The wyrd part of being a witch is that “ghost stories” can be pretty normal, and they happen all year round, not just at Halloween. It isn’t everyday that I have an interactive conversation with my dead ancestors, but with the help of Spiritual Mediums, they do occasionally happen in mind-blowing ways. This is the story of when my Grandmother Frances died one May right around Beltane. Before her body was even laid to rest, her “ghost” came to find me and wish me farewell. What makes this visitation special, is that it happened in a very old graveyard.
To set this scene: my daughter is a history buff, and it was her 12th birthday. We’d come to New Bern on a birthday mission, and took the circuitous path through downtown back to where we’d parked our car. On a spur-of-the-moment whim, we entered through the church gate of the historic Episcopal Christ Church, that was established in 1750.
Chance Encounter in a Cemetery
Contrary to stereotypes, we witches don’t burst into flames on Christian ground; in fact, I love all manner of holy places, and these grounds are especially sacred. On the original 1750’s foundations there is a memorial outdoor chapel, and we were reading the historical markers there, when another tourist struck up a conversation with us. We eventually introduced ourselves. Her name was Denise, and she was in town for her own daughter’s graduation from ECU.
After chatting amiably with Denise for a moment, my daughter and I split off to go inside the sanctuary (consecrated in 1875) to see the stained glass windows. When we emerged again, Denise was clearly waiting for us. She flagged us down, saying in her New Jersey accent, “I don’t mean to bother you, but I could tell from your jewelry that you would be open to receiving a message from Spirit.” There was gravity on those last two words.
I touched my silver and moonstone goddess necklace with surprise. Most people around New Bern wouldn’t know what that symbol implied, but her arched eyebrows and knowing gaze told me she knew exactly who she was talking to. She went on to explain, “I’m a medium. I’ve been able to communicate with the Spirits of the dead my whole life. I don’t usually talk about that with people I just met, but your grandmother is here insisting I talk to you. She says you’ll understand.”
I stammered, possibly rudely, but every nerve rang with lightning strike. “Which grandmother?”
Denise tilts her face to the sky in an expression of peering inward and listening. “Your Maternal Grandmother,” she returns with absolute confidence.
The back-pressure of grief flowed too heavily, without thinking. “She just died this week! We haven’t even had her funeral yet! I want so much to be there but I can’t afford to travel right now and I feel so guilty about it…blah blah blah” Denise cuts me off mid-TMI-stream…
“I KNOW, that is why she is driving me crazy to talk to you NOW, HERE, she won’t leave me alone! She says she isn’t there with her body anymore so you don’t have to worry about traveling. She is just fine now, happy; she understands. She is here with your…” her focus shifts inward again, listening, “…grandfather, her husband….and with her daughter….your mother… They’ve all found each other again, and want you to know that they are taking her through into Spirit now….they came to say goodbye.”
Frances and Elmore Rouse, my grandparents married more than 60 years, divided by the veil for almost 15 years, and Sondra, their daughter who at that point had been gone 7 years, were rejoined at last, and were just popping by to let us know they would be looking out for us.
Denise goes on to say, “They want you to know they think you are a great mother, and they love you and are so proud of the woman you’ve become. They want you to know that the afterlife is wonderful, but not exactly what they were expecting…I’m guessing you know what that means?”
“They were all devout Christians, and I am a Witch…so we didn’t agree about religion.” I answered.
My family wanted me to know that they accept me as I am–the Witch in the family. I’d kept that last bit from all three of them while they were alive. “Well, they know now, and they are fine with it,” Denise comforted me. It was toe-curling awesome to be fully known by them at last.
Unconditional Love Forgives All
I did tell Denise the story of how my mother haunted me around my witch-shop for years after she died, until another medium was able to translate for her. I posted that story here. My formerly Evangelical Mom told me that she was sorry for the way she harassed me about religion when she was alive. “I didn’t know then, please forgive me…” she implored over and over again. I forgave my mother for the wounds her condemnation inflicted. Since she’d “gone into the light” that long ago day, I hadn’t seen or heard anything else from her Spirit…until right then. Denise confirmed that this was typical after a “ghost” finally moved on: they can still check in as they choose, but they are attending to their own Spiritual evolution most of the time, so not nearly so “haunty.”
Denise then told me of several times she’d been harassed by the ghost of a newly departed Christian who’d condemned their Gay children in life, disowned them. They would hang around trying to apologize, full of regret and finally seeing that none of that judgemental crap matters in Spirit. Denise told me of delivering their appeals for forgiveness to their mourners, and how life-changing that understanding could be. We warmly agreed that once hateful Christian people cross into the Divine Love of Spirit, the false divisiveness falls away as meaningless. Only the Unconditional Love remains.
My granddad told my daughter that he looks out for her especially–that “she’s his girl.” That thrilled her to no end, especially since he died several years before she was even born. If you are going to have an ancestral guardian, make it Granddad Stormy, former police officer!
Denise and I chatted briefly about what I knew of my Grandmother’s last week of life, when she was mostly in a haze of incoherence. Denise transmitted the Spirit side of the story. My grandmother’s family in Spirit became a kind of hospice care on the other side, while my Aunt, Uncle and cousins were attending her on the living side. Her Spirit family helped her to relax, let go, and ease across the veil to rejoin them. Apparently she was hanging on so long for fear that her death would upset us, but they’d helped her understand that it was her time, and we’d be OK.
My cousin told me that near the end, Frances was heard speaking aloud to “Daddy.” We assumed that she meant her husband, because everyone called him Daddy. But no, Denise said that it was her own father keeping watch by her side. That tidbit gives me great comfort. Everything that Denise offered matched up to the report my Cousin gave me of those last hours, actually. I wholeheartedly believe that Denise has a true gift, because she had no reason to deceive us, and absolutely nothing to gain from speaking up.
It was such an emotional whirlwind that I didn’t even think to get Denise’s contact information or last name. But I cast my gratitude out there now to the Internet: Denise from New Jersey, whose daughter graduated from ECU in 2014, if ever you see this, or do eventually retire to New Bern as you said you might, please come look me up at The Sojourner Whole Earth Provisions. Know that your gift, your time and consideration that day was a great blessing to our family, and we are in your debt.
Heron Michelle is a witch, priestess, mom, artist and shopkeeper living in Greenville, North Carolina. Connect with her on Facebook: Witch on Fire: Heron Rising Services and follow her on Twitter @HeronMichelle13. You can read more about the author here.