You were a kook if you went to see one and a fraud if you claimed to be one. But nowadays, things have changed – starting with societal attitudes that have brought our fascination with the paranormal out of the basement and into the mainstream.
Feel like extending your education? You’re not restricted to computer software applications, floral arranging or foreign languages anymore. At Chinook Learning Services (formerly Chinook College), you can now choose from night classes in palmistry, tarot card reading or finding your guardian angel.
“The best way to educate yourself is to have an open mind,” says Donna Crowe, program designer at CLS who initiates new classes based on public interest. “There is a great interest in these things – it’s not unlike alternative health.”
Before you dismiss it, consider this: Most companies nowadays with accept massage and acupuncture treatments as part of their health-care benefits plan. Twenty years ago, it was considered hippie nonsense, says Rebecca Sullivan, a professor of communications studies at the U of C.
“We have a very different sense of ourselves and our bodies these days,” she says. “There’s been a real rise in New Ageism – choosing a more individually based, diffuse from of spirituality over the institutional religious belief system.”
Subscribers to these beliefs are not always bored homemakers or lonely retirees. They’re also urban professionals looking for new ways to tap into their spirituality and creativity.
She says she’s learned to cue into body language more and uses her knowledge to evaluate how business meetings will go, what kinds of messages are contained within a handshake and when to follow one’s gut when it contradicts logic.
“I truly believe that this is a science,” she says. “It’s about developing a sense of conscious awareness, and it has opened up a new branch in life for me.”
Anderson was taught by Linda Perry, a Calgary-based palm reader and artist who teaches the majority of the classes in the city. In a previous incarnation, Perry worked in the corporate world in desktop publishing and computer drafting.
After interviewing Anderson, this reporter decided to check out a few psychics herself, and compare their findings. My experience n the paranormal began with sitting a Linda Perry’s kitchen table.
She performs what she calls “gentle, positive” readings – focusing on the positive rather than on the negative aspects of life. When it comes to predictions of death and doom, she says, “I just don’t go there.”
True to her word, her reading was nurturing, almost motherly – and astonishingly accurate. She was dead on in her description of my hobbies, family, travel plans and relationship, and doled out helpful advice on how to deal with conflicts.
Although Perry says her gifts run in the family, with both her grandmothers having performed tea leaf and tarot card readings, she believes anyone can do it if they’re willing to learn.
“I always tell people, remember to have fun with it, but be responsible for what you say and how you say thins to people,” she says. “People take you at your word, but nothing is ever set in stone. I believe in free will over fate.”
Emboldened by the positive results of my palm reading, I set off for a tea leaf reading at Oolong Tea House with mind reader and psychic entertainer Paul Alberstat.
Alberstat holds a find arts degree from the University of Calgary and was one class short of a education degree before deciding his hear wasn’t in it. Instead, he tapped into an interest I the paranormal he’s head since he was 12, and has performed stage shows around the world as a successful magician. Today, he entertains at corporate functions and reads the tea leaves at Steeps The Urban Teahouse and Oolong.
“There are three kinds of people who come to see me, “he says as we sat ear thte window of the trendy Kensington tea shop. “There are people who do it just for the fun of it; people who want an edge on others in terms of knowing what they can expect financially or where they sit socially; and people ho genuinely need hep and can’t afford to spend $250 an hour for therapy.”
After I gulped down my tea, Alberstat turned the cup over and had me turn it clockwise three times with my left hand. He then explained what’s in store for me for the next 12 months, based on the shape and location of the leaves left in my cup.
Some highlights: I’m to expect financial difficulty in March; I’m supposed to run into someone from my past on a work-related project n late spring; and, in July, I should receive the news of a pregnancy, birth or engagement of someone close to me. Alberstat also predicted long-distance travel I the fall, which I’ve already started planning, unbeknownst to him.
It was a nice reading with lots of tid-bits and a good advice.
Albertstat comes across as kind and reassuring, which is what many of his clients come looking for.
But if you’re looking for an experience that will make you question your beliefs and leave the little hairs at the back of your neck standing up for days on end, Kim Dennis is your gal.
Otherwise known as Clairvoyant Kim, she is not someone you can just pop in to see any time. This famous local spirit medium, who has her own television and radio show and published a book last fall, is already booking appointments into July.
And that’s because she is incredible at what she does. Within minutes of my walking into her northwest home, before I have a chance to sit down or she has any opportunity to search for body cues that might give away things, she tells me the names and identities of my deceased relatives. Apparently, they are I the room with us.
So is the ex-boyfriend of a friend of mine who died two years ago in a terrible car accident. Dennis would have no other way of knowing any of this information. There’s no research of any kind that could provide her with the uncommon name of my Russian maternal grandmother.
But there’s more. Not 20 minutes have passed before Dennis tells me the accurate ages and medical conditions of my parents, my complete ethic and family background, the exact details of my friendships and personal relationships, the location s of the travels I have been on the travels I have planned.
I left her home without it having quite sunk in, but later that night as my inner skeptic analysed it, I was absolutely floored.
Dennis says she started having daily out-of-body experiences at the age of 13; later in life, when she worked as a bank teller, she would see the names and faces of customers several minutes before they walked in the door.
It took decades for her to realize she could harness her gifts into a career, one that involves a weekly radio show on country 105, monthly appearances on A-Channel’s Big Breakfast and a television show five days a week.
“That inner voice we all have – that’s your compass, your navigator and your guide,” she says. “All of the answers are inside of you. Sometimes you don’t hear them because you’re thinking too much; you’re letting the noise of the world get to you first.”
We’ve come a long way since the days of Alexander Graham Bell, who had hoped to be able to communicate with the dead through the telephone when he first invented it.
But one thing remains the same, as Sullivan puts it: “We’ve never lost our fascination with, and desire to know more about, the other side.”