At 15, I was desperately unhappy. Due to severe bullying, I hated myself and felt weak and unable to control my life. My overwhelming feeling was one of powerlessness, and I felt at the mercy of fear and forces over which I had no control.
I would come home from school and cry with impotent rage. While most boys of that age fantasized about their favorite girls, my fantasies were about standing up for myself and exacting revenge.
However, I had no idea about controlling fear, no insight into psychology, and no knowledge of how to gain self-esteem. My problems were like a mountain, and I was clueless about taking the first step.
It was against this backdrop that I began dabbling in the occult.
Why The Occult?
I felt that as I could not control the physical world, I would seek power in the supernatural. It was a form of fantasy. Why would I need to confront my fears and pain in this world if I could become powerful in another? Instead of figuring out how to climb the mountain of fear, I could go around — or maybe even fly over it!
I began dabbling in tarot cards. I figured that unlike looking into a crystal ball which was a nebulous concept for me at the time, I could at least look at physical cards that had books written about their interpretation and convince myself I was doing something semi-scientific.
I devoted my energy to mastering the tarot cards and began to read them for myself. Surprisingly, I was getting accurate results, so I also started reading for my mum with some accuracy. I dared not read for my dad, who thought the entire concept of the supernatural was ludicrous, and I wasn’t secure enough in my beliefs to have them tested so vigorously.
However, I couldn’t just read cards for myself and my mum forever. I needed a broader range of clients. It was against this backdrop that I joined a psychic group.
The Weird and Wonderful World of Psychics.
Every Wednesday, the group met to discuss a specific psychic topic with a special guest each week. On Monday, we met for guided meditation.
One Monday, early on in my adventure, we were in the middle of a vital meditation to meet and connect with our “Spirit Guide.” This is allegedly an advanced spirit on the astral plane who is there to guide and look after us. Imagine the joy I experienced as a bullied teenager to think that I was special, being looked after by a ghost. I felt giddy with power.
Halfway through the meditation, the leader, Nick, brought it to an unexpected end. He said that someone in the group had gone too deep, and a spirit was in the room, threatening to overwhelm the participant. Nick was not prepared to take the risk of one of the novices in the group being dominated in such a way. I was nervous and intrigued. I wondered who the potential victim could be.
As the group disbanded for the week, he took me to one side. It was me.
The following week Nick told me that last week’s meditation revealed my true psychic power. He said I could be a “Physical Medium.” This is someone who can contact the dead, but it doesn’t stop there. The “physical” part makes it extra special. Apparently, I had the power to shoot ectoplasm out of my hands, make tables move just by looking at them, levitate, and all manner of things!
At the time, this was like a drug to me. Imagine the bullies at school when I start firing ectoplasm at them and slamming them with tables! I was not just a kid who should kill himself — as I was advised daily. I was special. More importantly, I was powerful. I needed to nurture this power.
Each night I would shut myself in the kitchen, light candles and incense, and practice trying to contact the dead. I tried willing myself to shoot ectoplasm, and I gave myself headaches with the intensity of my efforts to lift the kitchen table.
I tried looking into crystal balls, bowls of water, Ouija boards, spells, incantations.
Just as I was disappointed and disillusioned, Nick had another trick up his sleeve.
My Past Life as a MatchBox Seller.
Monday rolled around, and it was time for another meditation. You may have been led to believe that meditation is always a peaceful affair, and it certainly can be. That was not the case with this group, however!
This time we were going to do “Past Life Regression.”
Reincarnation was a fundamental belief of the group and this day was the day that we would regress and discover the details of our past lives.
As usual, I was “special.”
My past life took me back to London in the 1880s. Many people think if they found out about their past life, they would be some famous king or queen, living a glorious life. Trust me to miss out on that fantasy.
I was an old woman selling matchboxes. My side hustle was prostitution (there was no internet in those days to earn money “while you sleep,” but at least I could make money lying down).
My past self was attacked by a gang one night while I was packing away the matchboxes. My life had been so miserable that instead of trying to get help, I just laid on some steps and waited for the elements to take me.
I died of exposure.
To me, this explained a lot. Even at 15, I had a fascination with Jack the Ripper. Now I knew that I was alive at the time, in the same area where the Ripper was killing, and I was a prostitute, which was his victim of choice. I didn’t have an aversion to matchboxes, but everything else fit!
Unfortunately, I felt the pain as if my past life was happening now. I went home sobbing.
My dad saw me crying and hit the roof. When I told him what I was crying about, he got angry and had a go at me for being so gullible. As I said before, my dad was aggressively skeptical and had no time for my tall tales (although he swears he saw a ghost in his life and could fly in his sleep. Yes, my dad was an enigma…)
It took years before I learned the reality of this situation. Through meditation, I had gone back to a time I knew a lot about and reenacted things I already knew about the area from my Jack the Ripper books. The sadness of my “past life regression” reflected the despair and powerlessness I currently felt in my own life.
In short, my regression reflected my sadness at the time, with the flourishes of an interesting period in history.
Leaving the Psychic World Behind.
My foray into the world of the supernatural was ultimately disappointing. I never did shoot ectoplasm, and my apparent contact with the dead was accurate on some occasions but way off on others. I made £2 from tarot card reading, and my past life sucked.
Most importantly, I realized my real-world problems were not being solved by immersion in what was fast becoming apparent as a fantasy world.
At the time, my vulnerable state of mind was susceptible to “grooming.” I was regaled by stories of how powerful I was, and it kept me coming back for more. But I wasn’t powerful.
I was frightened, broken, and I needed to confront the causes of this without hiding in a dream world.
When I reached 16 and left school, I had a chance to change my life, and I had the presence of mind to seize the opportunity.
As I look back on that painful period of my life, I see it clearly for what it was.
I was a frightened, powerless boy, at the mercy of feelings I couldn’t overcome. I needed to feel powerful, and the psychic world appealed to me as a way to gain power without any of the painful work on myself that later proved necessary.
My vulnerability was taken advantage of by the “psychic” group owners. They extracted as much money from me as possible while telling me exactly what I wanted to hear about how special I was. One thing I can say for them is that they were master psychologists.
My past life reflected my current life against a backdrop of the only historical period I knew anything about.
Fortunately, I had the presence of mind to pull away from this strange world. I had to focus on succeeding in the here and now.
The next time I heard voices was during an acute episode of mental illness, and I was given medication for it (there is a fine line between mental illness and claiming to have psychic abilities).
I believe that dabbling in the occult CAN be harmless, but it is often used as an escape from real-world problems where the only solution is to face them head-on.
And if you ever do manage to shoot that blasted ectoplasm, leave me a comment.
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