UPDATED: 10 :55 a.m. PDT, April 18, 2007


Excerpt from the Oregonian, the largest newspaper serving the state of Oregon

Media interview of Dr. Christian von Lahr and Christopher Valentine, on mediumship and their books, "If You Could Only See ... A Gnome's Story" and "Seeing and Sensing Gnomes ... Hey Looky Hea'h"


Body Mind expo pulls in spirit seekers, a few cynics

Gnomes and more - A pair of East Coast self-described psychics are among the attractions
Saturday, April 14, 2007

Christopher Valentine and Christian von Lahr want people to understand this much: Gnomes and elves and leprechauns are weal. Well, actually, they are real, but the truth is, the little creatures have trouble with pronouncing their 'r's.'

Or so they tell Valentine and von Lahr, who say they can see and talk to nature spirits, and have channeled their thoughts into two books they are peddling at this weekend at the new age Body Mind Spirit Expo at the Oregon Convention Center.

"They look like us, but with elongated ears, and they speak the language of whatever country they're in," says Valentine of the gnomes, in particular.

Direct evidence is limited, "but we can see and hear them," Valentine says. "They have problems with some letters, so sometimes their words sound a little funny.' "

Faeries, on the other hand, have long noses and hands, he says; gnomes have hearty appetites and like egg breakfasts.

The self-described psychic mediums will take a prominent place among the 200 vendors, who will be discussing personal growth, spirituality and the metaphysical. The pair arrived a day early to perform their other role: sold-out psychic readings.

The two men seem to inhabit different realms from the rest of us. At their suite in a swank downtown hotel, they hold forth on how they communicate with both the nature spirits and the dead.

At home in North Carolina and South Florida, they say they live with an extended family of Nature Spirits who help with everything from safeguarding health to finding lost keys. In fact, sometimes the little creatures are responsible for the lost keys in the first place.

"That's one of their favorite tricks," says Valentine, 37. "They love to tease us!"

The pair will conduct a seminar Saturday evening that gives tips on how to spot and attract the spirits. (www.bmse.net/home.lasso) The expo itself runs from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. today, and 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Sunday; admission is $10.

Steve Strickland, who founded the traveling Body, Mind, Spirit expositions more than 20 years ago, called the duo "ascendant rock stars" in New Age circles. "They're on their way to becoming household names, for sure," he says.

Perhaps it is no accident that they should attract a large Northwest following. Oregon was home to one of the nation's earliest New Age prophetesses, Opal Whiteley.

In 1918, the beautiful young Whiteley left her home in Cottage Grove for Los Angeles to break into pictures, and then to New York. There, the former University of Oregon botany student published an account of her childhood in a shimmering Oregon fairyland and became known around the country as the Little Nature Study Girl and the Sunshine Fairy.

The diary became an overnight literary sensation, earning Whiteley both immense cynicism and immense fame. It remains popular in New Age circles.

In some ways, the exhibit and at least two of its vendors are Whiteley's logical heirs. The expo, born in the Northwest, travels like Whiteley, von Lahr and Valentine around the country; it is expected to draw 2,500 visitors. And like Whiteley, the spirit-seers and the expo draw believers and cynics.

"There is just so much we don't know," Strickland says. "But we're all evolving." Twenty years ago, vegetarian diets and acupuncture were on the fringe, even in Portland, Strickland says. "Now, it's mainstream -- and the openness of Portlanders helped to bring it there."

Gabrielle Glaser: 503-221-8271; gabrielleglaser@news.oregonian.com

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