Wednesday, March 12, 2008

PSYCHIC in Santa Cruz

Several years ago, when I was just starting out in the work I do now, I attended a pagan festival in Western Massachusetts. In addition to the Mama Love perfumes I brought to sell I intended to do psychically-assisted spiritual counseling sessions. I had a small sign in my booth, a brochure, all the basic stuff. . . or so I believed at the time. I even had my sister along to help out so I wouldn't have to worry about doing sessions, signing people up and selling products all at the same time. It didn't matter much. Not a single person even asked about doing a session with me, at least not that time out.

Across the way from me was a single woman working alone doing psychic readings. She had a HUGE sign on the top of her tent screaming PSYCHIC in large black letters. The festival was in a space about the size of a football field and you could read her sign all the way from the other side. And, unlike myself, she had a line of people waiting for their turn to get a reading every time I looked in her direction.

Was she better at her work than me? I don't know, nobody bothered to find out. But she did have something I didn't have. She knew who she was and she wasn't afraid to proclaim it.

Wearing the "psychic" label is something Paul and I struggle with. Nobody told me growing up that my sensitivity and ability to hear things on the psychic level was a "gift," a natural thing, an inherited trait I could make use of to help others, something to feel good about. No, quite the opposite. My mother, who was frightened out of admitting to her abilities as a child by a doctor who told her she'd wind up in a loony bin if she kept it up, freaked out when she saw the same traits in her oldest child. Not to belabor the point but she passed on the same fears she experienced to me.

Add that to the New England intellectualism that poo-poos anything spiritual and I might as well have lived in Salem at the height of the witch-burning trials.

And yet it's an essential piece of how we are able to do what we do.

Granted, it's not the only thing. Sometimes a session with us is like a counseling session, sometimes we teach, sometimes we get people on the table for healing work. But the psychic part helps us get straight to the heart of what a person needs, sometimes before we even meet.

If we had grown up in devoutly Christian households we wouldn't use the word "psychic" to describe what we do. We'd do exactly what we do at the start of every session--say a prayer, get into a meditative space and listen for guidance--but we'd put it in a Christian frame. We might provide spiritual direction at a Christian retreat center, maybe lead a spiritual study group or do "laying on of hands" in a church.

But we're not Christian. We're not a part of any organized religious faith. We've both studied a wide variety of religious teachings from many different faiths, we both meditate, both have had spiritual awakenings, and now apply an interfaith approach to all the spiritual counseling work we do.

For the longest time we downplayed the psychic aspect of what we do. Barely mentioned it on our website. And I don't know if we're ever going to want to slap big signs on our heads proclaiming PSYCHIC in big block letters. We're more about spiritual growth and development. Or helping people with all kinds of things -- health, relationships, career -- by looking at their lives using a spiritual frame. The psychic component just gives us a way to begin.

SPIRITUAL COUNSELING AND HEALING by Sheryl Karas, M.A. and Paul Hood.

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