Psychic is a misnomer, a word tossed around, overused and under-comprehended.
The word is meant to refer to the ability to perceive information outside the range of our five “understood” senses. Some call it the “sixth” sense, which is now steeped in cultural biases and infinite reinterpretations as a result of both religious tradition and the more secular media. The truth remains that being psychic does not necessarily make you a young child who sees “dead people,” an exotic woman with a head wrap who charges $2.99 per minute, or a talk show guest who runs through the audience spouting off letters of first names and dates of significance.
We are all “psychic.” Accepting this idea fully can take even the most spiritual person an entire lifetime to assimilate, and most of the world’s population has yet to fully understand this. The word is fraught with mystery, misunderstanding, misuse, and stigma. But, perhaps most importantly, the word has been taken out of the context of any organized religion and given a negative judgment. Mainly, that some people say they are “psychic” and are blasphemers, and ‘good’ people are NOT “psychic” because they are moral and know better.
The Judeo-Christian fear of “psychics” is their presumption in attempting to “do God’s work.” It is not for human beings to “know the future” or practice gaining deeper insight into the universe than God would find permissible. However, this again is taking the word “psychic” to a place of separation and attempted superiority. It can also be argued that in Western culture, the word ‘psychic’ implies a superiority, and to many, a fraudulent claim. Why should I believe this man or woman is a ‘psychic’? If this is so, he or she has powers I do not possess, and must therefore be above me on the universal chain of importance. How could God want this person to have a knowledge of the universe and not want me to have it too? And so the suspicion, resentment, and negativity continues.
People tout themselves as being “a psychic,” meaning they dedicate their lives to practicing this ability. This also carries a monetary component, implying that they use their ability for profit. In this way, many believe psychics have blended the sacred with the profane — you can not do the work of God at a benefit to yourself. This choice to engage with their ability is then taken to mean that they must have no traditional religious foundation, as they have taken on God’s work for themselves. This is not the case, as self-proclaimed psychics throughout the world come from all religious affiliations, all parts of the world, and all walks of life.
Where is a person meant to draw the line between profit and sustenance?
In our gradually secularizing Western culture, we constantly seek out assistance through financial means. Consulting with a beloved priest has been replaced by consulting with a trusted psychotherapist. Going to church or temple has been replaced by going to shopping malls or the movies. Discussing personal problems with close friends has been replaced by taking psychotropic medications that earn billions of dollars for pharmaceutical companies.
These are simply examples of a cultural shift in ideals. We are meant to accept that an exchange of funds is imperative to a beneficial transaction. Plainly, if we are not spending money, the result is not concretized (money has been spent), and if the result is not concretized, it can not be quantified, and if it can not be quantified, it is subject to uncertainty, and so on and so forth. Tracing backward from the desired outcome through our process of expenditure, we eventually come to the conclusion that if money is not spent we can not have accomplished anything at all. In our interpersonal exchanges of value, so-to-speak, money is at the crux of the cause-effect relationship between desire and outcome. For the purposes of this discussion, I shall call this line of thinking the “Chain of Demand.”
In capitalist terms, we have a fiscal responsibility to ourselves to spend our money to give ourselves the best possible life. If we are not spending, we are not earning the life we deserve. This framework is quickly becoming dominant within our culture, as we have begun to trust people (including ourselves) less and less, and trust money more and more. Anyone who charges foolishly is suspect, but anyone who does not charge is not trustworthy at all. Since people lack faith, it has become the norm to understand people’s services as being entirely fee-based.
Somehow, the idea of paying “a psychic” is distasteful. But we pay for artwork, we pay for concerts, we pay for haircuts. In short, we are willing to pay for any imaginable service our society has to offer. In my opinion, we pay people for things we should not have to pay for at all.
Why do some psychics charge $40 for a half-hour visit, while some charge $400 for a half-hour visit? Our society tells us simultaneously ( and paradoxically) that “You get what you pay for” and “There’s a sucker born every minute.” So which maxim are we to believe? A psychic who charges hundreds of dollars must have a basis for doing so, must have hundreds or thousands of satisfied “clients.” But at the same time, the psychic who charges only a few dozen dollars may have as much of an abstract gift as the other, and they are perhaps more spiritual because they are clearly less money-driven. The fact remains, regardless of which psychic you choose, that people using their psychic ability to make a living are providing a service worthy of payment. The ethical ramifications of the amount of payment they seek is for us to decide for ourselves.
For the Catholic community, the idea of “free consultation” with clergymen and women has been tarnished as a result of myriad stories of physical and sexual abuse. These supposedly Divine people may not ask for money; but often it is because they may ask for other, darker things. Slowly but surely, the veil of trust is thinning, and we are trusting each other less and less. In the case of Catholic parents who have learned later of their child’s abuse, their own judgement has become an object of uncertainty and lack of trust.
Getting back to the main topic – being “psychic,” if we understand psychic ability as intrinsic to ALL living beings, we can begin to find the all-encompassing, more complex reality of what being “psychic” truly entails for all of us. It is about trusting our minds and believing in those “strange” moments. What we see, hear, smell, taste, and touch are important, and they help us connect to those stimuli we can not detect in those ways. To access the psychic within ourselves, to feel it, and to know it, has nothing to do with violating our belief systems or, of course, spending money.