North Coast Journal

Feb. 1995 - PEOPLE


by Marie Gravelle

How much of our brain do we use? Something like 10 percent, right? Maybe I'm paranoid, but I worry: Is my own brain up to something I don't know about?

Years ago I went to a group counseling "training" called Lifespring. It was in the late '70s, about the time of EST and other touchy-feely programs. "Intense" is too mild a word to describe my five days in hell. When I finally emerged, I wasn't exactly brainwashed. I would call it more brain blown.

I learned that my brain is smarter than me. Sometimes it lets me in on what's going on. Like when it knows who's on the phone before I answer it. Or when it points me in the direction of my ever-missing car keys. And sometimes my brain saves me from a speeding ticket by telling me to slow down just before I see that CHP cruiser.

Psychics call it universal energy, this knowing thing, and they say only true psychics have the ability to "tune in." The rest of us may get occasional insights. Most of the time we simply flounder. I really don't consider myself a psychic, but I remember one Lifespring experience that's made me wonder if I should take up reading palms for a living. Inside a large convention hall in Hollywood, I lay on the floor next to an older man (he was probably 60). I told him a friend's name and age. That was it. He told me more about my best friend, whom I had known almost all my life, than I could have imagined.

That was eerie enough, but when he told me his grandson's name and age and I started to form a picture in my head. I clearly saw a teen-aged boy smoking marijuana in an alley behind an arcade parlor. But I couldn't tell this to his grandfather, so I said something about the boy having lots of friends and hanging out at an arcade.

At this point, the grandfather told me all that was true but he was particularly worried that his grandson was getting into drugs. It was like my brain opened for a second or two and a few comatose brain cells woke up. Then someone yelled "lights out!" and shut the door again. My Lifespring experience was helpful when I set out recently to interview psychics. Keep an open mind, I told myself, or at least a straight face. I began at the Psychic Fair at Redwood Acres in Eureka, a recent gathering of the truly tuned in. Like the reading of a horoscope, much of it is vague and general, easily adapted to most situations: You're either in relationship and it has problems (who's doesn't?) or you're not in a relationship and will meet someone "soon."

But there were occasional grains of truth, some so sharp they stuck in my throat.

I sat at one table while lawyer/palm reader Ed Campbell held my hands (Why are my nails always dirty?). In sort of a fatherly tone, Campbell told me about me. He gave me a few more years before my career would take off. That was good news. Then he said I could be impatient and unfeeling. Gee, that was mean.

He characterized me as having a "fire" hand type, creative yet unaware. OK, I'll buy that. Then he talked about a "universal unfolding destiny." When he said he could diagnose physical ailments, I moved on. He didn't exactly say he had x-ray vision, but I got the feeling he thought he did. I wanted to hear more about my future so I began looking for a tarot card reader. I passed on a male reader dressed in glowing purple and settled for a grandmotherly type. She was a little miffed when I said I had no money, but she let me watch as she read another woman's cards.

It was like sitting in on grieving session. The readee had just lost a parent. The card reader told her to cry. (Good advice, you might say, but hardly worth $30.) In any case, by the end of the 15-minute chat, we were all crying including the photographer I brought along.

My search for truth and/or wisdom led me finally to the telephone, a preferred tool of many psychics today. Now, it might seem like you'd have to see a psychic in person for them to truly "read" you, but one psychic told me phone lines actually enhance the experience for everyone involved. Those psychic molecules travel right out of your brain and into the phone cord, I guess.

Of course, such a psychic transfer of molecules can be expensive. Psychics at the fair ran as high at $40 for a 10-minute read, but call a 1-900 number and hang on to your wallet. It took one psychic several minutes (at $3.99/minute) to get down my name and various numbers before she could feel my "vibrations."

And, while it wasn't all accurate, - I really don't need to lose weight or change my hair color! - there was one point in the conversation where everything sort of clicked. I had to ask, "How do you know this?" She giggled. I waited for an answer with the meter running.

I finally hung up - I was on a budget for this story - and began to review my notes. I wouldn't say my life's path is any clearer after a round of psychics, but there were a few pearls of wisdom dropped my way. I recalled the grandma with kindly, deep set eyes at the psychic fair who looked into her crystal ball to give me a "quickie." I held a special rock in my hands as she circled her hands over the ball. My skepticism was rising; the scene was too perfect. But then she told me: "I see boxes. I see you moving. I'm going to give you some advice."

"Yes, yes. What is it?" I said, leaning forward in my chair.

With the sweetest little smile, she said:

"Mark your boxes."

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