We are thrilled this month to celebrate the release of the newly revamped Silent Voices E-zine by having an exclusive interview with Tony Stockwell. Tony has been a working Medium for 20 years now, starting in Canvey Island Spiritualist Church in Essex, a place he returns to as often as possible because he still loves working in the smaller, more intimate environs of Spiritualist Churches.
Many will know him as one of Television’s most successful Mediums and Psychic Detectives, others for his books, and still others will know and appreciate him as an inspirational teacher.
He has answered our questions in great depth and the answers are both a fascinating insight into the mind of a true Spiritual worker, and extremely helpful for those wanting to pursue a Spiritual path, whether as a worker, a way of life or both.
Read and enjoy!
Have you any plans to release any more books in 2011?
I probably won’t release one but I shall definitely start writing the next one. I released my first 3 books in just less than 4 years, so I was writing a book a year.
When it came to my fourth and latest book, ‘Walking with Angels’ again the publisher wanted it pretty much straight away. However, I personally felt I needed some time for further experiences and to allow myself time to grow and change.
The period between the 3rd and 4th book was a time of big change for me both personally and professionally, and this is reflected in the book. It is the one I am most proud of to date and the feedback from people has been incredible, so taking the time out to get a really great book together paid off.
I think in releasing a book a year it can for one be very tough in that you invest so heavily in it in regards to time and emotion, but also for the reader there is a danger that what you write comes from the same place without new perspective or insight, so although the experiences within will be new the stance from which you are writing is the same.
In the latest book one of the things people tend to pick up on and appreciate is where I admit to changing my understanding and beliefs on a number of spiritual aspects.
I think people relate to it when you stand up and admit that you are not always right and more importantly that we are always still growing and learning, no matter where we are on our journey. I have tried to make it clear in each of my books that I don’t claim to know all the answers and be a fount of all knowledge, but write only from my own perspective gained from my own experiences.
Do you write for any mainstream magazines?
Yes, I feature regularly in Spirit and Destiny, sometimes doing readers readings under the column title ‘Spirit Whisperer’ and also in the weekly publication ‘CHAT’ (not Chat its Fate – the mainstream one).
The Chat column is great and I am often reading for those who are the uninitiated in the ways of mediums and mediumship, so although it is a challenge the energy can be really up and exciting.
What’s has been the most memorable experience in your work?
This is one of the hardest questions to answer as there have been so many stand out moments and they are so varied. Some are memorable for different reasons. Working at the London Palladium was memorable for me because it has such a rich history, so was recording my first television series and nothing compares to the day you receive the finished copy of your first book.
From a work point of view one that really sticks out in my mind is working on the case of murdered London model Sally-Anne Bowman. I read for all the family prior to the arrest of the person responsible and so much detail came through in the reading. Also, Linda, Sally’s mum was of course absolutely distraught and desperate for answers so I became very emotionally invested in the case and wanted to do my best for all of them.
How old were you when you first had an encounter with Spirit and how did you find out that you were a Medium?
Well the two are very different of course. I had encounters with spirit all the time when I was growing up, back to some of my earliest memories when I was just 3 or 4 years old.
It was much later when I went along to my first Spiritualist Church that I started to understand my experiences and what that could mean and where they came from. I was invited into the church’s development group and it really went from there really.
How do you handle a message if Spirit tells you something at a big demonstration that is very personal to the recipient?
Sometimes you can sense and judge that they will be OK with it being said. Recently I picked up during a message that the lady I was connecting with on the other side was a prostitute in life and wanted to offer this as evidence to the person taking the message. I knew it was ok to say it, so I did and it was accepted matter of factly and was a great piece of evidence for the recipient of the message.
Other times you can either wrap the crux of the message up in such a way that only the recipient knows what you are referring to or ask to see them after the demonstration. I am always very conscious about not embarrassing people and airing their laundry in public, as wouldn’t like this done to me.
I am also very conscious not to drag out the emotion of the message too much. It’s easy for a medium to harp on with statements like ‘she really, really, really loves you…with all her heart…forever and ever’, and this often touches all of the people there and causes many a tear, but it’s not always fair on the recipient to do that.
Passing on terms of endearment can be part of any message, but prolonging that and playing on it is not something I would want to do in my mediumship.
Where are you touring in 2011?
Well, it’s going to be another pretty manic year. Apart from all over the UK there are a number of dates in the USA, including a teaching event in New York, plus dates in Spain, Holland and Switzerland. Also upcoming is my first foray into Australia which will be great. I am also hosting a Mediterranean cruise with my good friend James Van Praagh.
I am also continuing with my Spiritual Holidays project which I started in 2010 with my friend Vivienne. We shall be returning to Egypt in 2011 for our second Nile Cruise, and also our first trip to Lake Como in Italy and our first to Amsterdam too. Going forward into 2012 we shall be heading off with a group to ‘Machu Picchu’, all very exciting.
Why did you start Spiritual Holidays and what can people expect?
It was just something that we had been talking about for some time and a project that excited us both. There are so many fantastic places around the globe to visit, but you can’t always marry that in with investigating and appreciating the spiritual side of that place.
I have been running development seminars for a number of years and this is just a progression of that, but instead of working on just mediumship we focus on spiritual development and what these places have to offer us and the amazing experiences you can have there.
Our first event was a Nile Cruise in 2010 and we couldn’t have hoped for more. Those people that joined us bought such an incredible amount of enthusiasm and passion with them and I know for many it was a ‘holiday of a lifetime’. With a mix of tourist sightseeing, classes and holiday fun it really was a holiday with a difference.
We also wanted to make it appealing for the lone traveller too, as we appreciate that partners do not always share the enthusiasm for all things spiritual. Each event is structured in such a way with the classes and pre-arranged excursions so people needn’t worry about coming alone, or with a friend and not their partner.
I can honestly say that this was one of the most pleasurable experiences related to my work that I have ever had. Sharing this special time with such great people, being part of their experiences and really coming together as a group was just magical.
Do you believe that sending out positive thoughts is beneficial and can be healing?
Absolutely I do. I accept that thoughts and feelings are energy and can therefore have an effect on the spiritual body of another.
Can you tell us your thoughts on Grounding and Protection and do you do it?
Like many Mediums I am largely influenced in my outlook by those first teachers that trained me and was lucky enough to have a very no-nonsense and down to earth teacher by the name of Joan Barham as one of my earliest mentors.
I know people often talk about closing down but personally I think we live in a state of being ‘closed down’, or should do. We are leading a physical life and the physical experiences and senses are always there at the forefront as we go about our day to day lives so we are mostly always grounded.
I actually think it’s a case of opening up to spirit, getting in the power and raising my awareness when I want to work, rather than closing down when I don’t want to. I always joke with my students that opening up is the hard part so don’t worry at all about not closing down, but there is an element of truth in that.
I often hear people say that spirit talk to them all the time and maybe for some people that is true, but I know in classes when students have said this and I request maybe that they pass on something evidential and valid from spirit it’s either incorrect or suddenly their talkative spirit friends don’t want to speak.
That’s not to say that I don’t believe in spontaneous spirit encounters and messages but I do believe we are mostly always grounded and closed without having to try that much.
It’s similar to how I think about protection. I don’t feel the need to ask for it, imagine cloaks or brick walls as I truly trust those that work with me to always keep me protected. I think if you are working from the right place within and with a love of spirit this will always be the case.
Are you always tuned in to the spirit world or can you disconnect when you need to? (If you disconnect can you explain to our reader how you do it?
No I am not always tuned in and dread the thought. I need to live a physical life with my focus in the here and now the same as anybody.
And as for disconnecting, the natural state for living is being switched off, it’s having to switch on when working that is normal. We don’t (and shouldn’t) go around being receptive to the spirit world. Linking with the spirit world is a conscious decision you make, to raise your awareness, get into the power and to blend with them. This is actually something that is more difficult than maybe some think, that takes training and development and ability after time to still the mind and hear the subtle influences of the spirit world. If only it were that easy that we were naturally open all the time and just had to switch off when we wanted to.
So there isn’t really anything I do to switch off, other than not switch on.
You have travelled to many places world-wide with your work, do you enjoy the foreign travel and does working in non-English speaking countries pose any extra challenges? Are there abilities you can use that circumvent the language barrier?
Well to be honest most of the time I am away demonstrating, even when it’s abroad it’s still just work and I REALLY miss home. I am blessed with a great partner, family and friends, plus two cheeky Border Terriers and I miss them terribly when I’m away.
Usually the schedule is pretty hectic and there isn’t a lot of chance to sightsee. Also when I am going from demonstration to demonstration in another country it’s not the same as sharing the travelling experience with family or friends on vacation, and to be honest I am pretty much a home body. Travelling away so much in my work the past few years means nothing appeals to me more than being at home.
In 2011 I when I work in Australia I am taking one of my closest friends Lynn Probert with me and the same in New York with my good friend and idol Mavis Pittillla. I am also just putting the final details to another project again working with Lynn and another friend and great Medium, Natalie Walker. Working with people you care about makes all the difference, believe me.
My partner is also coming out to New York and we are staying on a few days after the event for some shopping and Broadway shows. It makes all the difference travelling with friends and working with people who are relaxed and you can have fun with.
When working in foreign countries the language barrier is not a major hindrance. I, like most if not all mediums work predominantly with clairsentience (feeling the spirit) and this transcends language. You feel the information from the spirit you are working with rather than hearing and things such as gender, age, passing conditions and physical descriptions feel the same no matter what the language.
The problem comes when they are trying to convey names and places to you that you have never heard of. I very much believe that Mediumship is a mirror of the mind, and works by accessing things that are in our own database. Therefore, if I have never heard of a name or place or even a special type of sweet or drink there is no reference in my own mind for spirit to draw upon and get that piece of information over, so it becomes more difficult. This is overcome of course when given the information clairaudiently (hearing spirit speak it) or even clairvoyantly (seeing the information).
What advice would you give to those that have not as yet made contact with their Guides, apart from patience? Do you feel that everyone necessarily needs to know who their Guides are?
I think on a personal level it’s great to connect with your guides and have a strong blending with their energy. It can give you confidence in your work and it’s easier to trust if you have some sort of a sense of them. You can also get great teaching and guidance from them.
I do think there tends to be a little too much guide worship though and a ‘my guide is bigger than your guide’ way of thinking and don’t even get me started on ‘famous’ guides. It can be a great personal experience but shouldn’t be the focus of development and all about the guide.
For those haven’t made contact I would say to not worry too much or stress over it. It will happen when the time is right. Set aside some times to just sit and link with spirit for the experience of blending with them without asking anything of them (like messages, philosophy or guidance). I advise people to do this anyway whether they know their guides or not, as these times can be very special an uplifting. It’s a times like this when you will get a sense of your guides and build up that relationship.
To what do you put the great upsurge of awareness down to in particular these last years?
About 8 years ago there was an upsurge in media interests in mediums and Mediumship was suddenly on our television screens. TV folk are always looking for the ‘new thing’ and for some time it was Mediumship. However, I think this may have passed for the time being.
A natural progression of this exposure is that a certain type of person will take what they have seen and want to know more. They will receive their messages, their proof of life after physical death and want to explore that further. This often comes in the form of wanting to develop their own awareness and understanding and their own link with the spirit world.
Also and something entirely separately I recognise we are living in tough times, that tend to be very materialistic. Most things in life come in cycles and I believe that interest in things more spiritual does too. Sometime we have to almost reach rock bottom before we start to climb out. I am hoping we are at the beginning of a new cycle of spirituality and a time where people enquire more about who and what they are and where they fit into the great scheme of life.
In your view what would you say are the positives and negatives of the increased media exposure to spiritualism in general, and do you think the media portray the correct message and knowledge?
I think the plus side is that Mediumship was brought to the people that might not have necessarily sought out a spiritualist church or centre. It raised awareness of the work of mediums, gave many comfort and a belief in an afterlife. Hopefully it set many on the path of discovery.
I don’t actually think there has been increased exposure to Spiritualism at all, but there has been exposure to Mediumship and the two are not entirely the same. Mediumship is one part of the spiritualist’s belief, but there is much more to it besides the messages.
On the reverse of that I don’t think that Spiritualists have sole claim to Mediumship, contact with the spirit world is there for everyone no matter of their religion. I know Mediumship & Spiritualism often get banded together but there is a distinction. Most of the paranormal programming you see has nothing to do with Spiritualism other than that in some cases it includes Mediumship (to lesser or greater degrees).
The BIG bugbear for me that has come about from the new exposure is the reason why many people now develop their own awareness. Back in my day, and I do realise I sound like Uncle Albert from Only Fools and Horses, people developed because of their love for the spirit world and their want to serve. My greatest ambition was that I would maybe one day get to demonstrate at the Arthur Findlay College. There were very few full time mediums and it certainly was never a career.
These days I see so many people that want to rush their development and their driving force is because they either want to book theatres, get on television or at the very least get a website and make Mediumship their full time paying job. For me this is the wrong motivation and never usually works out.
First and foremost it needs to be about serving spirit for no other reason than wanting to serve. Development needs to be taken slowly and I don’t think there is any better place to start work as a medium than in a spiritualist church or spiritual centre. It’s a great training ground and is a way of giving back rather than just having everything about the financial gain. I was a church serving medium for 20 years before any high profile opportunities came my way and if they hadn’t I would still be doing exactly the same.
I think that sometimes great opportunities can come along to work in all sorts of places like on television or writing books or travelling to far of places but this should be seen as a bonus and never the motivating factor to start development.
Could you sum up your philosophy in two or three sentences?
(couldn’t do just 2 or 3..sorry)
Relating to my work and beliefs my philosophy would be to treat the spirit world with respect, give them credit for their intelligence and be so thankful that they work with me. The love of working with spirit ALWAYS needs to be the driving motivation; any thought of success, ambition or career are irrelevant.
Accepting I am eternal plays a major part in how I chose to live my life and the decisions I make. I am ultimately responsible for all the good and bad things I do and take any consequences that come along with that.
For my own life I try to live always being truthful to myself and listening to that inner voice. Comparing myself with others and worrying about things and opportunities I don’t have has never made me happy and I am happy to be free from that.
Life is about being kind to yourself and kind to others and this simple truth will help us be a truer expression of the wonderful vibrant spirit that we are.
Letting go of negativity from the past is key because harbouring resentment is only ever self destructive and just holds you back. I try to look forward always whilst appreciating what’s around me.
What spurs you on today to continue in your work and do you have any goals over the coming years, i.e. do you have any ambitions to go further with your abilities?
My main motivation is and will always be the love of the work. If I didn’t love it so much and if it wasn’t such an intrinsic part of me I couldn’t do it. The early morning flights, the being away from home, the very erratic hours and shift patterns, the criticism that often comes with the job are all things that are more than outweighed by the joy of actually doing it day in day out and the immense pleasure it brings me. I can’t ever imagine a time when I won’t work with spirit on some level.
Also, I always strive to have new challenges and work in varied ways. I am not a medium that could teach every day, or sit doing 1-2-1’s day in day out, or just work on television. For me it is the variety of the work that’s important. I often accept a work offer because it’s something I haven’t done before, or at a place or in a country I have never been too.
Equally it’s important for me to keep a connection with the churches as this is my background and where my journey began. I still get just as excited when I work at Canvey Islands Spiritualist Church for just a handful of people as I did all those years ago when I held my first demonstration.
I know I am very lucky (and one of the few) to have so many opportunities and offers of work come to me. I also get to work with some of the world’s best mediums too; people that inspire me like Mavis Pittilla, Eileen Davies and James Van Praagh.
As for ambitions I am not really that ambitious anymore and am much more relaxed about my future goals. I am just happy to relax and see what comes my way.
Here as I write this at the beginning of 2011 this year is entirely full and we are pretty much full for the first part of 2012 too – as I say a very lucky position to be in.
You mention James Van Praagh who is one of America’s most well known mediums, how is it working with him and how does it differ from working with home grown mediums?
James is a pretty special man and I feel honoured to not only work with him but count him as a friend. He sends the funniest text messages and when we speak on the phone I am usually in fits of laughter.
For a man that has achieved so much (bestselling books, tours, his own TV shows as well as working on the very successful ‘Ghost Whisperer’) he is one of the most spiritual and humble men I have ever met. He just radiates this spiritual quality that you can’t help but be affected by and in awe of. Not in an ‘holier than though’ kind of way, (believe me, he knows a rude joke or three) but just a kindness, compassion and immense sense of spirituality.
He is also very generous and supportive of my work, introducing me to lots of people and putting me forward for some exciting opportunities to work. We did a mini US tour in 2010 which I loved and he just knows EVERYBODY! We did a demonstration together in Beverly Hills and he introduced me to so many famous people, even though I am pretty clueless when it comes to who’s who. My partner is an avid film buff and reader of ‘Heat’& ‘OK’ magazines and knows all the goings on in celebrity land. When I came home and was uselessly describing this actor, singer or comedian he was astounded that I didn’t know them.
Do you work as a Psychic and use Psychic ability?
Yes I do, it is a secondary faculty to my Mediumship, and this is just the way my development has gone. Sometimes you might read for someone that doesn’t have anyone close in spirit so you rely on your psychic faculty to work with them and some people come along just wanting a psychic reading with little or no interest in the spirit world.
Also when teaching you I use my psychic ability all the time as you are assessing students, seeing how they work and being aware of the energies throughout the class.
We know you must love what you do. So, what is the best part of being a Medium?
Yeah, I do really love it, which is quite an achievement in over 20 years of working thinking about it. In the last couple of years I almost feel my passion and love has been renewed. I think for a few years I got the balance of a number of things totally wrong and was on a path that left me frustrated, unhappy and was alien to me and what I am about. I live a calmer, more stress free and dare I say appreciative life now.
You just get to meet, work with and help so many amazing and interesting people. There are always new challenges, new opportunities and new experiences to be had. No two working days are ever the same.
As a youngster, did you have any plans about what you might do job-wise when you grew up?
I always fancied being a chef, if astronaut or country and western singer didn’t pan out!
Like many young people though I just kind of fell into a career. I trained and worked as an accountant for many years and my spiritual work was for evenings and weekend services only. It then got to a stage where I could no longer do both sufficiently, so I took a job closer to home as a wedding planner at a friend’s hotel.
This freed up more time for demonstrations, readings and circles which was great, until the time even this local work was impossible to do. It was not until after my first TV appearances and the deadline on my first book was looming that I had no choice but to do this full time. The decision was taken for me as my diary was chock-a-bloc with bookings and something had to give.
If you weren’t a medium, what occupation would you now choose?
I imagine I would still be working in accounts, not the most exciting of jobs but I did actually enjoy it at the time.
You are well known for Psychic Detective work, are you still doing it and how do you feel it can help people to come to terms with grief?
Although I often get referred to as a Psychic Detective is has been such a small part of my work, the same as the work I have done on TV means I often get described as a TV Medium when again it’s such a tiny part of the work I have done.
Working in that way is full of highs and lows. The highs are because you are hopefully able to help those so desperately in need of answers and the spirit world always responds to this need. They can be some of the clearest most concise readings I give, simply because there is a huge need for that connection.
It helps because it brings answers, and the not knowing how, why, or when can be as painful as not knowing the ‘who’.
For a relative to only have part of the picture as to the events surrounding the death or disappearance is just another obstacle standing in the way of grieving or being able to accept and move on.
I still work in this way, though not recently on television. Just a few weeks ago I was speaking to a detective leading a case into the apparent natural death of a young man, whose mum has now become a good friend. She always thought her son’s death was suspicious and after I read for her so did I. When the detective called me although she didn’t understand the work I do she did say I knew details of the case I should not have known and could not have possibly known by any usual way.
With any luck the case will now go down the murder route and his mother will get some peace.
It’s a very strange thing to work in this way because you are dealing with such great sadness and loss and this where the lows come in. You can’t help but be affected and I remember when I was filming ‘Psychic Detective’ for Living TV that after many weeks of filming and working on such traumatic cases coming home one evening and just being totally consumed and emotional over everything I had seen and felt. I had to rest for a few days to really get myself together.
We want to thank Tony for taking so much time and trouble to answer our questions in such depth and wish him every success for 2011 and beyond.
Interview conducted for Silent Voices Deb Hawken © Deb Hawken 2011