Betsy Cohen, a psychic medium and Reverend in the Spiritualist Church of New York City, was recently named one of the top 10 psychics in New York. With 10 years of experience as a social worker and a B.A. in psychology under her belt, she brings a unique understanding of human communication to her work. Every Thursday between 7pm and 9:30pm, Betsy guides the Weekly Williamsburg Séance, two blocks from the Graham Avenue stop on the L train. (RSVP to Betsy@NewYorkPsychic.com or 917-409-8613 for location details.)
Newbies to the séance scene ourselves, Brooklyn Based caught up with Betsy to learn more about communicating with the other side.
What exactly is a séance? I have this idea of candles and Ouija boards…
A séance is, generally speaking, a group that gets together for the purpose of speaking to spirits on the other side and deceased loved ones. As the psychic medium, I’m in charge of ensuring that it is a safe and sacred space. People sit in a circle. In the message circles (another way of saying séance), people are encouraged to give messages if they receive them for other people, with the understanding that no doom and gloom is allowed.
Why no doom and gloom?
I mean to empower people. As someone who has access to more information than the Internet will ever have, if I got some sort of scary message for someone, it’s better to ask for the underlying cause or some information that is empowering. And then there are legal issues. Unless you’re ordained, it’s actually illegal to give advice. And if you’re not a doctor, you can’t give a health diagnosis.
What can a first-timer like me expect?
You’ll come in, sit down, I’ll explain the rules and we’ll have a little bit of discussion about what psychic impressions are. Sitters get a bit of education about what a psychic impression is, how to receive it and recognize it as something separate from your thinking brain. Then I turn off the lights and say a prayer—a non-sectarian prayer—of intention and protection. I do a guided meditation to relax everyone. I remember being very nervous going into my first séance, so I know exactly what it’s like.
So how does it work exactly? When and how do you receive a message from a spirit?
We always have spirit people around us. What happens is in a séance is that a medium who has integrity will always take the time to identify a spirit. Whoever comes to give you a message has some sort of likeness to whatever you’re going through. They’re helping their own karma by helping you with issues they were working on while they were alive.
Why do relatives or other spirits stick around?
There is no such thing as time on the other side, so many times people—spirits—will chose to stick around until their soul families are all no longer living. Then they’ll move on to the next place.
How is the experience of a séance—being in a group—different from you doing a one-on-one reading with someone?
It’s actually very different. In a one-on-one, it’s one hour of straight talking about you. There is no asking questions, just my infrequently asking about interpretation to make sure you’re following me. In a group setting, we get to touch on things you don’t want to discuss in public. In conjunction with a spirit, I can bring up a very personal issue in a circle without letting anyone else know what it’s about.
Your blog says that the séance also enables attendees to develop more of their own intuition. Is intuition similar to psychic abilities?
To me there is no difference. It’s just a word choice, like organic or no chemicals. One reason the word intuitive is out there so much now is that there are many negative stereotypes about psychics. I don’t sit on a sidewalk and say, “give me $75 and I’ll get rid of this curse on you.” There’s a movement to sort of re-brand.
How are you doing that?
I take out the smoke and mirrors. I have a weekly radio show that explains what happens, what I’m doing and how I’ll teach you what I’m doing. People are afraid of the unknown and that’s completely natural.
Rev. Betsy Cohen- New York City Psychic from Rev. Betsy Cohen on Vimeo.
Any parting advice?
If you’re really curious and feel like something’s pulling you, listen to the mp3, watch the video and get to know me a little bit. That’s why I put that out there, to let you know my energy. Coming in with an open mind and relaxed mind improves the quality of what you’re going to get.
So finding the right medium is kind of like finding the right doctor—you have to go with who makes you comfortable.