by Jodi Foster
(Article originally published in The Llewellyn Journal.)
Have you ever felt alone or confused by an unusual or unique supernatural experience? Do you know in your soul that you have an unconventional spiritual gift, but feel misunderstood by family, society, or religious dogma? Have you suppressed your abilities, spiritual gifts, and talents? Well dear soul, I am here to tell you that you are not alone.
My name is Jodi Foster; I consider myself an average person just like you. I am a mom, a domestic goddess, and a brilliant cook (well, according to my friends and family, that is). Strangely, through divine intervention, I find myself embarking on a new magical adventure as an author, radio personality, and intuitive consultant. My debut book is called Forgotten Burial: A Cry for Justice from Beyond the Grave, and my paranormal adventure was featured on the SyFy Network show Paranormal Witness (the particular episode is titled, "The Apartment").
It all started in the year 2000, when I found myself on a life-altering spiritual journey. I experienced premonitions, intuition, and extreme empathy, and what I later understood to be paranormal activity. I have come to understand that there seems to be a common thread woven throughout a person's first paranormal experience. Life as you knew it, is never the same again. Most people feel alone and crazy. We question reality, science, and our own sanity, then we question what we have been taught by mainstream religion.
A paranormal encounter may not seem like a good thing as it is being experienced, but maybe it is simply a matter of perception. As you read further, I encourage you to listen to the knowingness in the pit of your stomach: be a skeptic; pray; meditate; and keep an open heart, soul, and mind. I hope to plant a seed of encouragement, that you might embrace your own spiritual awakening and innate gifts.
As a child, I recall my grandfather—a Christian man and retired mortician from Albany, New York—sharing his ideas about the afterlife with me. These were ideas of acceptance, love, grief, and the possibility that life continues, even after death. I listened to his interesting stories, but other than thinking that he was one smart guy, I never really thought too much about how he helped families and spirits make it to the afterlife. However, on the eve of my ninth birthday, things changed.
My first encounter with the spiritual realm and the unknown was January 31, 1976. My grandfather came to me. He sat at the end of my bed and said, "Jodi, every one receives a special gift to share with the world. It's your job to accept and understand your gift, and to use your gift to the best of your ability. As you get older the gift will fade away. But someday when you least expect it, the gift will mysteriously reappear." He kissed me on the head, tucked me in bed, turned off my bedroom light, and walked out of my room.
In my child mind, I couldn't imagine what kind of special gift awaited me; I envisioned a wand, an invisibility cape, or a special fairy doll of some kind. I recall lying in my bed, fantasizing about the gift. It all seemed so magical and exciting. I assumed that since it was my birthday, Grandpa would be the one to bring it to me in the morning.
That morning, as I awoke with great expectations, I couldn't wait to hold the magical gift in my tiny hand. I stared out my living room window waiting for Grandpa and my gift to arrive; Grandpa's house was only ten minutes down the road from our home. As I waited with baited breath, I suddenly saw him. He was walking toward me up the dirt road. He smiled and waved at me, and I waved back. Strangely, as he approached my front door, he vanished. I didn't understand. I ran to see where he had gone, but I couldn't find him. I went into the kitchen and explained to my mother what had just happened. She looked at me, puzzled, and then decided to go look for him.
Mom was gone for about thirty minutes. When she returned, she had tears in her eyes. She cried out, "Grandpa went to heaven!" I didn’t understand.
"Mom," I said, "I just saw him at our door!”
She yelled at me, "Stop lying, Jodi, he never left his house today—he died!"
I fell to my knees and cried. I was confused and scared. I didn't understand; I had just seen him at my front door. Apparently, mom had found him lying on his couch at his home. According to the coroner's report, he had suffered a heart attack the night before, and passed in his sleep.
From my grandfather's death forward, departed friends and family began to visit me in dreams. Sometimes they had messages to share, or sometimes they just wanted to visit. The next thing that started to happen was that I soon found myself able to sense a person's feelings and emotions, and knew without speaking if they were sick, sad, mad, or elated. None of these abilities really bothered me much until teen-hood, when my abilities became even more intense.
As a teen I attended a fundamental Christian church and began to search for answers regarding these gifts and strange abilities. But, according to the church, these types of abilities were from the devil. This is when I decided to suppress my gifts. But, as a result of this, I started to experience panic attacks and severe agoraphobia. For years I suffered in silence, not knowing where to turn or to whom to talk.
In the year 2000, denying and suppressing these abilities was no longer possible. And just like Grandpa had said twenty-five years earlier, my spiritual reawakening began. It was a reality-bending, scary paranormal adventure that changed my life forever. Shortly after moving into my new apartment, I began to feel the presence of an unknown entity. I soon found myself plagued with haunting nightmares: visions of murder, abduction, and a secret burial. Each and every morning, I would awaken at 3:37am, to my daughter's Sing and Snore Ernie doll mysteriously placed in the middle of my living room, yelling, "I feel great, I feel great!" Lights flashed off and on. TVs blared white static noise, and cupboards and drawers flew open.
The anomalies were confusing and overwhelming. I didn't know where to turn, and I questioned my sanity. Being raised as a Christian, I was taught that evil forces were constantly trying to take my soul to the depths of hell, and that I had to be on guard for the devil, who lurked around every corner. It was all the plan of the devil, he was trying to steer me away from God.
Other than complete insanity, I really had no other explanation for what was going on. If not for the fact that my two friends and my daughter experienced the horrifying anomalies as well, I might have checked myself into a psychiatric hospital. I soon found myself in the middle of a multi-layered murder mystery, paranormal adventure, and a spiritual awakening like no other.
Old enough to be fading from local memory, the news of a Red Bluff, California kidnapping, torture, and sex-slavery story, dubbed The Girl in the Box, grabbed national headlines during much of 1984. In the sixteen years between 1984 and when I moved into my apartment, I had not heard of this story, nor did I know that I would uncover a horrifying connection to this strange and horrific story that had made the covers of newspapers and television broadcasts worldwide.
A married couple, Cameron Hooker and his wife/accomplice Janice, made national and international headlines during much of the 1980s. They were known for abducting and sexually enslaving a young woman by the name of Colleen Stan from 1977 through 1984. They kept her in a coffin alive under their bed for seven years, doing unimaginably sadistic things to her. The story was featured on The Oprah Winfrey Show, as well as many other popular talk shows and news broadcasts for much of the 1980s and 1990s. But, before Colleen Stan's story made the headlines, the Hookers had a first victim: her name was Madeline Isabella Johnson.
Unbeknownst to us, there was an explanation for the paranormal happenings in the apartment my daughter and I had moved into in 2000: it was Madeline Isabella's last residence.
Known to family and friends as Maybelle, her story was a shocker. According to a local paper, she and her boyfriend had been at a local flea market selling goods to earn money for their college tuition. An argument ensued. He yelled. She cried, and the embarrassing incident ended. With tears running down the young woman's face, she yelled back, "I am walking home." That was the last time the man saw his beloved girlfriend.
On Jan 31, 1976 (oddly enough, the same day that my grandfather visited my nine-year-old self after his death), a missing person report ran in the local Chico, California newspaper, asking anyone with information regarding the disappearance of Madeline Isabella Johnson to come forward.
Leads were followed up with local police and FBI, but nothing came of the teen's disappearance; her case fell dormant. Eventually years passed, and then decades. The story and life of Maybelle faded into a mere memory.
My spiritual reawakening in 2000 began with Maybelle's haunting. At the time it was a frightening, reality-bending, mind-blowing adventure that made me question, "What does this all mean?" What I was able to glean from my experience was that there is a spiritual realm; the anomalies actually deepened my belief in God, my higher power. I realized that there are many kinds of spiritual awakenings and gifts. Though we all come from differing religious backgrounds, there is a central theme that brings us together... it is the quest for meaning and purpose to our existence. I have learned that there is a realm of higher existence; there is justice, peace, love, and hope. It is a place where wrongs can be righted, and justice can be served; it is a place of continual spiritual growth and love. Maybelle was on a mission: she was part of a bigger picture and wanted to remind us that there is a spiritual realm and it is just as real and solid as the realm in which we are now living.
My hope is that after reading Forgotten Burial: A Cry for Justice from Beyond the Grave that, just like me, you will take away with you a new spiritual understanding. You will be able to embrace struggles, look adversity in the face, and know you are not alone. Whatever spiritual practice you choose to embrace, there is life after life on earth and, no matter how horrifying the situation might seem, there is always a miracle around every corner. Though it may seem terrifying in the moment, know that there is a spiritual realm guiding your step. Sometimes it takes a tragedy; sometimes it takes a miracle to remind us that magic is all around us.
Like children, we just need to open our eyes, souls, and hearts to the possibilities. And, just like Grandpa said so many years ago, "Your magical gift will appear." Embrace the child within…you are special and you too have a gift just like me. Know that you don't have to be perfect to share or experience the magic… it is all around you. And know that you are not alone.
Article originally published in The Llewellyn Journal. Copyright Llewellyn Worldwide, 2014. All rights reserved.