| by Teal Cracraft |

My relationship with all things supernatural started in my childhood. My mom was a devout ouija boarder, medium seeker and general spirit chaser. My grandparents owned a cemetery and it was family legend that the cemetery’s guest house was built over a baby graveyard. Yes, you heard that right, a plot of land dedicated exclusively to burying the bodies of babies. As a child, you can imagine how terrifying that sounds, and, as an adult how devastating. I no longer believe the guest house was actually built over dead babies, but I do question how that story became part of our family lore. As a child, I firmly believed in the existence of supernatural beings and events, and, consequently became a very anxious little girl.

My mom’s unwavering conviction that she could communicate with the spirit world did nothing to alleviate my anxiety. On Mother’s Day weekend when I was approximately six years old, we went to visit my grandparents. The weekend started out pleasantly enough with a daytime tour of the mausoleum and my grandfather offering me and my brother $20 bucks if we stayed the night there by ourselves. I politely declined. The weekend took a turn for the worse when my dad suggested we take a nighttime cemetery stroll. My brother complained of stomach pains and urged us to go without him. Against my better judgment, I took my dad’s hand and out we went. About 15 minutes into our walk, I noticed a black tarp covering a grave and asked my dad what it was. Before he could respond, the tarp started violently shaking and out jumped a shadowy specter screaming, “Boo!” After I finished wetting my pants, I turned angry eyes on my brother and silently disowned him. Not to be outdone by my brother, my mom woke us up the next morning asking if we’d heard the baby calling for her mama in the night. Seriously?! said my six year old brain, you’ve got to be kidding me right now.

You might think I would avoid all forms of communicating with the dead when I became old enough to make my own decisions about these things. But, you would be very wrong. I’ve always been equally fascinated and terrified by the possibility that death isn’t really the end. My personal experiences with unexplainable phenomena have only fueled my fire. Take, for example, the visit to my cousin’s house in my early twenties. Her house was very old with a complicated history that, at one point, involved some shady business with marijuana. Wanting to rid the house of any negative energy, she convinced me and my friends to help her with a sage burning ritual. My fear was quickly overcome by curiosity and I eagerly agreed. The act of burning the sage was uneventful and I went to bed thinking that we’d successfully exorcised the house of negative energy. When I awoke at 2:00 a.m. to a violent crash and my bestfriend screaming, “there they go, there they go” and pointing down the hallway, my heart almost stopped beating. We quickly determined the crash was caused by an absurdly large and heavy tree branch that shattered the window. But, to this day, I’m convinced that the perpetrators of the broken window were angry ghosts telling us how they really felt about sage burning.

I’m a mom now, with a very young and impressionable daughter. I’m hoping this public disclosure of my love/hate relationship with all things unseen will help me stick to my vow never to arouse this type of anxiety in her. The physical world is frightening enough without the possibility that what we see is only a fraction of what’s really out there.

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