Unforseeable Future

April Fools! This is the real cover ...

STOP THIS PSYCHIC BEFORE SHE "SEES" AGAIN! That's the call of various government entities across Florida. They do everything from banning psychics outright to soaking practitioners with so-pricey-they're-punitive licensing fees.

In the case of Miss Cleo of TV infomercial fame, Florida's attorney general's office even went so far as to subpoena her birth records. The G-men's motive: An unsuspecting public deserved to know whether she is really truly a Jamaican shaman. Somebody call for backup! Florida's puny police powers weren't powerful enough to properly pursue Youree Dell Harris of Broward County, a licensed contractor working with Psychic Readers Network. The Florida Attorney General's Office and the Federal Trade Commission have filed lawsuits against the company that operates Psychic Readers Network, accusing the company of duping customers.

If government regulators had only given big fat Enron such scrutiny.

Somehow Miss Cleo, who is not Jamaican, doesn't look like a person who'd be shakin' and quakin'. But, truth be told if not foretold, in communities throughout Florida, many psychics are just one government raid away from being jobless.

OK, get it out of your system. Make some joke about how the psychics should have seen it coming.

****

Victoria Angela took my hand and looked deeply into my eyes. We had just met, but already she knew me. She told me things about my work, my mental state, my life. As weeks went by, the thoughts — messages? predictions? — she shared with me came to pass.

A job site newly top-heavy with males underwent a corporate shakeup, and my career path changed. My parents' continued health was assured. Other, more subtle progressions occurred in relationships in unexpected ways that she could somehow foresee.

I have known this extraordinarily intuitive woman for more than a year. I find myself reaching out to her in periods of uncertainty, grief or stress. I call her in angst about job offers. A new home. A close friend's health. The things she tells me — things she says Spirit tells her — invariably help me cope.

Victoria Angela is no garden-variety psychic, though like many with what the Irish call "the gift of sight," she startled grown-ups around her as a child with her way of knowing far-off things and mastering new skills with preternatural ease. A trained counselor, she has both masters and specialist degrees from the University of Florida in mental health/marriage and family counseling. She is soon to be licensed as a massage therapist. She uses music and sound in her work, based on the ancient view of vibration as a healing force. She was the first performing artist in the Arts-in-Medicine program at Shands Hospital in Gainesville, where she worked as a shaman in the early '90s.

And yet in one vital way she is not so different from many of the others. Many who do readings, whether on a hotline or under a tent or in a storefront, invoke Spirit, the energy or voice or heartbeat of the universe or whatever it is. Spirit. The name is spoken almost casually, like the nickname of an old friend.

"Spirit" comes up again and again in interviews with psychics in Tampa, Sarasota, St. Petersburg and that venerable old Florida psychic town, Cassadaga.

This new breed of psychic Victoria Angela represents is educated, genteel, dedicated to offering spiritual guidance to people who somehow walk away with a better understanding of what's up in a way that might make for better choices as things go down. The new psychics, a.k.a. spiritual advisers, are as different from yesterday's gypsy fortunetellers as genes are from genomes.

She has thought much about educating people on "How to use a Psychic."

"Don't ask me if you are pregnant. Get a pregnancy test. If you want to know who your boyfriend is sleeping with, hire a detective." The best clients are those "willing to let go of needing to control everyone." They seek to know the spiritual meaning of a relationship or want insight into a partner's nature and motives beyond where deduction or psychology can take them. And, of course, if you want a peek at your destiny — "then ask a psychic," Angela says.

The resulting empowerment is supposed to affect your choices and interactions.

"A wonderful reader once told me that if a person leaves a reading feeling weak, fearful or disempowered in any way, that the reader has not done her job. I always pass that on to my clients. You should leave my company feeling stronger. Anyone who uses their gifts to frighten you is messing with your head. Many of my clients see me just once. I hear from them years later with thank yous; they didn't need to come back again. And people who work with me across time learn to trust their own intuition more and more. They mature psychically themselves and become independent."

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