Episode 137: Haunts & Hearsay: Insights From A Ghost Tour Guide.

Kia ora, hello everyone, and welcome to the 13th season of our Walking the Shadowlands podcast. It’s really great to be back. Welcome to everyone. Apologies again for the delay in starting this season. I will also warn you that in about a month, we are moving house yet again, so there may be a slight delay between a couple of the episodes, but I’ll definitely keep you all in the loop. Moving countries, moving houses – phew! It’s been a bit of a wild ride. And speaking of wild rides…
Today we embark on a journey through the eerie world of ghost tours and the spine-tingling tales they unveil. As a ghost tour guide, one becomes a storyteller of the supernatural, weaving together the threads of the past with the whispers of the otherworldly. Each street, each dimly-lit alley, holds secrets untold and spirits unseen, waiting to be discovered by those brave enough to venture into the unknown.
From haunted mansions to forgotten graveyards, the spirits and entities encountered on these tours are as diverse as the stories that surround them. Meet Yogi, the faithful Dalmatian who still patrols the halls of the old firehouse, forever bound to his master even in death. Delve into the chilling legend of the Lady in White, a spectral figure said to wander the moonlit grounds of a historic estate, her tragic tale echoing through the centuries.
But it’s not just the ghosts of individuals that linger in the shadows; sometimes, entire buildings have a haunting presence. My guest peels back the layers of time and uncovers the mysteries of the past. So, prepare to be enthralled by the ghostly encounters and spine-chilling backstories that await.
But the question as always is: Are you willing to join my guest and I on a journey into this part of the shadowlands when history and hauntings collide? Then let’s begin.

Rissa Miller

Rissa Miller is an editor, author, herbalist, seer, and storyteller. Her storytelling expertise stems from extensive research into the area of esoteric history, including ghosts, witchcraft, cryptids, and folklore. Rissa believes the most enduring stories teach us not only about humanity’s past but also give us a reason to reflect on our own present beliefs and realities. She often leads ghost tours and gives lively history talks.
It’s rare to find Rissa without tea. No matter where she is or what she’s doing, a mug of green tea is her constant companion. Tea is one part of her love of plants. She holds a deep reverence for plants and the answers they offered, whether as tasseographs in a teacup, smoke in the air, a healing salve for the skin, a plant on the windowsill, or nourishment for the body.
In addition to adoring tea and herbs, her love of plants is made complete by the fact she is a vegan of 28 years. She’s also a published author and poetess and has had several plays produced in the Mid-Atlantic.

Marianne:  Thank you so much for joining us. Whereabouts do you live, Rissa?

Rissa: I live in Maryland in the United States. It is on the east coast, in the middle of the coastline. It’s called the Mid-Atlantic region. Our biggest city is Baltimore, Maryland. I work in both Maryland and Pennsylvania. Which is the state directly north of Maryland, on the Mid-Atlantic region. And, they’re very old parts of our country. And of the continent. Lots of fascinating history.

And you have spent time as a ghost tour guide, is that correct?

I have spent a lot of time as a ghost tour guide and I think it was something that I was just destined to do. When I was a little girl, my parents took me to England. And I was only eight years old when I went on my first ghost tour, in York, England. And, it is considered one of the most haunted parts of England. And I, absolutely fell in love with the idea of walking around and talking about haunted history. As I got older, I became a history tour guide first. And then, when the opportunity came up to start doing haunted history, and talking about ghosts. I was first in line basically. I definitely love the work and it isn’t just the ghosts I love. It’s giving the public a friendly and fun entry into history and learning.  Ghost stories give a face to history. They can be scary, of course, they can be.  Around the campfire, chill your bones. Feels like the kind of thing we want with cold weather and a cup of hot cocoa, or tea. But, also, Ghost stories are usually about a real time. A real place. Or, a real person. And they really do give us a window into the past, which is one of the reasons I love it so much.

How did you, get involved in it, in the area, where you currently live?

I knew there were ghost tours. I simply contacted the owner and said, I’d like to be your next tour guide. And, initially there weren’t openings, but then when there was one. He contacted me, I auditioned. And, especially cause, I’d already been a tour guide. Guide for a very long time in many other places, he was just super excited to have me. And, I then expanded his business by creating how many new programs of my own? Let me think here, like five or six new programs. On top of the ones, he already offered. And then I went back to where I grew up, my parent’s hometown. And, that’s in Pennsylvania. And I developed my own ghost tour program there as well.  So, I still do both. And I just absolutely love it. It’s, one of the things I look forward to.

How many tours would you do in a week, for example?

Oh, it varies based on the time of year. Through the winter, pretty much none. Where we are here, it gets very cold. And, there can be ice and snow. And people simply don’t go out in the winter. So that’s fair. And then in the summer, we’re in our summer now. And our summers, it’s been quite a miserable summer in this area, as far as heat and humidity.

There have been days when it’s tipped over 100 degrees. And the thunderstorms have really increased in the past few years. Last week we had a nor’easter here. Which is an unheard-of storm in July, but we had one. There was water on the streets up to your ankles. Yeah.  Summer is a less exciting time for ghost tours because the weather can be really bad. But spring is busy. And then our autumn, which is when Halloween is our -September, October, and even November. That’s called our spooky time.  Ironically, it’s also known as the thin time. When the veil between worlds is thinner.

So, I’m sure you know all about that. And that’s when people want ghost tours. Now, I think it’s interesting. Because, spring is the other thin time. And it’s the time when people naturally go to ghost tours, because the weather is nicer. But also, maybe intuitively. Maybe in their gut, they just know it’s a thinner time.

Have you as a sensitive yourself, have you noticed how the veil between dimensions is thinning and buckling and tearing in places?

I actually agree with that. I think more and more people are having experiences with that. And a lot of people, so I can’t speak for New Zealand, but in America, there’s definitely an interesting dynamic between the fascination with ghosts and the paranormal and the judgment and disbelief on the other side, and there’s this constant tug and pull.

Now, in the United States, some of the most popular TV shows have to do with ghosts, aliens, monsters, cryptids. Yeah.   Just everything that is paranormal.  But if you say, oh yeah, I saw a ghost. Or I saw a cryptid. People immediately dismiss you. And they’re like, it was probably a, it was probably the wind. Or you might’ve seen a wild dog or no, there was probably a reflection on the window and you have to, you always have to be pragmatic and eliminate those possibilities. Any honest ghost hunter will tell you that like 85 percent of the time, It’s the vent. Or the dishwasher is making a funny sound. Or, those kinds of things have to be considered. But yes, I definitely agree.

The veil between the worlds is thinning, cracking, breaking. And that more and more people are having these experiences and they don’t know what to do with them. A lot of folks end up on one of my ghost tours. Or at one of my talks looking for someone to talk to. They’ll go through the whole program. And then at the end, they walk up. They’re shy. They’re awkward.

They don’t even want to look at my face. And they’ll say, can I tell you about my experience? And I always say, yes. I love hearing people’s stories. I want to know what they’re experiencing, what they’re seeing.  And if I can help them process the experience as well, because my whole life, I’ve had these experiences. I was one of those babies born with a wide open third eye. I used to joke that when I was a little kid, my third eye was open like a garage door. So, it’s like I had to learn to keep it a little more boundary. But I feel like more and more people are arriving in that place. And there’s no language in society for it. There’s no community for it. There’s no context for it. People can find media, like your podcast. Or like TV shows. But then, they don’t have anyone to talk to. Anyone to share it with. Without this incredible fear of being judged. And as we’re all experiencing more and more of these kinds of phenomenon happening, trying to make sense of it. It’s fantastic to know that there are places where a conversation like this can be had. Because it’s necessary.

Absolutely. That’s one of the reasons I started my Facebook group was so people would have a safe place where they could discuss things that were happening to them that they had no answers for.

Absolutely. Yeah. It’s so important to have that non-judgmental, zone.

Absolutely. And you actually answered the question I was going to ask you about people coming up and telling you their experiences before I even asked it.

So that was really good. And when people are sharing their experiences with you, how are they mostly? Do you think they’re fearing that you’re going to believe them or that you’ll laugh at them or? I see the range. I honestly see the range. And in the interest of full disclosure, I have had very few negative. Paranormal experiences myself. And I have had many dozens of them. Right? I find that with the way I have been communicated with mostly, just neutral or positive. I haven’t had a lot of frightening experiences. Or maybe, I just didn’t know to be scared? Because it was part of my childhood to see and interact with spirit entities.

So, I didn’t think it was weird. I assumed everybody lived that way. And it was surprising to me to find out that wasn’t the case. Yeah. That said, I don’t carry a ton of fear about ghosts. Do I think there are malevolent ghosts? Absolutely. There are malevolent people, there are mean animals, and there are malevolent ghosts.

I don’t think they’re as common as TV or fiction would have us believe.  No. They aren’t. I don’t think so. No. I think that most people approach their experiences with a lot of fear. And they come and speak to me, and they say, I saw a haunting. What can I do to get rid of it? Or will I be, okay? And my first thought is always, you’re standing in front of me talking, you look healthy.

I think you’re fine. I’m not a doctor, but you look okay to me. And I always try to first put their mind at ease and explain that most ghosts are just going about their business and it’s nothing to do with us. And if it’s a ghost affiliated with a space, you just happen to be sharing space. And unless they told you to get out, which can happen. I know it happens. Unless they literally told you to get out, you’re probably going to be just fine. Just be respectful and share the space.  But, they’re always like, do I need an exorcism? And I’m like, do you? I don’t think so.

Do you have a demon? Yeah.  But I’ve definitely been asked more than once. I heard something in my house, there could be a demon. I’m like, but probably not. Probably just a haunting. Probably doesn’t want to do you any harm. They’re just doing their thing. You’re doing yours. I often tell people, just talk to your spirit residents. Yeah. That’s what I do too. Speak to them. If you feel weird speaking to them, leave them a note. But open that channel of communication, if you’re willing. One thing I always tell them is, if I can’t hear you in my waking time, talk to me in my sleep. Speak to my dreams.

And if there’s something you need to tell me, I’m open to hearing it. And I want to have a cooperative relationship, A lot of people are like, oh no, all ghosts are bad. That’s a big sweeping generalization. That’s like. Saying all of anything is bad. That’s just not true. No, I definitely, I’ve seen people who had been laughed at by their friends and family. I have seen people who were terrified. Who literally left their home, and were staying in hotels. I have definitely seen the range of folks who, in the lack of any way to find help or information, end up at a ghost tour, looking for that help and information. And, I’m lucky that the person who trained me was very thorough. And he teaches us things, like look at the history of the space.

You know, who lived there? Who died there? What natives lived here before? What was the space used for?  I had already worked in history over the course of my life, so I knew how to do the kind of research needed. But so when I present that idea to people like, you might be able to find out exactly who this is, even without using a medium. Just go research your house. Go research the land it’s on.  What was this land before? Some people are surprised to find they have spirit entities that are animals. Yeah, there’s some people that they’re being haunted by a cat. And, a cat as a ghost is just as spicy as a cat in real life.

And oh yeah, they can.

They’re still going to do cat stuff.

Speaking about cats as spirits. I lived in this apartment, in a city called Tauranga. And I was laying in bed, and I felt this cat jump on the bed. Walk up and lay down, at the back of my legs.

Oh, my goodness!

Yeah, it was really lovely. I enjoyed it. Because I am a cat person. Animals pick up energies, whether they’re spirit or alive. So just this ghost cat knew that it would be safe there. So, it just made its presence known. It was lovely.

I, I love that story and because you are who you are, you weren’t scared. But there were plenty of folks out there who would have probably leapt out of bed, or cried. Or been like, I have to get out of the house. And the cat was literally just looking for some company. It wanted some comfort.

yeah. That’s the feeling that I got. It just wanted that contact like it used to have. And that’s completely understandable because, animals like us. I guess take the love that they had for their companions with them.

Yeah, absolutely. I think so. I’ve been lucky to work with a lot of animal communicators in my time. And they confirm over and over, independently that, the animal’s essence, its personality travels with them in their spirit form. And They still seek out the same things that they craved in their lifetime. Maybe not treats or things like that, but the same kind of emotional connection.

That’s exactly the feeling I got from this cat that jumped on the bed. It just wanted that closeness. That was really lovely. So yeah, I absolutely hear what you say when you’re talking about animal spirits.  Maybe Risa, you could tell us about some of your experiences that you’ve had as a tour guide? And I’m sure you’ve had numerous.

I have. During my tours, I would say the ghost I’ve encountered the most is in Ellicott City, Maryland. Through my work with Maryland History Tours. And her name is Loretta. She is a lovely young woman. She is in a building that’s now the Department of Tourism. Not very exciting anymore, but it’s a beautiful old stone building. And it’s been a post office. It’s been a senator’s office. It’s been a car dealership. But during the time Loretta was alive, it was a funeral home.

And she did not die there, but she was taken there. And somehow that’s where she stayed. Loretta died before she married. She was very young. She appears quite frequently still. She wears the high neck Victorian dress. It was probably summer. Or at least she chose a summer dress to show herself in. Because the dress is white and it has this sort of like a light, lineny feel. And her hair is always up. She literally appears in people’s computer screens as if standing behind them looking at their work.  Sometimes you look in a mirror or a window and you see her behind you.  And she speaks sometimes too. In fact, when they first realized there was a ghost, they started calling her by some other name. I can’t remember what it was, but she actually said, my name is Loretta.

She said it to one of the women working in the office. And they’re like, okay. It’s Loretta. So they, like I said, they were able to find out that she had died in the area and gone through the funeral home. But she’s not buried there. But that’s where her spirit chose to stick around. And she’s a very active ghost. I have not seen her personally. I have heard her. And she has moved objects of mine as well.  In the parking lot of that building, I was walking to my car one night and I just shouted out, I was like, good night, Loretta. And the dome light of my car, on the inside flickered.  As if she was saying goodnight.

And it was definitely not me. I did not change anything about the car. There was nobody else around that could have done it. The dome light flickered. And she’s a very active ghost. A lot of people see her hear her. And interact with her all the time. She’s kind of part of the town.  She’s just been there, for well over a hundred years. One of the other very active spirits is in the old firehouse. And it’s a dog named Yogi. He was the Dalmatian. He was a fire dog back when what is now a wine and spirit shop. But he was the fire chief’s dog. He was Captain Shipley’s dog. And He’s stuck. When his person died, and he died after. They both stayed in the building and dogs come in. It’s a dog friendly wine shop. And dogs come in and they bark at nothing. And they like run over, like there’s another dog. And they’re like interacting with this dog, but there’s no dog that we can see.

Living animals. perceive the world so differently. Yes, they do. So, it wouldn’t surprise me at all if dogs and cats and horses and other animals can perceive spirits in ways that we don’t. But Many dogs from the living world have interacted with Yogi. And ghost hunters have said that Yogi is there, that they can pick him up on their equipment.

And yeah, Yogi is another local celebrity in the Ellicott City town.  And I’m trying to think of some of the other, ones that I’ve personally witnessed. Because obviously I know a million ghost stories. Right. Let’s see in York, PA, I have another great animal ghost. In a whole row of art shops, like art galleries in Pennsylvania, there is a white ghost cat. They call her Rose. York is the white rose city both in England and in Pennsylvania. And the symbol is the white rose. And since this little cat, she’s a tiny cat too. She appears in white. Maybe she was all white in her life. I don’t know? They call her Rose. And she is Spry and playful. And she sets off people’s cameras and she’s one of those ghosts out of the corner of your eye. Then you turn you’re like, is there a cat? Right. And a number of people on my tours have seen her a lot of the shopkeepers and merchants have had their cameras set off by her and on the camera.

She just shows up as like a blur. In real life, you can see her form, as a cat and she… it’s a row of shops that are connected. Like the buildings are connected, like row homes. And she darts through the wall. You literally look at her. And then next thing you know, she spins around and off she goes. She darts through the wall into the shop next door. So, it’s, she’s a super amusing and playful little lady. And it’s pretty cute when she makes herself seen. It’s a long row of shops and you never know which one she’s going to pop up in. But the general public does occasionally see her. Or you’ll hear people say, oh, is there a cat here? I’m, allergic. And they’re like, Oh no, it’s just Rose. She’s the ghost cat. Yeah, that’s a fun one. And I’ve personally seen her. 

And I’m trying to think of any other really active ones in Maryland that people have seen and I have witnessed, that are not scary.  Okay, I’ve got my last one. In the first railroad station built in the mid- Atlantic, it’s called the B&O, Baltimore and Ohio, there is a man named Charlie, who was the original station master. He was the station master in the 1800s. And his family would have lived in the station at that time, historically speaking. And he would have worked there. Lived there. Been there all the time. People even get pictures of Charlie in the windows. They hear him stilt unloading luggage and carrying it around when there’s nobody in the building. There used to be doors that opened to a staircase. But these days, those doors open to a two-story drop. He was constantly opening those doors, even though they were locked. And they finally had to put metal rods on them, so that they couldn’t be pushed open by the ghost anymore.  But he’s also a helpful ghost.

Apparently, he’s done things like put the trash can next to the door. And things like that. I have heard Charlie when I’ve been in the big room upstairs giving talks. And one time I was giving a talk on another subject. I believe it was Edgar Allen Poe. One of our famed writers of horror and two women both jumped up at the same time. And they both said they were, they didn’t know each other. They both claimed they felt a man put his hand on their shoulder at the same time.  And they were near each other, but not completely next to each other. And I said, oh, I think that’s probably Charlie. And they said it was like a cold, masculine hand that touched their shoulder.

And they both actually left the talk.  Oh, poor women. They were so upset, but I said, it’s just Charlie. I should have probably acknowledged him before I started talking about something else.  I learned a valuable lesson that day. And that is to always acknowledge the ghost of the space, before I talk about something else. And when I give my talks, I do that now. And if I, if there’s a known entity or spirit resident. I tell their story and then I get into the other subject.

that’s just a basic courtesy.

Exactly. It’s their place. Yeah. Yeah. We’re just there for two hours.

Yeah. I totally get that. It’s I always say to people of my group and when I used to have a paranormal investigation team, I always say to people, imagine, if you were in a room with somebody and you were doing everything that you could to get their attention. You knew that they could hear you. Perhaps see you, but they ignored you. How would you feel?  Yeah. And I said, you have to put yourself in the place of that spirit. Cause The way you feel is how they would feel.

I agree completely. And one time, one of the paranormal investigation teams that I worked with they were really rude and I would never work with them again. I’m not gonna call ’em out, but they went into the space and they were like.  Hey ghost, we’re here. You better show us some respect. Like they were yelling and being really rude. And I thought, if this was your house and somebody came in and started yelling at you and stomping on the floor, how would you like it? Interestingly enough, we didn’t get any spirit entity interaction at all. I was like, shocking. Because you guys are such jerks. Why would it come out? Yeah. I wouldn’t, if I could hide, I would leave right now.

Yeah. Yeah, totally. And spirits are only humans without the physical body.

Nobody wants someone to be rude and disrespectful.

Yeah, exactly.

That doesn’t make any sense to me at all.

No. And just because they’re no longer in this physical vessel that we use, they are still living, just not living in this dimension.

Exactly. I feel what you’re saying and, I even thought it was disrespectful to the humans who do live there, to go in and start yelling and making a bunch of racket. And like banging on the walls. And I was just like, this is somebody’s house.

Yeah, exactly.

You could damage it.

That’s a shame. People like that really give. Serious investigations. Genuine investigators, such a bad name.

I fully agree. And I always hope they get bored and quit. Yeah.  Because they, they are just perpetuating this like myth of fear and the and just general bad form and unprofessionalism.

I absolutely agree.  So, you’ve obviously done heaps in your life like, you’ve done paranormal investigation. You do consultations with people. You do the ghost tours. During your ghost tours, have you ever had some of your guests on your tours come up and tell you that they’ve seen something in the tour?

Yes, I even have pictures. Oh, really?  Yes, absolutely. Not tons and tons, but a few. The two pictures that I can think of one was a picture of me standing in front of a space called Cat Run Rock. And during the United States Civil. War, it’s a place where a lot of young men died, unfortunately. And in the picture, you can see me and all around me are blue orbs. Tons of them all over the place. And I can tell you that when it was taken, the dogs on the tour were going crazy, barking at me.  I thought it was me. I guess it wasn’t me. And It’s not a space with particularly bold lighting that you could have faked the orbs easily. But that was the one occasion and I thought, oh, that must be a bunch of soldiers just Oh, hey, you’re talking about us. And then the other one was actually very spooky. It was inside of one of the museums. And it was right around Halloween.  And it’s three very terrifying looking faces that are lit up by the green security light.

And they almost look like faces of the greys, like the UFOs. And it looks like they’re pressed against the window dramatically. And almost in a menacing fashion. Like, they’re locked in the museum.  I saw the gentleman’s photo reel on his phone.  There was nothing. This picture nothing. And nobody else had it either. So, it was really interesting that it was just a fraction of a second, that this, and it was only on one person’s photo roll.  And, I still have copies of that one. It’s scary. I’m not going to lie. I haven’t gone back in that museum since then. But that museum was already known to have some unfriendly entities. But seeing those three faces in the window was a bit surprising, honestly. Not the three faces that I would have expected. And not the ghost stories I knew about that space.

Interesting, because from my personal experience, most of my experiences in my life have been with star people. And I know that some of the gray species do travel in groups of threes.

No kidding! I did not know that.

Yeah, they do. Yeah.

So, they perhaps could have been visiting the museum that night? Just checking things out?

Or checking on one of the people on your tours.

Interesting. Because yeah, we knew a lot about that building. We know its whole history. We had no history or stories or witness accounts from any residents of the area,about the Grays being there. And the fact that showed up on that picture, it was disarming.  Everybody was surprised. 

The fact that guy took it, wouldn’t surprise me if he was who they were observing.

 Really? Okay, so that, that follows a logical pattern. Interesting. That’s very, it’s very interesting because yet nobody else had the picture. Yeah.

Yeah. I know when I’ve, cause there’s many different species of greys, but when I’ve seen them, there’s always been three. Always come in threes.

There was definitely, there were three faces in the window.

I’d love to see that photo if you have a copy of it?

I can email it to you.

Yeah. Yeah. That’d be awesome.  Okay.  Could you share some of your own personal experiences that you’ve had? Some good ones and perhaps some of the more-spooky ones. Cause I know my listeners like to hear the spooky ones, as well.

I will tell you when I got my job as a ghost tour guide. Some of the other guides took me aside and said, you really will have to be careful about attachments. And I knew about attachments. I had a strong understanding of what they are. They even said you might get people coming on your tours that have attachments and they’re going to ask you what to do. And they advised me that there was an acupuncturist in town who could treat them.  And I was educated on how to respond to those things and what to do. And there was even a priest in town who would do exorcisms if someone actually needed one. But quietly, not outwardly. All of those things were at the beginning of my ghost tour experiences.

And to this day, I do still carry some smoky quartz and a mixture of herbs with me. Just as a talisman to protect me a little bit. And honestly, it’s a pretty big piece of smoky quartz. It’s several inches long. It’s quite large. And I always hope it throws off just enough energy to protect my whole group. I usually add some rosemary and sage to a little bag and carry that along too. I do get the question a lot. Is there any way when you’re visiting old places, or shopping for antiques, to know if there’s a haunting or is there a way to protect yourself from the haunting? And all the guides have a different way.

 Some of them have talismans. Some of them use a crystal or herbs like I do. Some of them carry salt. So, there’s a variety of options that, people can employ if that’s the concern. And it has been my experience that attachments can be a thing that really do happen. And they can be very depleting both mentally and physically and even to the point where you feel physically ill from them. Because you’re so depleted from carrying an extra spirit along with you. I don’t want to say that and have your listeners think that it happens every day. I don’t think that it’s like. I know it’s very rare actually, but it does happen.

I know a family member and I’m not going to say who it is. Has an attachment that she’s had for a long time. And I could get rid of it for her, but she doesn’t want him gone.

You know. I spoke to a psychic medium once and one of the services that he offers is removing attachments. But when I was speaking to him about it, he said, the thing is people have to want to let it go. Yes. And they don’t always feel. safe without it, even though it’s running them down. And making them ill. And making them tired. Yeah. They want to keep it because it’s familiar.

And it’s a bit, it’s a bit of that Stockholm syndrome too.

Yes. Very well said. And it’s just, it’s not nice. But it is very rare.

It’s not as common as people think it is. At least in my experience.

And, one of my favourite ghost stories to tell was about how sometimes ghosts get They stay with their favourite objects. And so, it’s like they’re attached to a thing, not so much a person. In, with Maryland History Tours, one of the programs that we give goes down the street where there’s an antique shop where they had a rocking chair. And they sold this rocking chair and the person brought it back very quickly and said, I got it home and then a man appeared in it and started rocking. She’s I don’t want it.  So, they took the chair back and it sat for a long time because they were honest and told people there’s a haunting in this chair. And then one day a military man came in and he was an officer in the military and they said, sir this chair has a haunting.

You probably don’t want it. And he goes, no, I’m okay with that.  And I like the chair. And he took it.  Our story ended there, but then on one of my tours, I had a woman who lived on the military base where that chair went. And she said, people still talk about that general and about how he had a haunted chair in his front window that a gentleman would appear in and just rock and then disappear. And that they got on very well, and it was never a problem for the gentleman in the chair. Or the general who lived alone. And as far as they knew that when he moved to another base, he took his haunted chair with him. Sometimes you can make friends with a ghost, that’s not a scary story. I think that’s more of a happy story.

It is a touching story, actually.

Yeah. The haunted chair nobody wanted found the perfect home, with the most unlikely of people. Yeah. And like I said, I was so surprised to hear the second half of that story from another member of the military, who was on one of my tours. And no, it was an excellent surprise, I have to say. Excellent surprise. But yes, you want to hear some of my scarier stories. Yeah. I’m gonna go first with a tragic ghost story. This story brings us back to Pennsylvania and to a beautiful old site by a river. It’s called the Accomack Inn, and Accomack is a native word from this region.

The Accomack people used this area to cross the river. When colonists arrived here, they built this beautiful building. So, this beautiful building was constructed. And that space had been used since the 1600s. And today it’s still there. And the structure that’s there now was built in the 1700s.  And our story brings us about 100 years past that. The building was owned for a while and operated as a tavern and an inn by a family called the Coyles. And they only had a son. His name was John. He was John Coyle Jr. And he would have been quite a catch for a woman at that time. Because he was the owner of a dock, before there was a bridge. And he owned this beautiful inn and tavern when his parents passed. And they had animals, they had land. But John Jr. had a bad reputation. He had a very bad temper.  And he finally did fall in love with a woman named Emily

Now, Emily was, at the time, she would not have been considered a great prospect in the 1800s for a wife. But he fell in love with her. Emily was an orphan from no particularly rich family. So, she had no dowry. And The fact that she turned John down multiple times when he proposed shows you just how saucy and independent of a woman Emily must have been. In the 1800s, that’s really, quite something. She was basically working as a maid. And still chose not to take this man’s marriage offer. One day she was working and he went and proposed to her again, and she said no. And he decided that if he couldn’t have her, nobody else would either.

And in a sudden, and sad twist he shot and killed her. So, he was taken to trial. And his family was rich, so they got the child moved to a different county. But he was still found guilty of murder. And he was hanged for his crime. Now, here’s where the story gets even sadder. His church wouldn’t bury him because he was a murderer.

So, he was buried on the property. And so was Emily.  They were both buried on the Accomack Inn property. And you can still see his grave, at least today. I actually have a picture of it.  And They say it operated as a restaurant until 2016. Actually, it’s for sale now so if you have any listeners the United States who have a one point four million dollars I believe? They could buy this property. And have a tavern and inn. Even today it sits right on the river. It’s a beautiful property, but. It operated until 2016. And literally almost everybody who’s ever worked there. And a large number of people who’ve dined there. Have had experiences with either Emily or John.

Even the local police have been called when there was a woman outside crying. And they came and it was Emily. It was not a woman it was a ghost. And I believe on YouTube, in fact, you can hear Is it A recording, Ghost Hunters recordings of Emily saying, help me. So, she didn’t want to marry John during her life, and she got stuck with him forever.

Their souls forever stuck in this building.  That’s awful. And they say that John is just as temperamental as a ghost, as he was in life, that he stomps around. He breaks things. That he knocks down chairs, slams doors. And he even leaves the Accomack, the inn. And goes to neighbour’s houses and slams things around and makes noise. And is just generally a rude house guest. There’s also a cat ghost at the Accomack. They say that you can hear it like land on a table. You hear its little feet go thump. And you can hear it walk across.  I always say, I hope that the cat and Emily get to be friends or they already are, because the poor girl stuck forever with a man she didn’t want to marry.

That’d be dreadful to feel that she was stuck.

It doesn’t seem like a residual because they are very interactive. Okay. They are both very interactive. I’m definitely familiar with residuals. But Emily and John respond.


They respond. They’re very present as spirits go. And now, since that building has been locked up for the past few years. Without even staff and guests coming and going, I sometimes wonder, wow, what are the two of them up to? Because at least before they had people are there all the time. Continuously from the time of their lives, when they were living. Until just the past few years, when they closed the restaurant and nobody purchased it

So, it makes you wonder why they would continue to remain.

I have wondered that, especially her, if she doesn’t want to be there.

Yeah. What is it that holds them there? Is it fear of moving on? In his case, it probably is fear of what he will find if he moves on.

Fear of what he might face if he moves on?

Yeah. Yeah. That’s what I mean.

There’s another interesting fact about this part of the country. We have a really interesting bedrock that is underneath a lot of our land. And it is a composite stone that a lot of experts in the paranormal field say is sticky. It is energetically sticky because it holds so much quartz crystal.

Ah, okay.

And it holds spirits down and makes it harder for them to leave. That some of the entire towns in this region are built on this stone. The building where Loretta is that I told you about, it’s built from that stone. It’s made of it. And I have often wondered, I’m not a geologist. That is not my area of expertise.

But I have often wondered if They’re right. If the stone makes these ghosts feel it’s stuck, feel like they can’t get loose. Because we have so many spaces where there’s like multiple hauntings. All packed into a short little area. And they’re animals, they’re people. And I often wonder, could it be the bedrock? Could it be part of the story of what’s going on in this area?

That’s very interesting. And it brings to mind an interview I did with a lovely gentleman. Who wrote a book about the Greystone Manor, called The Ghosts of the Greystone Manor. And it was created out of that sort of rock, the building was created out of that sort of rock, and it holds a lot of hauntings.

Oh, my gosh. Maybe then maybe it’s coming at you from all directions now.

But that’s in Beverly Hills. That building is a really well-known mansion and it’s quite a sad history to it as well. That’s an interesting point that you bring up, maybe that does, because at our base, we’re all energetic beings. .And everybody, most people know that quartz is a powerful conductor. They use it in watches and, computer chips in some cases, they used to, I don’t know if they still do?

I don’t keep up with that, but I know they used to.

Yeah. So, it has a lot of. electrical properties in it. So yeah, that’s a very interesting theory. Have you with your guests, that you take on the tour, have any of them ever had any really adverse reactions to what they’re seeing or experiencing?

The most common adverse reaction is dizziness. Many sensitive people who don’t have good energetic boundaries will absolutely get dizzy in the presence of certain buildings. I know to expect it now.  , when I see someone starting to get woozy in front of particular buildings I ask them, please just step away. Take it, get some fresh air, go down to that door. The blue door down the street, and I will catch up to you in a second. And then, I always entertain the reality that maybe they had an extra glass of wine. Or their blood sugar is too low. But it happened so much in the same spaces. The exact same buildings cause it. Every time I just can anticipate it.

Like one of them is an old jail. One of them is a Victorian house.  I just know where that energetic load is. And that sensitive people are going to get hit with it. This happened to me too. I remember being on a ghost tour one time in Maine. I was so dizzy walking past this one building. I was just like, Oh, yep, that one’s haunted. And then another time I walked past a hotel. I touched the building. My head started to spin. I joked to my friend I was with I said that building’s full of vampires. And I didn’t mean it literally. But it was definitely full of negative entities.

And when we got to the historical society, my girlfriend said to the guide, she’s can you tell me about, this particular building? She goes, oh, that’s our most haunted building in town. It’s very scary. And she just looked at me and she’s and you knew it. I was like I’m in the business, you just start to be able to feel these things. So, you asked about other adverse reactions from my guests. It’s interesting that I get people on tours and I don’t know if in New Zealand, you’ve seen a television show here from America called supernatural.


Okay. it’s about these two brothers that like chase after ghosts and monsters and demons and do all this stuff. So I have people show up, still to this day. That show has been off the air for a minute, but they still run it all the time, right? Yes. And you can catch it on like Netflix and stuff.  People still show up, even dressed like those two guys. Oh, really? And they want to go chase ghosts. And I’m like, okay first of all, a lot of these houses are private property. You have to get off their porch now, right? That’s somebody’s home or business. You have no business up there. And that’s also breaking the law. But they’re convinced that they’re going to go in and I don’t know? I don’t know what? With whatever ghost or entities there. And they want to have that experience.

They’re looking for it, seeking it out. Because they think they’re, these tough guys from a supernatural. And I’m like, PS, where’s your car? That would be the best part, right? If you believe the guys from supernatural, where’s your car? I wanna see that. But yeah, that hasn’t happened yet. I haven’t seen anybody show up with the fancy car. I definitely see people coming along who, if I tell them there’s a malevolent entity, they’re like, how can we aggravate it? And get it to come out? And I almost always say first of all, A, it’s private property, you can’t. And B why would you want that?

And they’re like, we want to be scared. We want the thrill, like we want the excitement of being chased by a negative entity. By a dark spirit. I have people come in and ask me right up, where are there shadow people? I want to have an encounter with one. So, I did have an encounter with one as a child. And I’m always like, why would you want that? I don’t understand? What do you want to seek that out? And I always tell people like, it’s not going to happen for you tonight. But if you keep looking for something like that, it will find you. It will find you.

 I had someone at a ghost talk who had lived in a space where a shadow person cohabitated. And she saw him all the time. And he was constantly trying to interact with her. And she said she was doing everything she could to keep him out of her apartment and at least in the hallway. She goes, you wouldn’t believe how much sage I burned that year when I lived there. She’d sage and salt. And everything you can think of, just to keep him out of my space. And she said that when he would come in to her bedroom, space that she felt physically sick, that she was just like cold sweating and full of terror. And she didn’t understand what he wanted. And sometimes his eyes glowed red. And sometimes they didn’t. And it was very disarming.  And I’m like, yeah, I’m sure that was an uncomfortable feeling. But that said, I have people who want that experience.  Who they’re looking, I guess an adrenaline rush.  I don’t know? But I truly believe that if you keep looking for something dark, it’ll hear your call sooner or later. And show up in one way or another. And I, I don’t know why someone would look for that?

There’s, so many fantastic ghost stories. I know with amazing history. And I have stories of ghosts who’ve saved people’s lives during floods, who led them to safety. Who worked in a wellness center and helped soothe children during their medical treatment, I am like, I think those stories are so worth telling and knowing In the spirit world. especially when you have, writers like Stephen King out there scaring us all already.

And it’s fun. Everybody likes a spooky story sometimes, but it doesn’t always have to be that way. And in my experience, it isn’t usually that way. The old jail in Maryland, where I give my tours, it does have shadow people. And it used to be where the criminals were hanged. So, it has a lot of, really heavy energy in the space. It’s not in use anymore. It’s an abandoned building now. And on the good side, it was part of the United States’ underground railroad. Which is a building that would have been used when slaves escaped from the south, to the north. To usher them forward to safety, offer them rest on the way.

So, it was used for that too. But it also has this. dark history of being a jail where people were sent to be punished and to suffer. And actually, I’m sure there were some bad people who actually spent time there. Like genuinely sociopathic, bad people. Like I said, the hanging platform was right up front. And there’s the legends of the glowing lights that come from inside of a jail. And I had never seen them, until one night I was walking past the building to a parking lot. And I saw a young woman probably half my age. Just mesmerized looking at the jail, like she looked like she was in a trance.

And I was wondering did she just leave a bar? Is she going to get safely to her car? And I just said, ma’am, do you need any help getting to your car? And when she didn’t respond, I touched her shoulder and I was like, ma’am, do you need any help getting to your car? And she goes, do you see the lights? And, I turned and looked at the building and for the first time I saw the jail glowing.  Just the windows. And she goes, I need to go over there. And I said, absolutely not.  Absolutely not. You’re not going over there. I’m walking to your car. And I did convince her to walk to her car. I did explain to her.

I was like, look, I’m one of the ghost tour, guides and that’s a dark spirit trying to lure you over to the jail right now. I was like, you’re not going to be able to get in. The doors are thoroughly locked. The windows are sealed. I was like, you can’t get into it. I said, but you don’t want to find out what it wants. Let’s just go back to your car.  So, I put her in her car before I went to my own.  And I, so that was my experience with the jail. I have not seen the shadow people that are there. But there are quite a number of reports of them walking up next to people, even in broad daylight. And standing with them outside of the jail. It’s definitely got its own heavy energy hanging around it. It’s a place that has a good amount, not exclusively dark history, but it has a lot of suffering and despair that linger on its energy. 

Do you think in places like that, that sometimes these buildings are actually built on places where the land holds negative energy and it exacerbates?

I have wondered about that too. I don’t have a definitive answer for that. But I definitely have wondered about that. Because not far from there, there’s another space with very dark, negative energies as well. And It seems to me like a lot of the dark spots move in patches.  So, there are other hauntings. There are other spaces with hauntings where there’s nothing dark. Where there are no scary stories. They’re all good stories or just benign, or residual. And then there are these swatches of space that definitely have the darkness on them. And so much death and suffering happened in these places. And not just once. But in history, it happens over and over.  Even in this little town in Maryland, there’s certain spots where war came again. And war came again. And war came again. Field hospitals popped up in similar spots. Or a few yards apart or whatever the case may be.

But, and actually in Pennsylvania, there’s a spot that’s now a park for children where it was a field hospital. There was dark native history. There were hangings later in history. There’s just this one particular park where all of these dark things happened. At different times in history. Was it just because that was an open swatch of land? Or was it because there’s something about that piece of land that has darkness attached to it? I’m not sure but it’s. It’s definitely something that it would be interesting to overlay historic maps and see.

Yeah, and I know from my personal experience that I’ve had with people who’ve had experiences in places like this. That often there’s an elemental associated with that piece of land.

Yeah, that sounds right.

Yeah, and it’s the elemental or earth. For listeners who don’t know what an elemental is, these are interdimensional beings. Some may call them fairy or fae. Or they go by a number of different names. But that’s their land. And they’ve been there before humans were. So, it’s their property and we come on and disrespect them, disrespect their property, disrespect their space. And for some, like with humans, some are malevolent, some are benevolent, some are simply neutral. And it’s my feeling that those that are malevolent. Or who feel totally disrespected by humanity, by the way they’ve treated the land, they’re the ones that cause, these sort of issues.

You know what? That tracks, that makes a lot of sense to me. And there are plenty of people who will disrespect a space. Like those ghost hunters I was talking about earlier, they were disrespecting that space. Yeah, deeply. Yeah, deeply disrespecting the space. Deeply disrespecting the homeowners and the spirit residents as well.  I know, 

I have heard, I don’t know personally. I have heard of a number of Native American tribes who, if they were like tribes that moved around a lot. They would go miles out of their way to avoid certain areas.

Yep. That is correct.

Yeah. Because of the energies in that area. And, in New Zealand, we have the same, the areas that are tapu, which is sacred or you avoid them for one reason or another.

Interestingly, the town I’m telling you about, Ellicott City it was not inhabited by natives.  They used it for hunting but they never lived there. They respected the space and came and went from it. But none of them lived in it. Interesting. And yeah, it’s definitely a very thin place. And two rivers meet there as well. So, you would think it would be a prime place to live. It had bedrock, it had fabulous soil, it had two rivers. And when the colonists arrived, of course, they couldn’t wait to move in because of everything you needed.

But the natives who had been there for hundreds and hundreds of years never lived there. Never lived there. Isn’t it interesting? It’s very interesting. There’s another space in Pennsylvania. Now, this space did have the Lenape people lived near it. But it’s considered a hotbed in this one area. It’s in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, and just another English name. And there’s one particular area that’s now a park, and it has so much paranormal activity. There are ghost stories. There are, witch, dark witch stories, I should say. Not all witch stories are dark. There are cryptid stories. There are UFO stories.

There’s everything you can imagine in just this one little swath of area. There are, there’s even a graveyard where they say, where the family was werewolves. And the whole graveyard is closed. There’s no gate. It’s stonewalled closed. Wow. And It’s all in this one space. And even though the Lenape tribe did have this area, this one rock, it’s called Chickie’s Rock, it has all of these stories. It’s had so much tragedy associated with it too. Like they built a trolley to the top and the trolley came off the tracks and dozens of people died. So, it’s just story after story from this area. Just tragedy, sadness, ghosts, hauntings, you name it, this area’s got it. And, again, I wonder, A, that rock it’s built on. It’s that same composite rock. And then next, after that, I wonder, like, why is it all in this one spot? What is it that makes this a hot spot? That everything is there?

That’s very interesting. It’s questions like these that make me really enjoy doing this podcast. Because, I have a curious mind. And mysteries like these fascinate me and we may never know the real answer. But it’s certainly something to think about, isn’t it?

It is. And, I always dig through history looking for some of the answers, like where did the stories start? Could there be a, could there be a reason in history that this came along?  But there isn’t always. Sometimes you just find more questions.

Yes, that’s true. That’s very true.  Now, I don’t foresee that you’re not going to be doing ghost tours for any foreseeable future. I think that’s probably going to be a part of your journey as you continue on in life for some time yet.

I hope so. I love doing them. I love sharing the stories. I love I even do talks in place where I show pictures of the sites. It’s especially good for people, who, want an in-place presentation. Or I sometimes feel it as campfire stories. And, it’s also great for people who can’t make the walks. Because that happens too. Walking through an old historic area isn’t for everybody.  And it doesn’t mean they won’t enjoy the stories or the ghosts.

And I think in order to do a job like that, you have to be a very good storyteller.

You have to be able to hold the attention of the people that you are guiding that evening. That’s a fact. And you have, you can’t be shy.

Yeah, definitely not.

You can’t be shy. You have to be completely comfortable standing in front of a group of people and talking.

I remember one time when I lived in the States, I was in Georgia. Went to Georgia from North Carolina where I lived. To do an audition actually for a movie. And I thought while I was there, I’ll go on one of these little ghost tours, cause, I’d never been on one. The guy that took it, oh my gosh! He was so flamboyant, all dressed up. He was obviously a showman. And he obviously loved what he was doing. And it was just a short tour, but it was really interesting. What was more interesting was him, than the stories he was telling. I just found him absolutely fascinating.

Most of us love our costumes. It’s not very often I get to dress up in a gown with a black satin corset. But I can wear it on a ghost tour. In my day-to-day life it’s a bit much. But the presentation is part of the experience. And you know I’ve been on ghost tours where they wear, just regular professional attire like you’d wear to an office. And I’ve been on ghost tours where their uniform is a t shirt and a pair of black pants and that’s fine. It doesn’t take anything away from the experience. Especially if the storyteller is very good. And the materials very interesting and well researched. But, I also love a costume. So, when I go on a tour and the person is decked out in a historic costume, it doesn’t matter to me what era it’s from. It can be from the 1970s, bring it. But I do love when they get into it. And especially if it relates to any way to what they’re talking about. Like I, I usually do something from the 1920s or the Victorian era. Because I love the clothes and I have stories from that time. So, it relates.

What would be your very favourite story that you share with your guests?

Oh my gosh, my favourite? Gosh, I have a lot of favourites.  I’m flipping through the catalogue in my mind right now. Because there’s so many good ones. My favourite ghost story. The Akamak Inn is right up there. Because it’s just the perfect tragedy. The perfect tragic story. And the situation no one wants to find themselves in. But literally skipping through houses in my mind.  I’m like, wait, that house, that one, that story? Hmm, I have a go with that one.  So, in Maryland. In my Maryland history tours walks. There’s an area called Mount Misery. And we don’t know why it’s called Mount Misery. The way it got that nickname is lost to time. But at the very top of Mount Misery, there used to be a girl’s school.  And the girl’s school was built of our fabulous stone from this area.

The girls school fell into disrepair over time. It operated as a girl’s school for quite a number of years. And then in the 1900s, it operated as an inn. And then it just fell into disrepair. It started to fall apart. People stopped going there. It got run down, graffitied. And then the town came in and saved it. And they didn’t fully rebuild it. But they stabilized the ruins. And made it into an event space in a park. But that didn’t bother the ghosts at all.  The ghosts are still there and they are still doing their thing just as happily as ever. Now it’s a super haunted place. It’s also the home of an outdoor Shakespeare theatre.  And the ghosts mess around with the actors and the stage techs. All the time. Things like they’ll get all set up and they’re about to start the show and suddenly everything’s unplugged. So, the ghosts there are playful. And they believe there is the ghost of a young woman there. Who sadly died there one winter.

And many of the girls who came to the girl’s school were very wealthy. Because historically women were only educated if they could afford to be. Education wasn’t free and available to everyone the way it is now.  And it was a private girl’s school and it was run by a woman named Elmira Phelps. Who was historically in the United States, a revolutionary educator, because in the 1800s, she felt girls should learn math and sciences, not just how to serve tea. And she believed in educating her girls thoroughly. She thought they should know how to run a household. How to run a budget. How to do botany and take care of plants. Like she gave them a thorough education. But a lot of the girls had grown up very privileged and they weren’t used to having to deal with winter.

And in this old stone building, not unlike a castle, to be totally honest in its day. Now it’s, like I said, it’s stabilized ruins, the girls would get sick. And one girl in particular that we know about she did get sick there and died.  And she’s the most commonly seen ghost in the area. Because she shows up all over the property. People, dog walkers see her all the time. The dogs usually see her first. Right. And she’s a young, very young woman, blonde hair. And she shows up in her, sometimes in her school uniform, sometimes in a day dress. And she shows up all over the property. She shows up in the ruins. She shows up along the fence line, like really close to the street. But indeed, she appears. She’s just, I don’t know if she’s residual or if she’s interactive. Because she doesn’t talk to anyone. She just keeps showing up. It would be really interesting to get a closer look at her and know. Because there are residual spirits there as well. That we know for sure always show up and always do the same thing.

She doesn’t always do the same thing, this young woman.  But she’s visible a lot of the time. And I sometimes think it’s sad. They say that this particular young woman had sent dozens of letters home saying, I want to go home. I want to come home. I don’t like it here. And just when her family sent back a letter saying, we’ll bring you home, she passed away from pneumonia.

Wow. That’s oh gosh. Her parents must have felt so bad.

 I’m sure the parents must have felt terrible about it. And I still feel terrible that she’s stuck there. That she didn’t make it back to her regular home. Wherever that might have been. And I feel for her. It’s really quite sad. And one of my other favourite stories, this one’s a lot shorter. There’s a building in Pennsylvania. And it was built in, I can remember the exact year, 1744. And it was built by Germans. And it was built in the style of the Black Forest. So, it has a soul window. The soul window is a small opening that you open when somebody’s going to die.

And this building from 1744 to this day is haunting free. To this day, nobody, no psychic, no one has ever found an energy in the building. Not a residual energy, not an active haunting, nothing. I imagine that it was built with that intention. And that it has done its job for hundreds of years. It’s one of the most fascinating things. Because even when you’re looking, it was the first place I was a tour guide to, by the way. I you could almost look past it. It’s so little. But there’s this one room in the tavern that in the middle of this tavern, there’s this tiny room that had a bed. And the soul window. And that was where sick people would go in case they passed and the soul window would be left open.  And the building to this day haunting free. Now nobody’s lived in it for many decades. It’s been a historic site for a long time. But yeah, fascinating that something built with that exact particular purpose seems to have done its job.

That’s really interesting, because it brings to mind also, when I was nursing. When we had people dying, it was. Tradition for us to open the window in their room so the spirit could leave.

Doctors, nurses, veterinarians, that all still do that. 

Interesting, isn’t it? and I don’t know if that was a hang on from the early days of nursing or, a British thing. But yeah, the story about the window brought that back to my mind. So interesting. Now, of course, you yourself, personally are very well placed to be doing these tours. Because you are a spiritual sensitive. And you are a medium. And these are part of your gifts. So, it’s just as natural to you as breathing is.  Maybe we could talk a little bit about this. But it’s not really the topic of this episode. Is that you do consultations in a couple of ways that I’ve never seen before, not seen for many years. One is you read tea leaves.

I do.

And the other is you read smoke.

I do. And that’s probably one of the most ancient forms of divining. Yeah. Goes all the way back. The Oracles of Delphi used it and probably before that. So yes.

How does that work for you? Because that’s something that I’ve personally never come across before. So, it really interests me.

So, my path with that started much earlier. I am a third-generation tarot card reader and I to rebel, I wanted to learn something different because I was a teenager. And very accidentally, I fell first into tea leaf reading. And it taught me to read symbol language. So, if you can read symbols. In one form of scrying, you can read symbols in other forms of scrying, too. You have to first learn how to read symbolically and then put a meaning to it. So, once you acquire that skill in tea or any other thing you do, water scrying, whatever, you can transfer it to other types. And these are just the two that I like best. I really enjoy. I enjoy plants in general. Plants are like friends for me. I’m also an herbalist. I have studied herbs and herbal medicine. And I have a, I think of my plants as my friends. To use tea and the smoke I use comes from incense. Mostly incense that I make from my plants.

I have this connection with it in that way. So, I also, I do use candles though. I also use candles for scrying and I don’t make them. And here in our modern world, most candles are really nice and they no longer make smoke.  Most candles have smokeless wicks nowadays.  So, I have to, if I’m going to use a candle for smoke scrying, I have to find a candle that is how do I say this? junky enough. To still make smoke.

That’s really interesting. Can we just dive in for a little minute for my listeners who don’t know, can you explain what scrying is?

Oh, yeah. So, when I say scrying, most people are going to imagine a fortune teller gazing into a crystal ball. I don’t think of myself as a fortune teller and I don’t have a crystal ball to be clear. But I would say scrying is using symbols to speak to spirit.  It is using a system to speak to spirit. Now scrying in particular usually means looking at patterns. People can scry looking at clouds, people scry looking into lakes, people scry looking into bowls of water, into smoke, into ocean foam into, onto a teacup. There are any number of ways to use scrying and it is what they call random divination.

Because you can’t control what comes back to you. Now in say a tarot deck, you have 78 cards. There’s always going to be the same 78 cards. Unless you lose one, but you always get the same 78 cards. And they have different meanings and you can flip them upside down and their meanings become inverse. But when you’re scrying, it’s fully open.  There’s, not 78 meanings to scrying. You can literally see anything and everything, including faces, words spelled out, sequences of numbers. I have definitely literally seen people’s names and faces have come up. Scenes with people doing things.

So, you can see really wonderful things when you’re scrying. And you can also see the worst parts of the human experience. I’ve seen physical abuse. I’ve seen bullying. I’ve seen illness show up in different kinds of scrying I’ve done.  And, as the practitioner, part of my discernment has to be, how do I talk to people about these things showing up in their tea or their smoke? How do I approach what’s going on in a way with sensitivity and grace? And if they don’t want to talk about it, I always back off. Because there’s plenty of other messages in any one of these things that come through. Most people, when they ask for this kind of a consultation, they’re either going to ask about their love relationships or their money.  And so frequently, those aren’t the messages that come through in scrying.

And like when you’re working with a deck of tarot cards, you can take those cards and apply a money meaning to them. Or you can take those cards and apply a love reading to any particular set of cards. It doesn’t work that way with scrying. It’s a different way of perceiving. You have to be ready for anything because anything can come up. Say someone came and asked me about their money. What might come up is that they need to get more education to go on with their career. And nobody wants to hear that. They want to hear that they’re going to, find a bucket full of money and everything’s going to be great. I’m not, I’ve yet to do that reading. I haven’t had the bucket full of money reading for anybody yet. But most people know tea leaf reading from the Harry Potter movies. Because Professor Trelawney does it for Harry in one of the books.

But Smoke scrying is even older than tea leaf reading. And It’s very ethereal and fast. So, when you read a teacup, you turn it upside down and look at it, and it doesn’t move again. Until the tea dries and falls off the cup. You’ve got it. It’s not going to go anywhere. Smoke moves very fast. And you can ask it questions and it will answer you within seconds.  And literally sometimes words are spelled, literally. Sometimes exact faces come up. There are symbols that I know, and I read particular ways. So, it’s like when I see a cat come up, I usually associate that with somebody’s home. What, is the state of their home? And sometimes it’s about their actual cat. But, that’s my symbol for home. So, when I’m reading, I guess my spirit guides, my ancestors, whoever is answering me knows that’s what I’m going to see. So, they’re going to show me the home is in a good state or a bad state by the posture of a cat in their reading.

Oh, interesting.

Yeah, that’s how I do that. And there’s a logical system to it. Yeah. It’s intuitive, but there’s a system as well. So, it’s like photography. There’s both skill and talent involved. So, it’s just, I always say divination is an art. Because there’s so much art form to it. Both you learn the skill and then you bring in your own talent. That was a very long answer.

That’s good. That was really interesting. Do you find that when you’re reading cards, do you see the cards as they’re presented, or do the images change on the card for you? Because I know some people when they use cards, I never use cards or anything like that, personally when I do readings. But I have a friend who would say she would look at cards and the images would change and they wouldn’t be what was on the face, she’d see different things in them.

I fully trust my intuition. this is gonna sound borderline, let’s leave it there. I listened to whatever’s being said to me. And if I’m looking at a card that may or may not have to do with the exact thing that’s being said to me. I speak what’s being told. And it’s usually more precise and accurate than if I were to give a definition from the card. And, I would say I read intuitively. Although I could tell you the textbook meanings of the cards. I would say they change when they’re together.  And they change in terms of the intuitive messaging that comes through.

That’s really interesting.

It’s like I walked into a shop recently in Maryland, and I kept hearing the name Elizabeth. I asked the shopkeeper, I’m like, does someone work here named Elizabeth? And she’s no, that’s the ghost’s name. And I didn’t know the ghost. I didn’t know that ghost story. And in fact, that building had been shuttered for a while and unused. And she was like, how did you know that? And I was like, I didn’t, I just. I keep hearing her name in my mind and I thought, okay, so I’m going to ask about Elizabeth. I was like, maybe that’s this lady’s name, but it wasn’t. It was her ghost’s name. And then I very clearly heard in my mind that she wanted the flowers planted in the garden.

Turns out this particular space had a garden and it had been let go to weeds. But the shopkeeper had been thinking about replanting a garden with flowers. And I was like, oh, Elizabeth would very much like you to replant the garden with flowers.  And she did. And as far as I know that shopkeeper and that ghost have a very good relationship. Although I evidently, sometimes Elizabeth moves around the necklaces that she likes.

Do you find on a personal level, that you get a lot of information like that? Or do you have boundaries that you sit with spirits? Like, for me, I have really strict boundaries with spirit

It depends. So, if I’m run down. If my body’s tired or have a cold, the boundaries are bigger. Because interacting with spirit is tiring. Like I set boundaries on how many readings I’ll do in a day. It’s physically tiring to look at tea and smoke on your eyes. Like the eye strain is real, but also, it’s energetically draining. And especially every now and then you get just one reading that’s really difficult. And the person’s going through a lot of pain and you have to work hard not to absorb it. Those can be extremely draining. And the boundaries are necessary. And, depending where I am, if I’m at home and I can take a salt bath, I do.

And if I’m somewhere traveling, I usually try to take a salt scrub along. So, I can at least shower off after those kinds of readings, or being in an energetically heavy space. Yeah. I try to, because I know I’m.  I have a friend who says my energy is sticky for ghosts. I know I’m sticky for ghosts and spirit. And so I, knowing that about myself it is part of my ritual to prepare. I like to meditate every morning. If I’m traveling or extremely busy, sometimes that gets crossed off the list. Or it gets cut down to five minutes. But that grounding is really necessary for me. And there are times when spirits have woken me from a sleep.

One time I was in a nap and I was actually taking an animal communication course and a dog I had talked to, woke me from a nap and asked if I would come play with him. And I was like, you’re really cute, but I need to sleep. And I have learned and learned as I went along that there are times to make sure you keep your third eye more tightly closed. Even in going to sleep. I, another time I finished a whole day of quick tarot card readings. And I think I had done like 20, which is a lot. And I did not close down energetically after that. I literally went and passed out in the bed in the hotel room. My dreams were wild. I was in a historic space in a historic town.

All of the different entities were coming and talking to me and waking me up. And I finally was like, all right, I forgot to do my ritual. In the middle of the night, I got up, I took my salt shower. I did a closing meditation. And then I was able to rest. But they were like, oh, the door’s still open. What’s happening? Yeah. But yeah, I think that if someone hasn’t experienced that, they don’t necessarily understand that it’s a lot to take care of. It’s a lot to also handle. And I think there are people that do have it, and they don’t understand what’s going on. They think they’re just having weird dreams. Or they have lots of nightmares. And they don’t know what to do besides Take extra sleeping pills or something I’ve definitely, I encountered people like that. They’re like, oh, I have all these bad dreams and they’re always about the entities in the building. And, my doctor gave me sleeping pills. I’m like I could give you a healthier option, but you’re welcome to take your sleeping pills.

Yeah, exactly. There’re so many people who don’t understand what’s happening to them. That’s part of the reason I started my Facebook group. Was to help educate people and teach them the skills that they need, which is why the group documents came about to begin with. So, people could have a reference point that they could go back to.

Oh yeah.

Risa, thank you so much. It’s been a really interesting conversation.  Before we close, would you like to share where people can contact you if they’re interested in having a consultation or going on one of your tours?

Sure. You can find everything you need to know about me at my website. It’s Tea and Smoke. Usual spelling, no spaces. teaandsmoke.com. It’s simple and easy and it’s a lovely little website, easy to navigate.

Are you on other social media as well?

 I am. I am on Instagram and I’m on YouTube and I do a free monthly reading on YouTube. If you want to see what it’s like to experience the tea leaf reading, I do one at the top of each month. 

And is that under your name as well?

Yeah, you’ll find it by looking for Rissa Miller. Yep.

Awesome. And for listeners, I’ll also have links to Rissa’s social media and her website from this episode’s page on the podcast website, walkingtheshadowlands.com. So if you missed them, you can just go to the website and you can catch her links from there. before we close.  Is there anything that perhaps we haven’t covered that you might like to add?

I think the one thing I would share with your listeners is that if you have an experience that it’s Okay. And that there are people out there who want to hear it and will believe you and empathize and treat you kindly with compassion.

That’s really lovely. What a nice way to end this conversation. Rissa thank you so much for your time today. It’s been really lovely talking to you and I’ve enjoyed our conversation immensely.

Thank you for having me. 

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