What’s the deal with psychic readings? Are they total nonsense, or is there some actual substance behind the mystique?
I write from personal experience because I’ve both given and received readings. Most of the readings I received were your basic garden variety Tarot card readings, but I’ve also received angel readings, numerology readings, intuitive readings, and a few others I’ve long since forgotten. Although I’ve never charged for readings I’ve given, I was voluntarily paid for one afterwards.
The first time I ever received a psychic reading was in 1994. It was at the Psychic Eye Bookstore on Ventura Blvd in Woodland Hills, California. Erin, who was my girlfriend at the time, encouraged me to get one. She had once gotten a reading from Char Margolis, a famous psychic who now has her own TV show called Psychic at Large. We couldn’t afford Char though (her current rate is $500 for a 45-minute reading), so we opted for the $15 Psychic Eye readings. Even back then I was extremely growth oriented — this was the year right after I went through college in three semesters — so I was willing to try it just for the experience. Plus it sounded like fun, and $15 wasn’t a lot to risk.
I went in with an open mind, but I can’t say it was a very memorable reading. However, I enjoyed the experience simply for the entertainment value. Looking back though I asked some pretty lame questions and had no real clue what to expect, so it doesn’t surprise me that I didn’t get much useful information out of it.
Over the next several years, my wife and I would occasionally pop into the Psychic Eye for a reading, maybe once or twice a year at most. We largely saw it as a unique form of entertainment. If we found ourselves with some extra time on a weekend and some extra cash in our wallets, we might pop in for a reading as casually as we’d go see a movie. The readings were inexpensive enough that if we happened to get something useful out of it, we considered it a bonus.
I found that the quality of the readings varied tremendously. The most important factor was the person giving the reading. Some so-called psychics are not remotely psychic. The worst are dreadful con artists. Those are the ones where you pay for a cheap basic reading, and during that brief period they tell you have some serious spiritual problem, and lucky for you, they just happen to know how to fix it. But of course they must be compensated for the effort, and it will cost you several hundred dollars. You’ll find bad apples like these in any industry. Fortunately, I’ve only encountered one person like this in the past decade. Most of the readers I’ve been to would never stoop to that level — to cheat people goes against everything they hold sacred.
On a few occasions, my wife and I would encounter a psychic reader who was downright amazing. Of course, that’s the kind of person we’d return to again for another reading at some point.
Generally when you get a reading, the first thing you’re looking for is some kind of validation. You’re thinking, “Prove to me you’re psychic, so I have a reason to listen to you.” Obviously you have to watch out for the general fluff that could be interpreted as applying to almost everyone. When a psychic tells you, “You’re feeling depressed,” that isn’t validation. Validation is when she tells you the name of your grandfather or accurately describes what kind of dog you own (when you didn’t reveal you even owned a dog). Validation can also come in the form of synchronicities; for example, the psychic may throw out the name of an obscure book you just happened to be reading. Another form of validation is when the psychic is able to describe your current life situation accurately as well as the specific challenges you’re dealing with. Many psychics don’t have the ability to consistently pick up specific names; that’s actually a fairly rare skill. But normally you’ll get some kind of validation that tells you she’s the real deal. Validation isn’t necessarily a separate phase of the reading in terms of its chronology; it can come at the beginning, at the end, or anywhere in between. It can also gradually accumulate throughout the reading, intermingled with the psychic’s advice.
Validation builds trust. When you get a reading from someone you’ve never met, you have no reason to trust that what they say is accurate, especially if it pertains to your future. But when you get some decent validation, you’re more likely to be open to the psychic’s advice. If I got a reading from someone new and I saw no form of validation, I’d give very little credibility to anything that person said. One time my wife and I went to someone where the validation offered was so completely wrong, after the reading we looked at each other, shook our heads, and said, “Definitely not psychic.” That’s the person who tried to pull the “$200 to cure your unseen ailments” routine — the clearest sign of a con artist you’ll ever see.
Just because someone offers psychic readings doesn’t mean they have a high degree of psychic intelligence. In my experience though, if someone manages to give a really accurate reading once, it’s probably not a fluke. They’ll usually be able to duplicate that same level of quality again.
What is a psychic reading really like? The idea of wild-eyed fortune tellers with crystal balls is pretty silly and not very close to the reality — if you see someone with a crystal ball, I’d say you’re more likely to get cheated than get useful information. A genuine reading is basically a counseling session, but in this case the counselor has access to special information. This allows you to skip the tedious recalling of your entire life story and go straight to the heart of the matter. You can often get a decent reading even if you don’t provide the psychic with any personal info. And if you just walk in off the street and take the next available time slot, they don’t even know your name.
Every psychic reader does their readings a little differently. Some get their info intuitively. Others do it by communicating with guides or angels (theirs or yours). Others use divination tools like Tarot cards. And some use a combination. Any approach can work — it just depends on the style and preference of the psychic. When I give someone a reading, I sometimes like using a certain card deck, and other times I prefer to just get the information directly from their guides. I’ve given accurate readings both ways.
In my experience psychic readings are rarely about trying to accurately predict the future. The problem with predicting the future is that we have the free will to change it. So if a psychic tells you about your future, even if she’s right at the time you get the reading, you can still change it. I generally regard psychic readings as a read of current energies and their momentum. Think of it as a snapshot of where you’re likely headed based on your current situation.
Even the famous psychic Edgar Cayce, who predicted major world events with stunning accuracy, said that he still believed we had the power to consciously change the outcomes he predicted. When he gave readings he would go into a trance, and he didn’t even remember what he said, so he had a stenographer write everything down.
Some people have mixed feelings about whether it’s right to charge money for giving readings. It’s my understanding that Cayce never charged for a reading; consequently he wasn’t in the best shape financially. I personally think it’s totally acceptable to charge for readings. I’m happy to see gifted psychic mediums like Char make a good living from their work. Although I’ve never charged anyone for a reading I’ve given, that’s mainly because I don’t want to turn this into a profession — I have enough to do as it is. People get paid for the mental and physical work they do, so I see no reason they shouldn’t be paid for the intuitive work they do. Many psychics have trouble with this though — some have amazing talent but they’re totally broke. I went to one psychic who seemed to be experiencing physical discomfort during the reading. When I asked her about it, she admitted she had recently broken her foot and didn’t have medical insurance. Ouch! Just because you’re a talented psychic doesn’t mean you’re a good businessperson. Of course you’ll find plenty of athletes and scientists who are broke as well. You can be a physical, mental, or intuitive genius and still have limiting beliefs that hold you back in other areas.
Obviously, if you’re going to pay for a reading, you want it to be a good one. So how do you find a psychic who’s worth the money? I suggest you do the same thing you’d do with any other professional you wanted to hire. Ask for a recommendation from someone you know. It’s really no different than if you wanted to find a decent gardener, plumber, or lawyer. If you dive in randomly, you might get lucky, but you’ll most likely find someone mediocre. In the beginning I just used the random approach until I found someone good because it’s really not that expensive to get a basic reading. If the reading was awesome, I kept going to that same person. If the reading was weak, I just tried someone new next time. Of course, in many ways you get what you pay for, but I’ve had some pretty good $20-40 readings that were easily worth the price. Even the most minor actionable idea can make it possible to recoup that much.
What’s the point of getting a reading anyway, especially if the accuracy can vary a lot? I find the best situation for getting readings is when I’m experiencing a lack of clarity and I’m having a difficult time understanding the road ahead. I’m a very logical person but also a very intuitive one. Maybe it’s because I’m a left-hander who was raised by two right-handers. But there are times when my logic and intuition just can’t seem to reach agreement. I don’t like to favor one over the other, so my preference is to look at all the angles and find the point where logic and intuition become congruent. When they don’t agree, I know I must find a third alternative. I want my path to intuitively feel right while also satisfying the demands of my intellect; either-or just doesn’t cut it. So when I get stuck, I know it’s time for a second opinion. That’s when I’ll often get a reading.
What I find useful about getting a reading isn’t that it tells me what I’m about to do next. Again, a real reading isn’t really like that because we still have free will. What a reading can do, however, is give you clarity about your options. Most of the time it helps me clarify what I think I know but still am not quite sure about. Almost always the culprit causing the lack of clarity is some hidden fear or limiting belief. And getting a reading helps me see that fear for what it is and then root it out.
Readings from other people are absolutely no substitute for your own intuition and intelligence. Often times I find myself agreeing with the reader about certain things. I can see she’s reading my situation accurately and doing a good job of pointing out my options and their likely consequences. I know she’s on the mark because I may have picked up some of the same signs. But after the reading, my intuition may tell me that something still isn’t quite right about these options. In those situations I turn to the power of intention by putting out an intention like, “Show me what I’m missing here so I can return to a state of genuine clarity.” And then some interesting synchronicities will occur that will bring me what I need to know. Usually it’s something outside my conscious awareness, and once I become aware of it, it’s the key ingredient that makes everything finally mesh.
Generally when I get a reading, I immediately go home and record as much as I can remember in my journal. The last time I got a reading was in March, and yesterday I decided to review my notes from that reading. One of the predictions was that a certain woman I knew would soon become an active mentor to me and Erin. That sounded a bit odd at the time of the reading, but it actually happened… and not in the way I would have guessed. But the biggest benefit of the reading was that it helped me push through a foggy period and into a place of greater clarity.
Presently I’m in a state of amazing clarity. Consequently, I see no need to get a reading right now. I know what I need to do, I’m doing it, and I’m getting positive results. Between the two of us, Erin and I have enough intuitive horsepower to push through almost any blockage. We give each other readings too. But we certainly aren’t perfect, and there are times when it’s really helpful to get a second opinion from another highly intuitive person who isn’t as close to the situation as we are.
If you happen to harbor a pre-existing belief that psychic readings are phony, fraudulent, evil, or something of that nature, then don’t bother getting a reading — you’ll just waste your time and money and probably annoy the psychic as well.
Many years ago Erin and I convinced a very skeptical friend to get a reading from a psychic we knew to be really talented. Despite his utterly lame questions and overt resistance to her help, she managed to provide what Erin and I thought was a very accurate reading — we found ourselves nodding in agreement because we could have given him the exact same advice. But he was totally blind to it and just couldn’t see it. Even when validation was provided, he exhibited what is known as “psychic amnesia.” That’s when a psychic might give you a name, and you claim you don’t know the person, even though it happens to be the name of your mother. Duh! Today that same friend is in a pretty dark situation. Just as he resisted the psychic’s help as well as our help, he refuses to acknowledge obvious warning signs and distracts himself with mindless entertainment. Running from fear is the pattern of his life, which has been in a state of decline for years. And free will gives him the option to continue on that path, even though he’s very unhappy.
If you’re highly resistant to the notion of psychic readings, I’d suggest focusing on other growth opportunities where you experience less resistance. I’ve found that good psychics are often motivated by a strong desire to help people, to serve the greater good, and to lead people back to a deeper connection with their higher selves and with God. If your intention for getting a reading aligns with these goals, you’ll usually be in for a very positive experience. But if your attitude is one of resistance, fear, greed, depression, or other low-awareness emotions, you’re far more likely to resonate with a con artist.
The dark side of psychic readings is psychic addiction. This is what happens when weak-minded individuals with low self-esteem put psychics on a pedestal. They look for psychic guidance to run their whole lives, getting readings as often as once a day. To me this is just silly, and it runs contrary to the very reason we’re here. What would you say about a seemingly healthy person who gets a medical check-up every day? You don’t want to live as a psychic hypochondriac. Psychic readings are only for guidance; they’re no substitute for making your own decisions. If you’re going through a period of massive upheaval, like a divorce or a career change, then maybe a few readings a month would be OK as your situation continues to change. But don’t put yourself into the psychic hospital and deny your own responsibility for your decisions.
The reason to get psychic readings is if they’re genuinely helpful. If you try a few readings, and you find them utterly worthless even with psychics that others swear are excellent, then don’t bother continuing. I find that occasional intuitive readings from a psychic with her heart in the right place are a very useful personal development tool. Plus I find readings to be a very pleasant experience. We all have blind spots, and some psychics have the intuitive talent to help us understand those blind spots in a matter of minutes. I find inexpensive intuitive readings an effective alternative to paying thousands of dollars for long-term counseling that can’t guarantee a solution. My attitude is: just help me see this situation from the right angle, and I can take it from there. Because of the low cost and low time investment, I can afford to try a few Hail Mary psychic passes for the opportunity to throw a touchdown once in a while.
Taking advantage of psychic readings may be less socially acceptable than other forms of problem-solving assistance, but my preference is to judge by results. If it works for me, I don’t concern myself with what social norms I’ve (yet again) violated. When I try something new and the results are zero or negative, I drop it and try something else. If the results are positive, I integrate it. Then I write about what works for me, since I know from experience it’s likely to work for others too.