My background/ethnicity is a little complicated! How's this for a mixture - takes a deep breath - Irish, Romany, English, Scottish, Norwegian and a little Jewish blood all mixed up in little old me! I was reassured by my maternal grandmother (the youngest daughter of a youngest daughter) that as I am the youngest girl in my generation and my mother was also the youngest girl (as is my daughter) that having 'the gift' was a perfectly normal thing and that I should accept it with open arms. Our family traditions say that the youngest female in each generation is gifted with the spirit world, each in their own way. I accepted the 'gift' I really did, but to be honest I didn't have much choice in the matter, I seemed to live in a world full of people, animals and buildings (see my previous story 'I See Dead Houses') that other people couldn't see. I have been visited since I was a toddler (can't remember before that, obviously!) by my paternal grandmother who died when my dad was 12 - many, many years before I was born! She has guided me through my life as did my maternal grandmother.
My mother never really accepted her gift, but she did accept that she saw things and heard things that other people didn't.
My maternal granny said that I was both a 'conjurer' and a 'conduit'. The means that I can 'summon' other worldly things as well as try to guide the spirits that are attracted to me. I often meet with spirits in my everyday life (including a couple of times arriving suddenly in the passenger seat when I'm driving!)
This story is about me when I was around 3 or 4 years old. I was playing in the downstairs hall of our house (a three storey Victorian town house in London, which we moved from when I was about 10). I had what my mum always referred to as my 'imaginary' friends (although in later life she admitted she would see them from time to time) with me - a little girl the same age as me whose name I can't remember, but it was a long time ago, my two white bunnies with red eyes and my little monkey with a long tail and a smiley face - when I thought I needed someone else to play with me. I did what I always did (totally untrained and unrestrained at this point) and told the empty air around me that I would like a big white teddy to play with me, as well as my friends. I remember what felt like hot air going around and around about half way up the stairs. I promptly ignored this until I heard what sounded to my very young ears like an old man (like my Grandad) coughing the way he did when he wanted to talk to me - think a very loud clearing of an adult throat. By this time, all of 10 minutes after my request to the empty air, I had forgotten all about my wish for a big teddy bear to play with. The throat clearing noise continued until I finally realized that my grandad wasn't visiting, but that the noise was coming from half way up the stairs, about the same place that the little hot whirlwind had happened.
When I looked up the stairs from where I was sitting (I was kind of half way between the bottom step and the line down from the top stair, if that makes sense) I saw my big, white teddy bear. He (thinking back it was definitely male - it had all the correct 'equipment' for a boy, but this could be a false memory imagined as an adult!) was definitely white - his whole body was covered in white, curly fur which looked very soft and cuddly. He had long legs for a teddy and they finished in such cute little paws. He had a fat paunch of a belly and very long arms with big hands. When I looked up a little further, I saw his face - I had been so mesmerized by the pretty, curly fur that it took me some time to look up at his face. To this day (over half a century later!) I wish that I had never looked up any further than his fat tummy. His face was absolutely terrifying. He had a long snout like nose which was flattish and almost as wide as his face. His mouth was full of abnormally long and very sharp looking teeth. He looked like he had far too many teeth for his mouth. His eyes were quite big and red and they seemed to glow the way the embers glow in a dying fire (we had coal fires at the time so I knew what they looked like when they were dying down). One of the most fascinating things to me was that he had large curly horns on the side of his head that looked too big for his head. I was still staring at him, trying to work out exactly what he was when I noticed that his 'cute' little paws and large hands actually ended in what looked like very long and sharp finger nails. With hindsight (such a wonderful thing!) I wonder if the reason I'd not noticed the nails before was because they were retractable like a cats. I really don't remember the nails/claws appearing.
He stared at me for ages. My 'imaginary' friends vanished into the cupboard under the stairs and I was left alone with this monstrous teddy bear who was looking at me the same way a cat looks at a mouse. I still remember how intense his stare was and how it started the first stirrings of terror in my little body. Worse was coming though. The demonic teddy bear (sounds like something from a comedy horror film, but it was anything but funny!) started to talk to me. Even worse, he knew my name.
He spoke to me, asking if I would like to go and play with him. He told me he knew a great place to play. We could play dollies or roller skating or even shops - my favourite game at the time - and he would clear up afterwards. He seemed to know everything I liked and everything I hated, like playing shops and never wanting to clear up. I remember telling him that my mummy wouldn't like it if we took all the tins out of the cupboard to play shops as I was still in a little bit of trouble for playing shops a few days before and leaving the tins on the stairs whilst I fell asleep in the sitting room. He told me not to worry, he had lots of things to play shops with.
I'd started to feel ok about him, maybe he was just a strange bear, maybe a polar bear like the one I'd seen on the telly a couple of days before, which started my 'need' for a white teddy bear. Sounds weird that I should associate a creature with glowing red eyes with a polar bear but, to be fair, TV in the UK was still only available in black and white at the time.
I changed my mind very quickly (well, quickly for a small child, anyway) and told him I didn't like him staring at me because mummy said it was rude to stare. This is when he had a huge change in attitude. He told me that he wasn't going to play with me unless I took his (very large and sharp nailed) hand and went with him. I clearly remembering thinking about it and weighing up in my young mind whether it would be worth the trouble I would be in if I went out of the house with someone who was not only a large horned, teddy bear but also a complete stranger.
Whilst I was thinking about this he was getting impatient and tapping his foot on the step he was standing on. He suddenly stopped tapping and looked down the hall to the front door. I could see a familiar outline walking down the hall towards me. It was my paternal grandmother, known to me as Granny X (name withheld as it would reveal who I am, as it's a very uncommon surname). If you remember at the beginning I said that my dad's mum died when he was 12. She'd been with me probably from birth, looking after me in more than one way. She told me to move away from my teddy bear and, as I was used to doing as I was told by Granny X I did. I moved to the bottom of the stairs because, although something inside me had finally told me that he was not a nice teddy, I still wanted to see what was happening.
Granny X took the lead, telling him quietly, so that I could hardly hear, to go back to whatever hell he had come from. He told her that I had 'summoned' him so I was now his, and he was told immediately that as a child I was incapable of deliberately summoning something like him. I think that Granny X was trying to avoid saying the 'd' word (demon/devil) in front of me, but that is conjecture on my part as I really couldn't understand a lot of what was being said and it could have been total contempt on her part.
The argument got louder and louder, and my mum came out of the kitchen and stopped dead when she saw the monster on the stairs. She asked me if Granny X was there with me and I said yes - she later told me that I said that she was 'telling the bad teddy bear to go away'. My mum managed to get past the spirit of Granny X and came to me and picked me up, holding me close to her. Granny X told her (through me, mum could never see or hear her) to stay where she was and not to move.
Granny X continued to do what I thought was an argument with the teddy bear. I heard snippets of what was said but the words are lost in time. I suddenly noticed that the teddy bear seemed to be getting smaller, about half the size he had been and my memory is telling me (rightly or wrongly when seeing through adult eyes) that he was 'shrinking' into himself. When I looked again, he was gone. There were no remains of him, not a thing. He might have never been there. In the movies these creatures go with a 'popping' noise or a flash of fire and brimstone. Nothing.
When I went to bed that night my 'imaginary' friends returned (finally!) and told me that he was a very naughty teddy bear and that my brown teddy (the one I was cuddling) was much nicer and wouldn't get me into trouble.
About a week later my maternal grandmother told me that I had conjured the teddy bear - I assume that my mum had told her what had happened - and that I needed to be very careful about what I asked for in the future just in case something horrible came to me again. To be honest I didn't really understand at what she was telling me at the time, but as it was discussed regularly as I grew up, it did finally dawn on me what my grandmother was telling me.
Since this time I have managed not to conjure any more 'creatures from hell' but still have Granny X looking after me. She was with me when my kids were born and was there when I had a baby that died shortly after birth, and think that she escorted my baby to wherever he went. I try very hard not to 'conjure' spirits but guess I do slip up from time to time - when my beautiful little dog died when I was in my 20s I used to see the rug in front of the fire where she used to sleep move and hear her claws pattering around the place. I think I called her back as I had her since I was a child and she was 17 when she died.
I know that I am very lucky to have a family (including my long suffering but spiritually aware husband) that understands what is going on through personal experience, and very fortunate that I have been able to guide my daughter through her journey with the spirit world. She says that she sees and talks to my dad (who passed away at the tragically young age of 54) and that she feels like he's looking after her, much the same as my granny is looking after me.
Thank you for reading, and apologies for the length of this story.