Echo BodineNot all ghosts are scary, says Echo Bodine, despite what Hollywood horror movies might have us believe-although she admits that some are "not nice." Bodine, who first discovered her psychic abilities at age 17, is the author of seven books on spiritual healing, ghost-busting, and psychic ability, including "The Gift." She recently shared with us her thoughts on the popular television show "Medium," the film "White Noise," ghost sightings of tsunami victims, and her own encounters with the dead.

"Medium" is based on the life of Allison Dubois, a research medium who has worked with the police to help with unsolved cases. From your perspective as a psychic, what does "Medium" get right or wrong about the way psychics work?

I would say that they're getting it right so far. The thing that I like about it is that they're really portraying this as realistically as possible. I think the show is going to do a lot to educate people about life after death.

I also like the fact that they show how confusing this is for Allison. You read about John Edward, James Van Praagh, Rosemary Altea, or you read my books and find out that none of us really understood at first what was going on. What are these pictures in our head? Why do they come true? Did we make that happen? Who are these dead people that we're seeing? In the show Allison gets angry, she yells at her husband because she doesn't know what else to do with her frustrations.

And it's good that they're showing people how choppy [messages from the dead can be]. If you watched John Edward's TV show, you'd get the impression from that that spirits are just talking in full sentences, that he's getting all this easy information.

But really what a psychic is doing is piecing it together, just like a jigsaw puzzle. You know we get one piece, then another, and then we interpret it.

On a recent episode of "Medium," the police officer Allison was assisting didn't take her psychic abilities seriously at first. Yet he prided himself on his own gut feelings, his intuitive abilities. Is there a difference between intuition and psychic ability, or are they different degrees of the same thing?

Psychic abilities and intuition are different. Intuition is like the truth that's being spoken to us. Whereas psychic abilities are visions and hearing spirits communicating to us.

Why do you think people, like the cop character character in the show, tend to consider intuition acceptable but dismiss psychic ability as not credible?

I'd like somebody out there to answer that for me!

In the Bible, it says that God can be found in "the still, small voice within." So the Bible validates intuition, but the Old Testament [also] puts down fortune tellers and anything considered supernatural. So that may be the basis [for that kind of thinking].

But even with intuition, if I say to somebody, "My gut tells me." most people don't take that seriously either. Rational thought is king in our country.

Can anyone tune in to messages from the dead, or just mediums?

It's not easy because we are all used to talking to people that have a physical form and an audible voice-so for people to suddenly go from that kind of communication to the kind of communication with a deceased person is very difficult. That's why it's more likely to come through people like Allison or those of us who have developed that ability.

What are some of the ways you believe the dead communicate with the living? Do they leave signs, communicate through dreams, knock pictures off the wall.

There are different ways our loved ones will try to communicate with us. For example, if we have their picture on the mantle they'll move the picture or try to tip it over. Maybe they'll come into the room and they'll have a scent on them like the smell of Old Spice which reminds you of Grandpa or a bunch of peonies [like] Grandma had in her garden. They will think of a smell that you would associate with them, and they will actually project that smell to us.

They will think, "I really need to communicate with my granddaughter or my daughter or my son and let them know that I'm really doing great and that I'm here visiting them." And they can get very creative.

The one way it's easiest to communicate to us is through dreams.

Why is that easiest?

Because that's actually [how they] communicate to our soul. At night when we're sleeping, our soul will come out of our body and communicate, and our deceased loved ones will come and communicate with our soul. And then it comes through our conscious mind, but we just think it's a dream. But most people will wake up from those kind of experiences and they'll say, "Holy smokes, I just feel like I had a conversation with my grandma!" People will say "That dream felt so real to me" and that was a real conversation that took place.

Do you think that grief opens you up to this experience?

I think that people who lose loved ones really want to communicate with their deceased loved ones. Here's the problem with grief: it opens people up to do things like the Ouija board, or they'll look around to see if they can go to a séance, or they'll start going to a lot of different psychics. It doesn't necessarily mean that any of it is going to work. So being in grief doesn't necessarily mean that you're going to open up psychically, it just means you're going to want to.

Would you say that it's potentially dangerous?

I don't know if I'd say dangerous. There are a lot of earth-bound spirits, souls that have chosen not to go on to the other side. Those are the souls that haunt people's houses. The thing about a lot of ghosts is that they're not evil but they can be tricksters, they can be people who like to mess with your head just because they think it's funny. So a lot of the earth-bound souls, they're just not nice people. They're immature, they're self-centered-it's more about them being entertained than it is about helping people who are looking for answers from their deceased loved ones.

I advise people to give it six months before you start to communicate, in order to let the other person get used to their life on the other side and you get used to your new life here. Don't start doing it right away, like after the funeral go home and just sit and wait for a sign, because you're both really raw and you're both going through your own changes. At some point when you're feeling better and they're feeling better, then the two of you can try to communicate with each other.

On your ghost-busting trip with Beliefnet columnist John Spalding back in 2000, you said, "Ghosts are a lot like us," complete with unresolved issues. Is that another reason they may be trying to communicate?

Yes. They might want to get a message that they're sorry. Or if they were murdered they might want the murder solved, there are so many reasons.

So they're like us but in another place. How do you imagine where they are? Are there different stages to the afterlife?

Yes, there are different levels to heaven. Now they're saying that there's eight levels to heaven.

Who is "they"?

"They" are the spirits that I communicate with. As we continue to grow spiritually, we're growing higher and higher.

Do you move from one level to the next by resolving these issues?


It sounds similar to the idea of the bardo, what some Buddhists believe is the in-between state after death and before reincarnation. There have been stories recently about survivors of the tsunami disaster in Thailand, many of whom are Buddhist, seeing ghosts. Do you think that because of the way people died there that their spirits have more unresolved issues?

First of all, there's probably a lot of them that don't even know that they're deceased yet. They don't quite get what's going on. Then there's probably a lot of them that are staying earth-bound because they want their families to find their bodies in order to find peace. There are some that want to hang around to let their families know that they are OK. They might see their families looking all over the place going, "I'm sure she's alive someplace we'll just wait," and she may be saying "No, I'm dead but I'm OK, don't worry about me." So a lot of the souls could just be staying here until they see a [resolution] coming for their families, and then they'll move on to the other side.

In "White Noise," Michael Keaton's character is advised by a psychic not to tamper with spirits of the dead, because of the potential of inviting "bad" spirits into his life. Have you ever encountered bad spirits?

I've seen spirits that are not nice, and I've told clients, "Don't invite these spirits into your home." Some people will encourage negative spirits to come around their home by playing the Ouija board, having séances and calling them in. They think it's fun and entertaining. But I've said, "Don't do this."

I was really disappointed in the movie, and so were other psychics that I know. They even say in the end that [only] one in 12 EVP (Electronic Voice Phenomenon) experiences are negative experiences. So my question to whoever made this movie is, Why do you focus on the one in 12 rather than the other experiences that are good?

Can you talk a little bit about EVP?

Yes, I've seen it myself. I remember when I was in my psychic development class back in 1966, and my teacher used to say, If you think there's a spirit in the room take a tape recorder and put it in that room and turn the tape recorder on and walk away. And then go back later and see if you can hear voices. We would get voices on the tape recorder. EVP does work, spirits can communicate with us electronically. They can manipulate energy because they are made of energy. That's the easiest way for them to communicate with us, through electrical energy. So using TVs, radios, computers, they'll play with energy. They'll play with lights, lights will go on and off. I don't know how they do it, but it's probably the easiest way to get our attention.

Why are the messages from the dead so cryptic? Why can't they just say what they mean?

That's a really good question. Why can't they? Why don't they? I don't know. Sometimes I look at these spirits and I think, Why can't you just give us something that's really valuable that would mean a lot to this person? And they'll just stand there and stare at you just this blank look on their face.

What advice do you have for people who feel as if they're being haunted, and definitely do not want to make a connection with these ghosts?

[Laughs] It's always the people who want to see the dead that don't, and the ones who don't, do.

They can tell these deceased people, "Look, I would prefer that you don't bother me, that you just go away and leave me alone." We have to be really firm with them. The thing is most people get scared, and that can actually encourage the spirit to stick around. so They have to be really firm, treat them like an intruder and say, "No, I don't want you here, and I want you to leave now."

So you wouldn't say the dead are any more or less dangerous than the living?

No. The only thing that would make them more dangerous is that we can't see them. As a matter of fact, they're less dangerous. They can't pick up a hammer and smack us with it, they can't shoot us with a gun.

Why not? If they can move physical objects like a picture frame.

When they move physical objects, they usually have to take energy from someone in the room in order to make that happen.

So in order to pick up a gun-holy smokes, that would take up a lot of energy. I just don't think they could get that much energy.

In the last episode of "Medium," Allison psychically knows about the surprise her husband has planned for her birthday. Have you had similar experiences?

I actually had a surprise party, and it was a riot. My secretary planned it, and I "saw" her plan the entire thing. I saw who was going to bring the pop, I saw who was going to bring the food, I saw my secretary buying the streamers, everything. But I went along and acted surprised because I didn't want to disappoint them.

Sometimes it's a real bummer. In fact sometimes if my birthday's coming, I'll actually block myself, because I do like to be surprised!

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