Present - The next card, the middle card, represents your present state of being. This card helps you gain perspective on where you are right at this moment, what you are up against and what you have to work with. It may reveal things you are reluctant to acknowledge. For example, you may learn that your current efforts are in vain or that someone you trusted is shifty. On the other hand, you will also learn where your powers lay which you can nourish and grow into the future.
While there are a few different forms of mediumship, I work as a mental medium, which means I communicate with spirits through the use of telepathy. Spirits impress my mind and body with thoughts and feelings that come in the form of "clairs." I mentally "hear" (clairaudience), "see" (clairvoyance), "know" (claircognizance) and/or "feel" (clairsentience) messages from spirits. I like to say that I act as the bridge between the spiritual and the physical world, with the intention of healing both worlds.
No doubt a great importance in the paranormal field is the problem of fraud. The field of psychic research and spiritualism has been so notoriously full of charlatans, such as the Fox sisters and Eusapia Palladino–individuals who claim to have special power and gifts but who are actually conjurers who have hoodwinked scientists and the public as well–that we have to be especially cautious about claims made on their behalf.
Playing cards first entered Europe in the late 14th century, most likely from Mamluk Egypt, with suits of Batons or Polo sticks (commonly known as Wands by those practicing occult or divinatory tarot), Coins (commonly known as disks, or pentacles in occult or divinatory tarot), Swords, and Cups. These suits were very similar to modern tarot divination decks and are still used in traditional Italian, Spanish and Portuguese playing card decks.
“Quite recently, it was discovered by Mary Greer that there was a prior source to the Lenormand cards,” she continues. “There’s a deck in the British Museum called ‘Les Amusements des Allemands’ (‘The German Entertainment’). Basically, a British firm put together a pack of cards that has images and little epigrams on the bottom, which say things like, ‘Be aware, don’t spend your money unwisely,’ and that sort of thing. It’s quite trite. But it came with a book of text that’s almost identical to the instructions for later packs of Lenormand cards.”
By the mid-18th century, the mystical applications for cards had spread from Italy to other parts of Europe. In France, writer Antoine Court de Gébelin asserted that the tarot was based on a holy book written by Egyptian priests and brought to Europe by Gypsies from Africa. In reality, tarot cards predated the presence of Gypsies in Europe, who actually came from Asia rather than Africa. Regardless of its inaccuracies, Court de Gébelin’s nine-volume history of the world was highly influential.
An experiment conducted by the British Psychological Society in 2005 suggests that under the controlled condition of the experiment, people who claimed to be professional mediums do not demonstrate the mediumistic ability. In the experiment, mediums were assigned to work the participants chosen to be "sitters." The mediums claimed to contact the deceased who were related to the sitters. The research gather the numbers of the statements made and have the sitters rate the accuracy of the statements. The readings that were considered to be somewhat accurate by the sitters were very generalized, and the ones that were considered inaccurate were the ones that were very specific.
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Humans have been fascinated with contacting the dead since the beginning of human existence. Cave paintings by indigenous Australians date back 28,000 years, some depicting skulls, bones, spirits and the afterlife. Other cave paintings in Indonesia date back a further 10,000 years. Mediumship gained popularity during the nineteenth century, when ouija boards were used by the upper classes as a source of entertainment. Investigations during this period revealed widespread fraud—with some practitioners employing techniques used by stage magicians—and the practice began to lose credibility. Fraud is still rife in the medium/psychic industry, with cases of deception and trickery being discovered to this day.
Why? You may well ask. Simple: it’s because I have a life here, and I need to be able to enjoy it without feeling as if I’m constantly on duty. In my workshops, I teach that we’re spiritual beings as well as physical beings, and it’s so important that we honor all of ourselves. It takes a really strong spirit to get my attention when I’m not working, as it needs to literally break through my shield, my “off switch,” but on those rare occasions when one does, I’ve now learned that I still must act on it every time.
Matthews’ favorite decks are those with straightforward illustrations, like the Tarocchino Bolognese by Giuseppe Maria Mitelli, an Italian deck created sometime around the 1660s. Matthews owns a facsimile of the Mitelli deck, rather than an original, which means she can use them without fear of damaging a priceless antique. “The deck that I enjoy most is the Mertz Lenormand deck because of its clarity,” she says. “The background on each card is a creamy, vellum color, so when you lay them out in tableau, you can see the illustrations very clearly. I frankly get so tired of all the new Photoshopped tarots and the slick art, with their complete lack of any framework or substance.