My personal belief is that though death is the cessation of the physical body the spirit, soul or energy continues to live on. People form attachments to this earth or to certain experiences especially traumatic ones that cause them to be caught in some sort of spiritual loop from which they cannot escape unless they have help.
Several years ago the museum where I used to work had a Civil War Photography special exhibit.
I was posted in the Civil War photography exhibit at the museum. My Great, Great Grandfather William Henry Halstead fought in the Civil War. There was a steady stream of visitors but everyone was quiet, calm, serious, deeply affected by what they were seeing. During the course of the day as I walked through the photographs taking everything in it was like I began to see through the eyes of my Great, Great Grandfather. I could hear the sounds of battle, the screams of pain from injured soldiers, feel his adrenaline and fear as he surged forth with his 29th CT. Colored Regiment brothers. All I can say it was like I was in his head. I had to make an effort to turn off so I could finish my day without freaking out. Even now I feel he is still with me even I never met him. Maybe this is genetic memory. All the memories of our ancestors stay with us though we are separated by time and generations.
However shortly afterwards was when my Japanese Buddhist friend came to work for the museum. We built a relationship of trust in our friendship and I felt comfortable telling her of my psychic experience. She listened and later when I went with her to the Shinnyo-en Buddhist Temple I related the incident to one of the Ministers who also listened without judgement.
In Buddhism there are special prayers for the dead to free them from I believe what is called samsara. My Great, great Grandfather was caught in the cycle of reliving this horrendous battle. I remember asking my girlfriend why did he contact me and it had been nearly 150 years since the Civil War ended plus he had a host of descendants other than me whom he could have chosen. I can’t remember her entire explanation but apparently he had to wait until one of his descendants had access to the rituals that could free him.
Samsara is the continuous cycle of life, death, and reincarnation envisioned in Hinduism and other Indian religions. In Hindu and Buddhist practice, samsara is the endless cycle of life and death from which adherents seek liberation. In Hinduism, the prominent belief is that samsara is a feature of a life based on illusion (maya). Illusion enables a person to think s/he is an autonomous being instead of recognizing the connection between one’s self and the rest of reality. Believing in the illusion of separateness that persists throughout samsara leads one to act in ways that generate karma and thus perpetuate the cycle of action and rebirth. By fully grasping the unity or oneness of all things, the believer has the potential to break the illusion upon which samsara is based and achieve moksha—liberation from samsara.
As a child I had many psychic experiences that I could never explain and because I was raised in the Baptist church and I did not want my parents to think that I was nuts so I never told my parents what was going on. I knew instinctively that certain things were not to be discussed. So I suppressed them. These experiences continued more or less even into my 20s. But again I did not speak about them.
Finally when I was in my mid-30s both my parents passed away. As a single person my parents were my life so losing them was like losing a part of my being. I was really broken up, sad and depressed. I would not eat and could barely function. When my Dad passed away in 1995 I recall standing in front of his photo crying my heart out. Then I felt his spirit come to comfort me. I also remember my Daddy telling me in a dream that he would return to take Mable (my mother with him). Sure enough in 1998 my mother passed away. He returned for his Beloved.
Prior to this every time I would visit my Mom at her health facility and when I took her home with me on weekends she would tell me all the discussions she had with Daddy. I never questioned or mocked her. As far as she was concerned death had only temporarily separated them. They had the same conversations as when he was alive. During this time period of both my parents illness and subsequent deaths I realized that as the Bible says a husband and wife become one flesh. My parents were married 40 years. Death separated them and death brought them back together.
Since then I’ve had many visitations from both my parents usually through dreams during times when I’m especially stressed. When I was 49 I had a minor stroke and like you hear people say my life literally passed before my eyes. I had severe damage to my left eye and as a result I don’t see too well with that eye despite having Retina surgery in Jan. 2010.
Again another personal belief but for me the onset of menopause and nearly dying kinda re-opened my Third Eye. For me the “Change of Life” was really a change in many ways not just physical. In 2012 I had a major split with certain paternal cousins over their accusations that my mother had done something to make Stephen “that way.”
It is very difficult to describe but during this time my mother’s spirit joined with mine and I felt all the sadness, hurt, guilt and shame she felt since she knew some of her in-laws blamed her for Stephen’s being developmentally disabled. A dam broke and she cried and cried through me. We were one at that point. Everything she went through. Every emotion. Every fear. All the despair came flooding into me. That was my signal to permanently break ties with those family members.
I’ve strongly felt the spirits of my both grandmothers because as a writer I had the power to tell their stories particularly for my maternal grandmother Hattie Finney Banks.
These feelings, emotions, sensations or visitations have not been confined to relatives/family members. Since I got serious about my writing in 2008 I’ve felt the spirits of my African Ancestors who died during the Middle Passage. Many were thrown overboard by the crews of the slave ships. Some when allowed to come up deck threw themselves into the welcoming arms of Yemaya Oshun rather that face an unknown future in a strange land.
I wondered if it was just me who heard ancestral voices until I spoke with a Jewish gentleman who was part of the Shinnyo-en Congregation. He had family members who perished in the Holocaust and he also her their cries, felt their despair and anguish.
Going back to the topic of attachments as some of you already know I work for a large New York museum. For obvious reasons I will Never name my workplace. However I along with many other security officers have had some strange experiences in certain galleries. I never like being posted in the Egyptian Wing. Being their always gave me the creeps. One former guard said that one time while posted there she felt something trying to choke her. Security guards have also reported hauntings in the American Wing. I also had many unsettling experiences/communications while in the African Art exhibits. Sometimes I feel communications in the Oceania exhibits in what we now call New Guinea. Those populations are thought to have originally emigrated from Africa thousands of years ago.
Depending on your ancestry is where you will have the most connection/communications with departed spirits. These could be genetic memories or what I believe and has been confirmed by other friends that museum artifacts carrying the spirits of their original owners. As for the Egyptian Wing those mummies have been displaced. They are in a place and country where they don’t belong. Probably angry at having their earthly bodies desecrated while being stared at by many disrespectful museum visitors. Now I work in a different museum location however I had visitations from a security guard who worked in the building when it was under different ownership who passed away but spent years working in the building.
During many visits to the Brooklyn Museum I’ve felt communications from certain items/artifacts especially those that were used in religious worship. There were times when I wanted to take a photo but the artifact would not allow me. Despite being displaced from their Native lands because we share similar ancestry plus they know I understand.
It is my understanding that I am an Empath (and not an Empath is not just a character on Star Trek). All it means is that I’m extremely sensitive to the energies of others whether they are living now or once lived on this earth. I’m able to easily pick up on others energies both positive and negative. That’s why I must be careful where I’m at or who I’m around. Being that my original museum workplace is nearly 150 years old not only do I pick up on the energies of my co-workers, visitors both past and present but the energies inside various galleries. So literally on any given day even when the building is completely empty the energies of past workers and past visitors are still contained within the galleries.
I explored this in my prose/poem ~~ A Building at Rest