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SPOTLIGHT : MEDIUM TO WELL DONE : Reporter on Psychic Shopping Trip Finds Some Quality Advice in Spirited Packaging

October 27, 1994|JIM WASHBURN | Jim Washburn is a free-lance writer who contributes regularly to the Times Orange County Edition.

It's best to shop for a new car during clearance time. Spring is the propitious season in which to plant a garden. And if you're thinking of looking into unseen psychic forces, the time to do so evidently is now.

Long before the invention of Milk Duds and Power Ranger costumes, Halloween was originally called Sambain (pronounced sow-en ) after the Celtic god of death. Presaging the months of nature's decay and cold, ancient Celts, pagans and early Christians deemed Oct. 31 as a day when the departed drew near, and a time ripe for seeking divinations of love, luck, money and other pending concerns. According to some today, Halloween remains the Blue Light Special of the cosmic plane K mart.

"Sambain is a significant day. The veils are said to be very thin between the spirit world and the mortal world, so contacting departed souls, clairvoyance, any work with the other side would be considered very effective at this time," said Guy Richard, whose Costa Mesa shop Isle of Avalon is a magic-worker's supply house, stocking warlock robes, Dragon's Blood bath and shower gel and sundry items.

According to Costa Mesa Tarot reader Lorene Judd, "It's the day that the heavens open and you have the clearest access to all the souls that aren't in-body any more. That's why people think of ghosts and spooks and everything, because it's the day you can really connect and communicate with everybody that's out of body."

So let's, shall we? For those tired of the usual theme park Halloween diversions, we decided to check out some of the en-veiled alternatives.

You need look no farther than the Yellow Pages to find--listed between Sperm Banks and Sporting Goods--a Spiritual Consultants heading. Add the listings under Parapsychologists, Astrologers, Occult Supplies and Psychic Counseling and Healing, and you've got more advice than a body can handle.

A decade ago psychics weren't accorded much respect or profile in Orange County. The standard would be a palmist with a whitewashed house next to a railroad track. One might still expect the business to be centered in immigrant neighborhoods with a strong folk tradition, and there is indeed no shortage of those, though many don't advertise in the phone book.

But the real psychic hub these days seems to be Newport Beach, with spokes radiating out to Costa Mesa, Laguna and Irvine. Perhaps the Reagans' reliance on an astrologer made it acceptable in upscale communities. A cynic might suggest that psychics are going where the money is. Judd has a more interesting explanation.

"Money and power don't have anything to do with it. There's an energy vortex here. If you look around you'll see a lot of health food stores here, yoga centers, holistic health, acupuncture and acupressure massage. If you know about meridians or power spots like Sedona (Arizona), you'll see there's a power spot in this area, and if you check out the grid you'll see there's an energy vortex, and when you're in a power spot in a vortex, it's easier to access this type of information. We're talking fourth and fifth dimension. There's a doorway here," she said.

It's a hard position to argue with given that, as we spoke, someone was banging on a shaman's drum outside the psychic reading room we sat in, ensconced in Visions & Dreams Emporium, a Costa Mesa New Age shop. There, one can find taped channeled communications broadcast from the Pleiades star cluster, Tarot cards and abalone shards. "Abalone attracts angels," claims a placard.

Judd was one of five randomly selected psychics I visited for readings last week. I don't recommend seeing five psychics in a row. My psyche feels rubbed to a nub.

It was an interesting experience, though, both to contrast their various approaches and to note an impressive consistency between their collective readings.

Before you take this as a confirmation of things arcane, bear in mind that I am predisposed to believe in psychic occurrences, and have been ever since a high school friend and I were once standing beside a river and, for no reason on God's green Earth, simultaneously thought of Sebastian Cabot.

I don't question that there are connections in this world that aren't readily apparent, though--as might be expected of one whose psychic experiences revolve around large, dead, bearded TV actors--I don't regard them as taking precedence over the engagements and wonders of daily life.

I didn't tell a couple of the psychics beforehand that I was a reporter, but I also didn't try to catch them up in trick questions or misleading information. Rather, I asked about things that honestly concern me, and those didn't happen to be the sort of concrete names-dates-places answers that would prove or disprove the accuracy of their skills.

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