Barbara Parks is the author of three paranormal books. She is a natural medium, microbiologist, and podiatrist, living in Kalamunda, Western Australia with her husband and three children.
As a child, Barbara’s spiritual experiences seemed natural and sometimes even comforting. However, they were often terrifying. As a teenager, Barbara was traumatised by poltergeist activity in her family home.
In spite of this, she went on to excel academically and spent her twenties establishing herself, firstly as a medical science student and then, professionally.
During her thirties, Barbara bravely faced her traumatic past and has since redefined it through her writing. She continues to have spiritual encounters but now these events enrich her and bring comfort to many.
Indeed, so much so, that she lovingly supports the lost souls that once would have had her cowering beneath her bed sheet.
This is Part 1 of my interview with Barbara Parks, in which she describes with candour and courage some of the paranormal experiences that impacted her formative years.
Barbara shares how she became a writer and offers helpful guidance for parents with a child going through their own spiritual crises. Welcome, Barbara!
By profession, I’m a podiatrist and recently I’ve been working on striking that balance between my spirituality and my professional persona because sometimes the two can be quite at odds.
My spiritual side emerged very young and actually constitutes my earliest memories, especially the visits I would get at night in my bedroom.
To me, they were perfectly normal and perfectly beautiful and went on for some months until I asked my parents who the dozens of Chinese kids in my bedroom were, and of course, it was dismissed as a dream or my imagination. But they were as real as real can be.
It was only in adulthood, looking back, that I realised they were spirits. I’m yet to ascertain their significance – spirit guides, past-life friends, or family, but the overriding thing I do know about them is they love me deeply and intensely. My sister who shared my room saw them as well.
I didn’t know about this until my first book came out. I’d written about the memory, and she read it, and burst into tears and said, “I used to see them too.”
It was amazing. It was a validation. I’m now 46 and those memories are from when I was three or four years of age. I’d love to see them again.
As a child, I was aware of my consciousness in the corner of my room and looking down on the room which used to put a feeling of uneasiness in the pit of my stomach. Somehow it felt wrong.
I couldn’t process how I could be in two places at one time. My physical self was always lying in bed. It happened to me a number of times. I now recognise these were out-of-body experiences.
I also used to hear a booming voice in my bedroom. I felt that a big booming voice that filled a room could be none other than God but what the voice would say isn’t what God would say, and for a child, it was very, very frightening.
I would hear: “You will die.” That sent me into a real tailspin and I would go screaming for my sister: “God told me I’m going to die!” And she would say to me, “Oh, go back to sleep, we’re all going to die, you idiot!”
It was dismissed. She was eight years older than me and at the stage of ‘silly little sister’. However, we have always been extremely close.
Children are known for having very florid imaginations and even for fabrications or attention seeking so, unfortunately, there was not a moment where my parents or family acknowledged that this was a real experience and what I was going through.
It was actually not until my teenage years when we were experiencing poltergeist activity in the home that spiritual experience was acknowledged.
It’s easy to dismiss someone when they say I saw this or I heard that, but when there are physical manifestations such as cupboards flying open and lids flying off bottles and jars, it takes it to another level.
As terrifying as it was, at least by that point all six of us in the household were in it together.
My own children have all come to me at some time and said they have had spiritual experiences, less so as they have gotten older. We’ve had some physical manifestations in our household.
For some reason, I think that my particular spiritual gift is to provide energy for spirits to either present themselves or affect the physical environment. So I see spirits and they open draws and do things in my house to get attention; for example, I’ve had my bed shaken.
Last week my teenage daughter sent me a text message at two o’clock in the morning, and my husband was on night shift, and it read: “Mum, I’m scared, there’s someone in the house.”
I got up, checked the house, very bravely – nothing – went into her room and she was quaking under her sheets, and I said, “What happened?” And she said, “In my cupboard – the clothes hangers were shaking.”
Instead of dismissing it and telling her, she must have been dreaming, I had to acknowledge it because two weeks earlier, I had been woken by the same manifestation.
My first thought was, Oh no, please don’t let her go through the same poltergeist terror I went through as a teenager. But it doesn’t seem to be the case. There has not been anything since, thankfully.
The real positive was, that when I asked her if she would like to come into my bed and sleep with me, she said, “No, no, I’ll be ok.” This was because I acknowledged it and understood what she was going through. It’s really good because fear is the most certain way you will feed poltergeist activity.
As well as there needs to be an entity to make this happen, they need a power source – so having people with psychic abilities in a home, angst-ridden teenagers, fear, grief, and even sometimes intense joy. Intense emotion is a wonderful power source and they can use that.
Unfortunately in my case, whenever I had an experience, my fear would increase exponentially. I was terrified. Unbeknown to me at the time, I was a blossoming medium, and that’s why I was a perfect target. The experiences went on sporadically for five years.
I’ve always loved writing from very young but my parents always steered us towards academia rather than the arts and literature. After school, I did two degrees, one in microbiology and microchemistry, then one in podiatry.
It has made me analyse my spiritual experiences from a scientific perspective and look for other explanations for paranormal phenomena.
As I achieved my academic milestones, I came to a point where I thought, Maybe now would be okay to be a writer. I just wanted to create. I started by writing fiction.
The catalyst actually was when I won a competition to accompany my favourite singer at the time, on a music tour of the eastern states (of Australia) and I was to provide an article for a magazine, which I did.
And even just writing that 500 words article made me realise how much I loved writing and expressing myself in words, which I hadn’t done for 20-plus years.
So then I started writing fiction and my sister read an early draft of what I’d written and she could see so many parallels where I’d taken things from my own life and put it into my fiction, but twisted and changed it.
She said, “You know, this is like a bastardised version of the truth. Why don’t you just write a memoir?” And that’s how the first book, In the Presence of Spirits, came about.