When the collapsing Soviet government began a frantic, last-minute crackdown on radicals in the Baltic film community, Estonian film critic Tatiana Elmanovich fled for the United States. Settling in Orange County in 1989, she began writing a story to thank the people who helped her escape. She says that's when she began communicating with spirits.
Now 65 and living in Costa Mesa, she chronicles the story of her escape and subsequent spiritual conversations in her book, Death: The Beginning.
OC Weekly:It seems odd to find a spirit medium who spent her formative years under Soviet rule.Tatiana Elmanovich: Marxism is clearly not a spiritual teaching. But we who lived there saw how a materialistic ideology brought a country to ruin. We saw it as fact, not theory. America is also a very materialistic country. America has its own problems—I can see them very clearly [laughs]—but America has a church on every corner. You can believe this or you can believe that; in America, it's up to you.
But it was not originally up to me. In Estonia, I was pressured to deny God three times a day. It was all forbidden—and all forbidden fruit is very sweet. Later, we had a wonderful leader named [Leonid] Brezhnev. He loved good suits and good cigars. He was a womanizer. And when he became sick, he turned to alternative healing, and it was the famous Juna from Georgia who healed him. In our totalitarian country, we have a power pyramid, and when Brezhnev called Juna to heal him, quietly—around every corner—a large psychic study started to emerge.
Did that change things politically?
We all knew that there was something. All this psychic stuff meant spiritual freedom. I got to meet a lot of the top Russian psychics and started to study astrology. Astrology turns out to be not so innocent a thing. Once you are in, you're in. You're in touch with energies, and you start to evolve.
Did your interest in psychic phenomena help your transition to life here?
When I came here, I looked around for local psychics. I came here with zero English, and I needed help to be capable to learn because age is an obstacle to learning. Out of thankfulness, I began to write a story about the people who helped me, especially the people who astounded me with their strong psychic abilities. All of a sudden, it started to go and go, and I started to receive my own messages.
Describe the first one.
The first clear and undeniable message came from an Estonian artist who was killed while I was over here. I knew him a little bit. I was typing a common letter in English, and I heard in Estonian, very politely, "They don't hear me. Can I ask you to tell my friends not to dwell in mourning, to go ahead with the production because this is their single chance to put a foot in a theatrical career? If they drop the chance, they may have lost it forever."
What did that mean to you?
He was begging for his friends. He gave me a name to contact, and this happens to be my deadly enemy, who was connected to many things. She knew everyone and everything. I've had eight or nine years with no contact with her. But if she will approach these guys, [I know] they'll believe her. I knew she would think I was crazy, and she did—but who cares?
It turned out that she was drinking coffee with the artist the day before he was killed. And they had been discussing how to evolve the production because she was involved with it—something I did not know. But she accepted my message, so I thought, "I did my part."
And then a lot of messages began to come through—my uncle, my father. I said, "Okay, I may be crazy"because the pressure was very big—but at the same time, I don't know what God's plan is for me. So I began to receive intense messages from over there, that death was an illusion.
What is death, then?
According to what I received, it's like jumping out of your body. My uncle—who died of cancer—told me, "I was walking, and all of a sudden, I felt very clean. I wanted to tell my wife and family that I was healed, and then I realized that I wasn't here anymore."
The body feels pain; the body feels fear. The body doesn't want to die. The body wants to keep itself. And we cannot distinguish between body fear and spiritual life in us.
So why do these spirits return to this world?
According to them, they come back because there are problems that are easier to work out here than there. It all comes down to the fact that physical laws of frequency are very easy to distinguish on Earth because Earth has a matter resistance. For instance, if you explode something here on Earth, it will extinguish itself very fast. Over there, the resistance of matter is near zero, so if something explodes over there, it will not extinguish. That's why a nuclear war will never develop here: the spirits in the next dimension will not allow it. There is very much interference from the next dimension because a nuclear explosion here will never be extinguished there. A nuclear explosion on Earth will destroy all the next levels.