When I was still in college the era of the New Age was in full swing. Everyone believed in the power of crystals, drank a lot of herbal tea and lit candles for peace and clarity. People were searching for a new religion and jumped on a very bad bandwagon. I don't have a problem with the New Age philosophy, I have a problem with all of the people who dabbled in it and caused me all sorts of problems.
During this time it became the in thing to claim to be a "pagan" or a "witch." People rushed to book stores to buy books on magic, patchouli and jasmine, and to have their tarot cards read. This brought on a flood of misinformation. I am very distrustful to this day whenever I hear anyone call themselves a witch, or to claim to be pagan. I grill them on their beliefs and discard most of the people because they can't answer the simplest question. One day while searching for information on Shadow People I found FreeDragon's blog and had to read every single page she had ever written and engage her in a dialogue before I decided she would be someone I followed. (Sorry Free) I just didn't want to become invested in someone who claimed to be something only to find out they dropped this supposedly important part of their life willy-nilly.
I, myself, know how to read Tarot cards. I use to be quite good at it, not because I was skilled in the ways of magic, but because I have the ability to read people's faces and sense hidden meaning behind the answers to my questions. I would make a very good schuyster. I also know a little about real paganism and witchcraft through my friendship with a real witch. Charlitan and I have been friends since I was 16, although it was several years before I knew her religion. Charlitan didn't like me at first. The day I met her, she took one look at me and thought I was a prissy judgmental wasp who needed a good shock. She walked up to me, grabbed my hand and in a slightly maniacal voice said, "Hi, I'm Charlitan. I'm a lesbian." I shook her hand back and said, "Ok...I'm Muddy." The fact that she didn't shock me at all threw her for a loop (because she is even better than I am at judging character and had totally misjudged me) and eventually we became inseparable.
It was about this time in my life when I started to have trouble with my "gift", but of course I was afraid to talk to anyone about it for fear that they would think I was crazy, or worse, jumping on the New Age bandwagon. Because of my empathetic nature I was becoming victim to psychic vampires. And when I say psychic vampires, I am not in the slightest way implying anyone bit my neck and drained my blood. One thing is not related to the other. We all have psychic vampires in our lives, sometimes we label them as Narcissitic Personality Disorder. Essentially a PV is anyone who drains your energy and gives you nothing back. People who are needy or in crisis are drawn to my earthy nature. Back then they would lean on me and I would give until it hurt.
This all came to a head when Charlitan and I did a show together for a fledgling theater company run by a PV and his lover. PV was a slightly off-balance egotistical man who had discovered paganism and labeled himself as a powerful warlock. He was everything Charlitan despised so we both kept her beliefs secret.
The space we were doing the show in was actually an old movie theater. It had been left to the elements and time and was in bad shape, so PV was able to rent it out for a very small fee. The weird thing was, however, that while the actually movie screen area was mouse-eaten, moldy and in extreme disrepair, the lobby still showed signs of its former heyday. The carpet, although flattened and worn with years of use, still held on to its beautiful red color. The candy counters held all of their glass and were trimmed in gold. But the piece de resistance was the woman's restroom. It was gorgeous. There were at least 8 large stalls (not the tiny ones where you can't turn around in of today). There was a vanity counter where you could still imagine teenager girls gathering together, smoking cigarettes and touching up their makeup while discussing their chosen dates for the evening. And there was a large three-way mirror where you could see your entire outfit standing guard over the room. People definitely knew how to pee back then!'
So, as you might imagine, there was a ghost attached to this place, too. Only the ghost wasn't interested in me. One of my cast mates (let's call her Carol) was a daughter of a local celebrity and she had a lot of issues. She resented her mother's success and punished herself to no end to cause her mother grief. She drank too much, slept with nameless men and was reckless with her own personal safety. One day we walked into the bathroom together. While I was waiting for her to finish washing her hands (you know how girls are) I stepped into the three-way mirror to check my appearance. Imagine my surprise when the person looking back at me was not ME! Never in my life had I actually SEEN SEEN a ghost. This was something so clear I could take her picture. It was tangible and real. I was so startled that I actually fell backwards. Carol turned to see what had happened and looked in the mirror. She could see the ghost too. She took off running out the door to tell everyone what had happened. I stood there for a minute looking at the woman. She watched Carol run out of the room and her face was contorted with sadness and concern.
I exited the bathroom into a circle of people waiting for me to confirm what Carol had told them. I said I had seen the woman but just for a second. I wanted to downplay the event because I could see PV watching me with malice in his eyes. From the look on his face, I could tell my secret was out. Even though I never said anything, he didn't like the fact that I appeared to have made contact with the other side. He was, after all, extremely powerful (in his mind) and I had just stolen his thunder.
As I said, Carol was reckless. Later that evening after rehearsal, a group of us were gathered in the lobby discussing our plans for the evening. I could see PV turn to walk towards me and knew he wanted to discuss what had occured earlier. I was desperate to leave before he actually made it to me. At that moment, Carol, who had been leaning against the glass candy counter, put her hands on top of it and attempted to lift her body on top of it to sit. I felt a cold air blow past me as the ghost tried to stop her, but it was too late. Carol came crashing through the glass countertop and started bleeding profusely, huge jagged pieces of glass protruding from her thighs and butt. The chill in the air dissipated and I managed to bundle her carefully into my car and took her to the ER, escaping PV.
But that night would lead me on a strange and dangerous path.
To be continued....