Can you teach someone to be psychic?
When discussing our school, our classes, and our training programs, I am often asked this question. Can you teach someone to be psychic? Isn't a psychic gifted in some way? Why would I go to psychic school? The answer to this question is layered, but I thought I would put down some of my thoughts here for those interested in what we do at the school.
Being sensitive to energy in the world is hard, especially because if you identify as a sensitive person, you are surrounded by those who seem to be unaware of their own energy and what energies they expend. Often times a sensitive, or psychic (and I use those interchangeably), is aware but not fully aware; they have a vague sense or feeling that something is different, or off, or even wonderful - but can’t quite put their finger on what exactly it is that they are sensing. In this way, the psychic is gifted with a "sense", but this lack of specificity in they awareness causes a great deal of confusion, which compounds the feeling and can often leave the psychic feeling overwhelmed. So the psychic shuts down their awareness, rather than feeling this overwhelm - and there in lies the core problem for the sensitive person. The only options available to them seem to be to shut down and turn off, or to be overwhelmed and confused. This is where training and craft, not unlike transforming the raw talent of an artist, comes into play.
The dysfunctional or shut-down psychic simply doesn’t have a language to define with any certainty the energies that they find themselves aware of. By language I not only mean words, but also symbols and pictures. Our primary form of communication in the world is so much more complex than just words. So this isn’t about learning terminology and technical tools alone - it’s about retraining the sensitivities within yourself to embody that awareness in a way that is safe and understandable. So this is why training is so important - you can read things in a book, have an intellectual understanding of them, but that doesn’t make them real to your body’s experience of the world. This is the benefit to a psychic class or training with a live teacher in a guided format. You not only get information, language, and tools to start defining and clarifying your experience of energy, but you get to practice and have the experience of being psychic in a safe and structured space that leaves room for mistakes, errors, and uncertainty - as well as joy, success, and enthusiasm - so you can hone your craft. It makes the information and tools real in your body, and so in your life experience.
This problem we face in our sensitivities and psychic awareness - and making the experience of energy awareness real in our bodies and life - is actually related to our current culture. Other people, in past times and places, had a keen and robust understanding of energy, and their relationship to it. Their mythologies, histories, and education included the more “etheric” experience of things, of the world, of themselves. In all of our technological advancements of the information age, something within us and in our education has been lost, many of us are seeking it, and even more of us aren’t even aware that we are seeking it. So here we are, fumbling and bumbling in our quest to find some piece of ourselves that science and technology can't seem to provide. It’s a no wonder sensitive people feel a little crazy!
It’s easy to imagine that in the past, those who were sensitive and had an awareness of energy and the psychic elements of life were shored up by their community - the Church, the clan, established rituals, symbols, and traditions. But today almost nobody feels grounded and safe exploring these things - they have been relegated to ethereal “grandmother-y” bookstores peddling angel cards and crystals, new-agey platitudes of “love and light”, “positive thinking”, life-coahing - and none of it seems to the modern person particularly real, beneficial, or worth their time and attention. But for the creative and sensitive out in the world it means living with other’s doubt and contradictions, in contrast to what society tells us is valuable, doing something that nobody seems to care whether you do or not, and finding for yourself a sense of grounding and reality in what you experience, sense, see, and know. It’s about trusting yourself even when nobody else does. It’s about finding your own awareness, truth, and creating your own life experience - other’s judgements be damned! Sounds a bit like being an artist, no?
Many people peddle the notion that being “psychic” or aware of energy is a gift randomly built into certain “special” people. It is said by those who claim to have “the gift” that either you have it or you don’t. They claim that being psychic is being part of a lineage of seers, soothsayers, gypsies, brujas, or witches, or having been blessed by some external diety or being. I do not find this to be true; I find that one’s psychic awareness is like an internal guidance system, a network of fine sensors built into our bodies. Everyone has them, even if they aren’t turned on. Everyone has them, even if they are not interested in turning them on. I think of it like swimming - if you toss someone into a pool or a lake, all people will respond differently. Some people are born, natural swimmers - they will laugh and enjoy the experience, choosing to explore the depths below. Some people are terrified of water and will seize up; freezing their ability to function. Most people will make do and find their way to the edge of the pool and crawl out on their own. The stratified difference between these people is not an “ability” to swim - anyone CAN do it; the difference is comfort with the task, learned tools and skills, a sense of personal safety doing it, and desire to stay in the water or get out. In terms of your own sensitivities to energy and psychic awareness - what is your natural response?
Being psychic involves skills that can be learned, just like any craft or art. It is a bit like learning a language, the language of spirit. The conventional wisdom of course is that while a craft can be taught (knitting, paper arts, hand crafts) being psychic is a magical gift bestowed from the Gods to a select and privileged few. This is not at all true. In fact, "becoming" psychic is no different than "becoming" an artist - the fundamental first step is learning to find and accept yourself, making your work personal by following your inner voice and inner muse, and learning tools and a craft to express yourself to the world. It is true for both the psychic and the artist that some people are born with a more finely tuned instrument; however these qualities can be nurtured as we see in art schools around the world, with wonderful and amazing teachers who show their students not how to make art, but rather how to bring art out of themselves.
Just as art is made every hour of every day, in every community and place around the world, being psychic is a very ordinary activity in every sphere and realm of life. Of course, we don’t call it that today, because the word “psychic” has been co-opted by charlatans and gypsies who have a goal to swindle and take advantage of those among us who have no sense of self or self-awareness. We have an incorrect understanding that the “seers” among us are "chosen" and have no flaws and weaknesses, when in my experience those who are most sensitive, most psychic, and most creative have the biggest flaws and weaknesses of all. They simply are aware of them, and own them like a well of constant resource to draw upon. Something about being a functional and healed psychic has to do with overcoming things; the self and all it’s foibles and circumstances, the world and all it’s prejudices, others and their doubt and fear. There’s something about being psychic that, when owned and treated like a craft, worked like a muscle, allows for them to see things as they are meant to be seen. Fundamentally, this process of becoming psychic is so similar to the artist that I cannot think of a more analogous path.
Just like a true artist, the functional psychic is satisfied that the best he or she can do in any given moment is the best that he or she can do in that given moment. This fundamental acceptance of the self is so revolutionary in our culture of achievement and winning; we as human beings for some reason have abandoned our personal psychic, creative, and self-actualization process in favor of platitudes, life coaches, regurgitating Rumi quotes, intellectualizing, and assuming new external identities that for some reason are rooted in a perfection so unreal that we can never actually achieve it. The instigram-ification of one's life is literally that - living in a series of carefully curated pictures of oneself that are almost impossible (or simply exhausting) to uphold, while taxing one's energy from actual connection and actually living in the world. The schism within us created by this abandoning of our personal connection to our awareness and reality is what disconnects us from our feelings and sensitivities. This schism is what creates the stifled, crippled, or broken psychic.
To be psychic as I know it, the job is to constantly be working on your craft. Just like an artist with a store room of blank canvasses, your practice will be lined with failed readings, mistaken awarenesses, misunderstood energies. If you’re lucky, you’ll be ostracized and criticized within your chosen communities,and the world at large. A teacher once told me that if everyone is mad at you, you know you’re doing something right, because you’re challenging the group-think and status quo and making people uncomfortable - which is what a seer and a psychic, and not coincidentally, an artist does. If you’re doing something "wrong", you know you’re doing something right. The psychic sees things as they are, has vision for the future, and wants to actively create or curate that vision in the world. This is a challenging and challenged role in a society obsessed with not changing and not letting go. It requires a learned resilience to other's judgements and nay-saying. It is an act of intense and concentrated individuation.
Finally, it is a danger that one uses a training in psychic abilities to separate themselves from the world - to become “special” or “above it all” rather than to use it to further integrate into their own lives and the world. Beware of these individuals, for they seek to use their awareness of energy to control the world around them (and those in it), rather that using it to create magic for themselves and by proxy, those around them. In this way, being psychic is like surfing; sometimes you catch the wave and you feel the high of riding it effortlessly, but most of the time you miss it completely, or get something in between. But regardless, you get back on the board every time, knowing that there's more to come. In the same way, being psychic is actually about being MORE in the world; as Carl Jung said, “You can’t reach the heavens without roots in hell.” Beware those who seek to live in heaven alone, for the human experience includes both the heavenly and the hellish - and those who turn a blind eye to one or the other are condemned to a half-life; a wasteland that misses the entire point - which is to have the full range of your experience, and ride it like a wave. This "ascending" or separating out from one's life, becoming "evolved" or separate from the rest of the world is not something that we teach, accommodate, or accept at the Portland Psychic School.
The goal of our training programs is to create a safe and structured space where you can begin to learn the language of spirit, tools for energy awareness, and integrate understanding of what you see, sense, and know into your life so that you can actually create and live the life you want - from within, not from without. Sometimes that involves a change of job or career, sometimes it means creating a truer artistic vision for yourself (in any medium), and sometimes it means just creating more validating and healthy relationships with the world, those you love, and with yourself. The goal of our trainings is to create a space where you can actually become more of yourself; by tapping into your psychic abilities, energy sensitivities, and helping your body, mind, and spirit to align in a the common language and understanding to further your engagement in the world. Along the way there are tons of missteps, errors, miscalculations and dramas - just like any artistic training, or practice - but there's also the wonder of finding one's own sense of safety in sensing, true knowing, and clear seeing. We hope we all have a little magic too!
William Pacholski is the Founder and Director of the Portland Psychic School. You can find out more about him and book an appointment for a reading, healing, or student inquiry here.