Gather close around the fire. It’s a dark and stormy night, and famed psychic and ghost hunter Echo Bodine (is that not the greatest name?) has a tale to tell. Well, actually Echo has many tales to tell, given that she’s been chatting up ghosts much of her life and is from a family of pyschics. So before we let Echo get her spook on, let’s hear a little about how the Bodine’s became the first family of phantoms:
from The Little Book of True Ghost Stories by Echo Bodine
It was a typical evening at our home in the fall of 1965. I was seventeen years old. Sitting around the table after dinner were my parents, my two brothers, my sister, and me. My brother said he was going downstairs to practice on his new drum set. He was just beginning to learn how to play the drums, so, needless to say, his playing still sounded a little rough. The rest of us were carrying on with our different after-dinner conversations, trying to avoid the dishes for as long as possible, when, all of a sudden, we all stopped talking and turned our attention to music coming from the den. It was really good, not the usual beginner stuff we were used to hearing from my brother. We all looked at Dad, expecting he would somehow know why my brother was playing like a pro. My father suggested that we must be hearing the new Sandy Nelson record he had just bought my brother, and even though that answer didn’t feel accurate, we continued to listen for signs of what was really going on downstairs.
About a minute later, my brother came flying up the stairs, totally freaked out. “Did you hear it, did you hear it?” he said, and we all answered, “Yes, what was it?” My brother explained that he was sitting at his drum set, practicing his normal fare, when out of nowhere, a white figure floated through the door and over to him. He said that he closed his eyes, hoping it would disappear, but even with his eyes closed, he could still see this whitish male figure standing in front of the drum set. This “guy” took my brother’s hands and basically played through him, making the really beautiful music that we heard from the dining table. He tried letting go of the drumsticks, but was not able to release them from his hands until this “man” floated back across the room and through the door. My brother was so upset that he said he was never going down to the den again.
We were all pretty blown away. My mom, who usually kept a cool head, called a friend of hers who had been to a medium in England and was living in St. Paul. Fortunately, she was able to reach the psychic medium, Mrs. Eve Olson. Mrs. Olson told my mother that she’d been expecting the call. After my mother related the story of what had happened with my brother and the drumming, Mrs. Olson told her that the spirit was my brother’s guardian angel, Dr. Fitzgerald. When this doctor was living on earth he was also a drummer, and because he was my brother’s angel, he was going to work with him and teach him many things. She also told Mom that she and each of her four children had some very unique gifts and that she wanted to see Mom and her oldest daughter (me) for a reading. We were all speechless.
What did all of this mean? Did we all have guardian angels? Why could my brother see his, when the rest of us couldn’t? What did “unique gifts” mean? My siblings and I inundated our parents with questions that they had no clue how to answer. I was so frightened by the thought that my own guardian angel might appear to me that night that I began sleeping with the lights on.
Within a week my mom and I went to see Mrs. Olson.
On the drive from our south suburban home to her home in West St. Paul, Mom and I were full of anticipation. I wondered what this medium from England would be like. Did she read a crystal ball? Was her house filled with black cats? Did she wear big dangling earrings and tie long scarves around her head? I couldn’t imagine what kind of unique gifts she was referring to and what she would tell me. At that point in my life, the only things I was interested in knowing were when I was going to meet Mr. Right and how many children I was going to have.
As we approached Mrs. Olson’s front door, my stomach filled with butterflies. I was so nervous, and I just wanted to go away and pretend this wasn’t happening.
Much to my surprise, a very sweet, petite, round woman with an English accent answered the door and invited us in. She was more like a grandma than any gypsy I had seen on TV (back then the only psychics we saw on TV were gypsies). There were no black cats or crystal balls. Mrs. Olson introduced us to her very normal-looking husband and told my mother to have a seat in the living room while she escorted me into her “reading room.”
When I wondered aloud if everyone was this nervous on their first visit, Mrs. Olson reassured me that nothing frightening was going to happen. She explained to me that the glass of water on the table was for the spirits—it gave them energy. She also said that my spirit guides, who were supposedly helpers from the other side, were the source from which she was getting information about me.
I sat frozen in my chair, waiting for something to fly through the room or for the water in the glass to disappear. Instead, this very gentle medium from England told me that I was born with all four of the psychic abilities and with the gift of healing. Stunned, I listened as she told me that I came to earth this lifetime to be a well-known psychic and spiritual healer. I would write books, be on TV and radio, travel, and teach others how to develop their abilities. I would be known throughout the world.
I was a shy teenager and couldn’t imagine myself doing any of that—let alone being famous. I planned to go to college to become a social worker, and had always imagined myself as a wife and mother someday. I told Mrs. Olson that I was going to college, that I didn’t think I had any psychic abilities, and that I just wanted to have a normal life. She told me that I had been using my abilities my whole life and had grown accustomed to them. She said that once I understood what they were, I would recognize them. She also said that I did not come to earth this lifetime to have a normal life—that I came to be a teacher and healer.
Something inside of me knew that what she was saying was true, but I didn’t want to know these things because it all seemed so scary and totally out of my reality. I didn’t know how to think about it.
In my mother’s reading, Mrs. Olson told her that she too had these gifts and that she would be a gifted psychic. So would my baby brother, Michael. She said that my sister Nikki would not develop her abilities until she was in her forties, and that all of us would someday use our gifts to help people. Everything she told Mom has since come true.
After that first session with Mrs. Olson, Mom and I became very curious about our abilities. We went to occult bookstores and started reading whatever was available. We bought an Ouija board, and our home slowly became a haven for mischievous, noisy spirits. They would bang on the walls and make sounds like footsteps or someone typing on a typewriter. Life became scary for all of us. We never knew what to expect. It was as if we had opened a door to something we didn’t understand, but we couldn’t get it closed again.
We had psychic experiences almost daily. My younger brother Michael could see and hear spirits and my sister, Nikki, who was oblivious to most of the supernatural goings-on in the house, saw a spirit even before I did. Lights blinked on and off. Radios and TVs turned on and off by themselves. Objects moved from room to room— the stuffed animals in my bedroom moved by themselves. We constantly felt like we were being watched.
Sometime during the first year of all of this, a psychic, spiritualist minister in Minneapolis called my mom and said that her spirit guides had told her to teach eight people in the Twin Cities how to develop their abilities. My name and my mom’s name were on the list. She gave Mom her address and said she expected to see us for classes that started in a week.
My mom and I were so freaked out by everything going on already that we weren’t sure how much more involved we wanted to get, but we decided to go the first night just to see what it was all about. We were pleasantly surprised to find that everyone in class seemed as normal as we were—they expressed the same uncertainties that we had. We ended up going to these classes on and off for close to two years.
I can’t say that I took to psychic development like a duck takes to water. It took me a long time to develop my abilities fully because I let my intellect get in the way most of the time. I analyzed all the psychic information that came to me, and I questioned everything that my teacher said. I was looking for something concrete that I could hold onto. I wanted it to all make sense on a rational level. Letting go of my mainstream thinking and believing and accepting things that couldn’t be seen by the human eye or proven by science was very scary for me. My skepticism made my psychic development a lot harder than it had to be, but I’m glad I was as skeptical as I was. I didn’t accept everything hook, line, and sinker; I acquired my new beliefs slowly over time.
When I started doing ghosthunting jobs over forty years ago with my brother Michael, I never would have guessed that they would become such an important part of my work. The first time I went on a ghost job, it was more out of curiosity than a desire to get involved with ghosts. I had no idea that ghosts were souls of deceased people. I grew up watching Casper the Friendly Ghost cartoons on Saturday mornings; I thought ghosts were just white energy blobs. I didn’t think of them as actual people.
I remember when I finally put two and two together and realized that ghosts are really the souls of deceased people who haven’t gone on to heaven. I became quite intrigued with the whole concept of why a soul would choose to not go on to the other side.
Each of the stories in this book is a true-life ghost story that I’ve experienced firsthand.
The Ghost Who Liked Liquor
It was wintertime, 1969. I was twenty-one years old and still living at home. We’d had a lot of spirit activity in our house since getting on this path, but until then I hadn’t actually seen any spirits.
The first time I ever went to someone’s house intentionally looking for a ghost, I had no idea what I was doing. I was pretty scared and still believed that ghosts were scary monsters who looked all whitish and weird—like they had no form and were just blobs of scary stuff!
What made this fun was that it was a friend of my mom’s who suspected she had a ghost, so Mom and I went on the “job” together. The drive over to Carol’s that night felt a lot like that drive over to Mrs. Olson’s; we didn’t know what to expect, and our imaginations were running wild. Carol had told us that there were strange sounds coming from the attic and she felt as if someone were watching her family. She said that her son was a recovering alcoholic and was having a terrible time staying sober. She wondered if there was some kind of negative influence in the house preventing her son from maintaining his sobriety. She also said they could hear a choir singing church music, which was interesting because their home had at one time been a church.
On the drive over, I was full of questions for my mom. What were we looking for? Did Carol really think she might have a ghost? What did a ghost look like? What were we going to do if we found one? I thought we should probably turn around and go home. Finding ghosts was not something I wanted to do.
When we pulled up to Carol’s house, I imagined seeing scary things in all the windows. I was sure the ghosts were all watching me, ready to pounce on me as soon as I walked in the door. As usual, Mom was pretty calm, which always helped me feel more grounded. We kidded around with Carol for a while, trying to lighten things up. Looking back, we were probably just stalling; I don’t think any of us really wanted to go to the attic and deal with whatever was there. The analytical part of me thought that it was probably just noisy pipes and there was nothing to make a fuss about.
Our chitchat ended, and it was time to see what was up in the attic. Slowly we made our way up the stairs. I’m sure I had one eye open and the other one closed as we reached the top of the staircase. I had myself scared silly.
At first glance everything seemed normal. The usual boxes and stored furniture were piled here and there. Then, slowly, images began coming into focus. At first all I saw was a very faint image of a family of four standing across the room from us. It was quite strange to look at this almost invisible family. They looked so strained and old, so frightened. My rational mind immediately tried to explain it all away. I told myself I was making it up, that ghosts weren’t people. Ghosts didn’t look like that. They were supposed to be scary-looking. These were simply transparent people who didn’t look scary at all—just tired, old, and afraid.
They had a gray appearance to them. The man looked crabby and seemed angry that we were able to see him. The woman started talking to us as soon as she realized we could see her. I’m sure my mouth was hanging wide open as I watched this transparent female tell us about her death and explain that she was trapped in this house by her husband. She said he had been an alcoholic and a smoker. He had passed out one night after drinking and his cigarette burned their house down. All four family members perished in the fire. The woman said her husband would not let any of them go on to the other side because he was afraid of being punished by God for killing his family. I was flabbergasted.
I looked at mom and could tell by the shocked look on her face that she could hear this woman as well. I asked her what we should do, and we came up with the idea to just tell the ghosts that they couldn’t stay at Carol’s house anymore. They had to leave because they were frightening Carol’s family. Mom got some psychic information through her clairvoyance (psychic sight in the third eye located in the forehead) and clairaudience (psychic hearing; her guides speaking to her). She learned that the male spirit had been entering Carol’s son’s body from time to time in order to taste alcohol and cigarettes, and that was why it was difficult for her son to maintain sobriety. After telling them that they needed to leave, Mom and I were anxious to leave, too. This was all so creepy. We had no idea what we were doing or how to get rid of the ghosts. They did disappear, giving us the illusion that they had left, but my guess is that they probably just stepped outside or went over to the neighbors’ to make us think they were gone. We didn’t hear a church choir or see any other spirits as we walked through the rest of the house. I think our fear shut us down psychically. There certainly was a feeling that there were more spirits there than we cared to know about, but I just wanted to go home. I wasn’t ready to deal with ghosts yet!
The female ghost in this story could have taken her children and moved on to the other side anytime she wanted, but she allowed her husband to control her in death as she undoubtedly had in life. Every one of us has to discover our own power at some point in our soul’s development and stop giving it away to others. It’s part of setting ourselves free.