Blacked Out from Fear, or, the Time I Quit Being Psychic

Today’s Halloween and although part of me says that my blog today should be about the history of the holiday, what it’s meant to me, and maybe how a person can celebrate it themselves...I’m not going that route.

I think this time of year is perfect for a great scary story. And that’s what I event so scary that I completely forgot about it until years and years later. It is indeed a time of veneration of ancestors and spirits, but I also think it’s a great time to enjoy a good scare. For those that want another read about Halloween, here’s a blog where Isaac, the Green Mountain Mage, my husband & other half of Deep Earth Arts, speaks so eloquently about Samhain and how he interacts with the tradition. You can read his blog from last year here:

No...I decided this year to talk to you about the time I blacked out from fear. It’s not the only time I can recall blacking out experiences because of how afraid I was of them, but this is one I can safely recall to you. And I do so for a couple of reasons - I think you’ll appreciate hearing about a brush I had at a young age with something truly extraordinary, but I also think that you might have an experience that’s shaken you to the core. It may have even scared you so much you forgot about it.

This event was so scary that I did indeed black it out, and I can only write about it here because there were several witnesses to the event.

We’re going back in time to 1998, when I was a lonely 19-year-old making my way in the world. I was one of those kids that was going to take a year off from college, but never made it...and as life cast all my friends to the winds of college and other destinations, I was extremely lonely. This was during my “year between” and I was working at a local factory, working at saving money for my eventual run at college. While I was generally miserable and lonely, I can distinctly remember it being a time in my life where I was hanging out with the wrong people. People that weren’t necessarily my friends, yet weren’t my enemies, but rather just a group of people that were as miserable and lonely as I was.

During this time of my life, I think I was also so lonely and miserable that I started to lean on esoteric practices. I can’t really remember what it was that made me start looking into more alternative spiritual practices, as I didn’t really have any friends who were at the time, but I can remember that I decided to buy my own Tarot deck. Maybe it was a hobby or a practice that I could work on while I was lonely and by myself, or maybe it was something that I was meant to use, but I can tell you that I was extremely comfortable with them. I used them and read them so much I got to the point where I knew what every card of the Major and Minor Arcana meant, and how they all related to each other in spreads, whether they were upside down, sideways, or however they made themselves part of the spread at the time.

I can remember the day very distinctly, as if it happened just last week. That’s a funny thing about events that we’ve blacked out - once you recall those memories, they somehow seem crisper and more real than our more common memories. I was hanging out with this crew of kids, all friends from another high school they attended together. We were in my apartment on South Street in Littleton, and I can remember it was in the afternoon as I had the shades pulled and the lights off. There were about 6 of us total, myself and this group of 5 friends. I was giving a reading to one of my friends at the time, we’ll call him Jake. Remember, this was at a point where I was very fluent with the Tarot, and had started to blossom as a seer. Even at that point in time there were significant signs that I had some sort of preternatural talent.

The lights were down, it was dim, and I had one of those cheap, large pillar candles burning on the table where I was giving the reading. Jake and I were sitting across from one another and I was laying out the cards in my usual spread...and it wasn’t looking good. Generally speaking, reading Tarot cards is a pretty flexible practice, in terms of what the cards give you - cards that are conventionally positive or negative can take on completely different meanings depending on the cards they’re laying, and what cards they’re laying next to. They’re a great tool to help open up your intuition.

The cards that were on the table in front of me...weren’t great. Most of the time the cards can be flexible, giving room to sugar coat more negative news, but this wasn’t one of those spreads. Everything the spread of cards was saying, everything that my intuition was saying, was the same: that Jake was in for a life of being a loser. No matter what he was going to do, no matter where he moved, he’d be the guy who lived in his mother’s basement through mature adulthood, all the while not having a license or a car or a steady job, while maintaining several different child support payments throughout the region.

Just a real bum.

And the reading wasn’t just saying that. It was saying that his entire life would be made up of that perpetual state of being a loser. I was blown away by the spread and even asked Jake if he wanted me to relay the information coming through. He said yes, he wanted me to tell him...and I can remember telling him and having everyone else in the room leaning in to hear.

As soon as I told him what the cards had in store, the candle beside us on the table exploded. Or more rightly so, the flame on the candle exploded. It shot up about 4 feet from the candle and flamed at that level for at least 10 seconds, before going out completely.

This event scared me so much that I didn’t pick up a deck of Tarot cards for about two decades later, actually until very recently. It was a couple years ago when I was wandering the local farmers market and ran into one of those friends that were at that reading. We hadn’t seen each other in years, she hadn’t yet met Isaac, but when we were done with the  pleasantries of introducing each other to our significant others, she immediately went into this story.

And I had completely forgot about it. Even more peculiar, I ran into Jake about 10 years ago. I was bartending at a local restaurant and was filling my car up late at night at the gas station next to the restaurant. Across the parking lot came Jake, someone I hadn’t seen in years. After catching up with him quickly, he invited me over for a beer. Having nowhere to go, I followed him to where he was staying…

...which was at his mother’s house. Even worse, he was hanging out in the loft of her barn, and when I made my way up there, it was a loft straight out of a teenager’s dream. Literal tapestries of Jim Morrison, couches everywhere...and worse, 15-year-olds. 15-year-olds that Jake was drinking with...and if I did my math correctly, he was 27 at the time! I have never been to a party or social gathering where I walked in and immediately walked out, but this was the first time.

And it wasn’t until I saw this friend at the farmers market did I remember the incident with Jake and the candle, and the loft of the barn where he was drinking with 15-year-olds. I had blacked out the incident with the candle, as it frightened me so badly. And after putting the pieces together, after seeing all my premonitions come true about Jake and him being a perpetual loser, I had to wonder:

Did I predict the future...or did I create it? Was I responsible for planting seeds in Jake’s mind that guaranteed that he would be a loser for the rest of his life? Or was I just seeing the future?

After some introspection, I have decided the answer is no...I didn’t create the future, I just sensed a possible outcome while using a tool that helps me open up my intuition. I can tell you that it was a truly frightening experience, and I’ve tried to figure it out since. Was it a reaction to the reading? Was it a spirit or ghost in that old apartment building? I had no idea what it was but I can tell you that it was scary enough for me to stop using Tarot cards, and by extension, stop exploring my esoteric abilities.

While it might not seem scary just reading it here, I can remember being terrified. Once you commit to a life of this work, though, scary things will happen to you, as they’ve happened to me. I’ve recently had other experiences that were so shocking to me they made me black them out, only remembering them when they replicated themselves, triggering the memories within me. Those scary scenarios will probably not see the light of day here in the blog, as they had no other witnesses than myself...but who knows what next Halloween will bring?

Now, I try not to react with fear, but it’s difficult. I think that when we all brush up against something esoterically and spiritually authentic, it can be terrifying. It can change us. Now though, I feel comfortable that I’m protected, and guided, by all the ancestors and spirits around me. I’ve been working with them so they can help me expand my abilities and skills...I’m asking they show me the things and experiences that may frighten me.

My advice to you is the same - as you encounter these situations that can terrify you, remember those that walk by your side, and guide and protect you. Call on your ancestors, your guides, the spirit of your home and place.

Today’s a great day to honor them.

Josh Simonds