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Alex Tsakiris: Today we welcome Suzanne Giesemann to Skeptiko. Suzanne is a retired U.S. Navy Commander turned — get ready for this — evidential medium, and apparently, she’s quite good at being a medium. Her work has been praised by medium researchers like former Skeptiko guest, Dr. Gary Schwartz, and other notable figures in this small but growing field of after-death communication research that we’ve talked so much about.
She’s also the author of 11 popular books, including Messages of Hope and Where Two Worlds Meet. She’s a great speaker, as you’ll hear in a minute and quite an inspirational person, in general.
Suzanne, it’s great to have you here. Thanks so much for joining me on Skeptiko.
Suzanne Giesemann: Thanks, Alex. It’s so good to be here.
Alex Tsakiris: Well, like I said, I’m really delighted and excited to have you here. Let’s start with the very basics. Your story is really quite remarkable. Tell folks, briefly, how you got started as a medium.
Suzanne Giesemann: Well, Alex, it’s really important that people understand that I was not even aware there was a greater reality during the 20 years that I served in the Navy. My last job in the Navy, I was aid to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the head of the whole military, and I think now if anybody knew that I was a working medium, they would have yanked my security clearance, but that was even kept hidden from me. I had no idea I could communicate with those on the other side, but unfortunately, it was a family tragedy that led me to that discovery, the death of my stepdaughter when struck by lightning ten years ago.
Alex Tsakiris: It’s really a tragic story, but it is obviously relevant to the larger story of what’s happened in your life. Tell folks, briefly, what happened.
Suzanne Giesemann: Well, she was a Marine, a Sergeant crossing the flight line on active duty and a bolt out of the blue struck her down. She was six months pregnant. And when I went to her viewing and saw her body in her Marine Corps dress blues laid out there in the coffin, that was a pivotal point in my life because I looked at that body and I said, “That’s not Susan.” I said it over and over like a mantra, as if I was in shock, but the shock was that the body could look so different when not animated by whatever it was that was her spark, and I now know, of course, that’s the spirit and the spirit survives death. I didn’t know that at the time, but being very mission-oriented, I made it my mission to find out if it was true what I had heard over the years, that there were certain people who could tune into the souls of those who had passed, so that was step one.
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Alex Tsakiris: Now, many people — and I’ve spoken to many mediums, psychics and people who have this ability to access these other realms — many, many of them say even though they have that transitional experience where aha, they realized something was going on. They are able to reflect back in their life and say, “You know what? Back when I was much younger, I did have some other experiences and maybe I wasn’t able to connect with them or I pushed them away.” Does that fit at all for you?
Suzanne Giesemann: Not at all. I must be the anomaly. They, in the spirit world, kept me so hidden that kept this ability so hidden.
I did have an interest in metaphysical things. I’ve always been curious, but I never had a need to go to a medium, but at least I had that basic awareness that these kinds of beliefs were out there, but no idea whatsoever, that I would one day be working as a medium.
Alex Tsakiris: Now, the term evidential medium comes up a lot on your website; can you explain what you mean by that?
Suzanne Giesemann: Oh, yes, and that’s the most important part of my work, Alex, is the fact that every time I tune into someone on the other side, I receive evidence about what they were like when they were here. The definition of evidence is facts about them that I couldn’t possibly know, and quite often, facts about them that even my client doesn’t know, which I love because when someone has to go and verify things that I tell them about a spirit I’m connecting with, and they find out that it’s true, then no one could claim that I’m reading the client’s mind. So it’s not just psychic ability, I am actually communicating to a communication with those on the other side and saying to them, “Prove to me, as best you can, with facts about yourself, such as how you died, what kind of work did you do, those kinds of things that you are really here right now.”
Alex Tsakiris: And there’s so many interesting parts, I think, about that evidential element. What do you think that says about where we are at as a spiritual culture, that we are one, both seeking this kind of evidence; and number two, that we’re getting it? What does it say about whatever that other realm is that they’re so willing to say okay, you want hard proof, that’s what I’ll do? I’ll focus on bringing you proof, rather than bringing you some other message or some advanced spiritual message.
Suzanne Giesemann: I think that perhaps for centuries, people have had faith and they believe in some kind of heaven, but perhaps it’s because of our focus on technology these days, and so many people are left brain, those in the spirit world must know that we need the proof. We need the evidence. And I am quite aware that even many of the things that science claims is true, we can’t actually prove. So, I hesitate to use the word proof, other than in the type of proof that we get in a court case by using the preponderance of the evidence, and that is what I ask for when I do a reading and that’s what I get because we’re hungry to know that there’s more, and in a show me world, those in the spirit world are very eager to show us we’re right here.
May I add something, Alex?
Alex Tsakiris: Of course.
Suzanne Giesemann: The spiritual aspect of that is then, “Okay. If you are right here, what does that mean to us now?” So there’s the science part in my mind, I’m not a scientist; I was a liberal arts major. I don’t even go there, but I know that I’m tuning into frequencies, that I know. But when I tuned into someone and they say I didn’t show enough love while I was there, my priorities were out of whack, and they come through to give apologies, that, in itself, is evidential when they can tell me exactly what they’re apologizing for and that’s when you get into the part that changes lives.
Alex Tsakiris: Right. Let me back up for a minute though, back to the evidential part because you said oh, I’m not a scientist thing, but you’ve actually, with your work and the work of other evidential mediums, has opened the door for scientists like Dr. Gary Schwartz, who you know and is very complimentary of your work; you know of Dr. Julie Beischel. What I thought I’d do is play this clip for you. She’s been a guest on this show, a very popular guest on this show, and I think it speaks to this aspect of how we can bring evidential mediumship to the scientific world. So let me play this for you.
Alex Tsakiris: Psychic mediums? Is this some kind of joke? I mean, research and science doesn’t go with the term medium communication, does it?
Dr. Julie Beischel: So, science is just a tool. It’s just one way we learn how the universe works and so it can be applied to anything. There was a lot of people with strong opinions about what the capacity of mediums is. Can they report accurate and specific information? And so I took the scientific method and I applied it to mediumship, which again, is just a tool you can apply to anything. And so, yeah, it does go together because it’s something we don’t fully understand yet, so yeah, it’s the perfect thing for science to tackle.
Alex Tsakiris: Okay. What do you think about that, Suzanne? What do you think of this body of research, Gary Schwartz, Julie Beischel saying, “Let’s dig into this and understand, kind of from a social science standpoint, whether there’s any there, there.”
Suzanne Giesemann: I couldn’t be more pleased, Alex, because they’re doing it in an open-minded way, without their minds made up that this is real or not. It’s just let’s subject this to the scientific method and let the evidence speak for itself, and that’s all I ask.
I love the name of your show, Skeptiko, because I usually don’t take on skeptics. I don’t have any agenda. I do the work and the end speaks for itself. If somebody doesn’t want to hear it and makes conclusions different than mine, well, that’s their path. It’s a very peaceful way to live.
Alex Tsakiris: How about this, what do you suppose from your perspective, from your experience, might be the limits of this kind of research? How far can they take it? And a related question is how could it be improved, from what you know about your work and about your communication with the other side, if you will.
Suzanne Giesemann: Wow, that’s a tough one. I believe there are no limits to this. I’ve found that when I put limits on how far we can go with our consciousness, I’ve actually stifled myself from having some very awesome experiences. So the more I get myself out of myself in pose boxes, the greater the experiences, adventures and consciousness that I have. So, I really have no background in science and I don’t know what scientists are capable of doing. Like I said, I am simply just thrilled that there are scientists who are courageous enough to stand up to their colleagues and say this is not self-science, this is not pseudoscience, these are real investigations leading to what could be some momentous leaps forward for humankind.
Alex Tsakiris: Suzanne, let’s talk a minute about the big picture because another scientist we have spoken with on this show is (…) near-death researcher, Dr. Jeffrey Long. Let me play for you a clip from him and I want to get your thoughts on this.
Alex Tsakiris: In the book God and the Afterlife, you asked during your experience, did you encounter any specific information or awareness that God or a supreme being either does or does not exist?
Dr. Jeffrey Long: I was amazed the unbelievable shift from how they would’ve responded to their thoughts about reality of God at the time they had their near-death experience to later, the time they were sharing their near-death experience an average of 20 years later. Virtually, everybody that had a near-death experience and encountered God shifted to believing that God absolutely is real.
Alex Tsakiris: Okay. Another scientist-researcher, very much not a religious guy who’s coming at it with some kind of agenda, complied the largest database of people who have had these after-death encounters through a near-death experience and he’s coming back and he’s dropping the G-bomb on us. He’s saying not only did these people have an experience that said that their consciousness extended beyond bodily death, but that they experienced a higher order of this consciousness, some kind of hierarchy and the natural conclusion was what we’ve heard so many times, that there is something like God, a higher order. Love is the other thing that comes out of Dr. Long’s research — that overwhelmingly, these people say, and in ways that sometimes scientists aren’t comfortable dealing with — that it’s about love and love was the predominant experience that they had on the other side.
Now, what do you make of that? Does your experience and your encounters conform with what Dr. Long has found through his near-death experience research?
Suzanne Giesemann: One thousand percent, my experience that there is something greater, but the challenge is that anytime we use the word God — I love that you call it the God bomb — it carries so much baggage with it because of religious dogma. I think it was a blessing that I was raised with no organized religion. My parents never took us to church and never told us what to believe in that regard, so I don’t have any preconceived ideas. I know from growing up in American society, how many people hear the word God and think of this powerful omnipotent man in the sky and nothing could be farther from my personal experience of this field, this forest, this love as an energy, the light that people who have near-death experiences speak of. It’s far from a being.
I love this quote from Montesquieu that said, “If triangles have a God, it would have three sides.” We humans often have difficulty imaging anything greater than ourselves and so we put God as a being, in a form, and it’s far from that. So, the fact that Dr. Long and others are willing to even bring up the G-word is great, but I think that it would suit science better if we found other ways of speaking of this force from which we are derived.
Alex Tsakiris: Right. Although that’s always problematic because as soon as we start dancing and trying to change words from what people experience and in the way they talk about it, I think we run into problems too. So, if someone’s coming back and saying, “I had an experience with God,” I think we have to deal with that and then deconstruct that from there, but not shy away from the words they’re using because that becomes an academic exercise that has gotten us into a lot of this mess to begin with where we have to dance around, “Oh, it can’t possibly be that.”
Great. We are so in concurrence. This is so great. Now, let’s not be. Let’s switch over, because we do have to talk about the dark side and talk about evil. I have to tell you that whenever I do a show like Dr. Long’s interview, and I don’t have any agenda on it, I’m just following the data, that’s really my thing, people immediately come back and say, “Yeah, but what about the hellish experiences? What about evil? What about malevolent spirits?”
Let me play one more clip. I love inner waving these clips in, so you can kind of hear where my audience is at, and where I’m at really, with the guests that we’ve had on. I recently interviewed Dr. Jane Kent, who is quite an interesting person because she uses her Wicca background and other shamanic practices to help people in her psychotherapy practice.
Suzanne Giesemann: Wow.
Alex Tsakiris: She’s a Ph.D., she’s a counselor, but she is open to Wicca, shamanic, other forces. Let me play this clip and I think you’ll see where I’m coming from.
Dr. Jane Kent: Just because you’re psychic, it doesn’t mean that you’re safe, so I think you need to know practices that keep you safe while you’re exploring in the other reality, otherwise, quite dire things can happen. Evil definitely exists, and to say that it doesn’t is just ludicrous, naïve.
Alex Tsakiris: What do you think, Suzanne?
Suzanne Giesemann: Because I had no preconceived ideas, I truly believe that the more we can turn up our light inside, darkness doesn’t like the light. Just like a stalker in a parking lot will prey on the weak woman walking alone in the dark. If you exude confidence, it will stay away from you. I turn up the light as bright as I can, believing that this is a benevolent universe, and again, the darkness doesn’t like the light.
I would agree with Dr. Kent that there are lower vibrations out there, but I feel innately protected. I do, do a very easy protection method which is simply stating that I am protected and that no lower vibrations will come near me, as long as we are serving the greater good. So far that has been my experience and I expect it to be nothing less than that, so I can’t speak to evil. I don’t go there. And in bringing through more than a thousand spirits, it’s been nothing more than healing with dealing with the light.
Alex Tsakiris: Let me jump in here, because we did have a minor technical glitch and we lost just a few seconds of audio. I had to call Dr. Giesemann back. And the question I asked her was, “Hey, didn’t you just say there is evil in your answer that said I don’t go there with evil?” So, here’s what she had to say.
Suzanne Giesemann: You were saying that I did talk about evil just then, so I didn’t say that it doesn’t exist, I just say that I do not focus on it. I decided not to make it part of my reality, because I believe that we create our reality. I’m not denying that it exists, but if you truly believe and have experienced the law of attraction at work, then I choose, I choose, deliberately, to attract only the light.
Alex Tsakiris: I think that’s awesome. We had an email exchange in which I told you that very well meshes with my personal philosophy as I gain from one of my spiritual teachers who said that the secret of the ascent is to always look up. That there is evil, but that doesn’t mean we have to look down, explore it, and try and merge with it or anything else.
Suzanne Giesemann: Right. I’m glad that there are people [for whom] that’s their specialty, and they can help those who, for some reason or another, seem to be attracting that, but I just don’t even go there unless it comes into my life, and then I’ll deal with it.
Alex Tsakiris: Okay. But does it come into our life? Should we look away from it?
Suzanne Giesemann: Does it come into our lives? Should we deal with it? I just stated and I’ll state again, it is not part of my reality. I choose not to have that experience. Should it come into my life, I will deal with it, but it’s just not even an issue in my work. My work is all about love and healing.
Alex Tsakiris: Right on. Fair enough. Here’s a topic. So, we look at Dr. Julie Beischel, who we heard, and Dr. Gary Schwartz, who is a friend of yours and a very accomplished academic scientist, if we look at their struggle to gain academic credibility for their work and we juxtapose that with what the U.S. Intelligence Agencies have shown us that they think about these psychic abilities, one, that they have no doubt. I mean, we’ve interviewed several ex-military folks like Joe McMoneagle and Paul Smith, both active members of the Stargate Psychic Spying Program, which we know existed at SRI.
There is this kind of head thing going on between what academics and what science wants to admit versus on the other hand, what our government seems to be doing with these abilities. And if we take that just one tiny step further, we cannot assume, from what we learn from that, that they are necessarily all about light and love. They are, as you suggested earlier, mission-oriented. Give me the answer I want. Get me the result I want. I don’t really care who I partner with, be they demonic, be they angelic; I don’t care. If you look into Project Monarch, if you look into MK-Ultra, there’s plenty of evidence that they were willing to go there, if you will. So again, evil crops up. You have a wonderful personal orientation towards that, but what about folks who don’t and are dabbling in those other realms, including our government who’s protecting us?
Suzanne Giesemann: Well, Alex, you’re going down a path that I just don’t go down. You can interview me and I’ll talk about my work, which is teaching people how to love each other more and doing one-on-one readings to show people their loved ones are here. It’s so totally separate from my background as a Navy officer, that I can’t even address your question because that’s not my path.
Alex Tsakiris: Okay. Fair enough. Tell me how it’s so separate from your military background, just in terms of what do you mean when you say that?
Suzanne Giesemann: I mean, that for 20 years, I was a Navy officer and I did each assignment as I was asked, and I put on my uniform each day, and I was very left brain and that was my job. It’s just a career change. So, today I wear what I want and I focus on love and healing and it’s just a career change.
Alex Tsakiris: Okay. A related question that maybe gets at the same issue in a different way; what are we to make of remote viewing as a technology for accessing these other realms? So we talked about Dr. Jane Kent, who says, “Hey, Wicca and shamanic practices are my way of accessing this other realm.” I’ve talked to Gordon White, chaos magician and he puts it a different way. He says, “Hey, look, we’re all just dabbling with these other worlds. You can say light and love, you can say whatever you want, it’s really just spiritual forces out there; however, we’re accessing doesn’t really matter, it’s about the results that we get.” That seems to be the attitude that the remote viewers and the military intelligence took, it’s more about results. As an evidential medium, isn’t that what it’s about? If they get results that way, what does that say about the order of this other realm?
Suzanne Giesemann: I just think what we’re talking about is consciousness, in general, and that’s why we all have our adventures in consciousness in our own way. I spent a week at the Monroe Institute to investigate these out-of-body experiences. I had that lecture with Joe McMoneagle about his remote viewing. I’ve tried remote viewing after reading about it and had one very good experience in one experiment, but that’s not my calling, so I can’t really speak to that, but again, these are all adventures in consciousness that we’re able to have because we are consciousness incarnated.
Alex Tsakiris: Right. But I’m going to keep pounding on this because I’m with you, really. I am on your side, I think, although I don’t know if that’s a fair way to say it. I’m about love and about the light and about the higher order of consciousness thing because that’s where the data takes me, but at the same time, I can’t turn away from the fact that these folks are getting results as well, and to me, that says something about the nature of that order of that consciousness on the other side. I have to tell you, you can deflect it off and say I’m all about light and love, which is great, I’m not putting that down at all, but this is a question that people have over and over and over again. They want to understand how this is resolvable in their life.
Suzanne Giesemann: And I am not deflecting, I am telling you I am not an expert in those fields. I’m a medium, I talk to those who have passed, that’s what I’m an expert in, and that’s what I talk about. You’re trying to get me to talk about things that I really know little about. I’m not a remote viewing expert, I’m not a government agent in these things, and I don’t know anything about evil. I’m not an expert. It’s not a deflection at all, Alex. You’re trying to point me down a road that’s not my path.
Alex Tsakiris: Fair enough. It’s not your path, I mean, I’ll leave it at that. It seems to me to be the reason I led you there or keep pushing you there is that I don’t think we can embrace Jeff Long’s research or conclusions, or the conclusions in general, about light and love unless we’re willing to explore what people who say something different, what they’re saying. I think that’s part of this process of inquiry.
Suzanne Giesemann: That’s what you do on your show. So, on my own personal side, I ask these kinds of questions in meditation: What is the nature of God? What is the nature of love? Is there evil? But that one side of it, that whole side of it is not where I’ve been drawn. So I’m glad that there are experts and I’m glad that you’re doing the job of looking at both sides.
A: Okay. Fair enough. Suzanne, then tell people more along the line of the work that you do. You’ve written some very inspirational books. I haven’t thoroughly read them, but they’re just engaging as heck; a lot of great stories in there and real stories. Tell folks about some of that work that you’ve done and what people find most meaningful about some of your books.
Suzanne Giesemann: Messages of Hope was the first book that talked about how I went from Navy Commander and Commanding Officer to my work as a medium. It includes so many stories of the evidence that came through that convinced me that this is real. People who have had a loss enjoyed the book because it helps them to know as well, that their loved ones aren’t gone forever.
One that you haven’t mentioned yet is one that I wrote called Wolf’s Message. This is about one particular spirit, a young man named Mike Pasakarnis, who passed to the other side, but left behind evidence, hardcore evidence that he knew how he was going to be killed struck by lightning, just like my stepdaughter, and what would happen immediately after he was struck by lightning. It’s an amazing story and especially, that he came back through me, unexpectedly, early one morning with no feedback from family members and gave me a list of evidence about himself that was subsequently scored by Dr. Gary Schwartz and shown that it was highly, highly evidential. This young man came back with a message for all of us about how we need to balance our head and our heart; very, very interesting story.