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My Aunt, The Witch, And Seances


This is my first story that I'm posting on this site, and I hope I don't bore you with its length, but I felt the need to explain a few things along the way. This story is a collection of events that happened to me or to close family members that intertwine to form the account. Most of the events happened a few years ago, so if the details are sketchy I apologise in advance. Feel free to ask questions and I'll answer them to the best of my ability.

It relates to a particular family member and some séances that we have performed. I have always been interested and drawn to the paranormal, and I even have a family member who was a "witch" and I would like to share some experiences with you. Whilst I am drawn to the paranormal, there is no way that I would want any experiences remotely close to what happened to the "witch" nor be part of anything remotely related to the happenings.

The family member, who was a witch, was my grandfathers' aunt who was called Ksenia (not her real name). She only died ten years ago when I was 15. My family are Russian and escaped the revolution and lived in Harbin, China until communism came to China (they left in 1956). Harbin was essentially a Russian city with most of the population being of Russian descent. As a young girl, Ksenia befriended a local witch who passed on her knowledge to her before she died. Despite practicing witchcraft through her life, she still maintained her Russian Orthodox religion/beliefs and superstitions. One time Ksenia managed to upset the domovoi (a house spirit according to Slavic folklore) and found dirty handprints all over her washing (no children were in the house at the time so that was ruled out).

When we would go to Ksenia's house, she would always offer to tell our fortune through playing cards or tea readings (note that historically playing cards are derived from Tarot and you are able to perform readings from them) or do a séance via a Ouija board (my aunt was severely negatively affected by one where a spirit (a murderer from the Stalinist era) attached itself to her and harassed her for weeks and tried to "strangle" her at night-time). Her card readings were always accurate to the day/week. I know the layout she used and some of the meanings; however, I am nowhere near proficient enough to do a proper card reading so refrain from doing so.

She would also cast spells on people (her own sons weren't excluded from this) and would always leave a token of some sort (a homemade doll or a random object) under her seat if she visited you (a spell). She once told my grandmother that she had this uncontrollable urge to do nasty things (usually via spells) and that a voice told her to do these things. Every time she tried to fight this urge, the voice would get stronger and would threaten her. She would then perform a spell or do something nasty to appease the voice. My grandfather (who is a snoop) once visited her and snooped in her room and found a booty of weird items under her bed (dolls (voodoo?), snakes in bottles, that type of thing).

Over time, my grandparents distanced themselves from Ksenia as they didn't agree and didn't like what she did and didn't want her to influence their grandchildren in any negative (witchcraft) way. I always have pleasant memories of visits with her as a child, but was aware of who she was and what she did.

Many years passed and at the ripe old age of 95? (she was well into her 90's when she passed away) she was diagnosed with cancer and was given two months to live. She lived longer than the two months and eventually died on a Friday afternoon. With Orthodox religions (particularly the Russian one), religious celebrations are celebrated according to the Julian calendar and not the Gregorian calendar (current dating system in use). The Julian calendar is 13 days behind the Gregorian calendar and as such we celebrate Christmas in the 7th January (which is the 25th December now) and Easter is usually at a later date.

Ksenia passed away on a Friday, which happened to fall on the 13th according to the Julian calendar. Those of the Orthodox faith also believe that a person's soul wanders the earth for 40 days after they pass away. On the 40th day a mass is performed for that person to help their ascent to Heaven. Her 40th day fell on a feast day, meaning that the mass could not be performed.

Two strange things occurred around her death - the date being Friday the 13th (Julian calendar) and the absence of her 40th day mass. Is it a coincidence, given the life she led or is something more at play here?

Her son (who lived with her), shut up her room and left it be for many years after her death. When he remarried, he and his wife decided to clean out her room and use it for another purpose. When they did, they found the strange things under her bed and also string tied up underneath the mattress. The base of the bed was raised off the floor and the flat part where the mattress lay were a series of springs. It was on these springs that the string was tied in a criss-cross fashion. Knowing that this was one of her spells, they contacted a friend whose mother was also a witch. They were told that the spell was made to bring tension and conflict to the house, and to reverse it they would have to burn the string and walk away from it not looking back. After the spell was reversed, an apparition could be seen around the house (believed to be Ksenia). Not long after this, they both moved out.

Years after she died (I would have been 20-21 - I'm now 26), we decided to perform a séance using a Ouija board. I was present along with my mother, aunt and Ksenia's son. We tried to summon her but nothing happened. We then decided to summon a random spirit who would be around. The strange thing about that session is that all dearly departed family members came through. We spoke to both of my great-grandparents (mother's side), my grandmother and my uncle (father's side). It was surreal contacting my ancestors and their answers were a mix of Russian and English (Russian spelt phonetically through the English alphabet).

Thinking it strange that all family members came to us, we asked them why they were all here. My great-grandfather replied that they are waiting for someone. We also asked about Ksenia and if she was with them - the answer was a resounding NO!

Three months after this séance, my grandfather passed away. I like to believe that his wife and family were with him during his final hours to help him crossover. Since then I have completed quite a few more séances and every time we do them (only family who participate) we get family members contacting us. I have managed to contact my grandfather and he is with the rest of my family. Whilst I have made a conscious decision to no longer dabble in séances and the like, every time I have done one, it has been a positive, uplifting experience to communicate and get messages from my family. I have never felt threatened or anything negative come through. I know that my family (especially my grandmother and great-grandfather) watch over me and I feel blessed to feel their presence, even momentarily at these occasions and when I need them.

Never have we been able to contact Ksenia. Despite her spells (when she cast them), she was always someone pleasant to be around - she wasn't all bad. Regardless, I don't think that I would want to encounter her spirit lest it is sinister or invites something sinister.

Thank you

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The following comments are submitted by users of this site and are not official positions by Please read our guidelines and the previous posts before posting. The author, Vesna, has the following expectation about your feedback: I will read the comments and participate in the discussion.

teafortwo1922 (3 stories) (20 posts)
6 years ago (2012-04-10)
I believe in past lives so on
Maybe she stuck around a little after she died then went to go get a new body
Is there any new addions to your family if so lesson to what little ones got to say maybe it is her
Luna0794 (3 stories) (19 posts)
6 years ago (2012-02-23)
Sorry to just jump in like that I was just really interested in the discussion that you, enigmaticsoul & nysa were having. I got so excited about that I forgot I wanted to ask how you do your seances? Does one of you act as medium or do you use a talking board? Or is there another way?
Luna0794 (3 stories) (19 posts)
6 years ago (2012-02-23)
On the subject of spirit guides, the New Age style concept of spirit guides is that they are extremely benevolent, like a guardian angel but with direct communication. The spirit guides from "other" cultures seem to be more neutral in what I have read more like teachers whose only concern is conveying knowledge. In some cultures they teach magical practitioners how to harm & how to help equally. Apparently with no judgement on how it is being used. It is interesting to consider; say a spirit guide is actually just the soul of a deceased practitioner (that is not the belief of any system I am aware of, I am just theorizing here), the guide could be as benevolent or malevolent as the witch had been in life. Which sparks another out of left field theory, what if your aunt were not communicating with your family because her spirit has attached itself to another witch as his/her spirit guide. A lot of fascinating ideas to consider, I am so glad you posted this account.
Vesna (1 stories) (2 posts)
6 years ago (2012-02-23)

You ask some very good questions so I'm more than happy to answer them - they probably add clarity to the account more, but there are some that I can't really answer and can only speculate on.

I don't think that they are protecting us from her because I don't think she is in the same place as they are. Going by the Russian Orthodox beliefs, she probably hasn't passed onto the spirit realm properly given that she couldn't have the 40th day mass. There is also the concept of heaven/hell/limbo to consider, but I'm not too sure what to make of those concepts as I believe the afterlife is more complex than that. My opinion is that it is due to her malevolence that she may not have passed on to a better place. She was the only malevolent person in my family and she is the only one who isn't with everyone else, unless of course she disconnected herself somehow. The notion of a spirit guide is interesting to consider and is something that I never thought of - I guess from my readings I assume that spirit guides are meant to be good and helpful and not the opposite.

I suppose the above also answers snowwhites question as well.

[at] DragonStorm80, they do believe that it is her spirit that they saw - it wasn't a one off it would happen quite frequently. Eventually the house was sold and the apparitions were no longer seen.
DragonStorm80 (1 stories) (440 posts)
6 years ago (2012-02-23)
I am also very curious as to where you think your aunt's spirit has gone? This was a very interesting story, and do you think the manifestation your brother and his wife saw was your aunt?
enigmaticsoul (17 posts)
6 years ago (2012-02-22)
Looks to be that the afterlife is more mysterious than thought, until we get there will we ever truly know!
snowhite (203 posts)
6 years ago (2012-02-22)
I am just wondering where your aunt's spirit is. Why doesn't she be with the rest of your family members that passed away?
enigmaticsoul (17 posts)
6 years ago (2012-02-22)
Nysa, you are most welcome. Magical practices are very fascinating especially from other cultures-I am completely against black magic. Vesna is right, there are a lot of wiccans but there are also pagans too.

I think the reason there is limited resources on the subject of magic etc from Australia is because a lot of the settlers are of European decent and these days also include Asia and many other people from all over that have carried on their own rituals and traditions from where they're from and do it in Australia.
Nysa (4 stories) (685 posts)
6 years ago (2012-02-22)
Vesna thank you so much for your answers. I thought that the voice in her head sounded out of synch with the little bit I know about Slavic magical practices, but I know some magical systems believe that witches have a spirit guide so I was wondering about that. I was just curious about the presence of Voodoo in Australia because of your speculation about the poppets found with her things. I was not sure if you were wondering about the influence of Voodoo on her practices, or just trying to describe them in a way that would be familiar to many readers.

You mention that Ksenia has never contacted the family during seances, do you believe that it because the rest of your deceased relatives protect you all from her? Or because she has not moved into the spirit realm "properly" (for lack of a better term) because she did not pass on her knowledge or because of her malevolence? Do you believe that her spirit could be free of that malevolence, assuming that it was due to the influence of a malevolent entity or mental illness?

Sorry for the barrage of questions, I am very interested in these issues & how people of various backgrounds understand them. And as someone who embraces the label of witch for herself I appreciate your sensitivity. Though I do not believe that those of us who embrace the term get to determine how others use it, it's nice when someone thinks it's worth being sensitive about.
Vesna (1 stories) (2 posts)
6 years ago (2012-02-22)
Hi Everyone, thank you for your responses so far - especially for enigmaticsoul for answering one of Nysa's questions 😁

[at] Nysa, I second what enigmaticsoul wrote - like the US, Australia is very multicultural and whilst beliefes that are not part of the "mainstream" (ie Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Hinduism, Buddhist etc) are not really seen or talked about, there would be a presence here in Australia. There are Wiccans here and other beliefs so it would not surprise me if voodoo is practiced here.

As for your other questions, here are some answers for you:

In my family we believe that people are pre-disposed to such talents (like sixth sense, medium like abilities) so Ksenia probably was predisposed to this, however probably learnt to harness this as well as the intriciacies from this "witch". (I use inverted commas so as to try not to offend wiccans or anyone of another faith). There are a few of my family members who have a strong sixth sense, have psychic premonitions, and experience the paranormal (myself included), however we haven't learnt or have been able to harness it to the same extent as Ksenia. I know for myself, it's a passing thing that happens from time to time.

I don't think there were any signs at birth. The story goes was that she befriended a local "witch" (possibly a neighbour) and that before death her knowledge must be passed on. She may have noticed a natural ability, but again nothing has been said about this. To this day, we don't know if Ksenia passed on her knowledge - we believe that she didn't.

Our family were not pleased that she learned this skill. Society back then was much more religious and whilst "witches" have been part of Russian culture, it was frowned upon. Possible reasons are that a lot of the practices go against teachings of the church and also the intent behind some of the practices. She caused a lot of trouble because the intent behind her actions was negative and this caused family members to keep their distance. Every time you saw her, she was cast a "spell" and no one knew if it was meant to be a good thing or a bad thing (assumed the bad thing because of the voice, etc). We think the voice was part of her being a witch, but based on articles and stories that I have read, it may have been a demon. I personally think this is unusual.

The only reason why we have a largely negative view on her practices is due the negative nature and intended harm they caused. I don't think there is anything wrong with witchcraft or any inherent belief in general as long as there is a positive intent behind the practices and you know what you are doing. I only say the "know what you are doing" phrase as someone may unintentionally stumble across something they have no control over which may wreak havoc!
teafortwo1922 (3 stories) (20 posts)
6 years ago (2012-02-22)
I think your story is cool. I heard on my mothers side that some of her family were witchs and in to that stuff. So it is not new to me hearing stuff like that. She is Mexican and my father is white. I wonder if any one on his side where in to stuff like that. I am might start asking around. The question is witch family memebers do I ask not scare any one and get them thinking I am wierd and crazy. 😳
Nysa (4 stories) (685 posts)
6 years ago (2012-02-22)
Thanks Enigmaticsoul 😊

Most of the books & journal articles I read on this subject come from American & UK writers (& a little bit from South American & European) so my knowledge of Russian tradition is limited & of the situation in Australia is almost nonexistent. So anything shared is appreciated. I know that spiritual / magical systems have travelled far from their original homes but I would have been surprised if there was a large population of Voodoo practitioners in Australia.
CityGal (3 stories) (8 posts)
6 years ago (2012-02-22)
Great story! I would love to hear more about this unusual relative of yours.
enigmaticsoul (17 posts)
6 years ago (2012-02-22)
Nysa: I know your question wasn't for me however, I am Australian. As you may be aware of it is a very multicultural country, hence a lot of unique beliefs and practices. Any kind of magical practice is usually not really a talked about thing unless you're apart of a group of people that practice it or people prefer to do it alone. Voodoo to my knowledge has not taken off here although I am positive people do it and keep it hidden no matter where they're from.
Nysa (4 stories) (685 posts)
6 years ago (2012-02-21)
I have some questions that might help us out with context. I understand you cannot speak for a culture you are somewhat removed from, but perhaps you could share your family's understanding of these issues. You say Ksenia was taught witchcraft at a young age. Does that mean your family understands it to be a learned talent? She was not singled out to be taught because of a natural ability or any sign at birth that she would be a witch? Was her family pleased she leaned this skill? Was the voice she heard considered to just be part of being a witch or was that unusual? You seem to have a largely negative view of her practices, is that shared by most of your family?

"Dolls," while famously associated with Voodoo & it's family of spiritual beliefs, have actually been used by most magical systems throughout the world (& throughout time). If you are trying to have an effect on a person the most obvious way to do it is by manipulating a representation of a human. Has Voodoo migrated to Australia in a significant way?

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