We are all wanderers on this earth. Our hearts are full of wonder, and our souls are deep with dreams.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Are You Psychic?

There's an uncomfortable question tarot readers are often asked and because it doesn't have an easy answer, it sometimes causes us to shift a bit on our seats. Are you psychic? Well...no, ahem...yeah, actually...um...maybe?

I've been asked to perform some pretty amazing feats with these tarot cards. I've been asked if I can feel someone's energy through the cards, if someone will meet their soulmate, if someone will win the lottery, and if the cards can diagnose a medical problem. These are valid questions but they are more appropriate for a psychic reader, a doctor, or another professional than a tarot reader. Then again, I've heard of and have done some pretty amazing psychic readings with these 78 pictures. Basically, it comes down to what process is in operation in the reader. Is the reader using a psychic ability or intuition or a combination of the two?

I stand by what I said here in that I believe that a Tarot Reading involves applying basic historical meaning of the cards with intuition. It does not have to involve any psychic abilities whatsoever. Tarot reading is a skill that anyone can learn and while it can be used with psychic abilities, it does not have to be. Amazingly, the combination of archetypal images thrown in a random spread and interpreted via knowledge, understanding, and intuition can yield a most amazing, chilling, and goosebump-raising reading. Here you'll hear me mutter something about a "universal consciousness" and "the common human experience" and "somehow we're all connected" amid coughs and generous shrugs of the shoulders indicating I really don't know how it works so precisely, but it does. And it does so without a iota of psychic woo-woo attached.

I'm all for woo-woo. I love it, in fact. When I have experienced it either in myself or in another person it's crazy and spooky and makes me smile really big. I love it when things are said that could not have been said except that the person received that bit of info extra-sensorially. I feel just like those guys on Ghosthunters when the lights on the meter go off and they have no explanation for it. Willies galore! But psychic abilities vary widely from person to person, just as any other talent or gift. While I believe everyone has psychic abilities, not everyone is psychic. I can sing just like anyone can, but I can't sing well and even with training I won't be able to sing professionally. I think that's how psychic abilities work, too.

Basically, there are three major types of psychic abilities: clairvoyance, clairaudience, and clairsentience. Clairvoyance is the ability to see images, scenes, visual impressions in one's mind's eye that are extrasensory messages about another person. Clairaudiance is hearing things spoken, listening to guides, spirits, or departed ones. Clairsentience is feeling, smelling, tasting or otherwise physical sensations that communicate extrasensory messages. One or any combination of these abilities can be exercised in any psychic reading, depending on, of course, the particular bent of the reader. However, none of these abilities are of much use without intuition that filters the messages and allows the reader to make sense of them, to interpret them, and deliver them in a relevant manner. While a tarot reader may possess and use any of these abilities, she relies heavily upon intuition to guide her through the reading, to discern between meanings, images, messages and in choosing which of the sensory and extrasensory input to apply to this reading for this person right now.

I have experienced some of all three types of psychic input but none of them to any great strength, usually. During any given reading I will often hear words or phrases that will explain the specific meaning of a card for someone and my intuition must apply that to the reading/situation in question. That makes me somewhat clairaudiant, but I am not a medium or channel. I sometimes see pictures, with or without accompanying words, and I can just sense what they mean, but I think that's my intuition kicking in. Rarely have I smelled or tasted or had a physical sensation apart from empathic feelings. The hardest part of it all for me has been to trust that this input is not my own imagination. Working with tarot has certainly helped me in developing these abilities but I do not claim to be psychic. I am simply using these abilities as I can to enhance readings that I do. I have done many readings without the use of these abilities, relying purely on intellect, knowledge, and intuition and the readings are no less accurate or insightful.

A psychic may use tarot cards, or not, but relies primarily on extrasensory input combined with intuition. A tarot reader relies primarily on knowledge of the cards and intellect combined with intuition and possibly, though not necessarily, some extrasensory input, depending on the person. So, are tarot readers psychic? It depends on the reader. He may have well developed psychic abilities or he may not, it's highly individual, but psychic abilities do not determine the skill of a tarot reader.

As a client, how can one know whether one's tarot reader is psychic? Certainly you can't really know anything about a reader's abilities unless you've splurged for a reading. Even then, you really don't know how the reader obtained the information she relays to you. Intuition is eerily accurate and doesn't require messages from "spirit" to access. To be very honest, I don't know how it works. Maybe it's all "messages from spirit" and we think it comes from our own heads or gut feelings. I don't know. I do know that I have delivered readings that contained information there is no way my conscious or subconscious mind could have known. At other times, the cards just read like a story and it only takes figuring out the conjunctions between the cards that allow the story to be told.  Maybe there's something to Jung's theory of a collective unconscious that we all share and are able to tap into, the connective threads between us accessed by those of us willing to trust and listen.  Jung described the collective unconscious as the 'inherited potentialities of human imagination. It is the all controlling deposit of ancestral experiences from untold millions of years, the echo of prehistoric world events to which each century adds an infinitesimal small amount of variation and differentiation. These primordial images are the most ancient, universal, and deep thoughts of mankind.'  

Our minds are amazing computers.  Nothing is ever lost, it is stored and categorized and accessible at any time. It cross references all words, images and experiences we have experienced in our lifetime.  Most of this activity is done below our conscious surface.  This lends credence to the experienced reader, someone who has a number of years and readings beneath their belt.  Her mind will naturally compare and reference the various combinations and placements of cards and with analytical reasoning she herself may not even be aware of, come forth with some amazing understanding. I lean towards a combination of theories.  While the idea of a collective unconscious intrigues me, and I think it is valid given what we know about how all energy and matter is interconnected, I also give credit to the human brain to sort and sift and analyze the data presented.  Together, the end result may be what we call "intuition" or even "psychic" phenomena.

But wait -- that all makes sense when you're talking about past or even present events, but how are tarot readers, psychics and intuitives able to predict the future?  It hasn't happened yet, so it can't be stored in the collective unconscious, it's not able to be retrieved from the mind's database, so how in the heck do some of these people tell us precisely how something will play out?  Once again, I think its a matter of both tapping into the collective and the individual consciousness.  Human beings have not changed significantly in thousands of years.  We really do respond and react in pretty predictable patterns.  Oh sure, there's always a time we get caught off guard and surprised with some uncharacteristic move on someone's part, but if one were to place all of human interaction and history into a huge computer, I bet that machine could predict the next thousand years of our actions.  Ok, that's only part of it.  How did that psychic know about the washer breaking down or the windfall of money that was to come your way?  Honestly? I don't know.  Therein lies the mystery and the fascination with getting a reading.  We stop thinking, "How do they do that?" and start thinking, "When will this happen?"  Now you are a co-conspirator.

I truly do believe in the ability we have to draw unto ourselves the things and experiences we focus on.  Some call this the Law of Attraction.  I don't know if it's a law as such but it sure seems to happen.  So when one receives a reading and is given a prediction, even if it isn't something grand, it plants a seed in your mind and even if you consciously forget about it, your steel trap of a brain hasn't.  Am I suggesting the Power of Suggestion?  Maybe a little. But it's not that simple.  I see things all working together and one's own power of attracting to oneself that which one expects to happen is quite a powerful force, especially when combined with other energies in play.

So, am I psychic? Yes...and no.  It depends how you think of psychic and it depends what you demand from someone who promotes their psychic abilities.  Personally, I don't think we can demand any predetermined product from psychic or tarot people.  They provide a service, but the results aren't dependent upon them alone.  They are but an element in the grand scheme of things.   As the motto I've claimed as my own says, "The cards may be in my hands, but your destiny is in yours."

“We are a psychic process which we do not control, or only partly direct. Consequently, we cannot have any final judgment about ourselves or our lives.”
--Carl Gustav Jung


  1. This post was long over due! I have talked about the subject in my youtube videos. I agree with everything you said. U word things so well :)

  2. I loved it Ginny. In your post there are many of my own ideas about tarot and psychic abilities. I'm not a psychic myself (at least I think I'm not), and I have been a tarot reader for years.

  3. Very good article. I have never liked to say that I am "psychic" because I think we have such a warped idea of what "psychic" really means.

    Perhaps "psychic" just means we are open to receive messages from either our higher self, a collective unconscious or from a higher plane of existence (whichever you prefer to believe). Some are less sceptic to believe those messages than others.

    I am a very "brainy" tarot reader, I work very much with my knowledge of the card meaning but I always surprise myself with feeling that a particular card in a particular spread can only mean this or that. I just know. And usually I'm right unless my inner censor says "Nah...that can't be!". ;)

    One time a friend of mine and I were sitting outside and she was peeling the bark off a little twig and broke the twig into little pieces. It reminded me of a shaman's bone oracle and she cast the little pieces of peeled twig and read for another friend that we both didn't know excessively well. The reading was rather accurate. I was fascinated and tried the same thing with some gemstones I have and found that I could also read with them.

    To cut a long story short, I think it's mainly the intuition or our "psychic ability" at work but we have learned to doubt it so much that the cards can function as a "crutch" while we believe we are quite objectively interpreting the given images.

  4. Thanks for all the comments! :D

    Andre, I love long comments, they can be discussion starters. :) The "already in motion" theory about future predictions is one I lean towards myself. Based on events and decisions in the past, having led to where they are today, you can, within a reasonable degree, predict where this thing is going and you can do that without the cards. Common sense can tell you that. What amazes me, though, are the times when my own common sense arrives at one conclusion and the cards say something else entirely and the cards turn out to be correct! This is why I love tarot. It never fails to surprise or amaze me.

    Satu, I agree that divination is the same regardless the tool. One can read with cards, tea leaves, animal entrails, toothpicks, anything, and humans have been doing so for eons. The tarot is unique in that there is a definite historical aspect to the cards that isn't based on one's intuition. While some readers do read the cards entirely intuitively (and I have blogged about that as well) the cards really do have a strong system of interpretation attached to them that one learns IN ADDITION to intuitive reading of the images.

  5. I think of psychic as the ability to communicate with one's soul. The more open I am to information, the more my intuitive faculties sing.

  6. I really good article Ginny giving a well balanced opinion on what is or is not considered psychic ability.

    I think when you use tarot enough you cannot help but develop these intuitive abilities as you open yourself up to those images and colours.

    True some of us are born with these abilities already active, but using tarot only enhances their development

    Am I psychic? Well yes, no, maybe. :)

  7. Awesome post. I'm glad i found your site - you have some really thought provoking posts - can't wait to read them all!


  8. Welcome to 78 Notes To Self, Tarot Lady!


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