I met with psychic medium Joanne Gerber as she was heading to the Paramount Theater in Rutland, Vt., for “An Evening of Spirit Communication.” At the Oct. 25 event, Gerber would reach “beyond the veil for an opportunity to connect with loved ones on the other side.” If I had my druthers, I’d have asked for a two-minute reading while I had Gerber sitting across from me, but instead, I was the one who got to probe her mind, seeking answers to questions that would help demystify her gifts, at least in part.
“I love what I do,” Gerber said, revealing just a hint of the effusive enthusiasm she feels for her work. This enthusiasm can explain why Gerber maintains a calendar saturated with appointments, with one-on-one in-person readings booked years in advance. For this reason alone, I was pleased that Gerber could fit me in for this interview.
When did you realize you possessed these gifts? Can you describe the exact moment?
I was around the age of 12, just before my bat mitzvah. My grandmother had passed away and we had been very close. I was very sad that she would not be able to be at my bat mitzvah, and I would talk to her at night when I laid down to go to sleep. One night, after she had passed, I felt my bed shake and I looked and saw an image, almost translucent, of my Nana sitting on the edge of my bed as she used to do on many nights until I fell asleep. I knew she knew how sad I was and was trying to comfort me and let me know that she was OK since she got very ill at the end of her life. It was a profound and precious moment that I will always remember.
Can you explain the difference between psychics and mediums? Do you consider both gifts?
Both psychics and mediums work with energy. The difference between the two types is that one is reading the energy of the living and the other is reading the energy of those passed on. If you want to know about your future, then you would want a psychic reading. If you would like to connect to a loved one who has passed on, then you would want a mediumistic reading. Not all psychics are mediums, but all mediums are psychics. We all have psychic ability, and I do believe that we all have the mediumistic ability to connect with our own loved ones passed, but not necessarily a higher-level gift to be able to connect others to their loved ones passed.
There are many training classes offered in-person and online to learn how to develop your gift. It’s essential that a prospective student train with an experienced teacher who can help them understand. As we develop our gifts, we have the opportunity to develop and grow spiritually.
Can you tell me about your family? Were they spiritual when you were growing up?
I grew up in a Reform Jewish family. My mother and father were spiritual but not religious. They didn’t attend temple except for occasionally on the High Holidays, but my parents wanted us to have a Jewish education and b’nai mitzvot. We celebrated the holidays as a family with feasts of food my mother would cook a week ahead of time. My mother also served many years as the president of the North Shore B’Nai Brith organization and volunteered her time at the Jewish Federation.
How did they respond to your gifts?
My mom passed in 1987, the year I graduated college, and unfortunately was not around when I began my spiritual journey as a psychic medium. She was very psychic and predicted a severe, almost fatal accident that my brother was in, in the 1970s. Although she was not a professional psychic, she had premonitions that always came true.
On the other hand, it was my father who helped guide me on this path. It was in the late ’90s that my father felt he was ready to date, but still felt guilty that my mother may not approve. He was working in Salem, Mass., and impulsively decided to have a reading. He told me about his experience and it made me curious.
When I had my reading in Salem with the psychic my father visited, it was life-changing. At the time, my 6-and-a-half-year-old dog’s health was failing. She was very sick with an autoimmune disease, and I was not agreeing with the vets that she would probably die soon. I brought this up during my reading in Salem but didn’t get a concrete answer. Instead, the psychic saw my gifts and abilities and encouraged me to take a spiritual development class to open my gifts.
I pursued her advice and enrolled in a weekly class. We meditated, had group discussions and practiced reading one another. It was the high point of my week. During a meditation, an angel came to me clear as a bell and told me that Corky, my dog, was going to be OK. Long story short, Corky lived for another six years. This turned me into a believer, besides many other profound experiences.
I was hired by my teacher to manage her shop, then eventually do readings and teach classes. I read a new spiritual book every two to three days, took spiritual classes, practiced doing readings online and joined a spiritualist church. I ate, drank and slept spirituality. I couldn’t learn fast enough to satisfy my curious “left-brained” mind.
Do you still practice Judaism? How do you weave it into your work?
I do celebrate my Jewish background and roots. Occasionally I will go to temple. I am currently studying to become a spiritualist minister in the religion of spiritualism, which is open to all religions.
What are your feelings about Kabbalah? Do you relate to it at all?
I admire the principles of Kabbalah because of the mysticism. I have taken many Kabbalah classes now that women are allowed to study Kabbalah. I incorporate principles from mostly all religions.
Do ever see or feel things as a spiritual reader that you wish you had not—spontaneously, not during a session? Can you describe the situation?
I have experienced feeling things not so good, as well as good and positive. I try to focus on the positive, but if there’s something I’m sensing with a client, I’m sure to let them know. Oftentimes I see health issues with people and pets, or a loss of a job or relationship. I believe the right information comes through at the right time.
I had a phone session with a client and he asked about his mother’s health. When I connected with her energy, I saw she had a small lump on the outside of her ear; my client was aware of it as well. He said his mother didn’t like going to the doctor. I told him she needed to have the lump on her ear checked ASAP. A few weeks later, he left me a voicemail to thank me for my advice. The lump was melanoma, and the doctor had scheduled his mom for surgery. Had she not had that push to go to the doctor, she might not be here today.
As a psychic medium, I hold certifications by the most esteemed organizations, all of which are science-based in their research of the afterlife. My work is sacred to me, and I always say “mediumship is my ministry” because of the healing effects it brings in helping people through grief and challenges of the soul. There is no other profession I could imagine myself doing. My work is constantly evolving and growing.
What has been the most challenging?
Well, I can think of a few things. Mediums are always “under the gun” and many have expectations or false information of what a medium can and can’t do. It’s important to educate people about our work. There’s a lot of stress to perform with accuracy, so many psychic mediums experience health issues, from stress and outputting too much of their own energy, which leaves their well dry. It’s so important to take good care of yourself to be able to continue to do this work competently.
Can you describe one of the strongest sessions you have experienced?
I’ve done hundreds of thousands of readings over 20 years. I have had so many amazing and profound sessions proving without a doubt that we survive the change called death.
Just recently, I had a phone session with a woman named Madeline from Australia. I connected her with her deceased husband, describing how he had passed in his sleep the night before her birthday. He had shown me how he had snuck into the bedroom that evening and put a birthday card on the bedroom dresser after Madeline fell asleep so it would be the first thing she would see upon awakening. A strong smell of roses filled up my office while on the phone session with Madeline, and she validated that her husband, John, always left roses by her bedside for her birthday. This year, he only was able to leave a card because he was too ill to go out to buy the flowers. He wanted her to know he really wanted to give her the roses too, and was sorry he was not able to be there for her birthday, and told her how much he loved her and missed her, and that he will always be watching over her like a guardian angel.
Can you describe what someone might experience in a reading?
Psychic mediums work best when there’s a quiet environment with good energy. I focus on quality, not quantity, as I have a waitlist several years long for in-person sessions. Phone sessions are just as accurate, and sometimes more accurate, than in-person sessions. You don’t have to be present to have a good reading. I always intend for my sessions to bring closure, healing, education and enlightenment to the client.
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