Author’s Note: When I mapped this series out in my mind, I totally thought I’d cover everything in three chapters. Now, we’re definitely looking at at least two more after this. I hope you’re digging it.Last week, I gave you the lowdown on my dance with Catholicism–short but furious, all things considered. It lasted less than three years, but included four Holy Sacraments and a long stint as one of St. Anthony’s most badass altar boys of the ’90s. Or something like that.
It ended with an exorcism. Well, an attempted exorcism. And some death.
I didn’t get to witness the exorcism myself. My mother wouldn’t let me, of course–what mother would? I asked her about it though, today, as a matter of fact, just to make sure I got everything straight. Back in the early 90’s, my mom and I and several of her pagan friends all lived in the same apartment building or nearby. One of her friends’ adult son moved into the house next door, and discovered it was haunted.
My mom and one of her other friends got into the basement and found evidence of four graves in the area of the water heater, and a big hole in one of the walls. The rumor she learned was that someone had killed his family a while back and cut off one of his fingers before killing himself. My mom swears she and her friend could feel his ghost while they were in the house, and her friends reported other screwy things going on. Two of the friends have since passed away and the others, I couldn’t find today if I had the Batcave at my disposal, but I digress. Long story short, her friends living there asked her to make the ghosts go bye-bye.
Mom tried clearing the spirits out of the house with candles and rituals, but it didn’t work. She went to our church’s priest, Father Dave Mura, and asked for his help (there’s very little about Father Dave on the Internet, but I found some stuff here and here). He couldn’t get rid of the ghosts, either. My mom believed the spirit of the murderer cursed Father Dave; a week or two after the attempted exorcism, he died of a heart attack during a family outing. I remember Father Dave being a funny guy, and one of the few Catholic priests I’ve heard speak who can make a homily interesting. I’m sure that being married with a family, a rarity among priests, had something to do with it. But again, I digress.
We didn’t go back to the church that often, after that. It just wasn’t the same without Father Dave, and I wonder if maybe my mom felt bad about getting him involved. Eventually we didn’t go at all. Mom still wouldn’t let me read her occult books, but they were in plain sight on bookshelves in the living room and I snuck them into my room one at a time, reading them and eventually making my own notebook (a very electic Book of Shadows!). For those interested, here are a few of the books I read as a beginning eclectic Wiccan:
After several months, probably around the age of twelve or thirteen, my mom started teaching me things: how to meditate, read auras and the like. I got really good at meditating and making knot charms for protection. I had a great collection of stones: tigers eye, malachite, amethyst, hematite and the like, which were good for things like getting rid of negative energy, protection and healing. I carried a small leather medicine pouch on my keys. I watched my mother and her friends travel astrally, allegedly to combat bad spirits and the like. I learned about the elements, how to call the corners and what herbs were good for different things. And I practiced ritual witchcraft, albeit in a very eclectic form (the practitioners my mother knew were all solitary and self-taught–I guess we were kind of like a coven, and I was somewhat of an acolyte, but there was no formal group) up until the age of sixteen or so. I did a pretty in-depth interview a couple years ago, where I discussed a lot of this stuff in greater detail:
When I discovered Satanism.