I come from a long line of psychics. Most hail from my mother's side of the gene pool whose clairvoyant waters run to depths of inky blackness. Yet there also exists a significantly greater volume of normal, shallow ancestral tributaries; thus ruling out the possibility of unilateral genetic insanity.
Growing up Catholic most of these other-worldly proclivities were never discussed with those outside our family. But within our mystical tribe they were routine. So much so that I thought nothing of them until I was much older and realized through my friends that no one else's mother could read their mind and that the "Blue Lady" who frequently manifested to chat with my grandmother was not marketing her prophetic wisdom at everyone's dinner table.
By then I'd had enough paranormal encounters of my own not to question the value and validity of such preternatural exchanges and thought only that it was a shame so few others shared that same metaphysical advantage.
The clairvoyant element of the bloodline apparently flows through the matriarchy and impacts the firstborn daughter; from my great-grandmother, to my grandmother (who was the eldest of nine); to my mother (her only child); to myself and now to my eldest daughter.
I have an intense aversion to the idea of ever visiting Salem, Massachusetts.
My grandmother was an eccentric personality in her own right. She was a cabaret and opera singer; beautiful, exuberant, loud, large and extreme. Believe me, she did not need the added eccentricity of psychic proclamations to make herself known.
But there she would be reciting for all who were within earshot the latest news from the 'Blue Lady' or what her "psychic-ness" told her or recounting her afternoon with my paternal grandfather among the flowers in his precious rose garden on the grounds of the house she then occupied. The house she purchased two years after his death.
It was when visiting that same large, rambling old house as I was growing up, that I often saw the apparition of a lean, elderly man in stripped pajamas drifting from bedroom to bedroom late at night, nodding in calm gratification that we were all tucked in, safe and sound. He was not my late grandfather, and although I did not recognize him as an ancestor of mine, he never frightened me. I simply assumed he was The Sandman, whom I believed in at the time as much as I did in Santa Claus and pitied him for the ungodly nightshift hours mandated by the terms of his employment.
Both my mother, my eldest daughter and I share the gift of moderate precognition as well as a deep 'knowing' as it regards the soul and integrity of a person.
However, the same can also be said of every dog I've ever owned, which implies that the gift is really in the ability of my mother, daughter and I to articulate our findings with relative accuracy and insight.
Every sentient being has this potential.
When I was in high school, my mother knew of the death of my boyfriend a week before it occurred in a car accident and was visited by his confused spirit three days after his death. She let him know what had happened to him and diplomatically informed him that it was both alright and necessary for him to move on.
It is no secret that an affinity for psychological counseling comes in handy when mediating with the deceased.
Many times as my daughter was growing up I was 'called' to go into her bedroom where it became necessary to interrupt her nocturnal conversation with whatever disembodied traveller had situated themselves at the foot of her bed or in the corner of her room. I reminded them both that she operates on a linear plane where it is important she get eight hours of sleep before school in the morning.
With rare exceptions it ended peaceably, and on the occasion it did not, it was always due to my daughter's healthy obstinance and her refusal to believe that the ability to read and write have more credibility in this world than does the knack for guiding the deceased towards the light.
Not every supernatural encounter was pleasant, and there have been a number of times when they've been downright hostile. I cannot count the times throughout my life that I have been shoved by an unseen hand.
The first time came when I was an infant in the arms of my mother as she descended the stairs in the family home of my grandmother's second husband, Hiram, at the Blauvelt Mansion at Bluefield.
My mother said that she was violently pushed down those stairs and yet no one was anywhere near her at the time. Miraculously, neither one of us was injured. She claims also to have felt a mysterious cushion of protection upon landing, which would have been necessary to escape certain injury on those unforgiving hardwood floors.
Not very many years later I would experience that same phenomenon when at age three I was outside by myself on a winter's day and pushed off the snowy bank into the frigid waters of a small stream. I was under water for several minutes and heard a disembodied female voice clearly speak the words, "Not yet, Susan." Seconds later I was fished out by the woman whose house stood on the property because she 'happened' to glance out an upstairs window and saw me there.
When I was five I was again pushed down the stairs by a force unseen only this time my rescue came from an equally invisible source that pulled me back by my shirt as I was in mid-tumble then gently righted me, lifting me off the step ever so slightly before setting me down.
These sorts of occurrences were commonplace and while I was never afraid and had faith in whatever angels or guardians protected me,
I have developed a healthy regard for the use of bannisters and rarely descend any steps without a firm grip on one.
For a time I took my show on the road believing my sensitivities could perhaps be used to benefit others. I spent over a decade using the Tarot as a springboard to give 'readings' for clients, each one centered around aiding them in the spiritual aspects of their earthbound road trip and helping them realize the precious meaning of their own unique lives.
But I abandoned that practice when I realized that most people don't want direction in their lives as much as they want to be told what to do, how to do it and where to go to make it happen. No one on earth has the right to orchestrate the destiny of another.
I'm not playing gypsy witch. Go make your own future.
Admittedly, I have spent the great majority of my adult life attempting to disengage from this filmy realm of non-being. I have a hard enough time training my attention on the salient aspects of daily living without the added muddle of extrasensory engagements to further confound me.
Instead I have tried to channel whatever otherworldly knowing I may stumble upon into my words and my artwork where I can incorporate these prescient musings into grounded and practical wisdom that everyone can benefit from; right here, right now.
If given the choice, I'd rather lift the spirits of those I can see than commune with those I can't. After all, it is the quality of the spirit within us that should be our primary consideration while we are here.
And as for my supernatural confrontations on the stairs, they can keep trying to trip me up, but they'll never succeed. I'm simply not ready to depart.
Rest assured, they don't stand a ghost of a chance.