FREEPORT — One woman learned her sister-in-law would get better only when she wanted to get better.
Another woman learned that her house wasn’t haunted, it was her. Things would keep happening until she developed her skills as a medium.
A third learned Mr. Right wasn’t right around the corner: “(Love) is not in your immediate future, but it is in your soon future.”
The 30-something blond who’d asked the question laughed under her breath.
“I’m tired of being patient,” she said.
They’d all paid $25 for an evening with Istiphul, an entity Rose Morris has channeled professionally for about four years.
On a Friday night in January, in a room above Leapin’ Lizards boutique, they took turns asking questions of what Morris described as an angel, an oracle and an “elemental being of water.” The ground rules were simple: Ask anything at all. Work, love, jobs and the future were all fair play.
“The only thing she does not tend to answer is about loved ones who have passed,” said Morris of Durham. “If you ask, she’ll say they’re fine.” She’s in the angelic realm; they’re not. “It’s like two cities over, for lack of a better way to put it.”
‘A lost art’
Morris, 36, grew up traveling all over. She can trace what she considers her gifts up both sides of the family tree.
“My mom’s side is very empathic. My dad’s side is very psychic,” she said. “My dad always had stories about my grandmother. He was in the Navy. He would fly home without telling anyone and she would be at the airport waiting to get him.”
While working in the hospitality industry — jobs that supported her side passion as a romance writer — Morris took her first class, “Gifts of the Spirit,” in 2004.
“I had a character who was a medium so I wanted to learn all about mediumship,” she said. “The more I learned, the more I loved it, the more the universe said, 'You need to be doing this.'”
More classes followed, more training, then an unexpected push — her flexible hours at work vanished. She left that position to channel, tarot read and teach full time. Morris divides her days between Leapin’ Lizards in Portland and Freeport, and Soul Sanctuary in Brunswick. Monthly group sessions channeling Istiphul rotate between Leapin’ Lizard locations.
Freeport boutique Assistant Manager Irma Hackett said Morris has “quite a following.” Hackett's 33-year-old daughter used to be a regular.
“Especially when she and her husband were considering a move to Florida," Hackett said. "She got advice and it really helped with that transition. ‘Things would be OK; it would be a little rough in the beginning.’ And that’s exactly what happened. Now, she’s the manager of a store.”
Clients are mostly women, though Morris has seen more men lately.
“Channeling has become a lost art, particularly in America,” she said. “Some people just don’t want to know.”
For others, the idea of visiting a medium to talk to the dead is more palatable than visiting a channeler to talk to angels.
That, she said, is a matter of belief: You know your loved one used to exist.
‘Be true to your heart’
To prep for a channeling session, Morris hung protective tablets in the corner of the room and laid out a table with crystals, incense, candles, a book, a knife and something called a DNA wand, “which can slice into people’s auras, which is why I have the top covered.”
Istiphul gets her insights by looking at the metaphorical books of people’s lives, Morris said.
“I have no control over what she says,” Morris said. “The longer I’m in it, the further down in my body I go. It feels like I’m sitting on my hips.”
She considers her work to be healing. “People leave feeling lighter and joyful.”
As the Friday night group settled into a circle around her, Morris took off her glasses, clutched a black, crystal-gazing mirror to her chest and started yawning — the way, she said, she opens the channel.
The room grew quiet, but the lights stayed up.
More yawning. Then finally, “I am Istiphul, how may I serve thee?”
As she circled the seven women, each asked for a message or asked a direct question. Much of the advice had the ring of inspirational sayings: “Be true to your heart, child.” “Pursue your dreams, for you are worthy of them.” “Don’t fear change.”
But when gently pressed, Morris went into specifics. The woman experiencing the haunted rental made the right move coming to Maine. And she ought to stick with the designs for her dream home — who cared what anyone else thought?
Told that change was coming to her family, another woman admitted to being a little alarmed. What sort of change, exactly, she wondered.
It wouldn’t be death, Morris said.
“Divorce?” the woman asked.
No, not divorce, either.
The woman sighed. “Well, that’s good.”
Weird, Wicked Weird is a monthly feature on the strange, unexplained and intriguing in Maine. Send ideas, photos and good vibrations to firstname.lastname@example.org.