Does the dark side of the paranormal make you feel a bit squeamish? Do you dread ghosts, banshees, and the living dead?
Then you would do best to avoid the crossroads--a lonely, haunted intersection in every community where the four directions meet and roads cross.
According to legend, the crossroads is where various forms of spiritual power tend to lurk. It is a place where menacing ghosts and the ancient dead linger and haunt travelers. This is especially the case if there is a cemetery nearby.
Why the crossroads? In ancient lore, at the crossroads is where psychic powers--ghostly powers if you will--would be the most focused and strong. The meeting and parting of ways is associated with the crossroads, and ancient peoples were suspicious over intersecting paths and their confusing mishmash of energies. There is a lot of power in changing direction and crossing over, and such powers can be used for good or for evil; it depends upon the individual. Indeed, the more sinister elements of the supernatural-- such as vampires and devils--have always been associated with the power of the crossroads.
It was once believed that all kinds of creepy beings hung out at crossroads waiting for a chance to gobble up the immortal soul of the weary traveler. For instance, the Christian devil, or Satan, has been associated with the crossroads. This is true in both African American folktales and in European lore. The most powerful Witch's poppets and voodoo dolls are made from sticks gathered at the crossroads.
Not only is the devil associated with the crossroads, fairies are said to frequent there--but not the benevolent sprites in children's fairy tales. These are wicked fairies of mischief and wrongdoing. Be certain, therefore, that you never fall asleep at the crossroads. All manner of misfortune will fall upon you. You may even wake up "bewitched," or "fairy led." You may even wake up in the land of the dead.
Not so long ago, the gallows where condemned men were soon to die were built at the crossroads. Suicides and victims of murder were buried at the crossroads as well. This was done so their restless souls wouldn't wander around seeking revenge upon those who harmed them in life. Some believed it was the power of the Christian cross, as symbolized by the crossroads, which protected the living from the vengeful acts of the murderous dead. But legends of the crossroads are much older than the Christian cross, so who's to say...
Contrary to popular opinion, menacing ghosts, who are not always the earthbound souls of the departed but sometimes an evil component of a person's personality that survives his or her death, are believed to lack authority and direction. Thus, these are the types of the ghostly powers that can be summoned on occasion at the crossroads.
Folklore also has it that evil ghosts are easily confused. It is believed that malevolent spirits will stand at the crossroads all night long trying to make up their minds which way to go. Then at sunup, the golden rays will send the ghost screaming into banishment. The same holds true for vampires, who are said to carry their shrouds to the crossroads in search of fresh victims.
Positive things can happen at the crossroads as well. If you bury three pieces of silver at the crossroads on the night of the Full Moon, this will shield you from evil and increase your ability to attract love and money. If you drive a three-pronged stick painted red and decorated with black crow feathers into the ground at the crossroads, your psychic powers will increase, and you will gain unimagined mystical abilities. Certain stones gathered up at the crossroads can also protect you from evil and various toxic influences--as long as you carry the rock in your pocket or your purse. Stones gathered up at the crossroads on a Full Moon will always protect you and the ones you love.
Various other types of powers can be brought forth at the crossroads, but you must be very careful. Ghosts that haunt the crossroads tend to latch on, and they can become troublesome.
The magic and mayhem of the crossroads goes much further into history than our recorded memories. The legend is very oldhaving appeared in Asia, Africa, and North America well before European influences reached these places. This gives proof to the idea that the concept of the crossroads go far back into our subconscious. On the whole, ancient peoples thought that magic was at its most powerful at the crossroads, and thus they associated this place with witchcraft. Hecate, the goddess of witchcraft, lurks at the crossroads, along with her black dogs. When you hear barking dogs at the crossroads, you can be certain that Hecate, the three-faced goddess, is about.
In ancient times, offerings of food and cakes were set out at the crossroads to appease Hecate and her mysterious forces for good and evil. Such cakes were then called "Hecate cakes." It was traditional to place a lighted candle in the center of these cakes for good luck. This was also done to light the way so Hecate could find her food after dark. This is where the custom of candles on birthday cakes originated.
Voodoo gives great spiritual significance to the crossroads. Voodoo spells are often performed there, so that the crossroads can lend its magical powers to the spellcaster. Crossroad dirt, as well as graveyard dirt, is still used as protection from the evil eye and other negative forces. The concept is similar to Europeans putting gargoyles on their churches to scare away evil. The worse the gargoyle looks, the more successful it is in chasing away evil spirits.
In Voodoo rituals, the priest or priestess who casts the spell waits at the crossroads until an apparition appears. If this ghost does not make himself known immediately, the spell will be more difficult to work. However, if a spirit arrives right on time, you can be assured the spell will work.
In the end, one should not challenge the mysterious and foreboding forces at the crossroads. Certain things might happen there. Unspeakable, ghostly things....
Remember: A crossroads exists everywhere. Even in your town.
May the fruit of our lives be bound and sealed to Thee,
O Mother, O Woman Eternal
who holdest the inmost life of each of Thy daughters
between the hands upon Her Heart
We swear by Peace and Love to stand,
Heart to Heart and Hand to Hand.
Mark, O Spirit, and hear us now,
confirming this, our Sacred Vow.
~Druidic Prayer of Unity~