With that in mind, renowned survival evidence medium James Van Praagh is coming to Reno for one show on Saturday at the Grand Sierra Resort.
Van Praagh’s career took off in the early 1990s on the NBS show “The Other Side,” which chronicled people’s dreams, sightings and other paranormal encounters. In the nearly 20 years since, he has taken his abilities in communicating with the dead to numerous other talk shows (“Oprah,” “Larry King Live,” “48 Hours” to name a few), written numerous books and his current big project is as co-executive producer of the CBS drama series “Ghost Whisperer,” now in its fourth season and starring Jennifer Love Hewitt.
“Books reach one audience and television reaches a whole different audience,” Van Praagh said in an interview with the Sparks Tribune. “The goal is to change people’s consciousness of the world of life after death.”
The stories in “Ghost Whisperer” are based on Van Praagh’s actual experiences, though he said Hewitt’s character is based on paranormal investigator Mary Ann Winkowski, a Cleveland woman who specializes in helping spirits trapped between the living world and the spirit world.
Even though he talks to people who have the power to float, Van Praagh says he has his feet firmly planted on the ground. He describes himself as a “regular kind of guy” and says he uses a lot of humor in his work. His live appearances allow him to get to know his audience, which he says helps his believability. At his monthly sessions in Laguna Beach, Calif., he says he gets a lot of repeat attendees who “love the energy in the room.”
“What happens is people get to know me and get a sense that I’m genuine and I’m a good person,” he said. “You know if someone is BS-ing you or not.”
It is up to each individual to decide whether or not Van Praagh is conducting the soul train or just hauling manure. It all comes down to whether you believe the information he verbalizes is truly coming from spirits he claims to see standing next to audience members or if he is simply putting out information that is so generic it is likely to resonate with someone in even a remote way. Whatever your take on his “powers,” it is hard to deny his easy-going, personable style that puts people at ease, no doubt adding to his credibility.
Van Praagh’s books and seminars try to help people tap into their own psychic abilities. He says that everyone has the ability to communicate with spirits but that not everyone’s senses have the right tuning. To use his words to describe why he has the ability: “My antennae is higher, my bandwidth is higher.”
Van Praagh’s biography on his Web site says that when another psychic first foretold he’d one day be working as a medium, his reaction was that he had enough trouble working with live people, much less the dead. A lot has happened since then, however.
“Things have changed quite a bit,” Van Praagh said. “I find this work is an incredible opportunity for me in the world. To do this work and demonstrate unconditional love and healing to millions — it’s the best work ever.”
As with any job, there is both good and bad.
“The hardest part of my job is not talking to dead people,” he said. “The hard part is I see the potential of each person and they don’t see it themselves. I see their gifts and their abilities and they have no clue about them.”
Van Praagh’s beliefs read like a new-age handbook, but he has a different name for them.
“My religion is called ‘love,’ ” he said. “I believe all religions have bits of the truth but no one religion has all the truth.
“If religion is based upon love then it’s true,” he continued, “but if it’s based upon fear then it’s limiting God and I think God is limitless.”
James Van Praagh will be at the Grand Sierra Resort on Saturday at 8 p.m. in the Grand Theater. Tickets are $16.50 and $33 and can be purchased by calling (800) 648-3568 ($2 handling charge) or between 9 a.m. and 9 p.m. at the Grand Sierra ticket counter near the main desk in the lobby.