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The Quad: Glancing into the world of psychics, if people should go to them

(Nitya Tak/Daily Bruin)

By Allison Clark

Feb. 27, 2020 2:17 pm

Anxious to know what your final grades this quarter will be? Feeling uncertain about your crush’s feelings? Waiting to hear back from that job you applied to?

We can’t know the answers to these questions, but is it possible that someone else could answer them for you?

I walked into Westwood Village with that question in mind. I passed In-N-Out Burger and arrived at the storefront titled Mystic Gift Shop, where I had earlier seen a woman sitting in a gold chair, facing the street. However, when I approached, the chair was empty but the door was open. A purple neon sign that read “Psychic Gallery” flashed brightly amid a white interior, and gold statuettes lined the shelves. I called out, “Hello?” and was met with the voice of the woman I expected to see: a psychic.

A psychic, as described in a HuffPost article, is “someone who specializes in communicating intuitive information about your life, relationships and your future.” They can hear, see, feel and know information about their clients by sensing it and then use this information to provide clarity or guidance about the client’s past, present and future.

For some, the world of psychics, tarot cards and crystal balls is mysterious and exciting. It presents a way to know more about your future.

Others, however, are more cautious. The market for psychics, according to an IBISWorld report, is around $2 billion annually in the United States, so the service is definitely a source of revenue for many. It’s hard not to be skeptical with news stories about people being scammed out of $900 by Los Angeles psychics.

Authentic or not, psychics are all over LA. The question is: When Bruins feel uncertain about the future, should they head to one?

Javier Lopez, a third-year sociology student, said he has visited psychics before in El Monte, California, and has been to good psychics as well as ones who have tried to scam him. He said one such psychic told him many things he said have not come true.

“She told me that I needed a cleansing,” Lopez said. “That she can read it, that she can feel a vibe off of me that I needed a cleansing.”

Lopez said the psychic tried to convince him someone was doing witchcraft to him, and tried to charge him $500 for the proposed cleansing. He said the psychic also tried to sell him handmade wax candles that were meant to help Lopez with problems he was facing. He said other psychics told him the witchcraft prediction and attempt to charge him $500 for a “cleansing” was a fraud.

Lopez also said he went to a good psychic who was hard to book and charged $20 per session. He said she was accurate and that, among other things, she correctly predicted a hospital visit that later occurred in his life.

Bruins who walk in to see any old storefront psychic may experience what observers of the psychic world call the “you-get-what-you-pay-for” phenomenon, according to the Los Angeles Times article. The more you pay, the more specific the reading.

When I received a reading from the psychic in Westwood Village, she told me generalized statements about my life: that I will live a long time, that there is something in my life causing confusion for me, that I will travel, etc. This was the first red flag.

Another red flag an LA Times article discusses can be that psychics shouldn’t be asking you questions; they should know the answers already. Sure enough, the storefront psychic I visited asked me what the initials M and J mean to me, and if I experience headaches or stomachaches.

Similar to Lopez’s experience, the psychic also told me my aura was changing; that it was becoming darker and there was a darker energy attached to me. She asked if I wanted her to help “cleanse” me. Recognizing this as one of the warning signs I had read in the article, I politely declined.

However, some psychics might be doing more than “cleansing.” World arts and cultures/dance professor David Shorter says there is definitely some truth to the get-what-you-pay-for phenomenon.

Shorter, who teaches the popular World Arts and Cultures 51W: “Aliens, Psychics, and Ghosts” class, has been conducting research on psychics for 15 years. He estimates that between 20% to 30% do something akin to therapy. However, he says there is a portion of psychics who are highly accurate in their readings.

“In reality, about 12 or 15% are doing something kind of off the charts and unbelievable,” Shorter said.

Many of these “elite” psychics charge as much as, or even more than, $400 in a session and must be booked in advance, Shorter said. As a result, the reading will be much more detailed and precise, he added.

“You’ll walk out of there with specifics. Dates, times, persons, names,” Shorter said. “They don’t mess around about that sort of stuff.”

So, are there some psychics who have that ability to see things that would otherwise be impossible to know or guess? Shorter said undoubtedly.

For Bruins looking to explore the world of divination, there are plenty of psychics not far from campus.

Colby Rebel, who operates on Kelton Avenue, has been professionally working as a psychic since 2013, after she left her job as a tax manager. Rebel is also the host of her own radio show, an author, speaker and has appeared on television and other radio shows to share her psychic guidance. She said she has had her abilities since she was 4.

“For me, it comes in different ways,” Rebel said. “Sometimes, it’s energies; so you can read the energy of someone. Sometimes, it’s a picture that is kind of in your mind’s eye, or you may hear a word or you may get a feeling.”

Rebel described her senses as heightened and said psychics refer to them as “clair-senses”: clairvoyance, or sight, clairaudience, or hearing, claircognizance, or knowing. What she interprets, she said, is like its own language, and that this language is not exactly perfected.

Rebel said some things can be incredibly specific, while other things cannot be told because they have not been decided. Moreover, what is told in a reading is not necessarily set in stone; but that doesn’t make the reading any less meaningful.

“Anything I say could not come true, because we have free will,” Rebel said. “So if I say to you, ‘I see your guys coming in, he’s coming in three months, I see you meeting him out of a local beer pub, this is what he looks like, this is his name,’ but you don’t go out, if you stay in your place, you’re not going to meet him.”

Rebel encourages all of us to be more open-minded.

“My job is not to convince someone,” Colby said. “But just to see that someone’s mindset has shifted slightly. It’s so nice to see that because we’re not meant to be just one-sided with our thoughts and mindset.”

For some, however, the idea of knowing the future simply isn’t appealing. Shorter attests to the extraordinary abilities of psychics and the way they have changed other people’s lives, but it doesn’t change the way he lives his.

“I don’t mind not knowing what’s going to happen three years from now,” Shorter said. “Why? Because, that’s being human. The not knowing is kind of fun.”

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