By Deborah Herman
After the kidnapping of Amanda Berry Sylvia Browne appeared on the Montel Williams show and was asked by Amanda’s mother, Louwanna Miller, who was visibly shaken, “what happened to my daughter.” Sylvia answered
“She’s not alive, honey,” Browne told Louwanna Miller on a show in 2004, “Your daughter’s not the kind who wouldn’t call.” Louwanna was quoted in the Cleveland Plain Dealer as believing what Sylvia said 98% and later the next year died of heart failure.
There is no love lost on Sylvia Browne on my part. I was a fledgling literary agent and newlywed when I was first contacted by a representative of Sylvia Browne to take her on as a client. We had a lovely conversation, she sent me all of her raw material on Gnostic Christianity and her own Spiritual Church as well as a fairly decent book proposal. She was just becoming known on Montel as this was in 1996 and we sent her an agency agreement for representation. For whatever reason she decided not to sign with me, and the rest is publishing history. From a strictly business point of view, this would have been a good client for me back in the early days. I was also pursuing my own Spiritual and intuitive practice and I looked up to her. At the time Sylvia was not yet a household word and had not even one bestselling book. I would be dishonest if I did not say that it made me sad as I struggled with my bills and watched her books cha-ching. I chalked it up to timing and went on with my life, my career and my marriage.
Then in approximately 2008 a friend/client of mine was authoring a book and happened to be close to Sylvia Browne. She had agreed to do a forward for her book. She asked her to speak with me to discuss the book and to show that she was really going to provide the much needed support for a book by an unknown author. I was nervous receiving the call. As we spoke, I honestly advised that she wait to write the forward until the book was edited. It was agreed and I thought that was that. She did in fact endorse a beautifully edited version of the book. However, that conversation shifted and Sylvia said she needed a literary agent. She was switching from Hay House and wanted to branch out. I couldn’t believe my ears, she wanted me again! I think I must have mother issues. In fact I know I do because I saw this as validation. We spoke several times. I came up with great ideas and enthusiastically encouraged her to get her own “imprint,” which is publishing jargon for a mini publishing house within a larger house. I thought she liked me, I really did. One day she called me and was in a different mood. She said I talked too much and didn’t let people get a word in edgewise. So she was firing me. I was devastated!! I can be a bit verbose and wordy and hyper when I am excited and creative. People know this about me, but a character flaw? I went into a depression. There went my validation. There went my self-esteem. There went my cha- ching. Of course the ending to this saga is obvious. Sylvia set up the imprint exactly as I suggested, but without me. Business is business. Once again I chalked it up to timing, evaluated my mistakes, and went on with my life, my career and my marriage.
After Amanda Berry’s rescue Sylvia is now being chastised all over the internet and on her own facebook page as:
A Preditor, Fake, A Rat and a Fraud
As much as I do not hold much love for Sylvia Browne at this moment, I believe this is another situation like the one I described in my blog about Theresa Caputo. A human being can be gifted with God’s light and second site, but with that comes responsibility. I have been teaching some basic spiritual truths for over 25 years. We are here on earth to learn 7 lessons. I call them soul-odyssey. There are people who are given special gifts to help humanity but they are not exempt from these lessons. In fact, the greater the job and soul-potential the more difficult the lessons and the greater the consequences for any kind of abuse or misuse of gifts or power.
The seven lessons of soul-odyssey are Courage, Tolerance, Self-Protection, Self-love, Ego, Love of Humanity and God-Love. The lesson that is most difficult for those who are the most gifted is EGO. This is like the archetypical test such as that found in the Biblical stories of Adam and Eve and Jesus’s time in the Garden of Gethsemane. In both passages, stories or parables, whatever your belief system, the protagonists are being tempted by the “Devil.” In the story of Adam and Eve the snake is offering them an apple from the tree of knowledge of good and evil. They would be like God. In the story of the Garden of Gethsemane, the same snake tempts Jesus to think of himself as God or greater than God. This is the essence of the EGO lesson where someone is asked if they want to be a messenger and servant of God or if they want to be God.
I have followed Sylvia Browne’s work since her early days. I know that as a human she has many questionable facts about her life. I fully believe that she is gifted and at least in the beginning had all good intentions. I am sure she still has and her vilification is only a result of a very difficult lesson. Where Sylvia clearly crossed the line in the Amanda Berry and in other circumstances was as simple as medium 101. Even I know that life and death matters are only the domain of God. I know the universal law that you never tell anyone if they are going to die or if someone is dead unless that fact is not in controversy. No medium, intuitive or spiritual teacher knows or should know or should disclose. That is eating from the apple and listening to the snake. Sylvia’s biggest error in judgment was in answering this question in the first place. She should have said I am not God so I do not know. I would love to ease your sorrow but I do not know what happened to your daughter. Sylvia did tune into the young woman. She was accurate that “she was not the type not to call.” But this could have meant that she was unable to call. It is when mediums step too far into God’s territory that they run the risk of ruin.
Sylvia Browne, in response to her bad publicity rightly said that she is happy to have been mistaken. However, that is not really a good answer for the pain she caused through her hubris. I speak for all of us who are gifted and who choose to do God’s work. The only real way to remedy this situation if for all of us to take a firm look at what we are doing and to know that we may have the spiritual light within but it is housed in a human lantern.
In Sylvia Browne’s own words: