Michelle Paisley Reed is a happy medium.
A self-proclaimed psychic and spiritual guide from Placerville, Paisley Reed said she feels a sense of joy when she helps ghosts move on to a higher plane. The spirits are stuck on Earth by their attachments to people or places and their fears of the afterlife, she said.
They’re depressed, and they just need a little encouragement from someone who understands them – and sees them and hears them – to go into the light, she said.
“I just tell them about my near-death experience and let them know the other side is a beautiful, light-filled, loving place where they won’t be judged,” she said. “It’s still their choice whether or not they go, but they usually go.”
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Her latest job, last week, was clearing the Sierra 2 Center in Curtis Park of two ghosts haunting its theater, built in the 1920s. That was after a much larger ghost clearing of the community and arts center in August.
“I let them know their bodies are gone,” she said.
Paisley Reed is one of dozens of paranormal professionals in the Sacramento region, including mediums, psychics and paranormal investigators. Many are busiest around Halloween, when people are especially curious about ghosts, and during the holidays, when loneliness moves some to try to communicate with their dead friends and relatives.
Paisley Reed, who bills herself as “Sacramento’s real life ghost buster,” is one of the few whose services includes clearing ghosts from buildings. In August she cleared what she said were dozens of ghosts from the Sierra 2 Center. The former school now houses a day care center, photo studios and a catering business, among other tenants.
Mediums have been debated and debunked since they became a fad in the late 19th century. Britain’s Queen Victoria consulted a medium for decades to communicate with her late husband, Prince Albert.
Harry Houdini, the escape artist and magician, made it his mission to reveal the tricks of psychics and mediums in the 1920s, saying they were charlatans who preyed on the grieving. More recently, magic acts such as Penn and Teller have taken up Houdini’s mantle.
Still, some people continue to believe.
Paisley Reed received discounted rent on her upcoming show in November at Sierra 2 in exchange for ridding the place of ghosts. Actors and others had claimed to feel their eerie presence for years, said facility administrator Valerie Burrows.
“When I first came here, it was very haunted,” Paisley Reed said.
While clearing one empty classroom on a hot August day, the frozen handprints of children materialized on its windows, the medium and one observer said.
Ghosts suck energy from the living and can be annoying in their efforts to get attention, she said, such as repeatedly flushing toilets or moving things around.
When the ghosts ascend to heaven, Paisley Reed said, she feels a whoosh of happiness as they go into a realm where “love is amplified to a billion like the sun.” There, they are greeted by friends, family and guardian angels, she said.
Paisley Reed said she knows because she had a near-death experience more than 25 years ago. She collapsed from an allergic reaction to a drug in 1989 and was rushed to the emergency room, she said. She remembers floating above her body and visiting other hospital rooms. Nurses told her she’d been “gone” for several minutes, she said.
Since then, what she called her natural ability to perceive and communicate with the dead has grown to the point where earthbound ghosts appear to her as nearly real human beings, she said. Ghosts gravitate to her, she said, and she points them out to the living.
“Take a picture. (A ghost) is right behind me,” she told a Sacramento Bee photographer on a recent morning at the Sierra 2 Center. “Better hurry. He’s squirrelly.”
No one else could see the ghost or another she said was lurking around the center’s historic theater. With its heavy wooden beams and hanging chandeliers, the theater lends itself to ghostly tales. Smoke wafting from a bundle of burning sage, which Paisley Reed waved to defuse negative energy, added to the atmosphere.
Suddenly, she said, “I have a ghost knocking on my door.”
The ghost, she said, described himself as a “caretaker” who had stuck around because he felt he needed to look after the building The man had thinning gray hair and appeared to be dressed in a pair of overalls from the 1950s, she said.
“Your body as you know it has passed on but your soul is eternal,” she said. She waited a beat. “He’s arguing with me,” she said with a smile.
“It’s like a vacation 24/7,” she said. “I’ve been there myself. There’s a light behind you. You just have to let it grow and expand.”
Eventually the ghost decided to go, Paisley Reed said. “It feels like a wind rejoicing,” she said. “Wow, goosebump city.”
In August, Paisley Reed said she saw a girl ghost named Ella who was attached to Burrows like a mother figure. There was also a “grumpy stage manager ghost who didn’t want to go,” she said. She finally persuaded him.
Burrows said tenants and workers at the community center have noticed a change in atmosphere. Gone are the chills and doldrums from the ghosts.
“It feels really clear in here now,” she said.
If you want to go
An evening with Michelle Paisley Reed, Nov. 14, 5:30 p.m., Sierra 2 Center, 2791 24th St, Sacramento. Advance tickets available at www.mediummichelle.com for $30 or $40 at the door.