The Seasonal Touch

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The Seasonal Touch is a very simple element. The psychic merely offers statements based on the time of year or other seasonal factors. These obviously vary according to the country, culture and society in which the psychic is giving the reading.

For example, I live in England where the Spring months are typically associated with 'Spring cleaning' and embarking on major new DIY tasks around the home. January and July are the commonest months for major sales in the shops, which many women will flock to in search of bargains.

The financial calendar can also prove useful. One of my correspondents in the United States tells me that between the months of January and April, people will have federal income taxes on the brain. Here in the UK, the January deadline for Income Tax returns proves a regular headache for many people -especially anyone who is self-employed.

To get the most out of this element, give some thought to how many different 'calendars' we all live by, all the time. I have already referred to three, which we might call the household calendar, the retail calendar and the financial calendar. There are many others - the sports calendar, the entertainment industry calendar (seasons for hot new shows, or dreary old repeats), the food calendar and so on.

Adding imagery

There is a risk of this being one of the most transparent elements. Not many British housewives are going to be amazed to learn that they have been doing some Spring cleaning. This glaring lack of subtlety would encourage many psychics to simply ditch it, were it not so delightfully dependable. The artful psychic therefore takes the trouble to dress the statement up with appropriate imagery. For instance, this is not so good:

"You have been doing some major cleaning chores around the home".

This is better:

"If I focus for a moment on the domestic aspect of life, I'm getting impressions of activity and quite a lot of effort, I sense some strain - I mean that in both the physical sense, a few aches down your back perhaps - and also in the mental sense, of trying to make things right, to sort out clutter and impose some sense of order, of tidiness, of the right things in the right places. I'm getting a sense of a very energetic aura, but also of fatigue, like someone sorting out cupboards and slinging out old paint tins that haven't been touched for years, that kind of thing."

Extrapolation and perspective

It is possible to extrapolate from basic seasonal data in order to find slightly less obvious things to say. If many women are going to sales in July, then many women are going to face rather frightening credit card bills about a month later, and may go on something of an economy drive the month after that. Hence the psychic giving a reading in September, provided the client seems likely to fit this pattern, can discuss domestic financial affairs with some confidence. Experienced psychics are good at this kind of reasoning, wherein the chain of cause-and-effect leads from 'things everyone knows' to things which might sound like insight, at least by the relatively lax standards of the psychic industry.

Different views

Another way to squeeze more juice out of the Seasonal Touch is to consider different points of view. Taking the 'July = Sales' notion once more, consider four different people: (a) the keen bargain-hunter, who relishes the sales, (b) the shop assistant, who dreads the extra workload and general upheaval, (c) the husband, who is rather shocked at the consequent drain on the marital credit card, (d) someone who has no interest in the sales, and rather resents the disruption in their favourite shops and stores. Four different people, with four very different perspectives. Hence one rather simple piece of information can provide very different material for readings, depending on whether the client belongs to category (a), (b), (c), (d) or 'none of the above'.

Psychics can also dream up Seasonal Touch statements which are more likely to apply to men rather than women. Sporting fixtures provide one obvious source of material. Here in England, quite a few men would regard the start or climax of various sports seasons as their principal reason for living. Some find it easier to recite a string of soccer statistics than to name their wife's birthday or - in extreme cases - their wife. The psychic will generally find these enthusiasts easy to recognise. For example, it is not hard to identify English soccer enthusiasts. The prominent eyebrow ridge, trailing knuckles and ongoing quest for the secret of fire generally provide tell-tale clues. Indeed, many are recognisable from news footage gathered at various European football stadiums, or nearby town centres.

My thanks to Ben Whiting and others for help with this element.

10. The Opposites Game

The Opposites Game is a very intriguing element, and one which fascinated me when I first came across it.

The psychic first suggests to the client that there is someone in her life whom she does not get along with, or with whom she feels some friction. The psychic then proceeds to describe this 'awkward' or 'unhelpful' person in some detail.

To do this, the psychic simply endeavours to describe someone who would be the exact opposite of the client herself! For example, if the client seems quite reserved and formal, the psychic describes someone who seems carefree, casual and outlandish. If the client seems rather authoritative and outspoken, the psychic describes someone timid and sheepish. In this way, the psychic need only take a minute or two to deliver what seems like quite an impressive 'psychic profile' of this shadowy enemy figure.

More often than not, the client will be able to identify someone who matches the description, and whom she dislikes to some extent. This element is clearly less than sure-fire, and it is one which I have very little experience of using. Nonetheless, it is mentioned by more than one source on cold reading, and is probably successful often enough to be worth trying.

11. The Push Statement

I have deliberately saved the Push Statement until last in this section. This is because it is without doubt the hardest element to explain clearly. It is also one of the most powerful.

The elements I have listed so far are designed to obtain a hit, i.e. agreement from the client that the psychic's pronouncements are accurate, or at least plausible. Push Statements are quite different. They are intentionally designed to be rejected by the client. That is, to be rejected at first. However, they can almost always be made to fit if the psychic pushes with sufficient confidence and, at the same time, subtly expands the scope for agreement.

Push statements are hard to make up, and generally evolve with experience over many readings. I only have one or two that I trust, and I use them sparingly. One that I have used quite a lot is 'the red floor'. It goes something like this:

"About three months ago, I see you standing in a room, and it seems a strange detail to mention, but for whatever reason I have to mention that I see a red or red-ish floor. I don't think it's your home or where you work - it's somewhere else. And there's this red colour around you, and this is a place of some significance to you. Now I can only tell you what I'm getting, whether or not it seems to make sense, and what I'm getting is that you are there for a meeting of some kind. I don't know if there's one other person involved or a group, but I sense that someone's expecting you to be there, and you're having to wait for them."

This almost always gets a negative response from the client -which is the intention. I then begin to push the statement, and appear highly confident that eventually the meaning will become clear. This sense of confidence is important, and helps to place the onus on the client to find something that matches. As I continue to push my initial statement, I start to subtly include more options. The colour might have been a kind of rusty brown, or an autumnal shade. It might not have been actually the floor that was significant, so much as the general environment which employed a red-ish colour scheme, or a danger zone (red = danger). The meeting could have been intentional or accidental, significant or trivial, routine or a one-off. It could have been social, professional, family or romantic.

Sooner or later, in a very high percentage of cases, the client will remember something that fits. The whole point of a Push Statement is that the psychic seems to be aware of something which the client herself had forgotten about:. This is devastatingly impressive when it works. It is one thing for a psychic to detect things the client is aware of. It is quite another for the psychic to apparently 'see' things the client herself had more or less forgotten.

It is not easy to devise new Push Statements that are likely to work. The details have to be just sufficiently unusual to lie beyond guesswork, but just sufficiently common to stand a chance of being right. The details must also be capable of being expanded and re-interpreted in progressively broader terms, so that the chances of success are improved as the psychic 'helps' the client to remember.

The shoe and the party

Another example is 'the shoe and the party', which I have used more than once on female clients aged under 35. It goes like this:

"I'm getting the impression of a party or a celebration that I think took place around the festive season, Christmas and all that, but not necessarily an actual Christmas party. There's a car involved, and a problem with this car or with transportation. And I can see you holding a shoe, or having problems with one of your shoes. It could be something like a broken heel, which is quite common, but I sense something not quite as common as that, such as a strap that has broken or caught in something, or something has damaged this shoe and you're obviously not pleased. And I can sense that you are making your feelings about this very clear to the people around you! Is this making sense?"

Naturally, this element sometimes leads nowhere, and in the face of persistent rejection an escape tunnel is needed. The simplest options are to suggest that if it has not happened yet then it is going to soon, or to ask the client to carry on trying to think back, because the meaning may come to her later. Other ways of escaping from misses are covered later in 'The Win-Win Game'.

A successful push

I was once demonstrating cold reading in a TV production meeting. In the course of a reading for one of the production assistants, I used 'the shoe and the party' and added the name 'Charles'. She was unable to find any match.

Ten minutes after I had ended the reading, and while I was in conversation with someone else, the girl suddenly became very excited. In tones of sheer disbelief, she exclaimed that she had just remembered a party from her teenage years during which she had indeed broken her shoe while dancing with one of her friends who was called... 'Charlie'! Although this was by no means a complete success, the girl simply could not believe that I had managed to 'perceive' this long-distant event so accurately.

I have had my successes and failures with Push Statements, but on balance I believe they are worthwhile.

Progress Review

This concludes the second group of elements, which concerned facts and events. The first two groups we have looked at involve giving the client information, or at least appearing to do so. However, a large part of cold reading is concerned with extracting information, rather than supplying it. This is the theme of the next group of elements.

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