The world of clairvoyants and psychics totally fascinates me. It's easy to be sceptical — I mean, communicating with those who have passed on? Really? But there are just so many stories of significant encounters that perhaps there could be some truth in it. Looking to demystify what it's like to be a medium, I went straight to the horse’s mouth to get answers by interviewing popular medium Rebecca Sawyer — aka Becs.
Becs works with both small groups and large live audiences. She is funny, charming, and quick to tell me that mediums are absolutely not the same as psychics. "I hate that word," she tells me. "I’m not about fortune telling or palm reading. A medium is an incarnate soul communicating with discarnate souls. I try and view it as something really normal. The spirit or soul leaves the body and it lives forever, and we can all be taught to get in touch with it. I’m a mobile phone, that’s the metaphor I use. I always say, ‘You can’t talk to dead people, they don’t have a voice box.’ I try to bring a sense of humour to what I do."
Explaining what it's like to talk to dead people, Becs says she doesn’t see or feel them all the time, and nor does she want to. "I make space for my spirit, or soul, or conscience, or whatever to rise into space and blend with the spirit. It’s spirit to spirit, and I verbalise what they want to say. It’s a loving, healing process, that’s about sense and a feeling, not seeing or hearing. I get to know them and give them a voice. Really, it’s my job to get totally out the way as much as I can.”
Fortunately, Becs has never had a scary experience when contacting the dead. She continues: "In my working environment you don’t get the evil or nasty, because it’s always someone’s son, or granddad, or best friend...I just hope everyone gets what they need."
During the process, Becs picks up all the energy and gets a buzz from it. However, the intense emotions can be draining. When audience members start sobbing, which happens a lot, she often goes to hug them, and upon contact, can feel their pain.
The most emotional experience she's ever had was five years ago. Brace yourself, this story will make the hair on your arms stand up: "A woman’s [dead] nan was talking [to me] about her brother, and the woman said she didn’t have a brother. So I assumed I was wrong, and I moved on. But then, the nan said something [to me] about a baby’s lemon cardigan. When I said that to the woman, she didn’t know what I was talking about and I moved on again. A few minutes later, she said, ‘Oh my God, I forgot my mum had a baby boy who died before I was born. The only thing I have of his is a lemon yellow cardigan that nan knitted.' Then she said, 'I live a few doors away, would you like to see it?' A few minutes later, I was holding the cardigan her dead nan had told me about. Any time I doubt myself, I remember that night."
This is a pic of the yellow cardigan Becs was talking about:
As you’d expect, Becs comes across a lot of sceptics, which doesn’t particularly bother her. "I meet people all the time who are adamant that when you’re dead, you’re dead. I say to them, 'That’s your view — when we both die one of us will think the other is right!' Its not my job to change people’s minds." Her brother, it turns out, is a total sceptic. "He's a pilot, very logical and rational.” But he has total respect for her work.
Becs acknowledges that there are plenty of fake mediums out there, who give the sceptics reason to be so and give the industry a bad name. She is philosophical on the subject. "There are always those after a fast buck, in any industry — it’s horrible but it’s the same with any walk of life. And I think people pick up on that."
So how did Becs become a medium? From a very young age, she knew she wanted to be one: "I grew up always wanting to do it, but I got absolutely nothing when I tried. I’d go to development circles or watch it on telly and just got nothing." I ask Becs what changed that, and when. "It was when I started my trans journey. When I started transitioning gender, it all opened up to me."
As a child assigned male at birth, Becs knew from the age of five that she wasn’t in the right body. In some ways, she says her transition helped her to realise her strengths as a medium. "It made me face stuff, and it made me really non-judgemental. I always say that the best mediums are impassive and know we’re all walking our own paths. It hasn’t made me a better medium, but it’s made me a different type of medium," she says.
I ask Becs what advice she’d give to those looking to become a medium, who believe they have a gift. She suggests certain courses at Essex’s Arthur Findlay College, but is adamant that ultimately, all of us could communicate with souls.
She concludes: "You just have to trust and believe."