When Experience Challenges Belief

One of the biggest lessons I learned in dealing with the paranormal was that not ALL the encounters I had were “bad” or “evil.” There were good encounters as well. That seems like an obvious conclusion until you consider the context with which I initially approached the idea of the paranormal. It took me a while (and a lot of over-the-top experiences) to realize that my spiritual paradigm at that time was woefully inept at explaining exactly what the heck was going on with my family…much less, how to deal with it and process it.

As I mentioned in previous writings, my spiritual foundation from early childhood was Christianity, and more specifically, the Pentecostal and Charismatic brands of Christianity. And while I’m grateful for that spiritual heritage, it did not adequately prepare me for all the paranormal experiences I would encounter. Not even close! There were too many unanswered questions and too many “cut-and-dried” conclusions that weren’t so cut-and-dried.

For instance, when it came to the supernatural and the church I attended, the basic doctrine was fairly straightforward…there were angels and demons (as well as fallen angels) that followed rank and territorial assignments. For we humans, it came down to heaven or hell depending on whether we made a decision to follow Jesus. If you chose Jesus as Lord, you went to Heaven to experience everlasting joy. However, if you rejected Jesus, you were sent to hell to suffer eternal torment. Again, it all seemed pretty straightforward. To someone who asked a LOT of questions and had experiences OUTSIDE of those definitions, however, it was anything BUT straightforward. What about spirit animals? Could dead relatives come back for a visit? Were we able to receive messages from the other side? Were hauntings caused by demons in disguise? If my Grandmother visited me as a ghost, was it really something else trying to trick me? And on it went.

It didn’t take long for me to realize that there was MUCH more to this spiritual landscape than I ever realized or was prepared for. And, in my experience, when you DID ask questions like the ones above, most church folks didn’t know or just got offended. The problem was that many of the paranormal experiences happening in our home didn’t fit in very well with “straightforward!” One such experience involved a Lakota Medicine Man who visited our house on many occasions, and by “visit,” I don’t mean that he drove into town to say hi!

When your house becomes a veritable hotbed of paranormal activity, you figure out, super-fast, how to get rid of unwanted entities…or at least, how to keep them to a low roar. And, with years of “close encounters of the paranormal kind,” my family and I have had plenty of opportunities to determine which “house cleansing” activities made an impact on the paranormal and which ones did little, if anything, to affect the situation. The truth is, you can talk theory all day long, but when the unexplained becomes reality and you have an unwanted presence in your home, you need to know what REALLY works to achieve the desired end result in your home…PEACE!

What we found worked well for us to keep negative or dark energy out of our house was to smudge daily. Typically our smudge consisted of sage, sweet grass, cedar and tobacco, which we lit and then fanned the smoke throughout the house using a red-tailed hawk or eagle feather. There was something about our prayers together with the smoke that seemed to repel the negative energy that seemed hell-bent on turning our home into Paranormal Hotel. So when we began smelling burning sage without us lighting it ourselves, we were curious, to say the least!

I don’t recall exactly when the Medicine Man visits began, but they were frequent and welcomed! After all, having a Native American Elder stop by your house to sing and pray over your family can’t be such a bad thing, right? The fact that we couldn’t always see him was a minor detail. The first indication of his presence came in a form that was different from anything else we had experienced up until that point (which is saying a lot). His introduction to us was through smell…specifically with the scent of burning sage.

As I mentioned earlier, smudging was an everyday occurrence at our house, but when we began smelling the smoke without burning the sage ourselves, it caught our attention. It became so commonplace that we really didn’t give the scent a second thought. At times, the smell of burning sage was also accompanied with singing. The singing was faint when we were able to discern it, but the songs were always Lakota prayer songs. It was “normal” for us to have conversations about the Medicine Man visiting for the day.

While I never “saw” the Medicine Man myself, Deborah and both my daughters saw him on numerous occasions. During many of those sightings, he was praying over a family member. One particular experience with him, however, will always be etched in my mind just because of the comedy of it.

I had already been working from home for a few years when the Medicine Man began visiting. I usually worked from the dining room since all three bedrooms in our rancher were occupied. One day while working on the latest project, Deborah comes out to the dining room from our bedroom and informed me that the Medicine Man was visiting again. “That’s cool!” I said. “Where is he?” Deborah responded, “He’s in the bedroom setting in the rocking chair! Would you come back with me to ask him why he’s here?” I told her that I couldn’t see him but she could, so why couldn’t she just go back herself. After all, Deborah’s heritage was Lakota and the Medicine Man was Lakota. It made sense to me. “Just come back, okay?” “Fine!”

We walk back to the bedroom and I asked if he was still seated in the rocking chair. She assured me he was. So I walked over and stood in front of the “empty” chair. To me, nothing was there, although I COULD smell the burning sage and feel his presence. I asked, “What do you want me to say to him?” “Just ask why he is here!” So I looked back at the chair and said, “We’re grateful that you’ve been coming to the house to sing and pray over our family, but we were wondering exactly why you’re here. Do you have a message for us?” I looked over to Deborah and asked if he was responding (since I couldn’t see him but she could). She said, “Yes, he is but it’s in Lakota and I don’t understand it.” “But you’re Lakota!” I said. “Yes, but I don’t know all the language…just ask if he’ll repeat it in English!” Now mind you, we’re having this conversation in front of the Medicine Man / empty chair.

“Thank you for sharing with us, but could you please repeat what you said in English? We didn’t understand what you said. Thank you!” I looked back over at Deborah. “What is he saying?” “Oh, he’s gone now…we’ll have to ask again another time,” Deborah shared. “Wow…I need to get back to work,” I said walking back out to the dining room.

Months later, I took the family out West to visit the Grand Canyon, Albuquerque, Sedona and other sites. Because the Medicine Man had interacted with us up until that point so much, we thought that perhaps he had a message for us about our trip. What surprised us, however, was that, upon returning home from our Southwest adventure, we never heard from him or smelled his burning sage again.