Every year I go on a spiritual healing journey, most often wherever I’m travelling. I offer a healing for the lands and the conflicts: past and present, that still reside there. The spirits of people who’ve lived or gotten lost there, and I look to be a conduit for those who may be holding on to tell their story. I’ve done healing journeys in; Baton Rouge, New Orleans. Albuquerque, New York, and Savannah to name a few. But, never Los Angeles. My home for the last 20 years. (Except, for the places I’ve lived, of course.)
This Halloween, I chose Downtown Los Angeles and The Millennium Biltmore Hotel to investigate for the healing journey. I’ve been to the Biltmore a few times and know she is haunted! However, as an empath, I have two ghost settings. One: I see you, tell me what’s going on. And, two: I feel you but not going to deal with you right now. The latter has been the setting of choice the few times I’ve been to the Biltmore. Let me tell you— I rarely get surprised, but what happened at the Biltmore left me rattled for days.
The Biltmore Haunting: A Real Snooze— Until it Wasn’t
Halloween at the fancy Millennium Biltmore Hotel, you’d think, would prove to be bustling with activity— seen or unseen. Located in Downtown Los Angeles the Biltmore was born in 1921 for ten million, extravagant, cozy and home of the very first Academy Awards. Talk about #OscarsSoWhite.
Just after checking into room 951 that looked out on Pershing Square, I ran out to survey the hood. One important thing to understand about hauntings? Sometimes buildings are haunted, but people are always haunted.
Heading down 5th towards Spring, the street was laced with the afflicted. Afflicted with the voices from beyond. Many of my compadres had gone the way of self-medication while others seemed to enjoy and embrace their multiplicity. Sometimes apparent in their fashion choices. A young man (seemingly homeless for the most part) was dressed in incredibly dirty striped balloon pants, a flannel shirt, some sort of jacket tied around his waist, and the final crown jewel: a brightly colored jester’s hat. Of course, it was Halloween. But, the layer of dirt that covered him and the sweat on his brow on a cool day— coupled with the complete comfort he felt talking smack with his friends on the street corner all pointed to this being his home of sorts. His eyes were wide and bright and his joyful spirits seemed to play him like a fiddle.
Moving through a crowd of about ten homeless folk who seemed to gently smile and create space for me on the sidewalk, I did the New York thing, and crossed the street in the middle and at a diagonal where the destination I had in mind was waiting, fairly brave as they ticket for that in L.A. The Last Bookstore is by far the most haunted place I’ve been in a while. A huge multi-leveled used boo-store (pun intended) with concrete and Moroccan looking mosaic floors— balconies everywhere you looked. The interior was appropriately dressed with spiders and webs for the holiday, however, the Gothic or Emo flair and pleasant rudeness of the employees and customers seemed to set the daily tone.
Yet, still no cries for help from the other side. I go on the hunt for hauntings because often all the spirits want is to tell their story or find completion in some way. There didn’t seem to be anything trying to get my attention. It had been hours already, roaming the floors of the Biltmore until I ended up in the bathroom of the historic corridor of the hotel. Absolutely vacant, I’d not seen another soul…or person for that matter in at least an hour when I crossed the path of an employee. The bathroom had well preserved 1930’s ceramic coral colored tiles and cleaned gold leaf mirrors of the same era. Something caught my attention as I surveyed the room and saw the back stall with the toilet seat up. I took silent refuge in a stall around the corner and immediately the toilet in the other stall flushed.
A little paranormal activity is better than nothing. So startling, it made me laugh out loud. I thanked whoever it was for letting me know they were there and left the room a little lighter and more joyful. But, still not the story I’d come for.
It wasn’t until late, a story from the nightly news of a young Canadian woman was being broadcast. A few years ago, she’d come to the city of angels for a visit and ended up, naked, in the rooftop water tank of the then, Cecil Hotel, just a few blocks away from me. I couldn’t sleep for the rest of the night. I tossed and turned in the energy of what happened to her.
In the story, they claimed the young woman suffered from mental illness and her death was ruled an accident. Right, blame it on the crazy girl. No matter the woman’s sufferings I was certain her death wasn’t an accident: It smacked of murder to me: was this the story I’d come to the Biltmore to tell? Her spirit wasn’t present and beckoning me. Where ever she was, I felt her spirit was safe.
No, it was death of the unsuspecting that continued to pull on me.
Soon there was a crowd of spiritual images before me. Men and women of all ages and from different decades. Some were jumpers or pill overdoses, some had been ripped from life by the hand of another. These weren’t discarnate spirits needing to be delivered. No, the massive force of their collective was the message. These were all the people who’d lost their lives in a five-block radius in the last 100 years. Some reported and some never to be acknowledged again.
Finally, my mind adjusted to a slight young woman with light brown hair, her name was Genevieve. She was dressed in a white cotton negligée from the 1930’s. Not necessarily sexy, but not upsetting either. Genevieve was a girl of simple means who’d come to Los Angeles to change that— but ended up at the bottom of an empty bottle of pills at the Biltmore. She must’ve had some brain damage just before her death because she seemed disoriented—not quite sure of where she was, forlorn, and unable to speak. Whoever she’d been with left in the middle of the night with no idea of her condition.
I prayed for an honest completion of the end of what seemed to be only half of a life. I also prayed for her to forgive herself and the others involved. I find it’s mostly those who aren’t able to forgive themselves who stick around until they can. She seemed to disappear as quietly as she came.
As I settled into the depravity of the many young women and men for whom no one cared or who’d been left behind. Those who came to Los Angeles for a way out of the lives they were living and sadly, found it. My heart opened to them in that dimly lit place. I prayed for their clarity and understanding of the choices and beliefs that brought them to their untimely end. For all the pieces of hidden language, they didn’t recognize. For all the responsibility, they were left to shoulder for the ignorance and hatred of another. I prayed for them to find forgiveness for themselves and those who misjudged, took advantage, or abused them.
Truly, these are deep and richly transformative times. It’s impossible to know another’s sorrow or perspective unless you are willing to carry it, at least for a moment. This kind of selflessness isn’t owned by everyone so let’s make a pact.
A pact to carry ourselves with accountability. To judge and evaluate ourselves and not others. To find forgiveness for the things we can’t change and acceptance of others as they are. And accordingly, to embrace that doing these things: Is Love.