Our Seance Post-Mortem

The Harlequin sales reps were apprehensive as they sipped their glasses of wine in a small room of the Hooper House at the House of the Seven Gables last night. They weren’t the only ones. We were at a publisher-arranged event to celebrate the release of author Heather Graham’s new book The Seance, and we were waiting for medium Nancy Garber to offer us a glimpse into the supernatural.

When you think of a psychic, you probably think of a woman with dark hair, dressed head-to-toe in black. So, it’s a shock to see her dressed in the requisite black pants but with a loose-fitting leopard-print tunic, heavy eye-makeup and reddish-blonde hair. Instead of a crystal ball, Garber shuffled three sheets of paper as she sipped a glass of water. She hands out notepads and paper to everyone in the room as they settle in.

Before she began, Garber explained how she got her start as a medium. A teacher for seven years, she has a Master’s in counseling and psychology and worked as a psychiatrist for another seven years, before she says she realized she had a gift.

“In my 20’s,” she said, “I was very ill with meningitis. I got out of the hospital, and I could hear spirits. During a trip to England, I experienced so much psychical phenomena that I couldn’t ignore them anymore, and decided to be a full-time medium.”

Her new career took off in 1998, and we were partly responsible. We awarded her Best Psychic Medium in our Best of Boston issue:

. . . [W]e like Nancy’s nurturing approach, since she counts many of the recently bereaved among her clients, and she did manage to spook us when we wanted a spooking.

After Garber explained her methods, the real fun began.

I have a gentleman here in spirit,” Garber said. “Who is older, perhaps in his 70s. He’s very slim, lost a lot of weight before he died. He also had a problem in his lung area– I’m getting a lot of wheezing. Does this sound familiar to anyone?”

A female reporter raised my hand meekly.

“Did this person smoke cigars?”

She didn’t know.

“Did he have a son?”

No, a daughter.

Garber paused, and turned slightly to her left. “Does it sound familiar to anyone else?”

A Harlequin sales rep raised her hand.

“I’m getting a name,” Garber said. “Does Bob sound familiar?”

“My grandfather,” the rep replied. “But he’s alive.”

“This isn’t Bob, but someone who knows Bob. Does your grandfather have a brother?”

“He had several.”

“Have you recently had any strange experiences with a spider?” Garber asked.

“No. . . OH MY GOSH. Just now! I was plugging something in in that corner and I got my hand stuck in a cobweb with a spider in it,” the rep exclaimed.

“Have you been thinking about working on your house?”

“Kind of.”

“You’ve been thinking about colors lately,” Garber said.

“Well, I’m having a baby.”

“That’s it,” Garber exclaimed, softly clapping her hands. “You’re thinking about a mint green?”

“Well, considering I don’t know what it is yet, yes.”

Garber pauses, then continues. “The gentleman who’s here feels like he didn’t express to his son that he’s proud of him. And he wants to say, ‘Hi’ to Bob.” Garber also said she knew the gender of the baby, but didn’t tell the mother-to-be.

The evening continued in much the same way. A cameraman with Fox had many dead relations and friends with messages for him, and some people evidently felt gypped their relations weren’t as insistent. Garber meditated on a picture of Graham the night before to try and summon her deceased mother and sister, and was getting the two mixed up.

While we’re not total believers in the idea of talking to the dead, every scenario Garber mentioned last night applied to someone in the room. Those who had relatives show up seemed pleased with the visits, even if they were a little eerie. Next time we have a hankering to try to talk to great-grandma Mildred, we’ll give her a call.