As the "Blood Moon" comes to fruition later this week -- the second of two rare "Blood Moons" this year, the last one being in April -- New Yorkers will have a rare opportunity to connect with the spiritual realm as interpreted by Irish Medium Sandie Byrne on Thursday, Oct. 9. Byrne hails from Ireland's County Tipperary, and this will be her first appearance in the New York area, though she has been doing readings and appearances throughout the world for years.
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I asked Sandie how she developed the special abilities that she has. Was it something she realized as a child, that ran in her family? "Definitely. It was only this year that my mother told me. My great grandmother, who was also a Tipperary woman, was a medium... which I never knew. She died before I was born. In the 1920s, '30s, '40s, she had lots of people coming to her home for readings. My mother said there was a queue outside her house."
Sandie remembered that when she was a child, she was a bad sleeper. "I was always saying to my mother, I can't sleep, there's a woman sitting by the wardrobe, I can't sleep, there's a girl at the foot of my bed, I can't sleep, there's a man pulling my duvet. There was always somebody around. As I was growing up, she didn't want to scare me too much and tell me that it is in the family and other people have had this..."
"When I was in my teens, my spirit guides would come in, and they would become very frustrated because I was ignoring them. I was probably scared because I was a dramatic teenager, you know, but at the same time I was annoyed because I wasn't getting any sleep," she laughed. "I think my own personal view is that every child has mediumistic abilities. It is just as we grow up and our logical side kicks in, we tend to put it away."
Her grandmother always had abilities "though she never used them," Sandie said. "My grandmother had 10 children so she didn't have time for readings. I was 7 when she passed and we were very, very close to her because my mother was a single parent." She paused and then continued, "I remember my grandmother being on oxygen -- it wasn't emphysema, but it was a smoking-related illness."
"We went to the hospital to see her and when we came in to the room, she had passed. I didn't understand what passed away meant. I thought she was asleep. I was just left with my grandmother who looked like she was sleeping in the bed although the curtain was all around her, for a few minutes, while my mother went to the office to phone her brothers and sisters and let them know."
"I was sitting there holding my grandmother's hand, and I was aware of her at the same time. She used to love my hair, and she was always at my hair and patting it, and while I was sitting there holding her hand and I was aware that she was in the bed, she was behind me at my hair. I didn't think anything of it. A few days later after her funeral we went back to my grandmother's house and my granddad was very, very upset, obviously, and he was sitting in his chair by the fire. I said to my mother, why is granddad so upset? And she said, because nanny's got to live in heaven. And I said to my mother, but she's not, she's sitting on the arm of his chair. She always had used to sit on the arm of his chair."
"My uncle got very angry, told me not to be talking rubbish. I know he wasn't really angry, it was just the funeral and the emotion and everything, and mother just said to me -- shush. Afterwards she said to me, not everyone sees what you see, so sometimes you have to be careful of what you say. It was only then that I realized that everybody wasn't seeing it. And that's when I started to get quieter about it."
I asked Sandie whether she thought Ireland was a more accepting environment for these sort of experiences but she said no, "actually Ireland is still quite conservative -- and of course very religious -- I think it would actually be more socially acceptable to be a schizophrenic than to be a medium." But since J.K. Rowling's mega-successful Harry Potter series entering the zeitgeist several years ago, had that changed attitudes at all -- an incredibly popular book and movie series about a child who goes to boarding school to study to be a wizard, during which otherworldly things happen constantly and with little to no fanfare?
"Not in Ireland. Especially certain generations," she noted. She mentioned that her clients came to her from all sorts of age groups, but the younger generation had now begun to be more interested. "They want to meet the love of their life -- they aren't that interested in speaking to people that have passed. I do get people who come back regularly, I have one girl who lost her brother who has been with me four times over the past few years. She suffered a traumatic loss, and what I've found in my experience is I seem to have a reputation -- I don't know why -- for connecting with ones who have recently passed."
"One problem that is huge in my part of Ireland is suicide," added Sandie. "It is one thing I get an awful lot of. Huge problem -- mostly males -- between 19 and 29 years old. We've just had a suicide prevention week here just to raise awareness of the issue, to get people looking for the signs." She had done some suicide prevention training awhile back, "so it is something I've been very, very aware of and it is just something I seemed to be able to connect with these people. And also when people have died in traumatic circumstances... I did a reading for a lady, God bless her, whose father had passed away and the reading went so well she recommended me to a lot of people in her support group, so I've been getting a lot of those people recently. I don't mind -- I always think at first, is this just them dragging up their pain and maybe I'm making things worse? But to see the look on their faces and the emails they send me afterwards saying thank you... it is worth anything."
Did these experiences feel draining? "The majority of readings now energize me... Even though I sometimes read for eight hours straight, and then do a two hour drive home, I still come home energized because I have the power of spirit in me... It just drains you so much, but it is invigorating at the same time, if that makes sense."
What can people expect on Thursday night at Sandie's event? "It is a stage show -- a two hour show -- and I am hoping to run straight through without taking a break. I want to give a very brief talk at the beginning to explain to anybody that doesn't know how the process works, and then I want to give as many readings to people as I can. It is about giving evidence, of validation of a life after death."
"I always say to people, I am not here to prove anything, and I can't make people into believers, but I can give you validation that your loved one lives somewhere. So that's what I want to be doing. I will be giving people evidence of their loved ones and getting as many messages as I can in the time we have, and answer questions at the end."
For those who are intrigued but can't make it to the show on Thursday, Bryne also does readings via skype which include tarot readings, psychic readings, and numerology. Bookings are available through her website and there is more information about her background here.
A few tickets are still currently available for Thursday night's event.