We use the word ghost and spirit interchangeably but there really is a strong difference between them. According to the late Hans Holzer, professor of Parapsychology and writer of 119 books on the subject, “Ghosts are similar to psychotic human beings, incapable of reasoning for themselves. … Spirits on the other hand are the surviving personalities of all of us who pass through the door of death in a relatively normal fashion.”
We learn from him that ghosts are tied to the location of their death, usually a sudden or tragic one, and they often don’t realize that they are dead. In most cases, they have “unfinished business” as the deceased person does not accept the way in which they died. The simplest form of unfinished business can be as innocent as a person being attached so strongly to their home that they cannot leave it behind and pass over. They are known as “caretakers” and want to stay to make sure the building is being taken care of properly by future owners and also to their approval. At the end of the scale, unfinished business can take the form of dark energy when a person’s death is extremely violent and unexpected.
Surprisingly, only a small percentage of paranormal sightings are true ghosts. The majority of them are really sightings of what we call “residual energy” — when an emotional event is replayed over and over again, at the same spot, and at the same time.
Here is a story about a “caretaker” ghost, from the book “Haunted Breckenridge.”
Jan and Scott Magnuson took over the building in 1986 and turned it into the gift store that we still know today — Creatures Great and Small — selling tasteful gifts such as bear statues and nativity scenes. When they first moved in to start their business, they felt Minnie’s presence immediately. First, they were aware of the sound of footsteps coming from the attic and the smell of an old-fashioned scent like rosewater. Minnie’s prized collection of photographs was kept up there and, not surprisingly, the other sound they heard resembled the sound of someone rifling through a box, desperately looking for a lost item. When plates started flying off the walls of the store but not breaking, the Magnusons were not alarmed and assumed it was Minnie passing on her displeasure at having someone take over her home.
The activity in the building lessened as the years rolled on but didn’t go away. Minnie, it seems, accepts them for the way they are managing the building but she also has a sense of mischief. When visiting the attic for stock, Scott is often tricked by the simple alarm system the
Whether you’re an apartment dweller with a few small containers on the patio, or a rural gardener with an entire patch of magical goodies to choose from, harvesting homegrown herbs is a gratifying experience. You can either harvest a few bits at a time, as you need them, and use them fresh, or you can gather entire bunches at once to dry and preserve.
Harvesting Your Magical Herbs
Although there’s no hard and fast rule about what to use when cutting herbs, some magical traditions recommend the use of a boline, or ritual cutting tool, for herb harvesting. If your tradition doesn’t require this, you can use any pair of garden snippers.
Keep in mind that the best time to harvest your herbs is early in the day, after the morning dew has dried away. Harvesting them early, before the sun has had time to dry them out, allows the plants to maintain their essential oils, which is an important part of herb use. The oils are what keeps them fragrant.
Basic cutting: if you’re only going to collect what you need for a ritual or working, simply snip off the leaves or stems that you’re going to use that day. Some herbs, like basil, are easily stripped of leaves just by sliding your fingers along the branch. Others, like rosemary, have a woody stem that is easier to snip off in its entirety. During the summer months, snipping off leaves and stems will encourage new growth in your plants.
If it’s the flowers you’re after, such as chamomile or lilacs, collect blooms after they’ve developed fully and opened up. If you’ve got a plant whose seeds are the main focus, be sure to wait until the seeds have fully developed and begun to dry and turn brown on their own. An easy way to gather seeds, such as on the dill plant, is to place a paper bag over the head of the plant, and shake it into the bag. Any dry seeds should fall easily into your paper sack.
Bunch cutting: If you’d like to gather entire bundles of herbs to hang up and dry, snip off the stems where they branch off from the main plant. This not only encourages new growth later in the season, it also makes it easier to hang them up in a bunch.
How to Dry Your Magical Herbs
When you dry herbs, you have a couple of options as to method. A bundle or bunch of herbs can be tied together with string–use about a dozen stems tied together to make a nice fat bundle–and hung in a dry, airy place. It’s generally not a good idea to hang them in direct sunlight, because they can burn and become over-dry. You can hang them from a drying rack in a warm spot in your house, and let them sit for about three weeks. This
My grandma Trudy used to tell us that she had “healing hands.” According to family lore, she once saved the life of a dying horse that, after she pressed her palms to its flank, stood up and trotted happily away. While I can’t vouch for the veracity of that tale, I do know that a touch on the forehead from her would always make my headaches vanish.
Trudy was a librarian at a library in central New Jersey, where I spent many a childhood afternoon pawing through the low end of the Dewey Decimal System, where books on the paranormal and other oddities are kept. I’d thrill as I read about the alleged mystical energy of the Egyptian pyramids and swoon over the entries on witchcraft in “Man, Myth, and Magic,” a 24-volume “Encyclopedia of the Supernatural.”
My favorite novel was “Wise Child” by Monica Furlong, a story about an orphan girl who gets taken in by a kind witch named Juniper, who teaches her magic and loves her like a mother might. The villagers come to them in secret whenever they need healing, but in public, Juniper and Wise Child are shunned.
Witches, I learned from the book, are complicated creatures: sources of great comfort and great terror.
But my interest in magic remained a largely private, solitary pursuit. I wasn’t ashamed of it, exactly. My discretion arose from an urge to protect one of the few things that was mine alone. When you’re a weird kid, you learn to put guardrails around the things you love.
I would often coax my parents to drive me to towns many miles away, where there were shops with names like Red Bank’s Magical Rocks or Mystickal Tymes. This was where I could find precious artifacts like old “Sandman” comics and bootleg CDs of
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