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Returning the Dead

Rituals and Ceremonies to Recall the Departed

“Talking” with the dead. Various cultures use ceremony and ritual to “speak” with family and friends who have passed over. It goes by a variety of names. Some Asian cultures refer to it as spirit-calling, soul-calling or calling the soul of the dead. They can also be practiced to attract specific living people into your life. It has also been called communing with the guardian spirit. In Hispanic culture, the dead are celebrated each year on the Day of the Dead. This is a ritual growing in popularity, and why not celebrate those we have loved and lost?

Pahos Yarn & Stick
copyright G G Collins

My character, Rachel Blackstone, who became the Reluctant Medium, was mourning her father’s death as the story opened. She had not only lost her father, but he died under mysterious circumstances. Despite that, the police had not been able to determine how his accident had occurred. That left Rachel without knowing–with no facts to support or dispute a theory—an uncomfortable place for a fact-based reporter.

To this end, she decides to try a Native American ceremony to return the dead in the hope that she can ask her father what happened.

Completed pahos with Loop
copyright G G Collins

Craft a mask. I researched these ceremonies and simplified it for storytelling. The first step was to construct a mask and decorate it with items that had belonged to the deceased. Rachel used cuff links and a photo of her father and herself taken during a trip. You must create the mask yourself. While you are doing so you begin to think about the person and the issue you wish to talk about. This sets your mind on the direct path.

Pahos with Feather Added
copyright G G Collins

Prayer stick or pahos. She also wanted to make a pahos, or prayer stick. There are many ways to do this, but I chose to use yarn in the four directional colors or four colors of mankind: black, white, red and yellow. To craft a pahos, simply write a short prayer or message on a small piece of paper. Wrap and tape securely around the twig you have chosen. (Use a fallen branch or twig rather than cutting one from a tree.) Then takes lengths of each yarn color and begin wrapping them around the stick, covering the paper. You may be creative with this, but leave some yarn to fashion a hangar. Prayer sticks can be quite elaborate with beading, feathers and other objects. After completion, pahos are hung from a tree, or other outside location. This allows the prayer or wish to continually reach the Above Beings–or whatever name you choose to call your higher power. This is very personal and a private thing for each of us.

Setting the mood. Next, play some music that is conducive to relaxation. If you have a recording of Native American drumming, this is ideal, but any instrumental music that is played adagio will be fine. You may burn incense or sage. In my story I chose Dragon’s Blood incense as it is reputed helpful in these ceremonies. When all is ready, imagine that you are in a kiva, an underground chamber for Native American ceremonies. Close your eyes and wait for the outcome.

Pahos Hung in Tree
copyright G G Collins

The return. For most people, the person does not appear in a vision, although some report images resembling their loved one including outlines and abstract likeness. The reason for the ritual is to think intensely about the departed. That allows for memories to come flooding back. How would this person react to this problem or issue? What might they say? How would they advise you? Often, asking these questions can result in a solution or at least a feeling of letting go and moving forward.

For my character, since Reluctant Medium is fiction, it brought about significant change in her life. But for most people performing these ceremonies, the effect in remembering our loved one is soothing, reflective and inspiring.

— G G Collins

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Meet Chloe Valdez, the Reluctant Medium’s BFF

Here’s Chloe!

Chloe Valdez does real estate—she does it very well, a multi-million-dollar agent! She and her business partner own the hottest realty company in Santa Fe. Chloe has been married at least a of couple times (we’re not sure), but she kept the last name of Valdez because it helped with sales in New Mexico.

Her heritage is mostly French and she can swear in that language, and a couple of others. Unlike Rachel, Chloe is open to all things New Age and metaphysical. She thinks nothing of consulting soul navigators or psychics. A vegetarian, Chloe tries to introduce Rachel—who could exist only on green chile cheese burritos—to soy-based meals and herbal teas.

“But then I catch her pouring out the tea!” Chloe says in disgust. “Well, at least I persuaded her to practice yoga.”

Autumn in Santa Fe
Enjoy a Drive
copyright G G Collins

Now Chloe will be the first to admit that Rachel’s job is more fun than hers—but far less profitable. Whenever Rachel sets up a journalistic stakeout, Chloe has it catered. That’s right, catered! She chooses just the right wine for the occasion.

“You have to have the best wine for each surveillance,” she says. “For instance, if we’re keeping an eye on an Spanish subject, I think we can channel him better if we have a nice Cava, that’s a sparkling wine from the Penedés area. Now Rachel doesn’t care. She once said: ‘I don’t care if it’s Santa Clausan wine from the North Pole area!’ She’s impatient and doesn’t always appreciate the finer things.”

Rachel is sometimes—make that always—annoyed when Chloe is picking out clothing for the stakeout.

“She’s a high-heeled boot girl,” Rachel says, “I always wear shoes I can run in. You never know when you might need to make a quick exit. Who buys clothes for a stakeout? I mean really, who does that?”

Or a soak at
10,000 Waves
copyright G G Collins

But Chloe’s always there for Rachel when she has a quandary, which is much of the time. Chloe keeps three sizes of marijuana joints on hand. The size of the dilemma determines the dimensions of the smoke.

“Most issues are small,” Chloe says, “but you never know when you might need to light up the big guy.”

Despite Rachel’s endless journalistic fact-checking, Chloe’s totally open to any spirits and metaphysical occurrences.

“So why didn’t Chloe get the medium gig?” Rachel asks.

“Because I didn’t try to return the dead!” Chloe says. “But it sure opened a whole new set of adventures. I can’t wait for the next one.”

We hear it has to do with the disappearance of a friend, astral travel and a mysterious Spaniard. It’s entitled Lemurian Medium. 

“I’m up for it,” Chloe says. “How about you, Rachel?” Groans.

— G G Collins

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Reluctant Medium Flies Off Amazon “Shelves” Free

Reluctant Medium Free: September 2 & 3, 2012

Yes, it’s true. Reluctant Medium has detected a free weekend ahead.  Here’s the quick low-down:

Kindle eBook
Copyright G G Collins

Kindle eBook at Amazon

Paranormal Mystery with Mild Horror Effects–and Humor! Really. Buddy story, two women friends.

Really short synopsis: Don’t bring back the dead. Bad things happen!

If you enjoy the book, would you please take a few minutes and write a short review? Doesn’t matter where: Amazon, Goodreads, Shelfari, your blog, all good.

To order:

If you don’t have a Kindle, Amazon has a free program you can download to your computer or other device.

Thanks to all my followers of the Reluctant Medium at Large in Santa Fe. I appreciate you taking a chance on a new blog. Thanks for reading and commenting. There’s more to come. GG

Meet Rachel Blackstone, the Reluctant Medium

The Reluctant Medium 

Reporter Rachel Blackstone is the Reluctant Medium. Her father was an award-winning investigative journalist for the Albuquerque Journal. He died working on a story. Reporting must be in the family blood. Although that doesn’t explain her brother, who went into politics and is the mayor of Santa Fe. Perhaps he had a transfusion or another father—the product of a dalliance? Better not to go there.

Arriving in Santa Fe
copyright G G Collins

Rachel left her husband and her hometown on one really bad night, and bought a, shall we say—pre-owned car. Then fled to Interstate 40, made a left and stopped driving in Tulsa. Here she barely made the rent for her faded bungalow working two jobs in what was the Oil Capital of the World, until most of the oil companies moved to Houston. Between the receptionist job where her duties mostly include pouring coffee and making copies, and the reporting she does for a society rag, she just can’t find her bliss.

She had never been satisfied with Santa Fe Police Department’s report on the death of her father. Rachel believed it could be murder. He had been driving to meet her the night he died. Apparently, he had information that would expose those in high positions in Santa Fe. But the proof died with him.

Wanting desperately to talk with him one last time, Rachel attempted a Hopi ceremony to return the dead. Although she followed the steps carefully, something went wrong. Maybe it was because she carried only a small amount of Native American heritage. You know, kind of a built-in fail-safe for people who have no business performing it. At any rate, her father didn’t come back, but someone did, and this spirit was up to no good. It made threats and disappeared, right through her door.

There was nothing to do but chase the spirit. In the middle of the night and back on Interstate 40, strange things began to happen: apparitions appeared. They included a wolf. At first, she thought it a living wolf, but it was white and filmy. Rachel was afraid of it and drove away from the encounter.

Back in Santa Fe, Rachel spoke with her best friend Chloe Valdez. The two women are suddenly caught up in something they don’t understand, and at least in Rachel’s case, she doesn’t want any part of, but it’s her doing that caused the turn of events in the first place. Rachel turns to the kindly Hopi shaman for help and hopes she can rise to the challenge of this evil spirit.

Her persona is one of impatience and exasperation, but with a dash of self-deprecation. She does her best to interject some humor, however dark—or inappropriate—into most situations. She is unconventional and things that are sacrosanct to others, are fair game to her. Her cynical personality is somewhat balanced by her friend Chloe who is a little more polished. Reluctant Medium is a mystery with paranormal elements; but it’s a buddy story too.

Or by Rail Runner
copyright G G Collins

The journalist in Rachel struggles with the other-worldly situation. She is a fact-based person trying to cope with things she doesn’t understand and for which she can’t find an explanation.

This reporter never met a story she didn’t like. They are all challenging in different ways. It’s the boring ones that stretch her patience to the breaking point, but she deals with it by making a show of taking notes. That way, no one can see the perplexed look on her face.

Everyone has a story and Reluctant Medium is the story of Rachel Blackstone.

— G G Collins

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Welcome to the Reluctant Medium at Large In Santa Fe


Reluctant Medium: Paranormal Mystery

All Rachel Blackstone wanted was to talk with her dead father. Using a Native American ceremony given to her by a shaman, she summoned him. Instead, a soul intent on revenge slipped through. Now the Santa Fe reporter must follow the evil spirit, uncover its purpose and send it back. The shape-shifter has horrific powers and threatens the people she loves. There’s more on her plate. She’s seeing dead people, which frankly gives her the creeps. Some are helpful. Others try to lead her away from the truth. One spirit, a lone wolf seems to have an uncertain allegiance. What she, and friend Chloe, uncover is an earthly scam involving both the quick and the dead–and may even involve her brother, the mayor. To save him, she must play a dangerous game of treasure hunt which leads to a powerful climax of earth, wind and fire. Rachel must discover her own powers or die trying.

Forthcoming:  Lemurian Medium


Where you can get the book:

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