Therese Relucio, a certified psychic medium with spiky, short black hair, paced in a dim room of a nondescript building just a block from Wall Street.
"It feels like he did die doing some kind of rebellion or some kind of protesting," she said, describing a spirit behind Joe Brahimi, 34, one of nine participants in a Halloween seance Tuesday. "Do you understand who that would be?"
Brahimi replied that the spirit was likely his uncle, Naim Beka, who died in a car bomb while fighting during armed rebellions in Albania. Relucio told Brahimi that his uncle wanted him to stick up for himself at work.
"I can't believe it," Brahimi, who lives in Westchester, said a little later, his eyes wide and slightly red.
At the seance, Brahimi and other attendees sat in a circle of metal folding chairs while Relucio walked around the room, explaining where she was feeling spirits, sometimes twitching her hands or shaking her head back and forth.
Relucio said she felt a "judgmental doctor" in scrubs, a flamenco dancer, several relatives and a nun at the seance.
Spirits were near the person they were trying to connect with, Relucio said. She tried to help participants make a connection to the departed by painting a sketch of the spirits, describing physical and personality traits, their relationship to attendees and how and when they died.
This type of communication is known as "evidential psychic mediumship," she said.
If a connection was made, Relucio would pass along the spirit's message.
"We don't want to make it fit," she repeated a few times during the seance. When participants didn't know who Relucio was referring to, she simply moved on.
Unlike Brahimi, many participants were unable to make a connection, but that wasn't necessarily the point of the seance, Relucio said.
"It's to know that life exists after death," the psychic explained before beginning a meditation to "raise the vibration and energy of the room."
Relucio, 30, runs the Psychic and Mediumship Group and teaches these skills in classes at her apartment near Prospect Park. She said everyone has intuition.
"Everyone is born with it," she said. "It is just a matter of learning how to turn it on and off."
On Tuesday, Relucio encouraged the group to speak up if they felt any spirits themselves.
Tom Gullo, 47, said he felt several behind him throughout the night.
"I call them 'my guys,'" the West Village resident said later. "There's three of them and they're always there."
During the seance, Gullo sat, eyed closed and smiling, with both arms resting on his knees and his palms up. Despite two space heaters in the small room, those sitting on either side of him shivered until Relucio said she "closed the circle."
Some participants, like Gullo, wished to hone their skills, while others hoped to connect with loved ones during the seance.
Victoria Soshenko, 35, lost her grandfather about a year ago.
"I didn't have closure — I just want to speak to him," Soshenko said. About halfway through the seance, Relucio felt the spirit of Soshenko's grandfather.
"To be honest with you," said Relucio, who is friends with Soshenko, "he's lecturing you about having to plan for your future."
When Relucio dimmed the lights and began the seance, she asked the group to keep an open mind. She explained she doesn't like to engage with cynics.
"I learned a very long time ago that saying anything to skeptics only makes them more aggressive," Relucio said. "If you are not ready or don't want to believe in this, that's OK."
About 20 minutes before Brahimi arrived at the seance, Relucio felt the presence of his deceased uncle, describing a spirit near Brahimi's wife as a "male, who was not officially part of the army… maybe a rebel."
"I came here thinking that I wouldn't be read," Brahimi said when the seance ended. "It's amazing."