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October 15, 2012

The Day I Became A Psychic, and Renounced It

By John Sanidopoulos

When I was in high school I would often spend my lunch and free time in the library reading. My goal was to acquire the knowledge one could not receive in the classroom. Among the books that caught my eye was a twelve-volume encyclopedia of the occult and strange practices throughout the world. Fascinated, I ended up reading all twelve volumes.

One evening around this time, when I was about 17 years old, I was sitting alone on my couch watching television. Specifically, I was watching one of my favorite shows at the time, the game show Jeopardy. For those who don't know, Jeopardy features trivia on a wide variety of topics, and for every answer one of the three contestants get correctly, they win a certain amount of money, and the one who has accumulated the most money by the end of the game, wins what they have earned. My knowledge of the topics was nowhere near where it is now, but the quiz show was a fun way to test the level of your knowledge on a wide variety of subjects.

The show at the time would air every weekday evening at 7:30 PM, and on this particular evening I was doing rather horrible. As I recall, by the time it came to the final Jeopardy question, I believe I had only answered three of the questions correctly. This was a disappointment to me.

Now the hardest question in Jeopardy and the one that could be worth the most money is the last one, and I was hoping to get it correct after my poor performance. But before this final question, my local channel at the time would air the daily lottery drawing at 7:55 PM. One of the things I liked to do was try and guess the four numbers of the lottery drawing, and I never guessed correctly. Upset by my Jeopardy performance, I was really hoping to guess the right numbers to make me feel better. My usual method was to simply call out four random numbers, and that's it. This time however, I closed my eyes, concentrated real hard, and pictured four numbers. This was a technique of trusting one's intuition to harness one's psychic abilities that I learned in the occult encyclopedia. I wasn't very serious about it. In fact, I was only joking around. I can't remember the numbers I called out that day, but in the order I pictured those numbers in my mind, in the same order were they drawn. I was speechless, yet amazed and excited at the same time. "If only I had played the lottery!" I thought.

Reinvigorated, I sat up from my slumbered position on the couch, and awaited the final Jeopardy question. The topic was announced to be the name of a person. The host asked the question, and though I cannot remember the question except that it asked for the name of a very obscure person, one thing I knew was that I had no idea what the answer was nor could I even understand the question. I didn't even bother guessing, because how can you guess the name of an obscure person? But then I remembered my technique I used to guess correctly the numbers of the lottery. So I closed my eyes and concentrated on a very obscure foreign name that I had never heard of nor even knew existed. As I did this a name came out of me, that sounded more like a made up name than anything else. I knew it was wrong, but I said it anyway. This name was so obscure, long and hard to spell, that I cannot even recall what it sounded like.

The host asked the three contestants for their answer. As they showed the answer they had written, one by one got the answer wrong, causing two contestants to lose all their money, and the winner had only one dollar left. Then the host told them the answer. Till this day I shudder when I say this, but my random "fake" name was in fact the correct answer.

Whereas before when I guessed the lottery numbers I was amazed and excited, this time my jaw dropped and I became a bit troubled after a few seconds of astonishment. Over the next minute or two I wondered what to do with this strange ability to predict things correctly. If I harnessed this power, maybe I could become rich and powerful.

But things did not feel right.

Opposite my couch were a few holy icons. When I looked at them I knew deep down inside that something was wrong, so I decided to make the sign of the cross, kiss the holy icon of the Virgin Mary, and I vowed I would never play around with predictions like that again. All it did was bring about temptations, and it felt like those predictions didn't even come from me. When I said this, I felt a great burden come off of me.

Over the years I have studied many psychics and mediums, and though a great majority of them are charlatans, I have also come to believe there is an authenticity to some of them. Many of the legitimate ones start out with experiences similar to mine, and they go on to read books on the subject and practice techniques to harness their ability. For the most part, the authentic psychics are not bad people, but whether or not they say they use their powers for good, they are deluded by evil spirits. As St. John Climacus similarly writes about people who believe their dreams can predict the future:

"The demons of vainglory prophesy in dreams. Being unscrupulous, they guess the future and foretell it to us. When these visions come true, we are amazed; and we are indeed elated with the thought that we are already near to the gift of foreknowledge. A demon is often a prophet to those who believe him, but he is always a liar to those who despise him. Being a spirit he sees what is happening in the lower air, and noticing that someone is dying, he foretells it to the more credulous types of people through dreams. But the demons know nothing about the future from foreknowledge. For if they did, then the sorcerers would also have been able to foretell our death."