Why you should never have a psychic reading

Psychics seem to abound in our society. They are on television, on the internet, at psychic fairs and they even appear in local theatres with sell out shows. I started out like most people completely sceptical about them. Then one day I had a psychic reading on the telephone. It was vague and had some predictions about the future which didn’t make sense to me. The reader also gave advice about where I should be living and what I should be doing. I didn’t feel particularly positive about it so I didn’t have one again for many years.

I moved to a different part of the country and became very stressed at work. I started to phone psychics more and more often. It became a habit and even an addiction. I tried out lots of different companies and websites and found one that I thought at first was genuine.

I have often been told that I am psychic but I am not really. I do have empathy, often too much and I can pick up atmosphere and mood easily. I have very vivid dreams which often seem to be trying to tell me something. Sometimes they are quite horrific and I wake up in a cold sweat. I have had these all my life from early childhood. As a child I could sense spirits around me though not in a concrete way. I used to feel them guiding my hand when I was at school, telling me what to write. I have lost this ability now and I don’t feel them.

Desperate for guidance, with nobody trustworthy to turn to for advice I started relying on psychics. Most of them are bogus, especially on the cheaper websites. These are very easy to spot. They tend to rely on tarot cards and just read out the general meaning of the cards with no reference to you personally. They often fish for information and then make generalisations on what you give them. A lot of it is general counselling that you could get from a friend or a self-help book. Even so a friendly listening ear is sometimes helpful, apart from the fact that you are paying through the nose for it. So psychics could easily be dismissed as fakes.

However, it is not as simple as that. Occasionally I have been blown away by something that one of them has told me. On the better, and often more expensive websites one can find some very gifted people. Some are capable of telling me what I look like, what my mood is, what my house is like, what my friends are like and who I am thinking about. This is impressive stuff. Some can even pull names out of the air that are significant to you and they are not common names. I think this ability is called remote viewing. It might be an interesting skill but is it any use? You already know how you feel and who you are spending time with. You don’t really benefit from being told this. When ringing a psychic most people are desperately seeking guidance and often want a prediction of the future. This is where I have found they are rarely right. They often make definite predictions with dates and times that never come to fruition. Often they are telling you what you want to hear. Yes you will get that job, your relationship will improve, your finances will be better and so on and so on.
It gives you a lift at the time but when the prediction doesn’t come true you feel more down in the dumps than ever. This is also how you become addicted. This happened to me. You want the lift, you want to be comforted, to be told that everything is ok so you ring up. Then next week you find yourself doing it again. When the predictions don’t appear you try another psychic. The same thing happens. As they had told me things about myself in the present that they could not possibly know I believed that they could predict the future. This assumption was proven to be unfounded. Time and time again they were wrong. Often the opposite happened of what they said.

After doing lots of research I found a psychic from Wales who was supposed to be one of the best in the world. She had glowing recommendations. Desperate again for guidance I paid for an email reading. Yes she was good on things that had happened to me in the past and what was happening to me in the present. She got some of my personality traits right. She told me that I had all these amazing spiritual guides who were old souls from ancient and wiser societies. I felt wowed. I did wonder why they had done such a bad job of guiding me thus far in my life if they were so great. It was about the future though where she really fell down. None of her predictions came true in the year time frame that she gave. She even suggested that I train for a career that I had just left with serious stress and depression. She seemed unaware I had been doing this for twenty years and suggested that I should do it in the future to empower myself. It was at this point that I finally realised that the guidance I was getting was faulty. If she could be wrong about this concrete thing she could also be wrong about the other less concrete things like relationships and feeling where I have much less idea of what she is saying.

Some psychics are clairvoyant. This means that they see and feel things about you. Some claim to be in touch with spirit guides, some of their own and some of yours. These can by anything but tend to be exotic characters from other cultures. Some have a hotline to Archangel Michael. Some commune with your dead relatives. I have supposedly been in touch with my dead grandmothers and grandfathers and one dead friend which really was the most eerie as they described her to a tee.

I am not discounting psychic ability. I think there may well be something in it. Some of them seem to have genuine ability. However, it is hard to sift the good information from the bad. So much of what they say about the future does not come true. In my reliance on telephone psychics whenever I was given a very rosy picture of the immediate future it always turned out to be false. Unfortunately, the more negative futures turned out to be closer to the truth. I was never warned by my so called kind and caring guides about future disasters or guided to avoid situations that turned out to be damaging to me. Some of these spirits told downright lies with the seeming purpose of wrong footing me. Once I was told that a friend of mine was going to have a heart attack that year. He didn’t. This sort of prediction seems particularly dangerous to me. Why would loving, caring dead souls lie to you if they have your best interests at heart? I came to the conclusion that they don’t have my best interests at heart. So if they are not loving, caring spirits then who are they? The Christian tradition teaches that they are demons and that we should not listen to them or try to contact the dead. The demons are deliberately leading us astray, into trouble and away from God. I didn’t used to believe this. Now I think I might. The psychics are getting their information from somewhere but it may not be from where they think it is coming from.

My advice to all is not to phone psychics. Do not get addicted. Do not rely on them. Do not let them start to dictate your life or give you false guidance. If you feel in need of help you would do better to find a qualified therapist or talk to friends. I was very foolish at this time in my life and I wasted a lot of money and made some extremely bad decisions which led me into a lot of trouble. I was in a dark place and they did not help me into the light. They led me further into the darkness.

Having said all this I am not a disbeliever in psychic ability. I believe in a spiritual world beyond the physical, an interconnected web of energy. I feel it. There is a world beyond the senses but there are malevolent forces in that world as well as benign ones. It is impossible to know which is which.

As in so many other ways I have found that Christian teaching, so often scoffed at in my youth, turns out to be correct. It is not for us to know the future and we should not attempt to contact the dead. All that needs to be revealed to us will be revealed when the time is right. We are all on our personal journeys, learning our life lessons and they are nobody’s business but our own. Go out gently into the world with love in your heart and trust your own intuition, not somebody else’s. You will make mistakes. That’s all part of the plan. When you are down look for guidance in the holy books of the world. Pray to God. Meditate. Trust. You will be forgiven. You will forgive.

Book Review The Handmaid’s Tale Margaret Atwood

This is a good book but not a great book. Most people seem to think it is a great book.

There is no doubt that the prose is perfect: sharp and smooth as gun metal, not showy, not over written. The book carries you along easily. It does not feel heavy in spite of the subject matter.

Written in the first person it is the account of a woman caught up in a religious dystopia at some unspecified time in the future. The religious right have taken over the US and converted it to a hypocritical totalitarian regime. The narrator is a handmaiden. As a punishment for not going along with the regime she is a concubine of a commander, some unimportant official, and her duty is to have sex with him to produce children. He has a wife and other concubines. Her life is completely restricted. She must dress like a nun. She is not allowed to work or to go out other than to shop. Most earthly pleasures are forbidden. As the story unfolds, cracks appear in the lifestyle assigned to her and things start to change.

The world is well drawn and rich. I would have said a few years ago that a religious totalitarian regime is improbable until the rise of ISIS suggested it is all too possible. However, I didn’t really buy this one. It seems unlikely that the Christian right could create a regime like this in the USA today. I also felt like laughing at the snippets of information about the terrorist Quakers! Flashes of the lost past world are given when the narrator had a job and a flat, a boyfriend and a baby. This is the glorious lost world but somehow it doesn’t sound that glorious. It’s just not as bad as the present.

So I enjoyed the created world and I believed in the narrator to a point though I felt she was at times a device rather than a real person. She lacked something.

I have some reservations. The book seems to read as a treatise against religion and also an essay in praise of 1970s feminism. I have nothing against 70s feminism. I do have some problem with the battering of the religious, contemplative life. I am a person who has lived that supposed wonderful independent life. I have had a good job, been out dancing, eating out, buying clothes, going on holiday, drinking and consuming. I have also screwed around. So why did it leave me so empty? Why in later life have I been drawn so much more to the spiritual life, to values beyond the material? The book doesn’t explore these themes in any depth. Religion bad. Feminism good. Not so fast Atwood.

Book Review H is for Hawk Helen MacDonald

I appear to be one of the few people who didn’t enjoy this book. It has won awards and received universal critical acclaim. It is an autobiographical account of a Cambridge academic’s descent into depression after the death of her father. In order to heal herself she drives to Scotland to buy a goshawk and proceeds to train it. The hawk, named Mabel, lives in her spare room in Cambridge and is taken out into the countryside to hunt. MacDonald describes her depression and her growing relationship with the hawk. There is another narrative entwined with this where she describes the author TH White’s training of his hawk in the 1930s. I have to say I found White a more interesting character than MacDonald. I found her colorless, dull and narcissistic. As a person who suffers from depression at times myself I suppose I don’t enjoy reading about it.

There are some beautifully written passages describing nature though at times there is straining for effect.

MacDonald recovers from her depression aided by a trip to Maine. She dumps Mabel off with friends to enjoy this holiday. After recovering MacDonald gives the hawk away to a friend in Suffolk where she finally gets to live in a proper bird aviary in the countryside.

It took me a long time to read and I put it down for a while in the middle. Though MacDonald is a gifted writer I didn’t enjoy  the book. I worry that people may decide to buy hawks to keep in their spare room and then get bored of them. Enjoy the glory of hawks in their natural habitat.

Book Review: The Good, the Bad and the Furry Tom Cox

This was a lovely book. Tom Cox relates a series of anecdotes about his rural life in Norfolk with his cats including the adorable melancholy one with the saucer eyes, the Bear. Tom’s Dad also provides humour.

The book is gently funny and often poignant. The writing is accessible. I read it over a couple of days. Not quite Gerald Durrell but entertaining. I feel I have a soul mate in The Bear who is available to follow on Twitter and Facebook as My Sad Cat. I would like to read more.

Book Review A Girl is a Half-formed Thing Eimear McBride

Well this is an unusual book and at first I wasn’t sure what to make of it. The author is Irish and wrote the book during a youth of temping and travelling. Apparently, it languished unpublished for ten years after being rejected by everyone before being taken up by a small independent publisher in Norwich. The version I read was published by Faber so presumably they have had a change of heart. Now the book is feted by everyone and won the Bailey’s prize for fiction last year. This leads me to wonder about the publishing industry. Is it all Emperor’s no clothes? Quirky masterpieces like this are ignored, then praised. Endless pap is churned out.

So the novel is highly unusual because of the writing style. The prose is chopped up, visceral, more like poetry. It is stream of consciousness, Joycean, giving us the thoughts of a young girl as she grows up in Ireland. The life experiences are tough: unloving, critical mother, brutal Catholicism, sexual abuse by an uncle… Some scenes are hard to face. The book is all the better for that. The words perfectly convey a feeling, a scene, snatches of conversation. I found echoes of my own experiences at times which were like lightning bolts as I remembered them. I would be tempted to say this was a work of genius if I did not somehow feel we have been here before…the long shadow of the loveless Irish childhood, subject of a thousand novels and films. And the hand of Joyce lies heavy.