The front door opens, revealing a long entrance hall leading to a lavish kitchen with an island. I’m at a multi-story house in Highbury, north London, to meet a woman known as Medium Fleur. She’s widely known as Lana Del Rey’s personal psychic, which is a fact as much as it is an undersell. Named “One of the Best Mediums in Los Angeles” by a local CBS station, host of a live show (she’s performing in London on Tuesday night) and owner of a client base who wait months for a reading, Fleur is essentially the Louis Vuitton don of translating messages between the living and dead.
Her rise to relative fame makes sense: from BBC programs like Britain’s Young Witches to the prominence of millennial astrology websites and Twitter accounts, it’s as if young people have grown more open to the idea of something existing beyond the mundanity of everyday life. Perhaps it’s the dreariness of the news cycle or a genuine cosmic revelation—who knows? One thing is certain: Generation X weren’t burning Palo Santo sticks or reading into conjunct sextile trines with the same open ubiquity as people are today. It’s almost a trend, a slight nuanced move from memes about anxiety and into a new era of tarot cards and anything related to the spirit.
For this reason—as well as being able to write something for Noisey with the most tenuous link to music—I’ve asked if I can meet with Fleur for a reading. If anyone can prove the existence of a clairvoyant world outside our own, she stands a good chance. Questions ring through my mind: am I going to speak to a spirit today or what? If I can, who will come through? Is this real talent or subtle trickery? And hang on a second: how the fuck does this whole thing work?
“It’s pretty simple: you come in, you sit down, I say ‘Hi my name’s Fleur’ and we get started,” she says, sitting at a dining table that’s as far removed from any Mystic Meg aesthetic you may have been imagining. “I take a moment to still my thoughts and tune into who is in the room. Sometimes they show up all at once, sometimes it’s one by one—it kind of depends on the person I’m working on that day. From that place I start to see, feel, hear and know [information] and I give [the messages] to you in that way. I say ‘I feel this’, ‘I see this’ or ‘I hear this’ and you give me a ‘yes’ or a ‘no’.”
An example "could be something like… last night I was on stage. I was bringing a daughter to a mother—there had been an overdose of pills—and toward the end of the reading I said to the mother, ‘You have a charm bracelet, and on that charm bracelet I see an image of a princess crown. [The daughter] had given that charm bracelet to you. Do you still have it?’ And she said ‘Yes, I do’. It was an image of a princess crown charm [that I saw in that moment].”
But doesn't she end up bombarded by spirits, especially in a live show? “It sounds kind of silly but they get in line, so to speak. Imagine we’re spirit people, we’ve passed and want to get a message through: it wouldn’t make sense for three people to crowd in at once and none of the three get a message across. I think the spirits are intelligent and work to the best of their ability to pass on their information—which sometimes works better than others—but ultimately it’s in their best interest to come in strong and clear and one by one and make sure it’s a solid connection.”
Belief system aside, Fleur makes a good point. As the saying goes, too many cooks spoil the broth. But before we get started with my own reading, I have a few more questions. I’ve always believed in ghosts. But as to having verbally communicated with the dead? Nada. That’s not me. So what’s the process like? Was Fleur born this way, like Haley Joel Osmont in The Sixth Sense? And once again: how the fuck does this thing work?
“That’s a good question,” she begins. Fleur maintains she’s always had an innate ability to interact with spirits but—as a child—wasn’t aware she was different. “It was my reality, my view of the world, I thought it was everybody’s reality,” she explains. From time to time she would bring up names of deceased family and friends, which at first were waved off by parents. But as the years passed and the names didn’t stop, they took note and began to pry. “‘Well… if they’re really here in the room,’ says Fleur, mimicking her parents, “‘what are they wearing right now, what are they saying? Can they tell you what their dog’s name was?’”
At the time Fleur, real name Nora “Fleur” Stone, was living in the Netherlands with her mother and father—an engineer who was, in essence, “an atheist, scientific, rational” man. She wasn’t encouraged or discouraged. Fleur was simply allowed to be: a young girl, born in Europe, who claimed she could converse with spirits. Ironically the idea haunted her and, aged 14, when her family moved to Texas, she had learned to turn off whatever switch allowed her to speak with the dead. She wanted to live a quote-unquote normal life, to study and to have fun, and says the idea of spirituality just wasn’t interesting to her at all. In Texas she was "already the odd kid out—add speaking to dead people to that and you’re not exactly going to be Miss Popular,” she says, laughing before sipping from a glass of ice cold water.
Then: a change. A move to California to study neuroscience at UCLA, and it “all came rushing back,” perhaps jump-started by being in modern America’s spiritual homebase. It was at this moment Fleur realised she couldn’t run away from what she later describes as her life purpose as a psychic. She started to grow her skills, starting with meditating. “Oftentimes what keeps us being more intuitive is the sense of being crazy busy, using the rational brain side to such a degree it leaves absolutely no space for the intuitive,” she explains, having touched on why meditation and quieting the mind is integral to developing any kind of spiritual ability. You need that sense of mental quiet to intuit someone’s job prospects, say, or simply to know exactly when a certain person is going to call, or when a bad day will happen.
Once our interview is finished, we move downstairs into a living room. There’s a large television, a collection of DVDs, multiple areas for prime buttocks relaxation. But the blinds are closed and Fleur has placed a chair in front of me. So, in a way, the whole thing is like a one-on-one therapy session with a live-at-home therapist, except the natural light has been shut out of the room. As fi I'm a client having a real first session, she explains how she'll be tuning herself for the reading. “All I need from you is ‘Yes’ or ‘No’,” in response to her questions. “And ‘No’ doesn’t hurt my feelings in any way. It’s much better to give me a clear answer.” The reason for this, she says, is the process is like tuning into a radio station. She might be at 96.4FM—there’s something there, a static crackling—but she needs to be at 96.3 in order to have a clear connection. So that’s it: a simple “Yes” or a simple “No”. I’m pretty sure I’ve got it. Let’s do this.
“Alright,” says Fleur, her voice already toned down by several decibels to a soft whisper. “Remind me of your name again?”
(At this point I remember a few things that (a) I’ve been thinking about in the run-up to meeting Fleur and; (b) I’m absolutely not going to tell her, for obvious reasons.
1) In the sense that they’re from my adult life and have passed recently, no one legitimately close to me is dead. My great-grandparents died when I was so young that my memories of them exist in photographs, like the one on my first birthday where chocolate is smeared all over my face. So, the only people I can think of are my two grandfathers—my grandad and my Grandpa Mac—and an old school friend called Jack, who passed away in an accident when we were 18.
2) I have a borderline unhealthy fixation with death—my own but also of those around me. Without lying, I’m scared on a daily basis of a looming dark cloud – one that feels ever more threatening and encroaching as time passes and the inevitable end becomes more possible.)
Eyes closed now, she replies with a simple “OK” and exhales. I stare at the floor, palms and arms open, willing to welcome whoever comes into the room. The word “Alright” comes out of her mouth, less of a word than it is a breath, a beat passes—and then: “You have a living grandmother, right?”
She responds softly with another “Alright.” Although her eyes remain closed, you can almost feel that she’s scanning the room. Perhaps, since both our minds are quiet, I’ve subtlety tuned into Fleur’s energy of thought. In either case a few seconds pass then she comes back once more, asking if my mother is alive.
“I do think there’s a grandfather that has passed to spirit. You see that?
So far, so Process of Elimination Game in a basement living room with Lana Del Rey’s medium. We pass through the generic questions and statements (“This is a guy we like. Not a grump. Do we see that?”; “He feels linked to you as someone you looked up to”; “There’s a recognition of you not being in the room as he passed, of not getting to say last goodbyes”). At this point it could be either my granddad or my Grandpa Mac: both of them had cancer, looked as though they were going to pull through, then passed away suddenly—another thing Fleur notes but could also be a narrative shared by a vast portion of people in this world. The only note springing to mind is if my mother is alive, since one of these grandparents is her birth father and the other is her step-father.
But then: something interesting. “When this man steps forward, I feel his wife is still here too. Do you see this?”
“Was he married twice?”
She then goes on speak about four children, of two coming from one marriage, two from the other (also standard, but also true to older Bassil family ménage). The only problem is my family has splintered in so many different directions, with so many connections, it’s hard to know who is communicating through Fleur. For example: my Grandpa Mac was married twice, so I thought it was him, but wasn’t sure if he had children of his own. Since my grandad was married three times and had four children from two of those marriages, I followed that tack despite the fact he didn’t fit the “two marriage” bill.
Because of my confusing family history, the “Yes” and “No” answers I gave to Fleur from then on weren’t certain—perhaps messing with her radio signal and tuning her between two different frequencies. However several things from that conversation stand out:
- Post-session, I’ve been informed my Grandpa Mac had four children from two marriages, which fits, so maybe it was him.
- Fleur brought up the name “Lisa,” which although not correct, bears a resemblance to “Linda”: my grandad’s second wife. So, if the radio signal theory is to be believed, maybe both these grandparents were communicating and the signal became scrambled.
- Whichever grandparent was communicating also says “Hi to the stamp collector,” who in real life is my mother—a woman who collected stamps as a child and also has possession of my grandad’s stamp collection.
From then onward nothing much of note happens, until the name “Jack” comes up—a man my grandfather supposedly says is on the other side with him. Later, completely unlinked, she goes on to describe a young man of my generation who I knew well between the ages of 14 to 16. She doesn’t describe his death but says alcohol is involved—“A quick passing… / “I want to say he’s inebriated.” But then she says she feels he passed away in an apartment or at least inside, which I can’t be sure about; my friend Jack was hit by a car walking home from a party. Could this be another case of scrambled signal? Why would the name Jack crop up? When she asks if a friend my age passed from alcoholic poisoning or being very drunk prior to his passing, I respond “No” because I’m not sure on the details.
At this point there’s a long pause.
“Okay. I’m still very aware of him. So I’ll leave him there with you.”
Of course, there’s more to our session—other people come and go but I’m not sure who they are and we speak further about my grandparents before ultimately coming to the truth, which is that I don’t know many people who have died. Fleur leaves time at the end for questions but mostly I’m unsure about what to ask since the experience has been overwhelming. It’s only when listening back to the recording I can see where I’ve hesitated to answer questions correctly, perhaps unknowingly deviating from the truth, slightly changing the messages brought through Fleur to me.
Since then I’ve spoken to my family and, with the correct information to hand, I would be intrigued to try another session with a medium. However the argument remains: is this real, is it bullshit, is it somewhere between? Personally, I think if it isn’t real then there’s at least something out there in the form of energy—we live in places for so long, part of us is bound to remain in the foundation of the earth. But for skeptics, when money and vulnerable people are involved, being a medium means building a home in controversial territory. What does Fleur think of that viewpoint?
“At the end of the day, if you suspend the idea of believing or disbelieving or whatever, what’s more intriguing to me and the most amazing part of the work is the after-effects—the transformation. I believe in the work but I don’t think you have to in order to see the effects it has.” It’s a statement that recalls an earlier part of our conversation, when Fleur mentioned messages she receives from people—things like, “‘You changed my life, you helped my healing, I’m no longer in a continuous state of grief, I can sleep at night.'"
On a personal level those transformative breakthroughs are important, not in terms of being a medium but just with regard to being a human who has Gone Through Some Shit and wants to see the other side. Whether these moments come from traditional therapy or more spiritual, holistic forms of healing, if they’re helping someone overcome something then what’s to knock about it? Even if it’s looking to the stars for answers, this new wave of spirituality can—in one way or another—be helpful to the human race, something we all need in this age of unadulterated political, capitalistic fuckery. So go smudge your room with burning sage, load up on some crystals if you want; do you. I didn’t exactly get to speak to the dead but I feel more alive as a result, and I guess that’s the point? To see, hear or feel something? That’s all I want from this life.
You can find Ryan on Twitter.
Fleur "plays" London's Islington Assmbly Hall tomorrow night, December 5, 2017. Get tickets here.