The Handsome James Van Praagh

 Talking to Heaven: A Medium’s Message of Life After Death            

Author:  Sandra Martin

I had an appointment with a psychic medium. He had flown in from LA. On the phone he sounded like lots LA types-full of self-importance, disdainful that he’d had to fly to New York to get an agent.  Agents in LA did not see the value of his work and would not take him on he’d told me when he knew, he absolutely knew that he was the next bestselling author just waiting to happen. He did say he’d heard that I was the best agent in his genre. That was nice. We made an appointment for the next week.

James Van Praagh was ushered in to my office by Karla our beautiful office assistant, graphic artist, aspiring filmmaker and someone that always caught men’s eyes. James was stocky and nice looking, a mustache with brown reddish hair and a great determined chin. He never looked at  Karla. His eye was trained on me.  It was pouring rain outside so he stood in my office doorway taking his raincoat off shaking the water on to my floor, next his hat – more water on the floor, shaking out his umbrella, more water on the floor, passing each to Karla, all the while telling me who he was and why HIS book was the most important book of all time.

“I am famous for my mediumship. I know this book will change everything. People are ready. They already know that communication from the other side happens. In fact, they want to “believe” and “understand” and have an “experience” that makes them know unequivocally that there is no death. They are ready to speak with their departed loved ones, to understand that they may be dead in body but their souls are alive and well in another place.”

And obviously James Van Praagh believed he had the ability to translate those messages to their loved ones and write a book about it.

I hadn’t said a word.

“Have a seat, please.”

He stepped across the puddle of water he’d created, with a look that conveyed he just realized what he’d done, but he said nothing.  He sat.  We looked at each other a moment.  Sometimes I have strong psychic moments and was known to “know” what the next big trend would be in the mind/body/spirit/new age world of publishing. Even though this man, James Van Praagh, was a little off-putting, I knew he was right about everything he said.

“Can I see your proposal?”

“Oh, I don’t have one. I’m not really a writer but I have a friend who’ll help me write it. Don’t worry about that.”

“Tell me about yourself.”

And so he did.

“I was born in Bayside, here in New York. As early as I can remember I have had spiritual experiences. At eight I saw a glowing open hand appear on my ceiling while I was praying and the experience was wonderful. I have always been interested in God and religion. I thought I’d be a priest but it was too narrow for me. After my mom died she visited me and that is how I met my guides.”

“How did you come to know that you were really speaking to entities on the other side?”

“Many, many years of experiences with people suffering and grieving after the death of a loved one.  I knew things that I couldn’t have known and told them things that only they could verify.”

“What took you to LA?”

“I went to school to be in broadcasting and moved to LA to do that, but soon after moving I met a medium who was lecturing and he told me that the spirit world would help me to ‘change the consciousness of the planet.’”

Um, I thought, where have I heard something similar to that?

“Okay.  Can I see you work before I sign you up?”

He got a little red faced realizing I wanted to see what he did before I said yes to representing him.

“I understand that you are the ONE literary agent who understands this field, who represents New Age subjects and still you want to check me out? Haven’t you heard about me?”

“Yes I do and yes I have.”

He harrumphed.

“I’ll be at a Hotel Lexington and 50th Street at 7:00 tonight giving a demonstration. Be there.”

And he left in a huff.

I arrived at this old rundown hotel around 7:05 and the halls were empty, the door closed, the place was very quiet. It was a bit unsettling. I thought maybe I had the wrong place. Then I opened the door. The room was packed. Packed with people of all descriptions, all colors, creeds, some in motorcycle jackets, prim grandmothers, Latinos and upper East-Siders. Who were these people and how did they all get here?

This was impressive. James saw me, and motioned for me to come down near the front where he’d saved me a seat.

I sat.  He told the audience he’d been waiting for me.

So now he could start. First he told the audience what to expect, how to act, what to not do and that he could only speak for the Departed People that came to him. He was very stern. “They usually lined up on my right,” he said and he couldn’t “call” anyone to him. He was sorry but he had to take who was there. So don’t call out names. The Dead People make the decisions not him.

Did they understand?

Yes. They nodded in unison.

He prayed, he rocked back and forth; he spoke so fast I couldn’t understand one word he was saying, and he put himself in a trance state and opened his eyes. He was totally focused; his eyes a strange stare, and seemed to be on a beam of energy that wasn’t part of our world. He’d tuned in to the right dimension, picked up the right vibe, and he was off and running.

He’d call out a name and someone in the audience would stand up. He’d tell a bit about how the person died and what they wanted to say–mostly it was I love you and I’m okay. But occasionally there was much more.  At one point he said, “There is a young girl here who is the niece of this guy and I think his name is George. Her father is his brother and he wants to speak with her.”

He kept on giving more and more information about how an argument that kept them apart for years and he wanted to say he forgave his brother and wanted his brother to forgive him. He said where they lived, some small town on Long Island. What work they did. No one said anything. James seemed to be getting angry. Finally a small voice a few rows back said, “That’s my Uncle.” And the woman sitting next to her actually jerked her up by her arm and she stood up.

James was angry. “I have a lot of people here that I’d like to pass their messages on and you, you, why didn’t you say anything. What did you want me to do offer you a personal invitation?”

He gave her the message the brother wanted delivered and moved on.

We were all relieved. The air was certainly tense.

He gave messages for three solid hours, with no breaks. It looked like three exhausting hours for him. The energy in the room was exhilarating. James was drained.

During the third hour, people starting out yelling names, they cried, sobbed, calling out, call on me, call on me; I need to talk with my husband, they said, I need to know why my child died, they said-it was a very sad, at times joyful but overall it was a deeply satisfying event.

I had never experienced any demonstration as powerful.

I saw that James was the real thing: the real extraordinary amazing real thing.  I told him to come to the office the next morning.

Together we sold his book, Talking to Heaven which became a New York Times Bestseller for months on end. He was very happy, as was I.