Visitors never felt comfortable in the guestroom of a certain El Cerrito house. Without knowing why, most of them decamped to the living-room couch. Making matters worse, wild birds flung themselves violently at the house's windows. The distraught owner hired Sheldon Norberg, who diagnosed the troubles as being caused by a phantom tree and the angst of a long-gone teenage boy.
Using a wide range of techniques from visualization to a type of Chinese abdominal massage known as chi nei tsang, Norberg spends up to five hours per house — and charges up to $2,500. Having trained for this at Mill Valley's Academy of Intuition Medicine, he knows it's not your average American career.
"America is born out of the scientific and mechanistic ages, which demand hard evidence. The spiritual realm, however, does not offer reproducible effects or causation. It requires us to interpret events and decide what to believe, based on our own perceptions. This runs contrary to our cultural preference for dulling our perceptions," said Norberg, who discusses his book Healing Houses: My Work as a Psychic House Cleaner at A Great Good Place for Books (6120 La Salle Ave., Oakland) on Wednesday, January 12.
When we die, "where do we all go? It's my belief that we move into higher energy states, perhaps one of pure undivided consciousness, from which we probably choose to incarnate in some form again," Norberg said.
Now and then, he encounters what some would call ghosts. At a home near Lake Merritt, "I plugged myself into the energy trail" and instantly imagined a former resident's body being blown apart by a Southeast Asian landmine. In a Marin County house, a deceased amateur painter seemed to be peering at passersby through the artworks she'd left behind: "She had painted herself into another world that she could view this one from, and after her death, this was more and more the refuge she could inhabit. ... Having no business disturbing her posthumous existence, I went about sealing off the different paintings, closing the portals that allowed her to look back into this world."
He believes that most household disturbances are caused not by spirits but by bits of disembodied emotion, the residual grief and pain left behind by long-gone residents. He calls these "stains," but does not recommend that the untrained attempt to wipe them clean.
"I have had several clients who smudged their homes and made things worse, or had their psychic friend work on their homes and become ill, because they weren't prepared to look at what was there or finish what they started," Norberg said. "If you had to sit with someone's spirit and review their death, repeatedly, on a complete emotional/physical/sensory level, how would you feel? The last thing you want is to take this type of energy into your body, but if you don't have any idea of how to protect yourself, guess what?" 7 p.m., free. GreatGoodPlace.Indiebound.com
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