John Edward used to spend his days delivering psychic readings on TV with shows like "Crossing Over." Now, he often applies his intuition to the art of raising kids.
Speaking to TODAY.com from his family home, Edward says he uses numerology, astrology and intuition to guide conversations with his teenagers — a strategy he calls “energetic parenting.”
“My job is to prepare them for the world that they’re going to encounter. It’s looking down the line or probability of what they may encounter and then putting in their energetic backpack what they might need in that moment as a resource,” he says.
One of the tools Edward uses most is astrology. Practitioners believe that your natal chart, or a map of the stars at the time of birth, can give insight into a person’s character.
Edward, who happens to be a Libra, didn’t wait long to draw up birth charts for his son and daughter. In fact, he tells TODAY.com, he had charts made essentially “the moment they entered the world.”
“I always tell people, if you’re going to have your child’s chart done, make sure you make note of the time of birth. Literally, the time of birth. Don’t wait for a person in the room to make note of the time because there could be a differentiation there,” he says.
He says the charts gave him an initial insight into “who they were,” or what the chart said they were. Then, he waited to see “how that might manifest or not.”
Though he’s someone who built a career on the idea that predicting the future is possible, Edward wanted to let his kids develop into who they were always going to become.
"I didn't just raise them from their chart. But it was helpful," he says.
Part of his hesitation to make predictions about his kids is because, as a teenager himself, he had a very on-the-nose reading — one he now says felt like a "violating feeling" because he wasn't ready to hear what it contained.
"I felt robbed," he says.
Now, he won't read people "without their permission."
The path to becoming a medium
As his origin story goes, Edward was raised the skeptic in a house of believers. His mom and grandmother would often have purported psychics stop by their Long Island homes. Edward, like his dad, didn't take the psychics' words at face value and would often challenge them.
One day, when he was 14, he geared up to confront a visitor — and instead she offered him a prediction.
"She said I had highly evolved beings of white and gold light that were ready to work with me. And she was there that day to put me on my path. I was like, 'OK, lady,'" he says. "But then everything she said happened."
The reading brought him to the public library, where he started to learn about what she did and explore his own "gift," in her words. He soon began giving readings at fairs and continued giving readings as a side hustle throughout his career. Eventually, his wife encouraged him to pursue a career full-on, landing him on talk shows and headlining TV shows.
His work has brought him face-to-face with countless celebrities. But he says he remains nearly as skeptical as he was at 14.
“Being skeptical means that you’re looking for validation and fast evidence. Being cynical means that no matter what you experience, you’ve already made up your mind. So cynicism scares me. Skepticism, we need to embrace,” he says.
There’s a difference between his version of skepticism, he says, and people looking to dismantle his readings' legitimacy.
Critics of Edward say he's more cold reader than psychic. Cold reading is a technique whereby psychics, mediums or fortune-tellers can make broad guesses, which are whittled down by reading body language.
Edward says he welcomes tests of his psychic ability, and he was among among several psychics studied by Dr. Gary Schwartz for his 2003 book “The Afterlife Experiments: Breakthrough Scientific Evidence of Life After Death,” which uses data to study their accuracy and argues whether their predictions are more than coincidence. While the book has been criticized for its methodology, Schwartz concluded that the mediums were largely accurate. The authors of "The Afterlife Experiment" wrote, in the book, that their findings might cause skeptics' beliefs to "evolve."
Skepticism, he says, is linked to truth-seeking, like he did when he went to the library as a teenager.
"I want people to be seekers, because if they're seekers and explorers that leads to discovery, and when you have discovery, now you have to evaluate that and that raises your awareness and your perspective," he says.
Edward's approach to raising his kids
Edward is not interested in turning his kids into psychics. Neither has followed him into that line of work.
Instead, he wants to impart what he learned from his many sessions with people who are in pain or grieving.
"The most important thing is to communicate, appreciate and validate with the people that are here now and never take the relationships with the folks that you love for granted because tomorrow is not promised. Later on today is not promised. We have to always be in the moment and be present," he says.
When it comes to his kids’ “energetic backpacks,” Edward fills them with the concepts of numerology and astrology in an effort to ensure his children know they are never alone.
“You have a team of energies that work with us — kind of like the people in the control room on a TV show that are helping make the best show possible — writers, directors, producers all that — we have that and spirit to help us here. We just have to listen or kind of pay attention,” he says.
He also wrote a book called “Infinite Quest: Develop Your Psychic Intuition to Take Charge of Your Life” about developing psychic abilities — not for readings, per se, but for self-protection — with his kids in mind.
“I said, if I was abducted by aliens tomorrow, who would teach them the stuff that I know? I was like, nobody,” he says.
He frequently used the "abducted by aliens" line as a conversation-starter, telling his kids, "In case I get abducted by aliens, here's what you should know," before sharing something important.
When his son was 12, he asked his dad when he became so "obsessed with aliens."
"I was like, 'Justin, I'm not obsessed with aliens.' He goes, 'Well, I think you are, he was always talking about being targeted.' I said, 'I don't mean alien abduction. I mean crossed over,'" he says, referring to death.
Now that his kids are older, he doesn't need that child-friendly line to be vulnerable, and instead, he says what's on his mind, knowing that one day he won't be able to get through as freely.
Driving with his daughter the other day, he said, "You're going to be a great mother one day."
The words popped out of his mouth — and it turned out his daughter was thinking of the kind of parent she might be at the moment, he says.
"Now I know she'll never forget this moment. Now, one day, if she has kids and I'm not here, she'll be able to say, 'Your grandpa said this,'" he says.
Edward thinks the lessons he teaches his kids should apply to everyone. That's why he's taken a step back from TV and created a consumer-forward online platform. On the paid subscription app EvolvePlus.Tv, Edward gives seminars, as do other practitioners, and members can communicate.
His big picture is "giving yourself permission" to believe there is a higher power at work, guiding your life path.
"It's recognizing, allowing and accepting it to fall into place — let me trust my intuition about this person, this circumstance. What's the lesson I'm supposed to be learning from his moment?" he poses.
"If you're reading this, at the intersection of you, me and the universe," he questions, "why now?"