The planes of Penticton’s physical existence will be bridged with the spirit world on Nov. 7 during An Afternoon of Spirit in Penticton by spiritual medium James Van Praagh.
Van Praagh will open the presentation by sharing with the audience his personal history of psychic ability, before explaining how his experience as a medium has shaped his philosophies.
“In doing this work I’ve learned a lot from the spirit side of life,” he said. “In knowing how to live every day, here, the golden rule definitely applies. We’re all connected as one being with the illusion of being separate from one another.”
After giving the audience an understanding of his capabilities, Van Praagh leads a meditation to open everybody up, which allows him to connect with spirits that exist outside of a physical form.
“In my mind I’m able to hear impressions and receive impressions, whether it’s visual feelings or auditory, they’ll be impressions of somebody in the audience,” he said. “I really let them fill my mind up with this information and that’s how I give it out. It’s an interesting process.”
Through live demonstrations, Van Praagh said he mostly connects with spirits that have ‘crossed over,’ meaning they don’t have “unfinished business.”
When a person passes away, he said unfinished business can be a result of having the wrong mentality during death, which can prevent a person’s spirit from leaving its physical environment.
“A mother who dies during childbirth is likely to think, ‘I have to stay close to the earth to protect my daughter instead of going into the spirit world.’ But really it would be the opposite, she would be able to help her out or look over her daughter more from the other side.”
However, the majority of spirits are not earthbound, he said.
“The spirits I connect with are the ones that are already in the light.”
By submitting his ego and concentrating carefully, Van Praagh is able to invite spirits into his surroundings.
“Mentally the spirits have to lower their vibration or lower their frequency with their thoughts; they lower themselves down into the room and they project images into my mind,” he said. “The mind is the soul and the mind keeps in all the memories and experiences it ever had in its human lifetime,” he said. “In a way it’s soul-to-soul communication.”
Van Praagh said the great amount of personal details he’s able to obtain through past relationships assures audiences that he’s not performing a cold reading, which is when a performer makes high-probability guesses to deceitfully convince a crowd of psychic abilities.
“It’s details that no one would know about except the person in the audience and the spirit,” he said, admitting he was skeptical as a beginner. “It’s about critical thinking – make up your own mind as to what’s going on.”
No proven methods of physically measuring paranormality are known to exist, though Van Praagh said it may eventually be a possibility.
“It’s very hard to measure the sixth dimension with three dimensional tools,” he said. “I’d love to be hooked up to a machine to scan my brainwaves, and I’d really like an experiment where you examine the thoughts of a medium when they’re in their altered state compared to when they’re not.”
He said spirits communicate through feelings of love, which as it stands is an immeasurable emotion.
“If we could somehow measure thought then I think we’re in the ballpark, that’s when it could work.”
Renowned skeptic James Randi has issued the One Million Dollar Paranormal Challenge and has personally called upon Van Praagh to take the test.
Van Praagh doesn’t believe the challenge to be legitimate.
“I think it’s a big scam for publicity. He’s a cheat; he’s a magician.”
Initially skeptical of Van Praagh’s work was actor Ted Danson, he said. While performing a reading on him in his house, Van Praagh said after extracting precise and personal details about Danson’s late father, Danson was brought to the floor in tears. Van Praagh was subsequently portrayed by Danson in the 2002 CBS miniseries Living with the Dead, which is based on his life.
Van Praagh found further commercial success in paranormal television productions, most notably as the co-executive producer of the Ghost Whisperer, which Van Praagh claims was an adaptation of his work as a medium that starred Jennifer Love Hewitt.
The demonstration takes place at the Penticton Lakeside Resort on Nov. 7 at 2:30 p.m. Tickets range between $65 and $125, and can be ordered online through www.ideasfestival.ca.