A Man's Intuition
A Man's Intuition
I wasn’t skeptical about Bobby Drinnon, but that’s because I’m not a skeptic by nature. At least that’s what Drinnon tells me from across the half-moon shaped desk in his office, lit dimly by a pull-cord lamp and his ocean-colored eyes, eyes that might belong to Santa Claus or a Greek god or a newborn baby.
The 52-year-old Drinnon doesn’t use a crystal ball, coffee grounds or tarot cards to predict the future or recall the past, he uses his eyes instead. His eyes and something else—something unnamable, a visceral expertise that he believes comes from God and from the tutelage of Rogersville, Tenn. native Mary Francis Whittaker, a now-deceased woman once rumored to have been a witch.
The Bobby-Drinnon-effect is pretty innocuous, as though he has set loose an invisible dog to sniff at you, plucking at your senses, leaving you a little ruffled, a little flattered, without knowing why. This is someone, after all, who might have an idea when you or the people you love most will die, someone who can theoretically pour the contents of your life into his palms and sort through the mess, step away from it better than you ever could, make sense of it. And so for all of his smiling and counseling, the experience is unnerving.
Drinnon’s name gets passed around these parts like folklore. He’s best known for his prolific waiting list—an appointment book that promises to keep him occupied until 2009—and his on-the-mark spiritual counseling, sought by celebrities and laymen alike.
He meets each of his visitors with a hug, as though intent on disarming them from the first. Over the years, he’s become practiced at palliating people’s apprehensions, in part as a coping mechanism. The nurses at his doctor’s office, for one, used to not take his blood for fear that he was reading their minds. His internist had to do it himself, he says, because the nurses would get too flustered. “They’re so intimidated,” he says. “I can tune into people, but I don’t really care that much about it.”
Drinnon has suffered many hard times along the way. At his lowest point, a local preacher conducted an entire sermon against him, leading Drinnon to consider quitting his profession.
Despite his widely reputed psychic powers, his presence has remained enigmatic, in part because he deflects most publicity requests. He granted Metro Pulse an interview in the interest of educating people, and because he says he liked the sound of my voice on his answering machine. He says those kinds of flattering things a lot, to everyone, I imagine. He’s good at making people feel exceptional. After all, he claims he can look into most every human being and search for his or her finest qualities. “I believe every human being is a gold mine,” he says. “I really do.”
Bobby Drinnon believes people can do anything they set their minds to, and though this is an old sentiment, a simple sentiment, it feels stirring when he says it.
Drinnon’s soft voice is tender and measured. His wispy long white hair frames a face that never for a moment releases its smile, a face that’s ageless and unfettered by worry. Neither arrogant nor self-deprecating, his presence feels simply hallowed, his sentences crammed full of affirmations and stunning observations about life and love.
His 1989 book, Petitioning Faith with Reality, correctly predicted several world happenings, including the fall of the Berlin Wall, the Gulf War, and certain weather patterns and medical discoveries. Still, Drinnon says he wasn’t as forthcoming with his first book as he’ll be in his second. “I wish I had said what I wanted to say,” he says. “I was more afraid of this or that.” Over the years, Drinnon’s learned to better trust his visions. His second book, Divine Chaos, will be out this Christmas. “It’s kind of a book about how to take bad things and make good things happen out of them, because life is full of bad things,” he says. “There are only two types of people. There are students and there are victims. Students can graduate. I want to help people graduate.”
In Divine Chaos, Drinnon also relates some of his more recent visions. He theorizes, for instance, that Hurricane Katrina happened because “we’re in a solar shift. I think the Earth is moving closer to the sun, and I think that’s really what’s throwing everything off more than global warming.”
Drinnon thinks we’ve seen only the beginning of what he calls super storms. In the years to come, he forecasts storms that will be off our current scales of measurement.
“It’s not to destroy people. It’s to awaken people,” he says. “See, death is an awakening, if you see it right.”
Drinnon’s 30-acre farm nestles in the sloping hills of Jefferson City, Tenn., where he keeps three horses, a fleet of rescued potbelly pigs, several cats and a big woofing Doberman, selected in the interest of keeping his more ardent admirers at bay, people who he says—with a kind of shudder—want to sleep on his front porch. He has lived within 30 minutes of the farm his entire life, and even meaty offers—hosting his own TV show or 900 number—couldn’t coax him into leaving the area. “It’s the land I love most and the woods,” he says. “I don’t really care about business. I hope people come here because they respect me and they need help.”
Drinnon strides around his property grinning and greeting each of his animals in turn. Patting one gaunt horse, kept in his stable, he says, “He’ll probably only be with us for another year,” and one gets the feeling he knows what he’s talking about. Drinnon leans over a pen to look in fondly at his chubby pot bellies, spread eagle in the dust; he bends to stroke a hand across the spine of a fluffy cat.
When it comes to breaking from his four years of scheduled appointments, Drinnon accepts cases of missing children first, missing animals second, and more immediate adult problems last. “That may or not be right, but that just feels right to me,” he says. “You can’t mess up helping kids or animals.”
Drinnon does some work with corporate entities, helping them to detect which potential employees will work best for them. He’s worked too with federal law-enforcement agencies like the FBI to solve missing persons and crime cases. But most folks come to him for counseling, whether it be regarding a relationship, job search, grief or a divorce. “People used to come because they wanted to know if they were going to get a Mercedes or if they were going to get the guy or the girl, and those things are important, but I think people come here now for spiritual help,” he says.
Drinnon was four years old when he crept across the road from his grandmother’s house in hopes of glimpsing the witch who lived there. Mary Francis Whittaker was something of a legend in Rogersville, Tenn., known for reading coffee grounds and forecasting events for a quarter a person. “I always wanted to see the witch,” says Drinnon. “I wanted to get up close to her. She was out in the yard trimming some kind of bush, and I made my way over and acted very casual like I didn’t see her, but I got so close and I was trembling, and I looked up at her cold brown eyes, and she looked down at me and she said, ‘You’ve got a gift, boy.’ At four, I didn’t believe it. I didn’t know what to think of it. It scared me, and I ran home and climbed in my mother’s lap and she said, ‘Don’t you ever go over there again.’”
Drinnon was scared perhaps because he knew already that he was different. “I was afraid of everything—chickens, storms, anything that moved. I was just frightened by other people’s voices,” he says.
And when he got a little older, his dreams began to come true. “I started confusing reality with dreams,” he says. He also saw vivid colors emanating from most everyone. At the time, he and his parents couldn’t discern that what he was actually seeing were aura colors.
His parents took him to Nashville to see a host of psychiatrists, psychologists and doctors, none of whom could determine the young man’s affliction. Drinnon calls his adolescence the most difficult period of his life, as he grappled with his debilitating sensitivity and strangely portentous powers. Throughout his childhood, he thought often of Whittaker, and when he got his driver’s license at 16, the first thing he did was drive to her house.
“Me and my buddy snuck out, this girlfriend of mine, and we walked up on [Whittaker’s] porch. A thunderstorm was coming. We’re talking about the scene was set for this scary thing. When she looked out the door, and she’s this little old lady and she must have been 80-something at the time, she said, ‘What do you want?’ I said, ‘I am so sorry. We’ll come again at another time.’” Drinnon, though, was quickly ushered into Whittaker’s house and the door slammed on his friend. Inside her house, Drinnon saw a picture of Jesus mounted on the wall. “It was the first relief I had,” he says. “Because I thought ‘Surely, this woman is not a witch’ or she wouldn’t have had Jesus’ picture up.”
Again, Whittaker told Drinnon, “You have a gift to help people. You can look in people and see things, and you can help a lot of people in your lifetime.” She had him promise that he’d only use his ability through the help of God, and he agreed willingly, he says, as that’s the way he was “rigged” anyway.
As he was about to leave, Whittaker asked Drinnon to make a wish, just as a crack of thunder boomed outside, saying that when it thundered that meant God was listening. He wished immediately for a son, and he was soon granted his wish. Though he guards his personal life closely, Drinnon is known to have been married once—maybe twice—and to have two sons, one biological, one adopted.
After lending him some tutoring, Whittaker sent some of her old customers Drinnon’s way. “She wanted to build my confidence,” he says. By then, she’d taught him to decode the meanings of people’s aura colors; some indicate diabetes, others smokers. He doesn’t see everyone’s aura color, “but I do most of the time, thank God,” he says.
Eventually, enough people began showing up at Drinnon’s doorstep that he quit his job at a nearby factory. “I had to stop working, because I was losing money going to work. I quit a good job paying $120 a week plus insurance, and I had a kid to take care of, and everybody got mad at me. They thought I was crazy, but God promised me if I’d leave there, he would give me 100 times a day what I made [at the factory] and he did.”
Drinnon’s numinous abilities aren’t easily explained. Essentially he equates his extreme sensitivity with his intuitive powers. Sometimes he’s able to inform people of positive things to come; other times he has to forecast more morbid, inevitable things like death. When he intuits macabre events, Drinnon will tell a person that they may “want to prepare themselves,” and he prays every morning that he’s faced with “nothing God can’t stop or prevent or prepare somebody for.”
His own painful past helped him to accumulate the needed compassion he must dole out to an average of 10 people a day. It used to wear him out, he says, before he learned to love each of his visitors. “The harder you love someone, the less tired you get. When I’m loving you it’s much easier than if I’m dreading you. If I’m loving, really loving, I find a way to get on some kind of frequency. I feel so good at the end of the day, today I could turn cartwheels. I realized a long time ago, it doesn’t matter if you help or don’t help, heal or don’t heal, the only thing that really matters is that you expose people to love.”
Speaking of love, Drinnon believes in soul mates. In fact, he’s got them ticked off on a Kleenex box, a box he calls his computer, that sits on the edge of his desk. He believes he’s seen 27 people since last October who’ve met the right person for them.
And then, with this reporter’s heart stitched up in her throat, Drinnon leans across his little desk and shines his eyes into mine and tells me my fortune, an exciting bit of information that seems to bode well for me and the one close to me. He puts another mark on his Kleenex box.
Interspersed with factual knowledge of my life (i.e., my fiancé’s diabetic), he suggests activities I might try to improve its quality. On the way out his door, he stops me to tell me about my aura color (a dark clear blue, the same as Barbara Walters’), puts his hand out to where my color stops, explains my predilections. Drinnon hugs me good-bye and sees me off like a father would, waving as I drive away.
He’s worth the wait, I think, two years, four years, 10. He’s the real deal. But then, I never thought he wasn’t.