Questions of the unknown often have more to do with curiosity than fear. A desire to know what will happen, how it will happen and why it will happen is a relentless concern for most – especially anxious students anticipating news about their futures.

Three weeks ago, a close friend of mine visited a psychic. I’ve never given much stock to the idea of someone being able to predict the future. I was always the kid at birthday parties rolling my eyes whenever someone whipped out a Ouija board, or creepily smirking to myself when someone tried reading me my horoscope. So when she told me about her session, I only half-heartedly agreed to hear about her experience. After spending two hours trying to remember how to use a tape player, and another hour listening to the recording the psychic had provided her with, for the first time in my life, I actually kind of believed it. I became curious more about the process of the session rather than the reading itself and decided to call this psychic.

Part 1: The Interview

Connected to the back entrance of a 19th century country home in Dundas, I entered psychic consultant Karen McKnight’s office. Full of family photos, comfortable chairs, and a huge desk accompanied by a tape recorder and microphone, I was surprised at how average her office appeared. Far from the typical image of crystal balls, echoing wind chimes and eerily burning incense and candles, the room had nothing out of the ordinary.

McKnight explains that she began career as a psychic about 20 years ago. “I was originally not interested in psychic readings, but I kept getting invited to go see different psychics,” she states. “And I’m a polite person, so I would accept these invitations. And after all of them the message was consistently the same: that I could actually do [readings] myself.”

Not quite a “fortune-teller,” the work McKnight does is referred to specifically as “psychometry,” a process which involves receiving permission from someone to do a reading by holding onto an object that belongs to them.

“Psychic sense isn’t anything special. Every single person on the planet has it- it’s whether one’s had the opportunity to learn how it works, or the interest to learn how it works. Don’t ever let anyone call it a gift. Give me an hour, and I could teach you how to do it,” she states casually.

The process of a reading itself isn’t very complicated either. When asked if she uses any assistive aids during readings, such as melodic chants and rituals or crystals and gemstones, she exclaims, “No! They’re rocks!” She continues, “I believe in the mind, the power of the mind, and what the individual intends to attract.”

To give someone a reading, Karen explains that a “love exchange” is necessary. “I know, this part sounds a little hokey… so the more that we can love someone, the easier they are to read.” She adds that prior to beginning a reading, she asks for the client’s signature, true given name, and date of birth. This is used so she knows exactly who she is speaking with, and how far into the life cycle they are.

“For me, the body is the tool. From the moment the reading begins, whatever comes to mind, whatever I feel in my body, belongs to the person. Normally, I ask for the symbolic gesture that allows me to give you a reading. I usually ask for a signature, but you can use anything- a ring, a watch, whatever. It’s about passing over a piece of the individual, but a signature works nicely. From that point on, the minute I have that symbolic truth, every little thing that comes into my head, belongs to the person. Even pain, even a hiccup, belongs to part of the reading. And then it’s just interpreting it. Even one of my own memories, now belongs to the person having the reading.”

Predictions during a reading do not come in the form of a hallucination or vision of your life in the future. Deciphering what information is being passed has more to do with the interpretation of what the psychic is experiencing.

“If I get a flash of a picture in my mind, it’s about really looking at the details in that picture. There’s a lot of information to be gained – what’s the person wearing, where are they, what are the expressions on their faces…. Sometimes, it will come through as a pain in the body, a discomfort, usually that belongs to someone in spirit who’s trying to get my attention.”

Although Karen will often draw her ideas on predictions from her own feelings, she also finds information through the idea of a “soul family”: people “in spirit” who are connected to the person having the reading. “People that have been released from the flesh… the soul forms a very sacred bond with you. And the intention is to either learn by observing your life, or to help you with a life journey. And, during the course of a reading, information will be sent. I can usually tell if there’s someone in spirit trying to get my attention because they’ll hurt me, so they’ll give me a physical discomfort that the individual experienced before they died.”

Much like the work of a medium, Karen is able to communicate with these spirits and convey different messages. Like the psychic sense, Karen believes that connecting to spirits is also a learned ability that anyone can do if they take the time to practice.

On average, Karen does five to six readings per day. She explains that most people are easy to read, and she has never faced any challenges when trying to access a specific person. Almost all of her clients are willing to learn information, which makes the process much easier. She will never give someone a reading, or be drawn to give someone a reading, if she has not received their permission beforehand. Under this same belief of honouring someone’s consent, she will also never withhold information from someone. If she receives a message, she will pass it on to them. If they are not meant to know something, then the information will be blocked- even from her. Contrary to the beliefs of many other psychics, she also believes that she is able to do readings for herself.

“I think we all have a pretty good idea about what life is going to be about…prior to birth we all design a script, or a blueprint, or perhaps an intention as to what life is to be about, and I think we all come into this world with a vague memory about what we will ultimately achieve. So, I think I’m pretty good at picking up on things about myself- at least I know where my life is heading, what my intention is.”

In addition to person-specific readings, Karen has also been able to generate feelings about what society can expect in the upcoming year. She explains that 2012 was a year that saw a lot of upset and corrections that needed to be made. 2013 though, looks quite different. “I expect that in 2013 most people have dealt with the shake up and will have strong nesting instincts. A lot of people are going to be focused on their position within the home and the family, even the community. I anticipate a year of people being of service to each other, but also making very sacred commitments and dedications. I think we will see more marriages this year, more corrections in partnerships, more babies being born.”

After 20 years of doing psychic consultations, Karen McKnight has developed a strong understanding of human nature and what many people inquire about. The most common question she receives is in relation to love. Numerous clients come in with questions about relationships as it is one of the things that seems to cause the most anxiety and stress. “I would say most people would choose love over money,” she says smiling.

When it comes to non-believers, a group that I have often associated with, Karen doesn’t give it much thought. “That’s fine with me, because there are a lot of professions that I find to be a little strange, too”.

After hearing about the process and developing a greater understanding of how it works, I’ve realized  that in some cases, such as Karen’s, the psychic sense is not nearly as unreasonable as film and television make it out to be. The entire process is more about feeling than predicting, and what you give to it will result in how much you will take from it. “The one thing I do know, is that, I think that we are part of a generation, or a time in society, where the psychic sense is going to become something incredibly normal.”

Part 2: The Reading

“Sorry, I keep looking over your shoulder. It’s part of a reading,” she says half way through the interview. I let that one slide and continue asking questions.

Five minutes later, she pauses and states, “I should say this now: every now and then, the tapes will pick up sounds that we can’t hear in the room. So if you hear someone talking over top of us- or the most common sound, a heartbeat- it will be someone in spirit attached to you.” I also decide to let that one slide.

As the interview eventually comes to an end, I turn off my recorder and get ready to leave.

“Would you like to have a reading? It might be helpful for your article,” she says.

Sure, why not. I think to myself. After hearing how it works, how bad could it be?

What follows is the sort of story I would hear about happening to other people, but never imagined, or believed, could happen to me. She starts by getting my signature and birth date, and like a television star straight off of TLC she jumps into the reading. Speaking to me almost like a third person, she tells me details about my past lives, what my name used to be, and why, even though I had apparently lived multiple lives, I still returned to this earth.

At this initial phase of the reading I’m trying to keep a straight face as I process the thought of me being another person prior to Amanda Watkins. She continues to tell me about my personality, what I value, how I often behave, and surprisingly to me, a lot of it is correct. I begin listening more intently. She tells me about my future, what my main goal will be this year, what my purpose in life is- working to help other people and finding people who are lost. She tells me she sees healing, nurturing and teaching in my life- “teaching!” she interjects. “I see teaching.” She explains that I’ll have one successful marriage and will be devoted to my family.

Cool. Sounds good to me. I tell try convincing myself that a lot of it is inferred from my behaviour and the session seems to be following the pattern of life coaching more than anything. I take it all with a grain of salt, but still find the process of intuition very interesting, and still see myself having belief in the things she says.

She continues to speak for about 10 minutes before she asks, “do you have any questions of your own?”

“You said you kept looking over my shoulder. And I was just wondering about that,” I say, trailing off.

She smiles and laughs and begins to explain the discomfort she was feeling as I was interviewing her prior to the reading. She describes the pain she felt at the time and asks if I know of anyone who may have experienced that sensation before they passed. I explain that I do. She explains that she is laughing because of how persistent this person was at getting her attention and that there is nothing to be worried about it.

Before I know it, Karen is speaking to me as though she is a person from my past. Reassuring me about my life and saying things that only this person would know, I listen intently as the information is passed to me. It’s not everyday that you can speak with someone who passed away six years ago.

There was nothing scary about it, it was actually a really nice experience and I found myself in tears soon after. But it was shocking, especially hearing it as someone who never believed in it before.

“Do you have any other questions?”

“No, not really,” I say.

“But we haven’t even gotten to love and romance!”

I decide to pass on going further into the reading. I was already quite satisfied with what I had heard, and was worried that if I heard anymore the placebo effect would take hold of my life. I thank her for her time and step out.

“It was a beautiful reading, and I’m glad I could do it”.

From what I’ve gathered, readings are not exact predictions of what the future is to hold, rather the process is more about following intuition and using your own feelings to create a life and goals you can trust.

I’ve chosen not to believe that all of the things said in the reading are directly true, and instead, that they will only be true if I choose to make them. The future is a curious place, and the power of suggestion is enough to make you want to tempt the hands of fate. Listening to someone speak their raw intuition while interpreting who you are as a human being is more of a reality check than a glimpse into the future. It’s exciting to hear about what your life might one day grow to be like- or even how people or events from your past can still be connected to you – but you can only ever get to the future if you embrace the present and follow your life’s journey.

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