Liz Hodgkinson

From her best-selling book, Psychic Counselling (Harper-Collins)

People often think it must be wonderful to be psychic, to be able to read others like a book and foretell what is happening. In some ways, of course, it is. But sometimes, this clear sight can be a burden and a problem for those who possess it. It can often be a good thing not to see too much, not to know what is going on in people's minds. Would you really want to be bothered by all those discarnate entities on the astral plane trying to bend your ear and get a word in edgeways?
Throughout history, seers, soothsayers and clairvoyants have not had an easy time. As we have seen, it has frequently been their fate not to be believed, even when they knew for an absolute certainty what was going to happen. Greek myths are full of prophecies which cannot be circumvented and the tragedy always is that nobody heeds the warning. Or, if they listen to the oracle, they try not to take any notice of it. Not much has changed today.
Also, if you think about it, it must be very disconcerting to hear voices, to see things which for other people aren't there, to 'know' things which are hidden from others or to be in contact with entities or energies from sources denied the majority. If nothing else, it sets you apart from other people and that's not always a comfortable place to be. People gifted with 'second sight' or clairvoyance often find that others regard them as being round the bend, mentally ill or, at the very least, highly peculiar.
But there seems little doubt that people are becoming more psychic than before. We are now starting to acknowledge that small children are psychic, as animals are, in that they often 'know' things without knowing how they know them, and it seems that adults are becoming more psychically aware as well.
Of course, we cannot know for sure whether it is that people are actually becoming increasingly psychic or whether as a society, we are starting to accept the validity of this other source of information. Probably a combination of both.
The problem is that, if you are psychic, you are liable to be more open to all kinds of impressions, good and bad. You may feel that your world is absolutely crowded with people, entities and impressions, even at times when you would prefer to be alone. This is why those people who have become dramatically aware of a psychic gift and wish to use it properly, have to learn how to 'shut down' and 'open up' at will, so that the psychic faculty can be harnessed and used for positive purposes. Otherwise, there is no effective filter operating to shut out the undesirable voices or impressions.
In his book Hungry Ghosts, Joe Fisher gives examples of psychically gifted people who allow 'bad spirits' to come through them as well as good ones. As we have seen before, the psychic gift is neutral and is just as capable of allowing harm to come through as good.
Although very few people are highly powerful psychics, in the same way that very few are world-class concert pianists or famous artists, most of us have at least a degree of psychic ability. How accurate is yours? Answering the following questions will give you some idea as to how psychic you might be naturally:

  • As a child, did you have an imaginary friend who was very real to you?
  • Do you sometimes get a strong feeling when a friend or relative is about to phone, write or otherwise get in contact?
  • Do you often know who is on the telephone before you pick up the receiver?
  • Do you ever get strong sensations about a particular place or building?
  • Could you hold a personal object in your hand, such as a ring or necklace, and 'read' the history of the owner from it?
  • Have you ever had a strong premonition about something which is about to happen, whether for good or ill?
  • Do there seem to be a lot of coincidences in your life that you cannot easily explain?
  • Do you ever see auras or halos around people?
  • Have you ever had the feeling that you have 'gone out', in some sense, of your body?
  • Have you ever heard voices in your head telling you what to do?
  • Have you ever had the feeling that somebody or something outside you is directing what you do?
  • If a writer, painter or musician, do you sometimes get the feeling that an unseen hand is guiding you or that somebody is 'taking over' from you as you create?
  • Do you ever get the feeling that some things are 'meant'?
  • Does electrical equipment often go wrong around you?

    The more times you said yes, the more psychic you are. Even if you answered yes to only one question, then you are at least slightly psychic.
    Ivy Northage, in her book Mediumship Made Simple, adds the following. You are undoubtedly psychic, she says, if you dream prophetically, have hunches, see bright lights flashing across a book you are reading, have premonitions and hear voices.
    So, if you feel you might be psychic, how should you make the most of your gifts?
    Ivy Northage believes that mediumship should be regarded as a vocation or calling and as such should be treated seriously. Most practising mediums are very, very serious people indeed, individuals who do not take their gift lightly. They feel a weight of responsibility, because they know they have some extra power and can, if they are not very careful, affect people's lives.
    Ivy goes on to say that the first thing that people find, when they have accepted the reality of the psychic realm, is that they become calmer and more peaceful than before. As they are now tapping into a different dimension, they know that earthly things are impermanent, that what seems horrific today may be a blessing tomorrow and vice versa. Such people learn to look at everything with a sense of calm detachment. This does not mean that they don't enter fully into life on earth, but that they become strong enough not to be swayed this way and that by strong emotions, either their own or other people's. There is increased self-confidence and self-esteem, and a sense of peace which cannot be diminished by events. Gradually, negative emotions and attitudes are replaced by positive ones.
    The problem with the paranormal world is that not everybody has had direct experience of it - and so trying to persuade people of its reality is problematic.
    Perhaps instead of trying to prove it, we should just look at the outcome and ask ourselves whether those who possess psychic gifts seem to be different from others. I think we would have to answer that, yes, they do.
    Zak Martin points out that everything in the universe operates by a kind of ESP, in that it all happens at a level below the conscious. The ability of a rubber band to stretch back to its original state is, he says, an act of memory which is a kind of extra-sensory perception. Ants use ESP to enable them to get back to their nests, often over distances of many miles.
    Most of us, he says, are protected from receiving too many psychic impressions and it may be better that way. If we were picking up psychic impressions all the time the mind could not cope and would become overloaded, a jumble. Mnemonists, those who can never forget anything, people for whom impressions remain as vivid as when first experienced, are known in psychiatry for being very sad cases indeed. Our 'forgetting' is as a safety valve, a device which works for our own protection.
    But there is nothing wrong with developing our ESP to a level where we can become more self-aware, and learn to harness the values of peace, love and co-operation, rather than those of aggression, hatred and fierce competition, all of which separate us from other people and instil fear.
    Those who are serious about developing their ESP have first to understand the value of meditation and relaxation. Conscious concentration, says Zak Martin, is stressful and produces tension which separates us from our psychic selves. Great insights come when the mind is clear and clarity of thought is possible only in deep solitude. Most, if not all, great creative works have come out of solitude and there must be a willingness to become introspective. Very many people who never believed they had any psychic gifts at all have discovered them by being able to meditate.
    On the practical side, the advice for those wishing to develop and increase their powers of ESP is to keep a 'prediction diary'. Write down the name of the next person who you imagine will ring you and then see if you are right. Keep doing this and soon you will find that you are making accurate guesses.
    Of course, with all such matters, it's important to distinguish between genuine ESP and wishful thinking.
    Don't be afraid to make mistakes, as even the most powerful psychics don't get it right all the time.
    The way to increase such powers, says Zak Martin, is to behave as though such information were already known to you, but you have forgotten it. In fact, many people gifted with strong psychic powers have the strong feeling that they are trying to bring to a conscious level information they actually already know. I often feel when I meet somebody new with whom I have a strong rapport that I already know them very well, and that every time I meet them, I am just remembering what, at some level, I already know. As more is revealed, nothing seems to be a surprise, but just fits in to complete the jigsaw.
    At the very least, once you take on board the possibility that you too may have psychic abilities, the world will become a much more exciting place. You will take in impressions you would previously have missed, you will become far more observant, and you will be able to gain instant insights about people and events that may have eluded you before. You will come to know when it is right to set in motion a relationship, to move house, to change jobs or career direction, because you will be obeying your own dictates rather than those set down for you by other people who may know and understand nothing about you, or who may be simply foisting their own wishes onto you. As a simple rule of thumb, if something feels right, go with it. If it doesn't, don't - and wait for more information to be revealed. You will usually know, somewhere inside yourself.
    When a psychic's prediction comes true, it can send a shiver down the spine. I once had a psychic reading which foretold two things which did not seem likely to happen at all, let alone in the near future. I could not see, with my reason, how they could possibly come about. Yet within months, both had happened - without my doing anything whatever to bring them about. Once I realized this, I felt quite frightened, as if I had been tapping into dark sources, meddling like Faust with powerful forces. The reason I felt nervous was because of a new awareness that information received by psychic means is at least as important as that we read in the newspapers or see on the television. After the initial nervousness, though, there was a feeling of clarity, of confidence and of certainty that the intuitive or psychic faculty was a clear reality.
    The psychic who gave me this information had only - I say 'only', but of course I don't mean it disparagingly - tapped into the energies surrounding me and given back what I was paranormally telling him. In some part of my being, I obviously 'knew' that these events would take place and the shiver was one of recognition: I already knew! It made me realize that I, too, had greater powers than I had previously realized. We all have.
    I shall probably never have outstanding psychic gifts - if I had, I'm sure they would have become manifest by now - but I know that trusting the intuitive faculty will stand me in good stead, and enable me to have confidence and conviction where previously there would have been fears and doubts. It is there to guide me and to help me tune into myself and others.
    In the past, I didn't really know how to say no - and often landed myself in situations which would have been better avoided. Now, when something is presented, I ask myself, 'Do I really want to do this? Does it feel right?' If it does, then I go for it, however bizarre it might seem at the time. If not, then I don't, even if logically it seems the best thing. Our intuitive faculty can see farther than our rational sense, which can only see things in the short term.
    The Muse said, 'Look into your heart and write.' If we also learn to look into our hearts and act, we will be developing the psychic faculty in a way that will serve us well and act as a subtle antenna to warn us, guide us and reveal to us what it is right for us to do. It will enable us to have the courage to follow our own path, rather than meekly following those laid down by others, simply because we are too afraid to do anything else.
    In benefiting us, a responsible use of the psychic faculty will benefit all we come into contact with as well. We can all become, in a sense, our own psychic counsellors.

    From "Psychic Counselling", © 1994 Liz Hodgkinson (Harper-Collins)