Irish Post 2013
Soul-rescuer, shaman, and healer Terry O’Sullivan is a modern-day medicine man. His remarkable work led
Carl Mcmillan to question what makes him tick.
Terry O’Sullivan is an extraordinary man. Born in Lowestoft sixty years ago, of Irish descent, he has led anything but a conventional life. As you and I sip our morning coffee, his typical day might begin by releasing the tormented soul of a suicide victim, or freeing troubled spirits from the grisly scene of their untimely deaths. But, whilst others ply their supernatural trade through television and the media, when the ghostly going gets tough, it’s him that they’re likely to call.
A self-styled ghostbuster by trade, Terry’s work in the world of spirit has led to encounters of the kind that most of us would reserve for our worst nightmares. Yet, spend an evening in his company and this genial father of three makes it all seem in a day’s work. Conversing over a leisurely glass of wine he revealed the incredible story of how he came to his calling.
What is your earliest memory of encountering the supernatural?
“My grandparents were from Co. Cork and it is through my grandmother that I first understood that there was life after death. She had the ability to communicate with the dead and her experiences left a lasting impression on me.”
Did you experience anything, personally, that may explain the course your life has taken?
“Oh, yes. As a youngster, I remember awakening to find a spirit standing stock still at the end of my bed, surrounded in light, but it wasn’t until my teens that I really began to realize I had a psychic gift that could potentially help others.
“I grew up in a fishing port in the ’60s. There was always an atmosphere — fishermen would return from the sea and want to drink and fight, and if you are sensitive you can almost taste the potential for trouble in the air. But, on the plus side, girls got to hear of my abilities — a reputation for possessing some sort of sixth sense — and sought me out for advice on who they should or shouldn’t date, which was wonderful for a young lad with raging hormones, as you can imagine.
“Also, it was about this time that my growing inquisitiveness led me to visit a spiritualist church, where an 80-year-old lady who had been conducting the meeting advised me to join a spiritual development circle, which I duly did. The leader of the group immediately recognized my potential and, subsequently, I moved to London where I quickly established myself in a group involved in rescue work.”
Rescue work? What does that entail, exactly?
“Essentially, rescue work is about identifying those who have passed over and who are in need of assistance in reaching a better place.
“You see, when we die there are some unhappy souls who refuse to accept their own death and fight to hang on to their physical bodies. Rescue work is about facilitating their transition and helping them to find peace.
“Many cases of hauntings can be successfully resolved by understanding why the ghost is attached to the property or site in the first place. It may be that some awful event has happened to them there and they are destined to replay the events like a kind of ethereal Groundhog Day until they can be released from the miserable loop they find themselves in. It is by contacting them and mediating in their situation that I can help them on their way, and so clear the problem.”
Would you describe yourself as a facilitator, then?
“In a sense, yes; but, primarily, I am a therapist. It’s a vaguery, but one that encompasses everything I do. I am a healer, a teacher, a writer, a ghostbuster, even, but ‘therapist’ best describes what I am striving to achieve.
“I have had several so-called ‘normal’ jobs, including a stint as a trade unionist, and the common theme has always been about improving people’s lives and bringing harmony. I believe it’s a responsibility that comes with my gift.”
Has your gift ever become a curse?
“You learn to live with it. It’s no different to any other job in that there are times you may wish you were doing something else. But, at the end of the day, it’s what I do.
“I have a wife and three kids, so I need to stay grounded. I never talk about my work in front of the children, unless they ask me about it, and I try never to bring my work home with me.”
Are your abilities special to you, or might they be latent in all of us?
“It’s certainly possible for many people to develop these skills. My wife, Natalia, and I run certificated and accredited courses to assist such people along their personal journey of discovery, and there are spiritual development circles to be found everywhere. Without proper guidance, though, it would be like comparing karaoke to Frank Sinatra.”
Does this mean that the vast range of exponents of the paranormal that currently fill our screens and newspapers will include some in the karaoke category?
“Inevitably, I’m afraid. It’s not my responsibility to judge them — they may simply be well-meaning, but straying into areas they are unsuited for, and which, in some cases, may even be dangerous.”
Dangerous? In what sense?
“In that, unbeknownst to them, they could encounter forces of such malevolence that they may be unable to cope with the results.
“There are some that get involved with what I do as a lifestyle option and become hooked on ‘doing good’. I try to do what I do with humility, because although it’s a job, it’s also a mission. Then there are the ‘dabblers’ — those for whom the paranormal is a way to obtain power over others or a means for self-aggrandizement — these are not what I would regard as ‘spiritual people’.”
How do you first realize that there is a ghost in your presence?
“It’s primarily a ‘sense’ — a feeling in my emotional being; I usually see the spirit, or spirits, soon after. Normally, they will appear as something like a blurred photograph in negative, if you can imagine that. I will then ask spirit helpers and guides to assist me in encouraging the spirit to find a better place and move on.”
Is what you discover always easy to deal with?
“By no means. My work has taken me into many challenging and, on occasions, terrifying situations.
“Whilst not all ghosts are troublesome, evil is a very real force and I receive many referrals where other approaches to clear a problem have been tried and failed. There is a support system, though. I am often aided by what I can only describe as ‘spiritual social workers’ — spirits whose purpose is to help.
“Personally, I work closely with the spirit of a First World War soldier named Alex who often appears to me in full military dress. I also receive help from an ‘elder’ of the spirit world who is referred to as The Grandfather. In God’s heaven there are many willing to help.”
How does the force of evil you refer to manifest itself?
“In many and varied ways. For instance, some of your readers may recall the IRA lorry bomb in Bishopsgate, London in 1993, during which the church of St Ethelburga’s was completely devastated in the blast.
“Specialist ecclesiastical architects were brought in to salvage the medieval exterior to the church, whilst the interior was remodeled as a Centre for Reconciliation and Peace, to provide a space where all the major world religions could have a voice under one roof in an atmosphere of understanding.
“In the wasteland to the rear of the church there was to be a tent. This tent, based on a Bedouin style, would be an important meeting place for exploring differences and finding reconciliation between faiths, and a world-renowned expert on sacred geometry — Prof. Keith Critchlow — was involved in the design of it.
“However, whilst clearing and preparing the site, workers were constantly confounded by a series of strange mishaps that seemed outside of the normal margin allowed for human error. With a strict deadline to meet, I was called in to see if I could help expedite matters.
“What I discovered was that there were definitely malevolent forces there, the soul purpose of whom was disrupting progress and obstructing any peaceful outcome. In this case, I was able to resolve matters and the work proceeded successfully. The Tent was opened on time by HRH The Prince of Wales on May 4, 2006.”
Have you ever had any doubts about what you were embarking upon?
“I remember an incident involving a friend — a trance medium called Eileen — who had been experiencing problems with her baby, whose constant crying had become distressing.
“One day, whilst visiting Eileen, I was present as her body was unexpectedly overtaken by the spirit of a Chinese gentleman named Chang. Chang proceeded to speak through the medium in an oriental language that nobody present could understand. Shortly afterwards, the child gradually began to stop crying and became peaceful.
“I, naturally, found this astonishing and proceeded to ask Chang — via the medium — how he had done such a thing. He explained to me in pidgin English that the child had never before been born into a culture that spoke English, and therefore couldn’t understand us.
“This reinforced my belief in the spirit world, but also served as a timely reminder of the potential problems with channeling spirits in this way. “
So, you believe in reincarnation?
“As someone once said: ‘If you don’t believe in reincarnation — don’t worry, you might do next time’. I think it is always best to be open-minded.
“We must realize we are spirit body. We are human, but we are also spirit and this body of ours is merely a vessel.”
Do you consider yourself as a religious person?
“Absolutely. Whilst religion doesn’t always answer your questions as resolutely as you may wish, it provides the doorway through which to ask them.
“I was born and raised a Roman Catholic and have a firm belief in God. I expected answers from the priests and nuns. Answers to such questions as: ‘What happens when I die?’ If I’d received those answers, I wouldn’t have needed to ask outside the church of God.
“All of us who believe in God need to know we will be made safe; to feel satisfied that there is survival beyond this world, and that we can find our place in paradise.”
Ireland has many revered spiritual centres. Do you think the Irish are more predisposed to the mystical than others?
“Historically speaking, whilst England came under the Roman occupation, Ireland’s paganism was influenced by the arrival of missionaries. The resulting integration of beliefs forged a blend of traditional Catholicism and folklore that still resonates today and makes the Irish more flexible as a race.
“When the Irish celebrate the wake, for instance, it sends the soul on and says it’s time to leave this place — to join the ancestors. It’s this that gives the Irish — at the point of death — the edge over the English, to move on and be saved.
“In my case, the family connection to The Emerald Isle was broken by my grandfather’s death in a tragic boating accident in 1927, but in my heart I still belong. The Irishness I feel — the blood that runs in my veins — means the sensation I get whenever my feet touch Irish soil makes it seem like I’ve come home.”