When he was just a little boy, he already was seeing dead people.
“When I was just a kid growing up in Queens, New York, I used to see spirits all the time. I would see lights around people, which was their aura. I thought it was a normal and natural thing to do, but the other kids made fun of me. So my mother would tell me to keep it to myself,” said James Van Praagh, well-known psychic and medium and best-selling author who will be coming to the Keswick Theatre in Glenside on Tuesday, April 8.
Praagh decided to do just that. He went to school to pursue an interest in writing, graduating from San Francisco State with a degree in broadcasting.
Later, still in his early 20s, he moved to Los Angeles with a promise of a writing job that, he was later told, fell through.
With little money, Praagh took a temporary job when he met a woman who was instrumental in eventually changing his life.
“One day, she asked me if I wanted to go see a medium. I told her I didn’t believe in that sort of thing, but to make her feel better I decided to go with her,” he recalled. “And as soon as I walked through the door, this man told me I was a psychic, a medium. He said that in two years time, they’re going to give you a message and help you communicate.”
So impressed with the prediction, Van Praagh began to read all the books he could on the subject. He also started meditating, and within two weeks time, he started seeing lights around people, just as he had when he was a child.
Some time later, securing a job at Paramount Studios, he began giving paid readings, and was so successful that he later published two best-selling books, Talking to Heaven and Reaching to Heaven.
The popularity of his books, combined with his celebrity clientele and TV appearances, made Van Praagh somewhat of a celebrity himself.
Today, he appears all over the globe, and before each show, Van Praagh said, he prepares himself.
“Before each show, I meditate and say a little prayer. Then, I’m being used by the spirit world, so I’ll just stand there until someone comes through me. Really, my job is as a teacher. I want to open the audience up to this experience. Spirits are around us every day, so I just help people become aware of them.”
He said he’s able to receive messages just like a radio, and further defines his gifts.
“A medium is someone who’s able to contact someone who’s passed over,” he said. “Every medium is a psychic, but not every psychic is a medium. You have to be very sensitive, very intuitive. My specialty is not telling the future, but speaking with spirits.”
But the best part of these last 30-plus years for Van Praagh has been helping to heal people and giving them their life back.
He said, “We all have some unfinished business. Regrets. Forgiveness that needs to be taken care of. So why wait until you pass over? Why not live life as if today were your last today. Tell the people around you how much you love them.”
However, it’s never too late.
“Death,” he said, “is an illusion. Your loved ones are always around you. The soul cannot die. The soul is eternal.” ••
The show will start at 8 p.m. Tickets cost $29, $39 and $59. Call 215-572-7650.