Browne, Sylvia

Browne, Sylvia (b. 1936)

(religion, spiritualism, and occult)

Sylvia Browne emerged in the 1990s as one of the most prominent psychics in America and the author of a number of books promoting the reality of a paranormal dimension to life. Browne was born Sylvia Shoemaker in Kansas City, Missouri, on October 19, 1936. Her birth was auspicious, as she was born with a caul (membrane) over her face (an uncommon but by no means unknown phenomenon), which was interpreted as meaning she had inherited her grandmother’s psychic abilities. These abilities began to show themselves during her childhood. Browne grew up as a Roman Catholic. She attended college in her hometown and began a career as a teacher in a parochial school. In the 1960s she moved to California and in 1972 married Dal Brown. (She later added the “e” to her name.)

In 1974 she and her husband opened the Nirvana Foundation and established its headquarters in Campbell, California. It became the vehicle for professionalizing Browne’s psychic abilities. As she proved herself with a growing clientele, her career took off, and she became a popular guest on television talk shows and was invited to consult on various psychic situations such as clearing haunted houses. She also emerged as a trance medium with a spirit control named Francine, who claimed to be the spirit of an Aztec woman.

In 1986 Browne founded a new religion, which she called Norvus Spiritus, a form of metaphysical Christianity. It affirms a belief in the feminine aspect of God, reincarnation, and the essential spiritual nature of each individual.

Browne’s career took off at the end of the 1990s, while she continued her national television appearances and published her 1998 autobiographical work, Adventures of a Psychic: The Fascinating, Inspiring, True-Life Story of One of America’s Most Successful Clairvoyants, which she wrote with the assistance of Antoinette May. The book sold well, and a number of books appeared over the next five years. The new century has been marked by a public dispute with psychic skeptic James Randi, who has tried to goad Browne into accepting his offer of one million dollars if she can demonstrate her abilities in an acceptable scientific test.


Browne, Sylvia, with Antoinette May. Adventures of a Psychic: The Fascinating, Inspiring, True-Life Story of One of America’s Most Successful Clairvoyants. Carlsbad, CA: Hay House, 1998.
___. Conversations with the Other Side. Carlsbad, CA: Hay House, 2002.
___. The Other Side and Back: A Psychic’s Guide to Our World and Beyond. New York: E. P. Dutton, 2000.
___. Past Lives, Future Healing: A Psychic Reveals the Secrets to Good Health and Great Relationships. New York: E. P. Dutton, 2001.
The Encyclopedia of Religious Phenomena © 2008 Visible Ink Press®. All rights reserved.

Browne, Sylvia (b. 1936)

(religion, spiritualism, and occult)

Born Sylvia Shoemaker in Kansas City in 1936, Browne claims to have exhibited psychic ability from the age of three. She was raised a Roman Catholic but was always interested in the religious backgrounds of her extended family, including Episcopalian, Lutheran, and Jewish faiths. She claims that Ada Coil, her maternal grandmother, was a respected healer and counselor. Browne taught in Catholic schools for eighteen years.

In 1964, Browne moved to California. Nine years later she began her professional career as a psychic. On May 8, 1973, Browne held a small séance in her home, aided by her spirit guide Francine. Within a year she had attracted enough followers that she formed an incorporated business under the name The Nirvana Foundation for Psychic Research. In April 1986, the name was changed to Society of Novus Spiritus, based on Christian Gnostic theology.

Browne’s philosophy of life is based on a belief in reincarnation, which she investigates through hypnosis, past life regression, and deep trance channeling. She diagnoses health problems and communicates with the dead. Her books have included Journey of the Soul, Conversation With the Other Side, Astrology Through the Eyes of a Psychic, and Past Lives; Future Healing.

Browne has appeared on many popular television talk shows. On national television, Browne agreed to take the James Randi challenge not once but three times. The challenge awards one million dollars to whoever can show, under observing conditions, evidence of any paranormal, supernatural, or occult power or event. She procrastinated time and again, continuing to say she would take the test but not doing so. To date she has still not done so. She continues to have many ardent followers.

Sylvia Browne Homepage:
The Spirit Book © 2006 Visible Ink Press®. All rights reserved.