So I joined a psychic circle. Yeah.
I was wondering where I could find a place to experiment with cold reading, mentalism, hypnosis and sneaky stuff free from those very frames, and – lo! – the Gods of the internet delivered.
So I now belong to a motley crew of people assembling once a week to develop our ‘psychic abilities’ under the supervision of Brenda (not her real name), our teacher.
First, let me say: I don’t believe in anything. I well remember the days when I plucked thoughts, feelings and impressions out of thin air and supposed myself magic if they ‘landed’. If Brenda and co find comfort and beauty in speculating about personality traits and angel colours, then who am I to rain on their parade?
My motivations are threefold:
1. You don’t know what you don’t know. People (particularly women) who believe they’re psychic, or who attribute certain phenomena to mystic beings and forces, simply may not have heard of things such as cold reading. Perhaps writing about my experiences will lead a few curious souls to look beyond the ‘woo woo’.
2. I’m not misrepresenting myself or misleading anyone. I am not psychic* and would never claim to be so.
3. I’m single and have fuck all else to do of a Friday night.
So – without further ado… Psychic Club began with some basic guided meditation and relax-o-therapy. We were instructed to unlock our door and enter our spiritual garden, where we would meet our Spirit Guide. I was thrilled to find The Amazing Randi waiting there for me, and we had a cup of tea and a good ole chuckle. Derren Brown then appeared and lectured me not to get carried away and ‘accidentally’ start a cult. So I sent him away – that man is such a spoilsport.
The fumes of a joss-stick smoking my way somewhat broke the spell of larking about in an imaginary garden. So I instead spent my time strategising for tonight’s test: psychometry.
Psychometry is the apparent ability to divine relevant information/associations from an unknown object. Brenda told us before the class started that we’d each ‘secretly’ place a personal object beneath a cloth on a tray; we’d then take something, perform a reading and give it back to the person we sensed it belonged to.
Now, there were 12 people in that class, excluding me and Brenda. Because I’m a genius (aka, have basic powers of observation) I noted that, on word of the test, six women plus a man motioned to consider/remove jewellery. Having marked them as spiritual types through their conversation and dress style, I realised rings or bracelets with crystals and precious stones would be much of a muchness to me – I’d fail to conjure up suitably spiritual things about, say, a hunk of rose quartz and then struggle to match it unless the person gave themselves away through sub-communication. So I made a note not to select anything that felt like an item of jewellery.
I also noted to avoid contributions from the two remaining men, who seemed lost – both actually and metaphorically. One indicated that he didn’t have anything about his person: I guessed he’d pop a coin in, but it turned out he went with earphones. The second arrived late and – on Brenda suggesting the types of objects we could put in, such as “jewellery or a watch” – he responded, “My watch?”, took it off in view of everyone and put that in. Brenda admonished him, but – alas – too late.
This resulted in the first reading from Earphones Man going something like this:
Brenda: “So what do you make of this object?”
Earphones Man: “Well it’s his watch, isn’t it?”
Brenda: “Yes, but what impressions did you get from it?”
Earphones Man: “But I know it’s his watch because I heard him say something about his watch. And then he took it off and put it in.”
Earphones Man: “Sorry. I didn’t get anything.”
Watch Man then got the earphones, wrongly sensing they belonged to a woman. When Earphones Man was reunited with them it was agreed it was “really weird” that they’d picked one another’s objects. Now, I find numbers the most boring of all the shapes, so I’m not going to run the stats, but this did not strike me as “weird” at all and set my expectations for what passes as ‘psychic’ in this circle pretty low.
I’ll write about my and Brenda’s readings in a separate post: I feel my first cold reading deserves a suitably dramatic build up. (But, long story short, I aced it!)
We then moved onto ‘energy work’. We paired up, one person standing behind the other, sensing when we were being pushed or pulled. Intriguingly, many people in Psychic Club are into Reiki – I shall have to investigate… I’m genuinely fascinated by the mysteries of our bodies and minds, but I have to confess that, in this case – as has been the case when I’ve done stuff like this on improv and hypnosis courses – much of the apparent ‘success’ is just getting in sync with someone.
We then did a ‘close down’ guided meditation so that we wouldn’t pick up on other people’s bullshit and bad vibes, willy nilly. Because Other People are just the worst.
Finally, we reflected on our experiences in our gardens. Because the first person to speak had a whole troupe of Spirit Guides with whom they regularly commune, this created a contagion of Spirit Guide descriptions. This meant that the three people who were not presented with books or scrolls by wise old folks or exotic ancestors felt pretty fucking inadequate and, I’m sure, will force their unconscious minds to come up with something more compelling next time around.
I made some vague statements about “an old man” who brought to mind “a magician”. I didn’t mention the cups of tea, the chuckling – or Uncle Derren.
*Or am I..? ;-)