Parapsychology at Paradise Found – Pacific Standard
Amy begins our clairvoyance reading with a bombshell: “Right now I see these purple points of light, which I have never seen before,” she said, her voice calm and easy. “There is something really, really important about what you do.”
I want so much to open my eyes, to glance at Amy, to see if she has a smirk or a sly wink. I need to know, because if she says this to me for good – and she probably is – I have to get over my own instinctive smile. But what to do with a moment of social absurdity when you are the only one aware of it? You can’t laugh at it; a joke is not really a joke when you are the only one involved. The only thing to do, I guess, is to embrace the unknown.
Amy now tells me of a vision where I stand on a pier, fishing. She pauses for a moment, I imagine (although I’m not trying to confirm it) deep in thought. Then, for reasons unknown to me, she asks me to say my name out loud.
“Max Ufberg,” I mumble hastily, a hint of embarrassment in my speech.
This, apparently, helps Amy’s clairvoyance. “I have this very warm feeling that happens when some sort of intense healing energy is activated.”
The light in the room, I know, is bright and harsh. But with my eyes so closed all I can see is darkness. I hear a horn outside; I focus my brain on repeating the tick and tock of the clock.
Shut up, I mean the driver. Can’t you see I’m riding the eternal wave of the unknown?
Then it hits me: Oh shit, I’m in this.
Maybe it’s because I’m a journalist, or just someone who hasn’t spent a lot of time in metaphysical bookstores, but I’m immediately skeptical when I walk into Paradise found. On a display table at the front of the bookstore is a Daily Planetary Guide, next to which is a basket of river stones with words like “Breathe” and “Thrive” engraved on their shiny bodies. (Price: $ 5.95 each.) On another display, I spot two vaporizers: “Transcendance” and “Happy Kids”. The latter, I presume, makes your children more bearable. I’m not sure about the first one. There are also books on topics like Buddhism, witchcraft, and clairvoyance. Paradise Found presents itself as a place of “peace, love and good vibrations”; it’s probably easier – and less airy – to describe it as a bookstore specializing in Eastern and New Age philosophies.
Tucked in the back of Paradise Found is a cramped room with two chairs and a small circular table. I can’t say for sure, but I believe there is a crystal ball sitting on a small nightstand in the corner. What I can say for sure, however, is that the seat cushions look like the ones my aunt used for family dinners. This is where I will meet Amy, and this is where she will make me, if not a believer, at least a respectful admirer.
Americans have a strange relationship with mysticism.
We embrace hot yoga, but ignore the more demanding teachings of Hinduism. We love Harry potter, yet we protest against Wicca. And as we place Van Morrison, the greatest mystical musician of his generation, on a pedestal, we feel a little awkward about his wide-eyed witty lyricism. It’s okay to be interested in these things, we seem to say, as long as it’s for entertainment purposes or for short-term personal gain.
A Gallup Poll 2005 found that three in four Americans have at least some degree of paranormal belief, with 26% of respondents saying they believe in clairvoyance and 32% in otherworldly spirits. These respondents are not fools: A 2006 survey found that seniors and graduate students are more likely to believe in the paranormal than their first-year subordinates. Education, at least in these cases, does not hinder supernatural belief. Meanwhile, everyone from George clooney To princess diana sought spiritual guidance from mediums. Hell, even Ronald Reagan consulted with an astrologer.
We revel in juicy gossip stories about celebrities and their otherworldly muses (is Kaballah back yet?) – but neither can we shake off the feeling that they might be on something. thing. It’s not like we’ve stopped listening to Van Morrison. So why do so many of us choose to reject these practices, at least on the surface?
Looking into my soul, Amy sees a dog. Do I own my dog, she asks optimistically? No, I answer. I feel guilty for denying Amy’s vision. Why hadn’t I just owned a dog? I’m happy to have my eyes closed; that would have been an awkward moment.
But soon we’re back on track, and Amy gives me a vision of a static TV screen, behind which a shadow comes and goes. “It’s like you’re trying to reach out. There’s almost a brotherly energy,” Amy said. I almost jump from my chair at this: Ah! I think. I have brothers ! Amy, you did it!
After half an hour of clairvoyance reading, Amy asks me to open my eyes. The fluorescent light is harder than I remembered and the room warmer. There is no way around this: I miss the darkness.
Amy pulls out three decks of tarot cards and, like a magician, makes me select a few cards face down. According to the laws of Tarot, I am: 1.) confident, which Amy says is primarily an indication of overcoming fear; 2.) spiritually capable, as the raven card suggests; 3.) naturally skilled as a healer; and 4.) seek an appropriate balance between my soul and my body, according to the bee card (I accidentally pulled two cards from the animal deck).
“You are a researcher,” Amy said. “You don’t just do this homework to have something interesting to say about Halloween.”
I no longer smile when I look at Amy. I see no point in shirking his clairvoyance, although I do not believe it to be true. I’m sure Amy has seen enough eyebrows and raised eyebrows in her life. At one point I ask her if that was the case, if people often laugh at what she does. Amy pauses for a moment: “For much of my life I have kept my spiritual beliefs a secret. I know there are a lot of people who don’t believe in this sort of thing. with people who don’t believe these days. “
Amy stares at me as she speaks. She seems calm, sure of herself. I look away, no longer out of embarrassment, but because it is sometimes difficult to look at a person who lives with the certainty that I never will.
The week of demons is Pacific Standard ‘series of essays exploring everything evil, from devils to dogs, monsters to mental illness.