Bad Psychics


I was justifiably skeptical when he told me a 'very reliable clairvoyant' he knew had predicted the perpetually anticipated, eventually inevitable massive earthquake—the Big One—would hit us sometime between May 15 and May 17.

Here in San Francisco, we live assuming it will one day come. Whenever there's a slow news day in the Bay Area, the anchors often manage to fill the gap with reports from scientists of the 30-to-60-percent change of a magnitude 6.0-to-9.0 quake hitting the region sometime before 2020-to-2050. It's a statistic that can never be proven wrong… and which tells us nothing useful. Maybe it will, maybe it won't.

Still, I took more note than usual, considering this prognostication was delivered to hit when Mars and Uranus, a prototypically earthquakey combination of planets, exactly conjoined on May 15. The previous weekend, I'd been woken from slumber twice during the night by quakes—a 3.something around 1:45 and a 4.something around 3:30. In somnolent logic, I'd wondered, 'Did these really happen? Does that mean the Big One is on its way? Remember to check the Internet to see if these shakings was real.' I did, and they were.

If what you are reading has reached you (and you are reading it, so it has), then you will know the clairvoyant's prediction failed to come true. Had the Big One actually occurred, my workspace—correction: my whole life—would be in such tremendous turmoil now, updates to this site surely would have been temporarily suspended. Images of crumbled buildings would be clogging up the televised airtime.

But no. His prediction proved incorrect. Another foiled fortune-teller, and another misguided attempt to concretely conclude what will happen before it does… attempts reflecting poorly on the serious astrology I practice, as my work is often lumped together, fairly or not, with what I consider irresponsible prophecy.

When I describe the work I do, I make sure to stress the point that I do not predict the future. There's a very good reason for that: Simply put, the future is not set in stone. The future hasn't happened yet… or more specifically, we haven't made the future happen yet. Every single one of us wields the power to co-create the future, based upon how we choose to act with our free wills. I view astrology as a means for qualitatively evaluating timing, in order to empower us to act more consciously and in better harmony with our temporal environment.

Conversely, anyone claiming to definitively know what will happen is actually making a move to disempower us, falsely leading us to believe that 'Fate' or 'Destiny' is out of our hands. Poor hopelessly passive us! (And ooh, aah, mighty and all-knowing Psychic with the Special Powers!) We shall… do what? Sit on our lazy rumps, watching Cops reruns and eating chicken strips and waiting around for whatever we were told would happen to just happen…? Hell, no! This faulty view of fate is precisely what turns so many thoughtful folks against astrology, other divinatory tools for better self-understanding, and intuitiveness in general. And it makes me mad.

Now, don't mistake my words for a rampage against intuition, psychism, or whatever we want to call it. Intuition, a purely 'illogical' but rather accurate path to knowing, is real. We all have it, to a greater or lesser extent, based upon how deeply we trust our gut (and reinforce its veracity by choosing to believe). There is undeniably an intuitive aspect to what I do as an astrologer; intuition is a strong element of interpretation. But I refrain from hailing myself as a 'psychic' because of what I consider to be the baggage associated with the label: I neither possess the ability to predict the future, nor do I desire that ability, if it does in fact exist.

My guess is, when the aforementioned clairvoyant predicted a big earthquake around May 15, his intuition probably picked up some of the shockingly, surprisingly, physically unsettling, chaotically abrupt energy of the Mars-Uranus conjunction. (Or he read about it on an astrology website and translated it into an earthquake warning.) It's not a totally inconceivable leap of logic. But it's only one of a variety of possible interpretations of such an energy.

Those sensitives among us, who receive feelings, messages, visions, voices or other intuitive hits must be careful with our power, as we help fix our interpretations into being when we insist on their infallibility. What we sense may be true… but we can easily fuck up by trying too hard to understand the logical, factual content of what we know, or to direct it where our ego wants it to go.

That's where intention steps into its starring role. When we offer intuitive guidance, we must ask ourselves: What is my intention? To help myself or somebody else to make better, more conscious, more healing, more positive, more ultimately satisfying choices… or to inhibit free choice? To assuage fears… or to generate them? To empower people… or to get them 'addicted' to our guidance? To prove we're accurate and special and lovable and right?

When a psychic predicts a big earthquake, there's not much we residents of the threatened area can do, short of leaving altogether… and I'd be in constant transit if I departed San Francisco every time an earthquake was predicted. When the prediction proves incorrect, you never hear much about that psychic again. But if it does end up coming true, then the psychic will enjoy a professional boon (better reputation = more money) associated with it. If being right increases business, the risk is one definitely worth taking.

What we do with our information is a topic rising to the surface this week, in the light of Monday's Full Moon in Sagittarius. Especially with Pluto's continuing journey through this sign of higher knowledge, any overly confident insistence on being right might benefit from a careful balance with the multiplicity and relativity of Gemini, its opposing sign, in order to avoid ideological conflict.

On Saturday, Mercury joins the Sun and Venus in Gemini, helping to float our moods up from recent heaviness and show us so many different ways of looking at a blackbird. When struck with any instinctual awareness of weighty significance, caution, anxiety or dread, see if you can find another interpretation of the feeling… one that inspires you to do something to alter the course of events, away from danger and toward contentment.

The other day on TV, I saw a famous psychic on a famous talk show commit what I consider the worst of all intuitive infractions—telling a woman in the audience when and how she was going to die. 'You're going to be 83,' she confidently reported, 'and it'll happen peacefully in your sleep.' I was immediately infuriated. This, of course, was the most rosy of visions (a long life and a peaceful passing), and I wondered if this psychic ever offered uglier news to enquiring clients, e.g., 'You'll be hit by a bus in seven months… and by the way, enjoy the rest of your time here.' What does anyone have to gain by knowing when he will die?

But the worse thought I had was a fantasy about some vengeful thirtysomething depressive who asks the psychic the same question and, after she is told she will live to her 80s, decides to prove her wrong… and kills herself on the spot. It's a morbid little statement, and a morbid little sentiment to end on, but it makes my point: We possess free will to create our futures, and no one has the power to take that from us.

Never believe a psychic—or a doctor, for that matter—who claims to know when you will die. It's utter bullshit.