The Patheos Newsletter
My True Ghost Story
As a boy I was fascinated with the paranormal, and while I’ve become far more skeptical as an adult, I still have an ongoing interest in UFO’s, cryptids*, ESP, and ghosts. Unfortunately I’ve never seen a Sasquatch or felt like I’ve a psychic experience, but I have seen a ghost. In addition to that, not only have I seen a ghost, I’ve felt a ghost, which made the experience even more real.
In 1995 I lived in a giant old house in Cape Girardeau Missouri with a gaggle of roommates (the turnover in that house was fast and furious, but at any given time there was usually at lease ten folks living there). Our landlord talked about the house as being “pre-Civl War,” though he might have been exaggerating the age of the place a little bit. Regardless of whether or not it was that old, it had at least seen over 100 winters by the summer of ’95.
Shortly after we moved in we strange things began occurring in the house. All of these things were benign, none of us were ever scared, but they were noticeable. The most common of these anomalies were lights turning on and off for no particular reason, and this happened throughout the entire house. You could be lying in bed at four am and all of sudden have your bedroom light turn on, all with your bedroom door closed and locked. Bathroom lights might suddenly go dark while you were in the shower, and that kind of stuff happened when there was no one else in the house, and with frequency.
Some of my roommates reported things being moved around, a set of keys left in the sitting room might end up in the kitchen. Living with ten people the key thing is not surprising, anyone could have moved them, the lights were a whole different phenomenon. I suppose they could be reasoned away by “old wiring,” but we weren’t buying that. All of us were convinced that we had a ghost in the house, though we weren’t freaked out by it.
Southern Missouri in the summer time should probably be called “Southern Misery,” due to the overwhelming heat and humidity. Cape Girardeau is a city built on a swamp next to the Mississippi River, to say that it’s humid is like saying the ocean contains water. There are days there in August and July when it’s impossible to fall down, the overwhelming amount of moisture in the air will keep you vertical. It’s the only place I’ve ever lived where you can swim while standing up on dry land.
On a sweltering July night, broke and bored, my roommates thought it would be fun to have a seance and attempt to talk to the ghost in our house. Since I was the resident Witch of the house (for a whole year at that point! An expert!) I was elected to conduct the seance. It wasn’t the first seance I had ever lead, due to my fascination with paranormal and the occult I had led a couple in high school, but it wasn’t something I did all that often.
(One of the high school era seances did produce some results. That particular seance was held while on a church youth group trip, and occurred at a church in East Tennessee. Two of the sixteen kids at that seance claimed to have seen a dead relative that night, and all of us thought that things in the room shifted a little bit: words on posters were different in the morning, pictures on the wall looked different during our seance, etc. I didn’t have any experiences that night, other than things looking different during the seance, but it was interesting that other people did.)
Before starting the seance in Cape, I told everyone that it would be done in a Wiccan style for protection. No one objected, so I called the quarters, cast a circle, and called the Goddess into our circle (I didn’t really have much of a relationship with The God yet). With the preliminaries out of the way I had everyone hold hands around our dining room table, and began to call to the spirits of the dead.
While I was asking for the dead to attend us, I felt two things. The first was an abundance of energy near our front porch, it felt like an army of ghosts trying to break into hour house. The second thing was a light, curious, energy, hovering at the very edge of our circle. I had a cast a circle that night for protection from the spirits, and it worked like a charm. I could feel energy outside of it, but nothing was entering our sacred space. More curious than scared, I took a deep breath and spoke to the airy energy at the edge of our circle: “Spirit who lives with us in this house, you are welcome to enter our circle.”
When I said those words the creepiest thing happened, I felt a freezing cold crawl across my wrist, from the outside of the circle towards the center. I was holding hands with my friend Scott, and when I felt that icy touch, he looked right at me and said “Did you feel that?” Let me again state how hot it was that night, temps that day were near 100 degrees with a high amount of humidity. That night was cooler, but it was still hot and miserable, there were no cold north winds that evening. There were windows in that room, but I was on the other side of them, and if a breeze had caused that icy touch it would have come across the center of the circle towards me, this touch started on the non-window side of the room.
I’ve had a few “holy S#@t” moments in my life, and that ghost-touch ranks as the biggest of them. You will never convince me that sensation I felt came from anything but a ghost. The fact that the person next to me also felt it, and in the same place, gives me even more faith in that conviction. I was touched by a ghost, period, and the experience was far from over.
Shortly after we felt the ghostly presence enter our circle I asked it for a sign so that those it hadn’t touched could experience it. A moment later a blobby looking ball of energy began to coalesce in the center of the table. This energy was about the size of a basketball, and a ghostly, glowing white. After forming it began to move upwards, thinning out as it did so. It was almost like watching a pitcher pour in reverse. As the stream of ghostly energy began its upward climb it began to dissipate at the peak until nothing was left.
Shortly afterwards we decided that it was time to end the seance and I dismissed all of the spirits. The ghostly energy I felt on my front porch began to wane, and I thanked the Lady, the quarters, and took down the circle. After that seance we never had a light suddenly turn on or off again. The skeptical will rationalize this experience in their own way, and that’s fine, but I’m sure I saw (and felt) a ghost that night.
*A cryptid is an “unknown animal” like a Bigfoot or the Loch Ness Monster.