So a couple of weeks ago I went and did something crazy and out of character for me. I listened to that little voice in the back of my head, didn’t argue or analyze, just followed directions. In doing so I went on a little adventure, met some new friends, and had a miniature moment of clarity as to why I am doing what I am doing and sometimes it’s just better to shut up, hang on, and go for ride to wherever fate may lead you. So if you can hang with me for a few moments, I will get to how this relates to being paranormal after a bit of back story…cue the wavy screen and woo-wee sound effects for an old fashioned TV flashback sequence…
As anyone who has been reading what I throw out there knows, I take the scenic route to get to the point and this is no exception. So I have this article I have been trying to work on for some time now and it really reads more like a heartfelt journal entry than an article discussing something paranormal. Its focus is centered on what we as a collective of paranormal “researcher” and/or “enthusiast” are really trying to prove as we run around in the dark “collecting evidence” and who are we trying to prove it to. With all these thousands of so-called “investigators” out there doing this you would think that we would be progressing in the field by leaps and bounds when, in reality, advancements in stamp collecting have shown more progress than we have. But all this is a tale for another time, my sharing it is just laying the foundation of what is to come. The point is that this was putting me in a really dark and grumpy place as I had turned that magnifying glass towards myself and gave myself a long look and boy, it was depressing.
So I needed a break and release from the corner I had put myself into and decided an outing was in order. Just so happens one of the very (very) few Sci-Fi/Comic shows that occur in our area was happening that weekend and I was tempted to go and geek out for a few. I started scrolling through the talks and presentations and one jumped out and smacked me square in the jaw:
‘Discussion on Readings, Tarot, and Séances with The Southern Gypsies: Join in their panel as they talk about their gifts and many types of readings. From healers to tea leaf readers, all the way to tarot card readers. Q&A/Discussion to follow.’
The voice, as clear as I haven’t heard years in the back of my skull, told me to get there and sit in, or else. Kind of in the same tone that your grandmother used to tell you to do something and you automatically knew that any time for screwing around had passed. So needless to say, I packed my butt up and went…now mind you, I am a sucker for old fashioned Spiritualism, its tools, practices, and lore to the point it’s almost like a hopeless romantic affair from afar and I would have probably sat in on the talk for craps and giggles should it have been going on and I was at the show anyway…
Now understand the show I went to, if there were 50 people at the whole thing at once that number is being generous. So understand that the presentations being given had maybe 10 people at a pop sitting in so it was all pretty casual…and the ladies from the Southern Gypsies were just that, chill and laid back like they had done this a thousand times before and everyone in the room was a Game Night drinking buddy. And I mean this in nicest way possible when I say casual, cause coming from the Appalachians you have to have a soft spot for folks who are true to themselves and just put out there who they are without a care of who has what to say. (Doesn’t mean you have to like people like that, but you can respect them.) They gave a good go at trying to cover all the basics while struggling a little bit to work around some who felt the need to take the floor from the ladies presenting. All in all, they did a good job with what they were given.
Oddly enough throughout the presentation, I could not shake the feeling I knew them or had run into them somewhere before and seemingly, that went both ways as just about the end of the presentation they stopped the whole shebang to call me out from everyone else in the room as I was evidently putting off some serious mojo. And I was the only one called out as well, it was not like they were cold reading the room and doing head taps. Surely the voice that led me there had not done so just so my nervous self could be called out in a room full of strangers to be made a spectacle of...but that is when the other shoe fell. They announced that they were holding a Gallery Reading the following weekend and was open to the public.
Holy any and everything you call sacred; Christmas had really come in July. Remember when I was talking about my romantic inclinations towards Spiritualism, well for the uninitiated Gallery Readings are an old Spiritualism practice of taking a room full of people and letting Spirit come through and offer guidance and share messages with the attendees. When you hear tales of ectoplasm, wall rapping, spirit trumpets, channelings, and table tipping, this is where all that comes from. And, as you might guess, that voice in my head spoke up again and made the same demand that I go there that it did about me going to the presentation. I told the voice that it would get no argument from me. So after the presentation I went home and contacted them via their site to sheepishly thank the ladies for their time and reserve a spot for me and my sister who I was going to drag along with me.
So all that week I counted the days ‘til the Gallery Session. Due to mitigating circumstances my sister had to cancel going with me and, due to my self-induced paralyzing social anxieties, this was almost deal breaker. But that voice came back hammering away at me. So I asked my wife and she agreed to ride with but would wander the town until I was done as she has no affinity towards anything supernatural of any sort. But due to lack of babysitters, this too did not occur so I was forced to fly solo. So I took the situation and made the best of it and I packed myself and the voice in my head into the car, turned on some talk shows I usually don’t get to listen to when I have to share the car. About 2 hours later I pull into the drive-way of the Nickerson-Snead House. This is where things continue to go odd…
The drive-way was full but I walk into the door of what, for all intents and purposes, seem like an empty house. I ran about 10 minutes late due to a couple of accidents on the interstate but I was rather sure I was not so late that everyone had gone or that everything had started off and I had missed joining the event as walking in late would have been in very bad taste. As it turns out oddly enough, everyone that was going to show aside myself and one other attendee had decided to go elsewhere that day. The other attendee was a regular who was honestly just as right as home as the ladies who hosted the event so I somewhat felt a smidge like a 5th wheel. At that moment I would not have been the least bit surprised if they told me that an event with a single attendee was not worth the effort, smacked me on the tail, and sent me on my way but being proper southern hostesses, they made their best to make me at home and instead of a Gallery Session we would do some one on one sessions and readings just for me. I must admit that, and the ladies may chuckle at this if they read it, that I did feel a tad intimidated sitting across the way from five ladies who were hosting the session as they started picking away at me. Oddly enough the ice broke for me when one of them put me on the spot about being there as part of a test. They thought I was there to test them but more so there to test myself.
So here I am in a room, that up until that moment, felt like a job interview of sorts which after the ice breaking became more of an idea jam session and everyone getting to know each other. There were a lot of validations back and forth which was really cool as they went into more of what they do and I went into what background I had with Supernatural Media, SPARC, brother Patrick, and solo work. In hindsight, it looked and felt like the fates had truly conspired to make sure I was in that place at that time. If I had not gone to their presentation, I would not have thought to even look up ‘local’ Gallery Sessions, much less attend one. And the fact that that I was sort of the only one to show when it’s usually a packed house was interesting as I would have never booked a one on one session or I would doubt they would have done a one on five session on a whim. To an outsider looking in, this may seem like a jumbled mess of coincidences, but honestly I believe there is no such thing…everything happens for a reason.
I know this does not seem very ‘paranormal-y’ but I also did not go into many of the fine details or much of the signs or portents that led me down the path that took me to that house. What you can bet is that ideally as things settle back down in a few months, I hope to re-connect with the ladies there and, as the finer details are worked out, start documenting and witnessing first hand old fashioned Spiritualism alive and well in Southwest Virginia. You who choose to follow my journey can catch me and all the details right here…and before I do go, I want to extend one more thank you to the ladies of the Southern Gypsies for the time they shared with me and if you are ever in the Glade Springs area of Southwest VA, stop by the Nickerson-Snead to say hi.
Until next time, take care and maybe listen to that little voice you have and go have a little adventure yourself.