sunlight in forest, spirituality, connecting with spirits
sunlight in forest, spirituality, connecting with spirits
Photo by Michael Mroczek on Unsplash

Celebrity Medium Thomas John Gave Me A Reading and Here’s What Happened

Emily O’Brien
Sep 27 · 7 min read

Can hearing from the dead help heal our wounds?

I’m not a medium person. I’m not even a “call a psychic hotline person,” except for that one time in college when I was dying to know about a crush. (Spoiler alert: the psychic was super vague and the crush never panned out.) OK, OK, there was one other time when I had my tarot cards read just before graduating and the woman said I would meet my soul mate that spring. That was seventeen years ago and we’ve been married for fourteen. We met that June. I couldn’t tell you anything else she said; that’s all I remember. So how did I end up sitting in a fluorescent-lit room in the basement of a church with five other strangers channeling the dead? Easy: my dad.

My dad had been dragged — rather skeptically — to a reading months previously by his incredibly open-minded wife. The dead don’t scare her. So when she wanted to buy $500 tickets to see renowned medium Thomas John, a man tied to A-list celebrities, like Courtney Cox and Goldie Hawn, and star of the Lifetime show “Seatbelt Psychic,” he just went along for the ride.

It turned out that Thomas John was spot on for him. He knew things my dad had never spoken of, including a time when he felt the presence of a deceased loved one visit him while alone in his car. He was so taken aback by his reading that it turned him into a believer in the afterlife. And he wanted to give me the same gift, so he offered to spring for a ticket to a Spirit Circle, where a small group of people are guaranteed a reading from Thomas John. Believer or not, I knew I couldn’t pass it up. Too many loved ones of mine have crossed over: my mother when I was only 18, one of my best friends in my early 20s, grandparents, great aunts, pets.

glass ball, seeing the future, winter landscape
glass ball, seeing the future, winter landscape
Photo by Yeshi Kangrang on Unsplash

The Day of the Spirit Circle

Truthfully, the morning of my reading I didn’t want to go. I teetered from thinking Thomas John was probably an elaborate con artist — something he’s been convicted of in real life for scamming apartment goers out of security deposits for imaginary homes — to feeling concerned about irrational things, like if we’re opening this door to the afterlife, what’s not to say we’re opening the door to something horrible? What if a crazy spirit latches onto me and I’m embodied by a grumpy old man I don’t even know and it gets all Freaky Friday up in here?

Yet all of this sort of vanished when I walked home after dropping my daughter off at school and a ladybug landed smack dab on my sunglass lens. Ladybugs are one of my connections to my mom. Ladybugs and lightbulbs, but OK, don’t most of us have some kind of electrical afterlife tie? I quickly pulled my glasses off, not knowing what bug it was at first, and then burst into laughter. Uh, hi, Mom, I said in my head. I shook my glasses and the bug jumped to my coat. OK, I see you. I immediately sensed she would be visiting me later during the reading. Maybe that was her way of telling me? Then when I reached the bottom door of my apartment building, there on the inside wall, was another ladybug. OK, MOM, I GOT IT! Mother’s can really be like that sometimes, you know?

My Spirit Circle consisted of six of us, five women and one man, who also happened to be dragged there by his wife. (Are you sensing a theme?) We sat in the basement of a church on foldout chairs under florescent lights that were never switched off. Small talk incurred. Two women were enthusiastic repeat Spirit Circlers. No one mentions his shady past. Thomas John walked in casually after a few minutes with a cup of coffee in hand and we had a brief group chat. He gave us the lay of the afterworld land and what to expect. He’d be speaking with whoever appeared and sometimes it wouldn’t be who we’d expect. He told us to “just be open” and all should go well. We shook heads in agreement and settled into the meditation.

He seemed warmhearted and just about as down-to-earth as you would expect for an ordinary guy that sees dead people.

Voyeurism at its Fullest

My bond to these five others was almost immediate, the unspoken knowing of the darkest depths of grief we’ve all shared. None of us would have been there had we not lost someone we’d loved so dearly. We’re all searching for answers, ones the tangible world can’t give us.

As Thomas John got going, his eyes closed most of the time, a strange sense of voyeurism became unhinged as you caught glimpses of strangers’ pasts, some alluded to drugs and alcohol, others to being raised via adoption and feelings of betrayal.

Four spirits visited me during the reading, with my mother, who he called by first name, being one of the first three “images” to appear. Thomas John asked if she died by suicide. He knew she was ill for some time, but that her passing was fast. True, she was a closet alcoholic and a nurse who knew full well what impact that would have. She also battled with depression. He jumped back and forth to different spirits sending messages to others in the room. With each “reveal” there was a sense of awe and longing to know more, for our individual readings and to glean more about neighboring strangers.

Then in the middle of his reading to another attendee, my deceased grandfather interrupted. “Who’s Hank?” He asked as he turned his head straight to me, eyes still closed.

“My grandfather,” I replied, smiling.

“Honey, were you close with him?”

“Yes.”

He went on to tell me Hank placed gold coins around my head, known to symbolize an entrepreneurial path. Thomas John plays both medium, a person who can connect with the dead, and psychic, one who looks into the future. I’m one of the lucky few who received readings for both. He also described how some spirits look, including one of mine, my great aunt, which he nailed. He even touched on relationship strains and passed animals that seemed to run around the room in circles — one description of a small black and white cat made a woman gasp and call out her four-legged friend.

He said my mother felt like she missed out on a lot. He asked if I had children. Deep emotions, dormant for years, started to shift inside me. Whether this was a well-performed cold reading — an attempt to imply he knew more about my life or not — I still choked up. I couldn’t help it.

This is the sign you’ve been looking for, light during confusing times, neon sign
This is the sign you’ve been looking for, light during confusing times, neon sign
Photo by Austin Chan on Unsplash

How Much Can We Know for Sure?

So do I believe? I’d say 40% of what he “communicated” could be found from a deep dive of sleuthing online. Another 40% seemed vaguely general: my mother having a sense of missing out on a lot — wouldn’t anyone who had been dead for 20+ years feel that way? Yes, I miss my mother. Yes, she has missed out on a large part of my life. I didn’t need someone else to tell me that.

Another 20%…well, that can’t be logically explained. He knew I had recently visited New York (possibly tipped off by an Instagram post) but yet he nailed my general consensus about the trip — rather disappointing, an emotion only shared with a couple of close friends and definitely not disclosed online. He told me the spirits wanted me to know that it was supposed to be that way and it was all part of a larger plan. He knew I was working on a non-fiction project. He knew my mother had forgotten to pick me up from school when I was young, a fact I’d hidden throughout my childhood, even to my closest family members and friends, and it happened to be the section I’d recently edited…in my non-fiction book about unraveling her closet alcoholism after her death. (None of this is available online anywhere.) After giving another listen to the entire reading and what he revealed about others, I felt like he was on point. Is it possible it’s just too out there for my logical brain to grasp ahold of?

For my career getting turned up a notch, only time will tell. Let’s hope so.

As to whether or not I’d go again, I’m not so sure. This is about as woo-woo as I get, and I live in Boulder, Colorado. That’s saying a lot. I went into the experience with a slightly raised eyebrow, expecting it to be a one-time deal. In fact, I promised my husband this wouldn’t spark some downward spiral into me blowing all our savings on psychics or medium readings. (Another irrational fear that surfaced.)

Did I get all my questions answered? No, not really. I still want to know the meaning of life and what my true purpose is if I’m going to get a book deal, and how long I’ll be here on this planet. I still wanted my close friend, who died suddenly in a tragic boating accident, to appear and say hello. But I think we’re not supposed to know everything about the future and that’s OK.

The woman who sat next to me summed it up best. She said that when we lose a loved one there’s a big hole and then “hearing from them in the afterlife kind of closes it up a bit.” I still miss my mother, but knowing she’s still around, in spirit, offers validation to something that until my session, was only ephemeral. Thomas John somewhat crystalized that inside my soul. And if that’s all I’m taking away, then that’s alright with me.

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