It’s time for another edition of “Oh no, that can’t be good,” my posts telling some of the frightening but true stories of why I specialize in defensive magick. I’ve been doing a fair number of radio interviews lately and interviewer just love to ask, “What’s the scariest thing that ever happened to you?” They probably expect nothing more than a ghost story to give their listeners a chill – they get a bit more than that. These days I’m so well protected that metaphysical baddies just don’t come anywhere near me. That was not always the case. This story begins all the way back in 1999, when I arrived at Wellesley for First-Year orientation.
Wellesley is a venerable, old institution that has old brick buildings and clanky radiators and a tradition called “tunnelling.” Tunnelling is breaking into the old stream tunnels and exploring the school underground. I don’t do bugs, so I opted out of an exciting expedition in the roach filled tunnels but heard all about it when my friends got back. One of the most interesting things they found was an entire dorm hallway that was bricked off from the rest of the building. They had found a heat vent into the hallway and taken a look around. It was a typical hall with a bunch of dorm rooms, except bricked off from the rest of the building and filled with dusty broken furniture. All the rooms were unlocked except one: one room had a shiny new padlock keeping it closed. The only way into that hall was crawling through a vent from a steam tunnel. How the hell did it get a new padlock?
Time passed and this bit of history slipped out of my mind, but I always felt uneasy in the building with the bricked off hall. In fact, I avoided that entire dorm complex like it was infectious. It always felt uncomfortable to me and it was filled with stories of strange happenings and hauntings. I didn’t start thinking about the links between that hallway and the odd stories until a friend of mine from the pagan student's group (PSG) moved into that dorm. In fact, her room shared a wall with that strange hallway.
After my friend had lived there for a few months some of the other members of PSG and I noticed that she was changing. It was subtle at first, but slowly the girl I knew and really liked started getting mean. Her personality began to shift; she became cruel, petty, and arrogant. She began alienating her friends and became a loner. We wondered what could be wrong, but chalked it up to people changing until she started to change physically. It sounds crazy, but her face began to change – it was sharper somehow – and if you caught her just right her eyes would change color and then shift back. It was at this point that we realized that something seriously unnatural was happening.
The more advanced of us got together to investigate what the hell was going on. Through divination, channeling, and a seriously messed up ghost encounter (which I might tell you all about later), we determined that our friend was being oppressed by an infernal. An infernal is a demon...a big one. We found out that sometime around the turn of the century a girl had come to school and brought an infernal with her. (Don’t ever play with a Ouija board without casting a protective circle first, just don’t.) This infernal set up shop in the girl’s dorm room and sent her mad. After that the infernal decided to hang around for the easy pickings of stressed out young women far from home for the first time – tasty treats indeed.
We begged, threatened, and cajoled our friend about switching to a different dorm. We knew that sleeping with her head next to that hallway was opening her up to the infernal and that she needed to get out and fast. She refused to leave, saying nothing was wrong. One day I was talking to her and could actually see the infernal lurking behind her eyes. Something had to be done. This thing had to be dealt with or we would lose our friend forever.
More easily said than done. We were all baby witches at that point: what did we know about dealing with infernals? We researched every spell and ritual of protection, banishment, and binding that we could get our hands on, and nothing seemed strong enough to deal with that hallway and the thing that lurked there. We knew we had to do something and through much more research, divination, channelling, and a little divine intervention we came up with a plan. We would do a protection ritual for ourselves, create a banishing bomb (a container of banishing herbs and stones that had been charged and blessed by every protective power that would listen to us), and then go into that hallway, place the bomb and let it do its work. As the old saying goes, the best plan in the world only lasts until the battle begins. Things didn’t go exactly as planned.
The first part of the plan worked beautifully. We did a strong protection ritual for ourselves to keep us safe and free from the influences of the infernal. We created the bomb and charged it until we could see waves of energy coming off it. Then we went outside to make our way to the other building. One of the odd side-effects of moving about the world while in ritual space is that sometimes it allows you to see things that would normally be invisible. What we saw scared the pants off of us. There were monstrous creatures everywhere, minions of the infernal, and they were looking for us. Thanks to our protections they were unable to see us, but it was the scariest walk I’ve ever had in my life.
We made our way to the right building and got down into the basement, to the entrance to the stream tunnels. With our psychic awareness at full blast we could actually see waves of negative energy streaming out of the tunnel. I was about as scared as I could possibly be, or so I thought. I looked around at my friends and they were all standing there with blank expressions. Zombielike, they started walking towards the tunnel. I could see tendrils of evil beginning to wrap themselves around my friends. At that moment I understood what real terror was. I grabbed at my friends, physically pulling them back, but they kept moving forward. I snatched up the bomb and tossed it as far into the tunnels as I could. The energy vanished and my friends snapped out of it. I got us out of there as fast as humanly possible.
Within a week our friend had moved out of that building, and within a month she was completely back to normal – she had no idea how close she came to gods know what. The infernal was injured, but not gone. A few years later, when we were stronger and knew a hell of a lot more, a friend and I went back to campus and finished it off. As far as I know nothing untoward has happened there since, but the bricked off hallway is still there.