The reason why I haven’t told this story sooner (at least, as Alfred Eyrie) is because I tell it often as my regular self. But I feel this story is important enough that I will risk connecting “Alfie” to the real me.
As a young adult, I rented my first apartment from a family member. Not being used to living alone, I often had friends over. One morning, I went to get dressed and found that somebody had put something very strange in my underwear drawer.
It was a cloth bag, smaller than my fist, that had been tied with a strangely woven knot. Inside was a crystal, several strange objects that I did not recognize, and a few tiny dolls that were obviously meant to represent me and several other people. Readers may recognize what I’m describing and think they know what this story is about…but it’s not about that. Let’s go back to that last paragraph.
I lived alone. In a house that had locked doors. And somebody had gotten inside, came into my bedroom, and put something into my underwear drawer. Was it one of my friends? Was it my landlord? Was it a burglar or somebody who meant me harm? I wanted to know who it was.
So I took the little bag to my friends. “Do you know what this is about?” I asked.
None of my friends or family seemed interested in how it got into my house—let alone my underwear drawer. Their responses were more along the lines of “Man, that’s witchcraft!” Or “That looks like a voodoo fetish bag.” The most prevalent information offered (and the reason I tell this story) was, “You need to stay away from that stuff.”
Again…let’s go back to the part where I found it INSIDE my house. There is no “staying away” from something that already got in. But such was the mentality of my religious friends and family. And, as I have discovered in the years since, such is the mentality of the religious world at large.
Finally, I asked a friend who knew a “white witch” that he suggested might be able to tell me the “what”, “why”, and most importantly, “who” behind the bag if I took it to them. So I did. After interpreting the contents of the bag, this person interpreted the nature of the “spell” that was intended, and from that I was able to identify and confront the person who had put it there. More importantly, I was able to address the fact that this person had broken the law by sneaking all the way into my house to put it there.
The point of this story is that it is more important to be informed than it is to be innocent.
John Dee was a famous “occult” astrologer during the reign of Queen Elizabeth. In reality, he was just a spy (inspiration, in fact, for the most famous fictional spy of our time). Dee went around the courts of Europe pretending to read everybody’s astrological charts, palms, tarot, or whatever else they believed in. And while he did this, he probed them for telling bits of information that might help advance his queen’s political position. Then he’d write back to Elizabeth with the information he’d learned. The only reason he was never caught was because people were afraid of the esoteric markings and codes he used on his envelopes to communicate his secrets. After all, in the age when religious piety was viewed as the most important virtue, who would dare risk their eternal soul to read something that might just be the incantations of a demon?
Except it wasn’t. It is widely believed that the “astrological readings” that Dee sent to the queen are what helped her gain the advantage against the Spanish Armada and turn the tides of world history. Imagine if the curious messenger delivering his letter to England hadn’t been too afraid of that devilish “007” signature on the envelope.
After the incident with the “voodoo” in my underwear drawer, I realized that there were supernatural forces at work in my life—whether I wanted them there or not. And ignoring them had not made them go away. So instead of “staying away”, I decided to study them instead.
I am not advocating for joining a witch coven or embracing occult practices. But there is a lot that can be learned about the “dark side” of spirituality without one needing to join it. And what I have learned has proved VERY useful in the years since.
Most often, when I tell this story, I am telling it to devout, religious members of a church or other spiritual organization that has opted to ignore the “voodoo in their underwear drawer”. Over the course of my life, I’ve watched so many churches get hit with spells and supernatural assaults that they chose to ignore that I started cynically identifying the forces working against each church I visited simply by reading their weekly bulletins. And sadly, most of those churches who “stayed away” did not come out of their battles as winners.
But this story is not about churches getting wrecked; it’s about people.
I “became” Alfred Eyrie after helping a friend deal with a paranormal entity that had come into her home and was stalking both her and her child. Her pastor would do nothing. Neither would any of the other protestant churches she called for help. The local Catholic archdiocese scheduled her for an exorcism consultation…but that was a few weeks out. Meanwhile, she and her son were sleeping on other peoples’ couches because they could not go back to their own home. “Stay away” indeed!
I have seen churches reach out to the children in their communities, inviting the “unsaved” to come to Sunday School without realizing what kind of a war zone they are bringing in to their nice, orderly Sunday morning schedule. Some of those kids have their own “voodoo in the underwear drawer”, and when they speak up about it in Sunday School, it does no good for the teacher to advise them to “stay away.” I’m not just talking about the kid whose parents are going through a divorce or struggle with drug addiction or financial problems. I’m also talking about the kid who is being visited by a “ghost” back home—or who wishes the person who visits them at night was just a ghost. Or worse.
The point I am making in this blog is not about avoiding the metaphorical “voodoo in the underwear drawer”. It’s about dealing with it. I know kids in my own community who are dealing with things—maybe not ghosts or witchcraft, but just as disruptive in their lives. And I know adults in my own community who are aware that these kids are troubled. If you are one of those kids, I want to say that you are not alone. And if you are an adult, I want to say that the LEAST helpful thing you can possibly do, both for that kid and for yourself, is to “stay away.”