I am hijacked by ‘spirits’ on a regular basis and, frankly, it’s terrifying. ‘Been at the vodka?’ you might ask. Wrong kind of spirit, I’m afraid. Take last September, for example, when I went to the opening of London Design Week with my then client Leandra. Halfway through the evening, a hot sensation ran up the back of my neck and my scalp began to tingle. I’ve experienced this ‘tingle’ many times before and know it’s a sign that a spirit or ‘other being’ is in the room. Moments later, invariably the spirit delivers a message. That’s when I hear The Voice.
Author Stacey Duguid: ‘My first experience of a ghost was when, aged six, I walked out of my bedroom one morning to find a dog sitting there’
Let me be clear: I am the world’s least likely spirit medium. I’m a journalist and fashion editor and spend my days writing and blogging about clothes. Give or take a few tricky trends, I look pretty ‘normal’. From the outside, there is nothing ‘woo-woo’ about me, and you’d be forgiven for thinking I’m totally delusional. I get it – what if ‘the tingle’ is just social anxiety? Don’t we all have an inner voice? Yes, we do, but I know the difference between my own commentary and a spirit trying to be noticed.
Give or take a few tricky trends, I look pretty ‘normal’. From the outside, there is nothing ‘woo-woo’ about me
That evening with Leandra, after experiencing a major tingle that made my head feel like it was on fire, The Voice boomed: ‘Tell her not to sell her house.’ ‘Go away,’ I willed it, then picked up a glass of champagne from a passing tray and tried to relax. That’s when it happened. Feeling as though I was watching myself from three feet away, I said to Leandra, in a voice that sounded like mine, ‘You’re going to live by water.’ She moved backwards in her chair. ‘What did you just say?’ she asked, eyes wide. ‘Um’, is all I could muster. ‘What I mean is,’ she continued, ‘I know I’m going to live by water, but how the hell do you?’
My first experience of a ghost was when, aged six, I walked out of my bedroom one morning to find a dog sitting there. I went to touch it, but my hand went straight through it. The dog pottered alongside me for a few steps, then disappeared as it reached the corner of the landing where the staircase began. I then spent my childhood jumping at top speed over that corner step, certain that it was home to an energy I couldn’t see but could feel. Each time I ran past the step, the hairs on my arms would stand up and a chill would rip down my spine. Even at six, I knew the dog was trying to protect me.
As a child, waking up with a feeling of how a situation might play out, going to the phone before it rang, calling someone by their name before they’d even introduced themselves, all felt normal. By the time I reached my early 30s, this sixth sense had turned into hearing voices. The first time it happened, I was waiting to be served at a bar. I turned to a friend and said, ‘Your dad wants you to call your auntie.’ Stunned silence was finally broken by the words, ‘My dad’s dead.’ Despite feeling totally freaked out, within months of receiving my ‘message from the grave’, my friend tracked down her auntie in Las Vegas and flew there to meet her. Fifteen years on, they’re incredibly close.
Last summer, I went away for a week to a remote country house in the Scottish Borders. Everything felt fine until I went to bed. In the dark, strange things began to happen – I could feel rushes of energy, saw lights, heard noises. I didn’t sleep for four nights in a row. On the fifth, I texted my psychic friend Dane Punch, who suggested I needed assistance from ‘the divine’. ‘Ask Archangel Michael for help,’ he advised. ‘Call upon him to use his sword of light to escort any negative energies out of this place and ask him to send them to the light with love.’ That night I slept for hours. It turns out the house was once a male prison and, according to the chef, the ghost of an inmate is often seen walking through the kitchen at night. If you ever find yourself in spiritual bother, ask for Archangel Michael as loud as you can. There for all of us, he has never let me down.
Going back to my evening with Leandra, I’d moved on from ‘you’re going to live by water’ to having a full-blown vision of her future home. Grabbing a pen and paper, I drew what I saw in my mind’s eye, detailing everything from where the sun set to the view from one of her windows. Leandra stared at the sketch and said, ‘I’ve drawn this myself and have it at home – I know exactly where this is.’ She then showed me a photo on her phone. Everything became clear – my sketch was of the Swedish countryside near where she and Stef, her recently deceased partner, have a summerhouse, her sanctuary. ‘This isn’t a coincidence,’ she said, ‘this is confirmation – I now know, at some point, I’ll live by water.’ Needless to say, Leandra is no longer a client – it was a bonding experience and she’s now a good friend. And one thing’s for sure, even if Leandra ends up living in Sweden, Stef doesn’t want her to sell her house in London – I told Leandra he was suggesting she use it as her pension pot.
The following day, elation turned to something I couldn’t quite put my finger on. ‘What’s up?’ asked my husband-to-be, who’s just about to finish his doctorate in counselling psychology. ‘Finally, with the drawing I have evidence. After all these years of feeling as though I’m losing my marbles, perhaps I can actually channel spirits.’
Being an accidental psychic has served me well over the years. I can sense a kindred spirit the moment I come into contact with their aura; I connect with people on a much deeper (or higher) level, and I even met my fiancé because of The Voice. After cancelling our blind date for the fourth time, a spirit shouted in my ear ‘Go!’ Hours later, I experienced love at first sight. The same happened when I went to high school and met my best friend Natalie. Our souls connected that day and have remained spiritually entwined for years. Given that Natalie now works as a spiritual teacher, it’s no wonder we were drawn to each other.
But channelling can also be a hindrance – spirits shouting in my ear, me thinking I’m going bananas, spouting spiritual advice in business meetings (and bars). I also attract major energy drainers (as in real-life humans) and can come away from meetings or home from the daily commute feeling depleted. As a result, I’ve recently been taught how to ‘close down my chakras’, which blocks unwanted intrusion from passers-by, spirits and ghosts who try to bombard me with messages to whomever they want, whenever they feel like it.
Shortly after channelling Stef, I began seeing an energy healer and mentor, Delilah Sullivan, and using my sessions with her as a spiritual reset. And, after avoiding the place for 15 years for fear of demonic possession (slight exaggeration), one sunny morning this May, I finally entered the hallowed halls of the College of Psychic Studies. There to attend James Philip’s workshop, Alchemy Energetics 1 – the Spiritual Level, I found myself in a room with chairs set out in a semicircle and a red rug covered in lit candles, angel cards, crystals and bottles of essential oils. As I entered the room, my deceased grandparents and great aunt Dorothy appeared as visions. I assumed they just wanted to say ‘hello’, and kept quiet for fear of sounding like an oddball. Minutes later, when it was my turn to introduce myself, I told a roomful of strangers how I thought I was going mad for years and that ‘hearing voices with no evidence’ has often left me feeling depressed. To my horror, I burst into tears. When I looked up I found that no one was laughing or doubted a single word.
Spirits shouting in my ear, spouting advice in meetings and bars, can be a hindrance
Thanks to Philip’s modern-day shamanic workshop and his guidance, I’m getting my head around engaging with my spirit guides, who change over a lifetime, can take many forms but always have our best interests at heart. To be guided by mine, each morning I open my windows, burn sage to clear any negative energy, play shamanic drums on YouTube and go on a journey with my spirit animal, a wolf, and spirit guide, a wizard in a rainbow coloured glittery cloak.
After spending the day at the College of Psychic Studies, I’m beginning to view channelling the spirit world as a gift. There is much to learn, which is why I called established energy healer Georgia Coleridge. I’m curious to understand why some of us are more susceptible to tuning into the spirit world than others. Georgia says: ‘We are all born with the ability but either due to fear – many children communicate with ghosts but some become frightened by what they experience, so shut down – or our rigid education system, the ability to use our sixth sense has been lost.’
Georgia could be right. Despite many spooky moments, I’ve somehow managed to remain open to the invisible ones who walk among us. ‘Some women are more open to energy when they become mothers,’ adds Georgia. And I agree: I receive many more messages from spirits since having children seven years ago. Not that I discuss spirit voices in front of my children. They’re free to draw their own conclusions and I’m aware of not exposing them to the ‘woo woo’ for fear of frightening them. That’s why no one was more shocked than me when my son recently said to me, ‘Mummy, I sometimes feel a hand on my back. Then I turn around – and it’s a ghost.’
Follow Stacey @staceyduguid