||| psy·chic/ˈsīkik/

At a fair in Seattle, a woman sat down for a reading. On my mini chalkboard sign above a brief description, I had written, “psychic readings.” I went through my process of connecting to her energy and began offering up images and guidance as they came, the way I always do. She asked questions about her career, her next chapter of life, ways to get “unstuck,” and I shared the answers provided, told her what she was most aligned with, what would most fulfill her moving forward and the options presenting themselves for bringing it to fruition. At the end of the reading, where she, time and again, confirmed the details I shared, said they made sense and felt right for her, she looked at me and said, “I don’t get the psychic part. What about this reading was psychic?”

The word psychic.

I often played around with it in the beginning of my intentional spiritual quest. I’d throw it into a setting to watch others’ reactions. More times than not, they would get wide-eyed, shuffle their feet or pass glances between each other as if to say, “This took an unexpected and uncomfortable turn.” Then I’d backtrack a bit, exchange it for intuitive and they’d relax into the point I was making, nod in consideration, sometimes engage in a brief back and forth and eventually return to their casual banter. Even in settings like spiritual fairs, where I used to assume people understood the meaning of psychic and that it was often used incorrectly, there were still more moments of disconnection between its true definition and their understanding of it than I imagined possible.

Google psychic. A search would show that it’s really just an umbrella term for different types of spiritual communicators such as the clairvoyant, telepath, palmist or medium. Then there’s a couple adjectives. One says that psychic acts are inexplicable by natural laws - so otherworldly, supernatural, metaphysical and mystical. Another adjective simply says the word relates to the soul or the mind, and some of its synonyms are emotional, spiritual and even psychological. The word itself has been in circulation since at least the 19th century and there’s a rich history of psychic work throughout the ages which is very much woven into the fabric of the world’s cultures. “The Ancient Egyptians practiced 'scrying'—reading shapes formed by dropping ink in water. The Mesopotamians did the same thing with oil. Palmistry is believed to have originated in India.” Also, “when Chinese Emperor Shennong discovered tea in 2737 BC, his subjects promptly began reading leaves.” Plus, “the Victorians were obsessed with séances,” and by the 1700s, the French had transformed Tarot playing cards, which had been around since the 1440s, into a tool of divination.” (Alexandra, Rae. “A History of TV Psychics (and Why We Love Them So Much).” KQED, 3 May 2018).

So why is the word psychic so misunderstood?


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At worst, it must conjure for some a caricature of an ancient woman, wearing a scarf, holding a crystal ball or creating illusions with a slight of hand and attempting to predict futures with blanket phrases and empty words. And better, although still grossly inaccurate, at the very least, predictions are definitely to follow. But a seasoned psychic or seeker knows that psychic work is just as vast and ripe with practitioners of all skill levels, styles and unfortunately gimmicks and trickery, like any other profession, and that future-telling or predictions is a risky deal. There are, however, people skilled in seeing what others have projected into their future, who can see the most likely outcomes of a situation based on the direction of the momentum they’ve created. But because it hasn’t happened yet and because we have free will, those outcomes and the details of how they arrive at their destination can shift and change. In other words, nothing is set in stone...not even our past experiences. Factual details aside, we visit memories repeatedly, gleaning new insights, perspectives and understandings. We can feel warm and nostalgic one day towards those memories and another day, closed and bitter. So why would our futures that have yet to happen, be so readily pinned down?

It's wise to mitigate disasters where possible but we can't possibly know all the details all the time. The mirror design of the universe is constantly encouraging us to learn from (and revel) in the process, thus forgoing control over certain aspects of that process. Countless opportunities, resources and people wanting to assist us are missed or postponed when we are caught up in making things unfold in a specific way. Besides, psychic readings do not replace our own agency in a situation nor give us a safety net in which to rest while we coast passively toward our desired outcomes.

There are various ways practitioners think about the services they provide, but I like to think that psychic readings are collaborative, where we hold conversation with the different versions of ourselves, our highest self and our guides. I become a conduit for this communication but hardly a prophet of the events that follow. And I do my best to convey this distinction through the language I use before and during a reading. Still, sometimes, it's not enough to dispel preconceptions.

For the woman who asked, "What about this reading was psychic?" I hadn't entirely delivered on what I was advertising. So I explained that connecting to her energy in a way that allowed me to see details of her life without her sharing any more than her first name, was a psychic connection, and that was the psychic part. But I could see that a rather full reading had lost some of its value in her eyes, because she expected predictions and I wasn't offering that. I did, however, trust that given the actionable steps presented and the guidance around those steps (if she followed them), she’d make decisions far more intentionally moving forward, aligning herself in the most authentic way possible.


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