A Haunted Past

Back when I was a child, long before I become the hardened necromancer that I am today, my interests fell within the spheres of both folklore and parapsychology. While the former had the most direct influence upon the actual tone of my magickal path, the latter remains one of the main foundations that got me here. I even tried my hand at ghost hunting for a while, though regular experiences with entities like Lilith soon led me to outgrow the need for such a restrictive and pseudoscientific discipline. That said, it is nice to reminisce once in a while, and that is exactly what I am going to do here.

Like others from my generation who shared an all consuming interest in the weird I spent many a cold winter evening watching Most Haunted, albeit with a large bowl of salt ready to pinch when they finally presented their circumstantial evidence at the end of the night. In my later teens came the realisation that I desired more than just scripted infotainment presented through a night vision lens. I was convinced that there were spirits somewhere in the abandoned spaces at the heart of every major city, but unaware at the time that finding others who would approach the quest in a similar manner was to prove the difficult part.

While I do not recommend breaking into derelict and abandoned buildings, and certainly not on your own, there were times when my quest for answers drew me to do so. Old shopping centres, disused meat markets, ramshackle theatres and derelict blocks of flats, no location was too dangerous. That I am still among the living is a miracle in itself, and in truth there was nowhere near enough viable evidence gathered in those days to warrant the very real risk of serious injury or arrest. Endless memory cards full of incomprehensible architectural photography was my prize, and an ever growing trail of dead torch batteries the only evidence of my passing.

As I matured I joined a couple of ghost hunting clubs in London, mostly just to legitimise my presence on private land after hours. Cue Scooby Doo style shenanigans as a rag tag group of would-be investigators shuffled their way through dilapidated hospitals and freezing cold cemeteries looking to unmask some spooks before sunrise. Because apparently the discarnate only appear at night, and never in a building that boasts working central heating either. Such draconian thinking was to be the first of many sacred cows that I would challenge while a member of said organisations, and doing so won me few friends. Not that I really cared.

Soon after I became a practising magickian it became clear that my occult leanings were thoroughly at odds with the overtly pseudoscientific viewpoint held by the majority of these groups. Performing even the simplest of banishing rituals at the beginning and end of the night was frowned upon as superstitious nonsense, while carrying a small pouch of protective herbs seemed to go down like a lead weight too. Then there was the time that I decided to cast a spell to meld with the shadows, watching and waiting for something spooky to manifest with the intent to jump out on it when it did so. You should have heard the shrieks of my fellow ghost hunters when they stumbled upon my hiding spot.

From that point on I was required to wear a glow stick at all times, and asked to reign in my reliance on occult methods too. While mediums and Spiritualists seem to have become an accepted part of the modern ghost hunting community, even if they tend to be treated like performing seals, those who openly identify as witches or magickians are noticeably less tolerated. There are a number of reasons for this, but by far the most obvious is the bias created against them by the mainstream media. This manufactured mistrust filters down from shows like A Haunting to the amateur groups who become the first port of call for inexperienced teens seeking companions to hunt with. And with that, the paradigm shifts against us all.

It is glaringly obvious that too few ghost hunting groups have any respect for occult methods in general, and the followers of the associated spiritual practices in particular. What little tolerance can be seen seems to extend only as far as required to avoid charges of religious discrimination. Unless efforts are made to redress that imbalance the next generation of magickians may be barred from the field altogether. While it remains unlikely that we necromancers could ever learn anything new from the field of paranormal investigation, joining these clubs ensures that our maligned methodology will never be forgotten. Because in truth that is the only thing which really matters.

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