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January 24, 2010

Opening Soon: Psychic

Donald Pittenger writes:

Dear Blowhards --

The title of this post is approximately what I read on what appeared to be a professionally painted canvas sign on the back, freeway-facing wall of a new strip mall someplace between Vacaville and Sacramento California.

Maybe this is nothing new to you. For me, most of the psychics I notice seem to be in residences in transitional (residential-to-commercial) neighborhoods. Perhaps you've seen them: a house with a sign in a front window featuring a drawing of a hand and a short slogan with the word "Psychic" prominently displayed.

The closest I ever got to psychic stuff was many, many years ago when my grandmother read tea leaves for a cousin of mine who was really anxious about finding herself a man (I don't remember what the leaves said, but ten or so years later she did get married).

This means that I'm clueless regarding (1) what comprises the clientele for psychics and (2) what psychics actually tell those people.

But that forthcoming psychic shop in the new strip mall intrigues me. Is that a sign the psychics are getting enough business to go mainstream?

Please advise.



posted by Donald at January 24, 2010


I get a laugh out of signs for psychics that say to call for an appointment. Aren't they supposed to know you're coming?

Posted by: Peter on January 25, 2010 12:04 AM

“We prefer the term ‘intuitive,’ not ‘psychic,’” or so I was told years ago by S., a charismatic friend of mine who makes a decent living at that sort of thing. While I’ve never visited her for an ‘intuitive counseling session,’ one lazy, sunny afternoon a couple of years ago we did sit in an outdoor café while she read my palms gratis. In keeping with Heinlein’s observation that it does not pay a prophet to be too specific, she was a little long on generalities, but I found the experience a thoroughly enjoyable one nonetheless. Every man should have his fortune told by a beautiful woman at least once in his life.

I get the sense that S.’s clientele consists primarily of self-involved women who want to tell her their man troubles for an hour, and that her job is to figure out what it is they want to hear, then tell them exactly that. In my eyes this does not make S. in any way a dishonest person, or a con artist, since she truly believes that she has some sort of intuitive gift. Moreover, her clients always leave feeling happy and satisfied that they have gotten their hundred bucks’ worth. How many psychologists can say the same?

And yes, her healing arts center, home to a noted belly dance troupe that she founded, and which also employs several massage therapists and even a pet acupuncturist, is located in what might be termed a “transitional neighborhood,’ but one in the process of being revitalized. Her business was the first one to move into that formerly bighted area, but now several funky restaurants and shops have followed, with more to come.

Seers and fortunetellers always do good business during economic downturns, of course, although I am a little surprised to read that one is setting up shop in a trendy strip mall. Maybe this depression has made the rent cheap enough for her—somehow I’m sure it’s a woman—to afford.

Posted by: Kudzu Bob on January 25, 2010 3:32 AM

I don't know about psychics in specific, but a friend of my grandfather made a good living as a spiritualist in Florida from the 1920s to 1960s. My grandfather said that most people going to spiritualists were widows. There also were some widowers and some were people whose main advisor in life had died (parent, friend, etc.).

I was told that spiritualists were providing peace of mind to their clients. They would help the clients to get the permission to do what they really wanted to do in life. A widow would come and say that her husband and she agreed to live in their current house until they died. Now that her husband is dead, one of the children wants her to move in with them. So she would use the spiritualist to talk to her deceased husband to get permission to move out of the house.

My grandfather said that the reason that you did not see that many spiritualists today (the 1970s) was the psychotherapists had taken over most of the business.

Posted by: Fred on January 25, 2010 9:22 AM

Kudzu -- I'm not sure how trendy the new strip mall was, being able to see only the backside facing the freeway (and whizzing by at 65 or 70). It was out of town a bit in an area of developing freewayscape. In any case, it certainly wasn't one of those in-town strippers on its last legs.

Posted by: Donald Pittenger on January 25, 2010 10:10 AM

Many people (some say all) have a degree of psychic ability. When it is relatively undeveloped, it is ignored or described as "intuition." There are various types and levels of psychic talent.

In my experience, there are few deliberate frauds purporting to be psychics, but many whose connection with the astral or spiritual worlds is an on-again, off-again thing.

The most talented psychics usually don't have parlors in strip malls, nor do they advertise. Their clientele learns of them by word of mouth.

Posted by: Rick Darby on January 25, 2010 10:57 PM

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