went to Salem yesterday. that place is so lovely. we left later in the day, and the traffic was horrendous, so we didn't get there until nightfall. still, it was great to walk around there at night. there are lights on many of the low-overhanging trees, illuminating the cobblestone streets. there are corn-husks on the old-fashioned lightposts and Halloween themed shoppes everywhere, not to mention plenty of witchcraft-supply shops. i didn't end up buying anything, because i am fairly poor right now, and i just didn't see anything that i fancied enough. but i really enjoyed seeing some of the jewelry and other homemade wares.
in one of the shops, they also had an altar off to the side. it was basically a shrine to people's ancestors and loved ones. you could write messages on little slips of paper, and include pictures or other mementos and add them to the altar. they were keeping it up until Samhain, and then they said they were going to burn all the messages to send them up to the heavens. neat idea, huh? i'm thinking of doing something similar on Samhain for my lost loved ones and pets, since i already have pictures of relatives and my rat's ashes on my little altar anyway. lost ancestors and loved ones (even pets) are a big part of my beliefs.
anyway, we ate at a neat little cafe and i had a basil/tomato/mozarella sandwich, and i tried a strawberry beer..later on i had a pumpkin-flavoured icecream, yummy eats! we also saw a guy dressed in Jack Sparrow garb, he looked exactly like him, it was eerie! and there were plenty of trick-or-treaters..apparently it's Halloween the entire month of October in Salem. :)
one thing we saw in one of the shops was wooden and handmade spirit boards/ouijas... which reminded me of a couple experiences i had whilst still pretty young (and long before i discovered my path).
my first experience with a ouija board was when i was 12. my best friend Erica had one of those generic store-bought ones, and wanted to use it with me. i was an agreeable and curious sort of kid, so despite the fact that I grew up in a strictly Christian household and was of course told that these were "evil", i ignored such claims (i was never told why they were "evil"!), and we decided to give it a shot. my friend did not grow up like me (surrounded by religion)-- her parents were really down-to-earth hippie types, and were open with her about everything-- so she knew a bit about them. we lit some candles and sat on her bed. she told me we basically had to lightly put our fingers on the oracle, and we both had to concentrate really hard on the same question awhile..then ask the question out loud, and then it would spell out the answer, or point to "yes or no". i found this very intriguing. of course, being as we were 12, we asked it things about boys we had crushes on and the like, rather than in-depth questions. but it DID indeed "move" for us. it "answered" us for most of our silly little questions. the only question i can remember specifically to this day, is that we asked it who i was going to marry (LOL--the things that are important when you're 12!)-- and it gave me the initials "BD". i find this funny now since my boyfriend/alleged fiancee's initials are neither "B" nor "D". but i guess time will tell, lol. nothing particularly scary happened really, but i did get in a boatload of trouble once my Christian foster parents found out.
the other time i got a chance to use one was a few years later. i was 14 or 15. i was watching my older foster sister's kids at her apartment. she wanted to party and drink that night with her friends (she had her kids way too young--she was only 18 or 19 at this time), so even though she was there in the apartment anyway, she wanted me to be there to watch the little ones because she knew i would stay sober. anyway, at some point in the night the ouija board was brought out. the kids were already in bed by then, but i was staying over, so i was still there. and she asked me to participate with her and her friends. once again, i figured why not? my past experience hadn't scared me in any way.
this ended up being a more significant experience for me with the board. we turned off all the lights and set it up in the kitchen. we lit a tapered candle in the middle of the table. there were about 5-6 of us. the beginning started off fairly benign-- you know, typical basic questions and "answers" type deal. then my foster sister wanted to try to contact a spirit of someone we knew who had passed on. but nobody really knew anyone that had died...except for me. my father had passed away when I was 8, in kind of a traumatic way. my sister asked me if I wouldn't mind trying to contact him. i consented..i missed him dearly..of course it appealed to me to have a chance to talk to him again. so we all concentrated on trying to contact him. after awhile, we asked if he was there (specifically asked by name), and got the response "yes". we asked him basic questions really- about him or me- to try to prove if it really was him and not some tricky spirit. i remember my hands were shaking, i felt almost dizzy. i wish i could remember exactly what we asked and responses, but i didn't write it down and it was so long ago now. but i do remember that my sister said something like, "if you are really here with us, give us some sort of sign," and the candle noticeably flickered right after. and i remember going to bed that night, and i really felt that i had talked to him, that i had reached him. it meant alot to me since i never had a chance to say my goodbyes to him in life.
i tried one other time as an adult to use one, but i was alone, and nothing happened. it's been years now since i've attempted or thought about these things.
i'm unsure about what to think about these experiences now. could my friend Erica have been moving the oracle that first time? sure, i guess. all i can say is that i know i wasn't, and that she was my best friend, and i doubt that she would manipulate me that way.
could my sister and her friends have moved it the other time? i suppose. but this foster sister of mine was very close to me, and knew how i felt about my dad. she was there the day they told me the news, she was the one that held me as i cried. i highly doubt she would play such a trick on me, to make me think we were contacting him when indeed we weren't.
is it all just a subconscious mind-game? perhaps. this is the argument many people make: that consciously you don't feel as if you are moving it, but subconsciously you are. i don't know. maybe in some instances, that could be the case. but as i do believe in the spirit realm-- as i have for years, even before i found my path-- i do think there are plenty of instances where the experience is genuine.
knowing what i know now, of the danger that can (though often doesn't?) occur when opening such "doors" as a tool such as the ouija can do at times, i have more trepidation toward trying it again sometime...but i wouldn't rule it out. with the right person or people, and with precautions taken, i might someday give it a more objective chance, based on the knowledge i now have. but i think that there are other, safer ways i can keep contact with benevolent spirits and ancestors without utilizing such means. i like to think that the spirits are everywhere...they are within the trees and cobblestone streets of Salem, and in the breezes that whisper through the autumn leaves. i don't necessarily need a board to "hear" them. i think they are probably with me most of the time.
anyway, i must dive into my mountain of schoolwork now. hope everyone is enjoying beautiful October and living life well and healthily.