When early man first ventured forth from his cave, he sought information about his future. He looked to the sun, the moon, and the stars for answers. He turned to twigs and shells and bits of bones, and to shamans and priests. He searched not only for meaningful signs but for those who could interpret those signs.
Down through the ages, man continued to be driven by his quest for information about the unknown. Presidents and kings have been advised by seers and psychics. Up to 40-million people, in the United States today, peruse I the daily astrology columns that are featured in many of the nation s best newspapers. Store-front shops, private residences, and even mini-malls bear the signs and advertising of psychic readers.
What once was thought of as a few pieces of silver crossing the palms of Gypsies has become a flood. It's estimated that more than one billion dollars are spent each year, in the U.S., on astrology alone. The psychic world has become a world of big business. And it's a very profitable business.
Hollywood films, up until a few years ago, created the image that most fortune-tellers are Transylvanian-accented, olive-skinned Gypsies, whose gift for perceiving the future was part of their heritage and was passed to them from great-grandmother, to grandmother, to mother, and which, in turn, was destined to be passed on to one of their daughters. Certainly, many Roma, as Gypsies prefer to be called, do make a living as fortune-tellers. They have done so for centuries.
But you don't have to be a Gypsy to practice fortune-telling. Nor do you have to be a woman. And you don't even have to be psychic, although it doesn't hurt to have a flair for showmanship and a better than average understanding of human nature, along with its frailties.
In practice, women do well at fortune-telling. It allows them to make use of their greater sensitivity, their intuitive perceptions about themselves and about others. But, then, such sensitivity is a prerequisite common to most successful psychics, who specialize in personal readings. One lay sitter described a typical psychic reading in this fashion:
"It is an entrancing experience, having one's life described by a stranger. It's an exercise as seductive as looking at a photograph of one's self. At the very least, what (you get for your money) is an attentive listener and guilt-free self-absorption."
Just about the same thing could have been written about analysis, of course, or about any session with a psychologist or psychiatrist. Indeed there are some who maintain that today's practicing psychic is the' poor man s analyst. It is an interesting concept, and it may be so.
A long-time psychic reader describes her psychic-client relationship in this manner:
"A lot of (my clients) know what they ought to do but can't find the courage to do it. What these people need is self-confidence and belief in themselves, a little advice from someone who has been around. I give them a push in the right direction. If the doctors and preachers were doing their jobs right there would be no need for me."
The practitioner quickly added another bit of advice that is of value to every would-be psychic reader:
"I try to leave them with hope. You never want to paint a dark picture of the future, always want to keep your thoughts and words positive. You'll never get rich in this business peddling gloom."
While women, traditionally, have been depicted as fortunetellers, some of the most famous psychics in history have been men. Nostradamus, Cagliostro, and, more recently, Edgar Cayce are widely recognized names.
And recognition is important. In a business that has come to rely heavily on word-of-mouth advertising, there always will be a certain amount of jostling for recognition. One West Coast seer drives a new Cadillac, with a cellular telephone and a personalized license plate that reads PALMRDR. A fortune-teller who practices in the vicinity of Disneyland advertises a shuttle service from the park and from convention-area motels to her parlor. A popular East Coast psychic utilizes expensive audio taping equipment to provide readings for his clients, each boxed with is picture and address.
Yet, when it comes to an explanation of their art and of the techniques they use, few modern-day psychics can afford to be identified by name. For most, it's simply a matter of dollars and sense. Their livelihood depends upon the manner in which they are perceived by their clients.
Writing a book on the behind-the-scenes techniques of private readings, for example, could prove to be an invitation to disaster for a psychic, if a copy of the book turned up in the hands of a repeat client or was associated with the psychic in the letters-to-the editor column of one of the magazines, in which he, or she, may routinely advertise.
But such enforced reticence on the part of working psychics, over the years, has its down side. Much useful information never sees print. As a result, much that is in print as source material is as outdated as wide lapels and bell-bottom trousers for men. In an acre and at a time in which the world and society are moving ahead in quantum leaps, such material needs to be brought up to-date, and regularly.
William Lindsay Gresham, in his book, 'Monster Midway' makes the observation that today's Gypsy fortune-tellers face one disadvantage. Their art is so ancient, passed on from mother to daughter, that their much-used cliches, in some cases, no longer apply to modern woman.
Today, for example, not all young girls think only of an early marriage; some may aspire to become corporate presidents or military test pilots. Gays, in increasing numbers, are coming out of the closet, and taking on their own identity. Black-Americans, Mexican-Americans, Asian Americans, and a host of other hyphenated Americans have complex agendas, and far-reaching goals, much removed from the ethnic stereotypes widely accepted as reality a few years ago.
Much of the material in this book has not previously been published. It is as current as now. Nor is it just theory. It has been refined and proven valuable over the course of -many thousands of private readings. The source of the material is a long-practicing psychic. He is extremely successful in that calling, so much so that he has been called "King of the Cold Readers", by many of his peers. And he has earned that title in more than a quarter of a century of doing private readings.
Consider these partial credentials. He has done more than 100,000 personal readings. He is a member of the Board of Directors of a number of psychic organizations, and is the official 'house' psychic for various radio and television outlets. As a recognized authority on the subject, he has written about psychic matters for magazines and newspapers, and is routinely featured in several of this country's best-known magazines.
He has done psychic readings for men and women, and for both young and old. He has even been paid his full fee to do readings for horses, and for just about every category of household pet.
Although most readings for people are personal and, usually, private, he has commanded enthusiastic response from larger audiences, by doing mass readings from the stage, in clubs, and at large parties. In such settings, he may simply point at an audience member, give his impressions, and, then, move on to the next person, using the same proven techniques he uses in private readings. (Such forays into the spotlight are not just exercises in personal vanity or self-imagery; they provide a well-qualified source for new clients, and usually reward him many times over for the amount. of time and effort that he may devote to them.)
In the sub-culture of the private reader, he has another name, the Shadow Man. For many working psychics, his whispered identity is the final seal of approval for his innovative new reading techniques and approaches. His contributions to the art are legend. He has been a superstar in the business a long time, and even among his peer group, he has gained recognition and respect as a master of advanced cold reading techniques.
Cold reading is the term used to describe the method of fortune-telling, in which the psychic, or reader, approaches the client, or sitter, 'cold', knowing little or nothing about the individual, who usually is a stranger. By observation and deduction, the psychic fits the person into a category, and launches into a formula reading.
He tailors the formula reading to the individual, as he goes along, using information gleaned both from deductive reasoning and from, his own unobtrusive observation. Often, the client's body language, rhythm of breathing, hands, posture, and even unguarded comments will allow the psychic to become ever more specific, during the course of the reading.
In a remarkable series of lengthy audio-tape recordings, spanning a period of more than four months, the man known as 'King of the Cold Readers' has described, in detail, the many advanced techniques and methods he uses, or has developed, in his day-by-day readings. The material for this book is based upon those secret tapes. It covers just about every aspect of client contact, from initial reading to follow-on visits.
There are man individual approaches to fortune-telling, of course. Different nationalities and ethnic groups often lean toward specific types. The 4000-year-old I Ching was developed by the Chinese. The colorful and mysterious cards known as Tarot are popular among many European nationalities. Palmistry has been a long-time favorite of Gypsy readers, and numerology and astrology have large groups of adherents. Tea leaves, coffee grounds, witches' stones, and runes all have been used as a medium to pull aside the curtains of the future, and have their own advocates.
No matter what method, or methods, you choose to use, however, the problems and needs of the individuals with whom you come in contact will be basically the same. Nationalities and ethnic groups may vary widely, but the individuals within them have the same fears, problems, and life patterns. And their questions about the future, predictably, will be similar. The secret of a successful reading is to anticipate the sitter's hidden worries and needs, nothing more.
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