Over the years it has become clear to me that the deceased have nothing to say to me. Not that I've especially courted encounters with the supernatural. There have been the 12 or maybe 15 visits to the Lilydale Assembly near Cassadaga, NY: the strolls through the Pet Cemetery and over to the Forest Temple and Inspiration Stump; the slow browse through the Fox family artifacts and automatic writing samples at the museum, and then, of course, joining the also-curious and the solace-seeking at one of the daily spiritualist meetings. I've been to many of these sessions and time after time as I sit waiting, eager and open for a message from beyond to come to me, I am passed over again and again. Even as friends and family members are called by spirits - Kel was once chosen twice in one meeting to receive messages from his father - I am warmed not even by the smallest flicker from the spiritualists. It is as if to the spirit world, I do not exist.
I've stayed in creaky and old hotels and certainly (as Stephen King knows) if there are haunted places, hotels must be writhing with roving spirits. I even read The Shining while alone in a hotel room and felt nary a tremor of the gauzy filament that separates the living from the dead. I wasn't reading the book to provoke, it was simply that that was what I was reading at the time. Maybe I was safe because I was not staying in Room 217...
My own childhood home must have housed at least one ghost. It was a century home and a woman died in her bed during a fire, approximately where my sister and I shared a bedroom. Yet any footsteps, moans, cries or poltergeisting went unregistered to my senses. I slept like a log most nights. True, I have entered buildings and rooms that seemed heavy with something vaguely sinister or menacing - and the urge to be somewhere else and quickly was strong - but beyond that, I have gone unmolested by restless beings through these 45 years.
The closest I came, and maybe it explains why I am ghost-proof, was during a game played with my siblings and cousins in the basement of their house. I don't know how many of us were in the closed, darkened room - maybe 10, maybe more. One of my cousins lay prone on the ground with six others of us kneeling around him. Each person had two fingers of each hand lightly pressed under and along the perimeter of his body and we all chanted: "stiff as a board, light as a feather" over and over again. My job was to turn on the light and open the door in case things went, well, in case things went as they were expected.
For a while our chanting went unheeded. A soft, gray light filtered in from a small window near the ceiling and in the dim light our eyes and thoughts were all focused on my cousin. And then a strange thing happened. The body of my cousin rose slightly - and in the gloom of that basement room with all of us watching, the collective realization hit us. We had somehow raised his body not with the paltry power of children's fingertips, but by some other force for which we had no name or explanation. That's when we all screamed. My cousin's body dropped with a thud to the floor. The light did not get turned on, but you can be sure I was first out the door.
From that day, perhaps, with that brief glimpse into the cold unknown and of power unharnessed, I closed myself off from the possibilities, from the grasping reach of entities from other times and other planes.