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What were the first signs of your psychic abilities?

James Van Praagh On Talking With The Dead

James Van Praagh (Medium, Author) gives expert video advice on: What were the first signs of your psychic abilities?; How did you discover your psychic talent?; What's it like to communicate with the dead? and more...

What were the first signs of your psychic abilities?

I was born this way. As a little child, I used to see spirit all the time. I used to see lights around people, known as the aura. I would know things about people before things and events would happen. I would know the events that would happen to people. I said to my mother as a little boy, "Who are those people at the end of the bed staring at me with the lights around them?" She said, "Oh those are God's angels." She said, "I used to see them to when I was a little girl. Don't worry. They'll always protect you. You should not be in fear of that." So I haven't been. To me it's very natural. I've never been in fear of it. It's just very normal for me. I, as a kid, used to think everybody could see spirit. Then when they told me they couldn't see spirit, these colors around people, I thought they were the weirdo's and I was the normal one. So to me, it's always been a part of who I am.

How did you discover your psychic talent?

At first I found it very interesting. I was always very sceptical about this whole world, really because I was ignorant about it and I went to a medium. A friend of mine dragged me to see a medium. I didn't know what a medium was. And I asked her, "What is a medium and what does he do?" And she said, "He is someone who talks to the dead." And I said, "I really don't believe in that sort of thing. I think it is all "hocus pocus" and it's all a show business sort of thing." She said, "Let's just go for the heck of it." "Sure, we will go for the heck of it." I went in there and the man said to me, "You are a medium yourself." I said, "What is a medium." "A sensitive, someone who is a channel, of the higher dimensions of the spirit world with a physical connection. I said, "OK." He said, "The spirit people want to use you as a channel and in two years time, they are going to." I thought this man was crazy. I thought he was a nut. And I had just moved to Los Angeles from New York. Unfortunately, sometimes people from New York think they are flaky Californians. I though this is perfect. People think that's a cliché. But he did bring through messages and details about family members that were pretty incredible, very accurate, incredible details. There is no way he could have known these things. So it started peaking my interest. And I read as many books as I could on the subject matter of life after death and the paranormal. And I remember in every single book I read, there was a common theme. And the theme, the discussion was about, if you want to find out what your soul's purpose is in this lifetime, if you want to live your highest potential in life, if you want to get everything in your life you always wanted, there are ways of doing that and that is through meditation. After meditation, you can visualize things. You can see it happening. I started meditating. I would meditate not in a formal way. I just started breathing exercises. I heard about breathing and the breath and I visualized a flower - very informal. I did that every single day for like ten minutes. And very informally and probably about two or three weeks after I started that, I started seeing spirits again as I did as a boy. I started seeing lights around people auras, their auras, and colours around them, very weird, very strange, very odd. And I remember it was very much like the experience as a child, these colours. I remember, "Oh, yeah, as a kid I used to see these things.” So at that time I was working at a studio. I was doing contracts at Paramount Studios. And there was a co-worker I had who was working next to me and we used to talk about the paranormal. I told her about this medium. It was just fascination. She used to get astrology magazines and we would talk about astrology. And one day she came to work and I saw this lady behind her and I knew it was her grandmother. I just knew it. And this grandmother was looking at me and she sends me thoughts telepathically about a yellow house with white shudders in the state of Idaho and needlepoint. I'm like, OK, so this is weird. I said to this girl, her name was Jo. I said "Jo, I have something really, really weird to tell you. There is a lady behind you. She is talking about the state of Idaho, a yellow house with white shudders and needlepoint. Do you understand what she is trying to say? And Jo started crying and she said, "James, it's amazing. That's my grandmother and she lived in the state of Idaho and a yellow house, white shudders and she taught me how to do needlepoint. That was the last thing she taught me when I used to visit her in summers. And she also made a pact with me that when she passes over and goes to heaven, if there was anyway she could come back and tell me she loves me, she will. So I was really blown away by that. It freaked me out, frightened me a little bit because it was new. I ran out of the studio, ran back to my apartment. I just ran, kept on running and I called up that medium I went to see. I remember on the phone, "You are not going to believe what happened." He said, "James, don't you remember the prediction that was made to you from the spirit world." "Yeah," "James, that was two years ago." That was about 25 years ago. I have been a channel, a worker, a communicator for the spirit world ever since.

What's it like to communicate with the dead?

I see spirits like I see human people except sometimes I only see their faces or I'll see an image like they will show me if it's like a birthmark they have, they will show me that evidential details that they want to convey to a loved one He had a tattoo or a birthmark on their shoulder, then I convey that. I see things very quickly in front of me like a movie playing in front of me. I'll see them young. I will see spirits young again. I won't see them if they are past like 70 or 80 years of age. They go back to the prime of their life usually and that's how I will see them. I hear thoughts, I guess you would say. It's hard to describe the impressions that I get because they are not physical per se. They are sensory so you sense things. I sense things with feeling, thoughts, hearing thoughts, if you will and seeing, clairvoyant.

When speaking to the dead, how do you find the spirit you really want to talk to?

What happens, let's say someone goes to a medium and they want to contact Aunt Flo. They really want to talk to their Aunt Flo who helped raised them. How do they do that? Well, they can put a picture up and send out mental thoughts to Aunt Flo. "Aunt Flo, please come to this meeting with this medium. Please try to get through to this medium. Please try to get through." The spiritual dimension is all mental. It's a mental world. So your thoughts are received there. It's like a telephone ringing, and they get it. They get it. They hear you, loud and clear. So at funerals and memorial services, they are hearing everybody crying, they know all the thoughts. They get it and they see it clearly. Clearly. So they can do it. What happens is that Aunt Flo will come to that medium and send thoughts to that medium. Now Aunt Flo might not have ever done this before, so she doesn't know how to communicate properly. Right? Or she can learn it, just like the person receiving the reading learns how to receive a reading. She can concentrate her mental thoughts and slow them down, because that dimension is very quick. Energy and molecules vibrate and move at a certain rate of speed. In a three dimensional world, they move slowly. Very, very slowly. In spiritual dimensions, it's very, very fast; very, very quick. So Aunt Flo is in a very, very quick world now. She has to come back to a physical level and mentally slow down her thoughts, slow down to that level. it is not always easy because she's not of this world anymore, so she has to mentally slow down and at the same time send to the medium, in their mind, an image, an impression, a feeling, cause as much emotion as she can, and, at the same time, try to deal with her death condition, because when she's back on this earth the first thing she remembers is her last experience, which is her death. So she has all this stuff going on, not to mention getting through to the medium's mind, which is a lot of bias and their own personal stuff. So it's hard. It's not an easy process. That's where the development of the medium comes in, where they learn how to discern, they learn how to close out their own stuff and be open to the spirit. So Aunt Flo will hopefully get through. I find that Aunt Flo's success is measured by the emotion. The more emotion that she comes in with, the easier it is for the medium to pick up that information and give it out, and sometimes they get the name of someone. A name isn't a thing. It's just an impression. So they can get that, or they can get a place they lived or they get details of Aunt Flo, what her kitchen looked like, what she's doing now, what her relationship with her family was, whatever it is. Hopefully, she can come through that way. There are definitely some spirits that are good communicators and some that are really bad, and, just like in life, there are some people who are very emotional and some who have closed down.

Why do some spirits refuse to communicate with the living?

Some types of spirit, many times they don't want to come close because they have a memory of the death condition and they don't want to experience that again. It's not real but it's a memory, and they think it's real but it's not. They have that feeling again so they don't want to get too close. I pick up many times death conditions. I will get bullet holes in my head or I will get heart stuff, cancer stuff or whatever it is, hit by a bus, whatever it is. When that spirit comes back to this world, they will pick up that stuff and the medium feels it. Yes, it does fade. It fades. People ask me all the time about this stuff, the fading. It's interesting. I often use the analogy of school. Like remember high school. What were you doing the last day of high school? The further you are away from it, the less you remember. That's the way it is and the same thing with that in spirit.

Why do people seem to know more when they're dead than they did when they were alive?

Well, people…it is so funny…it's a falsehood that people that past over as a spirit know more than the living people on the earth. Not true always, if you are schmuck on the earth you are going to be schmuck when you passed over. That's the way it is. Your judgment is the same, your prejudice all that stuff remains the same. Your mindset remains the same too. But if you want to evolve and expand with your passing over you realized to start yourself up to the higher truth. The way it has been explained to me is this. When we pass out of the body and goes to that other dimension, they can see a little bit of the past and a little bit in the future. So, it is like taking a helicopter ride and you are looking down and you see the highway. Well, you can warn your loved one if there is going to be a traffic jam in the future here. If you go this road, try to go on the other route, it will be easier for you, so they can see a little bit ahead of you. Now they are not going to give you all the time to answer to the test because this is our schoolroom and we are going to take the test and learn our lessons and we have to pass, they love us so much that they want us to pass. So they can influence us that way to take a certain test. But they do as much as they can because they love us as much as they are allowed.

Can the dead foretell the future?

They can tell us of the future but we also have free will to change that. But they can see if we're like . . . and a psychic too, a psychic can give you a reading at this particular moment your energy is like this and they can read your energy at that particular moment. But guess what, when you walk out that door you can change things with your thoughts.

Is it possible to speak to famous dead people?

It is possible to speak to famous dead people, because they're just dead people. They're spirits just like everybody else. They're no different. I've brought through many, many people, from Kennedy to Marilyn Monroe to Liberace to presidents, to all different types of people. Marilyn Monroe had a very interesting response. I was doing a reading for Susan Strasberg when she was alive, and she was doing a book on Marilyn, because they lived together when they were younger in age. Marilyn came through to the very end of the reading, and she said, "I wish they would pay homage to themselves, instead of to me," meaning the general public. But she's no different than they are. You know, it's all a Hollywood machine. It's what they make you, but it's not real.