Their specialty: Getting into the spirits of things
Delma J. Francis, Star Tribune
Four years ago, Susan Anderson had a recurring vision: Her older brother, Wayne, was laid out in a casket, wearing a gray suit. With each appearance of the chilling vision, she heard a voice asking, "Can you ignore this now?"
A few days later, Wayne died following heart surgery. At his visitation, everything was as Anderson had envisioned it, down to the silver-blue casket and arrangements of spring flowers. She was angry, thinking she had caused Wayne's death by seeing it before it happened.
But the voice, she believes now, belonged to her spirit guide -- a Roman Catholic monk she calls "Friar." That's ironic, said Anderson, considering that she's a Lutheran. She said she had psychic experiences since she was a child, but for decades has kept them secret. Many children have imaginary playmates that no one can see. Anderson had invisible playmates, too, but she said they weren't imaginary. They were otherworldly, such as the spirit of Henry Maiwald, the old man who once lived in the house where she grew up.
Everyone has a little of the psychic inside them, she said. "Think of all the things people write off as coincidence or intuition. What do you think that is?" said Anderson, 55, of south Minneapolis.
Today Susan and her daughter, Christy Anderson, 34, who also describes herself as a psychic, work together -- they do both private readings and readings for listeners on a call-in morning radio show in Houston. The pair also are working with a police department in a Houston suburb to help solve a three-year-old murder. It's their first collaboration with police.
The detective working the case said he was surprised by what the women could tell him. (He asked that neither his name nor department be published so as not to tip off the suspect.) "There were some small things they told me that people who didn't have information on the case wouldn't be able to tell me," he said.
Susan found out about the case while signing copies of her book, "Communicating With Grace: The Awakening of a Psychic Medium," in Houston. She was approached by the 18-year-old victim's mother, who begged for help. Susan told the grieving mother that if the detective on the case approved, the mother-daughter team would "read" some of her son's belongings. After handling the victim's shirt, shorts, school I.D. and other items, Susan said she could hear gunshots "and the guy laughing." She and Christy are still working to pinpoint his location.
Given the popularity of TV shows such as NBC's "Medium," CBS' "Ghost Whisperer" and the true life "Psychic Detectives" on Court TV, it seems that many people are fascinated with the idea of psychic phenomena.
"It's not that they're more into it, just that they feel more comfortable about it. They [psychics] aren't shunned as they used to be," said Larry Montz, who founded the California-based International Society for Paranormal Research in 1972.
"It's kind of strange," said Karal Ann Marling, professor of American culture at the University of Minnesota. "With this great fundamentalist movement sweeping the country, you'd think this would be anathema." For some people, she said, the paranormal is their way of acknowledging a higher power, "without having to follow the Ten Commandments. You have to realize we've left the era where you snuck into a carnival tent and had your palm read."
'Good, reputable psychics'
While there are probably many more charlatans than legitimate mediums, noted Twin Cities psychic Echo Bodine says this area is rich with the real thing.
"We have a lot of psychics in the Twin Cities area -- good, reputable psychics, maybe 100," said Bodine, whose show "Intuitive Living With Echo Bodine" is heard Saturday nights on KFMP (107.1 FM).
As for the Andersons, "They're the real thing," said Josh Reno, morning show producer of Houston's KRBE (104 FM). "We've built a great relationship between Susan and Christine and our listeners," since they started airing in October. "I've talked to quite a few callers before they go on the air and they tell me about the kind of answers they're looking for. Then, when they [the Andersons] start reading them, it just gives me goosebumps. They are fantastic, very talented people."
The two women accept that most people have difficulty understanding their gift. "It's OK to be skeptical," said Susan. "It's not OK to be cynical. Some people wouldn't believe if their [deceased] dad came up and kissed 'em on the lips."
Susan said she hasn't always embraced her gift. As a child, it was something that she could discuss only in veiled ways with her paternal grandmother, Tillie Marie Knutson. "She 'saw' too. I used to spend summers in Minneapolis with her and we'd tell 'ghost stories,' " said Susan, a native of Plainview, Minn. The two never acknowledged aloud that those weren't just stories. "But she understood," Susan said, unlike Susan's mother, who thought her daughter was a little odd.
Once, Susan was at a visitation for her little friend, Carol Binder, who died at age 6 from a ruptured appendix.
"I saw her in her casket, but at the same time, I saw her running around wanting to play." When Susan began talking to Carol, "my mother shushed me and said, 'Sit down. You're embarrassing me.' I was told I was insensitive and got sent to my room a lot."
Because her mother had never spoken of her self-described psychic ability, Christy didn't feel comfortable talking about herself until recently. "I didn't tell my mom. I thought she'd be disappointed," said Christy, of St. Paul.
Yet, what most of us would consider to be an unusual ability, Susan and Christy say is within everyone. "Everyone is psychic," said Christy. "It's no different than your eyesight. Some people see better than others."
Reno said he is a believer. This year, Christy asked in passing if he and his wife were planning to have a baby. "I said no, not for a couple of years,' " Reno said. "I told him, 'Well, you'd better get ready because you're going to have a baby before the end of the year,' "Christy remembers.
The Renos are expecting in November.
What: Psychic reading by mother and daughter Susan and Christine Anderson.
When: June 24, 1 to 4 p.m., and 7 to 10 p.m.
Where: Airport Hilton, 3800 E. American Blvd., Bloomington.
Signing: Susan Anderson will sign copies of her book, "Communicating With Grace: The Awakening of a Psychic Medium" (Beaver's Pond Press, 2005, $16.95) after each session.
Delma Francis • 612-673-1717©2006 Star Tribune. All rights reserved.
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