Salem is most famous for its witchcraft-related history, but walk around downtown, and you'll notice that witches aren't the only mystical people in town these days.
Window after window advertises aura photography, seances, palmistry, tea leaf readings, and a number of other psychic services provided by those who claim to possess skills about which the rest of us can only speculate. There's more to life than meets the eye, or so the saying goes, and these psychics take that to heart, seeking answers that are beyond traditional understanding.
Terry Milton, better known as “The Stone Lady,” has been involved with the metaphysical realm since 1976. As the creator of stone readings, she has developed her discipline through years of intense study and observation. She studied psychic trades such as astrology, tarot, and numerology before discovering a deep connection to and pull towards stones.
Although she said she was unsure why at first, Milton collected and bought stones anywhere she could and became almost obsessed with journaling her thoughts and research about the different rocks. The connection baffled her for a long time. Finally, Milton said, it hit her: “Mother Nature, human nature, the energy of stones, the energy of people -- they’re very similar, except people are a lot faster, and the stones are over a longer period of time," she said. "Even I don’t know exactly how it works. It’s like you have a personality, and the stone has a personality, and you recognize each other."
When clients came for readings, they would inevitably start picking up rocks they liked from Milton's vast collection, so she'd tell them what she knew about the particular stone they had selected. “They would look at me and say, ‘How do you know that? No one knows that about me,’ and of course I wasn’t talking about them, I was talking about the stone,” she said. As an example, Milton instructed me to close my eyes and select a stone from the table we’d been chatting over. The one I picked up, optical calcite, is a smooth, clear, square stone, almost like a thick slab of glass. It's the stone of communication, she said -- perfect for a writer.
Milton is currently writing a book about how she developed the parallels between stones and people. Since rocks can’t speak, in the traditional sense anyhow, to tell their story, she pays attention to their “language” -- the markings and shapes, the origin, the purpose -- and decides what these unique traits say about the person drawn to them. Milton said she hopes her readings help people answer questions and remind them that “you, too, are a gem.”
In the same shop in which I met Milton, I also met Kathryn Samuelson, an automatic writer. "You hold a pen, and your angels and guides take over and start writing," she said. "That’s how they provide their guidance. It can be kind of odd at first." But to Samuelson, it's just another method of communication with the unknown.
Samuelson got her start back in 1993 after a psychic consultation and reading a book containing oracle cards, both of which pointed her in the direction of automatic writing, she said. It came very slowly at first -- a word here, a couple of words there -- but now, after many years, she gets sentences and paragraphs. “They still don’t do grammar or punctuation though,” she said.
Samuelson can give a client the names of their guardian angels or fairies, if that person has them, and answer questions about his or her life. Sometimes, though, a loved one on the other side may come through, too. “Usually it’s my angels and guides and the client’s angels and guides, but sometimes Grandma will butt in and say she wants to talk,” Samuelson said.
After almost 20 years, these messages have become an integrated part of Samuelson's life. “None of us are 100 percent, because we have our own filters. If you really work at it, you try to keep yourself out of the way, but still," she said. "If anyone claims to be 100 percent accurate, I’d be a little skeptical of them, because you have off days, or a person is closed down, or what you get is from a past life and doesn’t seem relevant, so there’s lots of things that go into it.”
Do you believe psychics have the powers they claim? If you've ever had a psychic reading, what was the experience like? Check back to TNGG Boston all week for Halloween-themed posts!
Photo by Living in Monrovia (Flickr)
About Rachel -- I'm a tiny gal with big ideas who's always on the move. One day I'm going to use my vast amount of otherwise useless trivia knowledge to beat Ken Jennings' Jeopardy score. Likes: hula hooping, all things involving the 80's, delicious martinis, sunshine, proper grammar, baby animals. Dislikes: math, being cold, spiders, most vegetables, things in places I can't reach.
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