Guest Author - Christine Wilcox
The weather has been getting cooler in Idaho in jumps and starts. It's 70 degrees for a few days, then it jumps to the 90s, then the weekend arrives and it drops again - the sure sign that soon, leaves will be turning and falling, September will be over before we know it, and October will arrive.
Ever since I was a kid, playing light as a feather, stiff as a board at slumber parties (which never worked, by the way), I've been fascinated by the paranormal. "The Amityville Horror" was published when I was the tender age of 6, and I still remember wanting to read the book and hearing my dad, who never told me not to read anything before, say "no, you're not reading that." And my study bleeds over into my solo travel life. I seek out haunted hotels and restaurants. I thrive on little bookshops with folios of local ghost stories. And I try to remain open to the energies around me - without being stupid about it.
I've had my own experiences, to be sure, most of which I invited after creating a safe space but also some startling shocks in the middle of the night. The shocks are rarely fun, but for solo travelers, there are steps that you can take to set your intent and keep yourself protected.
I respect the area's traditions, superstitions, and energy, and I acknowledge it when I first step into the room - regardless of whether the hotel has a history. I simply introduce myself, thank the energies there for offering me a place to be for the ensuing few hours that I'll be there, say a prayer of protection, and mentally protect myself with white light. And while some folks seem to think that it's a good idea to begin their stay by provoking the energies, Ghost Hunters style, you have no idea what you may be dealing with and how that could impact you.
I don't request to stay in known-haunts when I'm alone. When I went to The Stanley Hotel in Estes Park, Colorado, I did not seek out Room 217, where reportedly Mrs. Wilson still takes her duties as maid quite seriously (she purportedly unpacks guests' luggage and either neatly places your belongings away or ties them in knots to various objects in the room when the guest chooses to provoke her). While this may seem like a no-brainer, it offers some peace.
Lastly, I carry a small bottle of sage spray with me if I'm going to a known active location (less than three ounces, to comply with TSA rules). Smoldering sage has long been used in Native American ritual as a cleansing smoke in a ritual known as smudging, but since lighting things on fire is generally considered a "no-no" in hotels, I take sage spray, As I say my prayers of protection, I spray each corner of the room, the closet, and the bed with the sheets pulled back. It smells lovely, and I sleep more soundly because it smells more like home.
Above all, be safe and listen to your intuition when you're traveling alone.