It is a service I’m willing to pay for.

I like psychics. I like getting my palm read and my tarot cards read and although I’ve never sprung for a crystal ball or medium session, I’m sure I’d enjoy those, too. I don’t go often?—?only a handful of times in my whole life?—?but each time I visit a psychic, my friends give me shit. They say a) it’s a major waste of money and b) it’s all bogus.

Sure, some people peddling mystical services are total ripoffs, charging a fistful of cash for 10 minutes of vague commentary?—?but I’d argue that if you find someone who feels genuine and the reading resonates with you, it’s worth it. Not everyone is interested in divination and that’s cool. I’m not saying that you should go out and spend a bunch of money on a reading. I’m just saying that if you feel drawn to this kind of thing, it’s totally valid to drop a few dollars exploring it.

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And the cost is really not that outrageous if you break it down. From my limited research, I gather that a tarot card reading in the city of Chicago runs between $45–65, although I’ve had shorter readings for around $25. Palm readings are commonly as low as $10, but can run all the way up to $50+. With sessions hovering around 30 minutes each, the hourly rate for a psychic is generally less than that of a masseuse or therapist?—?all of whom I feel offer valuable services for making people feel better.

Now I’m not a Wiccan or occultist. I don’t read new age-y books or keep crystals by my bed. Hell, I’m not even a Harry Potter fan. I’m just a dabbler, a casual participant who loves a good neon sign. Although I can’t say I have blind faith in psychics and mediums, I do know that every time I’ve gone to see a psychic with an open mind, I’ve walked out feeling refreshed, reassured, and hopeful for the future. For all my friends who have ever asked me why I even bother, here’s why I have to say:

  1. They compliment you. A big part of a psychic reading is the psychic reading you. Often they start off by giving you a once-over, assessing your aura or whatever, and then proceed to tell you things like “you’re a kind-hearted person who puts others first” or “your honest nature is your best asset.” That might sound like a fortune cookie line, but when it’s a real person sitting across from you, looking you in the eye, it feels powerful. Even if the assessment is somewhat critical, it’s nice to feel read/noticed/seen by another human being.

2. It’s reassuring. Lots of people are afraid to visit a psychic because they think they’re going to hear about how they’ll die tragically or never find love. In my experience, the feedback has been very positive and reassuring. I like hearing that I’m going to live well into my nineties, fall in love and never get divorced, and ultimately find fulfillment in my career. It lessens the anxiety of “what am I doing with my life?” and “will this work out?”

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3. They can provide you with permission to move on. Once I visited a psychic during a very ambiguous period in my love life and she told me that I had not yet found the person that I would end up with. It sounds hokey, but it felt meaningful. It gave me a kind of third-party permission to let go of a past relationship that I had been holding onto for a long time?—?permission that I’d previously felt unable to give myself.

4. It’s an opportunity to reflect. Psychics will be the first ones to tell you that nothing they predict is set in stone. You don’t have to take everything you hear in a reading at face value. You’re free to interpret it as you see fit. After a reading, I like to take some time to reflect on what resonated with me and what didn’t. For whatever reason, getting feedback from a total stranger helps me take stock of my life and reflect on what’s really important.

Ultimately, it comes down to this: for me, it’s a relief to hear a complete stranger tell me that I’m going to live to be 100 and everything is going to work out for the best. It softens my existential dread and helps me look forward, with excitement, to the future. And honestly, that reassurance is a service I’m willing to pay for.