ST. PETERSBURG — Have you been in touch with your guardian angels lately? If not, there will be a seminar in St. Petersburg this weekend that says it can teach you how to connect with them.
Didn't know you had guardian angels? According to one believer, we all do.
"Everyone has a team of about three to five — sometimes more — guardian angels who direct us in life," said Kathleen Ellis, who is in charge of running the class. "Our seminar is going to teach people how to communicate with those angels."
Ellis is part of a national nonprofit group called the Inner Peace Movement. The Washington, D.C.-based group advocates for the teaching and use of extrasensory perception. It holds seminars both nationally and internationally.
"Everyone has guardian angels, spiritual guides as we like to call them," says Ellis. "People can leave after the first lesson and will be able to connect with them."
One of the techniques taught is "aura sensing." According to Inner Peace Movement, this entails being aware of one's individual energy field, which can in turn help someone reach his or her guardian angels.
According to Ellis, our personal team of spiritual advisers can guide us in areas ranging from jobs to personal relationships and communication skills. She added that the program is not religious in nature, but said guardian angels tend to be deceased people.
Not everyone is feeling so spiritual about those claims.
"If she can unequivocally prove that guardian angels exist, we will pay her $1,000," promised Terry Smiljanich, chairman of Tampa Bay Skeptics, a Tampa watchdog group that monitors claims of paranormal activity. "If she can produce an angel and allow us to interview it, I will write her a check."
Smiljanich believes Inner Peace Movement goes too far in claiming that guardian angels can improve a person's life.
"If people want to believe in guardian angels or invisible pink elephants, that's their business," Smiljanich said. "But ESP has never been shown to actually work in scientific experiments. Until there's credible evidence for something, you shouldn't spend money chasing after it." There is an initial fee of $10, but the cost for the entire program is $35.
Ellis, who claims to have five guardian angels herself, said that she wouldn't take Smiljanich up on his wager.
"I can't prove anything … guardian angels are invisible and they can't be proven. All I can say is that my personal experience and others' personal experiences show they do exist."
Smiljanich doesn't buy that explanation. "Testimonials are the least credible evidence of all," he said. "You can find testimonials that say anything … it's the power of the placebo pill."
Whatever you believe, the program, if successful, may continue on a monthly basis, Ellis said. She has held similar classes in the Tampa Bay area in the past.
"I say before you believe in something, you should require some credible evidence. In this case, there is none," said Smiljanich.