetfulness. This dog is Hecate’s beloved companion, a familiar spirit, not unlike the three-headed dog Cerberus (his name means ‘Spot’) who guards the gates of the Underworld.
Sadly, once upon a time, like dogs, sheep and other animals, dogs were offered in religious ceremonies as sacrificial animals, intended as immortal gifts to Hekate, as in Thrace in 4th century BC.
But Hekate is called upon as a protector of dogs, and likewise she is a protector of the home (as is a good dog)
Pillars called Hecataea stood at crossroads and doorways, for good luck, to ask her to keep away any unwanted visitors, including evil spirits.
Hekate became one of several deities worshipped in ancient Athens as a protector of the oikos (household) alongside Zeus, Hestia, goddess of the hearth, the messenger god Hermes, and the sun god, Apollo.
Hekate is nowadays regarded as a dark deity on account of her associations with witchcraft, but she stands for both dark and light, death and birth, and as a protector and guardian of mothers, as well as her totem animals.
Magickal Traditions, Symbols and Practice
Hekate’s colours are black and red.
Her symbols are keys and torches
Her totem animal is the dog, her bird the Barn Owl, Tyto Alba, also known as the screech owl.
The Romans feared the Barn Owl as a bird of ill omen, and European and UK farmers have sadly killed them for this reason, even until quite recently, and despite their usefulness to farmers as rodent hunters.
What might Hekate help with?
-Protection of the household, family, mothers, children and childbirth.
-Assistance with banishing harmful situations
-Help for lost or sick pets and animals, dogs and horses in particular.
Asking help from Hekate
Care and respect is required as with any request.
How do we pronounce her name? There is no wrong way as such. These days, her name is often pronounced Heh-kah-tay or Heh-kah-tee, pronouncing her name with no emphasis on the middle. But to the Ancients she would have been Hecate pronounced Heh-KAH-tay or Heh-KAH-tee with an emphasis on the middle syllable. This honours her oldest origins, so far as we can be sure.
The best time to make a request of Hekate is during the time of the waning crescent Moon or at the New Moon. A free online lunar calendar will easily identify these dates.
Decorate and dedicate a small corner, perhaps in a window sill facing the Moon when you can see it, decorated with artwork of Hekate, Moon, dogs, owls, keys or other totems.
5/ Gifts and thanks
It is only polite to say thank you when asking for help with something, or to acknowledge receiving help. We could for instance:-
-Burn a candle or a cone of incense (be careful not to leave it unattended)
-Offer a virtual drink; small glass of mead, or a spoonful of honey in water. Hecate likes honey, pomegranates (as did Persephone) lavender, garlic (unlike vampires) breads, sweets and anything shaped like a crescent moon (she would probably enjoy a virtual croissant)
–Make a donation to support rescue dogs, or a local owl rescue centre, and tell her you are doing this in her name.
-Just like with a birthday cake, offer a slice of cake, or a cupcake with a candle. Make your request. Blow out the candle, making a gift of the fire. I leave it up to you whether you eat the cake in her honour, but why not. It’s the thought that counts, is it not?
A True Ghost story
Do I believe in ghosts? I have met plenty of perfectly sensible people who have told me their stories, and had no reason to doubt their common sense and the validity of their account. We have the dictionary definition.
“Now chiefly, an apparition of a dead person which is believed to appear or become manifest to the living, typically as a nebulous image and attempting to right a wrong done in life; this sense of the word is recorded from late Middle English.
The word is recorded from Old English (in form gāst) in the sense ‘spirit, soul’, and is of Germanic origin; the gh- spelling occurs first in Caxton, and was probably influenced by Flemish gheest”. – Source
But the question still remains, what do we mean by a ghost? Are they sentient or merely some kind of an echo? Do they know they are there? Do they know we are there?
I recommend reading about the Cambridge archaeologist and paranormal researcher Tom Lethbridge T.C. Lethbridge
My phone rang one Saturday night, about 8 PM, a lady calling from Preston, about ten miles away from where I live. She had found my number in the psychic pages of the online telephone directory and she wanted a psychic medium.
Note. I do not advertise as a psychic medium but there is no separate listing for Tarot, and they put readers under that same heading.
The lady wanted me to come over to her house. Right away. There was ‘something’ out in the hallway and it was blocking the stairs. She, her partner and the children were huddled in the sitting room, too terrified to leave the room.
I could not go in person, sadly. Nor do I advertise such a service. There are others who do. I gave her the name and telephone number of a lady who specializes in ‘haunted houses’ and meantime reached for my cards while asking the lady what exactly had happened?
Her youngest child had been upstairs, she told me, when she heard a lady whispering in her ear. The child panicked. Then her siblings panicked. Then the mother panicked, and the partner. It had developed from there. Now there was something outside the sitting room door; a cold spot, a moving shadow.
What had this ghostly lady said to the little girl? That her hair was very pretty.
This figured. The cards confirmed a benign presence – or influence. A grandmother?
The cards indicated the lady who was calling had been under a lot of strain. She confirmed a prolonged period of acute financial and other worries.
Her mother had died three years earlier, and she was still missing her, quite badly. But the littlest child was too young to remember her grandmother. Why, the lady wondered, if the ghost was her mother, had her mother not talked to her, but to the child?
It was because the little girl happened in that moment to be the one tuned in on the ‘right’ wavelength to receive such an incoming message. The little girl had ESP in other words, and was hyper sensitive to atmosphere. This was why she alone had heard it. If there was a ghost, if the grandmother was still around, then she was tuning in to the living, seeking to deliver comfort to the mother who was her child.
The little grand-daughter was the most accessible conduit.
First things first. The lady had called to ask for help. How could I help? The lady needed to restore order in the household right away. She needed to assert herself and reclaim her territory, ‘psych it out’, and show the children it was safe to go anywhere in the house. The living can talk to a ghost, or say boo, just as it can say boo to us.There was no nastiness in these cards.
I suggested she announce, ‘it’s gone now’, put lights on, open that sitting room door, go down the hallway, put the kettle on, serve up supper. Light, movement and noise will shatter such a spell while fear is contagious.
I later heard from the medium. She and her team had gone to the lady’s house next day, taking with them an array of electronic equipment. The medium said there was an old lady’s ghost in the house, that it was the grandmother, and that the mother’s state of stress had called the ghost forth. The ghost had behaved in character, affectionately, but since the child had been startled, and the mother had reacted with fear, everyone got scared and the thing took on an unpleasant aspect. The medium said that now the mother was aware of it, the house should stay quiet now.
No suggestion of criticism attaches to the lady. None whatsoever. Fear was a natural reaction. But if it happened again, now that she had some kind of explanation, however questionable, and reassurance that it was not malevolent, she could choose a more matter of fact response, whilst not dismissing the child’s experience.
“The Mind has many corridors” – Emily Dickinson
Psychic author Cassandra Eason has written a book with advice for parents with psychic children available from a range of second hand book sellers online.
From my point of view, since I had never spoken with this lady medium myself before her visit to the house, but had simply provided contact details, I was interested that my tarot and this lady, this psychic medium, had told virtually identical stories.
The power of the physical, the element of Earth, is the power of the living moment, here and now. We are exalted in the Earth. We take in air. We take up space.
This time is ours. Our inheritance of Earth. Our ace card in otherworldly dealings, the Ace of Pentacles. A nice cup of tea? How about a biccie? Fed the cat. Take the dog a walk.