HOW DID YOU KNOW YOU WERE PSYCHIC?
"Polly, Polly, Polly."
A man’s voice. To the left of my bed. Maybe three feet away, bent down towards my head. My eyes never felt wider. I stared into the night's darkness.
It was Rosslyn. My dead uncle.
How did I know it was him? It was the voice of a man around 30 years old. He spoke like my father. But mostly I just knew it was him. Even though he died before I was born.
He was a lovely person, so I’m told. Kind, shy, into cross-country running. I don't doubt any of it but having my name called in the night was Hells Bells frightening.
It was the latest weirdness in a growing list of weirdnesses that were getting increasingly weird every time they happened.
If I wasn't looking round to see who was standing behind me when I was brushing my teeth, I was holding a wooden cross over my chest thanks to the shriek of ripping Velcro and something charging towards me in my flat.
It was getting too much. I was exhausted. But I was also clueless that strange goings on were pointing towards psychic ability.
When you think about it, how DO you know if you're psychic? There wasn't a set test.
Besides psychic phenomena shows up in different ways for different people.
One person might swear blind they can read the mind of their labradoodle. Another might waft out of their physical body at night and visit a friend. The mate might even say, “Hey, I had this funny dream last night. You were sitting on my bed and we were talking. It was so real like you were there.”
Someone else can work a set of Tarot cards but another psychic might see dead people lingering outside hospital gates.
How DO you even define psychic? It’s a broad church that can include more mainstream activities such as reflexology but can also include the 'what's he been smoking?' goings on such as channelling.
There ARE a few phenomena that tend to crop up for most budding psychics.
Seeing lights out of the corners of your eye.
Seeing movement out of the corner of your eye even when there was nothing there.
But it’s certainly not a dead cert. Each to his own it seems.
In those days, I was seeing lovely Heidi Sawyer. She’s produced a tonne of material and her book, ‘Why my mother didn’t want me to be a psychic,’ is a must read. As a psychic and healer, her 'mission impossible' was helping me feel less emotional, less jumpy, anxious and stressed.
In our weekly sessions, as she did whatever she did to me, which sometimes felt like an invisible probe going into my tummy, I asked her lots of, “What’s that?” questions.
“Heidi, I keep seeing yellow and green swirls in my bedroom. What’s that?”
“Heidi, I keep seeing what looks like rain but it’s not raining. What’s that?”
“Heidi, this is really weird and you’re the only person I’d tell. I’ve been feeling compelled to put the rocks I got from Everest, into my bed. I place them around where I’d sleep. I then get into bed inside the rock outline and sleep like that. What’s that all about?”
“Oh, that’s a classic sign of opening up,” she grinned as if I was her very own toddler who’d just learned to ride a tricycle. “You are trying to get closer to the higher vibrations and rocks have them.”
Oh, right. Of course. What a dipstick for not knowing that. Despite all that I’d read, I’d never read about rocks in beds. Turned out that some people do the same with crystals.
I told her about the voice.
She confirmed it was Rosslyn trying to talk to me, “He’s probably trying to tell you something about your psychic abilities and what to do about it. I used to hear voices too. Voices, tapping, knocks and being shaken awake.”
Shaken, eh? I hadn’t been shaken awake. But recently pretty much every time I started to fall asleep, night or afternoon snooze, I couldn’t stop vibrating. Whatever it was pinned me down. It was often accompanied by what sounded like a helicopter’s blades rotating.
Occasionally, I’d lift out of my body, turn upright and start to move away from my bed. It didn’t feel good. It was frightening.
But to Heidi, it was as normal as being told we had ice cream after dinner.
To her, it all pointed to becoming more sensitive to energy. Which, if you think about it, is pretty much what psychics and mediums are. Just massively (over) sensitive. We feel stuff that other people don’t.
Heidi asked if I wanted to be shut down and grounded, as it would make it more manageable. In layman’s terms, she was saying I was way too open so picking up all manner of shit and that she’d turn it all off.
“Um, yeh, yes, that would be nice. yes please."
Saying goodbye at her door, she said, “You might get a bit alarmed when you wake up to see them around your bed. I was scared when I saw a dark shadow moving towards me but then I saw my granny waving at me.”
Oh, for Pete’s sake, not that too. I really didn’t want to see my granny’s head looming towards me in the dark.
It’s daft because would your granny try to frighten you? No, of course not, but the thought of a head bobbing about, no matter how lovely and kind, was not something I looked forward to.
I turned to her and said, “This is real now, isn't it? It's not just theory in books any more. It's actually happening?” She said that yes, it was happening.
But here’s the rub. Even with all that fruitcake stuff, I still didn’t THINK of myself as psychic and certainly not a medium. I was just unusually sensitive and this was just something that happened to me, rather than being part of me.
Even so, the voice was the boot up the bum for me to pay attention to all this strangeness. I needed a teacher. I needed the safety of a class. I needed to be monitored and taught how to handle it.
The Spiritualist Association of Great Britain (SAGB) ran classes, so I applied. The College of Psychic Studies also ran classes but I wasn’t familiar with the outfit and when you’re afraid you do tend to gravitate towards what you know.
Mary Poulton, The President of the SAGB, interviewed me for a place on a psychic development class. We sat in a tiny room on either side of a table. Me in motorbike leathers and she with lovely white hair in little curls cut close to her head. I felt scruffy. And really large compared to her tiny frame.
Mary's first question was, "So tell me, why do you want to join a class?"
“To develop my psychic abilities,” I replied, pitching for enthusiastic and eager to learn.
I figured that saying, “I’m scared shitless,” wasn’t going to win me a place.
“Oh no, no, no ... No, no ... No,” she responded. “You don’t need to develop your psychic abilities. You need to learn how to control them.”
So I guess you could say that was when I discovered I had psychic ability.
But that wasn't of concern to me at that moment in time. What bothered me was that based on one question and one answer, my chances of being accepted on to a course didn't look promising.
Mary continued, “I don’t have a medium who can handle you. They won’t know what to do with you.”
This was a disaster. I was a disaster. I couldn’t even get into psychic school.
After enough minutes for tears to well up in my eyes, Mary said a rather reluctant, “I’ll take you myself. You can join my class. But you need discipline.”
It turned out Mary’s class was for the unbreakable ponies, the bolters and buckers. I only found this out when some months later I called the front desk to say I couldn’t make my class that evening. “Oh you’re in THAT class ARE you? You are special. We don’t even advertise that class.” A quick review of the SAGB brochure revealed the front desk had a point. Mary’s ‘special class’, as it turned out to be, wasn’t on the schedule.
I’m eternally grateful to dear Mary for taking me in. If she hadn’t been brave and kind enough to do so, it scares me to think what may have happened.
Psychic stuff needs proper training.
So in answer to the question, "How did you know you were psychic?" it's safe to say it took a lot of strange goings-on before I realised, or rather I was told, I was psychic. Herewith, I present you a list of weird stuff that happened.
In no particular order. More of a shuffle.
I’d been visiting mediums, every two years or so. Quite a few of them said I had psychic ability. I shrugged it off assuming they said that to everyone as some form of flattery. Besides, if you’re seeing a medium you probably have some tendencies, some inkling towards it, but it didn’t mean it was worth taking seriously.
I was fascinated by the afterlife. Like many, I’d started by reading, ‘Testimony of Light. An extraordinary message of life after death,’ by Helen Greaves. I also devoured, ‘Truth is Veiled. A practical guide to life after death’. It was written by Peter Cowlin after he’d died in a motorbike accident aged 18. You heard me right. His mum and dad received information from young Peter about what it was like on the other side and they compiled this brilliant book and a follow up called, ‘Listen who Dares. Some experiences of communication.’ I had the great pleasure of stocking the book at Waterstone’s when I worked there for a few years. Those were just a few from a whole load of books that occupied me. But, being interested doesn't make you a psychic.
I’d done psychic weekend workshops and evening classes. I'd dabbled with various exercises. Take psychometry. It's when you hold an object that belongs to someone, such as a watch and then trying to ‘read’ information off it. Sometimes I’d see something and wouldn’t say it because it was so absurd but my hand would shake and shake until I said what I saw. It was good fun, a hobby where I could mess around.
I spent a good few terms attending courses with the highly esteemed psychic, Julie Soskin. Her books were a dream too and I highly recommend ‘The Psychic’s Handbook; your essential guide to psycho-spiritual energies’ and ‘Insight & Intuition; a guide to psychic unfoldment’. But her course was just a tad too far to get to, so I had to stop going.
When I was about 20, I woke up in the darkness of my bedroom to see a glowing, gold figure. It was a boy. He had lots of curly hair and a soft, squishy sailor’s hat on and what looked like a sailor’s uniform. All of this was gold and glowing. He was about ten years old and floated about three feet off the ground, although I can’t be sure as I was so busy looking at what it was. I was terrified. As soon as I heard my father was up and about, I launched downstairs to tell him I’d seen a ghost in the night. “He was a small boy, all golden, see-through with a golden outline. He had blonde curly hair and with an unusual sailor’s hat. White with trim, but it was squashy. Not hard.” His newspaper fell to the floor as he looked at me, “That’s Johnnie! He died on the kitchen table, aged 9, having his appendix taken out. In those days sailor’s hats were soft, not like nowadays.” Little Johnnie had paid me a visit ... I remembered that the first medium, Terri, told me a boy called Johhnie was following me. He'd died so young he wanted to experience life, through seeing what I got up to. Years later, my father found a photograph of him and yes, it was my granny’s little brother that I'd seen.
Again, in my early twenties, I was staying in a Parisian hotel room with my then boyfriend. I woke sensing a third person in the room, a man at the bottom of the bed. In the morning, my boyfriend said he’d sensed a man’s figure move to my side of the bed and look down at me. To be fair, for years I’d had a feeling of more people being in a room than there were, but that was the only time someone else experienced something similar.
At around 25 I started seeing auras in Banglaore Bus Station in India, when I was waiting for a bus to take me to an ashram. I’d waited for about 8 hours, watching people milling around. Fair enough, anyone could be hallucinating after that long in a dusty, hot, black-fumed bus stop. I became aware that everyone was surrounded by a thin cloud of mist. Wherever they went the white mist went too. The mist stretched about 6” around the body and a bit further out around the head. When I eventually laid eyes on the guru, Sai Baba, I saw a huge golden cloud around him.
At around 27 I was anorexic and one day I collapsed on the floor, sensing a good and a dark force fighting above me, over who was going to get me.
Again, when anorexic, I had what's called a glimpse. I was walking down Whitehall on my way to the Tate Gallery. I was very focussed on the architecture. At some point, I was overwhelmed with what can only be described as joy. In that state, I walked onto one of the bridges to look down the Thames and at London. At that moment everything seemed to be in its place. The plane in the sky was in the right place. The red double-decker buses crossing the adjacent bridge were in the right place. The people on the bridge were in the right place. Even the barge carrying rubbish was in the right place. Despite being desperately ill, I was in the right place too. Everything was going at the right speed and fitted together as a whole. As tears of joy streamed down my face I started to sing Hallelujah. I'm not religious. But a few days later, on talking to my mum, it turned out she'd put the Messiah on the player at the exact time I started singing it.
Immediately after the 'glimpse', I more or less floated into the Tate, right down into the cosy, noisy cafe. There, I started automatic writing. All these words poured out onto my notebook about Universal Energy. I'd never used that language before.
More regularly, I saw ghoulish faces, eyes and hands, which I talk about under Past Lives.
For a long time, I was woken at night by what felt like a paper ball dropping softly on my head or next to my head on my pillow.
And if balls weren't waking me, brilliant white lights, as bright as searchlights would beam into my face waking me in the night and then evaporating when I opened my eyes. It wasn’t that the whole room had lit up but rather an intense light was shining right at me.
It goes without mentioning that I was often woken by something - a person, I don't know - moving around my bedroom.
I could see in the dark and through eye patches. I could see all around what looked like my room. Still can.
And I've already mentioned seeing lights and feeling like someone was behind me. That and the weird Velcro ripping thing that scared the bejesus out of me.
Call me slow, but despite all that, at no point did I think I was a ‘psychic’ as such and I definitely didn’t think I was a medium. Not even an average one. God forbid, the thought of seeing dead people was terrifying.
There seem to be so many manifestations of psychic phenomena, it's hard to pinpoint. Even within my ‘spooky school’ crew, we are all different.
One was working as a club doorman when he helped a colleague escape from a violent gang. In return, the colleague took him to the SAGB where he got his first taste of mediums at the tender age of 25. He didn’t start training until 72 yet still views that chance encounter as an angelic intervention. So for him, it was more of a nudge towards it rather than anything weird going on.
Another had a spiritual experience when she was playing netball when she felt she was flying around the pitch for about ten minutes. As an adult, her palms would sting when something was true. She received information from her deceased parents via songs spontaneously coming that to her mind.
So, in the way that as people we are all different, our introductions to the psychic life are all different. It was only when Mary said, "You need to control your psychic ability," that I realised I was psychic and experiencing psychic phenomena.
But I still I didn’t know about having medium leanings.
That came later, in Mary’s class.