I Went To A Séance In Brooklyn…

I Went To A Séance In Brooklyn...

When your friend invites you to a séance, you say yes. Or at least, I did! That’s how, last year, on a very cold winter night, I found myself standing outside a strange house in Brooklyn.

But as I stood there, waiting for my friend, I started to get a weird feeling… And I decided that walking into a room with a bad attitude — when we would potentially be summoning the dead — was not the best idea. My friend showed up, I told her I wasn’t feeling it, and we went to get dinner, instead.

I didn’t think about it afterwards.

Fast-forward to this summer. I had just recently become friends with Gabrielle Bernstein, who seems to know everyone, and through whom I have met a fantastic new cast of characters. When Gabby asked if I wanted to go and hug a saint, of course I said yes. At the venue, Gabby introduced me a girl called Betsy, and, whaddaya know, Betsy is the babe who hosts and conducts the séances!

She was such a sweetheart that I (almost) felt silly for getting nervous the time before. We got along famously, and she invited me to take part in another one. This time, I took my friend Rabbit.

I Went To A Séance In Brooklyn...

Going to a séance is a strange thing. I consider myself a pretty open-minded person, but communing with the spirits of those who have gone before? That stuff gets an immediate rise out of my inner skeptic. I love psychics and have no problem wrapping my head around what they do, but for some reason, I had my doubts about speaking to the dead.

Nevertheless, I went to the séance with as open a mind as possible, telling myself that I didn’t know everything and was willing to be surprised. Admittedly, I felt more at ease having already met Betsy. She has such great energy, and is so sweet and positive, that I knew whatever happened, we’d be in good hands.

When Betsy opened the door to her apartment, the scent of sage wafted out behind her. She smiled at me.

“I was hoping you’d be the first to show up!”, she said as she wrapped me in a hug.

I Went To A Séance In Brooklyn...

Betsy holds séances in her living room every week. It’s usually 10 women sitting in a circle — some scattered across her turquoise couch, others placed on folding chairs — with a table full of crystals in the middle. After a brief introduction, during which Betsy assured us that “no table-flipping would occur” (!), we dimmed the lights and got down to business. Opening with a non-denominational prayer, Betsy led us into a guided meditation, where we began by focussing attention on our feet, moving up our body to the crown of the head, and all the way to the Sun.

Then, one by one, she gave everyone in the circle a reading. She would start out by saying the name of a person in the circle, and then describing the characteristics and appearance of the spirit who was making contact. Once the person she was speaking to could identify the spirit — grandmother, ex-boyfriend, aunt, etc. — Betsy relayed the message the spirit wanted to share.

In the interests of protecting people’s privacy, I won’t share anything about anyone else’s reading, except to say that several times, as I listened to Betsy speak, I raised my eyebrows at the extreme specificity of the information she gave. And since I had taken my friend with me, I was amazed by how Betsy was able to nail Rabbit’s relationship with the spirit that contacted her.

I know this all sounds very bizarre, and like I said, when I set out for Brooklyn that night, I had my doubts. So you can imagine my complete surprise when it was my turn for a reading, and Betsy described my grandparents in perfect detail (right down to their clothes), and when she expressed sentiments — practically word for word — that they had communicated to me before they passed.

One of the most interesting things about going to a séance, as opposed to getting a one-on-one reading, was when Betsy said that any of the messages during the circle that feel relevant to you are relevant to you. If you’re having stomach troubles and the girl across the circle from you is given a message about her stomach, that message is for you, too. And I was astounded to find that several of the things Betsy said to other women felt personally pertinent.

Betsy also encourages everyone attending to feel free to share any messages, images, noises or thoughts that come through during the séance.

“It’s hard the first few times you do it,” she said, “because you’ll feel like you’re just making stuff up. And that’s how you know you’re doing it right! It will feel like you’re just coming up with nonsense.”

Nothing much came up for me, but Bryan, Betsy’s boyfriend, shared some images with the woman sitting opposite him… And they turned out to be a perfect mirror of one of her most powerful universal lessons.

I Went To A Séance In Brooklyn...

I didn’t go to Betsy’s séance seeking anything in particular. For me, it was more about the experience, about trying something different, and having an adventure that made me feel nervous.

I didn’t know what to expect, and I’m so glad I bit the bullet and went along. Despite my low-grade anxiety, as soon as I saw Betsy’s smiling face, I knew everything was going to be absolutely fine. What occurred was a truly supernatural experience beyond my wildest dreams!

You often end up having the most memorable moments of your life when you do those things that make you feel uncomfortable, or that are at — or beyond — an edge. I had no idea I’d be speaking to my grandparents on a Thursday night, but it was absolutely incredible, and I’d recommend it to anyone who is even the slightest bit curious!

With love and a ghostly grin,

Top photo by Nina Leen, Life Magazine 1944. Second photo by Aëla Labbé. Third and fourth photos by Hannah Lemholt.