You know, this may not have proved all that accurate at the time, but 40+ years later, some of it is almost uncanny. Almost. [read more!]
The latest Sylvia Browne related drama pisses me off to no end. In fact, most of the time she —or John Edward, or others well-adept at cold reading and lucky guesses— end up on the news, or I see some blog tearing these charlatans a justifiable new one, it pisses me off because this makes any kind of psychic or divinatory artist look bad.
I haven’t gained the modicum of respect and trust I’ve EARNED as a cup reader and hydroscryer (among other techniques of divination) by acting like the smarmy, inconsiderate, egomaniacal douche canoe typical of the famous “psychics” justifiably taken to task by sceptics. Now, while I do maintain that this is a religious practise, the nature of the readings I give is inexact and I make an effort to offer at least two or three possible interpretations of what I’m seeing from this. Like I’ve said, it’s no more or less legitimate than a Catholic confession or Pentecostal exorcism: A good reader helps some people, but not everybody. Sometimes the message seems clear, but sometimes not. I always try to remind people who want to know something more important of the King of Lydia, who asked the pythia if he should go to war with Persia, and she told him that if he did, a great nation would fall —and he assumed that meant Persia would fall, but it was his own nation.
Sometimes things are a little less vague, but I think we diviners and oracles owe it to people to temper this sometimes. Don’t ever hold out on information for additional money, but “think as a mortal”, as they say, remember that sometimes when a Muse is just making shit up, She’ll say it in a way that makes you believe it’s the truest thing in the world (I have no doubt that the Moisai like to fuck with us in the divinatory arts, and on a regular basis, just for the purpose of keeping us in our place), and remember that the Gods only tell us what they want us to know, and if you can apparently function at least as well as Browne, no god has told you everything.
Now, Browne’s apologists clearly know what they’re doing, and they’re taking some of the literal words of Browne’s —paraphrasing and misquoting other words— to blame the victims. Yes, it’s absolutely the client’s responsibility to keep an open mind and consider all possibilitie interpretations of what was said, but let’s face facts: Dead is dead. When a diviner, medium, or psychic tells you “she’s not alive, honey“, that person knows damned well how that’s going to be interpreted. Cos dead is dead. When a purported “psychic” tells you that your daughter was shot in the chest, or that your lover, a 9-11 firefighter who apparently hasn’t been seen since, “drowned”, when that clearly was never the case, it’s time to cut the crap and call shenanigans. This woman is no pythia giving statements that are open to interpretation, she’s running on her own wild imagination and calling it fact, while the bobbing heads that follow continue to make shit up in hopes of making the idiot look better.
I’m going to call this out. Shit like this makes what I do look bad —in part because some people just refuse to see the difference (Browne and Edward and others pull a modern version of the Victorian medium scam, claiming to somehow communicate with dead people; I read the shapes formed by coffee grounds and tea leaves, smoke, ripples on the water, and other objects, and I interpret what that might mean as guided by my Muse —I’m not practising an exact science, but I’m interpreting things that are actually there at least partly intuitively, I’m not claiming to receive communique from people who are not there), and in part because I wholeheartedly believe that Sylvia Browne and John Edward are fakes and cold readers who, at best, have made enough lucky guesses to appear credible. They’re toxic, and no-one with any sense should believe them, give them any amount of money, or even make excuses for their nonsense.
Note: I understand that some people in the pagan and polytheist communities do work that involves oracular trance. I’m not personally comfortable with giving people readings from that sort of method, and my gods know that. I also know that those who do that sort of work and have the best reputations in the community tend to follow this pattern:
1) The people with the best reputations have been doing this for YEARS, and often for years before offering this service publicly.
2) Many of the people with the best reputations for speaking directly with the gods via oracular trance seem to be bonded to a particular deity or spirit (as a “spousal” or perhaps “godslave” sort of relationship), but not everybody. (Also note: Not everybody who has bonded with a deity, even very intimately, is going to be an adept oracle; the gods give everyone different gifts.)
3) They tend not to make public predictions because it’s regarded as a very sacred and very personal service, by its very nature.
4) Their track records tend to be better than even the average cup or card reader (much less charlatans like Sylvia Browne, who really doesn’t have the accuracy rate she claims, especially for her public predictions), and remember, I’m saying this as a cup reader, first and foremost. Hell, one of my friends even had a very personal falling-out with a popular oracle, and in the end my friend even admits, in spite of personal differences, the oracle never relayed an incorrect message from any deity.
5) Some people believe that asking for any kind of money for a spiritual service is “proof that you’re a fake”, but of those who do expect some kind of minimum fee for it, even oracular services, it’s reasoned that not only is time valuable, but that renumeration for a service was a part of their ethical code, and because it’s a matter of ethics, they offer the service either on a sliding scale, a very small minimum fee, or for barter. Usually fees in the triple-digits are the surest sign of a scam, not the asking for a fee, in and of itself.
Related note: I’ve edited and updated my Mantis page. I also might start reading cofee and / or teas locally. The occult shop that was initially interested in hosting me ended up closing down, but a local coffeehouse might take me on, instead. I have the same issue as before, though: I need a single-coil portable burner, to make my coffee (I know this is at a coffeehouse, but I’m very particular about how it’s made), and preferably my own grinder (again: I’m very particular and like to add a little bit of anise or fennel, so it’s best to have my own grinder). I’m still researching the minimum that I could do this for, so wish me luck!