by Ryan Nix // Photography by Jamison Mosley
In the past few months, our country has been a hotbed of turmoil. Shocking violence, natural disasters, measles outbreaks, Joe Biden planning to educate our children with vinyl records while President Trump floats the idea of buying Greenland and launching nukes at hurricanes had me desperate for answers. Hoping to find some meaning in all this calamity, I put my cynicism aside and spoke to a few professional psychics.
Carol Pate, Psychic Detective and Adviser
Carol Pate is possibly Arkansas’ best-known psychic. Pate has been featured on Psychic Detectives and Unsolved Mysteries for her work with various police departments locating missing persons. I wasn’t sure what to expect on the long drive out to her secluded psychic center, but it wasn’t the two kindly older women I met, both named Carol.
The first Carol was Carol Kuehn, who has volunteered as the center’s business manager for nearly 20 years after first coming in as a client. According to Kuehn, “Carol [Pate] just helped me see what life was about, how to lose my misperceptions and get a better understanding of events in my life.”
I looked around the center while waiting for my appointment, finding a hydrotherapy bed in the back room, a variety of gemstones and a library of books, DVDs and tapes on the supernatural.
A few minutes later, the other Carol entered, Carol Pate, toting her teacup yorkie, which sat in on our meeting. Since 1983, Pate has made a living as a psychic, providing a variety of services to her clients, including lifting prayers, psychic readings and exorcisms. Pate finds missing people through psychometry, i.e. using a symbol of that person to locate them. Her center also serves as the headquarters of the New Age Christian Church. Pate told me the first time she manifested her abilities was at age 4 when she met a ghost.
Reporter: Were you frightened by the ghost?
Pate: Oh no, I’ve never known any different. I don’t like the term ‘ghost,’ because they’re people who have just passed on to a higher frequency. They’re all around us; they look just like you and me; I see them everywhere.
Reporter: Then how do you know I’m not a ghost?
Pate: Well, I’m not always sure with some clients, so I’d ask you to place your hand on the ottoman in front of you. If it goes through it, you’ve passed on, your time in your physical form has ended.
I decided not to place my hand on the ottoman so she wouldn’t know if I was a ghost or not, just to make things interesting. Also, in the unlikely event that I am a ghost, I wouldn’t want to know. Learning that I’m actually dead would be too much of a lifestyle change and my schedule that week was packed. Our interview continued down the spiritual path.
Reporter: So what does it mean, that we’re surrounded by spirits?
Pate: That’s a big question. Human spirits are at a different vibration, and sometimes they get earthbound, unable to pass on because of something terrible that happened. I deal with hauntings sometimes to help with that.
Reporter: What happens when they pass on? Do they go to an afterlife or reincarnate?
Pate: Everything is a cycle. Human spirits are eternal. When we die, we go to either the fifth dimension, which is what we’d call heaven, where you can set the course of your next life. Otherwise, you wind up in the outer darkness, in the fourth dimension, which includes hell and being an earthbound spirit and other unpleasantness. If you incarnate from there, it’s sort of catch-as-catch-can, you can’t set your course in the next life.
Reporter: You say your practices are all biblically-based, how does reincarnation square with mainstream Christianity, where physical death and divine judgment are considered permanent?
Pate: That’s a human idea. Every soul, every human is capable of redemption. The early church cut a lot out of the Bible, including the fact that reincarnation was originally part of the belief system. There is truth in Christianity and every religion; it’s just that humans covered it up.
Reporter: How do you know all this? Did someone teach it to you?
Pate: I learned it from my spirit guides. Everyone has three holy spirits, assigned by Christ, which can advise them and connect them to other spirits, like humans who have passed on, who can help the living person on their journey. They can also protect us from bad spirits.
Reporter: What advice would you give someone who feels lost or might have picked up some bad energy or spirit?
Pate: I’d do the lifting prayer for them. Here, I’ll do it for you.
Pate then raised her hands and maintained eye contact with me for the next three minutes while exhorting the Band of Mercy to cleanse me of any unclean spirits, elementals, demons and other negative entities that might have attached themselves at some point. Once she finished, I did feel vaguely better, and also a bit light-headed. Recovering, I asked if there were any ESP abilities she didn’t believe in:
Pate: I’m not a fortune-teller. I can’t see into the future, because people have free will and therefore the future is constantly changing. I used to do hypnotherapeutic regression; I sort of grew past it, but it’s viable.
Reporter: Like helping your clients regress to uncover repressed childhood trauma?
Pate: No, helping people to deal with guilt and damage from past lives. My guides taught me to help them overcome and forgive themselves without retraumatizing them. It was trippy.
Pate recommended that if you’re interested in working with a psychic, “It’s healthy to be a skeptic; don’t be gullible or taken advantage of. If you go to a psychic, test them.” I closed the interview by asking why she felt our country was in such turmoil. “We are in spiritual warfare. Good and evil. I think the countries are being led by evil and led by angelic influences as well,” says Pate. “It’s our choice to choose what our fate will be. It isn’t set in stone, but I believe that God will always win out.”
Teresa Oden, Resident Witch at Spirit Knows
I met Teresa Oden at Spirit Knows in Paragould, her psychic business. Mirroring the two Carols, I also met one of Oden’s business associates, who was also named Teresa. I did my best to ignore this second eerie coincidence. Oden identified herself as a witch, following Wiccan beliefs. For those who are unfamiliar, Wicca is a sort of neopagan spirituality, like modern druids.
Oden provided the widest array of psychic and spiritual services I’d seen so far. “I do all sorts of readings — psychic, tarot card, crystal ball, tea leaves,” says Oden. “I also do crystal energy readings; really everything except palm reading. I don’t feel the need for that.” She wasn’t alone, the other psychics I interviewed were also anti-palm. Oden also agreed with Carol Pate that spirits are all around us and when people pass on they simply move to a higher “frequency.”
Unlike Pate, Oden does claim prophetic abilities.
Oden: I used to have prophetic dreams all the time. The future I saw wasn’t always set, though.
Reporter: So our choices could change the future?
Oden: Yes, but I will say that most of my dreams came true. I don’t have those as often anymore, but being able to see into what’s to come is a big part of tarot reading.
Tarot cards were originally used in France for playing games, but eventually they were adopted by psychics and other occultists for use in a range of rituals, but most Arkansan psychics focus their use on telling a person’s past, present and future. I’d hoped Oden would whip out her crystal ball, but she pulled out her tarot deck, shuffling and cutting it like a paranormal poker dealer. She began laying the cards down.
For 5 minutes, Oden pulled cards and laid them in strange patterns, while giving me a little insight.
Oden: So it looks like you’re going to either come into a bit of cash or a new opportunity in spring (She lays down a card with several swords). It looks like someone is going to stab you in the back.
Reporter: Because of the money?
Oden: No, for personal reasons, so watch out. You’ll rise above this, but you need to find an older mentor, someone more seasoned. You’re going to go through a rebirth, a new opportunity that will change you for the better.
Oden continued pulling cards, telling me to let go of my past and also pay attention to any contracts I enter, because I may miss something. Beyond the spirits’ surprisingly practical job advice and ominous warnings of betrayal, Oden also told me that an article I’m going to write will do very well. This felt a bit like Oden was editorializing the spirits, but I appreciate their support either way.
I ended our meeting by asking Oden why our country felt so divided now. Her answer was simple, but poignant: “We’ve forgotten how to be kind and love one another. We need to stop and take a breath, step back from technology and remember each other.”
Summer T. Wind at the Redwood Wizard
Just down the street from the editorial offices at AY About You is the Redwood Wizard, Summer T. Wind’s psychic practice, although he doesn’t care for the term. “I’m more of an intuitive adviser. I don’t see ghosts or read minds; I work with energies and our connection with everything,” he says. I sat down with Wind in his conference room, where he laid out a red casting cloth, upon which sat a candle, a set of tarot cards and a few crystals. His wild grey hair, paisley shirt, California cadence and friendly demeanor reminded me distinctly of one of my former college professors.
Ironically, the hottest time of year is the off-season for Summer Wind. “It picks up sharply in October and runs through May, that’s mostly when I get booked for parties,” he says. “In the summer I mostly travel to festivals and farmers’ markets around the state to set up and give readings.” Wind specializes in card readings, emphasizing his clients’ relationships and love lives. “When I have a couple come in, I do two separate readings and compare them, to check their compatibility, their future, whatever questions they might have,” he explains.
Having no particular desire for a relationship reading, I chose one of his other scrying methods, the pendulum — a steel chain with inset gems and a large, conical stone dangling at the bottom. Wind held out the chain at arm’s length and instructed me to ask a yes or no question. I kept it light.
Reporter: I lost a black silk shirt while traveling last August, but I’m not sure where. Did I lose it out of state or is the shirt in Arkansas?
Wind: Okay, is Ryan’s black shirt in Arkansas? (the pendulum swings). I’d say yes. I still haven’t found the shirt, but at least I know where to start looking.*
Since the other two psychics I interviewed had their own complex theologies, I was curious to hear Wind’s own personal beliefs, which turned out to be Sōtō Zen Buddhism, one of the largest Buddhist sects, which felt pretty mainstream in comparison to my previous interviews. Wind stressed the idea that practice, not faith, is how he is able to perform tarot readings and help people.
Reporter: Personal faith seemed to be a major component of the beliefs and practices of the other psychics I spoke with. Why is your system different?
Wind: Zen is a practice not a faith. Meditation without a goal, you know? No distractions, no music, no other people speaking. Once your mind is completely silent, you can tap into enlightenment, because it’s all around us (He holds up a string from the fraying corner of his casting cloth). If you can’t find enlightenment in this thread, then you can’t find it anywhere. Not without practice.
We then moved to my tarot reading. Unlike Teresa Oden, the witch who read my cards in Paragould, Wind gave a quick spread of five, starting appropriately with The Sun and The Fool cards, continuing with an image of a blindfolded woman holding two swords upright in a storm, and ending with the King of Pentacles and a card showing a man lying face down with 10 swords in his back, which is somewhat concerning since the Witch in Paragould warned me of a potential backstabbing in my future.
“Well, that started out really great, but I hate that it ended like that for you,” Wind says. Evidently, the Sun and the Fool signify that I’ve done well and have been carefree and lighthearted so far, and the sword-laden maiden in the middle means I have a big decision coming soon.
Reporter: Why is this a bad reading?
Wind: It’s not necessarily bad. The King of Pentacles represents wealth and responsibility. So that could mean that you need to stop being the Fool and change into the King, or that the King represents your boss at your work.
Reporter: What about the last card with the stabbed man?
Wind: I don’t think you’re literally going to get stabbed, but this means a dramatic, difficult change is coming, but the yellow horizon here behind the man shows a new dawn. Life is change, and you should embrace it.
I asked Wind why he thought there was so much conflict in our society. He says, “first, we don’t trust each other enough. Second, we’re not open-minded, our views are too fixed and unmalleable. It’s our lack of flexibility that causes schisms and makes people hate each other.”
*Edit 2/27/2020: Wind was right. Last week, I found the lost silk shirt. It was in my father’s closet, in Arkansas.