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The Priest and the Medium

by Suzanne Giesemann

The following excerpt is taken from the book The Priest and the Medium: The Amazing True Story of Psychic Medium Anne Gehman and Her Husband, Former Jesuit Priest Wayne Knoll, Ph.D. by Suzanne Giesemann. It is published by Hay House (June, 2009) and will be available at all bookstores or online at: www.hayhouse.com.

Chapter 12

The reporter held a pen poised over her notepad. "Will you tell me how old you are, Miss Gehman?"

Rather than answer, Anne sat back in her armchair and asked, "How old do you think I am?"

The question caught the woman off guard. "Well, uh . . . I’d guess about 27."

Anne simply smiled. Had the woman known that she was born in 1936, it would have been an easy matter to tick off the three decades to the current 1966. Anne wouldn’t lie about her age, but she was more than happy to let the journalist think whatever she wanted.

The article appeared the following week in the Orlando Sentinel and featured "Anne Gehman, 27, the pretty young psychic from Cassadaga."

Anne was no stranger to the press. Her many appearances at local service clubs and organizations where she delivered messages from spirits and discussed Spiritualism had madeher a minor celebrity in central Florida. Most articles mentioned her good looks and gentle nature. Anne was thankful they didn’t dwell on her marital status, the way her family did.

Anne rarely dated. Young Spiritualist men were few and far between. Marvin Stuckey, the neighbor who painted the sign that hung in her front yard, did little to hide his crush on her, but Anne wasn’t attracted to him. Of course she longed for human companionship and affection. Her little mutt dog, Foot Prince, was good company, but it wasn’t the same as being in a relationship.

Rather than dwell on her lack of a husband, Anne decided that she would stay single forever and dedicate herself fully to her work. From the day she started giving readings full-time, Annenever lacked for clients. All of her visitors learned about her by word of mouth. One successful reading would result in dozens more when an excited sitter shared the results with friends and family. Her phone rarely sat silent for long.

Father Yannis, a Greek Orthodox priest from Tarpon Springs, visited Anne shortly after the death of his brother. The priest believed in spirit communication and was open to what Anne had to say. When she delivered a message not only from his brother, but from several other loved ones who had passed over, he began to send a regular stream of members of the Greek community to Cassadaga.

One day, Anne received a call from one of Father Yannis’s parishioners. Eleni Papadopoulos explained that her cousin Sophia was visiting from Greece and wanted an appointment. Sophia didn’t speak English, but Anne agreed to allow Eleni to sit in on the reading and translate.

On the day of the reading, the three women gathered in Anne’s cozy office. Anne began with a prayer, as she always did. She waited while Eleni translated her words into Greek. She continued in this manner, speaking a few words, then pausing. The introductory phase of the reading took twice as long as usual.

Anne was beginning to question whether she should have agreed to the unusual meeting, when an older woman from the spirit world appeared in the room. Anne knew intuitively that the spirit was Sophia’s mother who had recently passed over.

"Saghapó, Sophia, ti kanis?" Anne said. When she heard herself talk, her eyes widened in surprise. The voice was her own, but she was speaking in Greek.

What’s happening? she wondered, as more foreign words flowed from her lips. She’d spoken in other languages in the past, but always while in trance. This time, fully conscious, she didn’t merely repeat what her spirit guest said—she spoke the woman’s thoughts directly.

Anne had no comprehension of the individual words she was saying, but somehow she understood their overall meaning.

The two cousins sat in front of Anne crying tears of happiness and wonder as she passed along the woman’s message in their native tongue. With no further need of a translator, the reading progressed far more smoothly. Anne heard herself telling Sophia where to find her mother’s will and how to implement it. She then passed along what the woman wanted done with her jewelry and other personal belongings and relayed messages for family and friends.

When the reading concluded, Anne was as dazed as her clients."I didn’t know you spoke Greek," Eleni said, shaking her head.

"I don’t!" Anne replied. Anne treasured the moment and gave thanks for the unique opportunity. As a medium, she was almost always a go-between. What had started out as an ordinary reading turned into one of the rare times that her clients were able to speak directly with a loved one on the other side.

She and Foot Prince escorted Eleni and Sophia to the door. As her clients walked to their car, another couple brushed past them. Anne had never seen the man and woman before. It wasn’t unusual for strangers to stop by without an appointment. The sign in front made it clear that Anne gave readings from the house, and she welcomed walk-ins when she had the time.

The couple’s clothes were shabbier than most who came to call. The way they dressed didn’t matter to Anne, but the two had an unusually rough look. The man was unshaven, and the woman’s eyes kept darting back and forth. Prince, who was usually loving and friendly with all of Anne’s clients, sniffed at the door, then bared his teeth and growled.

The man asked if they could have a reading. Anne glanced down at Foot Prince, who was clearly on guard. Even though she was free for the next few hours, she told the couple that she had another client who was due any minute. Prince watched their backs, a soft growl rumbling from his chest until they were out of sight. Later, Anne didn’t know whether to feel guilty or relieved when she learned that the strangers had gone to another medium’s home where they beat the woman and took her television set.

With Foot Prince at her side, the only problem Anne encountered on a regular basis was her clients’ skepticism. She understood that people who’d never consulted a medium might be wary, but she personally had no doubt that there was another reality beyond the one most people experienced. Just because physical humans couldn’t see the spirits didn’t mean they weren’t there. Like the blades of an electric fan that were visible when the fan was turned off, yet invisible when spinning, spirits simply vibrated at a frequency that most human eyeswere unable to detect. Anne was able to tune in to these higher frequencies and welcomed thenonbelievers.

Just such a young man arrived at her door one afternoon without an appointment. He was tall, thin, and nicely dressed in khaki pants and a collared shirt. Anne had an opening in her schedule, but she hesitated. When Foot Prince checked out the stranger and responded with a wagging tail, she invited him inside.

As soon as he sat down in her office, the man buried his face in his hands and began to cry. He described how his wife had recently died from a rattlesnake bite. He looked up through teary eyes and told Anne that he was desperate to communicate with the only woman he’d ever loved.

Foot Prince lay calmly at Anne’s feet. She knew the man posed no danger, but she frowned. Even though his acting was good enough for the stage, she clearly sensed that his tears were fake.

"Your wife isn’t in spirit," she said bluntly. "She’s 5' 5", weighs about 120 pounds, and is very much alive. She works as a secretary in an office, where she’s taking dictation from her boss as we speak."

The man’s mouth opened, but no words came out.

"There are several spirits here who actually have passed over," Anne said. "They’d probably like to speak with you, but I don’t have time for people who lie to me."

She stood and waited for the man to join her. He rose and clasped his hands as if in prayer. "Please—I’m sorry—I just wanted to see what you’d say."

"So you made up a story about your wife dying?" She started walking toward the foyer.

"That’s not very nice."

"I swear I’m sorry," he said as his fake tears turned to real ones. "I can tell you’re the real thing, and I’d really like to hear from whatever spirits you see."

"They don’t like liars either," Anne replied as she showed him out the door.

A short time later, she sensed that something was once again amiss when a new female client with long, straight black hair and equally dark eyes arrived for her appointment. She had called Anne weeks in advance and gave her name as Mary Margaret Murphy. The moment Anne took her seat, she knew the woman had used a false name. Anne didn’t care what people called themselves, but she hated when they tried to trick her.

"Your name isn’t Mary Murphy; it’s Darina Magdalena Kratochvilova." She spelled the surname letter by letter, then said, "You live in Ft. Myers, and you have a calico cat named Bella. I know you want a reading, but I can’t work with someone I don’t trust."

The woman stammered and begged for forgiveness, but Anne had made up her mind. "This concludes our reading," she said. "I really don’t care to be placed in the category of a fraud. I take my work very seriously."

As she spoke the words, two books on the shelves beside them shuffled forward toward the edge, as if someone were pushing them from behind. Physical phenomena weren’t new to Anne, but even so, she stared in surprise as the books stopped moving just before falling off the edge, then retreated to their original position.

Darina sprang to her feet, her eyes large like a frightened deer. She crossed her shaking hands in front of her legs, but she wasn’t fast enough to hide a dark stain of urine spreading across her flowered skirt.

"I can see you’re not a fraud," Darina said with a trembling voice. "Please, may I come back another time for a reading?"

Anne felt sorry for the woman’s embarrassment, but she shook her head. "I don’t like the way you handled this."

Darina began to cry. "I’m sorry I lied about my name. It’s just that I’ve visited so many mediums who made up all kinds of nonsense." She glanced at the bookshelves. "You’re not at all like those others. Please give me the reading."

It was late in the day, and Anne was tired. She stood her ground and showed Darina to the door. When the woman was out of sight, Anne left the house and walked to Wilbur’s. Her former teacher listened quietly as she poured out her frustration. She could always count on Wilbur to help her when she had a difficult client. This time, he surprised her by laughing.

"You’d better get used to it," he said. "Not everyone who calls themselves a medium is as ethical as we’d like to believe. As long as there’s money to be made through trickery and deceit, people have good reason to be cautious."

"But I’m not like that," Anne said. "I’d never lie to a client."

Wilbur knew she was sincere, but he enjoyed teasing his favorite student. From that day forward, he took great pleasure in embarrassing Anne by telling people in her presence: "Anne Gehman’s not happy with her readings unless she can make the men cry and the women wet their pants."

Darina Kratochvilova spent the night at the Cassadaga Hotel. The next day she appeared at Anne’s door wearing a fresh skirt and a genuine look of remorse.


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