What would you give to gaze into a crystal ball and see your future love life, financial situation, friendships and health concerns, all spread out like cards on a table?
How much do you really, really want to know?
If your answer to that question is “everything,” you may want to call Pam Green-Schader, a self-described “clairsentient” — someone who claims to both see and hear into a world hidden from most of us, a world occupied by spirits, poltergeists and, to quote the old Scottish prayer, “ghoulies and ghosties, and long-leggedy beasties and things that go bump in the night.”
Green-Schader, who lives in Grand Rapids but has clients throughout the area, says she has been involved in divination — the practice of predicting the future — since she was a child.
“Since I was 5 or 6, I would hear spirits and sometimes talk with them,” Green-Schader explains. “I was 6 or 7 before I realized other people weren’t seeing what I was seeing. My grandmother had it, too. She called it the sight. My grandma said don’t be afraid of it, try to help people with it. That’s what I’ve done.”
Green-Schader says she has used her abilities to help locate missing persons, investigate “hauntings,” and give clients a glimpse into their own, personal future. Last week, for instance, she was in Belding performing “readings” at a party. This past Friday, she gave an individual reading in Rockford.
Her first forays into the world of divination came by way of studying astrological charts, purported to predict an individual’s future by the position of heavenly bodies. It wasn’t until much later that Green-Schader turned her attentions to the technique she now employs more frequently: Tarot cards.
Most historians say the modern 78-card deck got its start in late-14th century Egypt, where the cards were used for playing games and much later, for purposes of divination. Tarot was introduced to Europe in the mid-1400s. The first cards appeared in Italy, but quickly spread throughout the continent. However, it wasn’t until the 18th century that the cards became associated with mysticism and magic.
Green-Schader explains that the tarot deck is divided into two categories; the “Major Arcana” and the “Minor Arcana.” Both have their roles in foretelling the future, according to Green-Schader.
Despite tarot’s ancient origins, Green-Schader’s motivation for turning to the cards had a more modern source — television personality and self-described “psychic medium” John Edwards. He suggested tarot cards are an excellent means by which people with psychic talent can develop their powers. Green-Schader took that advice to heart. The learning curve, however, turned out to be somewhat steeper than she at first imagined.
“I didn’t know anything about the tarot,” Green-Schader says. “I went out and bought a deck thinking I would have it down in a few days, but there’s a lot to learn. I studied for years.”
In her current role as a tarot reader, Green-Schader encounters all sorts of clients, from non-believing skeptics to wide-eyed true believers. In this area, she is most often called upon to appear at tarot “parties,” where several readings are conducted in a single evening. Green-Schader says, she can handle the skeptics; oddly enough, it is often the true believers who present the biggest challenges.
“Some people are really afraid of certain cards, for instance Death cards,” Green-Schader explains. “Death cards don’t necessarily mean that a person is going to die; they’re a metaphor for change. Like the Hanged Man card; all it means is sacrifice. Not a human sacrifice, but like something in your life must be sacrificed; a job, a relationship.
“It’s fascinating. I absolutely believe in it. I’ve seen the cards affirmed so many times. The cards show me; all I do is repeat truthfully what I see in the cards.”
The only message the cards relate that Green-Schader will not reveal, she says, regards death. For reasons she doesn’t entirely understand, clients frequently ask about the time and manner of their own death.
“That’s the one question I won’t answer,” she says. “If someone asks, I just won’t answer.”
According to Green-Schader, many of her clients are repeat customers, like Rhonda Lafata, a quality control manager at a contact lens manufacturing facility who started coming to Green-Shader for advice about four years ago, after meeting her at a tarot party.
“I was very skeptical at first,” Lafata says. “I figured it was one of those ‘for entertainment purposes only’ kind of things.”
Lafata’s opinion soon changed. While delivering Lafata’s reading, Green-Shader stopped and told her there was a “spirit” in the room who wanted to deliver a message; that the spirit’s name began with the letter J, and that it was someone who had died within the past few months.
“I said, ‘Yeah, yeah, no, there’s nobody I know who has died lately,’” Lafata recalls. “But Pam stopped a couple more times during my reading and kept saying, ‘Sorry, but there’s a spirit here who wants to speak with you. A J name.’ I just wanted to get on with the reading, but all of a sudden I heard, like it was someone standing right next to me, a male voice say, ‘It’s Jerry.’”
Jerry, it turns out, was Lafata’s uncle, and he had died just three months earlier. From that point on, she was a believer. Since then, she has received numerous readings from Green-Schader, most of them frighteningly accurate, she says.
In the years before turning her efforts to the tarot, Green-Schader took part in many paranormal investigations and eliminations; that’s right, “who ya gonna call” only without the particle-spewing proton guns used in the now classic Bill Murray movie.
According to Green-Schader, her clairsentient abilities are heightened when in the presence of haunted houses and she is often able to connect and communicate with any spectral presences found therein. In the past 20 years, she has investigated countless local “haunted” sites — places like the reportedly haunted houses on East Grove and Clay streets in Greenville and the Alvah N. Belding Library — as well as castles as far away as Wales.
“There’s a castle in Wales where a man was sleeping with his paramour and his lady came in and chopped them up with an ax,” declared Green-Schader, perhaps a trifle too gleefully. According to legend, the spirits of the illicit duo still roam the halls there.
Green-Schader also has taken part in explorations of haunted places in other European countries and New Orleans.
“I would just go in and see what I felt and connect with the energy there,” Green-Schader says. “Sometimes, just connecting with that energy brings it relief. I don’t think people want to hurt anyone after they die; the spirit is just energy, not necessarily negative. Sometimes that spirit just wants validation; they reach out sometimes.”
As for those who chant the phrase made famous by the movie “The Wizard of Oz” — “I don’t believe in spooks! I don’t believe in spooks!” Green-Schader has this to say: “When I hear people say they don’t believe in ghosts and have never seen one, I just say, well, ‘duh,’ of course not. You’re not receptive to the spirit world.”
As interesting as Green-Schader finds paranormal investigations, she rarely takes part in them anymore. The problem, she says, is that the popularity of the field has exploded in recent years, due in part to television programs such as “Ghost Hunters.”
The “market” for paranormal investigations, Green-Schader says, has become saturated. Worse still, many of those purporting to be ghost hunters are unknowledgeable about the topic and couldn’t — Green-Schader says — find a ghost with both hands and a net.
“Now everybody and his brother is doing hauntings,” Green-Schader says. “The problem is, any guy with a camera can go into a house and say he’s a ghost hunter. It’s a craze.”
So for the time being, she will stick with the tarot cards. There are, after all, plenty of people anxious to see their own future, the futures of friends. And those ready, maybe, for a glimpse into the world of ghoulies and ghosties, and long-leggedy beasties and things that go bump in the night.
Green-Schader may be contacted through her Facebook page at facebook.com/pamela.greenschader.