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Invisible Readings The Art of Metaphor In Mind Reading By Enrique Enriquez COPYRIGHT © 2007 All rights reserved. Repr

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Invisible Readings

The Art of Metaphor In Mind Reading By Enrique Enriquez

COPYRIGHT © 2007 All rights reserved. Reproduction or utilization of this work in any form, by any means now known or hereinafter invented, including, but not limited to, xerography, photocopying and recording, and in any information storage and retrieval system, is forbidden without written permission from the copyright holder.

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Contents Introduction ..................................................................................................................... 4 Shaking The Basket ........................................................................................................ 6 Basic Requirements For Mind Reading......................................................................... 12 Bringing The Cold Reading Myth Into Its Poetic Reality ................................................ 16 From the Poetics of Divination to the Poetry of the Mind............................................... 21 Poetry of the Mind ......................................................................................................... 26 Beyond Charlatanism .................................................................................................... 36 Mind Reading: What Does It Mean?.............................................................................. 46 Metaphorical Mind Reading........................................................................................... 49 Leave The Hits For The Stadium .................................................................................. 53 Training Wheels ............................................................................................................ 58 Intuitive Thought Reception: The Participant As Mind Reader ...................................... 66 The Imagination As Oracle............................................................................................ 75 Answering Specific Questions....................................................................................... 82 Afterword....................................................................................................................... 89

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Introduction On one corner of my block you will find Louis, a Vietnam veteran who sleeps on a public bench, and on the other corner stands Liv Tyler’s house, surrounded as always by a bunch of paparazzi. The celebrity and the tramp greet each other every morning. On his first day at school my son, Emilio, befriended a kid whose great-grandfather turned out to be Bertolt Brecht. The kid’s father, an eccentric pastry chef who spends most of the day riding his bicycle and delivering chocolate lollipops to all the kids, told me once in great detail about the time when a ghost hit him on the head with a pillow while he lay sleeping in a Scottish castle. How do you connect with these realities? How do you participate? How does one become an intersection to all of these great stories? What can you offer to a city that is at once Sodom, Gomorrah, Kansas, Oz, Sesame Street, and Noah’s Ark? One day, the answer came to me by chance. I was sitting at my favorite coffee shop, when I started imagining that a huge snake, a boa, was slithering around on the floor. The image came to me for no reason. I just started ‘seeing’ the snake right there. The snake coiled around the base of the adjacent table and with a quick upward motion, reached the top of the table and teased me with its tongue, before vanishing into thin air. Immediately, I reached for two additional napkins, and kept reading. Why? Among the many things that snakes could mean, the most common is danger. I didn’t felt threatened by this snake, but I felt it was trying to tell me something. Since the snake only interacted with one single element from the coffee shop, a table, and tables may represent stability, I assumed that the threat concerned the idea of balance. It was simple Math: Loss of Balance + People Carrying Coffee = Need for Additional Napkins A few moments later, two ladies I know came in. After the habitual salutations, each one of them went over to the counter to purchase huge cups of iced coffee. The next thing I knew, one of the women had turned towards me, lost her balance, and spilled the entire beverage next to me. Part of the coffee got on my arm, but as you already know, I was prepared. I cleaned myself off and decided it was time to go, so after helping the lady with the mess, I said goodbye.

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Snakes also represent gossip, and so I assumed that, as soon as I left, these two women started talking about me! I smelled like a double latte, but all made sense: letting my imagination overlap reality didn’t bring images from other people’s consensual reality. I wasn’t seeing things from this world. These were images from my own non-consensual reality that I was able to make real only by interpreting them. Since then, walking the streets has become an exercise in reminiscence. Very often I cross paths with people whose minds I have read, people that are now part of me, in little flashes, bits, and pieces; in stories and in anecdotes. As I walk the streets my thoughts are filled with mementos: the old Argentinean lady who came to see me and started crying when I offered her my help to get up some stairs. “You are certainly a seer,” she said, “Otherwise, how do you know I had trouble with my knee?” I didn’t have the heart to tell her that it was because she looked a lot older than she thought she did. The sailor’s wife, whose husband spent half a year working on a cargo ship, and who spent all his money on Tibetan paintings from the Fifth Century. These black demons, painted by hands that have been dead for centuries, kept him awake on the stormy nights. The Danish tourist whose little brother was kidnapped by gnomes. A woman mourning the death of her child, and her husband, who couldn’t care less. The witch that gave me flowers. The rich lady who wanted to get pregnant, the poor girl looking for an abortion . . . and vice versa. A lesbian who read my hand in exchange for me reading her mind. The girl who was allergic to New York. A guy without fingers who thanked me for making his day, and another one whose happiness terrified his wife. A porn princess. Jennifer López’s manager. The girl who survived a typhoon and wasn’t able to love anymore. The deaf psychic, and the retired clown. An old man who came asking for a good ending to his novel . . . One mind with a thousand faces. I have been a part of all of them for the brief time they allowed me in. They gave me permission to tap into their imagination, and in exchange, a little part of them stayed with me. Now you are here, reading this book. By doing so, you are reading my mind. That’s what you want, right? To read minds . . .

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CHAPTER ONE Shaking The Basket Among the many divination systems from Africa, there is one that captured my imagination like no other. The diviner shakes up a basket filled with small objects, exploring those that end up on top, considering both their specific meaning, and the relationship among themselves. In the words of anthropologists Filip De Boeck and Rene Devish: “This method of divination consists of an open analogical system in which use is made of

a varying set of figures and substances of animal and vegetable origin. These objects constitute the content of the divination basket. They are tossed up by the diviner in changing configurations. The objects thereby function as expedients for the diviner in his search for the what, the who and the why of the illness, misfortune, or death. The Luunda verb ‘eengul’ refers to the decanting of palm wine to separate the good wine from the sediment. In an analogous way the diviner separates the relevant from the subordinate data in his search for all the ins and outs of the affair which is presented to him.” It is precisely this idea of ‘decanting’ that inspires me. I think that the diviner’s basket is a beautiful model of the human mind. Our minds are also filled with ‘bones’, ‘roots’, ‘figures’, and ‘claws’ that we group under the labels of memories, feelings, desires, fears, and dreams. By the use of certain processes, either purposefully or accidentally, the contents of our minds are reorganized and reoriented, ‘decanting’ those symbols that we need at a given moment from those we don’t. We are always in the search for answers. Sometimes, a thought pops into our minds, seemingly from nowhere. At other times, we make a thought appear, and this thought brings with it a succession of related, or unrelated, thoughts. Many times these thoughts hit the nail on the head and we solve a troubling matter; at other times, the thoughts escape our awareness. Very often, we pray, we beg, we listen to all the voices we can . . . because no matter how hard we try, the answer doesn’t seem to appear. Then, when it comes, more often than not we realize that we knew the answer. It was already ‘in the basket’, but it presented itself in a way we weren’t able to comprehend, accept, or decant. This is a book about how to shake the ‘basket’. This is a book about how to use metaphors to access the understanding our subconscious mind has of other people’s minds. This work is an invitation to contemplate mind reading as a poetic act, whose coordinates exist beyond the preconceptions we have, and the fantasies that the media has created about what mind reading is about. In this book I am sharing at once a set of tools and techniques, and a model of magic that is compatible with what psychology, cognitive science and neuroscience have discovered about the human Invisible Readings

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mind. There is, I believe, an artistic dimension to the art of mind reading. I don’t believe for a second that we ‘see’ the contents of people’s minds. Instead, I believe that we co-create the things we see. Crafting communication through mind reading is an artistic endeavor, because we are creating things that aren’t there, but as soon as we create them, they have a meaning, a ‘substance’, and a relevance that can be shared with the other person. It is art, not a paranormal power. I find the original meaning of the Greek word ‘symbol’ (sum-bolo) especially illustrative when we talk about mind reading, and human communication in general, as an art. Etymologically speaking, the word describes the collision of two elements on a higher plane. At this point, the resulting element is greater than the sum of the parts. Symbols are, then, a common ground where we meet with people at a conceptual, spiritual, emotional, graphic, and geographical level. We create symbols when we take two people’s individual and unique understandings of something and then combine those understandings into some new concept. This new and shared reality will be part of a common language between those people. You will see that this definition of the word ‘symbol’ will be mirrored by the structure of this book. In the first section of the book we will focus on our own capacity to read other people’s minds. In the second section of the book, we will shift the weight of the process onto the participant’s shoulders. Finally, we will both meet in the last section of the book, where techniques to work together, simultaneously, into creating a common mind, will be taught. This book is about how to create a symbolic bridge between our minds and our participants’ minds, a bridge whose very essence will be regarded by those who experience it as magical. To expand on this distinction, I would like to use from this point on, two terms created by Arnold Mindell, the father of Process-Oriented Therapy. Mindell said that reality is composed of two simultaneous phenomena: consensual reality, and non-consensual reality. When we define ‘reality’ as all that is tangible, we are missing half of it. We are dismissing the connotations that reality has for each of us, and the subjective experiences that reality evokes in us. For example, when I see a house, I might think that I’m experiencing the whole house by seeing bricks, windows, furniture, a garden, or by assessing its value on the market. The truth is that viewed from this perspective, I’m missing half of the reality of the house, because I’m missing the memories of the families who lived in that house, as well as the energy that someone put into building it, or decorating it. I’m missing the hopes of those who thought that living there they would find happiness; or the sadness of those who didn’t. I’m missing the spirit of the house.

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Consensual reality refers to all the things that compose reality and we all perceive in the same way, the things that we can measure, describe, and define in communal terms. This is the realm of mathematics, physics, time, and space. I’m going to stretch this a bit and define consensual reality as the realm of our conscious mind. On the other hand, non-consensual reality refers to all of the things that are experienced at an individual level, and belong to the realm of subjective experience. This is the realm of emotions, imagination, and dreams. This is the realm of the non-local, the non-temporal, and the non-measurable. Stretching this definition as well, we can say that non-consensual reality is the playground of our subconscious mind. Our culture is based on an idea of ‘reality’ defined by the scientific mode of observable phenomena. Since whatever is imagined or subjectively experienced doesn’t have any credence, we have been taught to suppress non-consensual reality. Until recently, that has been an understandable luxury that some scientific minds feel able to afford, but if you want to read minds, you can’t afford such ‘luxury’. A mind reader has to walk with his feet in consensual reality, and his mind in non-consensual reality. That’s how we read minds. The tension between consensual and non-consensual reality opens a space for us to talk and describe things that aren’t part of the other person’s consensual reality, nor can be found among their conscious thoughts. That distinction also redefines what we do, and the expectations we can encourage in others when we talk about mind reading. That distinction transforms us into shape shifters, into active explorers of the untold. We become the metaphors we see, the person we talk to, and we know what’s in their minds because we are experiencing it. In other words, if I imagine a cat sitting beside a person who is next to me in consensual reality, that doesn’t mean that such a cat is her pet, and that its name is “Terence Hill the Third”, or that it is a dead cat that is trying to find its killer, nor that this person will find a homeless cat next week. That imagined cat belongs to the dream world, and it has the potential to become a metaphor for something else. I would have to understand that cats symbolize the capacity of waiting patiently to pounce at the right time, in order to transform that non-consensual vision into something useful for me, or for the person that is with me. On his Psychic Skills Workshop CD, Millard Longman makes a point about mind reading that I found enlightening: “Many people talk about reading minds and reading thoughts, and my view of that is

that if you could really read the conscious mind, it would be virtually unintelligible. All of us, when we are in the normal waking state . . . our conscious thoughts are changing at really light speed.

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Now, let’s take the other situation, your subconscious mind has thoughts that are far steadier and long lasting, and that don’t flip from one another. They don’t change that quickly. It’s a lower frequency response system. So, perhaps in your subconscious mind you are under an enormous pressure at work, and that’s throbbing in the background all the time, unchanging. And now, the thought reader that is reading the subconscious thoughts, that would be something that he could pick up on it.” I’m grateful to Millard, because those paragraphs expanded my understanding of what real mind reading is about. Building on that idea, I would say that we don’t ‘read’ the subconscious mind, we understand it. Call it a flash of inspiration, a feeling, a hunch, or a voice. As soon as we get into the other person’s subconscious mind, we feel what that person feels, and we know. In that distinction between our conscious and subconscious mind resides the real secret of mind reading. I started toying with my findings, and let myself imagine all kinds of beings around people. I guess that animals are the symbols that come to my imagination easily, because I have a life-time connection with them. I have seen them and I have drawn them. I know how they move, behave or react, and I know about their mythology and symbolism. I’m confident that other people will be equally successful by imagining people, monsters, or anorexic angels. After letting my imaginary zoo break loose, the afternoon following my coffee shop experience I saw a woman having a manicure while several imaginary small white rabbits came out from her mouth, and I knew that she was about to be very resourceful a couple of hours later, when a complex situation would force her to talk her way out of the mess. Another woman was standing on a corner, grabbing her jacket in a way that made me see it as a goat skin. Knowing that goats are the domestic animals for whom we feel less sympathetic, and knowing the sacrificial role of goats in the rituals of so many cultures, I knew she was about to do something that would take her beyond her emotional edge. She was ready for the butcher. A third woman wearing flip-flops had small turtles coming out of her soles at every step. Being that turtles are in some cultures an ancient symbol for the Earth, and also represent patience, it was evident to me that she needed grounding. When a man came by carrying a wild boar on his shoulders, I reminded him to be wise, to avoid confrontation and pick his fights. Boars and warthogs are fierce warriors, but they lack control, and we all need to know when to hide our tusks. Another guy had a hippopotamus following him, with its mouth open in a defiant gesture. Have you ever seen a hippo underwater? They swim like Gloria Swanson, but on land they walk like sumo wrestlers. For me, it was clear that this man was capable of shining in the right context, while being a disaster in the wrong one. He would be happier if he were able to understand that.

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Now, the imagining process is automatic for me, and it has extended way beyond animals. When my son Emilio is trying to tease me, I can see a small viper coming out from the gap left by his missing front teeth. Last night, I saw a sad hound dog howling behind a friend of mine, and I knew I had to cheer him up. When arrogant people come to me carrying a parrot over their heads, I know that if I make them talk, they are going to love me, since they are bragging because they want affection . . . or a cookie. Shortly after I first began seeing the imaginary animals around people, the nature of my visions began getting broader, and included imaginary people, plants, and more abstract metaphors. Without ever forgetting that what I was doing was weaving a tale to tell these people in front of me what I felt about them, my creative process expanded to accommodate more sophisticated metaphors, structured in the form of little fables or magic spells. Any given imagery became valid, as long as I was honestly experiencing it. As I became confident with this process, an extraordinary sense of relief came over me: the useless debate among psychics and skeptics was over! By openly working with my imagination, I was side-stepping the conflict and taking divination from the supernatural to the realm of Art and Creativity. Not only was I doing exactly what I was claiming to do, but I was able to teach anybody to do it, and letting people in on the ‘secret’ didn’t make it any less awesome. In fact, the more imaginative my interlocutors became, the more intense and interesting our mutual experience became. There was no need to add any mystery or superstitions, because the mystery of our minds is way more enchanting and provocative. Some people would say that I’m seeing ‘animal guides’, angels, or spirit helpers. I only know that, based on the way we Westerners see the world, based on the way we label our experiences, and based on what my mother told me, I’m simply imagining things. I’m not hallucinating, since I know that these creatures aren’t actually there, and I know that, even when I don’t control them consciously, or consciously choose what to see, I’m projecting these ‘thought forms’ into reality by means of my subconscious mind. These visions are the product of a superior source of wisdom, and I’m not talking about gods or spirits, at least not in the sense of external entities. These images come from that part in me that is ‘sacred’, the same one that would have me writing a novel or envisioning a painting. It is just that I have decided not to fix such images with oil paint or letters over a surface, but rather to let them roam free around me. I’m focusing on the use of the imagination as an explanation because it leaves a door open for any other explanation that people may feel comfortable with. On one hand, I feel I have no right to define as false other people’s models for that ‘superior source’. On the other hand, I don’t see myself using these models. In addition, I have noticed that, as an artist, I have a completely different point of view that I can’t necessarily convey to others. Artists are ‘seeing things’ all the time, and we base our lives on believing in our visions even when everybody else doubts us, and yet we don’t define those visions as external occurrences. Inspiration comes from within.

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At some point, I started sharing my findings with some other people. They started having success with the technique, which is why I am sharing it with you here. You will see that for me, reading minds isn’t about cultivating a power to set myself above others. It is my answer as an artist to the need to transform reality. Architect Christopher Alexander talks about two kind of relationships: ‘formal’ relationships, like the ones we have with a policemen, a nurse, an accountant, or even a father or a mother, and ‘real’ relationships, such as those where we are able to go beyond the social masks to connect with the individual behind these roles. I’m seduced by this idea of ‘reality’ as a web of profound relationships with others, reality as a common mind that we can co-create. That would be, after all, a human reality I would like to live in.

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CHAPTER TWO Basic Requirements For Mind Reading The key elements to perform mind reading have very little to do with the paranormal or the uncanny. Instead, they have more to do with being proudly human. I suspect that by going back to being humans, we can rediscover our own sacredness. Here’s how we can do this . . . Confidence. Believe in what you do. Believe both in your own capacity to imagine, and in the fact that you are sharing with your participants something valuable and beautiful. Don’t dismiss the products of your imagination, and don’t dismiss the appeal of human contact. Human contact is so rare these days that it has become the most shattering magic of all. Be confident about the process and about yourself, and be also confident about your participant’s capacity for crafting meaningful communication with you.

A few years back I met a clown who told me about his first juggling lesson. His teacher, a renowned juggler, gave him three balls and asked him to let them fall on the ground. It took a while for my friend to carry out this strange order. Aren’t jugglers supposed to keep the balls in the air? Tossing them on the floor didn’t seem to be a demonstration of skill. “Just let them fall,” the teacher insisted, implying in his lesson that, along with the balls, my friend would be dropping his fear of failure. When it comes to learning, mind reading isn’t too different from juggling. We need to drop our fear of failure. The faster we do this, the faster we will be reading minds. The biggest difference is that in mind reading failures aren’t as evident as a ball hitting the ground. In mind reading, failure is invisible. Remember that. Care more about being legitimate than about being real. Be honest. Tell people what you truly see, and you will be doing what you say you are doing. There is no right or wrong in mind reading: things are only relevant, or irrelevant. In this book, I will repeat several times that seeing something is more important than what you actually see, and as long as you have something to say, you will never fail. It takes time to be proficient, and this is the way it should be. True magic will never be performed “right after opening the package.” If you look at the top exponents of this field, you will see that they never hesitate, not even for dramatic impact. That directness is a true sign of confidence, and if you don’t have it yet, just remember the saying: “Fake it until you make it.” Care. Have a legitimate interest in people. Mind reading is only powerful when practiced

with gentleness. Be honest about what you see, but be merciful with what you say. Experience a non-judgmental and positive attitude towards the person you have in front of

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you, and try to deliver your impressions in the kindest way. Learn how to establish empathy. Be the other. I was invited once to a party where my hostess grabbed me by the arm, and start walking around with me, while asking “What animal do you see in that person?”, “And around that one?”, “What about that guy?” It was some sort of Imaginary Espionage. I especially remember one old guy, dressed completely in black, with dark glasses in yellow frames. I looked at him, and the image of two vultures over his shoulders came to mind, almost as if he was a third vulture. He ended up being a Polish art dealer who wasn’t invited to the party. No one knew him, but he was there looking for any chance, or any morsel, to feast on. Since my hostess and I were having a private chat, I had no trouble in disclosing my feelings, but if I were talking directly to that guy, I would have praised him for his talent to find treasures in other people’s garbage. At the same party there was a Cuban girl. I imagined her surrounded by anacondas. “What do you think about her?” my hostess asked, and I noticed she had a special interest in the girl. Because of that, I didn’t tell her that I felt the girl was capable of swallowing us like little mice. Instead, I praised the girl’s capacity to hypnotize and charm whomever she wanted to, and to convince even the wisest person to tie a rope around his neck. My hostess understood. As Winston Churchill said, “Just because you are going to kill a man, it doesn’t mean you can’t be polite.” Knowledge. A non-dogmatic knowledge of symbolism and mythology will be useful. In

this book I will give you many examples from my own experience reading people’s minds. I base most of my symbolic interpretation on what I know about the Tarot, European cartomancy, and Western folklore. Please understand that you don’t have to agree with my interpretations. You can have a different approach that will be equally valid. While I believe that knowing about symbolism and mythology will benefit us greatly in our work, there is no point in committing to memory any particular symbolism scheme, since symbols aren’t an abstract imposition over reality, but the result of experiencing the world. Take colors, for example. It is extremely simple to come up with your own set of meanings for each color. If you think about it, you will notice that it is impossible to find any color hanging around by itself in nature. Colors are always a quality of something else. When you pay attention to the things that share the same color, you discover where color symbolism came from. Let’s think about the color red. Red is the color of hot iron, fire, threatening animals, and stop signals. In real life, red is a color that is telling us: be aware. Red is the color of blood, and blood is always circulating to keep us alive. Red is then a color associated with energy, and with the rush that danger (and life in general) presents to us. People turn red when they are embarrassed or sexually aroused, so, in nature, red is clearly the color of passion. As you Invisible Readings

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may see, we can find in nature the reasons why we have attached all of these meanings to the color red. We don’t define color symbolism, we just detect it. Green is said to be the color most commonly found in nature, but where is it found? Whenever we look, green is present in things that are growing. Growing is a sign of prosperity. As we grow, we can feel how we are getting stronger along the way. That’s why a light green would be the color of new things: new grass, and new leaves are bright green, just as a rookie in any profession will be ‘green’. A darker green will denote maturity, just as we find it in the leaves of old trees, such as those that live in the Amazon, and have been growing for centuries. Green, in all its variations, is the color of the perennial cycle of life, so there is always hope in green, either because it is promising us a future, or because it is signaling us the capacity of standing the test of time with dignity. Where do we find blue? In heaven, and reflected on the water of lakes, rivers, and oceans, as long as they remain calm. Furious water becomes unpredictable and dangerous. The darker the shade of blue, the worse, until the waters become so dark that they aren’t blue anymore, just murky, and gray. When nature is calm, however, all waters turn into that heavenly shade of blue and we feel relaxed. Blue can be calm, light and clear, like peaceful water, but it can also be profound, if you go down deep under the sea. While too much red could make us explode in anger, sadness could said to be the result of too much blue. Water has many moods, and blue is the color of things that mutate and move, just like our emotions. We find yellow in the sun, the element of gold, a ripe lemon, a newly-hatched chick, or a kernel of corn. Yellow is the color of things that come to light, and by extension, the color of things that step out of darkness. Things are yellow when they are ready to be taken and studied by us, and that’s why we tend to see yellow as the color of enlightenment, inspiration, and understanding. Yellow reveals the “Eureka!” moments or life. What in nature is black? The crows that come right before a battle, waiting to feed on soldiers’ corpses. Black is the color of night, and by definition, black is the absence of light. That’s why it is so threatening. That absence of light makes black the color of those things we can’t comprehend, mainly because we can’t see them as a whole. We can only intuit their deepness, and wonder about their true nature. Black is the color of that space we encounter ‘out there’, if we dare to go beyond the atmosphere, and it’s also the color we attribute to the space within us, the one we call ‘subconscious mind’. Just as space defines the edge of our planet’s colorfulness, black is the color children use to define their drawings’ contours. Black is the color of order, limits, and focus. Black is the color of elegance, and elegance tends to be strict, since it often means renouncing the superfluous. That may be why we find black in the priest’s daily clothes, and in the widow’s outfit.

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What about white, purple, or orange? Think about them, and then understand that you can apply the same strategy to all kinds of symbols. Remember that symbolism and meaning are related to experience. When we say that someone was parroting a speech, we say so because parrots are indeed animals who repeat aimless words. Australians proudly embrace the kangaroo as their symbol, because in nature, kangaroos never move backwards, so, they are a wishful way to describe the progressive society Australians want for themselves. Cattle are a sign of material abundance and financial gain. It’s no wonder Merrill Lynch has a bull for its logo! Enraged people will charge at us just as a rhinoceros will, and fat cows do like to sit on their asses all day, chewing back their food just as if they were gossiping. Whales are indeed huge, and catching one will bring fortune either to a Japanese hunter, or a casino hostess. Why is an anchor a symbol of stability? Why is a cross a symbol of fate? Why is a book a symbol of wisdom, and a crossroad a symbol of choice? We can see clearly that each metaphor contains its own meaning, because each metaphor comes from the way we experience reality. There is no need to learn by heart any list of meanings for our symbols: our subconscious mind has been doing that since we were born. It would be more useful to acknowledge the feelings a given metaphor produces in us, and to tailor our experiential symbolism accordingly. Sense of humor. Please, laugh a little. Don’t take yourself too seriously. The mystic and

the madman are as close to each other as the solemn is to the ridiculous. We live in an era when humor is a common currency, a language that people understand and feel comfortable with. You don’t have to turn yourself into a comedian, but it is good to know when to let the laugh out. Laughter is a relief valve, a tool for establishing rapport, and also a reminder for keeping our ego in its place. Use it. The fifth and most important requirement isn’t about the mind reader, but about the participant: Willingness. Since mind reading is based on establishing a connection between two minds in order to co-create a common mind, it is important to work with a participant who is willing. You shouldn’t impose yourself on a participant. They would not then really be a ‘participant’, just a bothered person trying to come up with an excuse to run away. Mind reading should not be forced. Forced magic is for weirdos, or amateurs. ‘Impromptu’ doesn’t mean ‘hassling people anywhere’, but merely being able to read at any time.

Please treat mind reading and, most importantly, the participant, with respect. When the moment is right and the person is willing, wonderful things can be achieved.

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CHAPTER THREE Bringing The Cold Reading Myth Into Its Poetic Reality In this book I want to invite you to consider divination as a type of poetry, by shifting the emphasis from the diviner, oracles, and divinatory systems, to the inquirer. What we say to a person without any previous awareness of the person’s inner state or personal circumstances has a poetical value that actualizes the information within the person’s mind, making it real and relevant, through a phenomenon I like to call the ‘poetry of the mind’. Divination is one of the oldest arts, but in our contemporary society divination has been relegated to the realm of con men and easy marks. This is because divination is based on our capacity to imagine, a capacity that Western civilization takes pride in putting down. We have transformed imagination into a liability that reduces us to that primal stage of children and aboriginal people, but imagination is the substrate that unites the mind and the body, the inner and outer worlds. This is no little task. Whatever we can imagine will be experienced by us, creating the feelings and emotions that define our perception of reality. Divination offers us a space to rethink and recreate ourselves, as well as the reality we live in. I want to invite you to rethink divination, to stop looking at it as the silly pastime of insecure old ladies, and start looking at it again as a sacred art. Sacred, not because of any god-like affiliation, but because divination reconnects us with what is truly human in us. I invite you to look at divination from a renovated point of view, a perspective that is beautifully outlined by Stephen Karcher when he wrote: “For divination is not just telling the future. It is a lumen or light added to our intelligence. It can give us insight into our fate, locate us in a process of transformation or give us signs of the times that connect us to the flow of the Way. The symbols used in wisdom divination offer themselves as a crossroads, a meeting place with the gods and spirits. Together they form a navigation system, creating an awareness that mirrors the creative process we call destiny or fate. They open a potent imaginative space where we can interact with the Helping Spirit, the angel or daimon. Divination is an aboriginal act, fundamental to religion, magic, and myth. No one knows who invented these ways of interacting with fate or where the symbols come from. But they all point to a kind of fertile chaos in the mind where each symbol implicates all other symbols, opening a dialogue that is a deep healing process.” Several ideas in the preceding paragraph will be of interest in this text: “symbols as crossroads”, “creating an awareness”, “imaginative space”, and “each symbol implicates all other symbols.” In one way or another, these notions account for the natural way our mind has to process stimuli, that is, for the way we think. Each civilization has defined the origin of this process in accordance with their belief system, implying that divination occurs outside ourselves, being originated by gods, goddesses, angels, spirits or demons. When society

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evolved to a point in which the belief in such entities was perceived as a liability, we decided to re-label divination’s source. It didn’t come from the gods anymore: it came from delinquents who, invoking false phenomena, took advantage of gullible people. We have created a contemporary and rational label to define the interaction that occurs between diviner and client: we call it ‘cold reading’. One of the greatest obstacles in comprehending the process of cold reading is the concept itself. In the past, there has been considerable debate in regard to this definition. Some people define cold reading as the ability to “read” other people “cold”, without the diviner having any previous awareness of the client’s circumstances. The diviner will do so by contrasting the client’s appearance, sex, and age with demographic data and psychological traits memorized beforehand. Other people define cold reading as the utilization of stock phrases and “one size fits all” scripts, delivered to a client as if they were tailor-made for them. The notion of cold reading makes magicians dream of a Holy Grail, gives skeptics the joy to experience a rational explanation, and leaves true believers ‘cold’, since for them this term defines a crude imitation of divination. Perhaps the smartest thing for me would have been to avoid mentioning this concept, substituting terms like ‘readings’, ‘divination’, or the like, yet I have purposely decided to address this specific term here. I will use cold reading as a term coined in our contemporary culture to describe and define the dynamics that take place in divination of any kind, when with a single glance the diviner can tell what is bothering a person with whom he hasn’t had any previous contact, without resorting to anything but his own intuition and his previous knowledge of the human condition. From that point on, the diviner will feed these impressions back to his client, looking for his words to evoke in the client a search for meaning whose result will be insightful. I will use the term ‘cold reading’ without assigning any ethical slant to it. For me, this is just the most up-to-date way of labeling the dynamics of divination, nothing else. Cold reading suggests only that we read people cold, without any previous contact with the person in front of us. But even when this accurately describes the circumstances in which divination takes place, it doesn’t describe the process itself. Placing the emphasis on the diviner presents an enormous handicap, since our participants are the ones who actually do the real work: the magic happens in their minds. Most cold reading books have us focusing on the words we use to give a reading. Reading these books can be a terrifying task that has many people giving up before they start. We read the detailed list of keywords and stock phrases contained in these books, and we immediately assume that each one of these key words needs to be memorized, because they hold some kind of relevance in describing a specific area of interest or concern in any given participant. By reading these books in a “let’s look for the trick” mindset, we make one slightly wrong assumption: that what we say to a participant has ‘magical’ properties by itself.

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I believe cold reading works the other way around: it is our participant’s imagination that makes any words we say magical. We are just the catalysts of that process. This is the true ‘secret’ of cold reading. We approach a person ‘cold’, but it will be that person who will assign meaning to whatever we say. They will literally experience our words in the same way they would experience a piece of literature: by illustrating these worlds until they create a subjective universe whose characteristics, rules, and events would have relevance, meaning, and personal significance to the person. Another deceptive idea that most books on cold reading promote is that what you say to a participant comes from your conscious analysis of the participant itself. In my experience, not only is this not necessarily useful, but most of the time this approach renders a very poor demonstration of cold reading. This idea is in fact a sort of reverse engineering promoted by magicians and embraced by skeptics, and it doesn’t give us an accurate understanding of what really happens when we are cold reading. Contrary to what most books state, the more information you have about what kind of conscious clues to look for in a participant, the harder it is for you to know what to say, let alone produce intuitive impressions. When it comes to cold reading, an overload of information only leads us to paralysis. That is why so many magicians talk authoritatively about cold readings, but very few can really perform one. Above all, the aim of such a rational approach to cold reading is very short sighted, for it will have us trying to impress our participant with the illusion of our capacity to hint at what will end up being very irrelevant information. Pretending that cold reading consists of getting away with comments like, “Your neighbor has a blue car whose license plate has a number 2 in it”, renders the entire connection we create with the client into a cheap trick without consequences, because it invites our participant’s imagination to take an irrelevant trip, similar to taking a Boeing 747 to go buy groceries. Reality imposes prefixed channels on our thoughts, leading our imagination to always take the same paths. In contrast, the main function of poetry is to stimulate our imagination into taking a detour, an alternative and unexplored route in which we may find unexpected creatures, symbols, and ideas. Have you ever experienced the joy of taking a different route on your way home, traveling down an unfamiliar street? Remember how everything on that block seemed new and fresh? That’s what poetry does to our minds. It takes our imagination where it won’t usually go by itself. Faced as art, poetry brings us profound aesthetic pleasure. Taken by its oracular value, the aesthetic pleasure becomes enlightenment. Cold reading is not a trick, but a piece of spiritual technology that has us accessing and enjoying the poetry of the mind. I find it interesting when professional readers promote legitimate systems instead of cold reading. Most of the time, they are referring to cold reading as the use of stock phrases, and I believe stock phrases are as legitimate a system as Tarot cards, runes, aura colors, or the I Ching. Please, consider this idea carefully. Each stock phrase is a poetical construct, holding the power to detonate imagery in the participant’s mind, just as cards or stones do.

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This process of evoking and relating with symbols in an inspiring and healing way was defined by Carl Jung as “Transcendent Function”. On the other hand, many cold readers talk about using a legitimate system as a facade for a guessing game based on the sitter’s attire and manners. I humbly submit that they don’t really understand the purpose of oracles, or even what divination is really about. Cold reading, understood as delivering stock phrases and “one size fits all” scripts, serves the same purpose as any other oracle: all oracles are random generators of poetical images that we use to gain insight and inspiration. How we come up with the words we say to our participant is irrelevant. I don’t mean by this that we shouldn’t learn what to say, but that any system we use to elicit imagery will give us the tools we need if we really want to end up doing divination for real. We need to train ourselves in the ability to produce stimuli to unleash the poetry in the mind of others. Oracles and systems are extraordinarily rich, subtle, and complex, but we could get lost in their wonders forever. Even worse, focusing on the oracle alone can promote superstition and take the power away from our participants. A more up-to-date vision of oracles would have us seeing them only as training wheels for our own true capacity of connecting with the world of metaphor. The diviner is the doorkeeper for that world that lives within every human being, but most have decided to shut down and leave unexplored, sadly inspired by the false dichotomy of “thoughts vs. dreams”. Once the diviner has trained himself to open that door to the realm of metaphor, he doesn’t need the physical oracles anymore. At that point, he is ready to show others how to relate with the metaphorical realm, from mind to mind. I got my training from cartomancy: Tarot, regular playing cards, and European decks. I used these decks for several years, until I felt I didn’t need them anymore. My mind started shuffling images as soon as my hands stopped shuffling cards. Now, rather than trying to consciously look for telling clues in my participant’s attire or behavior, I relax. I only need to grasp the first image or thought that pops into my mind, and go from there. I tell my participants about the images and feelings that looking at them produces in me, and I invite them to tell me about the images and feelings my impressions generate in them. Later, I usually notice how any spontaneous impression I received actually reflects these specific people’s traits described in cold reading books, even if I wasn’t paying conscious attention to them. I tend to believe that my subconscious mind picks up on all these details. This is an explanation that makes sense to me. It is also an explanation that I can openly share with my participants. But you don’t have to believe this for the process to work. The process works automatically, not because we have memorized certain magic words, but because our participants have a magical mind. We can be blindfolded, in another room, over the phone, on the radio, delivering our reading ten years before our participant will be born. We can be truly blind and deaf, and this won’t make any difference in the effect of our readings will produce.

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Understanding this is the basis of what I want to share with you: divination transforms us into generators of poetical images that will unfold and become real in our participant’s minds. Reading someone ‘cold’ isn’t a process based on cause-and-effect that can be approached through our rational filters, but a poetical act in which our own intuition only serves one purpose: to catalyze our participant’s imagination. In this book I will teach you how to do this, and how to present this in a context that avoids any preposterous claims. To do this, I would like to invite you to shift your focus from the words we use to the capacity our participant’s mind has to create a personal imagery as an automatic response to these words; to stop celebrating our uncanny abilities and start rejoicing in our participant’s real power. Since we know how powerful this capacity of our mind is, the main consequence of such a shift in focus will be to use this celebration as a way to openly present what we do. There will be no need to hide the mystery of the mind as if it were a cheap trick. As soon as we understand cold reading as a poetical act, we will understand that we don’t have to hide how it works for it to be effective. We aren’t amusing people, we are composing emotional states. What I hope to give you here is a different point of view, a different conceptual approach, and a new way of openly presenting the process we usually define as divination.

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CHAPTER FOUR From the Poetics of Divination to the Poetry of the Mind Traditional diviners learn their craft by honing their intuition through an oracle. Magicians and mentalists who want to do readings learn their craft through books that help them fake what traditional diviners do. Both starting points are very different, yet both paths may lead to the same mistakes. If you stop and think about it, it would be preposterous to state that all people whose name starts with the letter A are active, as some cold reading books suggest, or that anybody who gets “The Devil” card needs to go to rehab, as some Tarot manuals state. But we tend to assume this because all these key words and stock readings have been published in books, and we have been trained to believe that whatever is in a book is important, and ought to be committed to memory. Sadly, if you try to rationally accept that all people with names starting with an A are active, you will probably become paralyzed, unable to do readings, since such a statement is absurd, and usually you don’t feel confident about delivering an absurd statement. But the letters in a name don’t indicate any fixed trait in a participant’s personality, just as a Tarot card doesn’t indicate a person’s future. They just give you something to say. That’s it. The ‘hit’ doesn’t happen because Alexandra, Alison, and Allen can’t “. . . be still for a moment and always need new challenges.” The hit in each case appears when Alexandra, Alison, and Allen each detects an individual and personal meaning to these words, through the natural tendency of our subconscious mind of creating meaning by coming up with images that are familiar to us, and hold personal meaning for us. Our participants not only understand what we are saying, they are seeing it! The reason for this is that we don’t really think in words, we think in images. As Richard Busch pointed out in his book, Peek Performances, “Imagery is the universal language of the mind.” Even if you recall the key words ‘Joi de Vivre’, because the name of your participant starts with a J, you won’t see these words in black and white over a screen in your mind. Perhaps you will see Renoir’s painting by the same title, or a party, or a trip to the countryside. Or, if you don’t know what these words mean, but they sound French to you, your mind will conjure whatever image you usually relate with the idea of ‘French’. So you would describe to your participant that vision you are having (that is, the vision that such words evoke in you): “I get a warm feeling of joy, like when people sit around a table on a Sunday afternoon, enjoying life . . .” and such a description will evolve into a full experience in your participant’s imagination. Great names like Ormond McGill described this idea of seeing words on a mind-screen, and I humbly submit that they are making things more difficult for us – and for our participants – to process intuitive impressions, because

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they aren’t accurately describing what happens when we imagine something. That is also why I think that writing down an exact word on a billet is counter-intuitive, but that’s another story . . . That automatic capacity of our minds to create personally relevant imagery, and to work through subjective validation to create a trans-derivational search over any set of given symbols, has been defined by anthropologist Richard P. Werbner as “The Poetics of Divination.” Here is a small paragraph from Werbner’s “Tswapong Wisdom Divination”, in his 1989 book, Ritual Passage, Sacred Journey: “Such Tsonga divination is, in my terms, ‘micro-dramatic.’ That is, it exhibits, in the fine scenes of easily handled lots, a series of encounters between significantly opposed agents, such as friends and foes, prey and predators, the humane and the inhumane, the social and the anti-social, creatures of the day or night, of the domestic or the wild . . . . . . We have to understand the micro-dramatics that exhibit the visual, along with what I call the poetics of divination. By the poetics of divination I mean the interpretation of the use of cryptic, condensed, and highly ambiguous language, such as in archaic, authoritative verse. What is the interplay between micro-dramatics and poetics over the course of a séance? How do the people themselves see that? And how are we to interpret reflexively in a way that takes into account the people’s own interpretive activity?” Wait a second . . . “significantly opposed agents”, “cryptic”, “condensed”, “highly ambiguous language” . . . does any of that sound familiar? It probably does, because those are the true tools of the diviner. They are the same ones we use in our own work, whether we are using a so-called legitimate oracle, or when we deliver the allegedly less-legitimate stock phrases that some people misunderstand as cold reading. Werbner also mentions ‘verses’, and this reminds me that it is said that the Oracle at Delphi delivered her messages in hexameter verse. This may be a great image to illustrate what I am trying to say: a person traveled a great distance to consult the Oracle, and the oracle spoke to this person in what could be described as a poem. Now, the person had all the way back home to make sense of the poem, and how did they accomplish this? By contrasting the ambiguous, condensed, and cryptic language of that poem with their personal situation, until the poem made sense. The magic didn’t necessarily happen at the Oracle’s temple, but on the way back home! English writer Robert Graves described the effect caused by a poem like this: “The hairs stand on end, the eyes water, the throat is constricted, the skin crawls and a shiver runs down the spine.” Pretty dramatic, isn’t it? But that description is probably very close to what the people who went to Delphi experienced, and very similar to the effect that most diviners achieve in their clients. Invisible Readings

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Divinatory messages in the form of poems can be found all around the world. The prophecies of Nostradamus or Paracelsus come to mind, or the book of the Apocalypse, as well as the 78 poems that Matteo Maria Boiardo composed for the Tarot, or the verses that, even today, you can find in many European cartomantic decks. Consider also the very famous I Ching. But speaking in verse is not what ‘poetics of divination’ is about. That is not quite what Werbner is pointing out. Poetry comes from the Greek word poïesis, meaning ‘to make’, and we understand the idea of ‘making’ as ‘creating’. Every time a person names something they essentially become a poet, for they are creating that very thing they are naming. In that sense, divination is the ultimate form of poïesis, since the diviner, by word alone, brings to light what is occult (hidden) when he names the ghosts who live in the mind of his client. The ever-popular horoscopes found in magazines can also fit in here, even when they aren’t written in verse but in prose, just as the message in a Chinese fortune cookie, the phrase written on the scrap of paper that a trained parakeet will pick for you on the streets of many cities, or even the cryptic message you would get from a Gypsy fortuneteller automaton. Divination renders both us and our participant into poets, not because it has us talking like Hamlet, but because it has us perceiving significantly opposed agents – cryptic, condensed, or highly ambiguous language – as poetical images. In her essay, “Divination and Psychotherapy,” psychotherapist and astrologer Jean Hinson Lall tells us that “the purpose of divination is less to obtain facts than to engage with images.” What happens when we are confronted by an image? Ambiguity has us trying to figure out its ultimate meaning. Open-ended statements invite us to complete them. Anything cryptic promotes its own decoding. Contrasting symbols, be they verbal like when you deliver impressions, or visual, like when you are manipulating any oracle, generates automatic associations in our minds. Our mind relates with the world through a representational strategy we call ‘metaphor’. Metaphors can be symbolic, ontological, orientational, metonymical . . . all of them inviting us to understand one thing in terms of another. We take what we perceive as either the representation of something else, or a portion of something else. When we say something to a person, we are presenting them with symbols. If these symbols don’t hold a literal value for this person at an individual level, they will try to find a cultural, more general, meaning in them. Their mind will try to decide if these symbols are a small portion of something bigger that may have a literal value for the person, or a clear significance in their reality. If the symbols we are presenting can’t be linked at a literal level with anything in the person’s reality, their mind will assume that our symbols represent an aspect of their reality at a metaphorical level. Interpreting our own reactions to all of these processes, and interpreting the way we interpret them, brings messages into our consciousness, making them useful. Working in the Invisible Readings

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same way that poetry works, the diviner’s tools open unlimited doors in our participant’s mind. Each one of these doors will be colored by our participant’s individual perception of reality. For each word you say, your participant will create a world that will swallow them alive into a full spectrum experience, in what could be defined as an example of the most pure magic of the mind. Let’s consider an example: “Don’t worry about the small kid.”

The idea of a child by itself is not the same thing as that of a child for whom you have to worry (or not worry) about. The contrast between the concepts of ‘kid’ and ‘worry’ will generate several associations in your mind. Along with the associations, there will be a search for meaning. You will be trying to address the kid’s identity, the nature of the concern, the significance that all this has in your life, and the actions you are supposed to take, or not, in response to such warning. If you actually have a small child, you will imagine your own child, and this cryptic phrase will have you wondering why you should be worrying about him. The phrase will create an entire sequence of events in your imagination to illustrate the reason of such worry. Perhaps your mind is showing you a movie filled with doctors, medical tests, and waiting rooms. Perhaps you mind is showing you a nightmarish night of cries and screams. Perhaps these words elicit in you a recollection of school meetings and boring lectures about children’s safety, or poor math scores. Maybe this has already happened in your life, and you are indeed worrying about your kid. Maybe it hasn’t happened, but you have been thinking about some of these scenarios, either with anticipation or fear. Whatever it is, the magic of your own mind will have you assuming that the person who told you such phrase saw what you are seeing, and therefore knows about an experience you had, or that you worry about. Perhaps the phrase has no literal relationship with you because you don’t have a small child. Still, this open-ended phrase will have you wondering why you have to worry about a kid you don’t have. Your mind will reach further in your memory, trying to see if this kid is part of a more complex whole. You will wonder if the small kid is your nephew, or a member of your extended family, in which case your mind will bring a succession of events very similar to the ones I have already described. If there are no kids in the family, your mind will take you around the neighborhood, or your mind may bring up all your friends’ kids. At this point, the ambiguity of the phrase may have you asking yourself if, instead of the kid being the one in trouble, you are the one who may get into trouble because of a kid. Will you run over a kid by accident, but the kid will end up being fine? Is your secretary wrong by thinking she is pregnant? Again, at some point in this mental trip that actually takes fractions of a second, you will reach a conclusion that will have you feeling as if the person in front of you was peering inside your soul. Perhaps you will find a real kid, even if they are very distant to you, to illustrate the phrase. Suppose your mind finds no way of labeling this kid as a literal kid, or as a literal

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portion of your reality. No kid is in danger, and no kid is threatening you. At this point, your mind will assume that ‘the kid’ isn’t a kid. It may be yourself, or a childish adult, like a husband, a boss, or a neighbor. It may be a side of you that you feel weakens you, or an undeveloped fantasy. Your imaginary trip will take a deeper poetical slant, but in the end there will be always an epiphany which will accompany a feeling of being understood by the person who delivered the phrase. “Don’t worry about the small kid.”

For those who know who this small kid is, “Don’t worry” becomes the issue. For those who don’t know who this small kid is, the kid’s identity itself becomes puzzling. Some of you may be thinking “Yeah, right . . . but what if the person isn’t puzzled at all about this phrase?” Well, being puzzled about cryptic, condensed, and highly ambiguous language isn’t a conscious prerogative. Our mind will search for meaning, no matter what. “Well,” you may argue, “What if their minds search for meaning, and they can’t find one whatsoever? Isn’t that possible?” And, of course, I will concede that this is possible. It is even frequent for a person to not detect the meaning of an impression . . . yet. In some occasions, more time is needed. In other cases, an external event will act as the missing piece of the puzzle, making people reach the inevitable epiphany. “Well,” some of you may wonder, “What if the person simply asks you ‘who the hell is this kid?’ – what do you do then? Aren’t we supposed to know it all?” The fact is, you don’t have to know. Why would you? If you were acting honestly, you just had a flash of inspiration whose ultimate meaning can only be detected by your participant. If someone expects from you to ‘know it all’, it will be your own fault for claiming preposterous things. You don’t have to know everything. But you can be very useful in helping your participant to define the identity of the kid and the meaning of the phrase, because you know how the poetry of the mind works. You are the tour guide, and as guide, you can walk them through all of the possibilities, from the literal to the metaphorical.

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CHAPTER FIVE Poetry of the Mind In 1925, inspired by a popular parlor game, the members of the Surrealist Movement created a type of poem they called ‘The Exquisite Corpse’. Each poet would write a phrase on a sheet of paper, fold the paper to conceal the sentence he just wrote, and pass it on to the next poet for his contribution. The name ‘Exquisite Corpse’ came itself from this procedure, after the Surrealists had created a poem that ended up saying: Le cadavre Exquis Boira Le vin Nouveau (Translation: “The exquisite corpse will drink the young wine”). Some examples of Exquisite Corpses would be: “The Senegal oyster will eat the tricolor bread.” “Practice privately animal magnetism.” “The late short words in stage required no words.” “German discipline enlarged circus victims.” I found the first example on a website devoted to the Surrealists. I created the other three examples by opening books and writing down the first word I saw. The reader has to make sense of such arbitrary poems by creating relationships between all the different sentences in them. No one did so by calling on a cryptologist. The process happened by itself in the blink of an eye because, as it has been stated before, our mind is a playful creature. Artist Max Ernst said that these poems were a demonstration of ‘mental contagion’, an example of what Surrealist Nicolas Calas defined as ‘the unconscious reality in the personality of the group’. In other words, the Surrealists thought that the Exquisite Corpses could be interpreted as an expression of the collective psyche that created them, and they were amazed at the eloquence of such poems. Think about the parallel between this notion – the idea of a collective unconscious – and the role that a Superior Source of Wisdom plays in divination.

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After experimenting with words, the Surrealists started using drawings in their Exquisite Corpses. Folding a sheet of paper in the same way they did to write poems, four or five artists would create together a hybrid image. Extraordinary examples of their joint efforts can be appreciated in many museums around the world. Looking at such drawings, it is very easy to understand why the Surrealists were so interested in Tarot, since any Tarot spread is essentially an Exquisite Corpse. In fact, all oracles generate an effect that is very similar in nature to the effect that Exquisite Corpses create. An Exquisite Corpse forces our mind to make sense of it, just as oracles do. Experienced as art pieces, Exquisite Corpses will ignite a spark that will fuel an unpredictable fire. We basically don’t know which images an Exquisite Corpse will elicit in us, and in fact, this isn’t important. The only thing that matters when we approach a Surrealist poem is that we enjoy the mental fireworks. But something very different occurs if, instead of seeing an Exquisite Corpse as the joyful result of a bunch of eccentric artists’ night out, we were told that the statement, “The Senegal oyster will eat the tricolor bread”, is a prophecy about us. More specifically, a prophecy about what will happen to us next Thursday. At this point, just as it is happening in your own mind as you read this, our imagination will have us projecting ourselves to next Thursday, checking our schedule for that day, and trying to figure out what a Senegal oyster that will eat the tricolor bread could possibly have to do with what we are supposed to do that day. Since our minds relate with the world through metaphors, chances are that our imagination will end up illustrating that sentence with the appropriate images to make sense of it. In fact, next Thursday my son has a gymnastic class. Last Thursday, he accidentally peed in his pants while taking the class, and this upset his teacher, an Afro-American man, who insinuated to me that perhaps my kid was too little to be doing gymnastics, which is for ‘potty-trained’ kids only. Naturally, this made my kid feel humiliated, but we are confident that he won’t have any accidents next Thursday because I am going to have him peeing before the class, so his teacher is going to have to eat his words. As you may see, the Surrealist ‘prophecy’ is right: either the Senegal Oyster will have to eat his words, or my kid will get the tricolor bread – a nice ribbon of accomplishment for being a good athlete. See how it works? There is not much difference between the Oracle at Delphi and Surrealist art after all! How did it work for you? Obviously, Exquisite Corpses are extreme examples. As diviners, we aren’t going to say to a client, “Nothing gave its name created fully by humans”, as the Surrealist would have done, nor would we finish our performances with an angry mob destroying the theater, as the Surrealists did. We are going to propitiate this magic of the mind by using simpler phrases that will surely be easier for the client to connect with their own personal experience. Invisible Readings

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I wanted to describe the Exquisite Corpse example, not only to expand a little more on how the process works (and more importantly, how the process works outside of the realm of deception and trickery), but also to help you see that if, at some point, you are in front of a person, and the only thing that comes to your mind is, ‘the crack in the bathtub’, you don’t have to feel bad, nor hesitate about voicing it. Deliver your impressions confidently. It doesn’t matter how weird you may feel they are, because as long as the clients clearly see you as a reader of any kind, and as long as you have clearly stated to your participants that the impressions you are getting are coming from them, all that you say will be assumed as personally relevant. Whatever is said by a poet will be regarded as poetry, while whatever is said by a diviner will be regarded as prophecy, even when what both persons say may not differ very much in content, nor in style. Since we see them as Art, Exquisite Corpses implicitly have the idea of being catalysts of aesthetic experiences, and for that reason, we will label whatever we experience in front of them as an aesthetic experience. Oracles implicitly have the idea of generating personally relevant information, and any feedback we receive from an oracle will be regarded as a unique message that is being delivered to us, and to us only. This has to do with cultural context and social expectations. A cynic would say that if you look the part and behave in a confident manner, your actions will carry the weight you claim they have. But if you think about it, when you understand exactly what is going on in your participant's mind, and you are clear about your work as a catalyst of the poetry of their minds, there are no reasons for you not to look the part or behave in a confident manner. You aren't deceiving anybody: you are doing exactly what you claim you are doing. This close relationship between cold reading and poetry clears a path to a more up-todate and dignified approach to the art of giving readings, since the poetry of the mind includes all the answers for our questions, obstacles, and fears, as readers who work for a more informed, contemporary, and cynical audience. Any impression or word we verbally deliver to our participants becomes a feature film in their heads, and the effect our words cause in their minds is infinitely more powerful than what we can perceive by just being in front of them, even if we are actively looking at and listening to them. The experience is truly magical. The truth is, we didn’t know. In fact, we did very little. Their own minds performed the ‘trick’. First, we all think in images, so the imagination will illustrate any word I say. Second, any information delivered by us as diviners will be processed by the participant’s mind as personal. Our words will always elicit in their minds a trans-derivational search for the appropriate personal image to illustrate what we have just said. The beautiful thing is that as soon as we say “. . . don’t worry about the small kid”, the participant’s mind will fill in the gaps and assume that we were seeing the exact same thing they were seeing in their minds!

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Look at how your mind illustrates the following sentences: ● Mother in the kitchen. ● Smelling the grass. ● It was a great game. ● You need to leave all that behind and start over again. ● Not with greasy hands. ● You blew away a meaningful relationship. ● Clean up after your dog. ● Be aware of the dark haired man. ● She rules. ● Fortune will knock on your door three times in your life. It has already knocked twice. ● Who is she? See? The poetry of the mind has to do with eliciting and nurturing the natural tendency of our imagination. It is beautiful that the explanation is even more magical than the effect. Give your participant’s mind something to illustrate, invite her to notice how she feels about it, point out to her what she can learn from it, and you will be giving her more power than any soothsayer can dream of. The ‘method’ we use to produce and contrast symbols is unimportant compared with the power these symbols have to evoke personal imagery in the participants. That is what I find fascinating, because it really places the source of insight in the participant’s mind. It is the imagery our words create that makes divination powerful, not the words themselves, or any tool, ritual, or arcane event. In the early part of a reading, our role is that of a simple catalyst. Later in the reading, our role is to help people to be clear about how they feel about the imagery elicited by their own minds. That’s it. We don’t have to embrace any absurd claim. We don’t have to keep up an eternal quest for the perfect method, nor do we have to think that trusting one method over the others will give us any special advantage. What we have to trust is the poetry of the mind. What we say to the participant when we start cold reading has no specific importance. Our words are

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just abstractions with potential. The poetry of the mind will have them doing the magic as elicited by your words, and it doesn’t matter where we get these words from: an oracular system, observation, ideomotor clues, stock phrases, experience, educated guesses, a magazine horoscope, capricious invention, or The Onion. In his foreword to the Wilhelm and Baynes English translation of the I Ching, Jung wrote: “Any person of clever and versatile mind can of course turn the whole thing around and show how I have projected my subjective contents into the symbols of the hexagrams. Such a critique, though catastrophic from the standpoint of Western rationality, does no harm to the function of the I Ching. On the contrary, the Chinese sage would smilingly tell me, “Don’t you see how useful the I Ching is in making you project your hitherto unrealized thoughts into its abstruse symbolism? You could have written your foreword without ever realizing what an avalanche of misunderstanding might be released by it.” In that paragraph, Jung invites us to celebrate the power of oracles as catalysts of our own wisdom. Our biggest leap of faith shouldn’t be about the method we use, but about trusting other people. I maintain that the poetry of the mind is an automatic process that has our mind working in front of a reader exactly as it operates when we are in front of any work of art. In the same way that the experience of art is individual, subjective, and personal, the experience of cold reading is personal and subjective. Perhaps the clearest thing contemporary art has demonstrated is that the experience of art is also voluntary. For the experience of art to happen, we must want to participate in it. Most of the people who visit a gallery or art museum do so willingly to experience art, in the same way that a person who sits in front of a cold reader does so because they want a reading. We can be confident, then, in the fact that the person in front of us is there with a positive attitude, and willing to ‘play’. But a person can remain totally indifferent to a work of art if they choose to do so, in the same way a person can decide that everything you are telling them as a diviner is bogus. It has everything to do with a prefixed mindset, with personal freedom, and in our contemporary world, with a cultural celebration for cynicism that affects art as well as magic. My only response to that is to remind you that magic – like art – isn’t a service, but a privilege. Any impression we deliver to a person will detonate in their mind a number of associations, and these associations will come from that person’s own experience of the world, in the same way that any work of art will detonate a set of associations, memories, connotations, and references in the mind of the viewer. As soon as we deliver an impression to them, we are in their hands. The good thing is that their minds will want to play anyway, because all minds want to play. So, the poetry of the mind will work, and we will have our hit. As a poetical construct, a reading can’t be

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measured in terms of ‘right’ or ‘wrong’. It will be meaningful or not, inspiring or not, enlightening or not, just as a painting, a symphony or a movie will be (or not). In that sense, the idea of ‘hits’ in this context would mean something completely different than what the word would mean for a cheap fortune teller. Hits aren’t about being right, but about connecting, or hitting a nerve. Any willing person will openly acknowledge these hits. An unwilling one may openly dismiss what you are saying, yet they will be experiencing the effect anyway. So, be confident, thank them anyway and move ahead. We will be believable as soon as we deliver something – anything – because in each reading we are working with a confederate: the participant’s own mind, who will detect personallyrelevant meaning in anything we say. I understand this approach won’t appeal to those readers who need to feel superior to their participants. After all, I am talking about the natural ability that any person has of making sense and detecting meaning in any poetical abstraction, and this is something more magical and powerful than any alleged supernatural ability a person may have. For the conventional magician this approach may be even insulting, but I am confident that if you have read so far, it is because you are looking for something more than to merely boost your ego with your magic. I invite you to look again at cold reading, not for what you think it is, but for what it may be. Looking at cold reading from a cynical point of view has led many readers to reduce the dignity of this art form to the point of equating it to a criminal activity, and they often ridicule those people who are in need of a reading. Calling ‘gullible’ someone who can learn and grow by using his own natural ability of making sense and detecting meaning in any promising abstraction, is like dismissing Superman as a guy who can’t keep his feet on the ground, instead of acknowledging that the man can fly! It is very important for me to stress here that by stating all this I am not dismissing cold reading’s validity. Instead, I am inviting you to rejoice in the magic of the mind, and to celebrate the real role that our participant’s imagination plays in the process. The process isn’t powerful because of our uncanny ability of ‘reading’ people. The process is awesome because of our participant’s mind’s natural ability to produce imagery and detect meaning. Understood in this way, and properly presented, cold reading has the potential of becoming an artistic expression where we provide our participant the opportunity to create personallyapplied poetry. It is not a ‘trick’, nor is it ‘deception'. It is poetry of the mind.

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CHAPTER SIX Useful Charlatans Hiding this natural ‘poetry of the mind’ process and presenting it in a deceptive way cheapens it. I know this sounds counter-intuitive, given the traditional magician’s mindset, but it is very clear to me that by facing today’s audiences in terms of ‘cunning tricksters against gullible marks’ we will always be at a disadvantage with respect to the public. It is said that mentalism is a grown-up form of magic, and cold reading its most elevated manifestation – the epitome of mentalism itself. Yet the two more dangerous ideas for the survival of magic in the 21st century are intrinsically linked with two myths behind cold reading: ● Deep inside, audiences haven’t changed a bit ● People want to be deceived Let’s deal with each of these myths one at a time.

Updating Superstitions In general terms, I have no problem accepting that “deep inside, audiences haven’t changed a bit.” You and I, as well as every single human being on the face of Earth since the beginning of time, are motivated by our fears and desires, and these emotions can be grouped under very similar labels. We all go through the same stages of life, and we all desire and fear several things along the way. At an emotional level, we share a lot. The problem is that even while we may share the same fears and desires of our ancestors, we don’t label them in the same way they did. Just as we don’t fear sea monsters that live at the edge of the world anymore, very few young men consider seriously the possibility of becoming a professional squire, in order that they can work their way up to the position of knight. Deep inside, we still fear, and we still desire. But the symbols we use to put a face on many of these fears and desires have changed. Superstitions grow from a combination of fear and desire, and our superstitions have also changed dramatically, especially in the last 100 years. Our culture has labeled ‘superstition’ as “. . . the irrational belief that future events are influenced by specific behaviors, without having a causal relationship.” Magic is a way of transforming reality, or at least our perception of reality, based precisely on the idea of using ritual and focused intention to influence future events to our advantage. It is believed that magic can achieve that goal in a sympathetic or imitative way, when we use effigies, images, or symbols that represent certain powerful attributes to affect the environment, in the same way that the true possessors of such attributes would affect it.

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Examples of this are abundant in Christian religion, where people pray to images of saints, archangels, and virgins as if they were these entities themselves. Other examples can also be found among African people, who carve wooden sculptures patterned after their deceased loved ones, so their spirits can materialize in the world through these statues every time their descendants need help. It is also believed that magic can affect reality through contagion, i.e., that an object which has been in contact with a person or any other kind of creature, somehow retains the power of his owner. For example, legendary magician Alberto Magnus recommended carrying a lion’s kidney under the armpit, allowing us to absorb the lion’s courage and thereby frightening our enemies. Both sympathetic and contagious magic base their rituals and procedures on the specific beliefs, desires, fears, and superstitions of the society that produces the magic. Here is precisely where contemporary magic is in trouble. Why? Because contemporary magic isn’t based on the contemporary labels for the superstitions of our society at large, but on dated labels that our culture as a whole doesn’t share anymore. Again, our fears may be the same fears shared by our ancestors, but magic isn’t using current labels for these fears, but rather the labels our grandparents used. Today’s magicians invoke our grandparents’ demons, and those demons have no credibility in our eyes. Once we overcome our fear of something, the next thing we do is ridicule whatever we have feared. There is a sort of joyful revenge in the way we make fun of the things that used to cause us panic. Just as adults outgrow most fears of their childhood, each generation overcomes some of the fears of the preceding one. Magicians pretend to stand in front of their contemporary audiences invoking fears and wonders that society at large has outgrown, and as a result, these audiences can’t help but find magic laughable. The first lesson we can extract from this situation is to not base our magic on fear. The second lesson, and the most important one, is to update our superstitions. Think about it. You probably laughed at Alberto Magnus’s advice. It’s impossible not to find his recipe funny, or to joke about it. I personally feel that a man with a lion’s kidney under his armpit has to be terrifying, especially after a couple of days, but not for the reasons that Alberto Magnus intended. Above all, ‘armpit’ is a funny word, and a lion’s kidney an absurd image. But imagine that the lion’s kidney has a label saying “Prada” on it. If you want to impress someone you won’t wear a lion kidney, you will dress up in a $10,000 Prada suit, and you will feel invincible. Designers are the new shamans. Today we may not have gods, but in their place we worship celebrities. A piece of cloth from a famous actress, or even her photo, can throw many fans into a mystical frenzy. We don’t dream about glory, but fame. We may not believe in Heaven, but we believe in success. We may not go on religious crusades, but we immolate ourselves on our professional battlefields trying to ‘make it’, with the same fanaticism that has led Muslims and Christians into war for centuries. Invisible Readings

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We may not pray, but we save money, and every time we go to a bank we walk slowly and silently, for banks are our new temples. The next time you feel up to a social experiment, visibly pull a huge roll of bills out of your pocket and watch the reaction of people around you. That reverent silence people will display is the same one the Holy Spirit got. Many of us laugh at the idea of fairies, leprechauns, or spirits, but we all embrace superstitions that are far more absurd than little green men guarding pots of gold: “Work your ass off now, so you will enjoy life when you retire.” “It is better to be a little bit unhappy than poor.” “The more, the merrier.” “There is a machine that does that better.” “Better to be in a bad relationship than to be alone.” Above all, contemporary people have a high regard for their own sense of freedom, a feeling they don’t want to give up. That has them experiencing a strong, almost allergic, reaction against all of the faith dealers, since religions tend to link such individual freedom with the idea of sin. We live in what Viktor Frankl would define as a ‘religiously repressed’ society, in which no one feels comfortable at openly admitting any spiritual belief. In a society that praises irony as the ultimate form of intelligence, beliefs make us look weak. Those rituals and charms we use to feel safe and happy have changed to embrace the rules and manners of our consumerist society, yet a hairdo has proven to be as inefficient as a magic feather when it comes to boost our self-confidence in the long run. We have just deposited our hopes for happiness in new absurd recipes. We have updated our superstitions. Communication experts, plastic surgeons, self-help moguls, and marketing gurus are the new sorcerers, because they are the ones who can fulfill the fantasies of this era. People consult them looking for an edge, in the same way they used to go to the tribal shaman or the gypsy woman. Very often their promises aren’t any less absurd than those of a snake oil vendor – they are just responding to our updated superstitions. They are the new providers of dreams, the possessors of the magic that people in this culture really look forward to experience. In a society that worships technology, magicians are still re-enacting séances that were electrifying two hundred years ago. Magicians want to top the wonders of Hollywood with invisible thread, and try to claim control over people who won’t let themselves be overtly controlled, even by their most admired idols, thanks to the wonders of zapping and channel surfing.

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In a world that fears AIDS, magicians are offering to cure the Plague. In a society that talks about embryo cells, memes, artificial intelligence, Botox, and terrorism, magicians keep talking about levitation, apparitions, telekinesis, ghosts, vampires, and spoon bending. It is not that these phenomena aren’t appealing to a portion of the population, or that they can’t achieve a beautiful effect, but that they don’t reflect the spirit of our times, or the ways in which the society at large wants to see itself. History shows us that no society will promote or embrace an art form that doesn’t make it look as it wants to be seen. Cold readers approach their audiences with a set of dated labels for their contemporary superstitions. They assume that they have to define themselves as ‘psychics’, ‘mediums’, or ‘clairvoyants’, even though these words make them flinch. In truth, these words make most people in our society flinch, no matter how large the group of individuals with high hopes in ESP may be. It has to be of special interest to cold readers the way in which psychology has been reinventing shamanism during the 20th century. As ‘Technicians of the Subconscious’, psychologists have been achieving the same results achieved by shamans, albeit more incomplete. I often listen to people saying, “Tarot is just a Rorschach test”, or, “fortunetellers are the poor man’s shrinks”. These comments sound very logical, and knowledgeable, except for the fact that things are exactly the other way around: the Rorschach test is just a spiritless departure from Tarot, and therapy is divination’s amnesic grandchild. The problem is that we feel so much contempt for traditional cultures, we have so little respect for the past, and we need so much to believe that our Western civilization is the best possible option, that we reject everything that comes from an older culture, even if we have to invent the same thing again. Millennia before Freud’s grandparents were born, shamans around the world were interpreting dreams. Thousands of years before the first grade-school was created in the West, traditional diviners helped the young to understand their career choices. Since the beginning of time, specialized people have paid attention to the nature and needs of our minds and spirits, knowing that mind and spirit are responsible for creating the reality we live in. Now we call it NLP, Hypnotherapy, Transference, Cognitive Visualization, Placebo Effect, Positive Projection, Trans-derivational Search, Subjective Validation – and we genuinely feel as if we have come up with something new! These are just new labels for the same old magic, updated promises for updated superstitions. Those are the labels that have people bowing in awe, and that is no little contribution. Thanks to 20th century psychology, the trip to the Other World has experienced a dramatic turn: it went from outwards to inwards. It is time for cold readers to turn their rudders in the same direction.

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CHAPTER SEVEN Beyond Charlatanism Do contemporary audiences really want to be deceived? In a recent interview with Gene Nielsen, I found an idea that hit me like a brick: “Whether we are charlatans or not, doesn’t mean that we can’t be effective.” I have no doubt that this idea may produce in many mentalists an acute attack of insomnia, agitation, anxiety, and confusion, along with the production of large quantities of saliva that are typical during the later stages of what is know as ‘hydrophobia’. As I pointed out in the first half of this book, a dismissive view of the process that occurs as a consequence of the cold reading process has transformed the notion that audiences want to be deceived into a rationale to debunk charlatans. Magicians cry “cold reading!” when they want to denounce someone of being a fake at claiming a connection with the supernatural, even when they are attempting to prove or disprove things that really aren’t any of their concern. In my view of things, a connection with the supernatural, understood as an external factor separate from us, isn’t necessary for the magic to occur. But before we get there, let’s analyze for a moment the mechanism of traditional magic, a kind of magic totally based on the existence of the supernatural, and the kind of magic that is often invoked by cold readers around the world, when they label themselves as ‘mediums’, ‘psychics’, or ‘clairvoyants’. In order to take a closer look at traditional magic, I would like to go over the work and ideas of multimedia artist and psychomagician Alejandro Jodorowsky. In his book Psicomagia (or, Psychomagic), Jodorowsky wrote: “Watching all these popular healers operate by making look as miracles tricks that were typical of a great prestidigitator, I conceived the notion of the Sacred Deception. For the extraordinary to occur [it] is necessary that the patient, admitting the existence of a miracle, have faith in the fact that he can be cured. In order to succeed, the sorcerer, at the first encounter, sees himself forced to use tricks that convince the patient of the fact that material reality can obey the spirit. As soon as the patient is tricked by the sacred deception, he experiences an internal transformation that makes [it] possible for him to understand the world through his intuition, instead of his reason. Only then the true miracle can occur.” Jodorowsky spent some time working as an assistant for a famous Mexican healer, an old woman who practiced surgery while being allegedly possessed by the spirit of an Indian warrior. Working in a dark room illuminated only by one candle, with a rusty hunter’s knife as her only tool, this old lady transplanted organs, transmuted sick blood into healthy blood,

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and removed tumors for a vast range of clients that ranged from poor peasants to rich members of the government. Jodorowsky spent two years with her, and even so, he was never let into the secrets behind all of the woman’s theatrics. To his credit, and even when he saw many people being healed under the woman’s knife, he decided that approaching the healer with faith would have prevented him from really learning from the entire experience. Instead of believing, he observed, and instead of trying to catch the woman tricks, if there were any tricks to catch, he decided to study the patient’s reactions to these tricks. After working with this old woman, Jodorowsky created his own magical practice, which he called ‘Psicomagia’, which consists of “. . . giving advice to solve problems, applying in a non-superstitious way the techniques of magic.” Before we continue, it will be important to point out that in his youth Jodorowsky was a late member of the Surrealist movement, and had a solid background as an actor and a mime, during which he had toured the world as part of Marcel Marceau’s troupe. Many critics attribute to Jodorowsky the first ‘happenings’ that took place in Europe, and he is credited as the father of the Midnight Movie. No wonder why his Psicomagia has such a strong emphasis on movement, actions, and all of what Jodorowsky himself labels as ‘Sacred Theater’. There are two main things about Jodorowsky’s work that interest me, and I will try to address them in order. Regarding the Sacred Deception, Jodorowsky says: “The Shaman realizes theatrical acts. He imitates powers, and by doing so he produces an effect, because he opens a doorway to that mysterious thing we are.” I believe the Sacred Deception to be a key concept in understanding the dynamics of magic at large, from the magic these shamans practice, to the magic that has been done on stage until present times. More importantly, this concept redefines the role of trickery in magic, situating deception as the starting point of a process that is in fact psychological, as we can understand today thanks to the evolution of psychology within the 20th century. The trick leaves us groundless, prompting us into an altered state of consciousness where the impossible is possible, but the real magic happens after the trickery ends. What interests me about the Sacred Deception is that first, Jodorowsky assigned a high ethical value to trickery, in a way that is consistent with Gene Nielsen’s idea about the effectiveness of charlatans. In fact, Jodorowsky defined deception as ‘sacred’, since it is deception that makes it possible for our mind to accept the magic, and therefore to produce the necessary transformation that both patient and healer are expecting. In other words, it is not the magician’s claim, or the magician’s actual power, but the patient’s perception of the magical procedure, that makes the magic happen. In Jodorowsky’s view, there is no ‘magician guilt’ or ethical conundrum about deceiving people, since such deception serves a purpose that goes beyond deception itself: it can inspire. Invisible Readings

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Charlatanism here can be placed, not in the capacity of eliciting magic, but on the popular magician’s claims, factual or not, about where and how the magic takes place. Secondly, here is the most important thing about Jodorowsky’s approach to the Sacred Deception: he coined the concept as a conclusion of his experience with these popular healers, but when he created his own magical practice, intended mainly for a contemporary European audience, he eliminated the Sacred Deception, along with any superstitious mindset around magic. In his book, Jodorowsky says: “It would be ridiculous for us, after evolving from a primitive mentality into a rational one, to go back to search for secrets in the primitive. We can’t go back. We should take that knowledge, applying it to our rational mentality to go even further with it.” Jodorowsky understood that magic speaks the language of the subconscious mind, and therefore, its power surpasses our conscious awareness. Of course, this is something that Milton Erickson, and many others, knew before him. What Jodorowsky demonstrated is that if charlatans can do any good, it has nothing to do with their claims but with the magical nature of our own minds. In my view of things, he sanitized trickery, enunciating the moral rightfulness of deceiving a person, or a patient. The good news is that, knowing what we know now about how magic works, we don’t need to be charlatans anymore. Magic isn’t a question of faith, but a natural function of our mind. “The positive step I took before these practices was to eliminate both belief and disbelief. I got rid of both attitudes,” Jodorowsky said. I hope you share with me the amazement for such a bold move. In his book, The Busch Factor, Richard Busch talks about how convenient it is for theatrical performers to make the unconscious, conscious, which is the exact opposite of what Ericksonian therapists do. But in this case, Jodorowsky has successfully done so off-stage, in a therapeutic context. For years, Jodorowsky held a very unique question and answer forum that he called ‘Cabaret Mystique’. People would come to see Jodorowsky prescribing Psicomagical acts, at no charge, to those audience members in need of it. A person would describe their problem in public, and Jodorowsky would prescribe a cure, under the guise of a symbolic action destined to fulfill the person’s subconscious urge. Examples of such acts would be: ● Recommending a woman to draw a self-portrait with her own menstrual blood, and exhibit it in a prominent place at home, in order to overcome the feeling of being inferior because “my parents always wanted a boy”. ● Painting black a heavy iron ball, and giving it to a person who had caused the person harm, while saying, “Take back your pain. It isn’t mine.” ● Enacting your own burial, to be reborn afterwards and re-baptized with a new name, in order to start over again a life that has been traumatic beyond hope. Invisible Readings

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Some of you will recognize here the flavor of some antics that Milton Erickson used in his own work. Erickson was known for doing things like keeping a woman’s hallucinations in his wardrobe, asking patients to pee on their bed before going to sleep on it, or creating a nonsensical language to communicate with a specific patient. All of this, of course, was within the context of a controlled therapy. Others will recognize in these prescriptions references to popular witchcraft. Popular sorcerers would recommend things like tying up a toy airplane to your bed if you want to travel; catching the voice of a person in a bottle to kill his soul; or drinking water previously used to wash a dog’s eyes, in order to be able to find your way out of a problem. All of these experiences have in common the fact of being powerful metaphors, real-life dreams capable of bypassing the conscious mind’s critical barriers. Of course, we aren’t interested here on these antics from a therapeutic or supernatural point of view, but from the communicational value of its artistic potential. In Jodorowsky’s view, each person’s problem demands a unique act. As Erickson pointed out before him, no two persons are alike, so no two Psicomagical acts can be identical. Jodorowsky approached his magical practice with creative genius, tailoring the appropriate act for each person. Even so, there are common guidelines, the most important being the need for the act to end up in a positive action, and never in a destructive way. Since a therapeutic use of magic is out of the scope of this book, I will focus on how Jodorowsky’s notions apply to the dynamics of cold reading as redefined in the concept of poetry of the mind. To do this, we need to go back to an idea I outlined in the first part of this book. This is a notion I understood while teaching representational strategies at a Visual Communication school, and it was also one of Jodorowsky’s main observations while working with popular healers: magic speaks the language of the subconscious mind. In my opinion, this is a transcendental concept. Jodorowsky had said Psichomagical acts “equally to construct dreams within reality.” They are based on the fact that our subconscious mind regards metaphors as reality. In the words of psychiatrist Martín Bakero: “The rules for magic are the same ones who rule the unconscious: metonymy and metaphor. The first rule is about continuity, in which a part is identified with the whole; the second rule is about similarity, in which equal acts over equal. By creating a psychological act, we are using unconscious’ own language: magic, psychoanalysis, and poetry.” Those familiar with traditional magic will see how metonymy and metaphor describe contagious and sympathetic magic respectively. In popular magic, such notions are charged with superstition, but understood as natural processes of the mind, they become poetry.

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Today’s magic is trapped in a Manichean conundrum that seems to be irresolvable from within the magician’s current mindset. It doesn’t matter how much time is spent discussing the points of view of skeptics and believers, about the convenience or inconvenience of disclaimers, or about the ethical or unethical aspects of giving readings. These discussions haven’t helped magic to evolve one single step. At best, such discussions are useless, since each faction is preaching to its own choir. At worst, such discussions promote fanaticism, mutual aggression, and outdated views of what magic is about. The problem is that such discussions are based on a false premise: magicians and mentalists wrongly assume that they are forced either to accept or deny the supernatural, and the possibility of paranormal powers. This simply isn’t true. Artists who have chosen mind reading as a vehicle of creative expression aren’t here to imitate a phenomenon, or to embrace a belief. They are here to propose their own model for mind reading, and to take their participants on a trip that will have them experiencing their own, personal, and unique vision – their very own world. For magic to evolve into a relevant art form in contemporary society, it needs to be reframed. This path doesn’t solve the problems related to each faction’s beliefs, but embraces a kind of magic that goes beyond our current notion of belief itself. What I am proposing here affects both methods and presentation. One needn’t have to trust the capricious mood of supernatural forces, or help such forces with bits of legerdemain to make themselves believable. Neither is it necessary to embrace a belief that makes us flinch. Instead, we only have to trust the poetry of the mind, and become ‘High Priests’ of people’s own imaginations. The beautiful thing is that much good can be done without resorting to charlatanism. There is no point in perpetuating dated views about what magic is, nor is there any need to embrace absurd claims. We can proudly celebrate cold reading as a process that openly takes advantage of the poetry of the mind, by pointing out that real magic happens where it really happens: in our audience’s mind.

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CHAPTER EIGHT Updating the Other Side Traditional magicians from the past have invoked the forces of the supernatural as the origin of their feats. Gods, spirits, gnomes, fairies, demons, and often the Devil himself, have been depicted as external creatures, different from man, who inhabit and therefore represent the realms beyond tangible reality. As I have already pointed out, our contemporary society doesn’t feel comfortable by openly acknowledging, or paying respects, to these mythical beings anymore, even when a sizable percentage of the population may still hold a belief in them. In our culture, the magic that allegedly comes from these entities, and the world they represent, will always have a silly flavor. Still, we need mystery. The experience of wonder is enhanced if the reality we live in and the realm in which magic resides are different, with the magician acting as the doorkeeper between both dimensions. Magic could be experienced daily, but it shouldn’t be felt to be an everyday phenomenon or it becomes cheapened. We need it to come and go, to be elusive. Darkness makes more acute our sense of magic, and that’s why the most magical part of our lives takes place after we have closed our eyes. Just as dusk and dawn are considered doorways to the Other Side, our eyelids demarcate a frontier between two worlds. In the search for real magic that can hold itself within our contemporary superstitions, a good path to take is the one which lead us to the Unconscious. That poetical construct we call the Unconscious is our culture’s update for the Other World. As Freud wrote, the Unconscious is a universe that could reflect and react to the external reality, but also – and more importantly – it can create its own phenomenology. Spanish painter Francisco de Goya pointed out, “The dream of reason produces monsters.” Within the Unconscious, gods become passions, feelings are fairies, and demons turn into emotions. In Jung’s words, “gods became diseases”. Mystery is intact. We can only wonder how and why the unconscious works, or what it really is. The Unconscious is a true enigma, and very few people will dismiss its appeal as if it were a laughable riddle. This simile may feel obvious to you now, but consider that a century ago the notion of the Unconscious wasn’t as clearly defined as it is today. The concept of the Unconscious is one more reason why magicians are in debt to psychology. Today such a poetical construct serves to somehow objectify all the abstract processes of our mind. We can’t point our finger at it, but we know it is ‘in there’, somewhere, just as the Other World is said to be ‘out there’, somehow. The psychology of the 20th century has hinted now and again that the Other World and the Unconscious are one and the same thing. This may also be suggested by the way shamans and traditional sorcerers spoke about the other world and, more importantly, in the shamans’ unique role as ‘technicians of ecstasy’. Australian Aborigines call the ‘other side’

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the Dreamland, and most depictions of a shaman traveling into the underworld will give us an image that will be very close to the one of Sleeping Beauty, where the wizard lies down while his mind/soul is traveling. I tend to think that the idea of an Other World situated ‘out there’ and different from us is the result of the way in which Judeo-Christian beliefs have fueled the obsession that Western civilization has for defining and limiting human experience within a literal, consensual, frame. In our view of things, if these shamans said they could fly, then either they should have literally traveled through the air, or they were fakes. Today we can see how all the accumulated testimonies from people who have studied these shamans may lead us to think that, perhaps, they weren’t doing either of these two things. But even if we could say that the Unconscious and the Other World are the same thing, this statement has a conflicting slant that serves no purpose for us. It would be better for us not to engage in any debate about the nature of the Other World, and simply embrace the Unconscious as an updated source of endless awe and mystery. Updating our superstitions reinforces the shift of focus from the performer to the participant. This is important, since very few people today will doubt you if you invoke the powers of their own minds. As Richard Busch wrote in The Busch Factor, “People will never question their own objective powers, which they subjectively feel and experience, only yours.”

Entering the land of metaphor When people dismissively say that readers are the poor man’s shrink, they aren’t doing justice to either divination or psychoanalysis. The dynamics of both are indeed very similar, since psychoanalysis and divination consist of a search for meaning based on an interpretation of both the technician’s and client’s feelings. Still, that very same dynamic is established by different methodologies and intended for different purposes, with very different outcomes in mind. While psychoanalysis intends to have a healing effect, divination, understood as poetry of the mind, hopes to provide a kind of insight that manifests itself in the form of inspiration. It could also be said that this can be done in an entertaining way, but while divination may be entertaining, it isn’t entertainment. I submit that divination is closer to art than to show business. We give people the necessary inspiration for them to feel empowered, and capable of doing whatever they need to do. By inspiring them, what we do may have a therapeutic effect. Being inspired signifies being reassured in the joy of knowing who we are, and that joy gives us confidence in the fact that we can accomplish certain goals. Fulfilling these goals, however, must be a personal choice in which the reader has no part. Any therapeutic effect of the poetry of the mind should be assumed as a by-product of the process, and should not be offered beforehand as a possible outcome, unless of course the reader has a therapeutic background and the appropriate certifications. Invisible Readings

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Still, if the final outcome is one of the main things that differentiates psychotherapy from readings, cold readers share with psychotherapists an important common ground: both are ‘operators’ of the Unconscious. Here again the difference becomes clear: while the psychotherapist may be seen as a technician of the unconscious, cold readers are tour guides of the Unconscious. They travel there, look, point out the most remarkable events, take a photo of the landmarks, and do their best for the ‘guest’ on the tour to have a memorable experience, and then leave without disturbing anything. Understanding cold reading as a way to activate the poetry of the mind leads us to the main difference between a reader and a therapist: while the therapist intends to heal the psyche, cold readers make art from the Unconscious. Therapists, especially hypnotherapists, elicit imagery in our minds for healing purposes. What I propose is to elicit imagery in people’s minds for aesthetic purposes, understanding that aesthetic experiences have an inspiring effect in people that cannot be measured only by its therapeutic qualities. Looking at one of Matisse’s paintings may be inspiring, and it can have a healing effect, but you don’t see ‘Matisse viewings’ prescribed anywhere as a valid treatment for any disease. Looking at a Matisse painting, or experiencing any form of powerful art, leaves us with a strong sense of pride about being human. Art can make us better. Accepting the idea of readers being the ‘poor man’s shrink’ is accepting to be told what can be done, and what to expect from the art. The label doesn’t begin to represent the full potential of what can be done. An art whose medium is the human mind may seem too ephemeral or intangible, and in a sense, it is. This is an art that you can experience, and you can take home, but you can’t hang it in your living room to brag about it and impress your friends. This art can’t be resold in an auction at Sotheby’s. This is art that isn’t experienced by our senses in the usual way. Instead of being processed as an external stimulus, this art can activate the senses from within. But just as mixing pigments, chiseling stone, or shooting film are tangible mechanisms for mediums like painting, sculpture, or cinema, the magic of readings makes use of concrete processes for creating beauty inside the mind. As I have pointed out several times, the principal tool in making poetry of the mind is metaphor. But, is metaphor as ‘tangible’ as ink, or paper? Let’s see . . . In 2001, Colombian neuroscientist Rodolfo Llinás wrote, “The brain is primarily a selfactivating system whose organization is geared toward the generation of intrinsic images.” Five centuries before him, Renaissance Master Michelangelo said, “I saw the angel in the marble and carved until I set him free.” How does the poetry of the mind operate? How do we affect that self-activating system that is the brain and invite it to play, so the participant can be helped to release one among the infinite ‘angels’ waiting to be freed inside their minds?

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Well, it’s done with . . . words! Words that, as I have pointed out, are empty objects until the participant activates them by creating imagery based on them, and filling them with meaning. Words are inherently empty until we assign these words a metaphorical value, which is something that can happen either at a conscious or unconscious level. In a recent interview, Llinás, who is Chairman of the Department of Physiology and Neuroscience at NYU, said, “I believe that the professionals who are practicing psychotherapy should know that sometimes a word to the patient is equivalent to an injection of a drug.” For me, this is one of the most powerful phrases regarding the magic power of words I have ever read. Words are used to elicit the poetry of the mind, but these words are only metaphors, which will elicit new metaphors in the participant’s mind, creating a multiplying effect similar to the one we experience when we put two mirrors facing each other. To understand how tangible metaphors are, we need to stop seeing metaphors as rhetorical instruments. Psychoanalyst Arnold Modell expresses it beautifully in his magnificent book, Imagination and the Meaningful Brain: “Metaphor is primarily a form of cognition rather than a trope or figure of speech. Further, metaphor as a cognitive tool can operate unconsciously, so that a metaphoric process is one aspect of the unconscious mind . . . metaphor becomes the selective interpreter of corporeal experience. What is singularly human is not only our possession of language but also our capacity for generative imagination, which in turns relies upon the use of metaphor as cognitive tool.” In his work, Modell frequently quotes Italian philosopher Giambattista Vico, who in 1744 wrote something that would be of special relevance for cold readers: “Meaning is constructed through imaginatively entering the minds of others.” Neurobiologist Walter Freeman proposed in 1995 that “meaning arises as a brain creates intentional behavior and then changes itself in accordance with the sensory consequences of those behaviors.” In other words, we don’t ‘understand’ meaning, we experience it. As a repository of meaning acquired in an experiential way, metaphors are the key mechanism for people to understand the world, and as such are extraordinary tools for cold readers to understand people’s minds. If we think about it, metaphors include all of the deceptive components that Richard Werbner described as part of the Poetics of Divination. The ambiguity of metaphors requires us to complete, conjugate, and decode them. Since metaphors have us understanding one thing in terms of another, metaphorical thinking has us focusing on certain aspects of that one thing while ignoring all of the other aspects of the concept that aren’t consistent with the metaphor at hand. For example, if we say that a woman has a ‘pearled smile’, we will be focusing on the whiteness of her teeth, and missing the sharpness of the teeth. For a cold reader, understanding this is crucial. Metaphors show how a person, or a society, perceives the world. This idea has been eloquently explored by linguist George Lakoff and philosopher Mark Johnson in their book, Metaphors We Live By. Invisible Readings

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All concepts can have a metaphorical quality in the sense that all concepts can be metaphors for something else. When a participant is offered an image, symbol, or word, this is in reality a concept, and the participant is invited to define its metaphorical value. When this is done, clues are revealed about the participant’s mindset, and the way they experience reality. A shark’s smile and a pearled smile could both be ways of describing the same teeth. For a cold reader, such choices of words are more eloquent at describing the inner state of the person who is voicing the metaphor, than as a rendition of the smile itself. A shark’s smile suggests a threat, while a pearled smile depicts enjoyment. One metaphor repels, while the other one attracts. Why is it that a person can perceive a set of teeth as dangerous, while another one perceives them as beautiful? The answer isn’t in the teeth, but in the emotional state of each witness. Metaphors work as an unconscious way to help us grasp the world around us and the universe inside us. They model the way we speak, the way we think, and the way we perceive reality. Cold readers don’t have to ‘come up’ with phrases or memorized stock lines – they just need to let their minds be, and they will know what to say to a participant. Contemporary neuroscience shows that metaphors are crucial in the construction of meaning. Metaphor – the transference of meaning from one object to another – occurs in an unconscious way, and is a key tool humans have to interpret and redefine conscious experience. Through metaphor, we detect meaning in our memories, thoughts, and feelings. In fact, metaphorical thinking is the basis of imagination, fantasy, and more importantly, the capacity to understand another person’s mind. Metaphorical thinking is the true essence of the poetry of the mind, and in that regard, we can trust metaphorical thinking in the same way painters trust their brushes and pigments, sculptors trust their chisels and hammers, and movie makers trust their cameras.

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CHAPTER NINE Mind Reading: What Does It Mean? Mind reading is the art of knowing what is in a person’s mind, not what the person is thinking of. We will see later that an extended definition of ‘telepathy’ implies much more than the direct transmission of a specific thought. As with any other form of human communication, it requires the active participation of two willing people. It’s good to start the process by chatting a bit to gain rapport and put the person at ease. Then, when it comes time to read a person’s mind, ask for their permission to tap into their imagination. This is important because you want to create a space and time for your connection with them to happen. People feel naked in front of mind readers, due to the idea that the mind reader’s abilities are ‘on’ all the time. You will be working with the most precious thing a person has: their mind. So, be polite and always ask first. After permission has been granted, look at the person with a soft gaze, and you will be ready to describe what you see and feel about them. If you want to go deeper, ask the participant to close their eyes, and concentrate on their present concerns. Relax, and wait. As soon as they open their eyes, you will know what to say. How? Before we get into the ‘how’, let me tell you a few things before we start: ● It isn’t about being ‘great’ ● It isn’t about being ‘amazing’ ● It isn’t about controlling people’s minds ● It isn’t about being a ‘guru’ ● It isn’t about ‘frying’ people ● It isn’t about having all the answers

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Readers are in a very unique position: people come to share their minds with us. In gratitude, we can help them to make sense of what we see, in a way that empowers them, not us. We can use people’s imagination, and our own imagination, to read minds in the literal sense of the term. Our claims won’t be outlandish, because we would be striving for a result that isn’t flashy, but profound. Paradoxically, by not trying to be flashy we will create a more powerful outcome, even more personal, more meaningful, more relevant and more insightful for the people whose minds we will read. After studying many different cultures, I wound up reinventing the word ‘diviner’. I discovered that divination has nothing to do with telling the future. That’s a misinterpretation of the term created in part by people’s desire for a quick fix for everything, and partly as a response to all of the charlatans and opportunists who decided to profit from such a need. At the Oracle of Delphi, you can read the inscription: “Know yourself.” It doesn’t say, “Know your destiny and win a trip to Orlando”, because ‘divination’, which basically means ‘being one with the divine’, has more to do with discovering that part of us that is sacred, than it does with winning the lottery. All oracles are models for the Universe used by the diviner, or sorcerer, to gain control and understanding over the world. The first thing you notice when comparing oracles is that they refer to a basic set of symbols that are common across many different cultures and periods of time. If we extrapolate that idea into human experience, we find that every oracle demonstrates, once and again, that all stories are the same story. They are at once models and training wheels to understand the Universe, but also the human spirit. At some point, you realize that you don’t need the crutches anymore, because you can find all of these symbols inside people’s minds, and in order to work with them, you just have to decant the symbols that are truly relevant at a given moment, from the rest. Reading minds is possible precisely because of this decanting process. When you examine human experience and understand that we all live the same adventure, and share the same destiny, you realize that there is only ‘one mind’ which experiences the same feelings, emotions, processes, and events. That’s why mind reading is one of the few activities where getting older is an advantage instead of a liability. Those who have lived longer are in a better position to understand other people’s minds. Each human being is here to re-enact the quest that humankind has been on since the beginning of time. Lately I have been thinking that we all share a common destiny: getting older. We can’t change that destiny, but we can choose how to deal with it, and by doing so, we choose our future. By learning how to deal with age and death, we are re-enacting the adventure of humankind as a whole, because understanding how to live our life, and why, equals humanity’s quest for revealing the meaning of our existence. We are all here to take a shot at solving Death’s riddle. The role of the diviner consists of decanting the participant’s imagery until he uncovers a symbol that will help the participant to understand which Invisible Readings

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chapter of that re-enacting process they are experiencing. You tell them where they are – where they go is up to them. If you are reading this book, chances are that you are familiar with one or more divination systems or oracles. Chances are that you have been using these oracles for years, and I would be confident in the fact that you must be very good at using them. Now, I want to ask you to accept that by working with these oracles you have been training your mind for something else, something even more powerful, and more useful. By working with these oracles you have developed an understanding of the world, and an understanding of the human mind. You learned an oracle so you could learn from people, and at this point, you are ready for an upgrade. When you understand the mechanisms of divination, you discover that physical oracles aren’t really necessary because your participant’s imagination is the best oracle. So, you can leave behind the training wheels, and graduate from divination to mind reading.

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CHAPTER TEN Metaphorical Mind Reading The Basic Process: Speaking in Metaphors The basic process for what I call Metaphorical Mind Reading is very simple. You look at your participant, and let an image come to you, any image. You embrace that thoughtform, and let it unfold and grow, without trying to control it. Don’t try to guide what you are seeing, or what it does. You need your imagination to take over, adding an independent layer to reality. This means that you will be both in our shared, consensual reality, and in your own non-consensual reality at the same time. Please, don’t let words fool you. We do this all the time. While you are driving, you are thinking of all the things you will do when you get to your destination. When you are listening to a boring person, your imagination goes to a more interesting place. The only difference is that here, we will have to synchronize what we are doing and what we are imagining. The events in our consensual reality will give meaning to the images from our non-consensual reality. Let the thoughtform evolve and act, keeping track of its behavior. After you feel you are done, which in my experience happens spontaneously when the thoughtform vanishes, don’t take the vision at face value. This is the secret. Instead, look at it as a metaphor. Take that image or impression and consider your feelings about it, how it makes you feel, what it implies or signifies to you. It is important to speak about the emotions, and the consequences and implications of those emotions. Then, speak up, describe your vision and feelings about it, and you will be speaking in metaphors! You will be delivering messages whose specific meaning should be established by your participant. Define what you saw, not as something that is going to happen, or something that is part of your participant’s physical reality, but as something that is something by itself. Then, invite your participant to make sense of it. Let me give you an example: There was a young woman, about 26. She was wearing a jean jacket, short skirt, and cowboy boots. She was pretty, with green eyes and long reddish-brown hair. I looked at her and imagined a squirrel jumping around her. At that moment, I had a flashback and recalled the time when my father brought a squirrel home, and we built a cage for it under the sink. I

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will ever be grateful to my dad, who was always ready to go an extra mile in order to open my eyes to wonder. I looked at the young girl and said: “I’m seeing a squirrel around you. Squirrels are very particular, since we assume they are always playing and fooling around, when in fact they are searching for food. There is some kind of elegance in that easiness, in that idea of a seemingly-effortless survival, don’t you think? I always admire the kind of people that can pull that off: working hard and being effective without sweating it, don’t you think? How do you feel that this relates to you?” Notice that I didn’t ask her if my vision made sense to her. I invited her to make sense of it. She ended up being the fashion editor of a magazine, so for her, having that sense of effortless elegance was an asset. She felt that my metaphor was a good portrayal of her, and this opened an interesting dialogue about her present situation, and future career opportunities. By inviting her to make a poetic act with me, I literally did a reading from thin air. In this case, I just looked at the girl and something – a squirrel – popped into my mind. A ‘random’ image, if you want. We could think that when we come in contact with another person, we receive a set of impressions that are often hard to put into words on a conscious level, and these impressions become sensations that are processed by the subconscious mind. We all get impressions from everything we perceive, even when much of the time we don’t pay attention to them. The metaphor that appears in front of us would be an answer from our subconscious mind, faster and more precise than words because, after all, imagery is the language of the mind. Another example: A mature woman sat with me and immediately I imagined a fox sitting beside her, yawning. When I say “I imagined,” I don’t mean that I forced myself to imagine something, but that I allowed myself to imagine something. This process is closer to relaxing and letting whatever should happen, happen, rather than posing as a know-it-all swami. In Western folklore, foxes represent wit, and the capacity of being cunning, astute, and charming. Looking at this woman, I had the feeling that she was somehow conflicted about using her personal charm to her advantage. That’s why the fox was yawning: it was dying of boredom. I invited the woman to dust off her wit, and she confessed that, in fact, she felt ashamed of her ability to get anything from people, due to her personal charm. Sometimes it is extremely difficult to express in words what we are feeling. That’s why even when it may sound counter-intuitive, translating our feelings into images is much simpler. Invisible Readings

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Here is another example of how the process of creating the thoughtform works. I was introduced to a very attractive woman in her fifties, and we sat and started chatting, as I usually do. This woman was a beautiful redhead, with long hands full of rings, and she panicked as soon as she learned I was a mind reader. I discovered afterwards that she was a professional prostitute, and was ashamed by the possibility of me feeling her sins through our hand shake. This may be an extreme example, but remember that most people who approach a mind reader are either nervous or afraid of being told something they don’t want to hear. They feel vulnerable. It is for this reason that my first task, when I am in the presence of people who want their minds read, is to put them at ease. They have to feel that they are safe with me. As mind readers, we don’t have a power over people – we have a power with people. In the case of this woman, we were making small talk when she told me she needed to go to the restroom before we started. As soon as she left her chair, I was tempted to do what a Cherokee man taught me once: “Every time a beautiful woman leaves a chair, go quickly and sit on it. That way, you will catch her essence.” Here is what happened, however. As soon as she stood up, I saw a sweat mark on her chair (the kind of mark nervous people leave), and I imagined a baby seal under the chair. I am sure that the wet mark on the chair led me to create my vision. Why? Because I am aware of the legend of seal-women in Celtic tradition. Celts used to believe that the only women who left such marks on chairs were seals who had shape-shifted into maids, and that if you wanted to marry that girl, you just had to find her seal skin and hide it forever. As long as you were in possession of the seal skin, the woman was yours. Was the redhead’s trip to the restroom a casual thing, or an invitation? I confess that I was tempted to grab the woman’s coat, but I remembered that I was married already. Dealing with more than one seal at a time is dangerous! Seeing a wet spot on the chair had my mind going for the closest reference I had: a seal-woman, then a seal. Most of the time I just imagine something that pops into my mind, but I want to illustrate here how in this specific case, my mind took another path, and I just used what I was given. Getting proficient in this technique is just a matter of giving yourself permission to work with what you are given. That’s truly it. Remember that all of the experiences we have in life compose the main body of what mind reading is about. Mentalists have huge problems giving themselves permission to practice what they call ‘cold reading’, and readings in general, due to fear of a possible failure. I believe this failure comes from a cultural tendency we have to overlook the natural connectedness we have with others. This connectedness is just the result of making conscious the body of knowledge about the human condition we have acquired through experience. We make it conscious by reflecting on it, and reflecting on the way it applies to others. Invisible Readings

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Our social interactions have taught us that we end where the other person begins, and this is a very useful illusion that can help us build our manners over a ground of mutual respect. Sadly, contemporary culture has turned respect into fear of the other person. As a result, we have created the illusion of disconnection. In reality, we are all in this world enacting the same story, each one of us at our own pace, but it is the same story all the same. Metaphorical Mind Reading isn’t psychic rape, or telepathic thievery. I usually don’t like what people imply when they talk about mind reading. The idea of extracting a thought from your head in the same way a thief will get into your wallet to steal your money appears very rude to me. I prefer to think of mind reading as the gentle art of putting myself inside the other person’s shoes, an act of shape-shifting, or transmogrification, where I become the other person by opening a threshold between their imagination and mine. The objective of Metaphorical Mind Reading is to create a moment of understanding and rapport, an instant of human, caring contact. It is a kind of relationship, and in order to establish that relationship, we have to co-create a common mind together with the other person. This is why I find this idea of ‘the symbol as a meeting point’ so powerful. The metaphor that we propose to our participant is an invitation. By considering this metaphor, activating and validating it, our participant accepts this invitation to co-create a mind with us. One of the ways we get away from the Svengali mind reader approach and ensure a connection with the participant is to invite them to comment on the metaphor we have seen and interpreted. This participatory process empowers them to feel safe about the process. We encourage this participation by asking the following kinds of questions at the end of our interpretation of the metaphor: ● Does this make sense to you? ● How does this relate to you? ● Who is that squirrel (or any given vision) in your reality? ● How do you feel about that squirrel (or any given vision)? ● What is that squirrel going to do next? ● What are you going to do with your squirrel? And so on... Keep in mind that the process is bulletproof. You can’t go wrong, and in the next chapter I’m going to tell you why.

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CHAPTER ELEVEN Leave The Hits For The Stadium Mentalists often tend to think in terms of ‘hits’. When it comes to mind reading, it is assumed that ‘success’ means that the image being seen has to match the image the participant has in their mind. While I enjoy seeing other people taking this approach, and I have nothing against it, at a personal level I’m not interested in such a thing. I’m not saying this is wrong, it’s just not what I want to achieve. The entire premise of my work is based on going in the opposite direction. I’m interested in making my participants feel that their thoughts create a tension, and we explore the way they relate and react to that tension, not the thoughts by themselves. I’m interested in how to make my subjective experiences reverberate with my audience’s subjective experiences, without necessarily having to bring them to a definitive consensus. Magic grows stronger with the untold. We tend to work with a definition of telepathy that implies the direct transmission of specific thoughts between two minds, as in, “I think hamburger, you think hamburger.” While this may be a valid telepathic example, I invite you to look at an amplified definition provided by a dictionary: telepathy: (tele, far, and pathein, to experience) A term introduced by F.W.H. Myers in 1882 to denote “the ability of one mind to impress or to be impressed by another mind otherwise than through the recognized channels of sense” (Gurney, “Phantasms of the Living”, I, 6); or: “the communication of impressions of any kind from one mind to another independently of the recognized channels of sense” (Myers, “Human Personality”, I, xxi).

Look at how open the definitions are, and by open, I don’t mean vague. I mean that they are full of possibilities such as describing the act of touching someone else’s mind with our minds, and leaving an imprint. The traditional “Think of a word, any word,” even while it may be a valid example of telepathy, seems limited to me. The true effect of a mentalism performance is very hard to evaluate, and I can only talk from my own experience. I used to be a big fan of billets, but when I was using them I always noticed something. Mind reading is supposed to be accomplished through an intimate connection with your participant, and while you reveal the exact word they just wrote, and they are amazed, they aren’t truly connected with you. To the contrary, they are blown AWAY. Non-consensual reality can’t be experienced collectively. By its very definition, we obviously can’t reach a consensus about it. Shamans have been mapping the Other World

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for centuries in order to make their travels coincide with their religious and cultural context. These maps are transmitted from generation to generation, and they are the main reason why an Ecuadorian shaman will see the Underworld exactly as it was described to him by his Ecuadorian parents, but the maps are also the reason why he would never find along his way a good old African lion, or a German tourist. If you and I, along with another 20 people, go into ecstasy by any given means, be it drugs, drumming, chanting, etc., no two of us will see the same thing. On a consensual level we may agree on feeling drowsy, or hyper-excited, or taken by deep emotions and a feeling of transcendence. We may agree on the fact that we all saw what we needed to see, but each one of us will take a different trip. While I’m busy seeing a three-headed pig, you would be seeing a dancing dragon, and a third person may be seeing his grandfather transfigured into a pretzel. The shaman would tell us that we saw what each one of us needed to see, and that is precisely the point that makes the pursuit of exact ‘hits’ an irrelevant goal. If I were capable of tapping into your non-consensual reality, I wouldn’t see the same things you see. If you were depressed, I wouldn’t see the word ‘DEPRESSION’ written on a big screen. What I would probably find would be seemingly disconnected images and symbols that would produce certain feelings in me. If I were to voice those feelings, I would probably end up expressing certain thoughts, and chances are that those thoughts could be broadly grouped as ‘sadness’, but I won’t feel: “. . . a D . . . now I see an F . . . no, wait – it is really an E . . . and a P. . .” ‘Depression’ is just a word associated with an emotional disorder, but, as a word, ‘depression’ doesn’t describe what is actually going on inside you. ‘Depression’ is just a consensual word used to enunciate a set of subjective experiences. Let’s say that you are depressed. What type of depression are you experiencing? Bipolar depression? Small bird depression? Chronic depression? Dry stream depression? Swirling purple depression? Rotten cucumber depression? Barbie depression? Now, let’s suppose that I don’t know you, and I don’t know you are depressed. I look at you, and just as happened with my friend, I see a sad dog howling. My mind is presenting me with some symbols, but those symbols are only metaphors, not a literal representation. My mind is creating a metaphor to point me in a clear way to my own feelings about a situation or a person. Because I see a dog behind you doesn’t mean that you like dogs, or that you want a dog, or that you are Dog in the Chinese Zodiac. My mind is creating a metaphor because metaphors are faster to understand than conscious thoughts. Metaphors are the language of the subconscious mind. When you experience a metaphor, you don’t have to process it to understand it. If you embrace that metaphor, you simply know what it means. In the world Invisible Readings

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of non-consensual reality, metaphors are real; they aren’t poetry or artistic intentions, but autonomous things. The best way to make those metaphors fit into reality is to understand what they represent, and to bring them into consciousness. We achieve that by exploring them, which basically means voicing aloud what we feel as soon as the metaphor presents itself. For example, dogs are the classic symbols for fidelity and friendship, and in this case, the hound dog was externalizing the feelings my friend had in real life, and he was holding back from me. So, instead of looking at the dog and saying, “Do you have a 7-year old hound dog named ‘Elvis’ with a black collar who likes to sit on a white blanket, behind your armchair? By the way, the blanket has a tag that says, ‘Dry Cleaning Only’. Is that your dog?” I would instead say, “I’m imagining a dog behind you, it’s a huge dog, strong, but it seems sad to me, because it is howling.” With the first statement, I run a huge risk of being wrong, but even if I’m right, I did something very impressive, but useless: I described your own dog to you. The second statement is true. I said to you that I am imagining a sad dog, because I’m really imagining a dog behind you. At first, this may not seem as impressive as the first statement, but I’m not trying to produce a hit based on your consensual reality. Exploring why I’m imagining a dog behind you, will help me connect with the realm of your subjective experience, and this process will allow me to make an emotional connection with you. You won’t be just amazed, you will feel understood. In Metaphorical Mind Reading, we will employ all the possibilities opened by the dichotomy between the way things are labeled and the way they are perceived. This is the compendium of semantic ambiguity that Richard Werbner calls ‘the poetics of divination’. An experience is constructed and we let that experience define its meaning for the participant. Sometimes we talk, sometimes we let the participant do the talking; sometimes a vision is explored, sometimes we let the vision generate its own meaning. Sometimes the experience takes the form of a dialogue, and sometimes we just stay there in silence. Sometimes they imagine things, and at those times they run out of visions, we lend them a dream. Since this is a creative process based on the uniqueness of each person, there is no recipe for this. Imagine Metaphorical Mind Reading as the art of making a sculpture using a material that isn’t inert. The only thing you know for certain is how to use your tools, but every hit with your chisel will produce a reaction in your material, opening up a possibility that will turn your sculpture into something new, and different. Your only choice is to embrace the journey and celebrate the process. We are the catalysts of our participant’s own process of discovery. Invisible Readings

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This is the real goal of Metaphorical Mind Reading. We are there to help people feel that they can truly reach their complete potential. As mind readers, we are there to bring hope, relief, and solace, which is a very powerful thing to do, because along with all of these feelings comes the inspiration people need to dare to live their dreams. Alejandro Jodorowsky says that the rational mind is like a caged animal, while our unconscious is a wild animal. I believe that we are the doorkeepers of that cage. Speaking in metaphors, or using any other of the psychological techniques I will describe here, we will invite our participants to unleash that animal in a creatively-oriented context that will boost their self-confidence. We will be truly magical because we will produce a ‘parapsychological’ effect on people. Our chances of creating a satisfactory experience for our participants will improve substantially if, when we are facing a person who is going to work with us, we position ourselves with one foot in consensual reality and the other in non-consensual reality. In consensual reality the person is in front of us, but in non-consensual reality, the boundaries between that person and us aren’t that clear. In non-consensual reality, that person is us. If we want to understand that person, we will have to understand ourselves, and in order to understand ourselves, we will have to understand that person. Whatever is in our participant’s mind is also in our mind. Believing that won’t just make us better mind readers, but better people. To be great mind readers, just as African diviners let themselves be possessed by an external entity, we should let our participants possess us. The dog I see behind you may be a product of my own mind, something I capriciously force on you, or it may be the result of something you project on me. Maybe I’m obsessed with dogs, or I ‘saw’ that dog in a gesture you made or in your general attitude. Perhaps my mind just translated your behavior into a metaphor that would be easier for me to understand, and easier for you to deal with when I describe it aloud. There is no way of knowing, but the non-local quality of that uncertainty is paradoxically the strongest form of communion with another human being that you and your participant can experience. Don’t try to rationally define if the person in front of you is depressed, nervous, or exploding with joy. Let your mind evoke an image that would represent that at a metaphorical level. You don’t have to do this consciously. Just let your hunch about the person evolve into an image that would allow you to deliver a less-direct impression, providing enough ambiguity for your participant to adjust it, in order to make it fit their actual state of mind. This is why I have never understood the real need for specific details in mind reading. In a traditional context, diviners and sorcerers would use these specific yet irrelevant details as tricks or convincers, either to impress their clients, or to symbolize that something supernatural is taking place. In a non-superstitious context, your participant doesn’t need a symbol to acknowledge that the magic is taking place: they are experiencing it. That Invisible Readings

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emotional connection will be ten times more powerful and memorable than any anecdotal hit. Speaking in metaphors is not only a natural out, but the key to a meaningful mental interaction with our participants, since we will be paving the way for several “Ah ha!” moments in their minds. In the same way we understand the metaphor’s meaning by letting it evolve in our mind, that metaphor will unfold in our participants’ minds as soon as we describe it to them. The beauty of this approach is that we will be capitalizing on a process that our minds do automatically. We don’t make it happen: we accept that it is happening! In other words, our basic procedure isn’t just a way of delivering impressions that can’t be rejected because they are true. Speaking in metaphors is a doorway for an intense set of internal events that happen within our participant as soon as their mind starts unfolding these metaphors. Using our imagination to deliver a message for our participants is great, but having our participants using their imagination to make that message grow, tapping into the awesome process of meaningful communication that I like to call Metaphorical Mind Reading. To summarize: ● Don’t promise a miracle, but a connection you can share with others. ● Look at your participant in a relaxed way, and let an image come to your mind. ● Don’t take that image by its literal value; look at it as a metaphor for something else. ● Voice your vision aloud, and invite your participant to make sense of it. ● Bring that metaphor into reality by exploring the way you and your participant feel about it.

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CHAPTER TWELVE Training Wheels Before we go deeper, it would be useful to provide a set of exercises, designed to accomplish what I have just described. I have been talking about ‘imagining’ things, but how do we do that? In our culture, we talk a lot about imagination, but in my experience, nine out of ten people who say, “I have a great imagination”, can’t imagine anything at all, even if their lives depended on it. This doesn’t mean that they really can’t imagine things, it’s just that we tend to take imagination for granted, and that would be as absurd as taking for granted an abdominal six-pack. Most of the time, we can’t imagine things because we are afraid of failing. This fear can be related not only to the fear of not getting the right image, but the fear of not getting anything at all. This is especially true among mentalists, since they have inherited from magicians the love for gimmicks and props. Imagination happily jumps around freely from thought to thought, which is its natural behavior, but it gets restless when you force it to jump on command. We tend to have our minds full of thoughts and images, but when someone puts us on the spot, and presses us to come up with something specific, we freeze. Have you ever been forced to think of a great restaurant, and not a single name comes up, but as soon as you’ve had lunch, several options start popping into your head? This usually happens because a bunch of hungry people are expecting you to be quick and brilliant, or maybe because you are trying to impress a friend – or a date – with your selection. Therefore, instead of being able to recall the names of good restaurants, you are afraid of letting people down. Most of the time, being asked to think of something is perceived as a challenge, or even delivered in a challenging way, and unless you are trained to face that kind of challenge, the fear of failure will keep your imagination busy. So, instead of imagining things that will prevent you from failing, you will keep imagining yourself failing. So, the first step to lead ourselves into imagining things successfully will be to eliminate the sense of challenge, and we eliminate the risk of being challenged by not claiming outrageous things. Don’t offer your participants an amazing trick, don’t promise to be right, don’t brag about your ‘powers’, don’t make this about ‘you against them’. I’m not saying this because I want you to be boring, but because real people, in the real world, are expecting more than fireworks from us. Make people curious about what you are going to say, not about how great you are, so they will be willing to listen and cooperate with you. Make people care for the message, not the impact, and you will render as irrelevant the possibility of failure. Allow time for your visions to come. Don’t press yourself. Make sure that you eliminate both temporal and social pressure, and your imagination will flow.

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As with anything else, a vivid imagination that responds on command is a product of training. Imagination doesn’t grow on trees, but we can make it grow. Imagination is a mystery hidden in plain sight. I would say that imagination is a Chinese invention. I am not talking about the ancient and mysterious China, full of dragons and pagodas. Chinese people, at laundromats, invented imagination. Allow me to explain. New York City has been featured in many movies, but something you will never see in film is the fact that people in New York don’t have washing machines at home. Seriously, I swear! In New York, you have to be rich to have a Mercedes-Benz and a penthouse, but you have to be absurdly wealthy to possess a washing machine. You must be a millionaire or very brave, like my neighbor, a 93 year-old woman who keeps her washing machine hidden, as a mystery whose presence is only known by a very few, because if the landlord discovers it, he will throw her out. Any time the landlord announces a visit, we have to run and hide the washing machine, as if it were an illegal worker. Few people in New York City do their laundry at home. So, in New York we have a laundromat on just about every corner. Besides getting clean, there are five things that could happen to your clothes if you take them to the laundromat. These are the very same five principles under which imagination operates (no wonder the Chinese people have always been so good at magic!): things can shrink, things can expand, things can get reproduced, things can get lost, or things can get mixed. For example: If I send my shirt to the laundry, it can shrink. This is so normal that these days we only complain if the shirt doesn’t shrink. Shrinking things is a way to create something new. Thumbelina was a girl, tiny as a thumb. In the movie Fantastic Voyage, a submarine can be shrunk to travel inside our veins. If I shrink the brain of a character, his dumb actions will create comedy. Shrink a guy’s manhood and you will have jokes for a lifetime. Even the word ‘shrunken’ is funny by itself, and makes us imagine. It also may happen that, if you take your sweater to the laundry, they give it back to you crispy clean, but two sizes bigger. This is a great Chinese mystery that Western laundries haven’t been able to explain. The sweater comes back looking like a long dress, and we start imagining new things just by stretching the existing ones: a giant man will become Gulliver. If we paint him green, he could be polite and promote vegetables, or behave like the Hulk. The Hulk is a man whose bad mood expands, making his body grow. Clifford is a giant red dog, whose television shows exist only because the dog is huge. Without expanding the dog, there would be nothing to talk about. We can also stretch pieces of something, like Mr. Fantastic, who stretches a hand or a leg. If we stretch the speech of a character, he starts stuttering, or becomes Porky Pig. You can create many jokes by stretching the truth a little bit.

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As you might see, just as a pair of socks can stretch or shrink, our imagination creates things by making them bigger or smaller. Now is when things at the laundromat get really imaginative. You send your clothes to the laundry and there will be always, always, be a disappearing sock. There is no other way. You should go there knowing that you will come back missing something. In New York, a pair should be three socks! But what happens with a solitary sock? What can we use it for? A pair that isn’t a pair allows us to imagine many things. We can use that sock to clean, or as a hat, or we can make a hand puppet with it. If we imagine something disappearing, we create a universe of possibilities. A man who lost his head and looks for it every night riding his horse, is a terrific ghost. A lion that lost his courage, along with a scarecrow that lost his brain, a tin man who lost his heart and a girl who lost her way, can make a fabulous tale. If we lost something, we have to look for it and that is what imagination is for: to help us find the way, a path that many times is more interesting than the missing object itself. Sometimes things don’t get lost, they appear. They reproduce, like spontaneous generation. I put my clothes in the washing machine, and at the end of the cycle I find among them a bra that isn’t my wife’s, or even mine! It appeared, just like that. When something appears, we can’t help but wonder where it came from, and that is another way our imagination has of creating things, replacing whatever was there in the first place. Reproducing a dog’s head, we create a guardian for Hell. Reproducing a cold, we get an epidemic. Reproducing a dinosaur, we can make three or four noisy blockbuster movies. Just as things reproduce, things can get mixed. You leave your clothes in the dryer, and when you come back, you find all your stuff spread over a table, mixed with the clothes from two other poor guys. Then you have to reconstruct your wardrobe, piece by piece. In the process, you notice how cool it looks if you combine your shirt with another guy’s pants! Mixing is one of the most important ways of imagining things. Maybe because (between you and me) we can’t imagine anything, nothing exists at all. We can only reassemble reality. Harry Potter is the life work of a woman who rewrote all magic books, combining them into one saga. All mythological beasts are combinations of common animals. The famous Alien of the movies is a kind of cockroach who behaves like a dragon, and eats like a leech, and so on. It may sound as if I am suggesting that, in order to learn how to imagine things, you must do your laundry. Who knows? It may help. But in the meantime, if you want to create something with your imagination, without waiting for it to do it by itself, make the conscious exercise of shrinking, stretching, losing, reproducing or mixing something. That way, while you wait for your laundry to be ready, you will create many worlds. In fact, if you are at the laundromat, or any other place, you can use your spare time to train your imagination, and your metaphorical thinking, just by opening your eyes and Invisible Readings

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looking at reality as if it were a dream. If you want to practice, you don’t have to come up with images in order to learn how to interpret them. Real life is a powerful, often crazy, and many times absurd, dream – always ready for us to interpret it, to decant it, and to reimagine it. In order to clarify this idea further, let me tell you about the time when I predicted the future, and I was right.

Reality as a Dream I was doing Tarot readings at a place near a theater, and a beautiful woman sat with me for a reading. When I asked her if she had any specific concerns, she told me that she was a singer, and she was about to have a solo show at the theater nearby. The show was supposed to start in two hours, but there was a problem: a few weeks back, she had commissioned a pair of shoes to be made by a very famous and expensive shoemaker. That morning, she discovered that the shoes weren’t ready, and the shoemaker promised to have the shoes finished by that afternoon. But now, after waiting for hours, she was told that the messenger who was supposed to bring her the shoes was in such a rush that he got stopped by the police. Now, both the messenger and her shoes were in jail, locked up at a precinct far away from the theater. I decided that none of my cards had much to say about this. Instead, I asked the singer to “imagine that all that is happening isn’t your life. This is a movie, a comedy. What do you think is going to happen next?” She looked at me puzzled, and I continued: “You will continue with the preparations for your show, and five minutes before going on stage, you will be very nervous, and still barefoot. Then, just at the last minute, that messenger will arrive, saving the day. You will put these great shoes on, and you will sing like never before. That is what always happens in movies, isn’t it?” She agreed with me, that’s what happens in movies. In order to reassure her even more, I said: “Just promise me something. As soon as you get your shoes, rush back here and show them to me. I won’t be able to sleep tonight without knowing what all the fuss is about!” She left and time passed. I kept reading people, and suddenly, while I was looking at the cards for another person, a copper-colored sandal landed on my table. Behind me was the singer, gorgeously dressed and ready for her show, who had come as promised. She only had three minutes to get on stage. The shoes had arrived just when I predicted. By distancing ourselves, we turn reality into a narrative, creating an entire playground for our mind to understand and interpret metaphors. Everything around you can be perceived as a metaphor, everything means something. You just have to look at life from a different

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perspective, and you will have more opportunities to train your metaphorical thinking than you will be able to manage. In Spanish, one of the definitions of the word ‘trance’ is a synonym for ‘situation’. A person who suffers a car accident would be defined as undergoing a ‘dangerous trance’, and if the person dies, we would say they underwent a ‘fatal trance’. Today we know that in our daily lives we are always going from one kind of trance to another. Any situation that swallows us, is some sort of trance. We only have to decide to see the situation we are experiencing as a trance, and all the events in that trance as a metaphor for something else. Events aren’t happening to us, but talking to us. Instead of thinking “why is this happening to me?” we ask ourselves, “What is this telling me?”, and we can explore the events as if they were a dream or a movie. Years ago when I was a graphic design student, I had a teacher who always invited me to “look at your work as if it were strange to you.” He asked us to hang our work on the wall, or place it over a table, and look at it as if this was the first time we saw the piece, as if it were someone else’s work. That way, it was very easy to decide what to change or improve. After all, it’s always easier being objective about others than about ourselves. What I’m describing is by no means new. This has been an approach taken by shamans around the world for many centuries. In contemporary times, Alejandro Jodorowsky and Arnold Mindell both push this idea even further. I guess we could then say that being healthy is just another kind of trance, another kind of dream, as well as being sick, happy, sad, hopeful, impatient, an engineer, a sailor, or a matador. “Life is a dream,” Calderón de la Barca once said. If life can be dreamed, then it also can be perceived as a dream. Here is another example from my personal life, which happened while I was working on this book. One Friday night I rented a movie and decided that we would watch it all together – husband, wife, and kids – as a family. Life’s frenzy was driving us a little bit apart, and I decided to create an excuse to spend some time together. It seemed like a fine idea, but ten minutes after we hit the ‘Play’ button, a mouse crossed our living room. First, only my wife saw it, and I did what any understanding husband might do: I told her she was crazy. But immediately after that, the mouse crossed the living room again. There was no doubt – we had a real-life rodent inside the house. We all know that New York City is full of rats. I’m not only talking about unscrupulous realtors, but about actual four-legged rats. Millions of them live underground, but unless you are a teenaged Goth, you rarely imagine yourself facing the trouble of having to deal with such creatures at home. Invisible Readings

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I was able to corner the mouse, and take a good look at it. It wasn’t really a mouse, it was a small rat, and I must say that it was beautiful. I was ready to erase that beauty, by bashing the rat’s brain with one of my kid’s plastic swords, when the damned creature escaped by a gap below the door. Don’t you think that the image of a grown man trying to kill a rat with a plastic sword on a Friday night is a little bit surreal? I do, too. That’s why, after complaining to our landlord, calling the exterminator, and setting some traps, I decided to reflect on the event as if it were a dream. Mice represent thieves, and also for stolen time. The mouse was indeed a metaphor of the feelings I was having about our family. We were letting small things to get in the way all the time, just as we allowed the mouse to ruin our movie night. Feelings are subjective, individual, and easy to be relativized by others. Symbols aren’t. The mouse was a graphic and clear way of expressing to my wife the feelings I was having. It also was a pest, so we spread some more poison behind the kitchen cabinets, just in case. Again, a metaphor proved to be the best way of relating and dealing with my feelings and impressions about a situation. At this point, you probably understood already that this is not only a way of training yourself to deal with symbolism and metaphors. This is a very useful outlook on life. Consider the two examples I have given you. In the first one, I ‘predicted’ the outcome of an event by looking at reality as if it were a movie. In the second one, I explored a real event as if it were a dream. However, in both cases, the premise was the same: I invited the people around me to experience a detached view of the trance we were in. Kenton Knepper reminds us that everything is symbolic, and proposes something similar in his book, Wonder Readings. You may want to set your participant’s trance within the confines of a dramatic structure. Stories work in a specific way, and as soon as we understand the narrative we are living, it is easy to project ourselves into that narrative’s future, and to imagine what is going to happen. That’s what I did with the singer. You may want to look at the experience as a whole, or focus only on one detail that seems relevant. The important thing is to understand that there are no recipes, no preestablished paths. We just need to let ourselves go with the flow, applying our creative instincts in every case. In this way, we learn how to react and deal with metaphors.

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Finally, I guess that a warning is in order. Reading omens around us isn’t an invitation to live paralyzed at the sight of reality, but if we avoid a superstitious mindset, we will discover how reality presents us infinite opportunities to reflect about ourselves. You can also use reality to project imaginary things on it, when nobody is watching, or without telling anybody that you are doing this. A couple weeks ago, for example, while enduring two Winnie The Pooh short films back-to-back with my children at the Public Library, I was so bored that I started imagining a white mouse running around. I decided to make the image perfectly clear, just as if the mouse (which I imagined as big as a rat, perhaps because white made it look fat) was really there. I embraced this vision, and focused on watching this creature shyly sniffing the air, hiding in the corners, coming out into the open in quick, straight, runs. After about ten minutes of curious wanderings, the mouse froze for a second, changed his pace and tried to hide behind a curtain. Suddenly, from the top of the screen, a hawk let itself fall at high speed, catching the poor thing, and gulping it in one bite. Like in a movie, I saw how the bird picked up the mouse with its beak, threw it up in the air, caught it back inside its open mouth, and swallowed it. Then, the hawk stared at me, and I stopped imagining it, just in time to take my kids to the park. Projecting imaginary things onto reality when no one is around is a good way of training yourself without feeling pressed by others. This way, you really don’t have to please anybody by accomplishing something, and if the experience isn’t entirely satisfactory for you, it doesn’t matter. I would like to share with you a small exercise that is very useful to actually see things around people on a consistent basis. This will help to improve your own visualization skills. You can do it almost anywhere, and even though it doesn’t take much effort, its results will be profound.

Mental Calisthenics (1) Look at your own hand, palm up. Pay attention to it, to its details and particularities. Chances are that you are already very familiar with the exact shape of your own hand, since you have seen it all your life, both consciously and, more importantly, subconsciously. (2) Without changing your position, close your eyes and try to visualize your own hand in your mind. Make yourself aware of all the details that make your hand unique, different from someone else’s hand. (3) Open your eyes and look at your hand again. Try to become aware of even more details.

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(4) Close your eyes, and again see your hand with your imagination in full detail. (5) Now, imagine a small red rubber ball resting on the palm of your hand. Look at this ball, and make yourself aware of the way the light hits the ball. Take a clear look at the shadows that the light creates over the ball’s surface. Pay attention to this ball in all of its detailed simplicity. (6) Open your eyes and try to place the imaginary ball on your real hand. (7) Close your eyes for reinforcement. Visualize the ball in all its detail. (8) Open your eyes and look at the ball on your hand. (9) Keep repeating the process, making the intervals shorter, until you end up opening and closing your eyes rapidly, without perceiving the slightest difference between what you imagine, and what is real. You can repeat this method any time you have trouble imagining any kind of object or element. If you want to take the exercise one step further, clench your fist over the imaginary ball and try to feel it in your real hand. After a few weeks of practice, you will be able to bounce the imaginary ball on the floor. The greatest thing about this is that your neighbors will never complain. Every time you are in front of a person, and you experience trouble seeing something around them, close your eyes. The images will come easier to you that way. I have to thank Millard Longman for helping me to understand this. To summarize: ● Don’t put pressure on yourself, and let the process evolve in a relaxed fashion ● Practice interpreting reality as a dream full of metaphors ● Practice by projecting imaginary things onto reality without telling anybody ● Start by visualizing small objects until you are able to experience them in full ● If you have trouble seeing things around people, do the imagining with your eyes closed

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CHAPTER THIRTEEN Intuitive Thought Reception: The Participant As Mind Reader After you feel proficient at imagining things around people, and at looking at them as metaphors, you can start shifting the weight of the process from your shoulders to your participant’s shoulders. Think of a symbol, and without revealing it to your participant, ask them to focus on you while being very receptive, and to voice aloud any image, feeling or sensation they may perceive. When they are done, reveal the original symbol you were thinking of, and try to find, together with your participant, the relevant connection between both things. The procedure is deceptively simple: (1) Focus on a thought. (2) Ask your participant not to try to guess your thought, but to voice aloud all the things that come to mind, while they are focusing on your mind. (3) Reveal the thought you were focusing on. (4) Notice the connections among your initial thought and the person’s visions, interpreted as metaphors. This is what I call “Intuitive Thought Reception”. The basic premise here is that I send thoughts, and the participant receives feelings. In effect, the participant feels my thoughts. It is very important to understand that the concept of Intuitive Thought Reception implies an extended definition of telepathy. The participant isn’t receiving straight, closed, messages. This is their intuition receiving some input, and codifying it, based on their specific emotional state. My mind is leaving an imprint on the participant’s mind, and they are reacting accordingly. This is actually our basic procedure working backwards, from the participant to us, but presented in a way that keep us as guides and catalysts of the process. Our job consists of ensuring that no matter what the participant says, it will be tailored to the original symbol we were thinking of, either at a visual, conceptual, cultural, formal, or symbolic level. We will accomplish that by using our ingenuity, and by being relaxed, knowing that we aren’t under intense scrutiny, since we have nothing to ‘demonstrate’. Intuitive Thought Reception is a technique that allows us to help our participant to generate random thoughts, without feeling they are random. Then, by re-framing these

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thoughts based on the initial thought we’ve projected, we add an additional layer of meaning to our participant’s imagery. A very important point to remember is that while we can see certain things as we are exploring another person’s mind, it doesn’t mean that we have to understand the relevance of what we are looking at. That is why we have to work with the participant, and the act of mind reading can only be understood within the context of a relationship. When we look at a mental image, we describe it, and describe the feeling it causes in us. We may propose a symbolic meaning for the vision, but it is up to the participant to finally define the particular sense that the vision has for them. Intuitive Thought Reception is a process that makes use of a psychological concept known as ‘Mood-Congruent Recall’. When we are depressed, our mind tends to automatically recall images and memories from some of our previous depressive states. When we are happy, that happiness triggers a set of memories related with joyful moments from our past. In any case, our mind sends us on an emotional trip which reinforces the mood we have at the moment. This is the MoodCongruent Recall concept in action. I find this concept interesting, because it links imagery to emotion, providing a frame of meaning for any set of random thoughts that we, or our participants, may have. It isn’t my intention to give you a treatise on cognitive science. Many of you may be familiar with all of the excellent material on the topic that is out there, and even if you aren’t, you will discover soon that this very basic approach is all that we need to give your participant a meaningful experience. You will also notice that this all comes down to having common sense, a good pair of ears, and the capacity to connect with the cultural meaning of all the symbols that surround us. In our work, we can use Mood-Congruent Recall to determine the specific relevance of a participant’s thought. In other words, we can demonstrate that all of the images, symbols and ideas that cross our participant’s mind at a specific moment are linked to their present emotional state. Therefore, if we know which images the participant is thinking of, we know what they are feeling. At the same time, the symbolic nature of these images may provide clues about how the participant relates with the problem they are facing, and with the concepts surrounding that problem. For example, a person who envisions a ship could be experiencing a desire to detach themselves from their present reality. This idea alone suggests that the person may be experiencing an extreme saturation from the environment they deal with daily, or maybe that environment isn’t challenging anymore. Now, if the image of the ship came accompanied with the image of a mountain, this second image would indicate that the person sees a change of life as something hard, difficult, and full of obstacles. This would be different if Invisible Readings

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the image of the ship came along with the image of an axe. In that case, the symbols may be indicating that the person is ready to leave the past behind, and move forward on a new path. The best way to practicing Intuitive Thought Reception is to use the color symbolism you already learned from working with the Invisible Gemstone described in one of my previous books. Tell your participant that you will be sending them a thought. Ask the person to relax and voice aloud any image, feeling or sensation that comes to their awareness while you are projecting that thought. As they relax, focus on one color. That will be your ‘thought’. Envision your participant surrounded by any color you have decided to work with, and when they are done, tell them which color you were projecting. Contrast their ‘received thought’ with the meaning of the color you were thinking of. More importantly, invite the person to connect the imprint that the energy of your thoughts left on their mind with the color you chose. In this way, you will be inviting the person’s imagination to ‘come out and play’, allowing it to make the analogical connections that our minds find so amusing. Colors may be the easiest symbols you can use to practice Intuitive Thought Reception. Colors are open, multi-ended, multi-layered symbols, whose effects (and this is very important), can be experienced by more than one sense at once. When you are imagining a person surrounded by a specific color, you aren’t only envisioning pigments, or light waves, that will be perceived by the eye. You will be projecting a quality of the air, an atmosphere, a mood, a temperature, a smell, all contained within a single word like ‘blue’, ‘green’, ‘violet’, etc. In the real world, we can’t find color by itself, as a separate entity. Color is always a quality of something else. That’s why all of these multi-sensory events will detonate in our participant’s mind connotations that are subjective in nature. What is the smell of ‘purple’? For me, it can be the smell of grape sorbet. For you, the smell of lavender soap. You can’t fail – there is no way that all of these subjective perceptions can’t be labeled as relevant to whatever our participant described. As with any other symbol, colors can be perceived either in a reactive, or a sympathetic way. A person that describes themselves as feeling calm and relaxed while you are projecting the color red to them may be seen as someone who is very energetic that thrives wherever the action is. It could also be someone who feels very passionate about things, in which case you may praise them for this quality. On the other hand, a person who describes themselves as feeling restless, uncomfortable, self conscious, etc., while you are projecting the color red to them, may be a person of a Invisible Readings

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more tranquil nature, a more introspective person, someone feeling sad, or someone who is experiencing too much activity or challenge in their daily life. By now, two questions may be in your mind: First, how do you know which color is the right one to project? The answer is simple: whatever color or image you project to your participant will serve the same function, which is to put into motion a random chain of thoughts. This is a Sacred Deception. Then, after revealing which color you were projecting, you and your participant will move from the specific to the general, revisiting the contents of her mind. Secondly, how do you know which option is the right interpretation? Well, you don’t have to. That is why it is so important to understand the process of mind reading within the context of a relationship. Give your participant the pieces, let them help you figure out how they fit together, and then, help them to explore why. There is something very powerful in having someone focused on your mind. It’s a sensation that makes us self-conscious: half excited, half threatened, and very much alive. Being there, together with a person, sharing a moment of silence, is simply a luxury that very few people treat themselves to these days. It is often said that a reader of any kind must be a ‘sympathetic ear’ for their clients, and I believe this to be true, but through Intuitive Thought Reception, we become a sympathetic ‘ear’ for our participant’s silence. There is a moment, right before the participant starts voicing aloud their impressions, that is priceless and unique, a moment that has become increasingly rare in our culture: a moment of speechless communion, a full stop in time and space that is filled with nonverbal and imagery-rich vitality. Since it is very rare to spend time with someone else in silence, this sympathetic ‘inner and outer’ ear has a soothing property. Embrace it without letting yourself being deluded by it. You don’t need to promise to heal anybody. You don’t need to sell what you do as therapy, or offer solutions for anything, if you aren’t trained to do so. You are just a guide, and witness, of a person’s enchantment with the products of their own mind. I like very much this application (working only with colors) of Intuitive Thought Reception, because its applications are virtually unlimited. Even so, it’s important to understand that you can project anything to your participant. Following the basic procedure, you can look at the person and let an image come to you. Instead of describing your vision, keep it to yourself a little longer, and project it to your participant. Another option would be to have the participant looking at the Invisible Gemstone. After they tell you its color, look for a symbol linked with that color’s basic symbolism, and project that symbol to the person.

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The possibilities of mixing and matching these techniques are only limited by your own imagination. You only have to take care to send your participant a thought that is visual in nature, so you will have more ways to tailor their reactions to your original thought. Let’s look at an example: Suppose a woman comes to you, and you see a little piglet sitting on her lap. Pigs may represent abundance, but also sacrifice, so you may feel inclined to praise your participant for all the effort she is putting into making everybody around her happy. Then you may want to warn her to think a little bit more about herself when making certain decisions. If you were to speak in metaphors, you might start saying: “I’m imagining a small piglet sitting on your lap. I can see clearly how he is ready to make everybody around happier. What kind of sense does this make to you?” Your participant will now embrace the piglet you have put in their head, and after a brief exchange you will have assigned certain possible meanings to your vision, providing insights about the person’s personal situation along the way. But suppose that you want them to make this vision evolve, using Intuitive Thought Reception. Instead of openly telling the person what you see, project your vision to them, from your mind to theirs, without using words. You will concentrate in the pig, making your vision as clear as you can, while you instruct your participant to voice aloud the feelings that your mental projection produces in them. Here’s another example: A woman comes to me, worried because she wants to put an end to a love relationship, but she doesn’t know if that’s the right decision. While she is explaining this, I imagine a raven poking the woman’s shoes with its beak. Ravens stand for the death of certain processes and situations, and also for cycles and transformation. The raven is saying that leaving a husband, ending a relationship, leaving behind a certain level of security, and facing a new (and probably unknown) personal situation, are all concepts related to change, and to the fear of changing. Here, instead of relating all of this to the woman, I explain to her that I will send her some thoughts, and I want her to tell me what she feels. I’m not telling her what image I am going to project. I will disclose that at the end of our exchange. An important point would be to make clear that I am not expecting her to guess what I’m projecting, since right or wrong aren’t relevant categories to measure what we are going to do. This is not a test. I project the raven to her. I imagine the raven scraping this woman’s shoes with its strong beak, and envision as clear as I can its shiny black feathers, its strong talons, and its Invisible Readings

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unapologetic movements. Immediately after this, the woman says she feels cold, like receiving a breeze. When she describes what she is feeling, I ask her to link these feelings to an image, by means of a question: “While you are feeling that breeze, that coldness, what do you see around yourself? Where are you?” Notice that I never ask the person to imagine something. I ask her what she is imagining. If she hesitates, I will structure my questions in a binary structure: ● Is that coldness you feel internal, or external? ● Are you standing still, or walking? ● Are you on the outside, or inside of a building? And so on... We are looking for her to experience a situation, to describe it, and to give us more elements to explore. In this example, she says: “I’m inside a building, at the rooftop. I see a cloud.” Usually, we will lead her deeper into that vision, providing more details for her to visualize. Since these sentences are delivered in the form of questions, the mind’s only way of making sense of them is to create an image. But since my objective is to explain Intuitive Thought Reception, let’s stop the trip here. I would say to her: “You did great. Do you want to know what was I projecting to you? It was a raven. The raven is poking your shoes with its beak. I’m imagining it right now.” Now, you may be asking yourself the same thing she may be wondering: what does a raven have to do with a breeze, a building, and a cloud? Well, as we have already said, ravens stand for transformation, and for the fear that change produces in us. Notice that the raven is at the woman’s feet, trying to disturb her standing point, but she thought of things that are up in the air, where the raven isn’t ‘attacking’. This is good news, because the raven is threatening her contact point with earth, and that could be translated into ‘material stability’, but emotionally she is somewhere else. She seems to be ready for this change, no matter how much these steps could threaten her sense of stability, security, and comfort.

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The image I project is a catalyst. This psychological deception transforms her random, and seemingly irrelevant, thoughts into something relevant that wasn’t a product of chance, but came from her inner wisdom. Additionally, it gives me a frame of reference to explore regarding what she felt and saw. In a way, this serves the same function that a spread does in a regular Tarot reading. So, I would say: “I was projecting a raven to you. Your first thought would be that ravens are a bad omen, and in fact, in many cultures they represent Death. But they also represent something more interesting. Ravens stand for the eternal cycle of life, for the continuous transformation that means you are alive. That continuous transformation is as natural as it is impossible to avoid. It implies growing, and growing sometimes implies pain. Now, that pain isn’t as important as the empowering nature of growing. Your reaction to that fear of change was feeling cold, like shivering, which is totally natural, since we all fear the unknown aspect of change. But beyond that, you saw yourself at the top of a building, looking at the clouds. I feel this has to do with the fact that you are emotionally distanced from the source of your pain, and right now, the perspective of emotional and personal freedom is more appealing than the pain this decision would cause.” Remember that, while I am talking, my participant is using her imagination to validate, re-contextualize, twist, transform, and make my words fit her personal situation. We can only celebrate the beauty of this truly interactive process, which requires full creative input from her. Right here, we are doing something that no other form of entertainment can do. No other entertainment form offers such an interactive and personalized invitation to the participant’s mind. Here, we are co-creating a mind with the other person, working in perfect symbiosis: we propose an image, she tailors it to her personal situation. She gives us input, and we tailor that input to the original image. The process offers ramifications, and we both embrace the invitation offered from one or more paths, traveling through the common ground between our minds. Now, what if no imaginary vision comes to us? This is possible, of course, especially if we are trying too hard, or if we are tired, but there is no reason to worry. As you may have noticed already, we have no visible proof of what we were trying to project. Nothing has been written, there is no signed envelope, or mysterious black box. Our participant is taking us at our word, because what we are trying to achieve is more interesting than a simple word revelation. What happens if you directly tell them that you are going to project to them a thought, but you don’t have a thought to project? Very simple: go along with the procedure, and the procedure alone will encourage the person to tell you what is in their mind. Remember, Invisible Readings

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telepathy goes beyond transmitting thoughts: it is about placing an imprint in another person’s mind. By creating in your participant the expectation of you projecting a symbol to them, you are creating that imprint. Your mere presence, and the psychological expectations your presence alone creates, will be affecting their mind. After all, your mind is full of thoughts, even when you aren’t focusing on any of them. So, here we have an extraordinary tool that will have the person telling you everything you need to know without you having to fish or ask any direct questions. As soon as the participant starts describing their reactions to the thoughts that you allegedly projected to them, the only thing you have to do is to remember that the person will be talking in metaphors. You just have to embrace those metaphors, and let them unfold in your mind. By now, you may be asking yourself: “Wait a second, what if they ask, ‘What were you projecting to me?’” Well, you can: (1) Find a suitable image after you have heard what the person describes. Just like that. Please, don’t overdo it by coming up with a perfect match, or you will degrade this search for meaning into a non-believable, cheap stunt that will insult your participant’s intelligence. (2) Tell your participant that you were testing their intuition by letting them get a general feeling about you, without you focusing on any specific issue. Then, complement them by explaining how the metaphors they came up with describe your state of mind. (3) Acknowledge to the person that you were just relaxing, and you used their own expectations about the process to catalyze a train of thoughts. Again, please remember that instead of ‘doing’ an effect, our goal is to create an effect in the participant’s mind. Instead of doing tricks, we use all of the psychological deception techniques we have at our disposal to achieve a kind of wonder that goes far beyond being impressive. Before we move on, let’s recapitulate: Intuitive Thought Reception is a technique that will encourage your participant to unfold a train of thoughts, while providing context, meaning, and purpose to it. You will be able to put a thought inside your participant’s mind based on a double-bind principle: either the person reacts to the specific symbol you are projecting to them, or they react to the expectations they have of you projecting a symbol. Either way, you are imprinting the person’s mind with your mind, catalyzing their thoughts.

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To summarize: (1) Tell your participant that you will be sending a thought to them. (2) Ask them not to describe what you are sending, but rather what they are feeling while they are receiving it. (3) Connect whatever is described with the original image you were projecting, presenting what the person says as a reaction to your thought. (4) Start practicing by sending colors. Then, if you want, practice projecting other symbols. (5) If you don’t have a thought, don’t worry. Have the person describe their feelings and create a suitable image afterwards.

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CHAPTER FOURTEEN The Imagination As Oracle We are going to explore now the last technique in the book. This technique will help us to truly co-create a mind with the participant on a level of connection that will be even deeper than the previously described techniques, and will bring together all that we have been exploring so far. But first, I would like to give you a little bit of context in regard to how I came up with the technique. I will describe to you what I did, and why, and then I will tell you how to do it yourself, giving you several options to explore so you can choose the one that suits you best. A few years ago, Curator Sebastien Agnessess invited me to design a project about Gypsy culture for Mavi Jeans’ flagship store in Manhattan. I saw this as the perfect opportunity to present an updated version of the classic fortuneteller’s parlor that you find on almost every corner in New York City, with red velvet curtains and a spooky flair, where a gypsy woman awaits, ready to tailor a destiny for you in exchange for a few bucks. I wanted something fresh, luminous, and high tech, where I could present cartomancy as an experience closer to introspection than to superstition. I sat in a store window, in a 2001 Space Odyssey-like context where everything – the floor, the chairs, the table, even the curtains – were white and of modern style. On the window glass, we projected a virtual crystal ball, where a set of 36 images corresponding to a LeNormand deck of cards, ran at high speed in a random sequence. My participants were invited to look for a few seconds at these images, and then to close their eyes to describe the images they remembered. I interpreted these images for them, based on the idea of Mood Congruent Recall that we have discussed already. The piece was a big success. I remember that for the opening, we had New York’s very own King of Gypsies attending, a mature man who looked like Gianni Versace’s reincarnation, with sad eyes and a tired smile. Since I was so close to Union Square, I had the opportunity to sit with a very diverse group of people, from tourists to students, from teenagers to old ladies, from real estate agents to cleaning ladies, giving about 35 readings a day, for two weeks. My biggest complaint about this method was having to carry around a computer and a projector. I wanted to do it ‘unplugged’. Still, the idea of using mental imagery instead of a standard oracle, obsessed me. I put that interest in the back of my mind, and for a few months nothing happened. Then, I had a great breakthrough, while rubbing a crocodile. The Kuba people from Zaire use a divination oracle called an ‘Itomwba’. An Itomwba is a carved wooden four-legged figure, almost always an animal, with an elongated body and a flat back. Kuba diviners commission these animals to expert carvers, who work within a

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narrow range of options. An Itomwba would only work if the animal depicted has good hunting instincts in real life. There are only about seven or eight animals they use. Dogs, for example, are great at finding a trail. Any self-respecting warthog will never miss a juicy root, no matter how deep down in the earth it might be, and a crocodile will swim swiftly and fetch itself lunch, before its prey even notices it. On top of the animal’s back rests a small wooden knob. This knob is used to rub the flat surface of the animal. The idea here is that by doing so, you send the animal’s spirit to look for answers in the Other World. When someone needs divine insight, the animal’s back is oiled, or sprinkled with magic water, for the rubbing to go smoothly. While rubbing the animal’s back, the diviner mentally recites a set of possible answers to the client’s question, and when the small piece of wood gets stuck, they have an answer. I was lucky enough to find an Itomwba through an African art dealer, and I immediately started working with it. As you may have already guessed, the figure was a crocodile. At first I thought that this was a very complicated method, but the poetry behind it was too much for me to ignore, and I kept practicing until I got familiar with the system. Then I noticed something: the possible outcomes I was reciting in my mind while rubbing the crocodile served the same function as my store window high-speed projection images. In addition, by reciting potential outcomes in a circular way, I was mentally shuffling a pack of imaginary cards. My experience with the Itomwba helped me to understand divination as the art of contrasting chance with our personal situation. Whenever we impose on a set of symbols an order created out of awareness, we have a message our mind is ready to accept as meaningful. In the Itomwba’s case, ‘chance’ came in the form of friction, but after a while it was evident to me that the crocodile wasn’t necessary. Instead, I started using the ideomotor responses produced by my participant’s mind to contrast the imagery of my own mind. As you may see, the two necessary ingredients for divination to take place were present: I had a set of symbols, produced by my own imagination, and I had my participant’s unconscious reactions as a way of re-arranging these symbols out of my own, and my participant’s, awareness. This allowed me to go deeper in my connection with them, and at the same time, it made it possible for me to give back even more detailed information, and answers to specific questions. Once you are proficient at imagining metaphors around people, you can go one step further in the direction I am describing now. Instead of assigning one metaphor to a person, let your mind ‘shuffle’ some images until your participant stops you. This is simpler than it sounds. In fact, you will notice that keeping track of your mind’s natural tendency to jump around, from one symbol to another, is easier than trying to focus on just one metaphor. The real key here is to know when to stop, and the beauty of it is that stopping isn’t up to you. It will be your participant who, without being aware of it, will tell you when to do it.

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A very direct approach to what I am describing would be this: Ask your participant to close their eyes and let their mind drift around their current concerns. Instruct the person to take their time, and to open their eyes whenever they feel they are done. As soon as the person closes their eyes, let any random image come to your mind. Don’t focus on it. Let it be replaced by a new image. This is the main difference with the basic procedure: we won’t go for the first image that pops into our minds, but we will continue envisioning things. Continue this process, letting your mind evoke a succession of images, until your participant opens their eyes. At that point, stop. Pay attention to the image, or thought, you are experiencing at that very moment, for it contains the message your participant needs to receive. Sharing a moment of silence, your participant will lead you to retrieve the exact metaphor for her. While this may sound complex to you, it is in fact very simple. I consider this approach more advanced than the basic procedure because it implies a deeper, non-consensual reality interaction with the participant, not because I think that coming up with several random images in succession is harder than imagining just one thing. In fact, in the basic procedure we are stopping our imagination’s natural flow to stick with our first impression, but if we let our mind go, it will always substitute that first image with another one, and another one, ad infinitum. It is just the way our imagination works. It drifts from one idea to another, giving us an entire universe of possibilities to choose from.

Generating a Chain of Visions While evoking random imagery is perfectly fine, there are ways to structure this imaginary process, by working with pre-defined imagery. As I have pointed out before, any previous knowledge of an oracle you are already familiar with will work. If you are proficient reading playing cards, for example, think of a playing card, then another one, and so on, until the succession of cards transforms your mind into a psychedelic scene from Alice in Wonderland. You will stop when your participant indicates so, and use the meaning of the card you were thinking of at that very moment to give the person a message. If you are familiar with Tarot, let your mind evoke one Tarot card after the other, until your participant stops you. Then, you will have at your disposal all the knowledge on Tarot interpretation you already possess to voice aloud your intuitions about your participant’s situation. Are you comfortable with numerology? Envision a screen, or a board, with numbers coming and going. You can imagine a random, or cyclical, repetition of numbers from 1 to 9, or you can envision longer ciphers that you will reduce to a significant numerological value soon after your participant inadvertently stops the process by opening their eyes. Invisible Readings

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The same thing can be said about runes, animal totems, aura colors, or any group of symbols you may be familiar with. Let the symbols come and go in your mind until your participant gives you a signal to stop. The advantage of this, over imagining random symbols, is that your mind will have a sort of script to guide itself through the process. This is especially useful if you are working with several people in a row, where the main problem for a mind reader is having to cope with mental exhaustion. If you aren’t familiar with an oracular system, you could let your mind drift from any image to another, focusing your interpretation on the feelings the chosen image produces. That’s what I do. Or, you can learn a system. In this case, I recommend you to get a pack of LeNormand cards. Look for the “Pettite Jeu”, not the Grand LeNormand. Marie Anne LeNormand allegedly created this system around the 18th Century (in reality, it was created by Marie Anne’s descendants after her death), and it is very popular in Europe. This system, based on 36 images extracted from European mythology and folklore, and linked to playing cards, has the main advantage of being very easy to interpret, giving you a broad range of possibilities within a reading. On top of that, these 36 symbols have similar counterparts in many dream dictionaries, and even in the African divination baskets I mentioned at the beginning of the book. I would say that learning this system is a very good investment, in that you can translate it to mind reading right away. No matter which oracle you are familiar with, you can use the technique I am sharing here to eliminate the need for a visible tool. Leave the props behind, and evolve from divination to mind reading.

Picking the Right Image While opening the eyes is the most direct way of having our participant signal the right image, it’s not the only one. It is the one I use when time is short, or if I have several people waiting for me. You can explore any of the following options to go deeper, making this connection more intense, and extracting more meaning from the subtle reactions your participant may have while sharing this moment of silence. ● Take your participant’s hand, ask them to concentrate on their concerns, and start evoking your internal imagery. Wait for any signal: a shift of position, a deep breath, a twitch of the fingers/hand/arm muscles. Let the person give you an unconscious response. Accept any evident gesture or movement they make as the signal you need to stop your imagining process on a specific metaphor. Don’t make the participant conscious of what you are doing, or instruct them in regard to what you are expecting from them. Let the process evolve spontaneously.

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At first, any movement will be enough for you to know which metaphor to explore with the person, but with a little bit of practice, you will be able to go even deeper, assigning meaning to all of the small movements the person makes. Are they pulling back when you are thinking of a house, or pulling forward? Are they taking an anxious breath while you were envisioning a car, or a relaxed one while you were imagining a tree? What could be the meaning of that? How does the person’s reactions relate with the image you are thinking of in any case? By letting the person’s reactions contextualize your visions, you will be creating an extraordinarily rich, subtle, and profound story to tell, evoked from the communion between your participant and yourself. After you and your participant are relaxed, ask them to envision all of their concerns, while looking you in the eye. Look back at them with a soft gaze, nothing that can make them feel threatened, or uncomfortable. Start evoking your internal imagery, without taking your eyes away from the person’s eyes, and pay close attention to their pupils. As soon as their pupils dilate, stop searching for images. A dilation of the pupils is often linked with the act of establishing rapport. It is also said that we tend to open our pupils when presented with an attractive image: men’s pupils dilate when they look at pictures of naked women, women’s pupils dilate when they look at pictures of babies, and so on. Some mentalists have used the dilation of the pupils as an indicator to know which card the participant is thinking of. This can prove to be very difficult, because secretly looking at a person’s pupils is not always easy. Our advantage here is that we don’t have to conceal what we are doing. You don’t have to make evident what you are doing, either, but if under any circumstance you feel the need to explain exactly what you are doing, the small explanation I just gave you will be enough. Complete it by telling your participant that the dilation of their pupils is a subconscious reaction to the feelings they are intuitively experiencing about the images you are thinking of, a direct communication from your nonconsensual reality to their non-consensual reality. Here, too, we can interpret any variation in the participant’s eye as a signal to stop, but we can explore this idea even further, by using the variations in our participant’s pupils to tailor meaning to each one of our visions. Just assume a dilation of the pupils as ‘acceptance’, and a contraction as ‘rejection’, and the person will give you a subtle tool to measure the images you are creating inside your mind. The most important thing to take into account is lighting. If you are working in a place that is too bright, chances are that your participant’s pupils will experience dilation no matter what. Conversely, if your performance space is too dark, you may have trouble seeing the pupils. Common sense and flexibility are the keys here. Remember that you have other, simpler, options.

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● With their eyes either open or closed, ask your participant to look at you, breathe slowly and calmly, still their mind and tell you ‘Now’ when they feel like doing so. The ‘Now’ command will be your signal to stop. Again, you can build on the Intuitive Thought Reception idea, explaining to the person that their subconscious will intuitively react to the feelings our thoughts produce in their mind. Make it clear that there is no rush, and emphasize that the person must allow this ‘Now’ command to come from within. They will feel when to say ‘Now’, and they must validate that urge by actually voicing it. While the person is looking at you, close your eyes if you want, or just direct your gaze to an imaginary spot that isn’t threatening for them. I don’t recommend exploring this option while looking intensely into the person’s eyes, for example, or the stop command can be perceived – and used – by the participant, as a way of preserving their own intimacy, therefore breaking the connection with you. I would say that the safest option here is to not look at the participant. Close your eyes, or stare at any undetermined point while evoking imagery in your mind, and wait until the person feels the urge to say ‘Now’. Using any of the above options, or any other you choose, we are contrasting subjective experiences to come up with a symbol, or set of symbols, that we can explore together with our participant at a consensual level. Our mind is the deck of cards, the participant’s mind is the hand that deals the winning hand. One can’t be effective without the other, but together they can create great excitement. How deep you take this unconscious dialogue is up to you. Reading minds is reading the intangible. We don’t do so by looking straight at it and drawing an accurate map of it, but by noticing how a common mind manifests in the spark of small coincidences. At an automatic level, you will be able to accurately describe what is going on in another person’s mind, but if you go deeper, paying attention to all the subtle clues the person gives you without even noticing it, and elaborating on the way these subtle clues redefine the imagery of your own mind, you can transform this technique into a rich dialogue that emanates from the untold and becomes reality at a metaphorical level. A common mind, created by your participant and you, will become a powerful oracle, enlightening in its answers, and soothing in its connectedness. So far, what I have described here will give you an overview of the feelings and emotions a person is experiencing. As soon as the person has unconsciously signaled an image, explore that image with them, as if it were a metaphor of the participant’s state of mind, just as I described in our basic procedure. Your description, and the validation the person gives to that description, will be enough to create a general mind reading. But, as we will see shortly, this technique will also help us to address even more specific concerns.

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To summarize: (1) Have your participant focus on her present concerns. (2) Start evoking a succession of images in your mind. (3) Use any unconscious signal given to you by the participant to stop imagining things. (4) When your participant stops you, use the image you were thinking of as the metaphor to describe.

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CHAPTER FIFTEEN Answering Specific Questions Very often, after the general metaphors have been discussed, you will discover that the participant wants to ask some specific questions of you. I have never understood why it is that people assume that a mind reader – someone who claims the capacity to know what is in your mind – would also know what is in your future, but most people believe this to be the case. Still, instead of dismissing this counter-intuitive assumption, I have embraced it, since I have found that this oddity gives us a seed for a beautiful presentation, after I realized that they are, basically, right. How so? Please, stay with me through the descriptions and the examples that follow, since I will reveal afterwards how it is that I have taken inspiration from this apparent misconception. Depending on your time constraints, you may want to explore a metaphor for each question, or you may need to provide more direct answers. The latter is easy to accomplish, if you have the person focusing on a question while you are evoking imagery, since you can tailor the symbol you get when the person stops you to that specific question. You can openly do this, following any of the possibilities I have already given you, or you can do it in a less formal fashion. This is what I do: While I am with a participant, I am always shuffling images, and I let any emphasis the person makes in their conversation to define when I will stop shuffling. In fact, I never really stop, but I take notice of the symbol I had in my mind when the person made an emphasis, and I keep evoking imagery so I can give a more detailed answer when the time comes. For example, a man came to me wanting to know my feelings about two different candidates he had interviewed for the same job. He said something like this: “In the morning I interviewed Robert, and then in the afternoon I sat with Alice. I like both of them, but I am not sure which one will work out for me in the long run.” As soon as he started talking, I started evoking imagery. I made myself aware of the image I had in my mind when my participant said ‘Robert’, and also of the image I was seeing when he said ‘Alice’. In this case, the name of each one of the candidates was a ‘Stop’ signal for me. I just had to describe my feelings about the image I saw in each case to give my participant a very reasoned answer.

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With Robert, I saw a hobo, and with Alice, I saw a moon. In both cases, you can choose to present these images to your participant so you can explore them together as metaphors. In my case, I didn’t have the time to do so, and I opted for giving the person my own interpretation of these metaphors so we could build up the process from there. I took the hobo to be the Tarot’s Fool, and described Robert as a very outgoing person, always ready to jump ahead to embrace a new challenge. I described him as a very energetic person, who loved the thrill of new adventures. On the other hand, I described Alice as someone who preferred to keep a lower profile. I felt she was a hard worker, someone with a steadier personality, whose true potential could only be revealed over a long period of time. Based on these feelings, which were my own personal interpretations of the Fool and Moon cards, I told my participant that even though Robert seemed more exciting, and Alice shyer, I saw Alice as someone who would work out better in the long run, while I saw Robert as someone who would be seeking new challenges – and a new job – sooner. As a side note, my participant validated my feelings about both candidates as his own. He had the exact same feelings when he met both candidates. Another approach I have found extremely helpful is to mentally recite ‘Yes’ and ‘No’ answers while your participant is concentrating on a question. Again, by opening their eyes, or making any gesture previously defined by you as a ‘Stop’ signal, the person would be unconsciously indicating the right answer to you. Drawing inspiration again from African diviners, you can use five possible answers to expand the Yes/No range of possibilities. In West Africa, traditional priests have incorporated a binary divination system into their religious practice, using four coconut shells. When dropped, each shell can land facing up, or facing down. By counting the number of shells that fall facing either up or down, and linking that outcome with a predetermined answer, they are able to give accurate readings. This system migrated to the New World and has been adapted in Santería, Palo Mayombe, and Voudoun. [NOTE: More accurately, Obi divination, which uses four coconut chips, seems to be originally Yoruba, and migrated as a Santería practice. Palo Mayombe practitioners call the same system the ‘Chamalongos’, and they seem to have adopted it in Cuba, but their true divination tool is the Mpaka or Vititi Mensu, a bull’s horn filled with magic herbs and bones, and sealed with a smoked mirror. Of course, you don’t need to know this, since it is completely off-topic, but I include it here anyway, just in case you find yourself one day in the middle of a Congolese riot, and you want to make friendly conversation.] This is a very famed and useful oracle, because any person trained in tossing the four coconut shells can answer any question posed to him, based on a very simple system. By tossing four coconut shells on the floor, five outcomes are produced:

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YES. The best possible outcome. No doubt. This seems to be a perfect time

for pursuing the course of action you have envisioned. Cautionary measures must be taken in regard to a possible excess of confidence that may end up working against you. Also watch out for ways in which your own arrogance may turn people against you. Be confident but humble. Be discreet. Move swiftly and rest assured that this is a good time for you and your project. PROBABLY YES. Something is missing and this is an invitation to try to

understand what it is. Subsequent questions must be asked to clarify this message. You seem to be close to your goal, but not there yet. Be sure that all the necessary elements for achieving success are really there. Check out loyalties and your own abilities. Confusion is just a dilatory ruse, it doesn’t really exist. Be honest with yourself. UNCERTAIN. This is the time for asking if what you think you want, is really

what you want. It will be wise to visualize the evolution of this course of action and its further consequences, beyond instant gratification. Visualize how your desire affects others, and look again at its pros and cons. PROBABLY NOT. This is a time of being extremely cautious about possible

conflicts that may cause emotional damage, or irresponsibility that may provoke physical suffering. A time for keeping your eyes open and your mouth shut. If you don’t have anything nice to say, just say nothing. Avoid taking risks or making big decisions. This is a big opportunity to ask yourself who you may be hurting and why, and how the damage you cause to others may be an obstacle on the way to your own goals. Meditating on the way of correcting this is advised. NO. This doesn’t seem to be the appropriate time for insisting on what you

want. It’s time for letting go and moving forward. It’s also time to acknowledge and honor the external factors related with the issue at hand. Patience is advised.

The Five Outcome Mantra By now you may see how the four coconuts shells aren’t really necessary. You only have to mentally go over your Five Outcome Mantra (YES - PROBABLY YES – UNCERTAIN - PROBABLY NOT - NO), over and over, until your participant gives you a ‘Stop’ signal, and you will be ready to give extremely detailed answers to all kinds of questions. The only difficult thing about working with the Five Outcome Mantra is formulating the right question. Have you experienced how useless it is to search for something on Google without knowing the appropriate key words? Well, working with any oracle, an answer that is

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provided without knowing the right question is worthless, and this rings especially true in this system, characterized by its Yes/No type of answers. In this regard, it is important to take the process seriously and be discreet in what we ask. Suggest to your participant the need to avoid being capricious. Rhetorical and captious questions, or questions formulated in the negative, won’t work well. If your concern is a complex one, it will be advisable to break it down into smaller, simpler, questions. Communication between the client and the reader is fundamental in order to guarantee an optimum performance of this simple, but powerful, piece of spiritual technology. We are the problems we have. Our concerns define us. But when it comes to feelings, life goals, and long-term aspirations, most people have trouble dealing with specificity. We feel that we are longing for something, and many times it is hard to pinpoint exactly what this is, let alone how to get it! Understanding what we want isn’t always easy, and a big part of the mind reader’s work consists of helping the participants to clarify their thoughts. Many times, the process of defining a question can be as useful as the answer itself. Instruct your participant to openly ask the question. While they are doing so, mentally recite the Five Outcome Mantra. When the person finishes asking the question, stop reciting the mantra and notice which of the five possible outcomes you have arrived at. Deliver your impressions based on the feelings you may be experiencing at the moment, or use the table of meanings I have provided. After you have done this, determine if a further clarification is needed. In that case, ask the participant to make the subsequent question. The messages accompanying each outcome are provided as a guide for the dialogue that must follow any question. This dialogue is important to elevate the relation with the mind oracle to a thought-provoking process instead of using it as a trivial game of chance. Mind readers are a vestige of a time when the concept of community played an important role in the individual’s life, a time when the individual wasn’t alone. The first practical effect of experiencing mind reading is the relief of not having to cope with our problems in solitude, yet a good mind reader is careful about not becoming an emotional crutch for the client. To the contrary, after working with a responsible mind reader, the client will leave with a renewed sense of self-confidence. If the mind reader does a good job, the person may go home with a different, more positive attitude. This alone is a very powerful kind of magic! The messages accompanying each outcome have another advantage: they give you the possibility of using the technique either to answer a question that your client is asking aloud, or to ask a question without your client providing you any information beforehand. Let’s consider an example: Suppose your client wants to know if they are going to get a promotion. Here, the person is giving you a question to work with. While they are asking, “I want to know if I am going to get that promotion I have been hoping for,” you are mentally reciting the Five Outcome Invisible Readings

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Mantra. For the sake of our example, let’s say that when the person has finished saying the last word of the question, you noticed that in your mind the answer is “Probably Yes”. If you check the system, you will see how the answer in this case seems to be that the person is almost there, this promotion seems to be a positive thing for them, and it seems realistic to aspire to it, but they don’t seem to be as ready as they think they are, either because the person hasn’t acquired the right qualifications yet, or because the people at work aren’t convinced the person is the most desirable candidate for the promotion. Is the person sure that they are ready for this? What could be missing? It may be advisable to make explicit to their boss that they want that promotion, in order to get a real feeling of what the boss may think about it. While the person is commenting on your answer, you can keep silently reciting your mantra, thereby having your participant helping you get further clarification out of awareness. Suppose they tell you that they wonder if their family supports the decision, but at the same time, the person doubts if they have the right qualifications for the job. Should they get a certification? Should they include their boyfriend’s feelings in their decision? If you have been reciting the mantra while the person is talking, each key word became a ‘Stop’ signal and you have something to say in each case. The process can be endless. On the other hand, imagine that the same person came to you, and decided not to volunteer any information. Ask them to concentrate on their question, eyes closed, and to open their eyes when they are done concentrating. Suppose you get again the same ‘Probably Yes’ answer, and you say: “You seem to be focused now on a goal that I feel is very close to you. It feels right, it feels natural for you to want this, but you aren’t there yet. Something is missing. Are sure you are ready for this, right now? In the way things are presented here, I would say that the feeling you have, about being on the same page with everybody involved in this matter, may not be as realistic as you think. Communication with the people around you would be advisable to get a more objective feeling of that distance between your goal and you.” The person could now volunteer some information, or not. This shouldn’t be a problem for you. The person could concentrate on any question, without ever revealing it to you, and you will have an answer. Even so, I would personally prefer to tell the person that even though they can keep their questions private, I would be of more help if they are more open with me. But, of course, it’s always up to them. This technique can be useful by itself, or can be used in conjunction with any of the techniques I have shared here, when your client has specific questions that you want to answer after a more general reading. Invisible Readings

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To summarize: (1) Have your participant focus on a specific question. (2) Start evoking a succession of images in your mind, repeat the words Yes/No in your mind, or use the Five Outcome Mantra. (3) Use any unconscious signal given to you by the participant to stop your imaginary process and define an answer. (4) Deliver the answer you mentally got as a specific answer to the question, tailoring it as you feel is needed.

Is This Still Mind Reading? The above procedure may seem to you very different from the way mind reading is traditionally described. After all, the answers seem to be coming from your own mind, not from the participant’s mind. On the other hand, the indication of which answer is the right one, and therefore the conscious and subconscious validation of your mental imagery, comes from the participant. The images in your mind have no relevance until the participant tells you when to stop. Their urge for stopping, their subtle actions, and the feelings they experience while you are envisioning things, have no meaning for them until you describe your visions at the end of the process. The way I see it, we are working together with the participant in co-creating a common mind. It is that ‘third’ mind that we are reading, the realm of the Oracular Unconscious. When contrasted to one another, the juxtaposed thoughts of the common mind define meaning, and such meaning has the potential to generate an infinite range of narratives. That common mind represents a catalogue of all the variables that configure human experience. You aren’t reading the person’s mind, or your mind – both of you are reading the mind you created together as a result of establishing an intuitive connection between each other’s subjective experiences. Presented this way, you can openly describe the procedure to your participant without the need of invoking paranormal powers, or bringing into account any supernatural force. There is simply no need for it. Say exactly what you are doing, and you will be describing something amazing. At the same time, you will be extending an extraordinary invitation to anybody willing to experience the excitement of becoming part of a source of wisdom that comes from within ourselves and actualizes itself in another person. The mystery of our own imagination, and the allure of our own intuition, have proved – in my experience – to be more than enough to create the experience of magic for the Invisible Readings

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participants. Don’t see it as a trick, and don’t hide the secret. Enjoy the pride of doing exactly what you are claiming to do, and realize that it is not only much more powerful than any superstition, it is ultimately empowering!

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Afterword I love props. I used to carry around a small elephant inside a big brown paper bag, so I could produce it out of thin air if someone asked me, “Show me something.” It was a Danish elephant, brownish instead of gray, and since I couldn’t use it in any verbal force, I trained it to do a two-person code act. I would blindfold the elephant, and it would describe any object from the audience I was holding in my hand. For a while, I considered getting a second elephant, so I could have the first pachyderm holding with its trunk a billet previously filled out by a volunteer. Then, I would secretly switch the first elephant for the second elephant, which would be holding a blank billet. A very clean move, as you may see. When my wife started complaining about the peanut bill, I had to find myself a new impromptu routine. I wanted a routine that was easy to perform, anytime, anywhere, without props or gimmicks. Nothing written down, torn, switched, or duplicated. I wanted the routine to be memorable, while allowing me to be myself, and feel like myself, without having to embrace any preposterous claims, or accept absurd, dated labels. I wanted it, and I wanted it badly, but I wasn’t able to find such perfect routine in any book. Many dealers offered it, but none of them delivered what they promised, or what I wanted. Even so, little by little I discovered that my dream routine was somehow in print. I just had to follow a trail, meet some very interesting people, learn more about their work, and connect the dots. Millard Longman’s Psychic Skills Workshop was a turning point for me to develop a sense of what was possible. Listening to him, I was amazed to find in our world of tricksters someone who was talking about really paying attention to our intuition. I couldn’t believe it – he was talking about reading minds for real! Much of what I have described in this book is based on Millard’s thoughts. Combining Millard’s thoughts with Arnold Mindell’s ideas, as outlined in his books, The Dreammaker’s Apprentice and Quantum Mind, I was able to understand how much room to work mentalists have in the space between the conscious and the unconscious. Mindell also helped me to place the true responsibility and choices of the mind reading process on the participant, who is the true protagonist in any kind of experience involving their own mind. His work is a goldmine for mentalists.

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Carl Herron, a.k.a. Brother Shadow, was generous enough to share with me his Have Seance Will Travel. Neither of us could have suspected that I would have an epiphany by performing this sublime piece. Thanks to it, I discovered the joy of experiencing the power of a trickless effect, where the main secret is people’s own capacity to imagine. This was very important, because it taught me to detect the kind of feelings I wanted to have while performing for others. I developed the techniques I am sharing with you here, having always in mind that, by performing them, I wanted to feel again the subtle awe I experienced while performing Brother Shadow’s piece. I found an echo of Brother Shadow’s séance in Alejandro Jodorowsky, who states that our departed ones live in some part of our minds, and are always there for us. Building on this idea, I understood that our mind is always ready to help us – we just need to know where and how to look. Jodorowsky is a creative genius and a very interesting guy, a filmmaker, puppeteer, mime, performance artist, and comic author, who worked as an assistant for several Mexican healers, and ended up developing his own “Psicomagia”, the art of helping people by giving advice, using the capacity magic has to speak directly to our subconscious mind, without having to accept any superstitious mindset. It was Jodorowsky’s work what convinced me that instead of looking for tricks, I had to embrace the mystery of the human mind. Instead of hiding that mystery, I had to show it, because openly talking about the way magic works didn’t break the spell cast on my participants. To the contrary, it empowered them to really understand and enjoy their inner magic. Kenton Knepper has been always a big reference point in many ways, a true mentor and a good friend, but it was his book Kentonism that first opened my eyes to the true possibilities of re-defining content and re-framing meaning in the performance of mentalism. Much of what I define as Intuitive Thought Reception is my personal departure from Pure Kentonism, probably the single most useful principle I have learned from any mentalism book. Then, in Wonder Readings, Kenton taught me to read people’s minds by having them looking ‘out there’, at the contents of a table, their room, or the landscape. Thanks to Kenton, it was very easy to go from looking out to looking in, into the landscape of our own minds. Following Kenton’s trail to the source of the Utilization Technique, I ‘met’ Milton Erickson. I would dare to say that Erickson is the most interesting human being I know of, and the ultimate mentalist. Erickson helped me to understand that the uniqueness of every human mind demanded that I become a new mind reader each time I faced a different person, and that meeting each participant at their own mindset was the key to elicit that personal mystery that makes magic relevant. Erickson also helped me to understand the true value of Richard Busch’s two latest books, The Destiny Response and The Busch Factor. In these marvelous volumes Richard brings Erickson’s legacy closer to mentalism. Richard reminded me again to trust the unconscious, and to let the magic come from within my participants. In his books, he explores in depth the importance of understanding mentalism as a relationship, not a forceful imposition of Invisible Readings

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the mind reader’s will, or an outlet for our own arrogance. He also reminded me that true magic is invisible and internal, and that the best formula to elicit such power is to treat my participants with dignity. Parallel to the work of all these true masters, my contact and experience with AfricanDiaspora diviners, and the strong tradition that Santería, Palo Mayombe, and Spiritualism has in my native Venezuela, helped me to look again at what we do from a very different perspective. When I was very young, I spent lots of time at the ‘Botanicas’, the places where sorcerers get the supplies for their spells. I found these shops, full of strange things hanging everywhere, very exciting. The Botanicas were constantly visited by very peculiar people, ‘brujos’ looking for herbs and powders, and their clients, people of very diverse origin, looking for a magical solution. I hung out there as if I were just looking around, but I was really paying attention to what these people said. The wizards weren’t my real teachers. I learned a lot from the expectation their clients had about real magic. It would be accurate to say that the biggest inspiration in developing my dream routine came from the common man, who taught me that what he considers magic, and what secular magicians consider magic, usually isn’t the same thing. It was the common man who taught me to avoid the socalled impressive and look for the truly relevant. Once upon a time, the young Henri Matisse purchased a small Cezanne painting, which for him, at the time, was a huge financial struggle. He hung it up in his home, where the Cezanne spent the next 40 or 50 years. After all that time, Matisse, now a famous master, decided to donate the painting to a national museum. In his speech for the occasion, he confessed that this small painting, acquired with unthinkable effort, was his sanctuary, a place where he came back several times during his life to seek refuge, and be healed, and to gain focus every time he had a professional crisis. Looking at that painting, he saw everything clearly again. Somehow, I feel the same about all the people I have just mentioned. I go back to their work from time to time, to feel better, surrounded by the soothing appeal of their powerful ideas. I’m still working on my dream routine. The techniques and ideas I have shared with you in this book constitute my findings on the matter, so far. The only way I have to thank all these wonderful people whose ideas gave me inspiration is by performing well, by continually looking for better solutions, and by sharing my findings. So far, I am happy and proud of what you have just read. I can invite anybody to experience mind reading, any time, anywhere, without restrictions. That’s why I decided to share it here with you, so you can enjoy the pleasure of doing the same thing. I hope you find this material inspiring and useful. I know that I will keep looking for real mentalism. If you find something closer to the routine of my dreams than this, or something that is just better than this, please let me know. I look forward to hearing from you! Best, Enrique Enriquez, New York, 2007 Invisible Readings

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