Strictly speaking, Ghostbusting was forbidden in our home. But ghosts follow me around, so I am not sure what other choice I have. The family attributes my intuition on an imagination run wild. I don’t blame them. I am highly creative. Still, I can tell the difference between my imaginary friends and the disembodied faces watching me through the windows at night. I can sense when I am being watched, especially when I am alone. Whether reading, dramatizing Barbie soap operas, or writing stories on my grandfather’s clanky type writer, I could hear footsteps rustling in the shadows. I can feel unseen eyes consider me. I know when They are here. Sure, the palpable presence of spirits can be unsettling at times, but I appreciate that They respect my requests to startle me in the night. It is one thing to sense the dead, it is an entirely different thing to look it right in the face. Peaceful coexistence remains my instinctive rule for both the living and the dead. I did not want to alarm my nice Christian family any more than I wanted to upset my invisible companions.

Ghostbusters enabled me to make hilarious academic sense of my paranormal sensitivity. The film acted as my primary guide to the ethereal realm. My doppelganger, Egon Spengler taught me to question my experiences with scientific analysis; Dan Akroyd’s Ray Stantz taught me to cross-analyze applicable historical and literary references; while Bill Murray’s Peter Venkman helped me understand the crucial importance of parapsychology, i.e. being psychic is sexy and fun, and sometimes people are just out for attention. Because the Ghostbusters were funny and likable, I was able to process my curious abilities as culturally acceptable -- outside of the church. Pioneer ghost-hunter Hans Holzer often warned against “crossing the streams” of religion and paranormal. Mixing the two is a recipe for disaster, or in my case, a recipe to be repeatedly called “a witch” by respected members of my parents’ community.

Truly, one of religion’s better ideas was to convince my parents to home-school, leaving me and my library card to our own investigative devices. This arrangement, meant to shelter my sensibilities, allowed me to weave a tapestry of my own curiosity with minimal interference from institutions for a formative eight years. Mine was a singular world born of my own inquisitive creativity and endlessly inspired by the psychometric energy collected through the extra sensory experience of the world around me. I had a knack for picking up energy attached to buildings and objects. Trees remain a favorite channel of energy, followed by books, dogs, and then people least of all. Some genealogists and mediums will attest to a general personality preference of the dead over the living. I certainly find the dead easier to talk to most of the time. My dark eyes narrow in on relics and old buildings, ever questioning the origin of stories and antiquities. I discovered early that with a simple touch or passing glance, I can spontaneously collect memories that do not belong to me. From a romantic standpoint, it makes perfect sense to me that the first scene of Ghostbusters is set in a haunted library. Borrowed books always taught me far beyond words, engaging my full psychometric attention with rogue memories wafting mysteriously off the withered pages and dusty shelves.

The first time I remember meeting an unwelcoming ghost was while we were house-hunting. Our realtor thought a one-hundred-year old abandoned schoolhouse might be suitable for an extremely young family of five. While my younger brother and sister ran wild through the dark rooms littered with traces of the past, I froze in place at the foot of the grand staircase. Though no apparitions appeared, my eyes fixed at a specific spot on the ledge above. I could neither move nor look away. I was suddenly overwhelmed with the sense that going upstairs was the worst idea imaginable. I also seemed to be the only one who noticed how rude we were behaving for barging in, uninvited, on a dusty building full of dead children. I turned to my father, donning the authority with which Scout would approach Atticus Finch, “don’t buy this house,” I said.

“Why ever not?” the realtor laughed. “Look how much room you would have to play.”

My parents shifted nervously as I narrowed my eyes at the huckster. I thought of Egon and pulled my shoulders back in confidence.

“This house is haunted.” I told the grown-ups. “We are not welcome here.”

Since that moment, I am aware my behavior can make people uncomfortable. I recognize the presence of a “creepy” little girl such as myself is enough to disconcert most any one, but aside from accidentally wandering into the path of an oncoming spirit, I am rarely troubled by the messages I received through metaphysical awareness. Small glimpses into the past play out like little movies in my mind. The most pre-pubescent anxiety I felt was when bolting through my grandparents’ den to get to my bedroom. The picture window had a troubling habit of collecting a variety of disembodied faces quietly eyeing my swift trek across the green rug. They appeared to me in dreams, never saying a word; just watching. I called them the Boogie People and drew them on everything. Despite this retrospectively disturbing behavior on my part, most every entity that occasioned across my path, whether intentionally or incidentally, provided a comforting presence. As it turns out, being a creepy little girl isn’t as bad as one might imagine.

As an empath, it is difficult to catch so intimate a waft of someone’s inner turmoil without taking on some of their emotions in the process. Over time I learned to protect myself from the private matters of neighbors and strangers. Studies have indicated it is fairly simple to block transference between minds, a process I must activate whenever I am in a crowd or in the company of toxic individuals. I have only recently discovered ways to manage my empathic abilities, in so far as I know to burn white sage to rid the air of negative energy.  Yoga, meditation, and OmTimes Magazine taught me to envision a bright white light originating from my heart chakra bursting in a flash to clear the surrounding space. I learned to cloak myself in psychic invisibility by imagining that I am engulfed in brilliant lavender flames. Before I go out the door, I mentally form a protective topaz-blue bubble around myself and watch imposing information slink like raindrops down the inky shell and away from me. I combined the three exercises into one spell, Protego to teach my intuitive, witchy friends. I quietly go through this invisible song-and-dance every time I am around other people or in the presence of negative energy. It takes a substantial amount of concentration and cannot be accomplished while in the state of fear. Fear and Love are opposing frequencies, darkness versus light. The key for all of us to remain in a state of love and light. This is where I find myself most useful beyond the veil.

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