First off, let me explain that I’m a skeptic. Which is to say that when I read that such-and-such a guru is channeling messages from the alien race that built the pyramids, I yawn and turn the page. On the other hand, I’m also skeptical of die-hard skeptics. Which is to say that I don’t reject outright the possibility of some pretty weird things happening that can’t be explained by current scientific knowledge. A lot of scientists lose their objectivity when it comes to certain subjects that are considered unacceptable for scientific inquiry. Dogma is dogma, and I don’t buy into it whether it comes from scientists or metaphysicians. Okay. With that out of the way, I’ll go on to describe My Most Memorable Psychic Experience.
It occurred, appropriately enough, at the Berkeley Psychic Institute. But not, as you might expect, in Berkeley. This was at the San Diego branch of the BPI. It was the summer of 1983. I was 27 years old, I had just moved to San Diego, and I was actively exploring to see what kinds of interesting things were going on in town. So when I came across a notice of an open house at the psychic institute, I headed right over.
The folks at BPI (as I learned at the open house) believe that everyone has innate psychic abilities, and they offer classes to teach people to develop those abilities. The purpose of the open house was to draw in curious people like me in hopes that some of us would sign up for classes.
It was a party-like atmosphere. Lots of hubbub and people standing around talking and snacking on refreshments. Some guy offered to demonstrate an aura cleaning on me, which I accepted. He told me he was cleaning out bits of other peoples’ energy that had gotten tangled up in my own aura. Okay, whatever, I thought; I really didn’t feel any different afterwards.
Then the director of the institute introduced herself to me, and asked if I’d like to have a psychic reading done by one of their students. I said sure, I’d like that — partly because I was curious to see what it would be like, but mostly because I was hoping to meet the striking young woman with long blond hair I’d noticed sitting a few feet away. I had guessed that she was a student at the institute because she looked like she belonged here — she wasn’t milling around picking up brochures and such like the visitors were — and she didn’t look old enough or in-charge enough to be an instructor.
The director glanced around the room for an available student, spotted the blond woman I’d had my eye on, and asked her if she’d do a reading for me. “Yee haw!,” I said to myself (or thoughts to that effect). The director of the institute showed no sign of reading what was on my mind.
The blond woman introduced herself as Gail, and led me upstairs to an empty room. She closed the door to shut out the sounds of the party downstairs. There were two chairs facing each other, about four feet apart, and we sat down in these. She asked me to place my hands on my knees, palms up. Then she closed her eyes and said that she was going to get herself into her “reading space.”
She hadn’t asked me to close my eyes. In fact, they were wide open, and my attention was focused intensely on Gail’s face. I was very intrigued by this process and was wondering what she would do — not to mention the fact that my libido was doing cartwheels.
But she began to look uncomfortable. After a moment, she said “Could you… pull back your energy a little?” She was sort of cringing as she said it, as if I were burning into her. I immediately pulled back my… my what? My intense focus. My “energy,” I guess. I didn’t even hesitate to wonder what it means to “pull back your energy.” I knew instinctively what she was talking about. I didn’t speak, I didn’t change position, I didn’t even move my eyes, really — I was still looking right at Gail’s face. All I had done was to defocus my attention. And her eyes were closed, anyway; she wouldn’t have seen it even if I had moved. Yet as soon as I had made this internal shift in my focus she looked relieved, and said “thank you.”
“Sorry, I didn’t mean to intrude,” I said. “It’s alright,” she replied. “It just makes it hard to read — like having it right up against your face.” She held her hands up an inch in front of her eyes to demonstrate.
So as to keep my energy in bounds, I closed my eyes to focus my attention inward. But I didn’t feel calm. My heart was racing. Gail asked me to open my eyes again because, she said, I was going into a trance, and she couldn’t read me that way, either. Then she suggested that I lean forward toward the floor to “dump out the excess energy” I had built up. I did so. and when I came back to a normal sitting position I felt more relaxed.
She then began the reading. She went through my chakras one by one and said a lot of stuff, most of it pretty vague. Something about lots of growth going on in this area or that area. None of it made enough of a dent in my consciousness for me to remember it ten minutes later.
But it didn’t matter. I was already impressed enough.
I went back to the Berkley Psychic Institute the next week when they had another open house. I was intrigued enough by my experience that I was actually thinking of taking a class there. And of course, another open house meant another chance of running into my favorite blond haired psychic. And I was in luck! Gail was indeed there. I went over to talk to her, wanting to ask her about what she was seeing and feeling as she did these aura readings. But she couldn’t answer my questions, and looked like she desperately wanted to escape my probing, so I let her be.
The classes, I found out, were expensive — too expensive for me, given that I had quit my job a year and a half earlier and had no income. Also, as I looked into BPI further, some things about it began to creep me out a little. It was part of a Christian sect, the Church of the Divine Man, whose belief system struck me as particularly loopy. Their supreme leader was the Righteous Reverend Lewis Bostwick, who, judging by the ungrammatical, garbled nonsense he wrote in the church’s newsletters, was a nearly illiterate nutcase. It didn’t help that he looked just like Captain Kangaroo, only in a cardinal’s regalia. Later, when he came into town for a weekend, I went to hear him speak. He didn’t look quite so much like Captain Kangaroo in person as he did in his newsletter mugshot, but on the other hand, he impressed me as being smug, patronizing, full of himself, and in general one of the most annoying people I’d ever met.
All in all, I struck out with Gail, and the Berkeley Psychic Institute struck out with me. It seemed to me they were on to something, but I couldn’t stomach all the baggage they’d wrapped around whatever kernel of truth they had discovered.
Nevertheless, something happened during that aura reading that I can’t explain. Some person-to-person communication that apparently didn’t require any of the sensory mechanisms we’re most familiar with.
I’d like to know what it was.