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  • Grace Guerra says she's been able to see dead people since she was about ten years old. "I used to run a lot of high fevers. And when I did that, I was able to see-- you know-- dead people," she told me. "I used to get scared because I didn't know who these people were that used to come in. I told my mom, 'here they come again,' and they were just in and out of the house all the time. I didn't know who they were or what they were. And my mom had to tell me, 'don't tell people or they'll think you're crazy.'"

    I met her at a Denny's in Tempe. She was wearing a shirt with a traditional Halloween ghost on it-- the type you find at Wal-Mart for $6, complete with sequins. I asked the burning question: What are they really like?

    "Usually they look ordinary, just like I'm looking at you," she told me. "Unless they have something demonic in them," she added later. "Those are the ones we try not to mess around with."

    "They would come into the house, they'd look at me, and then they'd walk past me and they'd go to the other room. They tried to speak to me, but I was so scared. I didn't want to talk to anybody, so I never said anything. I didn't know if they were good, if they were evil, I didn't know what they were," she told me.

    Believer or not, I was enthralled.

    Grace said the visions followed her into adulthood, even as she tried to ignore them. "I didn't pursue any of my gifts like that because I figured I wanted to raise a family," she said. Now, her children are all grown, and she pursues ghost hunting full-time while her husband works. "My husband always told me, 'I'll make enough money if you raise the kids.' And I've never gone without anything." Her daughter now has a 13-year-old daughter of her own, who says she can see the spirits too.

    But according to Grace, it's only belief that runs in the family-- not ability. "I'm not any more psychic than you are," she told me. "You have to work at it, just like an exercise program." So to get her skills in shape, Grace takes metaphysical classes from private instructors in the Valley where she says she learned to control when and what she sees. "If I don't shut myself off at night, I'll wake up and all of the sudden there's a face right there looking at me."

    Grace now leads a ghost-hunting crew. She and her colleagues call themselves Ghost to Ghost AZ. They offer ghost investigation services to anyone, free-of-charge. "I'm not gonna pay somebody to do that for me when I could just turn around and do it myself. Why should anyone else?" she said.

    Despite this benevolence, Grace has been mocked and no longer gives out her personal number. "I have a TracFone, and I just use that. I used to get a lot of people who'd call up and say 'I got ghosts, hahahaha,' you know? And then they'd hang up."

    After ensuring the client is neither a prankster nor a drug addict, Ghost to Ghost researches the house in question. Grace's daughter told me about a friend of a friend who owns a house previously occupied by "a wiccan who had no clue what he was doing." The homeowner started hearing strange noises and seeing black shadows crawling across the floor, so she called on Grace's team to step in.

    What did they find out? The so-called wiccan had been trying to do spells in the house, and had left it open to "the other side." And how did they find this out? "I have a voicebox that uses radio frequencies and you can actually talk to it, and it will talk back to you using radio frequencies," she told me.

    Over these frequencies, they heard Ted, a nine-year-old boy who knew the homeowner years and years ago, before drowning in a boating accident. "You get in an accident like that and you instantly die, but you don't even know you're dead," Grace said. "He didn't know what he was doing, and he didn't know what he wanted in the house." So she told the homeowner to tell him, "I remember you. Thank you for the good memories. It's time for you to go back to the other side."

    The homeowner followed Grace's advice, speaking into a small device ghost-hunters call a puck. The puck's function is to record frequencies and relay them to spirits, and in this case, it seems to have worked. The homeowner hasn't complained of noises or seen shadows since.

    "You can get them to move on. I walk them through it sometimes; I envision a ball of light and I tell them to go to the light. They don't know how to get over there, so sometimes we push them over to the other side."

    Grace says she's learned a lot from both her classes and her ghost-hunting experiences, but the most important thing? Protection. "We call on the lord, whatever you believe in, the higher power. If people aren't religious, we tell them to call on their grandparents to come protect you." In addition to calling on a higher power, Grace carries physical protection with her-- two crosses from her mom and a seal of Solomon from Sedona. "Solomon was the third king and he dealt with demons; he was the one that would protect everybody so I don't go anywhere without these," she tells me in the parking lot.

    After chatting with Grace for nearly an hour, I'm intrigued. I don't know if I'm convinced that these ghosts really exist, but that doesn't seem like the point. She says she often encounters people who don't believe her, but it doesn't bother her.

    "You can't be mean to people," she said. "You just tell them, you believe what you want to believe, you know. I'm not here to change your mind or anything like that, you know what I mean? Your beliefs are different than mine, and I believe there are spirits out there, and ghosts."
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