Whether you believe in Sylvia Browne's psychic abilities, or think she's a woman who has built her career on mere claims, you can't deny that the author, lecturer and perhaps the world's most famous psychic is interesting.
In her latest book, "Psychic: My Life in Two Worlds" (HarperOne, $25.99), Browne opens up about her tormented childhood in Kansas City, Miss., how she developed her other-worldly skills under the tutelage of her grandmother, her love of God and a gaggle of bad decisions she made along the way. We chatted with Browne about her life ahead of her visit to Lawrenceville this Friday.
Q: Why this book, and why now?
A: I’m 74 and I’ve written [dozens of] books. It was time for people to know about me. I've had the same problems they do. I’ve never been one to talk too much about myself, but I felt it was time.
Q: What's it like to be in a vocation in which people always want proof of your abilities? Is it exhausting?
A: I never find it exhausting. I was born this way.
Q: Are people more interested in learning about their future, connecting with their deceased loved ones or learning about past lives?
A: All of the above. … I’m not one of the psychics that just talk to the dead, although I can, but we live in the real world, so people are interested in their economy and love life and children and everything else. It's fine to know that there is life after death, but we are here now.
Q: Why do you think people are so interested in the psychic realm?
A: I think it’s the human condition to want to know what is coming. They know me by now and that I’m not just going to say ‘Hey listen I see you in an accident' and end there. I’d say, ‘Don’t get into a blue car.' After all of these years of watching me, people know I’m going to protect them.
Q: In your book you say psychics cannot read their own life chart. You joke about how that explains some of your life choices. [Browne has been married several times and had very public bankruptcy woes with a former husband.]
A: You’ve never heard of a doctor operating on himself, have you? I’m here to learn just like you are. I say to people: ‘If you lose your purse, I’ll find it. If I lose mine, it’s gone.'
Q: And your son, Chris, who is also a psychic, cannot read your chart for you?
A: No. The closer you are [to the subject], the less effective you become… there is too much emotion there.
Q: What the heck is a life chart anyway?
A: The chart is what you write before you come down here, exactly what you’re going to learn and what you are going to do. Otherwise what can a psychic read? I always say its like you’re far-sighted and I’m near-sighted. You hand me your chart and I read it to you.
Q: You write about enduring abuse at the hands of your mother. Was it difficult to revisit that period of time in your book?
A: Honestly to tell you the truth it was almost a release.
Q: Do you know of psychics more powerful than you?
A: I don’t pay attention to any of that. I’ve been told I’m the icon and opened the door to anybody else and plowed the field for anybody else. When I started coming out, everybody came out.
Q: In your book you write about your spirit guide, Francine. How does the average person find their spirit guide?
A: They can go to bed at night and ask them to come in dreams, and keep talking to them. My spirit guide says the more you talk to them, the easier it is for them to come in.
Q: I laughed when reading your grizzled view of the concept of soulmates.
A: Soulmates…that has been the biggest nemesis of my life. The soulmate is on the ‘Other Side.' You can have kindred souls that are just as good.
Q: You've had such a varied life. How do you think it will compare to the ‘Other Side' you write about?
A: Oh thank God I’ll get to go to the ‘Other Side.' I won't have to deal with it. I love people, don’t get me wrong, but all the strife in the world... no one ever calls you when they’re happy or in a good mood.
Q: At the end of your life, what do you want people to take away from your work?
A: Hope. And love of God and not fear of God.
Q: Is it hard for people with traditional religions to accept your work?
A: In all of the years, I’ve never had a letter from anybody. Not a priest, evangelist or minister. When you are spiritual, you go up over all the dogma. You don’t step on anybody’s toes.
Q: And again, what is your take on the meaning of life?
A: Love God, do good, and shut up and go home.
If you go
Book signing with Sylvia Browne; 7 p.m. Friday at Books-A-Million at Discover Mills, 5900 Sugarloaf Parkway, Lawrenceville. 678-847-5115.
Support real journalism. Support local journalism. Subscribe to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution today. See offers.
Your subscription to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution funds in-depth reporting and investigations that keep you informed. Thank you for supporting real journalism.