QUESTION: What are psychic tools and how to they work?

ANSWER: There are a number of what I'll call "psychic tools" out there. Examples include things like Tarot cards, runes, yarrow sticks, I Ching coins, Ouija boards, dowsing rods and pendulums. Psychics often use these tools as a way to get extra information, particularly if it doesn't instantly start to flow with mental imagery or thoughts. Contrary to what people might think, there is nothing intrinsically magical about these tools, and which one works best for you may be a matter of your mood, the time of day, and your personal taste. I like Tarot cards. They just "feel" good in my hands and, being an artist, I can relate to the images.

However, regardless of which psychic tools you use, the basic purpose of them is the same - to help you find a way to bypass the conscious mind. This is because the conscious mind is notorious for blocking, biasing, and distorting psychic information. Assuming you're not consciously cheating (and really, why would you?), these tools allow a person to get information directly from the unconscious mind, which is the access point for accurate psychic information. In techniques like remote viewing, busy work is also used to actively distract the conscious mind from what the unconscious is telling you to write on the page. Nonetheless, in the case of most psychic tools, it's simply a matter of allowing the unconscious mind the free rein to communicate through ideomotor activity and/or free association. Let's look at what I mean by this.

Ideomotor Activity
This term is probably known best to psychologists and hypnotists. It refers to unconscious body movements. These may be as small as a slight muscle twitch or a big jerking motion. And they aren't rare. In fact, they happen all the time. After all, how often do you really think about every muscle you need to use to stand, walk, drive, or ride a bicycle? Once you master a skill, the actual movements required to do it become unconscious, and you operate on automatic pilot. Individuals who are skilled at reading body language know that the unconscious makes revealing comments about your inner thoughts and feelings all the time through gestures and movements. There are even a number of good books out there on the subject, like How to Read a Person like a Book by Gerard Nierenberg. But ideomotor activity can be used for far more than just everyday tasks. You can actually open up a dialog with your unconscious mind, creating a direct line of communication with it by asking the unconscious to give you ideomotor signals for things like "yes" and "no." In essence, you create a shared language. Better still, this language need not be restricted to simple yes/no answers. With practice, remote viewers can create an extraordinarily complex shared language with their unconscious minds, complete with grammar and syntax, using ideomotor lines or ideograms that are drawn without conscious input.

There are two really important things for people to understand about ideomotor activity. First, that it is the root underlying mechanism by which MOST pendulums, dowsing rods, and Ouija boards operate, and may variously influence (if not control) the shuffling, pick and fall of your Tarot cards, runes, yarrow sticks and I Ching coins. Second, that just because it is the muscles of your own hands that are causing the movement of the pendulum, dowsing rods or planchette, DOESN'T mean the answer you derive from it may not be true and accurate psychic information. This is something that a lot of skeptics don't understand. Just because the source of information doesn't come through psychokinesis (mind over matter or spirit moving matter) or some mystical energy field doesn't mean that it's not psychic. It may be the real deal. Of course, because it comes through your unconscious mind, it also may get biased or distorted by unconscious issues, the same way the conscious mind can bias or distort information. It's important to recognize this. Psychic information is often mixed together with non-psychic information, which is why psychics typically have a 60-80% hit rate. If you want to get psychic information that is any good, you're going to have to work on your issues. And I don't mean for ten minutes, either. This tends to be a lifetime process. And in a way, it makes sense. You've had an entire lifetime to accumulate psychological baggage. Both your conscious and your unconscious mind will color, distort, bias, and otherwise totally mess up whatever real psychic information you receive unless you create a clean filter by dealing with your stuff. It is only by being clear on what belongs to you and getting rid of any little land mines lying around the unconscious that you will be able to create a free, unhindered, and unbiased flow of psychic information. Remote viewing uses techniques to deliberately distract the conscious mind in order to minimize it's interference, but even in these cases, unless you have a good working relationship with the unconscious mind (see the Unconscious FAQ for how to do this), you're still going to have the problem of unconscious bias to deal with. My recommendation is to work with your dreams, be honest with yourself, and find a good therapist ... because if you really want to be really good as a psychic, you have to deal with your baggage.

Free Association
A great many psychic readings that are based on tools involve a certain amount of interpretation. This is where unconscious free association may actually bias you in the right way, leaning you towards a more accurate answer. Perhaps no where is this better seen than with Tarot cards. You receive evocative images that can be interpreted in a variety of ways. Good cards may also have a number of small, usually unnoticed symbols and images. What your eyes are drawn towards or what jumps out at you in the picture is (at least for me) often meaningful psychic information. In these cases, it may be a combination of seeing what thoughts/images/feelings come up for you in free association and paying attention to whatever draws the eye.

Mind-Matter Interaction
It's rare, but there are times when the unconscious mind may communicate through mind-over-matter acts - whether moving objects, the productions of lights, banging sounds, or something else. I have heard of Ouija board sessions, for example, especially when teenagers were involved, where things seemed to fly on their own across the room and it didn't appear to be simple fraud. However, I'd like to emphasize that the vast majority of psychic tools operate by ideomotor activity. Why? Because the unconscious mind will use what's easiest to get its message across. Most of the time that means fine motor movements of the hands - not PK.

Ouija Boards
The topic of Ouija boards seems to come up a lot. I don't like them. And it's not just because it can draw unwelcome spirits, set you up for possession, and trigger unpleasant hauntings. It's because no matter what answer you get, it may be lose-lose. To see what I mean by this, check the FAQ page here...

What Else?
Since it's clear that I don't recommend Ouija boards, you might ask whether I recommend any form of spirit communication. Yes, I do. I think trained mediums have a big edge over using Ouija boards for a number of reasons. First and foremost, it's often possible to get a sense of whether you're being lied to by the spirit. Second, it's a faster and less cumbersome form of communication since you're not limited to spelling words out one letter at a time, but can get entire complex ideas in one quick mental image. Third, they are better able to provide psychic protection and, when needed, move spirits on to the light. But you would need to first learn how to communicate with spirits under the guidance and tutelage of an experienced teacher - not by playing around on your own. If you're not a psychic medium and you want to communicate with friends and family who have passed into the other side, you can do so through your dreams. This is a technique that has been successfully used for thousands of years. As you lie in bed getting ready to fall asleep, think about with whom you would like to speak - perhaps mentally imagine yourself sending out an invitation or setting out a tea table for them to share with you that night. Then, write down your dreams the next morning. See if you have messages or simply a warm, comforted feeling. If there is one thing that is clear in channeled messages, it's that the bond of love doesn't end when a soul crosses over into the afterlife - it lives on.

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