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Simply Grateful

Today I am grateful for all the things I over look, take for granted, grateful for the ground underneath me staying still and solid, for the sky above me remaining calm, that I am in good health and so is my cat, Velvet. Even though I have zoned out today, letting time skip in a blur, I am letting tomorrow come as I would unfold a new and unexpected gift — because everyday I’m alive, even if I’m sore or lonely or sad, is a day to celebrate! Even if I have no place to go tomorrow, I plan to dance out the door and face any little adventure available to me with great knowing gladness.

This is the conclusion I come to most usually despite the nights I weep over the friends and family who have died, or left, and sometimes in their absence I have to pinch myself to remember to refresh the experiences of joy that they brought into my life. It’s far too easy to beat myself up over the losses. I’m not sure why my body and mind misbehaves like that when I’m most tired, weakest, vulnerable… most usually when I can’t sleep, or haven’t slept, and the days and nights of insomnia blend into a kind of non-existence. There are times when living the Solitary Life can cage me into a shadowy, hidden place, when my introversion doesn’t serve any purpose but prolong depression.

Last week, as part of an independent living community volunteer service, a peer counselor invited me to a house run by people like her. It was a way for me to get out of my shell again, and I have to tell you, I did panic a little! All of the panic immediately faded when I recognized women from downtown. It’s a relief to know I’m not the only woman in town dealing with menopause, grieving, and depression, etc., and the plus side is none of them were the judgmental type. All of them were used to dealing with the same things I deal with, some of them trained nurses and “travel buddies” who assist people like me with communicating with other people. What a relief to discover resources around and about where I live! The only con is we have limited volunteers. But it could be worse. A neighboring city isn’t as open-minded as mine, treating such “club houses” for the mentally ill community as troublesome. *makes frowny face* Whatever.

I once wrote about there needs to be a shrine on every block, or in every neighborhood, well, I want to revise that and say there needs to be places of refuge in every city for people who have emotional and mental distress. In these places we should be able to let ourselves cry, volunteer our time there to be shoulders to cry on, and provide ears to listen to other peoples’ concerns and problems. There should be kitchens and stoves for free that we can stock for anyone who needs a break, or who ever wants to brew a hot beverage or warm up a hot dish for people who need a little home style comfort.

Because not all of us have that kind of social interaction with others. I got through months without it. When I don’t see people so often in that ordinary way, I get all kinds of homesick. I miss my mother. I miss her home cooking. I’ll never get her kind of care ever again. There are no substitutes for her. Just as there are no substitutes for anyone else. Each loved one I’ve lost is a gem!

And I used to shine so brightly when I had more of those gems in my crown.

But as I write that, I cannot ignore the brilliant new gems in my life whom I should polish on a more regular basis instead of neglect while I fall into my darkness. I don’t want anyone to feel like I don’t listen to them more than I do voices who put me down in the past.

However, it’s a slow process to turn off the repetitive memories and words of those whom I could not reach a resolution with.

I will not talk about any one relationship, but there are three people I wish would have talked to me in person, face to face, in order to erase all the assumptions that ultimately severed us. But, then again, to even request contact would mean to them, I’m assuming, that I’m not able to let go, that I’m still unhealthy and manipulative, and whatever. I’m “meh” at this point. I just want my passion back. I don’t know how to get it back. I only know how to go on living… and dancing.

When I get moments of release, I eat them up! Early this morning at 4am, I had this incredible surge of energy and started to just dance, dance, DANCE. My cat, Velvet, chased after me, so I grabbed a ribbon and lashed it around me so we could dance together. Moments turned into an hour. As I got my wiggle out, it was good to just let my cares go, to work myself into exhaustion, and drop into my pillows again, anxious for the evening.

Because I slept all day, and now that night has come, the woods and cool, wet night air is heavy with that wet bark smell, I feel all cares are gone. That there is hope for my passion to creep back. Velvet is a doll, she tilts her head up, prances around me, anxious for me to get off the computer so I can go to being her giant cat toy again. She hasn’t taken the place of Mr. Snuggles, but she does the same thing he used to do: remind me to unplug from all the bad memories and PLAY!

And so I plan, just like I wrote at the end in the first paragraph, even if I have no place to go tomorrow, I plan to dance out the door and face any little adventure available to me with great knowing gladness.

When I heard about his death, I knew it wasn’t a joke. Yet, like the song, it seemed like he “started a joke that sent the whole world crying…” Oh, Robin, sweet Mr. Williams, I wish that one smile of my own could have kept you alive. But no matter now that I’m not laughing, I will smile for you.

There is always hope. Eighty percent of us who seek treatment for our depression don’t kill ourselves, yet the strongest risk factor of depression is suicide. Yet we can’t ignore that fifteen percent of the clinically depressed end their lives. Many of those also suffer from substance abuse problems. I’m not writing this as if this were some book report. Feel I need to provide some bright facts. *grumbles*

I know too many people who have died at their own hands. The first death I ever witnessed was a suicide. He promised me and other friends that he’d be everyone’s worst nightmare.

And promptly aimed a gun to his head and pulled the trigger.

In
front
of
me
.

He was only 17 years old, and since the age of 14 he battled addiction. He wouldn’t be the first person I knew who committed suicide, but he was the first and most violent.

Robin Williams disappeared just as violently as that boy I used to know. Those blue eyes of his sparkled with tears as much as laughter. Robin always reminded me of the kind of guy that’s the life of the party, but parties end, and he, like so many who suffer from depression, I can see turned to drink to keep that feeling of euphoria flowing… self medication they call it. I think all addicts are mentally ill.

I’m no addict, yet I can understand the despair that drags someone to the bottom of existence. I suffer from manic depression. In fact it is something that keeps me from writing, but sometimes it really gets me obsessively writing! I have not updated my blog since I was critiqued harshly for writing too many posts that were my purest expressions of grief. I felt obligated to be of great cheer to write, yet as William S. Burroughs wrote, “A writer lives the sad truth like anyone else. The only difference is, he files a report on it” and that is very much like me. Like many, many other people.

We’re all lonely and sad together on this one planet, aren’t we?

Oh, I’m not unhappy all the time. At other times I’m a pure joy jumping with glee and I can barely contain it! Over the last few years I’ve written a lot about my emotional pain, the scars of my personal grieving process over the loss of my mother and friends I boldly display whether or not anyone is reading, and not all poetry I produce is about one person or that thing that made me sad. However…

What I’ve learned all my life dealing with mental illness (in my family and my own experience): people judge you for everything you do and say once you’re under that label, you will lose friends constantly due to behavior you can curb and can’t control, and there are times when the pain is so intense no one else can possibly gauge how you feel or help you with just words.

All one can do is keep going, which makes things all the more difficult because even though everyone likes to say “help is available” or even we like to tell someone glum the bland statement “You need help” and the ever so useless “things will get better”, they don’t have a clue how to go about helping anyone, or themselves. Not unless you open up. AND even then not unless someone is there to listen. To just be there to listen! I’ve often been asked, “How can I help you?” whenever I’ve felt so down I might as well be crawling.

The answer is fairly simple: “Don’t do anything but be there.”

Playing a supportive role takes doing nothing and comes with a lot of “don’t do this” rules. Like don’t judge. As well as one very important “be” and that is: be gentle.

You thought I was about to say “be understanding” didn’t you?

Being gentle to someone in pain takes a special kindness, far better even than attempting to understand. When someone is in physical pain, or suffering from a bleeding wound, would you be tough with them? Soothing the illness helps ease. We want to transform “disease” to “ease” — the depression can’t go away, no one can make it disappear, but we can make the ways we endure it easier by simply helping each other reach peace.

But.

What happens when “being there” is not enough? I don’t think I can answer that for anyone else, yet even I find myself trying to come up with answers for and why and because.

So I write like I do when I think out loud to myself.

The path to emotional wellness is also a physical health issue fraught with so many ups and downs, I’m surprised anyone survives it. Few folks truly feel inclined to believe a person who eventually turns to suicide to end their constant suffering (not that I’m condoning it, mind you!) justifiably did it to truly end their true suffering.  What many don’t realize is that depression is long term suffering, especially since any kind of depression isn’t just simply explained away as a case of the blues.

I believe when suicides happen, individuals are in deep pain as serious as with any disease. Robin Williams was an actor whose struggles to keep sober and to combat his constant manic ups and downs wore him out. Even though he loved his family and friends, I am thinking that most likely he just wanted that constant pain to end. I’m sad that he died and lost the fight, just like I am broken-hearted over anyone who finally succumbs to any other fatal disease.

Because, believe it or not, depression kills. Depression, more so than experimenting with recreational drugs or what-not, leads people to numb their pain with alcohol and other substances. Whether or not you stay alive, it kills you, eats you up. You can have every luxury in the world and still have that unreasonable, unexplained black emptiness erasing you inside.

I don’t need to list suicide statistics to tell you how much of a problem this violent way to end life is in this country, especially among men, impacts so many families and friends. It’s a kind of death that continues to cause far more pain than any other passing, mainly because it is unnatural for a living being to turn against one’s own need for self-preservation. A person may decide to act on their need to end their pain, but the body itself will still fight on instinct to survive everything you put it through.

I’m no stranger to suicide attempts myself, but it’s never the longing to die, only to end pain that was at the heart of every attempt I ever made. Just so we’re clear, I am not telling you I’m suicidal now! But Robin’s death brings up all those dark memories, and makes me think of people who are suffering as I write these words, and I weep many nights just thinking how helpless I am to fight against my own depression, let alone help anyone else with theirs. Yet it is because I’ve suffered, I know there is a need to lend a shoulder to cry on for someone else, even if they may not actually be crying out loud.

It’s not an easy thing to witness someone in pain as you stand by, but if you knew how good it does to help that other person stand on their own, you’d do it time and time again.

I think it’s the basis of strength.

There are times I wish I could turn back time… or be there for just one more person before they shut off the clock.

So what keeps me ‘ticking’?

Most times I am outside of myself, aware that there are lives all around me not in pain who are simply alive, and it is that life I am grateful for being there. Animals especially surround me everywhere I go. This summer’s filled with life in my neck of the woods.

And I have many, many beautiful pictures to show you… coming soon.

I’m coming in out of the darkness.

Beltane Wishes

Beltane blessings today and night to all I love: may your wishes come true and all hearts be light! ‘Tis the season to make merry (some to marry) and awake, revive the green and love for all of life’s sake. Shake off the dust, wipe clean a slate, who cares if our Spring is late! The Sun is in the heart and the party is up to us to start…

…even if your “party” just means you and your pet, or spouse, alone at home soaking in the quiet after long day’s long done. May you feast well and your sleep and good dreams be well won!

As for me, last night was Walpurgisnacht!  “Witches’ Night” means it’s a super witch-related fun night, nothing creepy (unless you count us as fairly nerdy).  All around the world witches were leaping over bonfires and dancing all night long.  My fun was to write a few sestinas (yes, I can write formal poetic forms, but I prefer free verse) as a divination exercise. I stayed up all night drawing and painting, and generally didn’t do a lot different than anything I don’t normally do. Not that I’m a boring witch, it’s just more peaceful being my solitary self!

Drink one for me, loves. And if you haven’t danced, get yourself out there! Go on…

I grew up Evangelical Christian, and in my mother’s house we had more than a healthy fear of The Devil. That fear was especially keen during the early 1980’s when day care sex abuse hysteria, also known as “the Satanic Panic” (because all of the allegations of satanic ritual abuse that went along with the molestation allegations), made everyday life for a kid full of the potential to get raped, or murdered, by devil worshipers who could be anywhere. It was all over the news, talked about at church, but what was most heavily emphasized was about the sex. Sex, sex, sex, sex, sex. Any thoughts about it made you subject for the Devil. You could invite Him in with just one horny mind. A campaign of shame was hammered into our thoughts to prevent us from getting curious about it, or daring to give in to the natural urge teenage and young adult bodies manifest as they grow. The more we were told that the seat of evil was in our pants, the more it raged. Even when in love, the guilt of heavy petting ruined perfectly innocent relationships. The Devil was everywhere, right in our underwear.

Without getting into all the hoopla of the Book of Revelation (I refuse to quote scripture here because I have an aversion to the Bible, not because I disrespect Christians, but because it’s a religion I don’t identify as my own, and I feel disrespected whenever anyone uses Biblical scripture to defend their beliefs to me because one should not use a book to give me their personal testimony), I’ve always wondered why sex was such a taboo and not a celebrated thing. You would think that people who revere life even in its earliest stages would also be pro-sex! Because how else will we get those babies? Babies come from sex. More specifically, babies are born out of women’s bodies. It’s a woman’s body that is a battle ground in regards to religious morals about sex. You can’t have life without sex, right? So how did sex get so molested? The Devil made men do it. He got up into women’s bodies and made men’s lust evil and twisted so babies come out unhealthy. At some point, I suspect, the Devil was born from the belief that still-borns, sexually transmitted disease, and sexual abuse all originated from one supernatural enemy — a scapegoat to pin the blame on for the sins of men who couldn’t control their urges, especially ones that brought them down into animalistic and brutal practices.

I don’t believe the Devil as molester and rapist was ever a pagan god, or even any god’s adversary, but a personification of the feral side of human sexuality — the kind people greatly fear will take over their bodies while in the throws of lust and euphoria. When we’re naked, we are really stripped down to our true human animal skin, and when it comes to sex, we behave as we truly are, throwing ourselves back to nature.

Getting back to everyday, modern society here, I notice correspondences between symbols, numbers, and the common iconography that people associate with their fears and desires, how we use these images to create good luck and even invite bad things to happen to us. One thing I see repeating throughout pop culture is the Number of the Beast — 666!

I’ve known people who will actually defend the so-called power behind this number, adding so much of their fearful energy to it that they create their own reality of “evil out to get me at every turn”. Why do that? No wonder some people put no stock in other forms of positive ways to fuel their own power and turn to other people for spiritual help. They simply cannot believe that number won’t have any hold on them, especially when I point out that not all cultures on earth consider it unlucky or associated with the Devil.

In light of today being International Women’s Day, I know that the number 6 has a much more benign meaning in Numerology… The number 6 relates to feminine sexuality, family, fertility, domestic duties, womanhood, and home. This makes me wonder if that number has a connection to a fear of the Devil as being a fear of sex, especially as a fear of women having control over their sexuality and being independent of men.  My feminist views aside, I must consider the other meanings of this numerical conundrum.

In Kabbalistic Judaism, the 666 number is representative of the awesomeness of all creation because the world was created in six days, and there are six cardinal directions (north, south, east, west, above and below). Also if you add the numbers 666 together they equal 18, the number of life, also known as the Jewish “Hai” or “chai” which means “living, alive”! It’s customary in modern times to give monetary gifts in the number of 18 because of that spiritual significance.

The number six is a lucky number, and a triple six is a triple trinity. Trinities are really considered special in many religions, most representing the three main forms of gods and goddesses, including the Christian God, the Son (Jesus Christ), and the Holy Spirit. All trinities also represent three stages of life being youth, middle age, and old age, the emphasis on life, not evil or death. You can put whatever power you want on a number, or any type of sigil, and it can work a miracle for you depending upon how hard and well you believe…

I read somewhere once that the number 6 was sacred to the goddess Aphrodite. I believe that the number 666 may have originally been a sign not of “the beast” but of the lust men have for women, or the lust people have for sex, and that the number represented wild sexuality, something that was later considered evil because it related to the temples of the love goddess where ritual prostitution was practiced, and eventually abused. From there it must have grown, especially with the advent of more conservative religious thought (yes, even the Romans before Christianity frowned upon  some lecherous behavior) into a major misongynist hysteria that manifested with the mythos of the Devil, especially when it involved the prostitution and rape of young people. What once was a sacred institution became a den of debauchery, where people used religion as an excuse to disguise their true intention to exploit the innocent. Hello, slavery!

Just like so many religious institutions today. We trust our clergy, no matter what god devoted to, to be perfect representatives of our god, trusted to help and educate the innocent in the ways of that god. But can we not see how tempting a position to apply for that makes an already perverted “beast” of a person to want to be in? I can imagine it was the same for followers of Aphrodite to use the excuses of religious worship to take advantage of people, especially ones who were taught that it was okay to be a sexual slave in the name of the goddess.

Such behavior leads to un-wellness — centuries of it — and it’s no fault of any god/dess, or even any Devil, and no one need put a number on it either. 666 triggers all sorts of distortions and demons in the mind, even people who aren’t religious are unnerved by it, as if human beings have conditioned each other to see those three 6’s as three human figures buggering one another — come on, you can see it — and that means we’re all going to meet our doom, or that we have dirty minds.

Thinking beyond numbers and symbols, getting to the heart of their meaning and how they can be used, and realizing no thing has any power over myself except what I give it, helped me grow up. And I’m a Witch, I love the magic of these things, you’d think I was a messed up crazy person over all this, but being what I am is the heart of being wise — we practice the craft of it.

How I survived the satanic panic was that good common sense won out over fear. Faced with other people’s ignorance and all the over-the-top claims of satanic abuse every neighbor and their mother had to the point where anyone, including myself, who wore black was suspected of being a Satanist, somehow I developed patience and tolerance, and I took the time to learn mercy and forgive. And, *gasp!* I even made friends with real Satanists who shared with me their stories, set me right, and really helped me appreciate the world we live in.  Anything that could not be answered logically by my mother and other authorities, I turned to the library for help, and that place became my safe haven. To this day libraries are like my church, book stores a spiritual warehouse, and my own reference library at home is like having a chapel at arms-length.

Where did I get my confidence and wisdom to appreciate our differences? You’ll laugh when I tell you that I swear it came from the gods! I escaped into my mind and imagination. I had visions, inspiration, poetry to read, heroes to dream about, and, no, that’s not pathetic, that’s using my mind.  It’s a good thing.

Looking back, I’m grateful for the lessons from my childhood, but I’m also grateful to not live in that atmosphere anymore, to not fear sex or be in constant anxiety over the world blowing up, or even being afraid of eternal damnation if I should die (because no one was ever sure of getting to Heaven due to the multitude of sins one could commit without the reassurance of constant absolution). Besides, I’ve always suspected that “the Beast” already lived and died. He was quite possibly Nero or any number of naughty Roman, or other ancient bad boy leader in power at the time the Book of Revelations was written. No matter, I don’t make the Bible my book of choice as to what choices I make in my life.

The real devils are real people who have the nasty problem of seeking power and control over other people, sexually, emotionally, mentally, and physically. They take advantage of our innocence and vulnerability. They don’t come out of the dark wearing horns and black capes and they don’t use magic or cast curses on us.  The real devils are far more direct, brutal, bloody. They don’t rape us as part of satanic rituals, nor seek to sacrifice us to the Devil. They charm us into sacrificing ourselves to them. The nicest people are the best murderers because they take advantage of our desire to be nice, not just come at us when we’re vulnerable. I shake my head when I hear people claiming demons are inside them or following them around when we have living people who don’t have to have a devil in them to be completely devilish.

Don’t fear 666, or the Devil, or sex, or preach against all the things young people will naturally do due to being human, and don’t tell anyone they’re possessed by the Devil even if they are selfish and naughty — be sensible and guide them to be wary of real dangers in life. Teach yourself and others to have self esteem, to be physically strong and fit, and to read the psychological signs of people out there who may hurt us.  Lead by example.  Live in love.  Be blessed and give blessings in return.

Can I get a Blessed Be?  *giggle*  Or how about an Amen?

Calling all practitioners of the magickal arts and sciences!  Don’t miss out on this spectacular opportunity, especially if you live in the UK, or plan on visiting there soon.

Call for papers and performances: The State of Magick/The Magickal State.

For the story behind the above photo, go here and go here to learn all about artist Brion Gysin‘s Dreamachine and his friendship with William S. Burroughs.

Topics for both conference and symposium to be explored can be, but not exclusively:

Contemporary rationalisation of esoteric practice
The documentation of ritual action
Ecstatic communities and subcultures
The internet and the occult
Sound and ritual
Modern day Sex Magick
The Magickian and the book
Performing public ritual
The sigil and its legacies
Transpersonal psychology and the creative process

Reposted from A New Aktionist Cookbook

“Of course the sands of Present Time are running out from under our feet. And why not? The Great Conundrum: ‘What are we here for?’ is all that ever held us here in the first place. Fear. The answer to the Riddle of the Ages has actually been out in the street since the First Step in Space. Who runs may read but few people run fast enough. What are we here for? Does the great metaphysical nut revolve around that? Well, I’ll crack it for you, right now. What are we here for? We are here to go!”
The Process, by Brion Gysin


I have twenty years experience giving psychic Tarot readings, I’ve worked as an Occult Consultant for paranormal investigations, I moonlight as a Spirit Medium, and I seek to serve my community as an Oracle, but I will be the first to tell you that not everything us so-called “psychics” tell you are true. In the game of predictions there is a wide margin of error, hence why fortune-telling is more of a novelty and not taken so seriously. It is always up to the seeker (you) to decide what to believe in.  I have read the destinies of many people, some have taken what I said to a degree where they allow it to direct their lives into an unhealthy direction, and some have done what they’re supposed to do with their fortunes; they took what I told them as a guide, they made a choice, they took control of their lives, and perhaps look back at what I said as an interesting story to talk about at a dinner party.

Being a guide, that’s what an Oracle is, she’s not your personal doom seer, not someone to fear and expect death sentences from.  If you don’t want to know the possibilities of whether or not you’ll be with your boyfriend forever, don’t ask the Oracle.  If you really want to know when you’ll die, go ahead and ask, you’ll get a number, but it might not happen at the age predicted.  Or maybe a kind of death will happen at the age pin-pointed.  I was once told I’d have a baby at age 24, and then die at age 39, but both those ages came and went without those events!  However, at the time I was engaged… if I had kept the choice to stay in that relationship, who knows, it could have happened.

Beyond fortune-telling, there is another game, that of psuedo-spiritual advice, and a psychic can do it without a degree, they don’t have to be an ordained minister, and most just jump into it without a lick of experience dealing with the public. All you have to be is pleasant and approachable. But to make money at it, you have to have “game” just like any person out to make a connection with another — a gimmick, a look, some kind of unique talent that catches the imagination of others and leaves them wanting more. I knew about this game when I started making a living at it in the mid-90’s attending psychic fairs, and pandering on the street while homeless during the early 2000’s. The game was highly competitive, like a boot camp for crystal-baring New Age-rs and other metaphysical nerds, and I was never completely keen on the idea of taking money from people who were all-too-eager to buy everything I told them as Bible Truth. In the beginning, I was taught to always add, “Just be aware, no matter what the outcome, you always have the power of Choice”, but the message never quite gets through to people, especially when a querent is desperate for messages from the Powers-That-Be. When I was homeless, I was the one desperate to survive, and I knew how to play a part — I was an actor, I did all my own marketing, and I had a following — performing at festivals, at local cafes, anywhere for anyone, applying the tricks of the trade I saw other psychics use to scrupulous measure. I put Cold Reading to the test, and I must say it worked every time, but it was still very stressful to do because I never knew when I’d mess up. Needless to say, my “performance era” was short-lived, but it was fun being something akin to a gypsy.

Always think for yourself. Question everything you are told. A psychic, just like any good therapist, only shows you your possibilities… and alternatives as you make your choices on life’s path. But when you’re like me, when your life’s path is that of an Oracle — a person who uses trance, and many other means, to connect to the spiritual world according to her religious beliefs and/or cultural, spiritual, and magico-religious practices, to procure messages from the gods to give to seekers — the role of playing fortune-teller twists away from the game of psychic counseling to something altogether different. I have much responsibility and integrity to uphold. It feels dangerous. It’s like playing with people’s’ lives, but only if they swallow the message whole, or use it to further their cause.

In the ancient world it was also the same, I believe, because it’s evident in the hero’s epics — Oracles warn heroes that if they pick a certain path it will lead to doom, but if they pick a more domestic path, one without adventure (and therefore without valor or renown), they can live a long life with their families — yet heroes always pick, despite the Oracle’s counsel, the hopeless cause. Just like in the movie The Matrix, the Oracle seems to know everything that is going to happen, and she recognizes who-is-Who, yet events happen outside of the reach of her knowing, choices change the direction of things, even though the same result is reached, just not the way we all think it’s going to turn out.  Oracles are not know-it-alls!  If we were, we wouldn’t be poor. We’d live like the famous psychics that pop up now and then, selling their series of books and wares, appearing on television series, and what all. And if we were perfect, we’d all not have any mental or emotional pain.

Some people really want to have the abilities that psychics, mediums, and oracles seem to have because it gives them a thrill, they truly want to help other people, and they just want to know more about the spiritual world. But I’m here to tell you it’s not all beds of roses with ghosts in them giving you back massages and whispering secrets about your friends in your ears. Scary experiences will haunt you, and if you’re not strong, you’re in for several breakdowns. Natural ability or not, it’s not easy to figure out what to do, or who to go to for your own counseling on how to deal with “talking to dead people” because there are very real, very serious disorders that can debunk all that. I have questioned myself a lot, but I also cannot deny that, after so many years of practice, training, and testing, clients come back to me to testify I was “right” (whether or not I remember what I told them).

I want to write for you a small question/answer list of what to look out for when you go out for a psychic reading. Want to know what to look for in a reader? Who can you trust? Who is shady? What is all entertainment only, and real spiritual counseling? And how can I avoid misinterpreting the results of a reading? Much of it is common sense, really. Read on and see if you agree with me.

Q: How do I know when a psychic is taking advantage of me?
A: Look for clues in what they offer. Their services are usually outrageous. If they charge you a lot of money for a cleansing, or to rid you of a curse. If they tell you in a reading that someone close to you is zapping you of energy, that your house has a demon in it, or that you have a spirit attached to you and that you need them to get rid of that, and only they have your cure, chances are they want to rip you off. Especially look out for them selling you even more expensive “cures” that are really cheap ingredients like a simple wax candle, “holy oil” that is just canola oil, and soap you can buy anywhere. The money charged is usually in amounts like $99.99. Psychics like that are not true advisers, they’re con-artists. Other fake psychics may actually have some talent, but are in it strictly for money. They really want to keep you as a client. Scare tactics work every time. Believing that something supernatural has it in for you is rather flattering, and thrilling, and these psychics will play you for your money’s worth, not to mention destroy relationships and mess with your mind.

Q: What should I look for in a good psychic reader?
A: “Good” readers are professional — they do not give you any outrageous claims, they are straight forward, don’t ask many questions, and present their impressions, opinions, and advice confidently. Their prices reflect their intentions, experience, and reputation. The more references they have, you can be assured they are doing right. Look for testimonials — real ones, not false advertisements — from clients who are also professionals. Also look for a solid history that is well documented. Even if a good reader does not have these, check out where they are doing their readings: have they been hired by a reputable business? Is their place of business somewhere comfortable, appropriate, or even if it’s campy and/or decorated according to a cultural standard, is it clean and the people there helpful? Do they make you feel welcome?

Q: How can I tell when a reader is telling the truth when they answer my questions?
A: You can’t. They will point out the truth as they see it. You may not agree with them at times, but it’s up to you to decide what is true. Every psychic is an individual and will have their own unique opinions that may, or may not, adhere well to your personal views. If you go to more than one psychic, you may get more than one answer. Some will tell you what you want to hear according to how many dollars you give them. Some will tell you only what they pick up, no matter what you pay. Answers always will vary and change according to your mood, worries, and the energy you are projecting. Psychics pick up more on what is going on with you right now, and what happened to you before, and when it comes to the future, well, the future is always changing based on what you are doing now. Instead of feeding you answers, nearly all good psychics will get you to ask more questions of yourself, and think for yourself.

What is your truth? If it doesn’t match what the oracle says, then investigate what it is about you at the moment of the reading that brought about that result. If you didn’t like what the oracle said, don’t pay attention to it. Why believe everything someone “psychic” tells you? Just because someone is dealing the Tarot cards, does not mean they know more about you than you do about yourself. Pay more attention to how you feel and what you think. Again, you are asking the questions. You are the seeker.

Keep searching.

Q: What should I do to keep track of every psychic reading I get?
A: Bring a notebook and write down the results, record the reading using a voice activated device, or video tape your session. The value of documenting your reading is essential so you can go back to re-examine the results as they happened! If you want to guard against misinterpretation, having documentation to back up someone else’s claims, as well as aid you in any kind of paranormal research, is the smartest way to check the accuracy of a psychic.

Q: How can I find a “real” Oracle, or spirit medium?
A: In my honest opinion, the “real ones” are practitioners in a specific cultural or religious tradition, or have some affiliation within an organized spiritual institution. These are people who have trained and devoted their lives to the practice, and it is foremost the main service they give to their communities. Many of them do not make much money at it. Using myself, for example, I often do an exchange of services, or use a barter system, especially during times when money is scarce. Acting as an oracle is often part of the duties of priest/ess in many cultures. Major decisions are not made without consulting with this holy person. It is a very different way of thought and action than how it is in the average American Joe world. If you seek this kind of person for spiritual advice, you may have to petition them by offering them a favor or two in payment, or you may have to be a part of the religion they practice, depending upon how exclusive and secretive their tradition is. Oracles and mediums work with spirits, they do not command them to do things for people, so often times messages come from the spirits, and the spirits require offerings and favors. Again, not every oracle follows these rules, this is just a few examples added for flavor.

Q: What can a Spirit Medium do? Will they contact specific dead relatives for me? How do I know it’s real?
A: You’ll never quite know. Refer back to the top of the list and beware of the fake psychics who’ll take advantage of you while you’re vulnerable. Don’t seek a spirit medium while you are the most upset during mourning the loss of a loved one. However, sometimes when you do get a reading, miracles can happen. Who knows? It’s up to you to believe and let what needs to happen, happen.

Let me spell out for you what spirit mediums do, and what you can expect from them, with this list…

1. A Spirit Medium is Not a Ouija Board, or a Telephone! However sometimes we feel like we’re being used like a device by the spirits, we just can’t be used by people as if we are.  It would be nice if it were exact, that would at least make the skeptics settle down.
2. Spirits Communicate Through the Medium, ‘They’ Decide if They’re Gonna ‘Talk’.  There is no forcing or demanding spirits to do anything, unless you want a very unhappy, angry spirit on your hands.
3.  Spirit Mediums Do Not Always ‘Hear’ Spirits Talk:

  •  Most of the time that “talking” is our interpretation of dream-like images flashed within the mind, and it’s up to us to decide whether or not they are actually messages from spirits
  • Communicating with spirits is often flashing back to the spirits ideas in the shape of dream images, this going back and forth is a process that sometimes requires me to go into a trance-like state: I let go of my present consciousness and share consciousness with spirits, the spirits and I operate as “one” for a little while. (Not every medium does that, by the way)
  •  Spirits are disembodied beings of pure emotion, and rarely show themselves entirely in a medium’s mind, so most of the time they “talk” by projecting emotions and sensations through the physical body — it can feel like they are attacking you, especially when these sensations become painful (because sometimes a spirit is urgently trying to reach out)
  • Spirits send “thoughts”, and that leaves a lot to the imagination! Not every medium is great at interpreting what’s shared.

4. Spirit Mediums Don’t Just Talk to Ghosts. There are a host of spirits out there. Depending upon the personal beliefs of the medium, they will react in many different ways towards spirits. Some are very afraid, some aren’t. You have to decide what you’re comfortable with.
5. The Success of a Spirit Medium Depends Upon the Querent. If you have an open attitude, the more chances the world will “open” up the possibilities of spirit contact for you. If you are nothing but skeptical and don’t really want anything to happen, everything will remain closed. Simple as that.
6. Shut Up! Stop Telling the Medium All About Yourself. We want to explore and find things out on our own. Feeding us information will spoil a reading. If you want us to validate true contact with the dead, it’s gotta happen naturally.
7. Mediums Always Make Mistaken Identities and Describe Inaccurate Details that Don’t Match Up. It’s hard to tell sometimes when it’s our own thoughts and dream imagery and not that of the spirit world because both go hand-in-hand. It seems like a risky guessing game, but actually it’s funny. Sometimes what I think is the wildest interpretation is the most accurate.
8. Even Spirit Mediums have Skeptical Minds. We question things we think, we wonder if we’re right or wrong, we research what we thought were vibes, and there’s a healthy amount of doubt no matter what. I don’t buy into everything I’m told, why should you?
9. Not Every Psychic, Spirit Medium, Oracle, or What-Have-You, is Spiritual or Religious, and they will be most insulted if you make the mistake thinking that they are. Many don’t believe in angels, demons, or even ghosts. So how can they do what they do? They are experimenting with energy, they use terms and techniques more on a scientific level, often in the name of research and detective work.

After writing this, I realize this all still seems confusing, and I may have convoluted it all with my personal testimony. So, dear reader, before I leave you to your thoughts, I will lastly differentiate all the types of mediumship in this world I slipped into I call Supra-Oracledom:

Valentina’s Guide on How to Read Psychic Readers
Part 2: Identifying Spirit Mediums & Psychic Senses

  • Mental Mediumship: A practice where thoughts are exchanged with spirits as a form of communication. These thoughts are “heard” just like thinking to yourself, they are subtle, almost a type of whisper, and can be intermixed with the medium’s own thoughts. Messages come like dream interpretations — it can be tricky to make sense of what is real or delusion, hence why the margin of error.
  • Trance Mediumship: Partial consciousness shared with spirits where communication takes place as an exchange of dream images or ideas. A variant of Trance is a deeper form where the medium is fully inducted into trance, letting a spirit(s) take over their consciousness in order to communicate with the living. Such individuals require assistance. The practice of Channeling is a variant of Trance — where a medium goes “out-of-body” temporarily to let an entity (such as an angel, or some one-thousand year old monk) take over their body to relay messages.
  • Physical Mediumship: The medium is used by spirits as a sort of battery to plug into so they can manifest in the physical world, producing all sorts of noisy and possibly sudden, violent effects that are quite electrical-feeling. This is the rarest form of mediumship, and the most hoaxed.
    The Senses & Abilities Psychics Claim to Have:

  • Clairaudience: hearing the thought-like voices of spirits
  • Clairvoyance: seeing spirits
  • Clairsentinence: feeling the presence of spirits, taking on their ailments, sharing physical sensations
  • Clairsentience: sensing the presence, or impression, of spirits
  • Claircognizance: knowing something without being conscious of it
  • Clairalience: smelling the presence of a spirit(s)
  • Clairgustance: actually tasting the impression of a nearby spirit!
  • Quick note: All the prefixes clair mean clear

As a parting message, I leave you with words from the great goddess Fortuna, or Fortune, whom I consider a patron goddess of fortune-tellers (for do we not participate in her games of chance and destiny?):

“I turn the cycles of life, and I am happy to bring down those on their high horse, and lift up those who are down on their luck. You’re welcome to step up and spin the wheel of fate! Provided that you remember everything is left to chance, and change. I am not changeable, I stay the same, it is life that changes with my touch. It is said I favor no one, except those who make their own luck, but I am not about luck. I am fate. You’ll never know me. I’ll only give you peeks.  I was there at your birth and will be there at your death, and though you may blame me for the results of your choices, know that I owe you nothing save what I give everyone, my namesake: fortune.”

In Case You Forgot

If ever any friend of mine has ever felt I talked over them, ignored them, told too many stories that weren’t true about them, grabbed at them too much for their attention, made them feel second best, or that I shoved them aside because I had something else going on that was more “me-centered” and it hurt their feelings, please know that it was never my intention to make you feel disregarded, or disrespected.

I’m too excited when you’re near me, I don’t know when next you’ll go, so I’m anxious to tell you everything I’m thinking because I so easily forget it, sometimes way before you leave.  I can’t let you leave before I get the chance to share with you all the wonderful things I’ve been saving up while you were gone.

I forget that you are just as excited to share as well.  I don’t know how to listen to you.  My thoughts are racing.  I’m sorry.

I’m alone too much.  I know no other life.  The world all around me is too wonderful and too much.  Everything spins me around.  I’m turned on all the time.  Even my own voice is on volume 10.  I can look at your face and not hear a word you’re saying because I’m distracted by the scent of your skin, the bands of light in your eyes, and, look over there!  A squirrel just darted up the tree behind you, but I can’t say anything about it because the scent of peonies is riding the wind, and when I blink I can’t understand anything for that moment you were talking.

I don’t dare ask you to repeat what you said.  It’s embarrassing to admit I blanked you out. You’re going to hate me for doing that.  You don’t deserve to be blanked out.

I can’t tell just any tale about you.  When I talk about you, I will make you fantastic.  I will worship you a hero.  I will breathe into you the poison of a monster if I’m angry with you.  You’ll always be poetry to me.  I won’t name you.  You’ll always have many different names.  I’ll dress you up in costumes.  I do this to avoid reality.  I suppose it’s unhealthy at times, yet it’s too fun to quit.  Try to guess who you are.  You’re all my friends.

You are fantastic.  Let me like you.  I know who you really are off the page.  But let me dress you up some more.  Because I don’t get to play as often  anymore.

I don’t know how to get your attention.  I don’t know how other people do it.  I always think I need a gimmick.  I have to perform.  That’s what I do whenever I’m in public.  Me alone is not enough.  And I can’t let the space between us be silent.  If you’re too quiet, I panic.  I don’t have your attention.  You’re not responding.  I have always had to fight for attention.  I go over looked if I’m not dramatic.  I gotta stand out and shine.  I must entertain you.

I don’t know how to show or return affection.  I really don’t!  I have never understood it.  Giving hugs and shaking hands is uncomfortable.  I never know when someone is sincere when they are touching me.  People touch each other for all kinds of insincere reasons, but when I touch, I am for real, and I pick up all sorts of unsavory feelings from strangers.  No one gets that.  They don’t operate like I do.  Do you know me?  Or do I have to touch you in some special way, and if I do, will I find out if you really like me, or not?

When I reach out, it’s an awkward dance — was that a real hug of comfort or when you were saying hello, you were really telling me good-bye, right?  Like when some people say ‘Let’s do lunch sometime!’ and ‘We ought to meet up…’ and not really mean it, yet I always take it literally and believe it, especially the ones I really want to like me.

I’m alone.  It’s the only way I know to be.  Only way I’m confident to be.  But even I can reject myself…  I should not do that.  We all only have ourselves in the end.  No one else gonna take care of you, who else will love you most?

Do you know I always have to give myself something to look forward to in order to keep going?  I’m so busy pushing myself and patting my own back that I forget to see you giving me support.  I get caught up in my sorrows, hurts, and past complaints, I can get lost within my own shadow.

And I am always somewhere supporting my wounds,  not doing enough to support my healers.

Healers need healing the most.  Because they do the most work.

I take a lot out of my healers.

I’m difficult without wanting to be.  I wish I wasn’t.

I don’t know how to listen.  I can’t listen to you.  I’m in a cloud.

Every night I torture myself with thoughts of what I could have said, or should have done, and talk to myself like I would talk to you if I could talk to you one more time before I sleep, as if you are there in the room with me, so I can make things right with you. And every night I cry because I pray so hard that somehow my wishful words could reach you and bring my love to you so that you never again feel like I don’t like you.

Don’t get caught in your own shadow.  Remember, somehow, remember, despite what you think you swear you may know about me, I’m in my dark corner of the night unable to sleep, saying out loud my “if only you were here’s” and “what I would do different’s” but knowing that when you break away…

When you say it’s “for now”, it really means “forever”, and I lose track of everything with you not in it.  So continue to be in my everything, because you mean so very much.

Without you I would not have been able to crawl out of the pain hole I fell into when my baby boy died, when my mother died, when my aunt died, when my roommate died, when my boyfriend died, when so many others died, and, when I died you revived me, took me to the hospital, held my hand until I woke.  Thank you for being there when no one could be and refused to be.  You were there when my heart got broke a hundred times.  You stayed up with me all night to talk about all the boys who used me.  You were the God who carried me home.  You were the Goddess who tucked me into bed.  Yours were the lips that kissed me on my forehead and bade me many wishes well.

Thank you, a million times, thank you.

Don’t forget!

– For Mindy

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