Van Praagh, James

Van Praagh, James

(religion, spiritualism, and occult)

James Van Praagh was born on Long Island, New York, the youngest of four children. He grew up in Bayside. He was educated at Sacred Heart Catholic School there and then, at fourteen, moved on to Eymard Preparatory Seminary in Hyde Park, New York. His introduction to psychism came when he was in grade school and had a premonition about his teacher’s son. He told the teacher that her son had been struck by a car but that he had only broken his leg and was otherwise all right. The teacher quickly learned the truth of this statement and then had to explain to the bewildered Van Praagh that he had a “special gift.” What he had exhibited was clairsentience—sensing something. When he was eight years old he exhibited clairvoyance—”clear seeing.” He had been questioning the existence of God. In his bedroom, he felt a strong gust of cold wind and then saw a large hand descend from the ceiling and hover over him. He felt it to be the hand of God, letting him know that He did indeed exist.

When he was twelve, Van Praagh and his friend Scott decided to have a séance. They had previously used a Ouija® board, but typically, both had felt that the other was pushing the planchette. At their séance they sat quietly studying a lit candle. Since it was the anniversary of Janis Joplin’s death, they called on her spirit to make itself known. The candle flame moved back and forth unnaturally and finally went out, greatly frightening them both. Van Praagh went on to have other psychic experience, when investigating an old abandoned house with his friends and when going through a neighborhood cemetery.

Van Praagh’s Irish Catholic mother wanted him to become a priest. He went to seminary, but realized during his first year that God was within him, as He was also a part of everyone. He left the seminary and went to New York City public high school. From there he went to San Francisco State College to major in broadcasting and communications. After graduation, Van Praagh moved to the west coast and got a job with the William Morris Agency. One day his supervisor invited him along to a sitting she was to have with medium Brian Hurst. Hurst told Van Praagh that he would one day be giving such readings himself.

Van Praagh started a self-imposed regimen of psychic development and soon found himself acting as regular psychic to his workmates. This led to him picking up on the details of one person’s deceased grandmother. From there he went on to become a psychic medium. His spirit guide is a Chinese gentleman named Chang. There is also a Sister Theresa of the Sisters of Mercy order (his early schooling was at a school run by the Sisters of Mercy), an English doctor named Harry Aldrich, and a Native American named Golden Feather.

Once he turned his focus to mediumship, James Van Praagh made rapid progress, eventually becoming one of the best known mediums in America, with regular appearances on television talk shows. He did a daytime talk show titled Beyond With James Van Praagh which aired in the U.S. from September 2002 until September 2003. In April 2002, CBS-TV produced a mini-series starring actor Ted Danson, titled Living With the Dead. It was based on Van Praagh’s first book, Talking To Heaven. A second mini-series is planned, titled The Dead Will Tell. Van Praagh does regular presentations and workshops at venues across the country, including at the Spiritualist community in Lily Dale, New York.


James Van Praagh Homepage:
Van Praagh, James: Talking To Heaven: a Medium’s Message of Life After Death. New York: Dutton, 1997
The Spirit Book © 2006 Visible Ink Press®. All rights reserved.
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