Tag Archives: psychics

Pagans, Wiccans, psychics, and jargon

Pentagram with a circle around it

Image via Wikipedia

Emilyperson left a great comment on Friday’s post:

I’m curious, when you first started hanging around Pagans, was there a lot of jargon that confused your young Christian self? I wouldn’t expect you to have been familiar with things like different deities, symbols, and procedures, but does the slang tend to be as far from mainstream American slang as the fundamentalists’?

To be honest, I can’t say as I recall much about my early exposure to Paganism.  It would be hard for me to evaluate how I handled the introduction to Pagan, Wiccan, and psychic concepts and terminology thirteen years ago.  So rather than trying to remember, I’m going to just take a look at how I perceive such jargon now, how it relates to Wicca, Paganism, and psychic phenomena/practices, and try to guess how an “outsider” or “newbie” might perceive and experience an encounter with such terminology.[1]

I think that Pagan, Wiccan, and psychic jargon can be just as offbeat and unusual as fundamentalist Christian jargon.  And to be frank, there is a lot of it, due to the great diversity of practices and beliefs that falls under those collective umbrellas (each one is pretty broad and contains great diversity in its own right).

However, I also think that the jargon isn’t quite as central to the Pagan/Wiccan/psychic identities.  You can learn a lot about all of those things without coming into contact with terms like “chakras,” “arcana,” “ardanes,” and “visualization.”  You can learn a lot of the basics and get a lot of information before delving into such technical, specialized terms.

Compare this to fundamentalist and even evangelical Christianity, where the first step involves being “born again,” which is a jargon-y term.  In reality, I think fundamentalist jargon and one’s knowledge of it is often used as part of the fundamentalist identity and a way to prove oneself part of the “in crowd.”

This brings me up to my second point, in which I think the religio-magical movements I’m now a part of tend to be far better at presenting our jargon to “outsiders” in an accessible way.  This is done both through personal conversations and the constantly growing introductory literature available.

I think this can at least partly be attributed to the fact that these are relatively new movements and that many of the adherents are still converts rather than people who were raised by Pagan parents[2].  As such, they are religious movements that are more geared towards welcoming new members and making everything understandable and accessible, even to the point of often anticipating what terms may be unfamiliar to the “uninitiated.”

Fundamentalists, on the other hand, tend to be more insular and seem to just expect everyone to automatically know what it means to be “born again,” “sanctified,” or “demonically oppressed.”

[1]  It would be awesome if any “newbies” and “outsiders” would pipe up in comments and offer their thoughts.

[2]  This certainly isn’t universal.  I do know a growing number of second-generation Pagans and a few third-generation Pagans.  However, I think we converts outnumber them considerably.

Psychic readings and ethics

The other day, I received an email from the administrator of another website asking if I would be willing to do a link exchange with them, as our sights are of “common relevance.”  The site in question (which I will not link to, even in this post) is a site dedicated entirely to offering online psychic readings.

Now, bear in mind that I do not generally[1] link to or promote businesses.  And to be honest, if I was going to promote a psychic, I would either promote myself or one of the other psychics with which I am friends and for whom I can personally vouch in terms of reputation.

In terms of reputation, the site that asked for the link exchange raised concerns for me instantly.  When I received the request, the included description of the site read as follows:

Enjoy a complete site encompassing Online Live Free Psychic.

Ignoring the horrendous grammar[2], the promise of a site offering “free psychic readings” seemed to good to be true.  And sure enough, a glance at their “how it works” page upon visiting the site proves it:

3. First step towards getting services is to fill up registration form correctly. Sign in to website; add fund in advance and click chat now button with your preferred experts.

Now, tell me, why would one need to “add funds” for a free psychic reading?  Could it be that “free” isn’t so free.  I’m smelling a bait and switch here.

Now, the page does eventually explain the “free” part:

8. You’ll have a few minutes, at no cost, all sessions start ‘free’, to get a sense of the person you’ve chosen and to recognize whether they’re right for the job. Whenever you feel confidence that they’ll be able to provide you with the quality service that you need, you can click the ‘Hire now’ button to begin your paid session. None of session will go into paid session automatically like other websites. Submit your psychic experience!

So you see, you don’t get a full psychic reading for free.  It starts out free so you can feel comfortable that the psychic really can help you they can get you hooked and real you in.  Unfortunately, this is a common practice among unethical psychics.  The fact that the site can bury this explanation of how the “free” part works so deeply on their site is simply troubling.

As I mentioned above, I am a psychic and I do occasionally give paid readings.[3]  As a professional, I find the above practices highly objectionable.  The idea of offering a “free reading” when what you really mean is “a quick taste for free followed by a paid reading” is simply dishonest and it leads me to wonder what else those people associated with the site are willing to lie about to attract and keep customers.

Even if they were honest about what they’re really offering, I’m also extremely uncomfortable with the “free till we get you hooked” approach.  I’ve known too many unethical psychics who are willing to string clients along by giving them information and then hinting that there’s more that can be told, if they’re willing to pay for a longer session.[4]  This “starts free, then turns to a  paid reading” approach gives me the impression that this is likely a common tactic on that site.

What bothers me is that there appear to be large numbers of people who go to this site.  I find that unfortunate, as I suspect there are better and more ethical avenues for finding psychic advice close to their own homes.

[1]  The only two exceptions I have made so far are (a) to sell my own stuff through Zazzle.com and (b) to promote the local New Age shop with which I am associated.  I promote the former because it’ s my business and “it’s good to be the king.”  I do the latter because in addition to being a fantastic business, Psychic’s Thyme is a valuable resource for learning and networking here in the Rochester area.

[2]  This is actually one of a couple complaints I have about the severe unprofessional presentation of the site.  But I’m trying to stick to my ethical objections.

[3]  Thankfully, it’s not my sole or even primary source of income[5], and I only do it when Psychic’s Thyme needs a spare reader.

  In fairness, something similar happens during ethical readings.  Sometimes, a client wants more information than is initially given or has follow-up questions, and that takes time (and money).  However, ethical readers try to make the reading as complete and comprehensive in as short a period of time as possible.  Personally, I rarely have a reading that lasts beyond the minimum length set where I work.

[5]  If you’re not willing to pull the kinds of stunts this site is pulling, being a psychic doesn’t pay that great.  Sure, you might have that rare day when you get tons of readings.  Most days, though, you’d be better off working eight hours at minimum wage.

On Mediumship

Sunday evening, I went to Wegman’s to pick up a salad for Monday’s lunch as well as sodas and snacks for the week.  Derek, the cashier who rang me up, inquired about where I had my face painted (I was done up like Tigger), and I told him it was at the annual psychic fair at Psychic’s Thyme.  He asked me about that and then asked if I believed in ghosts.  I simply smiled and said, “Well, I sorta have to, seeing as I’m a medium.”  I think that answer rather surprised him, as he started babbling a bit.  He mostly started talking about the “Paranormal Activity” movies.

This is something I’ve noticed with some people.  While they are fascinated by movies and tales of the paranormal, they really get uncomfortable around those of us who are (or claim to be, if my more skeptical readers prefer) “the real deal.”  I’m not sure whether it’s because they find the idea of spirits frightening[1] and therefore find a spooky, controllable fantasy more appealing than if they were to consider it a reality they do not understand.  Or maybe it’s for some other reason.

Of course, in reality, communicating with spirits isn’t nearly as interesting or titillating as the stuff they put in Paranormal Activity or similar movies.  In a lot of ways, spirit communication is quite ordinary and unremarkable.  Granted, it’s touching in its own way, but in a very different way than the normal thrills.

Spirit communication is ultimately about connection with our greater spiritual comity.  In Saturday’s post, I spoke of the ancestors as a source of wisdom and the creators of the world we inherited.  Spirit communication is an opportunity to connect with those predecessors — though more recently passed loved ones are the most likely to connect with us this way and maintain that sense of continuity and community.  It’s a way to remember them, honor them, and learn just a bit more from them.

But then, I’m not sure everyone values that the same.

  To be honest, I’m more inclined to find them annoying, especially on those occasions where they show up in every day life.  After about the third time I look behind myself to see if the presence I’m feeling is connected to a physical body in a public space, I start to worry that the other people are starting to think I’m weird.[2]

[2]  In fairness, they’d be right…