Positive Energy, please
July 19, 2010 10:47 AM   Subscribe

Does anyone have any positive experiences with psychics?

Obviously the uber-logical, metafilter skeptics would love to weigh in on this question. But please no snarky remarks, negative stories, warnings, diatribes, condescending lectures, or thinly veiled insults. Not that I unquestioningly believe in all so-called psychic phenomena-- it's just that we've heard all those level-headed warnings before. And it's boring. Your skepticism is dully and preemptively noted.

I would like to hear any stories about when a psychic told you something that was startling or surprisingly accurate. I would also like to hear any stories of how psychics might have changed your life. I would also like to hear from actual psychics, or those who themselves have had psychic experiences, or those who know psychics in real life.

Again, please don't tell me it's a scam. I have a healthy sense of skepticism. I'm sure some psychics are totally faking it, like I'm sure some scientists and computer programmers are faking it too. I am more than willing to consider that the world is completely logical, we understand everything in heaven and earth, and psychics are not real. But for once, I would like to hear the other side.
posted by Wayman Tisdale to Society & Culture (28 answers total) 18 users marked this as a favorite
A random guy I knew a little did a Tarot reading for me my freshman year in college, and it was remarkably on-point, given that all he knew about me was that I was an alto (we were in glee club together).

He wasn't psychic. He was very intuitive; he paid close attention to the people around him; he was an excellent cold-reader. He went on to become a development officer for various high-profile nonprofits, where he main job was to build rapport with and ask money from major donors.
posted by rtha at 10:51 AM on July 19, 2010 [2 favorites]

I had a conversation about this the other day. Discounting the actual fortune-telling aspect (which is what people say they're faking,) psychics are supposed to be very good at cold reading body language and tone of voice. If you're open and honest with one they can give you some interesting insights into yourself. Just think of them as a person who is very, very good at absorbing the first impression you give them. You just have to filter it through all the "you'll meet a handsome stranger" crap.
posted by griphus at 10:52 AM on July 19, 2010 [2 favorites]

This isn't about a psychic per se, unless I'm a psychic, but...

I grew up in a religious family (Anglican), and I went to Sunday School regularly when I was a kid. One Sunday School session, the teacher was waxing lyrical and said that something she found incredible about the Bible was that sometimes, if you're sad or upset or have a problem, you can flick open a page at random and find the answer right there in front of you.

That night something bad happened. I don't know what, I got into a squabble with my sister or didn't finish my veges and got in trouble or something. I remember going crying to my room, and remembering what the Sunday School teacher had said, I flicked open my Bible at random. The verse I laid my eyes on was Acts 8:2, "and the devout men carried Stephen to his grave."

(My name's Stephen.)

I spent... I don't know how long, convinced that I'd just received a prophecy of my own death, as punishment for not getting along well enough with my sister or whatever.

Not a 'positive experience with psychics' per se I suppose, but thanks for listening anyway!
posted by chmmr at 10:55 AM on July 19, 2010 [4 favorites]

I, too, have had a good experience with tarot. It's not psychic (nobody can read minds), but a good tarot reader will use the cards to create a narrative which you can then think about as a possible narrative for your life, which is good food for rumination. It takes advantage of the fact that humans invariably want to make their experiences into a story rather than just disparate events. If you go into it with the idea that it's food for thought and reflection (in much the same way that parables and allegory are), I think your experience will be quite positive.
posted by ocherdraco at 10:55 AM on July 19, 2010

Here's the thing. I don't believe that most professional psychics are, indeed psychic in the way we think - ie, I don't think most of them can see the future. However, having been dragged to see a few psychics in my day, I've been impressed at how perceptive, in a non-magical way, the best ones are. They often can pick up on things, through body language, mannerisms and speech, that wouldn't even register with most folks.

Some people see this as a scam - ie, "they're using things you say and your body language to trick you into thinking they know things!!!!" But I actually think it can be useful. On two separate occasions, I've had psychics pick up on emotions or tendencies in myself that I wasn't aware of. Once I had them called to my attention, I was able to deal with those things and, in one case, it had a really positive affect on my life.

That second psychic, the one who helped me understand something that was subconsciously holding me back, told me she was leaving the tea room in two months to go back to school and become a psychologist. I think that about hits the nail on the head. I'm sure she's an excellent therapist.

That said, I don't think going to see a psychic is any sort of substitute for seeing a real therapist, obviously. And I have seen people get addicted to all sorts of divination, whether it's astrology or tarot cards or whatever. I'm sure it can be a really, really tempting path.

And of course, most psychics probably are scammers, in that they are not even particularly perceptive. If anyone ever tells you there's a curse on you that they'll reverse for just $1000, run!
posted by wholebroad at 10:57 AM on July 19, 2010 [5 favorites]

I would not pay money to see a psychic.

That said, I have a deck of tarot cards and I find it helpful every once in a while to take them out and do a reading for myself, or even just explore a bit, looking at the cards, thinking about imagery and symbolism, etc. It can be sort of like a meditation or a way to scratch an itch. I don't know that I've ever gotten anything "right", but I have hit upon truths that I knew deep in my heart and needed help remembering. If that makes any sense.

Spend $15 on a deck of cards (or the divination equipment of your choice) and learn to use it as a thought tool. Or consult with a friend who is into this sort of thing for benign reasons. Don't hand hundreds of dollars over to someone who says they can tell you what the future holds, because they can't. Even though they are happy to continue to take your money.
posted by Sara C. at 10:59 AM on July 19, 2010 [3 favorites]

Hi, I read Tarot cards professionally. I am always very careful to tell people that I am not psychic, nor is the process I'm about to lead them through necessarily a mystical one. It's just a cooperative imagination exercise that becomes very personal very quickly. I try to avoid cold-reading techniques to the extent that I'm conscious of them.

But regardless of this, I often get feedback, especially from strangers telling me the readings are uncanny, spot-on, eerily accurate, and so forth. I can tell that they walk away from the experience feeling as if they've had a psychic encounter of some kind. Does this bother me? Yes, mostly because an important aspect of my work with the cards lies in trying to teach people that pretty much anyone can learn to use them. Also I feel nervous when someone is less critical of my input than maybe they really should be.

Ironically, the people who seem the most convinced that I am "psychic" are usually less likely to actually follow through with anything we discuss during the reading. Maybe you just don't work on yourself quite as hard when you think upcoming developments are inevitable.
posted by hermitosis at 11:15 AM on July 19, 2010 [8 favorites]

I was wandering around Time Square on my birthday - 1998. One of the street vendor psychics were handing out the little square flyer and I was like fuck it, it's only $5. So he starts with all this aura business (I think my aura is purple). Anyway he told me that there was some negativity around my aura because of something that happened to my mother many years ago. Someone stole an article of her clothing and did something to it. I was like ok. At the point my mother had been dead for years so it's not like I could verify this story.

Either way I call up my aunt to tell her what this guy was saying and she was like oh shit, something like this did happen to her many many years ago. She had problems with this man and he was taking her clothing and throwing them away.

I don't really believe in stuff like. I'm not a person of faith I guess. But this was so random.
posted by mokeydraws at 11:21 AM on July 19, 2010

I had an excellent experience with a psychic at a fair not long ago. I was meandering along, seeing the sights, and the psychic approached me and asked if I'd like a reading. I said "no thanks", and he left me alone without trying any hard sell techniques. That's been my best experience with a psychic to date.

Sara C. Every now and then I 'll drag out a Tarot deck because I find it handy for kickstarting a thought process, starting up my imagination, etc. Actually, lately I've been using the Fortune Deck from the Everway RPG. I've found it works wonders for when I'm having trouble coming up with an adventure idea for the GURPS game I GM.
posted by sotonohito at 11:29 AM on July 19, 2010 [2 favorites]

I have a healthy sense of skepticism. I'm sure some psychics are totally faking it, like I'm sure some scientists and computer programmers are faking it too.

You know that's not actually a healthy sense of skepticism, right? The skeptical attitude would be that you believe all psychics are faking it until one can prove they aren't...

Anyway I had a reading done once a while back and it was a lot of fun and fairly accurate in parts. The best psychics are very good at cold reading and modifying their patter on the fly based on how the customer is reacting. It's quite interesting to watch it happen.
posted by Justinian at 11:41 AM on July 19, 2010 [4 favorites]

I might be able to provide an interesting perspective...

Growing up, I thought I had a gift. I was only a teenager, and I could walk up to people and read everything about them, from the kind of work they did to their romantic proclivities. The more on-target I was, the more confidence and sway I had with the way I made proclamations.

I went to college with the idea of studying psychology with an emphasis on ESP. In my Intro to Psych class, I opened the book, flipped to the back, and prepared to do as much reading about prescience as I could. Looked under E, found ESP...only a 1-page blurb?! On top of that, the blurb denounced ESP as unfounded across all studies.

I knew this was bullshit, because I had a gift.

I got really caught up in it and began to read palms. I was good enough that I made a girl cry when I told her I sensed that her mom had recently died, and we grew close as she told me the details.

Then something changed. Reading up on ESP in that Psychology textbook had planted a seed of doubt in my head, and its roots began to infest my thoughts.

Suddenly, I found myself deconstructing all the predictions I had put together. That one guy was in construction because he had tarred fingernails. That woman had a preference for black guys from the way she dressed and talked. That girl looked broken when talking about her family and only ever mentioned a dad...I was starting to feel sick to my stomach.

Some things I'll never be able to break down, like when I guessed a girl's birthday to the day (it was never a habit of mine to attempt -- just felt right), or how I could foresee that my mom's friend had breast cancer.

I started feeling dirty whenever I would read palms again. But it had become such a cool stunt among my friends that I would occasionally do them for fun. What struck me the most was the language of those who were eager to believe.

"Jerome knew everything about my boyfriend!"

In reality, it went something like this:

"Is there a Michael in your life?"
"No, but I used to have a crush on a guy named Michael! It's funny because the last few guys I've dated start with M."
"Yes, that's my boyfriend's name!"
"He's good for you; you guys are really happy together. Is it a new relationship?"
"I guess so, yeah, four months?"
"Yeah, that's new."
(I had only asked, but construed it into a hit.)

Anyway, the point is: be wary of testimonials. People have a way of rewriting history when it comes to the psychic arts (it's almost novelty to have a really good story if you believe in it). I've even seen people make shit up that I didn't even touch on. I felt like I was delivering therapy, and as a reward, I was touted as having supernatural powers.

By all means, go see a psychic and have a blast. If anything, picking up feedback from a high intuit might reveal some neat new things about yourself. You can also be an ass and do as little as possible to reveal anything about yourself (monotone, single-word replies, etc. -- though that behavior once got my friend kicked out from a reading). Just go in with base expectations, and if you're wowed, you'll have a great story.
posted by Christ, what an asshole at 11:42 AM on July 19, 2010 [8 favorites]

Many years ago, my sister randomly invited me to a party being thrown by a co-worker I did not know. When we arrived at the party, we found out a psychic was in a back room giving readings for $20.

I was floored at one of her comments: "I see you reading alot - but I am not sure why I see you reading the same things over and over and over again." (I was an editor at the time.) She also got several several family "secrets" right on the button.

There were a few things that were vague enough that could have applied to anyone at any given time, so I wasn't completely convinced of her abilities, but to this day I thought the $20 was well worth the, um, ENTERTAINMENT value.

My sister went to a psychic not too long ago. We shared two best friends who both died very young within a year of each other. Towards the end of their lives, we felt a lot closer to one of them, whom we referred to as our "other sister." My sister asked the psychic if she had any angels protecting her, immediately thinking of our "other sister." "Yes," the psychic said, and went on to physically describe our OTHER best friend (her most striking physical attributes was that she was six feet tall and had very unusual violet eyes) - we had fallen out because she had gotten into drugs and had refused all our help.

When my sister expressed surprised that it was not the person she was thinking of, the psychic gently said, "Sometimes the person who needed you the most is the person who comes back to help you the most."

Damn, that was good. Not sure if it was true or not, but it was what was GOOD to hear.
posted by HeyAllie at 11:49 AM on July 19, 2010 [2 favorites]

A former paramour of mine had a longstanding relationship with her psychic, but she treated their meetings more like therapy sessions than "readings." The psychic in question was one of those ones who was good at cold-reading, and it translated well to sort of sussing out other people's motives and telling her what it was that she really wanted to do anyway but wasn't letting herself admit.
posted by Etrigan at 11:59 AM on July 19, 2010

I have two friends who are as well-versed as anyone in the arguments against this sort of thing--seriously, they're professional analytic philosophers, so they're trained in the art of doubting that matter exists and that other people have minds. Nonetheless, both have had experiences with astrologers that, for them, couldn't be gainsaid. It wasn't as if they were instantly converted, which could have been chalked up to the astrologers' charisma; instead, they actively tried to see the readings as nothing more than generic horoscope-like claims that would resonate with anybody once they filled in the content. But to this day they're both (reluctantly and even secretly) convinced that there is something to it, at least in the hands of the practitioners they met.

I haven't had such an experience myself, but here's the closest. One of these same friends 'read my chart' a few years ago, and although he wasn't very experienced at it, the one thing he came up with pertained unmistakeably to what I regard as 'the' major question in my life--and this isn't something that the friend knew about me. Looking at the chart, which had heavy concentrations of stuff going on at 9:00 and 3:00 and hardly anywhere else, he said that he'd never seen anybody so absolutely torn between a sense of civic obligation and the desire to live a purely 'aesthetic' life (for want of a better term).

Now, that's a broad statement that many people identify with on one level or another. Throw a rock at a university convocation and you'll hit a quarterlife crisis expressed in terms assimilable to those. All the same, ever since adolescence I've been consciously attracted to both ideals with such strength that only the most extreme realizations of them seem acceptable, rendering both choice and compromise impossible. Without question, the autobiographical motivation for my dissertation is the desire to know whether there could be any kind of normative framework for making choices at that level. So while the theme he 'picked up on' was broad or even generic, he did identify the most urgent question I have about how I should live. No other Big Diametrical Opposition would have resonated with me in the same way.

Again, this wasn't enough to make me a believer in astrology. But it was a positive experience; the relief at being understood trumped my skepticism about the source of that understanding.
posted by Beardman at 12:21 PM on July 19, 2010 [1 favorite]

I grew up in a family that practiced traditional Indian astrology and my mom did palm reading, both of which I thought were bunk. I eventually decided that the Indian immigrants who came to my mom and dad for castings and readings generally benefited, since my mom gave good advice and my parents wouldn't defraud anyone.

In high school, I briefly pretended to know phrenology. One rather unintellectual girl from some of my classes believed me and often asked me to read her, which I did, knowing I was making it all up. Remembering this, I feel ashamed. I think this is basically the only dishonest thing I did at that age, other than overpreparing for an in-class essay test (we were told the prompt and could bring an outline in, and I basically wrote an essay in outline form ahead of time) and lying by omission to my parents re: boys.


Somewhere in this period, I believe, I read Michael Crichton's autobiography, Travels, in which he talked about his varied experiences with psychics in London. Some of them seemed really spot on, some not so much, and some seemed to get the truth but get it slant in interesting ways. He couldn't discount the possibility that they had access to some supernatural source of information.

So then one summer I had a summer internship on the same block as an institute that did psychic/New Age/etc. classes and readings and whatnot. I went in once, on a lark, to get a free reading. I was skeptical but had Crichton's experiences as a reason to anticipate potential usefulness.

I think there were three or four people reading me, maybe 1 leader and a few apprentices? I think they read my aura and colored in a picture of a rose that represented me somehow. And I remember crying, and I don't know why. I think it's because they were gentle and focused on me, and the speaker was saying nice things about me and telling me I was too hard on myself, and I hadn't had that kind of relief from my burdens before from anyone except my family -- and this was a different flavor of relief, coming from a stranger instead of someone invested in me, someone who had no objectivity and couldn't be trusted to tell me that I was at heart decent and good. I'd never seen a therapist or psychologist.

I don't remember any specific predictions the reader(s) made that day, and since I figure I'd remember anything uncannily accurate, I infer that they made none or that none came true. But I have a positive memory of being cared about by strangers, and it probably sustained me, in ways I didn't know about, when I needed it.
posted by brainwane at 12:25 PM on July 19, 2010 [5 favorites]

This is just hearsay as it happened to my mom before I was born. Evidently there was a locally famous psychic near our hometown and my mom and her sister went to see her before my mom joined my dad in Germany. The psychic told my mother three things, that my mother would have a baby in Germany, (me) that she would never see her (favorite) brother again. Sadly, her beloved brother died in a car accident the day my mom returned to the US. The part I can't convey is the emotional quality of my mom's telling of this story to others, sometimes in the presence of the attending sister, who refused to speak of it. Kinds know when they're parents are BSing and my mother was not. She told the story only when someone at table disparaged psychics or psychic phenomenon. She told it as sparely as possible, usually trying to contain the emotion that was always flowing when she was trying to deceive.

The third thing my mother never mentioned.
posted by Mertonian at 12:25 PM on July 19, 2010 [1 favorite]

Oh, and from personal experience the palm reader (not strictly a psychic I know) my dear friend took me to on my 30th birthday told me that I must be frequently disappointed because "you give Neiman Marcus love but most people give K-Mart love."

My friend nodded, and she wasn't told anything remotely similar so it didn't feel like a boilerplate statement. It does seem to play out in my relationships but I'm sure we all feel the same way.
posted by Mertonian at 12:30 PM on July 19, 2010

When I was 18, I got a job working in a national park, and I lived in a dorm with other employees. One of the other employees was a college student from India who we called Roy. The other Indian students said that Roy was a mystic & could read palms, and he did it for free. So, just for shits and giggles, I let Roy read my palm the first night I arrived. He actually read both of my hands, front and back, looked at my wrists, fingernails, and joints. The result?
I had chronic stomach pain (true)
I was in a failing relationship that I needed to get out of (true)
I was very close to my family (true)
My family consisted of almost all females & very few males (true)
I would have 2 children before I was 30 (true) but he couldn't predict their gender (both girls)
I had met the man I would marry, but I didn't yet know it (true; I had been introduced to all of the employees earlier that day, one of whom is now my husband)

But wait! There's more!

My husband had, a few days prior, gotten his palm read by Roy as well. The result?
He had not met the woman he would marry, but would soon (true)
The relationship he was in would turn bad fast (true; she cheated on him)
He should not own or drive a vehicle until after his 25th birthday (he was 19 then, and in the next 5 years, he was in 5 accidents, but never again after his 25th birthday)
Roy couldn't see the number of children he would have, but he "warned" him that they would all be girls and that the family name would not carry on through his line (more or less true, but they're young, so potential marriages are way in the future).

Mostly, any so-called psychics I've met are full of crap, but this one instance really stands out in my mind as of one my most interesting and baffling experiences.
posted by SamanthaK at 12:46 PM on July 19, 2010 [8 favorites]

My ex and I were seeing her energy-healer therapist while we were breaking up. I kind of couldn't stand this guy -- he was way too woo-woo and "vibrational" even for me. So when he starts in asking me if I'm sure I'm the eldest in my family, and telling me I should ask my parents if they're sure, because he keeps seeing an older brother in my field, I'm all, sarcastic eyeroll, oh right.

A week or so later, it's my 40th birthday, and I'm talking with my mom, and I'm all, ha-ha, Mom, you'll never believe the weird thing this tripped-out psychic said to me.

And there's a long silence.

And then she says, "If you hadn't brought it up I wouldn't have told you, but there was another baby before you." Apparently she got pregnant in high school and gave the baby up for adoption. And it was a boy.

So I do have an older half-brother out there in the world somewhere. If it hadn't been for that psychic, I would probably never have known about him.
posted by ottereroticist at 12:54 PM on July 19, 2010 [9 favorites]

I once read a 'how to read Tarot cards book' that was in our old house. One thing that I took from it that has changed my opinion of psychics and their ilk is that, done properly, any 'reading' should be more about getting the person to examine their lives than it is about some predictive ability of the cards/ball/whatever.

That is, you can turn over a few cards that can have all sorts of 'official' meanings, but a skilled person will use them to help you come to a better understanding of your own life. The Hanged Man and the Five of Wands could mean a new boyfriend, or travel, or a new direction at work, or a change in relationship with a man in your life - this could help you to reflect upon what you hope for and want from the future.

N.B.: I don't believe Tarot cards or other psychic media have any mystical properties at all, but merely act as a method of conversation and introspection, which can lead to a very positive response.
posted by twirlypen at 1:02 PM on July 19, 2010

So-called psychics are, as everyone has said, practised cold-readers. It's a perfectly fine way to earn a living and a legitimate service to provide, though caveat emptor applies: the client must understand that the source of the "gift" is not other-worldly. The reader simply has a skill you don't have. Much like prostitution, there's no need to be bald about what that skill is.

I mean, while I fully understand what's going on in The Mentalist, I'd still pay good money to sit down with Patrick Jane and have a reading. The ability of people to see things you may not see about yourself can be interesting at worst, valuable at best.

I have had interesting and good experiences with more than one tarot reader in my 20's. However, I have also had a bad experience with one who gave a very blah reading, then told me I was cursed, and then tried to charge me to remove the curse. I can see how that sort of thing can move very easily from the art of the read to the art of the con.
posted by DarlingBri at 1:11 PM on July 19, 2010 [1 favorite]

I have an aunt who is often made fun of because she carries around a crystal which she uses to help her make decisions. But I am sort of a believer. There are two ways I look at it:

1) You could put any two people in a room, leave them there and then take them out again. Both will give you different descriptions, will have caught/missed things the other did not not and will have different perceptions of what was going on in there. Some people just see more than others do. I agree with those who have said there is nothing supernatural about it.

2) She has said she is not very good at 'predicting the future' but is better with medical-type things like what gender will the baby be, or am I allergic to XYZ. I liken this to the dogs who get restless when there is a storm coming. There is something they sense that is there and others do not sense it for whatever reason. Maybe the hormonal mix in a pregnant mother is different if the baby is a boy or girl and she can somehow pick up on this, I don't know. But I don't think it's supernatural.

Fwiw a lot of the stuff my aunt says are pretty vague ('the plane will be delayed' is a common occurrence that the crystal saying it will be so does not really convince me) but she did check a few allergy issues for me and was spot-on---they were foods I was suspicious about (I am prone to allergies and often monitor my reactions to what I eat) and she confirmed that in two cases, I was on the right track in identifying an irritant. Subsequent medical testing confirmed it to be so. But it was more 'I asked is X the problem and she said yes.' It was not her pulling the answers out of the sky.
posted by JoannaC at 1:32 PM on July 19, 2010

Okay, so as a hippie sort who's studied tarot for umpteen years and occasionally does readings (never for pay though):

I don't know jack about "cold reading." No, seriously, I don't know. I actually lean towards NOT overly paying attention to the person's body language or whatever, and telling them that they're free not to tell me whatever they are asking about if they don't want to. (If I were wanting to do an experiment and see if something like this was real, I wouldn't tell me what to look out for either.) Sometimes people don't have anything in mind to ask about, they're just bored and we're hanging out and I have cards, so then I just see what's going on in general.

I stick to looking at the cards, especially how they combine together, and see what overall themes there are or what overall story seems to be coming up in the cards. Whether or not that resonates with them is up to them, but I am sticking to what I see. If you look at the pictures on tarot cards, even if you know absolutely nothing about tarot, you can at least figure out the gist of what that card is about without listening to what the person is saying.

I wouldn't necessarily recommend going to some random strange psychic you don't know, who the hell knows what you're going to get there. If you know someone who had an accurate experience with a particular psychic maybe then you could consider that specific person, but it's not something I'd recommend overall. My dad certainly made enough comments about people being ripped off so that I would feel reluctant. Hence why I DIY for myself, really. If you're curious about that sort of thing, just go pick up any beginner's tarot book and deck of cards and start reading for yourself. That way you know you're not dealing with a scam artist for sure :P I also like learntarot.com, biddytarot.com, and tarotteachings.com if you'd like to learn for free.

If you don't want to learn to DIY but want to take the "cold reading" human factor out of it, do online readings. facade.com, gravenimagesoracle.com, e-tarocchi.com are good places to play with this sort of thing. Read the comments that come up and see if they make sense with what you asked.

The one time I went to a psychic (someone I'd kind of known around town for years in a vague sort of way), the entire time she kept talking about--in more polite terms than I am using here--how my mother is pretty much a psychic vampire and how I should be avoiding her or at least projecting mental shields around me or something to cope with it. And lord knows, my mother is, so I can't say that was wrong.

And to wind up this long post, if anyone's interesting in reading about the subject of predictions and science: check out Extraordxinary Knowing and The Power of Premonitions. This goes into a lot more detail than my Psych 1 book did (our lone sentence on the topic in that class boiled down to, "We can't get any results to consistently and constantly replicate themselves when we try it, so we thus ignore it.").
posted by jenfullmoon at 2:20 PM on July 19, 2010 [4 favorites]

If you don't want to learn to DIY but want to take the "cold reading" human factor out of it, do online readings. facade.com

Just for the historical record, I went to facade.com, chose Tarot, chose Relationship because it was the only one I understood, chose a deck I'd heard of, and got THE TAROT OF DOOM.

No, seriously.

I told my husband "The good news is, there's travel in our future. The bad news is, it's you moving out when we get divorced."
posted by DarlingBri at 3:31 PM on July 19, 2010

I had a reading about 35 years ago that definitely changed my life and my world view, and still resonates today. This was with a "trance channel", not a self-described psychic; the guy claimed to be stepping aside in an altered state to let one's personal "angelic guides" speak.

My reading started 2 minutes after I arrived, following an hour drive to a town I'd never been to. We were total strangers to one another, no personal info was given or requested, either then or when the appointment was made, and my questions were purposely detail-free, like: "How can I deal with the issues coming up now with my wife?" to which I received a 5-minute recap of a "previous life" together that so richly and particularly mirrored both the feelings and the circumstances of our current dilemma and even the entire flavor of our connection from the beginnings of our knowing each other in this life, that I get goose-bumps thinking about it to this day. I didn't conclude from this that we'd actually had such a life, or that reincarnation was a true thing, or even that I "really" had some angelic guides. But at the very least, it demonstrated conclusively to me the capacity of some minds to "see" deeply into another—using who knows what mechanisms—which was world-view altering enough. And the relevance of this "previous-life" story has persisted to this day; hearing it didn't fix anything, but it has certainly been a useful metaphor for our most persistent issues, and a useful reminder to both keep working it out and to step back.

But that wasn't the most impressive part of the reading. To my question about my future in my chosen career as an artist, I was advised to undertake a "6-month exploration" via automatic writing—something I'd never considered or read about—of all my feelings on the issue, in which I was promised that I would be "guided" by the same source as in the current reading. The directions I got were very detailed and not typical of other similar generic self-exploratory exercises I sought out in curiosity after having tried this one.

When I got home, I was not so much skeptical as dubious that I could even manage to keep on track with this strange process for the recommended 20 minutes, let alone keep it up for 6 months. But it actually worked like a charm, my writings stayed on-topic, were consistently surprising and filled with the same emotional tone as the original reading had been, and I did do it regularly for about 6 months (each time doubting anew that anything would come of it), after which it seemed to feel "done" to the extent that I've never tried it again. The images and other content I generated during those sessions with myself resonated so deeply that I felt connected to and confident about my artistic goals as I never had before, and they've never ceased to feel relevant, to the extent that my current circumstances and interests perfectly mirror the core of what I wrote down back then. I'm still stumbling across odd and unnoticed correspondences. I don't consider this to be evidence of any kind of future-seeing on my part, but as an indelible and moving process for tickling out unrecognized archetypes that will mold a life, well, nothing else I've ever done has matched it. Angelic guides, or inner resources? Who knows, and what ultimate difference does it make? None to me…

[Disappointingly, a recent "for old times sake" reading I had with this person over the phone was preceded by a 20-minute interview about what we'd both been up to, ostensibly just "catching up," but the following reading was filled with advice and comments that seemed obviously to have been built around my update. I concluded that apparently my channel had lost something over 30 years of doing readings for a living (it hadn't yet become a career for this person when we first met).]

I should also add that I took a Silva Mind Control weekend workshop a few years after that (being by now permanently fascinated with things psychic). This is a course in purposeful visualization techniques while in deep relaxation and it traditionally ends with a segment on psychic knowing. The exercise then, and probably still, involved attempting to mentally "know" details of the physical condition of a stranger with some ailment or other. We each had written a description of someone we knew with a medical issue, and then we teamed up to see if we could see anything about our partner's suffering friend. The still-impressive results were, first, that everybody in the class had some striking success with this, and second, that the trick seemed to be that it worked the minute you stopped trying, and simply pretended that you could see something. The mind obligingly played along, supplied you with some details, and, Pow! You were usually right on.
posted by dpcoffin at 12:21 PM on July 20, 2010

Response by poster: Some of these stories are very compelling.

I think we would love to hear even more details, esp. from dpcoffin, samanthak, mertonian, christwhatanasshole.

I'd love to hear how these experiences have affected or shaped your lives.
posted by Wayman Tisdale at 11:58 AM on July 22, 2010

Not sure what details you'd like, but please, ask away…

(btw, did someone's comment get deleted, maybe christwhatanasshole's? I thought there was post—very interesting—about making out for the first time with a new friend and suddenly knowing about their missing testicle, no?)
posted by dpcoffin at 12:25 PM on July 22, 2010

I don't think there really are any details. The only way it's really affected my life has been several moments of "ooooooohhhhh just like Roy said!" Oh, and after my husband's 5th car accident, he relented and didn't drive for a year. The only thing he was wrong about was the cause of my stomach pain, which he attributed to my bad relationship. Turns out I just have reflux.

Hmmmm... let me see... details ...
Neither my husband nor I had ever met Roy prior to the reading

He asked no questions at any point

He didn't make eye contact at all; we sat knee to knee in folding chairs and he looked very closely at and prodded my hands and wrists and nails. Something about my fingernails seemed to tip him off to the stomach thing.

His English wasn't too clear, so a lot of the details came through one of his friends.

Roy was, in 1992, in his early 20's. The next time I saw him was at a party where he was drunk and dancing around with a beer can perfectly balanced on his head. Other party goers were throwing crushed beer cans at him trying to knock it off his head. Hilarity ensued.
posted by SamanthaK at 4:30 PM on July 26, 2010

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