Of Spirits and Superstition
Of Spirits and Superstition is the fourth book in the Sister Witches of Raven Falls Cozy Mystery Series. Join a set of magical sisters as they solve paranormal mysteries that fans of Charmed, Hocus Pocus, and The Good Witch will love.
I see dead people…but I’m in big trouble when I become a ghost myself.
I’m Winter Whitethorne, psychic medium, and I find it easier to get along with the dead than the living. I’ve perfected invisibility spells so I can ‘ghost’ those I don’t like. Haunted by spirits who refuse to cross over, I struggle to act “normal” and not give in to the bad luck that clings to me as deftly as my ghostly hitchhikers.
When my boyfriend, Ronan, is attacked three days before Yule, leaving him in a magickal coma, I accidentally discover my destiny is far bigger than talking to dead people. Not only can I reach across the veil and communicate with the them, I have the ability to raise them and change the very fabric of the world. There’s no invisibility spell that’s going to solve that problem.
With my ghost cat familiar, Shade, as well as Persephone, a snarky new spirit guide who has a thing for ‘70s sitcoms, I embark on a journey to return Ronan’s spirit to his body and stop a magickal disaster prophesied to take place on Yule.
But can I save my one true love and fix magick when I, too, end up a ghost?
**Note: While this story is intended for grown-up audiences, this story is clean and shareable with younger readers 13 and up!
Ghosts are easy. People drive me crazy.
Adel Lofgren is fifteen minutes late for her session. It’s been snowing all day, and the roads aren’t great, so it’s understandable. However, if she doesn’t arrive shortly, we won’t have time to talk to her mother, who passed three months ago, before my next client arrives.
Conjure is closed, and the winter season is in full swing. I love the long nights and silvery shades of ice and snow. It’s my favorite season and the one I’m named after, my birthday falling on its solstice.
My sisters and I are like Santa’s elves, restocking shelves and handling online orders for the holidays. The fireplace is burning brightly, the mantle decorated with boughs of pine and spruce. The aromatic fragrance of wood fills the shop, along with a cranberry-scented candle next to the register. Snow falls peacefully outside the front display windows.
In the kitchen, Spring is baking yule cookies, and the smell of warm butter and vanilla mixes with the others to fill the place. Her pale skin is flushed when I check on her, and her blond locks are barely contained by the hair net over her ponytail.
Summer, in the front, hums along with a holiday song piped in through the overhead speaker, her strawberry blond curls braided with a rose-colored ribbon. She wears a pair of fingerless lace gloves that feature a snowflake pattern, and a bracelet of snowflake obsidian and ruby beads adorns her left wrist.
Autumn brings us mugs of hot chocolate with candy canes hanging on the sides. She’s dressed in a forest green and white holiday sweater with a matching white velvet skirt. She’s sprinkled extra chocolate shavings on the top of mine and winks at me before she heads home with her familiar, Sirius. The claim is she needs a long, hot bath, but I suspect she’s wrapping gifts with her boyfriend—the bath may or may not come into play as well.
Spring’s familiar, Hoax, hops on the counter, complaining about the short days and cold weather. Like my youngest sister, he prefers springtime. “May the cat eat you!” he yells at me.
Godfrey, our resident shop cat, hisses at the bird. “He’s more likely to eat you,” I say, and Godfrey winks at me from his spot near the fireplace.
I sip my drink and look out one of the ice frosted windows. There’s an earth-bound spirit I’ve been ignoring all day hovering in the corner, admiring the tree. She’s popped in and out, not understanding she’s dead and needs to move into the light.
Perhaps she doesn’t see it, or maybe since it’s so close to Christmas, her soul is being anchored here by loved ones. Either way, I suspect I’ll have to ask for help from the other side.
Hale, our handyman, shovels the porch and steps, a fruitless job with the white stuff still coming down, but he’s trying to keep things as clean as possible since I have two more clients.
“I love that yellow color on you,” Summer says as she begins straightening and stacking more products on the Lotions, Potions, and Herbs shelves, refilling the empty spots where our special Christmas trio sold out today.
It’s not truly yellow…its gold…and all of my sisters have made it a point to comment on my wardrobe today. I favor black, but recently, I’ve been experimenting with different palletes. “I thought it looked festive,” I tell her.
“That the only reason?” Summer’s facing away from me but I hear the humor in her voice.
“I’m sure I don’t know what you’re talking about,” I reply. “The three of you are always on me about wearing colors, so I pulled this from the back of the closet. No big deal.”
She knows I’m lying, and I try to keep the smile off my face. I would never admit to dressing up for anyone, especially a guy.
Headlights flash across the window, and I sigh. Adel has arrived safely. Her mother has been hovering around, like the earthbound spirit, for the past hour, filling my mind with messages for her daughter. I turned down the volume on my ghost dial, so she’s really just background noise, but it’s distracting nonetheless.
The solar parking lot light shows me it’s not Adel, but a front-wheel drive sporty race car instead. No sane person travels in that in this area during the winter, but the man who emerges from it isn’t exactly sane. If he were, he wouldn’t hang around me.
Ronan Walkingstick, bundled up in a woolen pea coat and scarf, tugs a couple of things out of the backseat before shutting the door and heading to the steps. His dress slacks and shoes fit with the vehicle, but not the weather, and I hold my breath, afraid he might slide down and ruin them.
His lithe body keeps him upright as he greets his brother. Snow graces his spiked dark hair, his assorted piercings catching the porchlight. Hale sets the shovel against the railing and embraces Ronan, and I hear Ronan’s deep voice as he speaks.
Setting my mug aside, cold air envelopes me as he breezes inside and snowflakes fall from his hair as he kisses my cheek. “Hello, princess,” he says.
I’m as far from that as you can get. “Last time I checked, Disney wasn’t doing movies about a witch who talks to the dead.”
He grins and holds out one of the items in his gloved hand. “Made this for you.”
Ronan likes to carve wood into different shapes. The one he extends is a simple female form—a goddess. In the center of her forehead is a small white gemstone. “She’s beautiful.”
“I had a few minutes on my hands and inspiration struck.” He moves the statue under the light. “It’s a rainbow moonstone. See the blue flash? Reminded me of you.”
I’m not sure what I’ve done to deserve this man, but he makes me look at the world differently than I have for thirty years. “Why?”
“You’re always hiding your brilliance under the façade you present to the world.” His grin is infectious. If someone else had said this to me I might take offense, but coming from him, all I can do is smile back.
Summer walks by and nods to Ronan. “Love the moonstone,” she says. “And your craftsmanship is amazing. You should talk to the boss”—she nods in my direction—"about letting us carry some of your carvings here.”
“That’s a great idea,” I say, kicking myself for not thinking of it. “We’ll start with a dozen. If people like them, we’ll order more.”
He looks surprised. “Seriously?”
“Goddess statues like that one,” Summer says over her shoulder, “will easily go for thirty dollars. More, depending on the gemstone.”
“Guess I better get busy.” Ronan grins again and it brightens my heart like lights on a Christmas tree. “I also brought you these.”
From a paper bag, he pulls out a bunch of bananas.
“Do they remind you of me, too?” I ask sarcastically.
“You need some potassium between your sessions, so the spirits don’t drain you so much. Eat one now, and another later. I want to be sure you’re in tip-top shape before we do our vision quest on winter solstice.”
I’ve done an annual vision quest with my father since I was a teen, exploring the upper, middle, and lower worlds. I mix his shamanic teachings with my Druid/Celtic ancestors’, who used the sky, land, and sea triad to depict the various planes of existence. Since the gift of seeing and sensing spirits is the most natural of my magickal abilities, it’s imperative I work with them in order to access their wisdom and healing, for people as well as the planet.
Ronan is joining us this time. I’m both excited and nervous. They’re very personal, but Dad and I have always been able to connect within them, so we can share at least part of the journey.
Dad is extremely gifted with visiting the underworld, where our ancestors live, and helping people retrieve parts of their soul they’ve left in past lives. Some folks even lose parts from this life when enduring trauma. That’s one of the reasons Dad is an honored medicine man for his small tribe—many have survived deeply distressing emotional events or physical injuries and he helps them find peace.
For me, they’re more about finding myself, apart from my sisters, so I’m stronger when I’m with them. I also work with a host of spirit guides to assist me with the dead and the living. A guide can be of divine energy, such as an angel, or an ancestor, animal, ascended master, god or goddess. The Great Spirit is the Source of all. Your higher self is part of that energy. Those I work with are always here to guide, protect, and support.
I walk among the dead every day. Spirit guides and guardians keep me safe as I deal with the earthbound, disembodied, and other entities that hitchhike onto those who walk in the light.
“Thank you,” I’m not sure what else to say about the gift of bananas. “I promise to eat one soon.”
This seems to make him extraordinarily happy. Little things do. As if my sisters aren’t enough when it comes to taking care of me, Ronan has decided he needs to as well.
He leans forward and kisses my other cheek. “Gotta run, I’m helping Mom at the soup kitchen. See you tomorrow.”
He walks out before I can say goodbye, and I’m staring after him, holding the bananas in one hand and the goddess in the other, when the door swings open and he peeks back in.
“You look absolutely stunning in that color,” he says.
It closes once more, and he’s gone for real this time. Summer carries more products to the shelves. “Told you so.”
I set the statue behind the counter, smiling to myself, and eat a banana. Ronan is one of a kind, much like me, but he’s…almost normal in many ways. He looks normal, wears normal clothes, walks among the general public as if that’s normal too. It is for most, but not for those of us sensitive to spirits.
I’m staring at the fire, thinking about Ronan’s dark hair and beautiful eyes. I hum along with the holiday song now playing, feeling content. Then Adel rushes in, out of breath and begging for forgiveness.
Spring brings her a cup of herbal tea and I lead her to the table near the big window overlooking the north side. I lock the door, so no one accidentally bops in, thinking we’re still open, and I explain the session will have to be cut short because I have another shortly.
She apologizes again, and I see her eyes are red from crying. The first holiday season is always tough after a loved one passes. My sisters and I lost our mother last fall. Christmas and Solstice were extremely depressing for us. There’s a part of me that wants to reach across and pat Adel’s arm, but I’m not one to touch others. Her mother is hovering around her left shoulder and I let her know.
“Is she okay?” More tears flow and she reaches for a tissue tucked in a pocket. “Is she in heaven?”
That’s an interesting subject and varies from person to person. From my experience with spirits, we create our own version while here on earth. All of them lead back to universal consciousness, the source of all things. “She’s very happy,” I tell Adel, which she definitely is. The mother’s energy is a bright yellow and gold, almost the same shade as my dress. Streaks of pink and green—heart centered energy—infuse the gold. In my head, I hear her talking a mile a minute. “She wants you to be, too.”
Her mother shows me a dresser drawer with a delicate cross necklace inside. “Do you have your mother’s necklace in a drawer at home?” I ask.
Adel puts a hand to her heart and looks aghast. “Yes, Momma! Of course, I kept it.”
The spirit tells me she wants Adel to wear it. I convey the message, and my client nods adamantly. “I’ll get it out as soon as I get home.”
There’s lingering guilt about an argument they had three days before she died, and her mom makes sure Adel knows that everything is okay between them.
Adel is crying more happy tears by the time we’re done, and I know she’s found some peace. She reaches out and grabs my hands. “Thank you so much. You can’t know what this means to me.”
Summer has the Touch, but it affects me at times, especially when it comes to people. I’m suddenly filled with Adel’s emotions, and spirits trying to piggyback and talk to her. I swallow hard and gently pull away while I smile. “You’re very welcome. Happy Holidays.”
I see her off, then send the extra spirits with her. I have to focus on my next client.
The disembodied ghost stands by the window next to me watching Adel leave. I wish I could find my daughter, she says to me.
“She’s already on the other side,” I tell her. “Find the light and you’ll be reunited.”
She floats away, disappearing. Mariel Fontaine’s mom, Abigail, has been stuck to this land for hundreds of years, and although Mariel herself had a very interesting life, my sisters and I sent her spirit into the light in the summer. This ghost, who keeps hanging around, refuses to do the same. I think she’s been tied here for so long, she can’t break free.
Maybe there isn’t a light for her, or she’s ignoring it. Either way, we’re stuck with her for now, but I’m the only one who knows she’s here. My sisters don’t need to know she’s latched onto me, and the shop. They have enough on their minds.
I wonder if there’s anything else I can do to nudge Abigail into the afterlife. It’s frustrating when I can’t get someone to cross the veil. Guess, I’ll just have to keep trying.
My next appointment arrives, and I once more speak to the dead in order to bring peace to the living.