6B - The Michigan Daily - Weekend Magazine - Thursday, January 16, 2003
The Michigan Daily -Weekend Magazine- Thursday,
The Mich.o.gan Dail . ,- Weekd....b,...ne - Thursday.,
oan St. John, a psychic and director of a
metaphysical and spiritual consulting service
ReadersNet.com, specializing in clairvoy-
ance, is an affable and pleasant woman, easily
engaged in conversation and very accepting.
Yet she has no tolerance for, as she says,
"unscrupulous imposters" who she believes sully
the reputation of her profession. "I'm not trying
to play with anyone's head or pocketbook," St.
John says indignantly, clearly perturbed by the
exploitative group she's labeled as dishonest.
Unfortunately for her, those charlatans are per-
haps the best-recognized faces of the industry.
St. John's dissatisfaction is founded in the ubiq-
uity of commercials advertising "fake" psychics
like Ms. Cleo, a notorious imposter who appears,
though not deliberately, as a caricature of the
authentic seers she claims to rival. The struggle
for purportedly legitimate psychics like St. John
to improve upon this disingenuous image among
the mass public - potential customers, of course
- is an arduous one, chronically complicated by
a generally cynical population that perceives psy-
chic insight as a sham industry harboring con
artists who are content to feign precognitive abil-
ity while charging healthy fees.
Indeed, even in Michigan, many people seem to
live by the creed popularized in Missouri, where
citizens assert that only upon seeing can there
"I think that (psychic readings are) just a bunch
of hoopla that people made up to explain things
that they couldn't understand," said LSA senior
Katherine Porter. "I'd see a psychic if someone
else paid for (the visit), but otherwise, it seems
like a bunch of bullshit."
Porter kept going, denying the ability of others
to foresee future events and characterizing vari-
ous theoretically predictive measures - inter-
preting astrological signs, consulting tarot cards
and reading palms - as purely means of enter-
Porter is not alone in her suspicion. When
asked if he believes that others could predict what
was to come, LSA senior Jon Beyer responded,
"Personally, I haven't had any experience with
psychic powers. I'm n vs
no aying thttey
don't exist for sure, Edwards) myse.
but I haven't wit-
nessed them. I friends who thin]
wouldn't rule it out tic° He has a I
as a possibility, but I '
have some doubts effect than a fak4
and am skeptical n
about it in general."
Asked to explain
his feelings, B eyer Director
skeptical because I haven't witnessed it, and the
general stereotype of a psychic is what you see on
TV, with the 900-numbers and crazy old ladies
who don't come off as very credible."
The issue of credibility is one that St. John
takes seriously. She says that when assessing a
psychic in general - and particularly when
deciding if he or she is the right psychic for one's
needs - perspective clients must be aware that
many faux prescients will act in a manner that the
public expects, both perpetuating misconceptions
and betraying their own merit.
"You don't need to be seen face-to-face in order
to receive psychic counseling," St John, a phone
psychic, asserts. "If [some psychic] says that you
have dark energy around you, that you have been
hexed, get up and walk out. They don't know what
they're talking about. Bad luck is ridiculous."
Given the misgivings held by people like Porter
and Beyer, distinguishing the ridiculous from the
Sn (Johnathon legitimate seems a
f, but I have However, St. John is
determined to try her
that he's fantas- best. What, then, are
>t more positive the skills and capa-
bilities of a real psy-
like Ms. chic?
- Joan St. John results," she says. "I
ReadersNet.com specialize in clair-
medium shift and earth channel readings."
All of those abilities revolve around summon-
ing and focusing what St. John terms "positive
energy" - intangible forces which are supposed
to be cross dimensional.
"I don't tell people what to do. I help them
understand what they should see and what they
should concentrate on," St. John said.
The prophesizing - of which she is capable -
should not be misinterpreted as an accurate
means of forecasting the lottery. Rather, St. John
can help clients better understand themselves and
their tendencies, equipping them with a mode of
thought that can reap positive results in the future.
Someone lonely and desperate for a date should
not expect instructions for which color flowers to
bring, but instead how to be more successful overall,
oftentimes requiring sustained comfort with oneself.
Psychic medium shift and channeling are both
based on St. John's ability to communicate with
higher spirits that may exist on different plains of
being, obscured in the regular, physical word.
This technique has been popularized on television
by psychic Jonathan Edwards, who summons past
spirits to mollify and assuage their remaining rel-
atives and friends.
"I've never seen him myself, but I have friends
who think that he's fantastic. He has a lot more
positive effect than a fake like Ms. Cleo," said St.
This critical difference between what St. John
actually does as a psychic and what the public
perceives hints at a larger issue concerning vari-
ous levels of belief and the distinctions made
when deciding what is and isn't possible, what
does and doesn't exist.
Various opinions - distinguished by direction,
degree, and intensity - are held concerning the
presence of the supernatural.
People willing to accede both that entities like
those summoned by St. John can exist and that supernatural powers. At my home in Waterford last
they can be found and engaged by psychics pref- year, I was in the backroom, my room, which was
aced such concessions with caveats about main- an addition to my house. Usually when I was in
stream culture and there, I was seeing a
willingness to "No one says that they are interest- lot of black and white
believe. ed in when things kind of going
LSA senior Louisa pornography they mean by in my peripheral
Kennedy said, "When photography." vision. And, I was
I was on Semester at hearing a lot of weird
Sea last year, I took a - Phillip A. Hughes noises, plus my dog
course on cross cul- Professor of Astronomy would never go back
tural psychology and in there.
it (addressed) different spirits in various cultures, "At night once, I was sleeping and my cell
and in a lot of different cultures - in places like phone rang and my mom came into my room. I
Cuba, Haiti, and Brazil - there are people who thought that it had been ringing for a while and
can channel spirits and go to altered states of con- that she must have gotten mad because I hadn't
sciousness. answered it. I said 'No mom, I got it.' But when
"While that's not part of American culture, for I looked, she wasn't there, but the door had
the most part, I think that in other places where it opened and I know someone had come into the
is accepted as legitimate, spirits can indeed be room because I had closed to door to go to bed.
channeled. I think that's true." "The next day, I told my mom about it and she
She was also able to relate to psycics based on said that the family who had previously owned
personal experience. our home had built that room in the back for the
"After some people that I know died, I've got- father who was dying of AIDS.
ten signs from their spirits, and I think it's com- "I wrote about the (episode) in my journal and
forting that spirits can do that." a psychic who read the entry said that she could
Kennedy was less accepting of other possibly talk to ghosts and believed that it really was the
predictive elements, like horoscopes and tarot ghost of this man because people who have died
cards. "I like reading my horoscope and I like eat- of AIDS generally stick around because they're
ing fortune cookies, but I don't take that stuff to afraid to transcend, afraid of judgment in the
Another LSA senior, Stacey Saling, added a Saling, though not wholly dismissive, was, like
unique story concerning a spirit. "I believe in Kennedy, less inclined to believe in the predictive
power of other means of foresight like astrology
and tarot cards. "I think that astrological charts
help explain some of the little coincidences in
Notions that astrology has any predictive or sci-
entific merit are completely anathema to astrono-
my Prof. Philip Hughes.
"No robust statistical analysis has ever shown
that astrology can be reliably predictive before the
fact," said Hughes.
Commenting on the unfortunately-too-com-
mon confusion of astronomy with astrology,
Hughes continued, "It perplexes me why that
occurs. It tends not to happen elsewhere. I've
never heard anyone say 'My daughter is a suc-
cessful psychopath' when they meant to say psy-
chologist. No one says that they are interested in
pornography when they mean photography. I
would assume that most scientifically lay people
also regard this confusion between astronomy and
astrology to be silly."
Hughes' comments are a sharp rebuttal of Joan
St. John's ideas concerning the reading of the
planets. "In my field, astrology is considered a
science, and a good astrologist and a good psy-
chic are the same. So is a good tarot reader. They
don't need the cards because they already are able
to feel the energy and see things. The cards are
just (an interpretive aid)."
John Schoolmeester, a Business student and
affirmed Catholic, offered yet another perspec-
tive. When asked if I
future, he responded, '
go, yes, but in a sense
going to happen by si
Asked about the
religious sense, not as 1
that spirits exist in 1
places, like hell or hea
municate with them i
not like seances or any
fellow students, illustr
perceptions of psychic
ural. However, what s
that, ultimately, no bel
voyant is based upon
"Show Me" state may
For more inforrr
fdr the opportunit
JOA N. Ms. St
Brightn Ho iday i
12-8 and at theA
on Friday, January
is available for ri
tures and workshC
Not everyone is ready to accept the abilities of psycics, but some believe in th