A happy medium: Five questions for former Fargoan with 'sixth sense'
Troy Parkinson describes himself as an ordinary guy, a good Christian and a natural skeptic. Oh, and someone who talks to dead people. The spiritual medium, who grew up in Fargo and graduated from Fargo North in 1996, may be the John Edward of th...
Troy Parkinson describes himself as an ordinary guy, a good Christian and a natural skeptic.
Oh, and someone who talks to dead people.
The spiritual medium, who grew up in Fargo and graduated from Fargo North in 1996, may be the John Edward of the Upper Midwest. He reconnects those who have "crossed over" with the loved ones they left behind via one-on-one readings and workshops around the country. He recently published a book on his life, titled "Bridge to the Afterlife: A Medium's Message of Hope & Healing" (Llewellyn Worldwide, $15.95) and will have a book signing today at Barnes & Noble in Fargo.
Parkinson says he first became interested in communicating with the deceased following the deaths of a close friend and his wife Chanda's uncle. Searching for answers, he turned to the Web. There, he discovered the Christian Spiritualist Church, which supported spiritualism - the belief that the dead can connect with the living via a third party - without compromising his traditional Lutheran value system.
"To me, spiritualism is something safe," he says. "It's helpful, it's healing. It's not like you see in movies with séance rooms and crystal balls. It's a very natural part of what we are as spirits. It's not the devil's work."
While a film student at Emerson College in the late '90s, Parkinson began studying the afterlife at the First Spiritualist Church in Boston. Several weeks into his first course, Parkinson says he became aware of a spirit who was trying to communicate with a classmate. He approached the woman and described the spirit to her as a "good-looking kid with straight white teeth and a white surfer T-shirt on." He also told her he felt discomfort in his head and neck. The woman replied that he'd just described her brother, who had died in a car accident from head and neck injuries.
"That was probably the turning point for me," Parkinson says.
Parkinson, Chanda, also a professional psychic, and their son, Jacob, recently moved from Fargo to the Twin Cities, where he is pursuing his medium work full time.
Forum: When did you first discover your gift?
Parkinson: When I was 5 years old, I saw what I would describe as the young spirit of a child sitting on my desk in my room. At first that really scared me and I remember throwing the covers over my head. But the experience stuck with me, and it still sticks with me to this day. I really consider myself an ordinary guy who, through study and development, was able to dust off the intuitive muscle that exists in all of us.
How do you actually "see" people who have crossed over?
When I first started to develop this intuition I wanted to see as clearly as the kid in "The Sixth Sense." (Laughs.) I tell people it's very much as if I told you to imagine Marilyn Monroe is standing next to you. You could picture her standing next to you with your mind's eye, but you wouldn't see her actually standing there, like a table or a chair.
Has your work ever scared you?
My work has always been inspiring. I believe like attracts like. I'm not going to do a reading in a cemetery at 2 in the morning, because that will just create an atmosphere of fear. My readings are very relaxed and very conversational and I do them during the day. Of course, when I first started out I was a little fearful because I wasn't sure what I was getting into. But I went into it intending to only do good.
People seem to be fascinated by the idea of communicating with people in the afterlife, as demonstrated by the popularity of TV shows like John Edward's "Crossing Over." Why is that?
I think it's just a natural part of being human. It's a curiosity about our own mortality and the desire to know our souls live on long after us. It's also about wanting to know that our family members are OK, that their souls live on and that they're watching over us. It's an opportunity to get a little bit of closure.
The most rewarding experience in this work is to connect parents to their children (who have passed on). (As a father myself) I know that intense connection you have with your children is indescribable. So when I'm able to connect children with their parents it's such a healing experience.
You describe yourself as a skeptic. What's your advice to people so they don't get ripped off by fraudulent mediums?
Try to get a referral from someone you trust, so you know it's genuine and legitimate. Also, you don't want to share any information, particularly with a medium. There's no reason I need to get any information from the person I sit with. I ask one question. That is, after I describe the person I'm sensing, then I'll say, "Do you know who this is?"
A real medium should be able to connect with whoever is around you. If someone is asking lots of questions - it's called a "cold reading" - they basically just want you to feed them information so they can repeat back at you whatever you want to hear.
I also encourage tape recording, because a lot of information comes forward in the moment and you can forget a lot about it.
Lastly, trust your own discernment and intuition.
If you go
- What: Book signing, reading by “Bridge to the Afterlife” author/medium Troy Parkinson
- When: 7 tonight
- Where: Barnes & Noble Booksellers, Fargo
- Info: (701) 281-1002; www.troyparkinson.com
Readers can reach Forum reporter Tammy Swift at (701) 241-5525