News / Africa

    South African Medium Eases Pain of the Bereaved

    Darren Taylor
    As a child Abigail McCarthy remembers waking up one night and wandering outside her bedroom in her home in Johannesburg.
     
    “I saw a woman at the top of the passage. I thought it was my mother, so I called for her. But when the woman turned around, I saw it wasn’t my mother,” she recalled.
     
    It later emerged that the woman had died in the house many years before.
     
    “Seeing (the spirits of) dead people started when I was around six years old,” said McCarthy, in her early 40s with long, dark hair and intense blue-green eyes.
     
    In her 20s, she began reading tarot cards.
     
    “While doing this for clients I would often see people in their lives who had passed away. I would just get a picture of someone and say (to the client): ‘Who is this person; why do I see them? This is what they look like; this is what they’re saying.’ And I would find that people would suddenly be in tears or they’d be sitting there and saying: ‘Oh, wow, that’s (my relative).”
    Abigail McCarthy says she’s in regular contact with the spirits of dead people (VOA / D. Taylor)Abigail McCarthy says she’s in regular contact with the spirits of dead people (VOA / D. Taylor)
    x
    Abigail McCarthy says she’s in regular contact with the spirits of dead people (VOA / D. Taylor)
    Abigail McCarthy says she’s in regular contact with the spirits of dead people (VOA / D. Taylor)
    McCarthy, scribbling on a notepad to help her relax, said she was initially “very afraid” of communicating with the spirits of the deceased. 
     
    “I didn’t like the idea. I was embarrassed by being a medium. I couldn’t tell people what I did. But when they found out, either they’d run up to me and start asking me all sorts of questions, or they’d roll their eyes and not come near me!
     
    “Because of this, it took me a very long time to be comfortable with what I do. But the more it (communicating with the dead) happened, the more I realized I was helping people to cope with the deaths of loved ones, and I enjoy doing that. It’s fulfilling.”
     
    Violent deaths
     
    McCarthy stated that people often struggle to accept the deaths of relatives and friends who pass away in “terrible circumstances.”
     
    “They’re in great pain. I help them to let go of some of this,” maintained the spiritualist who now works as a medium at the House of Isis spiritual healing center in Johannesburg.  “It helps them to know that their loved ones are still out there and are safe and at peace.”
     
    She has assisted parents who’ve lost all their children in auto accidents.
     
    “When that happens, the pain is unbearable… Or somebody losing their partner - you do find a desperation with them; they are lost,” McCarthy explained.
     
    A few years ago she was doing a tarot card reading for a man when she said the spirit of his girlfriend, who had also died in a vehicle collision, unexpectedly started communicating with her.
     
    “I picked up from this woman that she was totally at peace, and I told this to my client. When something like this happens it’s wonderful to see the relief on people’s faces. There’s a wonderful feeling… Just a big sigh of: ‘Thank goodness’ – or tears; you do get tears…”
     
    McCarthy said she sometimes communicates with the spirits of people who have committed suicide.
     
    “That’s interesting for me because some religions believe that if you take your own life you go to some awful place in the afterlife. But I still see and talk with people who’ve committed suicide, so I can’t believe that.”
     
    McCarthy continued: “A lot of people come to me and want to know if their deceased loved one is still angry with them, or they want to know about jealousies and hatred. But my communication with the spirits is overwhelmingly positive. I think once we die, why would we want to be negative?”
     
    ‘Nothing bizarre…’
     
    She likened her contact with dead people to “painting on a blank canvas.”
     
    “I ask clients to tell me as little as possible about the person they want me to reach. And then I just see who I’m picking up (in the spirit realm) and I just start talking. It’s a very gentle and natural process. The more relaxed I am, the easier it is,” McCarthy explained.
     
    “It’s not that I see dead people actually physically in the room, but I feel them. In my mind I see exactly what they look like, and then they speak to me and I describe to the client how they look and what they’re saying - and it’s always right.”
     
    She added, laughing, “Nothing bizarre happens; the room doesn’t shake; things aren’t knocked over (by unseen forces).”
     
    McCarthy pointed out that she doesn’t know “where exactly” the spirits of the deceased are.
     
    “I think if human beings were supposed to know this, we’d already know it. I think it’s supposed to be a mystery, and something we’re supposed to find out only when we pass on,” she emphasized.
     
    McCarthy hesitated to describe her ability to contact and to communicate with spirits as a gift… But conceded that “maybe” it is, before adding: “I do believe we’ve all got our gifts. I don’t agree that it’s something that’s special or that (I’m) above others. I think it’s got to be used in the right way; I think you’ve got to be very careful that you don’t become arrogant with it.” 
     
    Science and logic  
     
    Some faiths, most notably Christianity, condemn attempts to contact departed souls and the consultation of mediums as sins.
     
    In reaction McCarthy commented: “I have had a couple of readings with people that are religious and have been a bit nervous and have said, ‘Is this okay; should I maybe not be here?’ And I always say: ‘Well, that’s up to you. I certainly don’t believe what I’m doing is evil. But if you really are that uncomfortable then maybe you mustn’t do it.’
     
    “I believe that what I do comes from the right place. I don’t hurt people; I help people and give them peace of mind. Therefore I think of myself as a good person.”
     
    However, she stressed that she has the “utmost understanding” for people who are convinced mediums are charlatans.
     
    “I do understand why many people don’t believe that there are people who are able to contact and communicate with deceased people. As strange as it’s going to sound, I’m actually a very practical, logical person. I believe in science and I believe in religious faith.  But I can honestly say that what I do is not a hoax…”
     
    But McCarthy acknowledged that in the past she often wished that she wasn’t a medium, and had pursued a “more normal” occupation.  
     
    “There have been times when I’ve wanted to stop, but as time has passed I’ve grown to accept my ability. I am honest with myself who I am, and also with others.
     
    “I don’t run around preaching love and light. I just do what I do in the time that I do it. And I’ve learned to see that it’s helpful for others, and I’m seeing that as the good side. And actually, if I had to stop now it would be a little disappointing. I enjoy helping people.”
     
    Listen to report on South African medium
    Listen to report on South African mediumi
    || 0:00:00
    ...    
     
    X

    You May Like

    Vietnam Urges US to Lift Lethal Weapons Ban Amid S. China Sea Tensions

    US president’s upcoming visit to Vietnam underscores strength of relationship, and lifting embargo would reflect that trust, ambassador says

    What Your First Name Says About Who You Support for President

    Bobby, Betty and Curtis tend to support Donald Trump while people named Juan, Liz or Mohammad are more likely to lean toward Hillary Clinton

    South Pole Diary: In Round-the-clock Darkness, Radiant Moon Shines Like the Sun

    You hear more and see more when the moon first comes out; it’s your senses in overdrive, tuning into a new world.

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    By the Numbers

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Displaced By War, Syrian Artist Finds Inspiration Abroadi
    X
    May 02, 2016 1:36 PM
    Saudi-born Syrian painter Mohammad Zaza is among the millions who fled their home for an uncertain future after Syria's civil war broke out. Since fleeing Syria, Zaza has lived in Lebanon, Egypt, Jordan and now Turkey where his latest exhibition, “Earth is Blue like an Orange,” opened in Istanbul. He spoke with VOA about how being displaced by the Syrian civil war has affected the country's artists.
    Video

    Video Displaced By War, Syrian Artist Finds Inspiration Abroad

    Saudi-born Syrian painter Mohammad Zaza is among the millions who fled their home for an uncertain future after Syria's civil war broke out. Since fleeing Syria, Zaza has lived in Lebanon, Egypt, Jordan and now Turkey where his latest exhibition, “Earth is Blue like an Orange,” opened in Istanbul. He spoke with VOA about how being displaced by the Syrian civil war has affected the country's artists.
    Video

    Video Ethiopia’s Drought Takes Toll on Children

    Ethiopia is dealing with its worst drought in decades, thanks to El Nino weather patterns. An estimated 10 million people urgently need food aid. Six million of them are children, whose development may be compromised without sufficient help, Marthe van der Wolf reports for VOA from the Metahara district.
    Video

    Video Little Havana - a Slice of Cuban Culture in Florida

    Hispanic culture permeates everything in Miami’s Little Havana area: elderly men playing dominoes as they discuss politics, cigar rollers deep at work, or Cuban exiles talking with presidential candidates at a Cuban coffee window. With the recent rapprochement between Cuba and United States, one can only expect stronger ties between South Florida and Cuba.
    Video

    Video California Republicans Weigh Presidential Choices Amid Protests

    Republican presidential candidates have been wooing local party leaders in California, a state that could be decisive in selecting the party's nominee for U.S. president. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports delegates to the California party convention have been evaluating choices, while front-runner Donald Trump drew hundreds of raucous protesters Friday.
    Video

    Video Kurdish Football Team Helps War-Torn City Cope

    With the conflict still raging across much of Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, between the rebel PKK and the Turkish state, many Kurds are trying to escape the turmoil by focusing on the success of their football team Amedspor in Diyarbakir. The club is increasingly becoming a symbol for Kurds, not only in Diyarbakir but beyond. Dorian Jones reports from southeast Turkey.
    Video

    Video ‘The Lights of Africa’ - Through the Eyes of 54 Artists

    An exhibition bringing together the work of 54 African artists, one from each country, is touring the continent after debuting at COP21 in Paris. Called "Lumières d'Afrique," the show centers on access to electricity and, more figuratively, ideas that enlighten. Emilie Iob reports from Abidjan, the exhibition's first stop.
    Video

    Video Pakistani School Helps Slum Kids

    Master Mohammad Ayub runs a makeshift school in a public park in Islamabad. Thousands of poor children have benefited from his services over the years, but, as VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem reports, roughly 25 million school-age youths don't get an education in Pakistan.
    Video

    Video Florida’s Weeki Wachee ‘Mermaids’ Make a Splash

    Since 1947, ‘mermaids’ have fascinated tourists at central Florida’s Weeki Wachee Springs State Park with their fluid movements and synchronized ballet. Performing underwater has its challenges, including cold temperatures and a steady current, as VOA’s Lin Yang and Joseph Mok report.
    Video

    Video Somali, African Union Forces Face Resurgent Al-Shabab

    The Islamic State terror group claimed its first attack in Somalia earlier this week, though the claim has not been verified by forces on the ground. Meanwhile, al-Shabab militants have stepped up their attacks as Somalia prepares for elections later this year. Henry Ridgwell reports there are growing frustrations among Somalia’s Western backers over the country’s slow progress in forming its own armed forces to establish security after 25 years of chaos.
    Video

    Video Documentary Tells Tale of Chernobyl Returnees

    Ukraine this week is marking the 30th anniversary of the world's worst nuclear accident, at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. Soviet officials at first said little about the accident, but later evacuated a 2,600-square-kilometer "exclusion zone." Some people, though, came back. American directors Holly Morris and Anne Bogart created a documentary about this faithful and brave community. VOA's Tetiana Kharchenko reports from New York on "The Babushkas of Chernobyl." Carol Pearson narrates.
    Video

    Video Nigerians Feel Bite of Buhari Economic Policy

    Despite the global drop in the price of oil, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has refused to allow the country's currency to devalue, leading to a shortage of foreign exchange. Chris Stein reports from Lagos businessmen and consumers are feeling the impact as the country deals with a severe fuel shortage.
    Video

    Video  Return to the Wild

    There’s a growing trend in the United States to let old or underused golf courses revert back to nature. But as Erika Celeste reports from one parcel in Grafton, Ohio, converting 39 hectares of land back to green space is a lot more complicated than just not mowing the fairway.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora