Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Ghosts, but Were Too Afraid to Ask
From a very young age James Van Praagh was aware of a dimension that most of us cannot see, and he has dedicated his life to explaining it to the rest of us. The New York Times bestseller Ghosts Among Us takes us on an incredible journey into the spirit world that brings to light one of our greatest mysteries—what happens to us after we die?
Growing Up with Ghosts
"I see dead people." Those four words from The Sixth Sense have woven their way into popular culture and will forever be synonymous with a person describing his ability to see and communicate with ghosts. Since this highly successful film was released in 1999, a whole slew of books, movies, and TV shows have been created, most of which would have never seen the light of day a decade ago. No one seems impervious to a ghostly encounter or two anymore. In fact, people come up to me all the time to describe their own often incredible stories of ghostly apparitions. I am extremely thankful that I have been a part of educating others about spirit communication and life after death.
To begin on this journey of discovery, I first want to assure everyone that there is no such thing as death. Death refers only to the end of the physical body. I say this with surety because since the age of two I have been communicating with "the dead." Ghosts walk among us, impressing us with their love, guiding us with their wisdom, and protecting us from harm.
The love of a grandfather
I will never forget the very first time I became aware of the others from a different world. I was a toddler in my crib, and I heard the sound of adult laughter coming from another room. I wanted so much to be out of the crib and with my parents. Like many babies, I cried for attention. My mother came into my room, picked me up, and soothed me for a while, then left me alone again. She didn't understand that I wanted to be with her and the rest of the adults in that other room. Night after night, I would stay awake and listen to the adults.
After a while, I became aware of tiny, sparkling lights dancing around my room, making unique patterns on the wall and around my crib. These sparkling lights fascinated me. Then one night the lights came together and formed a shape. I could see the shadow of a man standing in the corner of the room, his bright blue eyes piercing the darkness. He had a glow about him, a glow that came from inside out. I felt his presence to be very calming and loving. As he came closer to my crib, he smiled. There was nothing to be afraid of; in fact, he looked familiar to me. Although he never said anything, I could understand this man's thoughts. After his initial appearance, this ghost would occasionally visit and send me telepathic thoughts about painted ponies trotting around a ring of colorful shapes. I understood his thoughts because they were in the form of pictures, and I always felt a lot of light and love from him. As I grew older, his ghostly visits stopped.
By the time I was ready to start kindergarten, I would often spend weekends visiting my grandmother. The two of us shared a very special bond, and our visits were always filled with laughter and good food. On one of my trips to Grandma's apartment, I took out a family photo album. She sat next to me and told me about the people in the photos. When I saw the picture of the man with the bright blue eyes, standing in front of a tree, I pointed at it and asked, "Who's that?"
"He's your grandfather," she said. "He died before you were born. He came from England and went to work for the rodeo. You know, he even got a job setting up tents for the Buffalo Bill Wild West Show."
"I know him, Grandma. He used to visit me when I was a baby and tell me stories about the horses."
My grandmother smiled. I knew she didn't believe me. She merely added, "He loved telling stories about cowboys and Indians."
Years later, when I had begun my work as a medium, I remember finishing a reading and turning off my tape recorder. From the corner of my room, I heard a ghost say, Good boy, James. I'm proud of you, son! The kindly tone triggered the long-ago memory of the man with the bright blue eyes. I knew it was my grandfather. It was reassuring to know that he was still around watching over me.
A child's sensitivity
My ghostly visitations had become a special part of my life, but unlike the boy in The Sixth Sense, I was never afraid of seeing or hearing ghosts, because they appeared to me as orbs of light. It all seemed so natural to me, as if everyone could see what I could see.
However, I was a sensitive child. I remember being terribly shy, and I didn't say much to anyone besides my mother and siblings. Other than seeing ghosts, I spent a fairly normal childhood. I lived in a small house in a family neighborhood of Bayside, Queens. The block was always filled with kids outside playing kickball or riding bikes. As I grew older, my shyness faded away, and I became more talkative and outgoing. However, I was always acutely aware of other people and could sense how they would act before they did. I could also tell when someone was truthful and trustworthy or when someone was deceitful and insincere. I was never really close to any of my schoolmates; even my best friend didn't know I could see ghosts. Sometimes I felt like a stranger in a strange land. I realized that I was different and had to accept that fact.
It seemed that the only ones I trusted were the ghosts. They were always friendly and interested in my welfare. I looked forward to communicating with these beings because they were the only ones who truly knew who I was. They were my real friends, and I felt extremely safe having them around. My mother . . .