A Magical True Story
(Content Warning: Mention of Suicide)
It was a rental, up the hill from a busy street and a half-wild park. It was the sort of neighborhood where I would cross the street to avoid the busy skunks as they ran errands for their families.
The white house was hidden behind a wooden fence covered with thick ivy, including the gate. If you didn’t know the gate was there, you would walk on by.
Once inside the gate, you passed through a postage-stamp sized courtyard to the door.
Inside was a living room with an old iron coal burner that my partner and I would burn those tiny half-sized Duraflame pressed logs in. They were the only fuel that would fit. Behind the living room was a small kitchen. On the other side was the shower room and a tidy sleeping porch that I used as my writing office. I would look out the multi-paned windows at the towering eucalyptus trees that clung to the hill out back.
The bedroom was an open loft space upstairs. At the very top of the stairs was a tiny washroom with a toilet and small sink.
And this is where the ghost comes in.
In the night, getting up to pee, passing through the stairway landing to get to the WC always felt wrong. Off. My partner felt it, too. Over time, I became convinced that we had a ghost. It had many of the classic hallmarks: cold spot. Tingling skin. Hairs standing up on my arms. And just a sense of something simultaneously both there and not there.
Finally, several months after we moved in, I decided to do something about it. Now, I have to tell you that I don’t mind ghosts, but this one seemed distinctly unhappy.
So, I gathered my supplies: incense, salt water, wand, and blade. Maybe a bell, too, though I don’t remember anymore. This was decades ago.
I walked the loft space in a circle, incense wafting its fragrant smoke in a wreath around the space, spiraling toward the skylight above the bed.
Focusing on the void above the stairs, I stood on the landing and spoke what I hoped were calming words to whatever spirit hovered there. I told it that it was welcome to stay if it wanted to, but that I was willing and able to help it on its way.
Turning toward the northwest corner of the sleeping loft, I traced a door shape with the tip of my blade, imagining it opening, and filling with light.
I spoke to the spirit again, showing it the door. I told it again that, while it was welcome to remain in this home, if it wished to journey on, there was a door it could pass through.
Using my thoughts, words, intention, and some sweeping motions with my hands, I encouraged it. It headed toward the door. Once I felt that it was through—an operation part imagination and part sensing—I closed the door behind it, and set about re-warding and blessing the space.
I walked in a clockwise circle, tracing saltwater sigils on walls and windows, and the bathroom mirror. I called in blessings and peace for our home.
That night, my partner—who’d been out while I did the magical operation—said the space at the top of the stairs felt different. I felt it, too.
The next day, I was working in my office with the view of eucalypts when a knock came at the front door. Remember the ivy shrouded fence and gate? Yeah. No one knocked on our front door without express invitation.
I opened the door and there was a woman, with pale skin and short blond hair, wearing flowing white skirts. She looked sad.
After I greeted her and asked how I could help, she stammered out some words.
“I’m sorry to bother you. I know this is weird. But I used to live here, and my partner… he hung himself from the top of the stairs. But last night, I felt something change, like he went away, and something told me I had to come here today.”
“Oh,” I replied. “I know what happened. Please, come in, let me make you a cup of tea and I’ll tell you about it.”
And I did.
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