by Karen Frazier

When I first began paranormal investigation, I believed my role and responsibility was somewhat like Star Trek's Prime Directive: I was there to observe and document, but never to interfere. I felt it wasn't my place to presume a spirit needed to move on, even if they were somehow trapped in the earthly plane. 

I've always believed if human beings had souls, we were each on our own path and it wasn't my place to judge or interfere with the path of another. It took me quite a while to actually believe humans had souls. Now I do, and I've developed a personal philosophy surrounding this. 

I believe every soul is on a path. Each soul has carefully planned that path in order to continue to progress in their own spiritual understanding. Therefore, I believe there are no mistakes when it comes to the human soul. Everything we experience in both our incarnate and disincarnate states is there to help us gain valuable experience and understanding. I also believe every soul has free will, and can therefore deviate from any planned path for as long as he or she desires, since all experiences create learning and opportunity (even the unplanned ones). Therefore, if a soul is here as a "ghost," then it is having a valuable experience. When an experience no longer serves the soul's greater good, he or she will move on to something else.

With that philosophy in mind, I've always felt it was the height of arrogance for me to tell another soul what it should do, because I don't know the karmic path that soul is walking. I can't have any clue what opportunities for learning arise for any situation another soul is in. Therefore, I never felt comfortable telling a spirit it needed to move on.

Recently, my philosophy has begun to shift once again. While I still believe everything I just wrote above, I also believe in treating my fellow travelers with as much compassion, empathy, and understanding as possible. While I don't tell fellow human beings what they should do, if I see them struggling I may offer options I see that they are currently unable to. I volunteered for years on a crisis phone line, and this is exactly the type of work I did. I never told the tortured people calling the crisis line what they should do, but often I was able to offer ideas or reframe situations so they could view things in new ways that cleared a path forward once again. To do anything less with a person figuratively standing on a ledge and calling me for help would have been cruel. I would never say to that desperate soul on the phone, "Go ahead and jump if you choose - that's your path."

If the spirits we encounter in our paranormal investigation are, indeed, the souls of human beings, then how could I justify merely observing them if I wouldn't do it with a living soul? The conclusion I've come to is I can't. However, I don't tell spirits what to do. Instead, I try to engage them in conversation so I can learn what has caused them to cling to an earthly plane. Once I feel I have that understanding, I can attempt to help them resolve issues and offer compassionate options that allow the spirit to make the choice for themselves. This, I believe, is the essence of spirit recuse, and it is no different than what I did with living human beings in my volunteer work.

I have been drawn to this work in the paranormal for a reason. For me, it isn't just a hobby. It is a calling. I have been provided with certain gifts allowing me to communicate with the spirits I encounter. While I still believe it's not my place to tell another soul (living or dead) what he or she should do, I do believe it is my responsibility to listen, ask questions, and then possibly offer information or suggestions to help clear a path forward. It's what I would want someone to do for me. To do anything less would be to ignore the path I have chosen to walk.