In this series, ‘Look at My Awesome Powers,’ we’ll explore red flags you can identify in spiritual and magickal communities.
Written by Solaris Moon and DM Koffer
This post was originally published as a CSA on the blog of my brick & mortar page, The Kindred Cauldron, February 22, 2020.
The first one on our list in this series is what we call ‘Push Readings’. It is a predatory and unethical practice that's common in some metaphysical, occult & spiritual spaces. A push-reading happens when someone does a psychic reading on you as soon as they meet you. This might be when you walk into a shop, join a new group, or meet people at a festival or in the spiritual community.
An example of a push-reading goes something like this... You visit a metaphysical, occult or spiritual shop. Someone behind a counter or curtain greets you immediately, or may stand back and observe. When they are ready to engage, they use their ‘psychic abilities’ to tell you information about yourself. For example, they might comment on the color of your aura. Or that you are carrying some negative energy from the last place you visited. Or they ‘sense’ that you have ‘special gifts.’
Watch this short video to see a reenactment of a push-reading. Yes, we're fucking professionals.
It is common for push-readings to be given without your consent. Like pop-up advertisements on your computer, they are distracting you from your original intent.
A push-reading - like any psychic reading - may seem exactly correct, or it may feel incorrect, overly personal, or forced. They are intended to create an instant, though artificial, rapport. They also create a feeling of obligation and reciprocity.
Push-readings rarely use actual psychic or spiritual sources. They’re usually informal, and can feel like a regular conversation. The reader uses mundane visual cues and information provided directly from the person. This lets the reader give personalized ‘insights’ or ‘revelations.’ Some readers will slip ‘psychic’ information in while you’re talking.
Most people correct any misinformation without realizing it. The reader uses this information to course correct - like steering a ship. Suddenly, it feels like the reader gets you, or really sees you. You soon forget the mistakes and only remember the correct hits.
Push-readings are used when people haven’t sought a formal reading. They can be used as a ‘pre-reading’ for a paying client to glean details in advance, or to solidify the rapport sooner.
They can also nudge a customer to buy a service they hadn’t intended to pay for. Sometimes these readings push customers into buying crystals, amulets, or other products. These things might support the New and Powerful Journey™ revealed by the reader, but they don’t entirely feel like the customer’s own idea.
Have you ever had your palm grabbed and read before you even knew what was happening? Push-readings can be on-the-spot 'intuitive' readings, or they can involve other tools and forms of 'reading' that weren't sought by the person receiving the reading.
Push-readings often reveal extraordinary information about the person being read. This could be an interesting lineage or past life, connection to a revered historical figure or culture, or magickal and spiritual gifts, or even special powers. These extraordinary claims are almost impossible to verify, but they are good at making you feel special. Another version is to compliment the person’s ‘innate gifts’: “You’re a natural-born shaman,” or “You’re a natural-born witch” are common examples.
Readers aren’t always aware that they are manipulating people by push-reading. Many are well-intentioned and not deliberately using deceptive practices.
Sometimes this is just how the reader was taught. They may not realize they are using fraudulent or manipulative techniques to gather information during readings. The reader may have learned to rely on the person’s reactions, rather than their own psychic perceptions. (This is certainly a more reliable way to generate income - and to increase their perceived accuracy!)
How to Stop a Push-Reading
It's no fun to feel like someone has accessed personal information about you without your consent. That feeling of violation is hard to shake. You might even be confused about how you feel after a push-reading. There's no right or wrong way to feel.
If you feel like you are experiencing a push-reading and want it to stop, remember that you are in control and you have several choices:
Walk Away- You don't owe the person anything, not even an explanation.
No is a complete sentence.
Speak Up- 'I'm a private person and don't wish to share my personal details with you.'
Set a Boundary - 'I'm just here for candles', 'I came to enjoy the band, thanks', 'I am looking to stay in my budget this visit', 'I consult my own guides/cards/friends/teacher when I need advice', 'I'm not here to get a reading', etc.
Don't Engage- Push-readings only work when the person receiving the 'reading' engages back. Refuse to participate. They will usually get the hint or back off. If they persist, you can still say 'No.', Speak Up, Walk Away, or Set a Boundary.
Vote with your dollars- When you spend money on a shop or reader, you're encouraging their practices. To discourage behavior you don't like, don't buy from them.
Report predatory behavior- bring your experience with push-readings to event organizers, community leaders, or group hosts.
Warn Others- tell friends and other members of the community so they can be informed when interacting with shops and groups who engage in push-reading.
Many practices described in this article are classic techniques called ‘cold reading.’ For more information about cold reading, read Ian Rowland’s book The Full Facts Book of Cold Reading.
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