The Halloween season is a time to embrace all things spooky.
However, there are some locals who are constantly in touch with the supernatural. These abilities have allowed them to help others and potentially the world.
Tillie Benson of Altoona is a clairvoyant psychic who offers tarot card readings and other services at her house on Frost Avenue. She has regular local customers, as well as followers who call in from around the world for readings.
Mirror photo by Gary M. Baranec
Altoona psychic Tillie Benson does a tarot card reading at her home. Benson has a regular local clientele and also gets calls for readings from around the world.
Benson was trained by her grandmother, who also had "the gift." Though she has four other sisters, she was the only one born with psychic abilities, which she began to notice in childhood.
"I can pick up on people's energies, and I have the ability to see auras," Benson said. "The best way to put it is it's like a mood ring. Each color has different meanings and different shades."
A tarot card reading with Benson starts by picking 18 cards. She then hands her client crystals to hold, which help to clear the aura so that she can get an accurate reading.
The cards can tell her everything from life expectancy to information about a client's present or future career and love life. Benson has also been able to connect clients with lost loved ones, providing the comfort of being able to speak to them or at least know they are "in the light."
Benson prides herself on not treating readings like a business transaction.
"I like to make a friendship with my clients if they're regulars. That way, they feel more comfortable with me," she said. "All readings are confidential. It just becomes a friendship, and the bonus is I can predict the future and what's going to happen."
Benson has of course come across skeptics. If they agree to get a reading, however, Benson said they usually come away convinced of her abilities.
"Some people will be scared to come in also," she said. "They'll be under the impression that I'm a witch or something negative or creepy, or they expect me to be much older."
Having her gift can often be stressful, Benson said. The job is one she regularly takes home if she comes across a client who has been through a traumatic experience. ???
Having foresight into their lives has also made Benson more cautious as the mother of two little girls.
"But above all, I do take it as a blessing," she said. "I feel it is a gift from God. I strongly believe in God, and I am a Christian. I feel that I have the gift to help people, to guide them in the right direction."
Supernatural gifts also run in Patty Wilson's family. The Bedford-based paranormal investigator said her grandmother also possessed a certain "sensitivity" she has. It is what allows her to help people explain potential hauntings or other paranormal activity in their homes.
"I don't really consider myself different from anyone else," Wilson said. "This is just a form of helping people that I was meant to do."
Wilson said by the time people seek her services, they are usually confused or very scared and look to the paranormal after exhausting every other avenue of help. Even then, she comes across skeptics, but Wilson said she never tries to convince someone who doesn't want to believe.
"I just ask people to withhold judgment, and come see what we do to make up their own mind," she said.
It usually only takes one reading by Joe Homsey of Bellwood for people to believe in his abilities, as well. Homsey is an expert on detailing one's personality traits after learning their birth date. His predictions are based on principles of ancient Mayan, Tibetan and Egyptian beliefs, teachings and calendars.
Homsey learned the practice from an Australian acquaintance named Andrew Coates, who asked for his help in marketing this ancient tradition for modern believers through their website, www.force2012.com.
"I don't pretend I'm some sort of guru, but I feel it's important to help people understand themselves," Homsey said. "I found that if I can give an accurate reading, [people] can go from a big skeptic to, in a matter of five or 10 minutes, saying, 'I don't know what you've got, but you hit on a couple of things there.'"
Homsey had links to the supernatural well before meeting Coates. He started having out-of-body experiences when he was very young, and had a very powerful one in 1973 in which he believes he predicted the future, including events like the recent tsunami in Japan and possibly the cure for cancer. He also had one in 2004 that helped his body heal from severe injuries after a car accident that should have been fatal. He views his abilities as a blessing not only for that reason, but because they have helped him learn important lessons in life.
"The question that I ask myself is, 'What is the universe trying to teach me?'" Homsey said of when he encounters hardship. "I need to be more aware of what's going on, what I need to know, what's going to help me become more aware of everything. The more I ask myself that question and honestly listen to what the answer is, the better off I am."
Homsey does most of his readings for free, but is sometimes hired for local parties. He has also appeared on TV shows and at psychic conventions.
"In fact, when I do it at psychic fairs, all of the psychics come over to me and say, 'How did you do that?' because I am totally different," he said.