Beginner psychics are often bombarded by strange and confusing messages, says Roz Shakespeare, the co-founder of a new support group for psychics, mediums and clairvoyants in Vancouver. “Remember the old radios with dials?” she says. “Sometimes you’d be between stations and you’re trying to get your message but it’s too far away or the signal isn’t particularly strong. It’s all garbled.” The support group was set up so people could practise their skills and “for finding like-minded people who understand you when you say, ‘My mother appeared to me in a vision last night.’ ”
Shakespeare is a retired Vancouver police detective who remembers times on duty when she intuited gunshots before they occurred: she once saved a fellow officer from a line of bullets ripping through a closed apartment door, unable, later, to explain how she sensed the gunfire. “I’d hear things and think, ‘Am I going nuts? Do other people hear things like this?’ ”
After her police career, Shakespeare honed her psychic skills, eventually opening a private practice as a clairvoyant. In October 2008, she and business partner Della Ratcliffe launched Psychic Development Open Circle for beginner psychics. The two-hour class ($10 per person) is every second Tuesday in east Vancouver.
At a recent meeting, nine members gathered in a tiny, dimly lit office around a coffee table set with decks of tarot cards. The room was packed—four people touched elbows on the couch, and two more sat on the floor. Still, no one questioned the empty wooden chair reserved for “visiting spirits.”
A new member, a young married woman, introduced herself, saying she was certain a “presence” had followed her to the meeting. Suddenly, she said, she felt a cold chill and her arms tingle. She reached for a Kleenex and her eyes watered as she talked about the presence stalking her at home while she did yoga and at night in the bedroom.
Immediately, Shakespeare and Ratcliffe tuned in to the presence, brainstorming rapidly with their impressions. It’s squatting! It’s on this side of the room! It’s huge. It’s male. “I’m getting sumo wrestler,” Shakespeare said. The woman across the room nodded in agreement.
Good news—the presence was friendly and protective, Shakespeare and Ratcliffe quickly determined. But set boundaries for it, they advised. If it pestered the young woman in the bedroom, she should tell it, “Talk to me in the kitchen, not here.”
Ratcliffe feels fortunate that in her own private practice as a life coach and psychic she has never had to relate any “deathly messages” to any of her clients. But how to tactfully communicate information to a client is one of the things members of the group are there to learn. They work through mock scenarios: “Let’s imagine you’re doing a reading on someone, and you think you see a tumour,” Ratcliffe said. “We talk to them about how they’re not diagnostic or licensed practitioners.” When Roz has seen something, Ratcliffe explained, “She says to the client, ‘It might be a good idea to have a scan or get some blood work done.’ ”
When beginners are developing their gifts, says Ratcliffe, “they want to give readings to everybody. They’ll go up to a total stranger and say, ‘I have a message for you.’ We stress to everybody that these abilities are a gift, and they need to ask permission.” Likewise, if a beginner psychic gives a reading in a public tea room, and “something very personal comes up,” Ratcliffe advises, “ask the client: ‘Do I have your permission to tell you here?’ ”
Ratcliffe tells the story of once turning down a client who wanted to communicate with her dead father. “I can’t accept a session on that basis because I can’t guarantee that I can talk to her dad. A) he may not want to communicate. B) he may not know he’s crossed over yet. C) it just doesn’t work that way.” She explains, “When we do the Tuning In and Tuning Up class, we do a session on ethics. We tell them, ‘Make sure you’re not going to guarantee results.’ ”
Members are encouraged when they’re first starting their practice to “do it for free or as an energy exchange,” say Ratcliffe. “For instance, if they have a client who does massage or feng shui or accounting, see if they can trade services. When they’re feeling comfortable, we suggest they charge a dollar a minute. That’s the standard starting rate. It’s a business as well.”