When spirits talk: Receiving messages from beyond

WASHINGTON — I stepped out of the car and gazed up at the gray townhouse, shielding my eyes from the late-afternoon sun. An old wooden sign hanging above the door swung gently in the wind on its black iron post. On it, the words “The Owl Nest.”

The building’s old door creaked open when I turned the handle, and a bell rang to signal I had arrived. Greetings were exchanged and I was led past candles, cauldrons and a wall of mysterious herbs to a staircase in the back room.

“They’re meeting upstairs, I believe,” the shopkeeper told me.

I paused, inhaled deeply, then proceeded. Each step up the noisy wooden staircase echoed in the stairwell. At the top, a large, sparsely decorated room with a circle of eight folding chairs waited for me. I was the first to arrive, but others quickly followed.

Then Terri spoke.

“Here’s how it’s going to work. First, I call in archangels to protect the room, because we don’t want just anybody walking in here,” she said.

“And then I call on my Joy Guide. Her name is LeAnn; she’s six years old; she’s a spirit, and she’s in charge of the doorway. She helps me decipher who’s coming in for people. Sometimes she gives messages if she feels like it, and sometimes she gives hugs. You may actually feel her give you a hug.”

I instantly shuddered; goose bumps raced up my spine at the thought of any physical interaction with the great unknown. That might make it too real.

Terri continued, explaining the ritual.

“And then I say the Lord’s Prayer. I do that for added protection

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