When youngsters make imaginary friends, parents aren’t typically too concerned. But when a four-year-old Thomas John started communicating with the dearly departed, including a maternal uncle and great-grandmother and paternal grandfather, his folks found cause for pause.
“Sometimes, when I was playing alone, my father’s father would come, and it was a very calming experience,” he told SF Weekly. “It felt like a normal thing. But as I started sharing it with my parents, I realized that, for them, it was really confusing, so they were freaked out by it. My mom would take me to therapists, doctors, or religious people that she thought could help me. I soon realized that I was different from the other kids.”
Today Thomas John is celebrated for his psychic gifts. The Never Argue with a Dead Person author and in-demand medium, who has appeared on Dr. Phil, Million Dollar Listing New York, Entertainment Tonight and The Talk brings his talents to the Swedish American Hall this Saturday, March 25 for An Evening With the Dead.
What should we expect to see at An Evening with The Dead?
I’m going to talk about my life as a psychic and medium, and I’m also going to read people in the audience. So I’ll be guided to pick certain people and give them a reading and message from their loved ones.
After your parents rejected your psychic abilities, you attempted to suppress them. You even got a degree in Psychology and Human Development from the University of Chicago and undertook research internships at Yale University and The University of Massachusetts at Amherst. What made you switch gears and re-embrace your gift?
I was doing quite well, but I was unhappy and didn’t feel connected to the work. Then my grandmother passed away. I started to take some meditation classes and realized that I could control my feelings about it and control when the dead people would come, and that helped me get more in control of it. So my grandmother started visiting me and giving me messages, which told me that I was supposed to pursue this path.
I then went to see a medium in Massachusetts, who as soon as I sat down, said, “Why are you here? You can do this on your own.“ So it was a series of experiences that made me open up to it and get more accepting with it. And then I started doing it professionally.
What’s happening when you’re giving someone a reading?
I’m fully connected to the sixth sense, so I feel, hear, see, know, and am shown pictures and images. I’m a psychic and a medium, so as a medium I also can sense people who’ve passed over, can tell how they died, what they were like in the physical plane and messages they want to share.
A big thing with people who’ve passed on is that they want to show that love and light never die and continue to watch over us. So they like to step forward and identify themselves by bringing up things that are very specific to that person. Then the person is able to experience a healing and get answers from the person who’s died.
A lot of us are curious about the afterlife. What can you tell us about it?
A lot of learning goes on, character growth, and all of our spirits will go through a life review where we see the impact of our actions on other people from birth to death. I have been shown that when we go to the other side, we pass judgment on ourselves; we re-evaluate our own life existence and what we accomplished. Then we make decisions about what we might do next. Do we want to stay on the other side or do we want to reincarnate?
Can you typically answer your clients’ questions?
It’s rare for me not to. Usually it’s the person not being open to it. I always tell people that as a medium I can’t control who comes through. So sometimes people don’t understand that and are disappointed. But I also think that there are things that we’re not supposed to know, and that happens to an extent. But most people I can get a reading on.
Are you constantly “working” or can you turn off your ability and unwind?
I can turn it off to an extent or choose not to tune into it in certain situations when amongst friends. But I’m a born medium, psychic and sensitive — so the way I see the world is through my gift. I don’t have any other abilities besides this. I can’t even do my own laundry, but I imagine it’s like how a painter is probably more attuned to art and color and things like that in their everyday life.
People are surprised that my life is relatively normal. I have a family, partner, and dog. I do things that normal people do. I go to the gym, I drink coffee, and most people have commented that they enjoy the experience of me, because it feels more like a normal person who can also communicate with spirits. So that’s how I look at it. But I do have spirits that try to get my attention or draw me in.
How does your gift play into your relationship with your boyfriend?
My partner now is an open-minded skeptic. He’s definitely had experiences with me where I have said things that he just knows, so he feels more open-minded. But he’s skeptical and wants the evidence. But it’s good with him, because he hasn’t had lots of close people die, and I don’t get lots of questions. He doesn’t really care, so I can disconnect from my work.
You’ve been on The Real Housewives of New York City and The Talk. How is working with celebrities different?
Most of the time, they have the same problems as everybody else. So they just want guidance like everybody else does. With celebrities, there’s an extra layer, though, that you have to deal with.
To be honest, it’s not my favorite thing to read celebrities. They are innately suspicious, because they’ve had people take advantage of them, so hopefully when reading a celebrity, there are things that come through that aren’t obvious. Predictions, for example, are not on the internet.
I also tell people to not base your experience on one evening. Deciding if you believe in the afterlife is a big decision, so you might go to a reading or come to my event in San Francisco, and you might say, “I don’t know; I still don’t believe it.” But that doesn’t mean that you have to shut the door on it entirely. You might have another experience that’s much more positive. So I encourage people to keep an open mind.
An Evening with The Dead: Celebrity Psychic Medium: Thomas John, March 25, 8 p.m., at Swedish American Music Hall, 2174 Market St, $50-$125, 415-431-7578 or swedishamericanhall.com.