December Issue, Psychic Predictions

Stranger Things: 'How A Psychic Changed My Life'

What happens when you turn to a psychic to make sense of your world?

I went to Los Angeles at the end of last year with a bucket list of things I wanted to do while I was there. I wanted to get into yoga. I wanted to drink green juice. I wanted to have an ill-advised fling with an actor. And I wanted to see a psychic.

I've always been intrigued by the unconscious. Call it spirituality, if you want, but I like to think of it as curiosity: what happens to our souls when we die? Is there really a collective unconsciousness? Can certain people tap into invisible energies?

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Also, visiting a psychic just seemed like a very Californian thing to do, so I added it to my list. The first two were easy. I did a lot of downward dogs. I drank a daily dose of kale. By the end of my time there, my colon was cleansed, my zen was balanced and I was excruciatingly smug about both.

I never dated an actor, although I did go out with a millionaire studio boss who had a private cinema and drove an Aston Martin. But, in truth, it was the psychic that had the most lasting impact.

I'd flirted with the idea of visiting a psychic before. In my early twenties, an ex-boyfriend of mine was killed in Iraq. In the haze of shock that followed, I searched for explanations and answers. I had hoped, as ridiculous as it might sound, to communicate with him. So I went to two live-audience psychic 'seances' – one was at the The College of Psychic Studies in London, the other was at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. Nothing happened. No one called out my name from the stage telling me to search in my sock drawer for a forgotten love letter.

Undeterred, I went for a one-on-one session with a tarot-card reader who had been highly recommended by a relative. This psychic had a long list of celebrity clients and a dark little office below a hairdresser's salon in central London.

I went with a friend, who was told he would meet and marry a woman with a passion for scuba diving within the year. He didn't. The tarot-card reader told me I'd breakup with my then boyfriend. I did, eventually. But that wasn't a huge leap of logic given my age, because most people in their early twenties breakup with the person they're dating at the time.I was underwhelmed, but still intrigued by the process. And if I wanted to explore further, LA was the place.

I've always been intrigued by the unconscious. Call it spirituality, if you want, but I like to think of it as curiosity.

It is a city famed for its psychics. You spot them on street corners while driving, advertising their services with pink neon signs. It's a place founded on the idea that dreams come true – the waitress who wins an Academy Award, the failed writer who sells a Hollywood script – so perhaps it's not surprising that the people who claim to be able to see into your future make such a respectable living here.

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But it's not just the US. In recent years, more and more people in the UK have been visiting psychics, too. A 2006 survey for Reader's Digest magazine suggested that more than half of the population believe in psychic powers, and we are more likely to visit them in times of global uncertainty, such as during a recession, for instance.

Still, my British friends found what I was doing slightly absurd. Most of them were doubtful that a psychic could predict the future, and yet they, like me, couldn't help but be fascinated by what might happen.

I wanted to go to a really good one. I asked around – my cousin had a telephone psychic she swore by, but I felt that would be a bit of a cop-out. I wanted to look at my psychic in the eyes. In the end, I used Yelp, which is how almost everyone in LA rates any service, from spas to surf instructors. The highest-rated one in my area was a tarot-card reader called Megan Le Fey, which is exactly the kind of name you want your psychic to have. I read the reviews. 'The hour I spent with her was truly an awakening for me,' wrote Katie S. 'I was freaked out by her accuracy,' said Alex V.

I learned that tarot cards are commonly used to measure potential outcomes and evaluate influences surrounding a person. Each card has its own meaning, which can be interpreted by a reader.

I felt encouraged, and booked an appointment via email, using my married name at the top. That meant she wouldn't be able to find the real me – a seasoned newspaper journalist who has written about her life for more than a decade – on Google.It was very expensive. At $180 (£149) for 30 minutes, I'm aware that some of you reading this will think I'm a complete fool. And it's worth admitting from the outset that I am neither entirely credulous nor a hard-bitten sceptic.

My position can be summarised as this: I think there are energies out there that we don't understand and that can, on occasion, be tapped into. I also realise there are con artists who prey on the vulnerable.

My position can be summarised as this: I think there are energies out there that we don't understand and that can, on occasion, be tapped into.

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It's true that I went to Megan with an open mind, but I don't think I was gullible. I'm a journalist, after all. I'm paid to question everything.Megan was not how I expected her to be. She was young, for one thing, and lived in a small but perfectly formed apartment. It was decorated with pot plants and postcards, and it was welcoming.

I was nervous, but Megan was warm and also businesslike. She wore jeans, a black top, a long necklace: normal, casual clothes. There was no meaningless chatter. We just got straight into it. She talked quickly, as if there was a surfeit of things she wanted to say. The first thing she said was that I was a writer, but she only mentioned the fact that I wrote books, not journalism. That struck me, because if she had somehow discovered my professional name and done an online search, the first thing you'd find are examples of my journalistic work.

She said I had a book about to come out (I did: it was a few days before the US publication of my third novel) and that I was working on a new one – and was it, by any chance, a psychological thriller? I was astonished. That's exactly what I was writing, but no one knew apart from my agent and my editor. This was before Megan had even brought out the tarot cards.

When she started turning the cards she predicted a lot of lovely stuff to do with career success. She also said one of my biggest issues would be learning not to be hurt by criticism, particularly online and rightly said that was something I already really struggled with. At one point, she closed her eyes and started making a gesture with her hand, as though she were signing an imaginary piece of paper. 'I see a lot of contracts coming up,' she said. 'A lot of signing, getting out of old contracts and into new contracts.'

This made little sense to me at the time, but I remembered it. She also kept talking about magazines and how they would be important to me. I wasn't saying much to Megan, other than 'yes' when she got something right.I was aware that I would probably be giving off all kinds of subconscious signals and I wanted to ensure she wasn't getting the information she was relaying from me.

I was aware that I would probably be giving off all kinds of subconscious signals and I wanted to ensure she wasn't getting the information she was relaying from me.

At the time, I was going through a painful separation from my ex-husband. It was an extremely fraught and emotional period. Megan didn't mention marriage, but she said something so specific to the situation it drew me up short. It was exactly what my best friend had been saying.

They even used the same, reassuring words. She also told me I would meet someone new 'quite quickly' and that this person would be an executive working in a creative industry. 'He's a real sweetie,' she continued. 'You won't believe your luck.' She nodded. 'Yeah. I like him for you.' It was, perhaps, an easy thing to say.

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But it made me feel relieved: as if I didn't have to worry. I'd been so anxious about what was going to happen with my life and here, someone was allowing me to be calm and to trust that it was all going to work out. Megan predicted other things, too – that I'd be spending a lot more time in LA; that my workload would increase to more than I ever would have imagined and that I'd need to hire an assistant, 'and you won't think you do!' she said, smiling.

I came out of the session feeling an innate sense of peace. I was reconciled with my decisions for the first time in ages.

I came out of the session feeling an innate sense of peace. I was reconciled with my decisions for the first time in ages.

I wrote everything down in my car so that I could remember it all. Maybe she was simply reflecting what I wanted to hear back to me. But if Megan Le Fey was able to read me that profoundly within 30 minutes of our meeting, that in itself was a display of serious skill.

I left LA for London a few days later. A week later, I went to a friend's Christmas party and met a man who worked as an executive in a creative industry. It was weird, because I felt deeply about him the instant I saw him.

The next day, I remembered what Megan had said. I felt happy but also oddly at peace with whatever was going to happen next.That man is now my boyfriend. And yes, he's a real sweetie.I didn't tell him about my trip to the psychic until I wrote this piece.

I also don't believe that psychic predictions should be allowed to become their own destiny; I still have choices and free will. Some things might turn out the way Megan said and others might not. It's important to remember that I have power over my own happiness.

Anyway, I had come back to London with the intention of returning to my staff job on a national newspaper.

In mid-December, I had a conversation with my boss about possible career options but, for various reasons, he was unable to meet any of my requests. Within a month, I had handed in my notice. Within two months, I had the offer of a feature-writing contract from another newspaper. I went freelance, and I started writing a lot more for magazines. I was also changing book publishers, and I was trying to get my divorce sorted out. Contracts. Magazines. My life was suddenly full of them.

Megan didn't get everything right. I'm conscious of my own confirmation bias: I only remember the things that came true, not so much the ones that didn't. I haven't hired an assistant.

She was also less good when I had specific questions for her. I asked her about my ex-boyfriend who had died, but she gave me a generalised response: 'He says he's OK.'

I've thought a lot about my session with Megan over the last few months. I don't have an urge to see a psychic again because that one session was enough for me.

What Megan told me hasn't changed the way I live my life. It absolutely didn't make me feel my choices were preordained. Instead, it gave me something less tangible, yet just as powerful. It gave me hope.

This article originally appeared in the December issue of ELLE

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