PICTOU LANDING – Halloween is the one night of the year people expect to see and hear things out of the ordinary.
Alan Hatfield, spirit medium and psychic, is heading to Halifax for the official Houdini séance today and to the Celtic Circle on Nov. 2 for his third show at the New Glasgow venue. AMANDA JESS – THE NEWS
However, Alan Hatfield, spirit medium and psychic, can expect that every day.
The Pictou Landing resident will be spending his Halloween trying to communicate with Harry Houdini during an annual séance.
“I was honoured. They went over the websites of different mediums and I was chosen from that. I’m humbled and honoured,” he says about how it felt to get the call from organizers back in August.
The famed illusionist and escape artist died on Halloween in 1926, and for decades many have tried to hold him to his promise to bring a message back from beyond.
“They’re hoping that I can do it this time. We’ll see what happens.”
Every year the séance is held in a city where he performed. Now, it’s Halifax’s turn.
Houdini spent a month there in 1896 and Hatfield will try to speak with him at the Garrison Room.
The evening also features entertainment from magicians and illusionists, stories of Houdini’s time in Halifax from biographer Bruce MacNab and a performance from Canadian singer-songwriter Laura Smith of his favourite song, Rosabelle.
Hatfield is high in demand. On top of the official Houdini séance, he also has a show booked for the Celtic Circle on Saturday.
His last appearance at the New Glasgow venue filled the room with more than 200 people.
“People were lined up at the door,” said Joan Krawczyk, one of the founders of the art gallery at the Celtic Circle.
The hardcore skeptics think it’s pre-arranged, he says, but it depends which spirits speak to him.
He starts and ends his shows with a song.
“I’m a firm believer in music and spirituality. It sets the right ambience for everything.”
From there, he approaches people in the audience and relays whatever messages he has for them.
He says it doesn’t matter if someone comes early to get a good seat. There are no guarantees for someone to be chosen.
“Everyone has their own reason for going,” he says, adding that sometimes people get the answers they’re looking for just by watching.
A large LCD screen and videographers make sure everyone is able to see each interaction Hatfield has with the audience.
He tries to speak with everyone at the end of the show, but it can be difficult.
Hatfield remembers doing a show at the Delta in Sydney and not getting back to his room until 3:30 in the morning.
This month marks 25 years of using his spiritual connections professionally.
The former truck driver never imagined he would garner the large following he has.
“It’s just how it all unfolded I guess. One thing leads to another.”
He’s met with people from all walks of life and all over the world.
He recalls one woman flying in from Dublin, Ireland, just to meet with him.
He does his readings in the basement of his house, a room that looks like it could be anyone’s rec room.
The only difference is he’s not spending his time down there watching movies.
He’s meeting with people anxious to communicate with loved ones who have died.
“Not everyone will embrace what I do, and not everyone will shove me away either.”
He arranges his meetings, four one-hour sessions a day, starting at 11 a.m. He receives so many calls his answering machine fills every two days.
Hatfield doesn’t just meet in person. He also does readings over the phone.
In those cases, it is someone’s unique voice that connects him to whoever is on the other end of the line.
He says often people come in with an idea of whom they wish to speak to, but that’s not how it works.
“A spirit will address your need, more than your want.”
He’s quick to say he’s not a ghost hunter. There’s a distinct difference between spirits and ghosts, he says.
He explains that he can’t communicate with ghosts. It’s possible to see them, but they are simply emotional residue trapped in a specific time. He says they’re like a copy of a person.
Hatfield has been recognized over the years in several documentaries.
He remembers filming for one on Deadman’s Island in the northwest arm of Halifax harbour.
Hundreds of prisoners from the war of 1812 are buried on the small peninsula.
As he was preparing to move to another location, a gruff British voice reminded him to bring his kit bag holding all his audio equipment.
“The producer heard that, and said, ‘Now I am a believer.”
He’s been called upon in homicide and missing persons investigations on many occasions.
One of the cases was in the death of Rachel Quinney in Alberta.
Hatfield caught Quinney’s voice on an audio recorder and played it back for her family and an Edmonton police officer.
Hatfield says he heard the name Tom from Quinney. Thomas Svekla was arrested in relation to the investigation, but was acquitted.
Svekla was designated a dangerous offender and handed an indefinite prison sentence in 2010, according to the Edmonton Sun.
He was convicted of second-degree murder in 2008 in the death of Theresa Innes as well as two separate cases of sexual assault, according to a story from CBC.
‘Live…from the Otherside’ starts at 7 p.m. with doors opening at 6 p.m. Advance tickets are $18 and can be purchased at Poulaine’s Pharmacy in Stellarton and Big Al’s Convenience Store in New Glasgow.
Tickets are $20 at the door.
On Twitter: @NGNewsAmanda