by Joyce Kohl

Death is not final. Death is but the beginning. Though death is the absolute unknown, James Van Praagh is a mental medium who communicates with the spirits after their earthly demise. Using gifts of clairsentience (“clear feeling”ability to sense when spirits are in a room) and clairvoyance (“clear vision”), Mr. Van Praagh offers the grieving solace and consolation when he transfers what he says he “hears” from a deceased loved one. In this latest of his books, and in the 17th week of being on the best seller list, Talking to Heaven, A Medium’s Message of Life After Death, Mr. Van Praagh relates his early experiences with “knowing things,” the road which took him to his career choice of a medium, dealing with the loss of a loved one, and then he gives instructions for the reader to access hidden talents for communicating with spirits on the other side.

Is He, or Isn’t He for Real?
As the most sought after medium of his time, he is called upon for interviews by all the media. His most recognized and popular appearance was on Unsolved Mysteries in June of 1995. It’s still being shown on the Lifetime Cable Channel. A few attempts have been made by skeptics to discredit Mr. Van Praagh in an effort to prove his communications are not authentic, but merely a scam or hoax. On the other hand, hundreds of people will attest to the authenticity of his communications with the other side. Van Praagh is usually able to reveal personal things known only by the deceased and by the living person for whom the seance or reading is performed.

His answer to the skeptics:

“I believe that I am doing this, but I don’t believe that just anyone can do this. All mediums are psychics, but not all psychics are mediums.”

Educated in a Catholic school, and later in a seminary where he was studying for the priesthood, Van Praagh’s doubt of the tenets of his beliefs underwent many changes. As early as the first grade, he began to learn his gifts of psychic abilities even though he had no terms for them. He knew things about people when they walked into a room. By the age of eight, he was questioning the Catholic view of God as being too limited and unrealistic. His prayer for proof of the existence of God was answered to his satisfaction, and he began to understand there was much more to life than he had been taught or from what he could see through his eyes.

His belief in God, and his renunciation of an archaic belief system, is all woven together in his career of spiritualism and religious beliefs.

Here are a few of them:

We choose our way of death long before we enter the earth plane
All living creatures live on after death
Everything in life occurs as part of a great spiritual plan
A world beyond the grave DOES exist
The gap between the two planes of living and dead can be bridged
Communicating With The Other Side
Several actual readings are given in this book which vary from the expected to the completely unexpected. Whenever Van Praagh is communicating with the other side, he feels any discomfort and pain that was felt by the spirit during or prior to death, and thus he is able to assume what may have been the cause of death. He gives solace and aid to the grieving; answers soul-wrenching questions which have been the cause of self-guilt; and gives his readings not only in person, but by telephone as well. I found nothing in this book regarding fees, but since this is Mr. Van Praagh’s profession and because he’s very well-known, then it’s probably a foregone conclusion that there is certainly a charge for his services.

Presence of Spirits
Spirits let their loved know they are around them without a medium. How? Through the flickering of lights, scrambled televisions, radios turning on at different hours, music, a clock that stops at the exact moment a loved one leaves the earth, phone calls with no one on the other end of the line, appliances stopping, spirits appearing on computer screens, smells, gifts and animals. Though there aren’t many details on any of these types of contacts, they DO make your imagination work overtime.

Regardless of your personal beliefs, Talking to Heaven may give you a message of hope. I would prefer to believe that life does indeed continue after death, and that life is but a blink in a great adventure through an eternal plane. James Van Praagh may well be one of God’s messengers. He is convinced of what he refers to as the “truth of life after death,” and he’s convinced thousands of others throughout the world. His popularity continues to increase. Van Praagh’s Web site contains his photograph, his biography, reviews of all his books, a chat room, a members area and other pages.

The book contains less than 200 pages and did not include the material implied by The Larry King Show. Therefore, I was highly disappointed with such a small book selling for a big-book price!

I found prices for this book ranging from full retail price of $22.95 USA to as little as $11.87 USA. I bought my copy about twelve weeks ago and thought the discounted price of $16.06 was a bargain. With it’s sales reaching epic proportions now, prices are being cut to rock bottom for the hard-back copies. If it’s available in paper-back or not, I’m not sure. Check with your favorite local book store or search the Internet.

I like it. It was easy reading, but fell short my expectations. I give it three “Go lights” .