Uh-oh. You’re at an intimate gathering of people. A local grog shop, a coffee house or perhaps an elegant cocktail party. Talk comes around to your career or main hobbies, and you unabashedly announce that you’re a tarot reader. (Or other diviner.) You might get a chuckle or a scoff or even a blank stare, but that’s no problem: you’re proud of your ability to read cards and help people.

Then you hear an unexpected follow-up question: “So, are you psychic?”

Suddenly: silence. You find yourself tongue-tied and less sure how to respond. If someone dropped a tarot card, it could be heard in the silence as you debate how to answer. After all, whatever your beliefs happen to be, “psychic” has become a loaded word with associations of fraud and undeserved commercialization.

Do you admit you are psychic and risk defending yourself from being a deluded New Ager or worse, someone who takes advantage of the gullible?

If you aren’t psychic, do you downplay those abilities and possibly attempt legitimization through references to Jung, synchronicity or quantum mechanics?

Depending on one’s personality, this may be an easy question to handle or a very challenging situation.

Some readers believe they are psychic, some think they are “merely” intuitive, and still others believe they are doing nothing more than fancy Rorschach inkblot tests. And likely each person is correct; for tarot (and other divination tools) are nothing if not adaptable and amenable to individual beliefs.

An interesting phenomena is the reader whose readings seem rather psychic to me, but who would deny such or avoid all labels. Then are readers who embrace their psychic abilities  and call themselves psychic; and their readings seem to use an imaginative faculty that is honed more than most.

My feeling lately is that being psychic is largely a matter of accessing intuition by tuning in to the imaginative faculties to a degree that the average person has not practiced, and thereby being more open to what is sensed. In other words, a psychic is someone who works at their intuition.

There are two long-published books that you might enjoy if you want to learn to make better use of the imaginative and intuitive faculties. One is How to Improve Your Psychic Power: A Practical Guide for Developing Your Natural Clairvoyant Abilities by Carl Rider. The current cover is hokey, but it is a gentle introduction to making better use of imagination and perception. I happened across this gem in the used bookstore once, and need to spend more time with its exercises myself.

The other book is Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain by Betty Edwards. She leads the reader through the artists’ process of perception in such a way that it is like a mystic’s experience (although she does not call it such). Learn to perceive things as they really are, and improve your drawing skills while learning an ability you will find helpful in reading cards. There is a newer edition of this book, but I’ve only used the older one linked here.

Here are some open questions that I wrote while pondering this post. These are general questions that any of us might consider, and I’m sure there are many differing answers.

  • Are you psychic?
  • What does being psychic mean to you?
  • Do psychics get information differently than other people?
  • Is being psychic equivalent to being a mind-reader?
  • Are you intuitive?
  • What is the difference between being psychic and being intuitive?
  • Is there a difference between the psychic faculty and the imagination?
  • How might being psychic change the reading process?
  • How can intuition benefit the reading process?

You are welcome to let these percolate in your head, and perhaps you’ll be ready with an eloquent answer if you ever find yourself asked: “So, are you psychic?”

Or you could answer any of these questions and share your unique thoughts in the comments!