By Rachel Machacek
Special to The Washington Post
Sunday, January 7, 2007
Like most spiritually sensitive people, I accept the possibility of supernatural phenomena. I don't dismiss ghosts or past lives, admit to summoning celebrity spirits via Ouija board when I was a kid (sorry to bug you, Marilyn Monroe) and know which signs of the zodiac are compatible with mine.
As open-minded as I think I am, Dionne Warwick and her Psychic Friends Network have cast a hokey pall over the metaphysical world. Can people really communicate with spirits from the Great Beyond and guide us with tarot cards, crystals or their intuition? Is there something to all of this mysticism beyond late-night infomercials?
It was time for me to find out.
"A good psychic can make your jaw drop by telling you something no one else knows, and they'll validate decisions you've made," says Terri Rodabaugh, a Maryland-based tarot card reader and spiritual healer of more than 20 years.
Heading into the new year in search of a few jaw-dropping revelations, I decided to make back-to-back appointments one Saturday with five psychics. (I didn't disclose to them that I was writing an article, so I won't reveal their identities.)
As I set out for my pseudo-spiritual stroll, I wondered: Would they be able to tap into my innermost thoughts? Would they know of my jampacked itinerary? Would their messages be consistent? No need to read my mind for everything I was told. Just read on.In Need of Balance
1:30 to 2:15 p.m.: Tarot card reading (half deck) in Dupont Circle, $35
The reading: In a room decked out with a ceramic Mary-and-Jesus egg and a weird bobblehead doll, the psychic deals my fate. My career is going well, she tells me. True.
And then it's all downhill. Sometime during 1997-98, I had a rough time and haven't fully moved on. True. Breakup, lost job -- pretty sure I'm over it, though. There's chaos in my love life. Yep. I've been dating a lot. The psychic tells me I pick the same bad apples over and over again and give too much to these "idiots." Crab apples aside, I'm "not meant to be single and have 99 cats." She has validated some fears here.
Then, from the deck she pulls the hat trick of spiritual hell -- the death, tower and devil cards. Yikes?!?! Just symbols, I'm reminded. But I am stuck, "gathering dust" and picking up on other people's negative energy. I'm afraid of change. Aren't we all?
Diagnosis: My chakras (the body's seven locations of life energy) are imbalanced, which is keeping me from my life's abundance.
Spiritual fix: Just as I was wondering how my psychic afforded rent and the highlights in her hair, she offered to meditate and pray for me, which she said would balance my chakras. And after three to five visits, I would sleep better and feel reinvigorated. And all of that could be done for $700 ($100 per chakra). Hmm, time for some comparison shopping.More Negative Energy
2:45 to 3 p.m.: Psychic reading in Bethesda, $50
The reading: This one is at the psychic's home, which, of course, is the creepy tree-shrouded house on the street that the kids probably give a wide berth on Halloween. Seated at a table in a sparsely furnished room, the medium asks me to hold my keys, puts a hand over mine, and we close our eyes and concentrate.
She senses negative energy and wonders about my family. What kind of prescription drugs do they take? Who cares? Does anyone have a drinking problem? Not really. We like wine with dinner? She tells me she's seeing bottles and wonders if it's because I enjoy fine wine at dinner. Is there an echo in here? Did I want to escape my house when I was 16 or 17? Doesn't everyone?
She tells me I'm struggling right now and asks if I've been sleeping well, if I meditate, if I have headaches. Sure. No. Sometimes. We're done in 15 minutes.
Diagnosis: One of my chakras is out of balance.
Spiritual fix: She'll meditate and pray with crystals (which are said to help balance chakras, assist in the healing process and amplify the psychic's energies) starting at midnight that night through 11 a.m. the next morning. Riiight. After a few follow-up sessions, I should be back on track. $200 ($10 for 20 crystals).Back to the Love Life
3:45 to 4:30 p.m.: Tarot card (full deck) and aura readings in Georgetown, $50
The reading: In a small, dim room lined with miniature statues of the Virgin Mary, I'm back to tarot cards. The psychic notes that I have some psychic ability. Strangely, I've heard this before. Have I pursued psychology yet? No, but I think about it sometimes. Am I a vegetarian yet? Okay, weird. I stopped eating meat last year. I've been close to death before. Uhhh, nope.
My love life's chaotic, and I haven't healed from a broken heart. Wait a minute, haven't I heard this before? Like two psychics ago? Her predictions: I'll marry an older man from New York or Boston with the letter "J" in his name, at 42 I'll have twins (possibly because of fertility treatments), and I'll live a long life. Ah, every little girl's dream: in vitro and a sugar daddy.
I'll never get divorced, possibly because I'm prone to beating dead horses in bad relationships. Guilty. She reads my aura. It's dark -- eggplant where it should be amethyst, burgundy instead of red.
Diagnosis: I'm stuck. I pluck negative energy out of the ether, and somewhere along the way, the door to my heart was closed, and she wants to help open it.
Spiritual fix: She'll pray and meditate with healing crystals for a few days and then transfer these energy-boosting responsibilities to me so my heart's door will remain open and I can unbridle my positive mojo. $500.Why Am I Here?
6:30 to 8:15 p.m.: Tarot card and psychic reading in Falls Church, $150
The reading: Sitting third eye to third eye with psychic No. 4, she tells me my energy is bad and I am sad -- both bad juju for the crystal reading I had asked for. So she recommends a tarot-psychic reading combo.
There's a tall, thin man around me. Someone in my life? Nope. Maybe a spirit? There's a break in the action while my psychic takes a phone call. She deals a few cards. I have hope, but I'm stuck. So I've heard. Am I religious? No. Hearing this, she unleashes a religious diatribe to convert me to Christianity. This is interrupted by another phone call.
More cards. She's confused about my love life. Join the club. Have I had my heart broken? Yes, along with the majority of the population older than 18. I always date the same kind of guy? That's what they say. Another call.
Then she asks about my meditation, sleep and headache patterns, and wonders about my diet. Do I even want help? She wonders about my intentions -- why am I there? Busted! I keep mum, though, not wanting to blow my cover.
Diagnosis: I'm a spiritual black hole.
Spiritual fix: She offers to use crystals to chart my spiritual road map and life purpose so that I can reach my full potential. This includes meditating and praying at an undisclosed location for a few days. $800. (Apparently she has phone bills to pay.)Things Are Looking Up
9:00 to 9:04 p.m.: Palm reading (one palm) in Adams Morgan, $15
The reading: I've just about had it with the dark-and-twisty-soul routine and revel in this lighthearted psychic who reads my palm, cigarette dangling from her lips and Justin Timberlake's "SexyBack" trilling in the background.
My lifeline is long -- curving around to the front of my hand -- and I will live into my 80s, maybe 90s. So it's been told. There are no breaks in the lifeline, which indicates good health. She asks if I've been thinking about going back to school because she sees research and books. Higher education crosses my mind from time to time. And I remember later that I'm working on a book proposal. Duh.
I'm frustrated in my job but will have a successful career. No, but okay! I'll have one marriage ("That's a good thing -- all you hear about is divorce these days," she says.) There have been trials and tribulations in my past, but happiness in the future, including some good luck toward the end of the new year. Sweet!
Spiritual fix: Concentrate and focus on the future ("the past is the past"). She recommends a follow-up visit to delve into my love life with a two-palm reading for $25.Assessing My Own Aura
On the whole, there was nothing about my psychic sessions that sold me on their bank-account-busting offers for spiritual tweaking, chakra balancing or aura cleansing.
But I'm not going to lie: My day of fortunetelling included some nerve-jangling moments. And it got me thinking about where I'd been, my current situation and what the future holds for me. And I suppose that's the point of any therapy: awareness and acknowledgement of your issues, and moving forward guided by positive forces.
Maryland-based tarot card reader and spiritual healer Terri Rodabaugh chimes in on how to get a good reading:
· Go in with an open mind and don't expect quick-and-easy answers.
· Validate a psychic if she or he is on the right track.
· Don't feed a psychic too much information.
· Be skeptical. Don't believe everything you hear.
· Have fun. You can go just to see what a psychic says and whether he or she validates what you're thinking.