FREE SPIRIT

JOHN ED­WARD NEVER PLANNED TO CON­NECT WITH THE AF­TER­LIFE. BUT AHEAD OF HIS RE­TURN VISIT TO AUS­TRALIA, THE STRAIGHT-TALK­ING MEDIUM SAYS HE IS GRATE­FUL FOR HIS GIFT

Sunday Herald Sun - Stellar - - Contents - Words by KYLIE LANG John Ed­ward’s Aus­tralian tour starts in Mel­bourne on Novem­ber 4; johned­ward.net.

How John Ed­ward dis­cov­ered he had psy­chic abil­i­ties.

Back up,” John Ed­ward says over the phone from Los An­ge­les. “It is some­thing I can turn on and off.” The world-fa­mous Amer­i­can psy­chic is talk­ing about his pro­fessed abil­ity – he dis­likes the word “gift”, say­ing it im­plies su­pe­ri­or­ity – to com­mu­ni­cate with the dead. You might think that con­stant con­tact with the af­ter­life is ex­haust­ing. But as Ed­ward ex­plains the process to Stel­lar, he makes it clear he isn’t ex­actly on the meta­phys­i­cal plane around the clock.

“It’s like when you’re day­dream­ing and you to­tally get lost in that,” Ed­ward ex­plains. “There is this whole other world hap­pen­ing around me. I re­late to you what I’m hear­ing, feel­ing and see­ing. But I’m not con­stantly pick­ing things up. I live a very nor­mal life.”

In­deed, the 47-year-old fa­ther of two, who di­vides his time be­tween homes in New York and Cal­i­for­nia, has in fact “had to power my­self down. Part of that is get­ting my ego out of the way – it isn’t ap­pro­pri­ate to walk up to a stranger and give them in­for­ma­tion they didn’t so­licit.”

Ed­ward is some­thing of a re­luc­tant psy­chic, any­way. He didn’t set out to have his own TV shows – Cross­ing Over With John Ed­ward was a hit when it screened in Aus­tralia in the early 2000s – write books, or tour the world per­form­ing read­ings. The grand­son of a skilled Si­cil­ian cook who grew up in sub­ur­ban Long Is­land, just kilo­me­tres from New York City, he ac­tu­ally wanted to own a deli. But a chance en­counter at age 15 changed his course.

The only child of New York City po­lice of­fi­cer Jack Mcgee and of­fice man­ager Perinda “Prin” Es­pos­ito, he moved in with his grand­mother af­ter his par­ents’ di­vorce. That was when Ed­ward met Ly­dia Clar, a psy­chic who was do­ing read­ings for his grand­mother and her friends.

“Dad for­bade that sort of thing – he didn’t like it. But when Mum and I moved into my grand­mother’s house, I was ex­posed to it.”

In ac­tu­al­ity, says Ed­ward, “I have a very log­i­cal, scep­ti­cal ap­proach. I over­think ev­ery­thing. I’m a lit­tle OCD,” he says with a laugh. “So when peo­ple were im­pressed by what this psy­chic was telling them, I wanted to de­bunk her.”

It didn’t hap­pen. Ed­ward says Clar took his high school ring and, with­out so much as glanc­ing at him, rat­tled off in­for­ma­tion no one else could have pos­si­bly known.

“Then she said, ‘The rea­son I’m here to­day is to meet you.’ And I am like, ‘OK.’ [She con­tin­ued], ‘You have highly evolved beams of white and gold light around you and I’m go­ing to put

you on your path; you’re go­ing to change the way mil­lions of peo­ple feel about my field.’

“I thought, ‘Wow, she is crazy; a real looney!’”

But within two weeks of Clar’s pre­dic­tions, her fore­casts started hap­pen­ing. The teenager took no­tice.

“Un­nerved” yet in­trigued, Ed­ward went to his home­town’s pub­lic li­brary and spent ev­ery af­ter­noon af­ter school read­ing about the sub­ject. “It was 1985 and ev­ery­thing was un­der the oc­cult sec­tion. I was too em­bar­rassed to check out the books,” he says.

He be­gan do­ing pri­vate read­ings and later, af­ter work­ing in pub­lic health as a phle­botomist (he’s a few cred­its short of gain­ing a Masters in health­care ad­min­is­tra­tion) and be­ing a dance in­struc­tor (he met wife San­dra while ball­room danc­ing), com­mit­ted to be­ing a medium full-time in the mid-1990s.

He and San­dra, 45, mar­ried in 1995. “She keeps ev­ery­thing to­gether,” he says, fondly. “She’s on the job.”

That in­cludes look­ing af­ter chil­dren with hec­tic sched­ules of their own. When Ed­ward calls Stel­lar from the US, he has just left the set of a TV sit­com called Bet­ter Things, in which his daugh­ter, Olivia, 10, plays the youngest child of a sin­gle mother. Son Justin, 14, ex­cels at science, maths and mu­sic – next month, the young vi­o­lin­ist will at­tend a top mu­sic school in New York.

Nei­ther of them, says Ed­ward, is fazed by his left-of-cen­tre ca­reer: “My kids un­der­stand the world of en­ergy. They trust their in­tu­ition, they med­i­tate, they pray – to give them an edge on how to nav­i­gate the world.”

Ed­ward was raised a Catholic, and says his faith has only in­ten­si­fied with age. Far from con­flict­ing with his work, as some might pre­sume, it ac­tu­ally em­bold­ens him.

“I look at re­li­gion as be­ing a busi­ness: you have to pay for it in one way or an­other. But faith is free, and you should have an abun­dance of it. I’m a pretty big pro­po­nent of faith and prayer.”

Medi­ums, es­pe­cially those in the pub­lic eye, must con­stantly face down cyn­i­cal naysay­ers, and Ed­ward is no ex­cep­tion. But he rose to fame be­fore the age of so­cial me­dia; now, he says, the at­tacks have a de­cid­edly harsher sting.

“I’ve never cared what the cyn­ics say,” Ed­ward says, “but I don’t love the fact they get per­sonal. I re­spect the fact some peo­ple don’t have a be­lief sys­tem, but I don’t stand out­side a cynic con­ven­tion and do free read­ings and hand out my books. I don’t ex­hibit any child-like be­hav­iour. Ap­par­ently you can be the [US] Pres­i­dent now if you do.”

Ahead of his seven-city Aus­tralian tour later this year, Ed­ward ac­knowl­edges this coun­try as his favourite over­seas des­ti­na­tion. The rea­son? “I’ve thought about this long and hard and it has to do with the en­ergy in general – I feel like the level of com­mu­nity in Aus­tralia is huge.”

He ex­plains: “I come from, quote un­quote, the “United” States, but I don’t feel like we have a com­mu­nity as much as Aus­tralia does. Peo­ple liv­ing in Perth know what’s hap­pen­ing in Syd­ney and they kind of care. If U2 were on tour in Seattle, no­body would know or care in Miami.

“If the level of com­mu­nity is strong, the level of com­mu­ni­ca­tion is deeper,” he adds. “I’m a pretty di­rect per­son – what you see is what you get. And Aus­tralians ap­pre­ci­ate that.”

Dur­ing a pre­vi­ous Aus­tralian visit – he says he has lost count of how many times he has come here – Ed­ward gave a read­ing to Syd­ney-based co­me­dian and en­ter­tainer Si­mon Kennedy. Dur­ing their en­counter, Ed­ward con­nected Kennedy with his mother, Yvonne, one of 10 Aus­tralians killed in the Septem­ber 11 ter­ror­ist at­tacks.

“I was a doubt­ing Thomas,” Kennedy says, “but he went into such spe­cific de­tail, with­out draw­ing any­thing out of us, that I walked away more than 60 per cent con­vinced.” He sub­se­quently au­thored the book 9/11 And The Art of Hap­pi­ness, a mem­oir about rec­on­cil­ing his grief, and cred­its Ed­ward with help­ing him find com­fort af­ter his loss. “If what he is do­ing is sell­ing con­nec­tion, then he should keep on sell­ing it,” Kennedy tells Stel­lar.

Ed­ward’s own mother died of lung can­cer at 48, a year older than his cur­rent age. “I have psy­cho­log­i­cal war­fare go­ing on over that con­cept,” he ad­mits. His fa­ther, who had an “al­co­hol prob­lem for years”, also died of can­cer at 60. The losses only strength­ened his be­lief that those want­ing to con­nect with de­ceased loved ones are in­vari­ably try­ing to fill a gap­ing emo­tional hole. His ad­vice?

“Don’t take peo­ple for granted. There is al­ways go­ing to be a dead­line, a bill to pay, we get dis­tracted, but all those mo­ments add up to wasted op­por­tu­ni­ties.

“Peo­ple tend to avoid the con­cept of death,” he says. “Which is kind of fool­ish… be­cause it’s the one guar­an­tee any­one gets.”

“I’VE NEVER CARED WHAT THE CYN­ICS SAY. I RE­SPECT THE FACT THAT SOME PEO­PLE DON’T HAVE A BE­LIEF SYS­TEM”

SOUL SEARCH­ING (from top) John Ed­ward with the Ir­win fam­ily in 2014 at Aus­tralia Zoo; read­ing the au­di­ence on Cross­ing Over.

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