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People of the Pines: A Unique Examination of Various Ocean County Residents Barbara Mackey

According to the Pew Research Center, people identifying as non-religious make up around 1.1 billion people in the world, which is the equivalent of 16.5% of the global adult population. That said, “non-religious” is actually the third largest “religion” in the world, following Christianity (as the first) and Islam (as the second). I count myself as part of this non-religious group, and yet the fascination with the paranormal and supernatural has always been present in me.

For those of us that have never had a direct line to the lord almighty, it’s comforting to think that perhaps someone else does. Or if not a direct line, some kind of connection to the “other side”. This brings me to the subject of this article, the self-proclaimed psychic and Ocean County resident, Barbara Mackey. Currently residing in Toms River, I met with Mackey on a brisk October night at her “enchanted retreat” to get a better sense of all things mystical.

Barbara Mackey identifies herself as a clairvoyant, channeler, medical and animal intuitive, healer, psychic investigator for missing persons and animals, teacher, lecturer, and above all a healer of the human spirit. She has been a regular guest on television shows, including appearances on Discovery ID, Unsolved Mysteries, Court TV, Hollywood at Large and The Catherine Crier Show. Mackey has also been working in radio for over 20 years as a guest-host for various stations, the host of her own talk show, Visions and is the resident psychic for the Shawn & Sue Breakfast Morning show, 92.7 FM WOBM. Mackey is also a published writer and columnist for Gannett Press, On the Run Magazine and The Celestial Connection Magazine.

Mackey is a sixth-generation Psychic/Medium of Hungarian and Scottish background who has had premonitions since the age of four. “When I was 4 or 5 we lived in Newark and had an apartment. We had a fire escape and I was watching my mom hang laundry off of it and there was a woman sweeping next to her, she was our landlady. So I was sitting there watching her sweep and for some reason I was thinking, she’s going to attack my mother with that broom,” Mackey recalls. “I started getting nervous and all of a sudden she takes the broom and hits my mother, knocking her to the ground. I just started screaming and running through the building until we got my Mom into an ambulance and found out later that she had a concussion.”

Although she had these premonitions and feelings from a very young age, she didn’t pursue her career as a psychic until much later, after she predicted the death of her fiance. “After my fiance died, I went to 2 people, the Reverend Helen Williams and Edith Cantor to find some solace and they told me i was psychic. I denied it at first, but i kept going back to Trenton to meet with them. They had me try different practices and the gift just started coming out. Eventually, I just couldn’t fight it anymore and I sold everything I owned and turned in my company car and started to pursue a life as a psychic, “ Mackey commented.

The multifaceted medium has been called on many times by the police for her help in missing persons and homicide cases, including the Jennifer Pammer case in Toms River, NJ. “I was involved in a murder case with the Brick Police Department, the victim’s name was Jennifer Pammer. I told the police that they’d find her body in Bamber Lake and sure enough, they found it there.”

Mackey has also participated in many exorcisms, but has since decided to discontinue that service as she became very sick from bringing the “bad energies” home. “I did The Haunted for 4 seasons and I would go into different places and pick up the energy there and get very sick. Then, I was doing an exorcism in a mansion and as I was going down the servants steps, something pushed me down the steps and I decided I wasn’t going to do that work anymore.”

Towards the end of our interview, Barbara turned toward me, looked at me very intently and asked what I wanted people to get from this story. To which I responded, “I don’t think I’m trying to impart any particular judgement around any of this. I’m just interested in examining something that remains a curiosity to many people. In life, I don’t claim to know any of the answers and I’d like for people to come to their own conclusions.”

She then reiterated to me, “I had no control over this, I was born this way, it’s in my DNA. My fiance was really the catalyst for what made me want to do this work. I had a premonition that he would die from a heart attack and he didn’t listen to me. I wanted to help people.”

Whether or not Mackey is the “real deal,” I can tell she really means it.

Chelsea Eriksen is a freelance writer and marketing professional who has over 8 years experience writing for major magazines, websites and blogs. She graduated from Wells College in 2011 with a Bachelor’s Degree in English and a minor in Advertising. Following her graduation, she interned for Relix Magazine and Big Hassle Media in NYC and soon after joined Effective Immediately PR’s publicity team in NYC and became Vice President until 2015. During her time there, she helped to grow their team from 5 publicists to over 25 in just 3 short years and expanded their offices to the West Coast. She has worked with a range of clientele, from independent artists and budding businesses all the way up to major brands including Clarks, Converse and Sonos. Currently she works as a PR/Marketing Coordinator for Direct Development PR in Hazlet, NJ and resides in Forked River, NJ. For any marketing, social media, public relations or content writing needs, you can reach Chelsea at

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