Windy City Media Group Frontpage News
Celebrating 30 Years of Gay Lesbian Bisexual and Trans News
home search facebook twitter join
Gay News Sponsor Windy City Times 2020-07-08
About WCMG Publications News  Entertainment Features Donate Bars & Clubs Calendar Advertisers OUT! Guide    Marriage



James Van Praagh: Spirits in a material world
Special to the Online Edition
by Andrew Davis

facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email

In his new book, Ghosts Among Us, famed medium James Van Praagh takes the reader on a journey that answers many questions about the spirit world. Van Praagh—who helped create TV's The Ghost Whisperer—talked with Windy City Times about 'going into the light,' death and bodybuilding ghosts.

Windy City Times: We all know about ghosts, but could you give us the official definitions of 'ghost' and 'medium'?

James Van Praagh: Well, let me tell you the reason I wrote the book Ghosts Among Us. I wrote it because I co-created The Ghost Whisperer, and I saw that what I know and what they put on television were two different things. They made it very Hollywood, so I thought it was my responsibility as a teacher to make sure what ghosts are and what they're like.

The hard thing about this book was that people perceive ghosts as people who haunt places. I'm a medium—someone who contacts the spirit world, and I've been able to do that since I was a child; I see them, hear them [ and ] feel them. It's like that movie, The Sixth Sense. My ability is that I can see those who have crossed over into the light.

When you die, there's a light for you, but you don't have to go into that light; you can stay behind if you have unresolved issues or unfinished business, or are afraid to go into the light. Some gay people, for example, don't want to go into the light because they had judgmental parents or grandparents, and they're afraid to meet up with them again. Some are afraid that God will judge their lifestyle and that they'll go to hell.

WCT: There are people who say, 'Only God can judge me,' and when they're about to cross over, they think, 'Uh-oh.'

JVP: That's right—especially if they have a religious background or are thinking of [ encountering ] someone who's religious.

People's perceptions of ghosts are of those who are earthbound and haunting, so the hard part of the book was differentiating between a 'ghost' and a 'spirit.' So I said that we're all ghosts; ghosts and spirits are interchangeable. We're spiritual beings having physical experiences. So when that spirit leaves the physical body, you have a choice to go into the light or to stay around the Earth—that's called a 'ghost.' Ghosts are spirits who hang around and can attach themselves to living people, can attach themselves to places, can siphon people's energy or can even be nosy and check things out. A medium is open to spirits.

The show is based on Mary Ann Winkowski, a woman I met on a daytime show I did called Beyond. On Beyond, I said that I wanted to do a segment on the paranormal, and [ spotlight ] different types of people with different types of gifts. My producers found a lady who they said was a 'ghostbuster'—someone who can communicate with earthbound spirits, and she can communicate over the phone. She will describe, over the phone, where you're sitting and tell you where ghosts are.

I came back to my house from Ghost Whisperer. Things were going crazy, like my garage door kept going up and down—and I wondered what was going on, so I called Mary Ann. She said to go to my garage, and she described it [ perfectly ] —including the gym in it—and said, 'There's a 42-year-old guy who died in northern California. He was a marine and was also a bodybuilder. He had two kids and had intestinal problems; he went to the set of The Ghost Whisperer because he knew who you were and followed you home.' So she came here and [ directed ] him into the light, because she has to do that in person. It's interesting: She can see the earthbound ghosts and then, once they go into the light, I can see them.

WCT: I'm sure you run into your share of skeptics.

JVP: Sure; even I'm a skeptic. I taped the Dr. Phil show the other day [ which ran recently ] and a spirit told me the first ones he was going to say: [ Imitates Dr. Phil ] 'Well, you know I'm a skeptic.' I said, 'You, too?' He didn't know what to do with that one.

I'm skeptical to a point. I'm very aware that it all exists; you can't negate hundreds of thousands of spirits. But you have to be an open-minded skeptic; being closed-minded is being a cynic, and you're prejudging something.

WCT: What are you skeptical about?

JVP: I'm skeptical when people say they can do certain things; they have to prove it to me. I believe that some people can do it, but not everyone can. And I have such a high level of integrity and responsibility, because you have people's lives in your hands. One thing that has concerned me over the years [ is the ] development of building sensitivity. It's a lot of responsibility, having people's lives in your hands.

WCT: Something that made me apprehensive is thinking that ghosts could be everywhere—in the shower …

JVP: [ Laughs ] Damn right. While you're having sex, on the toilet …

WCT: I'm not doing anything ever again.

JVP: [ Laughs ] It's the number-one question from people at my conferences. If I have to loosen people up, I ask, 'How many people worry about the ghosts in the shower this morning?' They can see you, but there's so much more going on in their world that they don't pay attention about that.

WCT: If I were a spirit, I'd consider hanging out around Matthew McConaughey's shower.

JVP: [ Laughs ] I understand that—but, at the same time, when you're on that level of consciousness you know that [ doing that ] might not be right. You have to respect their privacy.

From what I've heard, they do respect privacy. But Mary Ann and I once went to [ The Ghost Whisperer star ] Jennifer Love Hewitt's house, and she had a ghost who was definitely a perv. He used to watch her all the time.

WCT: Your book almost makes death sound appealing: no pain, being guided by deceased loved ones, etc. Do you worry that you make death sound almost too appealing, with people saying, 'Well, if death is like that … '?

JVP: No; I just don't want them to be afraid of death. People are afraid of the unknown. Knowledge is definitely power, and if they're aware of what death is about, they know what to look forward to.

WCT: On a different note, you've worked with HIV/AIDS organizations.

JVP: Yes. I was one of the starters of APLA [ AIDS Project Los Angeles ] , along with [ people such as ] Matt Redman. I was in the original volunteer groups, and it started about 20 years ago.

James Van Praagh will be on Transitions Bookplace, 1000 W. North, Thurs., May 29, at 7 p.m.; see . He will also be at the Celebrate Your Life conference, being held Fri.-Sun., May 30-June 1, at the Westin Lombard Yorktown Center ( see ) ; and at Borders, 1500 16th St., Oak Brook, on Fri., May 30, at 7:30 p.m.

See for more information.

facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email

Windy City Media Group does not approve or necessarily agree with the views posted below.
Please do not post letters to the editor here. Please also be civil in your dialogue.
If you need to be mean, just know that the longer you stay on this page, the more you help us.


Gay News

NUNN ON ONE PHOTOGRAPHY Peter Bussian focuses on New York's trans community 2020-07-08 - Peter Bussian is a visual artist who continually promotes international themes in his work. He's been published in The New York Times, LA ...

Gay News

BOOKS Joey Skladany entertains, instructs in 'Basic Bitchen' 2020-06-28 - With Basic Bitchen, Joey Skladany has probably put together one of the most entertaining cookbooks one might come across. With recipes for items ...

Gay News

Printers Row Lit Fest officially cancelled 2020-06-25 - For the first time in its 36-year history, Chicago's Printers Row Lit Fest has been officially canceled. Organizers said the current city ...

Gay News

Library board president leaves post over anti-LGBTQ statements 2020-06-24 - Cook Memorial Public Library District Board President Bonnie Quirke has now resigned from her post, The Daily Herald reported. Quirke, 80, of Libertyville, ...

Gay News

BOOKS Skokie native writes about creating an LGBTQ family 2020-06-24 - Steve Disselhorst dreamed of being a parent since he was a kid growing up in Skokie. On June 16, his first book, Determined ...

Gay News

BOOKS Photographer focuses on 'The People of the Pride Parade' 2020-06-23 - Alyssa Blumstein captured a celebratory photography book The People of the Pride Parade, which was released in honor of the Pride Parade's 50th ...

Gay News

Library board president criticized for anti-LGBTQ speech 2020-06-17 - Cook Memorial Public Library District Board President Bonnie Quirke was criticized for an old speech in which she accused libraries of promoting "the ...

Gay News

Gerber/Hart celebrates Hot Wire: The Journal of Women's Music and Culture 2020-06-10 - Gerber/Hart Library and Archives hosted a look back at Hot Wire: The Journal of Women's Music and Culture with a panel, on May ...

Gay News

Spyners Pub owner posts racist screed on Facebook, apologizes later 2020-06-03 - Amidst almost a week of protests in support of #BlackLivesMatter in Chicago and other locations across the United States, Spyners Pub owner/general manager ...

Gay News

BAMtheatre starting virtual classes 2020-05-26 - In response to the stay-at-home and social distancing orders implemented by the COVID-19 pandemic, BAMtheatre has reimagined its musical theatre-focused programming through a ...


Copyright © 2020 Windy City Media Group. All rights reserved.
Reprint by permission only. PDFs for back issues are downloadable from
our online archives. Single copies of back issues in print form are
available for $4 per issue, older than one month for $6 if available,
by check to the mailing address listed below.

Return postage must accompany all manuscripts, drawings, and
photographs submitted if they are to be returned, and no
responsibility may be assumed for unsolicited materials.
All rights to letters, art and photos sent to Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago
Gay and Lesbian News and Feature Publication) will be treated
as unconditionally assigned for publication purposes and as such,
subject to editing and comment. The opinions expressed by the
columnists, cartoonists, letter writers, and commentators are
their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay,
Lesbian, Bisexual and Transegender News and Feature Publication).

The appearance of a name, image or photo of a person or group in
Nightspots (Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times
(a Chicago Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender News and Feature
Publication) does not indicate the sexual orientation of such
individuals or groups. While we encourage readers to support the
advertisers who make this newspaper possible, Nightspots (Chicago
GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay, Lesbian
News and Feature Publication) cannot accept responsibility for
any advertising claims or promotions.







About WCMG Publications News  Entertainment Features Donate Bars & Clubs Calendar Advertisers OUT! Guide    Marriage

About WCMG      Contact Us      Online Front  Page      Windy City  Times      Nightspots      OUT! Guide     
Identity      BLACKlines      En La Vida      Archives      Subscriptions      Distribution      Windy City Queercast     
Queercast Archives      Advertising  Rates      Deadlines      Advanced Search     
Press  Releases      Event Photos      Join WCMG  Email List      Email Blast     
Upcoming Events      Todays Events      Ongoing Events      Post an Event      Bar Guide      Community Groups      In Memoriam      Outguide Categories      Outguide Advertisers      Search Outguide      Travel      Dining Out      Blogs      Spotlight  Video     
Classifieds      Real Estate      Place a  Classified     

Windy City Media Group publishes Windy City Times,
The Bi-Weekly Voice of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Trans Community.
5315 N. Clark St. #192, Chicago, IL 60640-2113 • PH (773) 871-7610 • FAX (773) 871-7609.