Getting psyched 

The first thing you need to understand about Ann Arbor’s Jewel Sheldon is that she comes across as one of the most reasonable, practical people you’ll ever meet, a straight-talking, 4X4-driving, middle-aged mom who grew up outside Battle Creek.

The second thing is that she’s a professional palm reader and spiritualist who makes a living telling fortunes. As a sign of New Age culture’s creep into the mainstream, Sheldon says she’s even been hired for staff parties for the likes of General Motors, Reader’s Digest and the University of Michigan.

Metro Times: How would you describe what a psychic is and what a psychic does?

Jewel Sheldon: I’ve seen visions about people, I’ve held their hand and have seen where they’re going. I’ll say, "Oh, boy, I see you’re traveling to Texas," and they’ll say, "Yes, I bought the tickets yesterday." It’s not fake. I’m not sure how to explain it in terms of what’s real – people have to use discernment – and if someone is giving a big song and dance about what they can do for them, it’s just like advertising, when there’s a big buildup, that’s when you need to immediately start being cautious.

But a true psychic can indeed sense names, dates, even upcoming events around a person by being in contact with their energy.

MT: OK, so can we say a psychic is someone who is sensitive to some sort of energy?

Sheldon: It’s like thinking about radio waves. You and I both know you can turn your dial on the radio and get WEMU or the station from Lansing or Windsor. The radio waves are invisible. If we had someone sit here from, oh, who knows where, an aborigine, and then try to explain to him about radio waves, he’s going to think we’re nuts, but you and I know very well what they are. It’s like a whole other realm. I can hear the spirit guides for some people, but for others I can’t – they’re all on different frequencies or vibrations, and if you liken it to radio waves you begin to understand why maybe some of us are tuned in and some aren’t.

MT: The focus of your work is about getting to know oneself and encouraging people to develop a livelihood that is consistent with their personality and their aptitudes.

Sheldon: You’re touching on that key thing that I think palm reading is useful for, and that’s career counseling … you can read in somebody’s hand what their best abilities are, whether they should go into writing, or go into business or go into music, et cetera. I’ve told many women, "Yeah you’ve got some singing ability, but don’t try and make a career of it because you won’t make any money," and you can read somebody’s palm and tell that. That’s what people’s lifelong goal is, to find out what they are really good at, what is their spiritual path, and if they’re lucky, their job is their spiritual path, but I read for so many people who don’t like their job, don’t like their boss, don’t like where they are, and I ultimately say, "Well, why complain to me, you know, make changes!"

MT: Would my attitude towards you affect my readability?

Sheldon: Yes, people can effectively block you out, like if I’m sitting with someone who’s really nervous, they’re going to have jaggedy energy in their aura, and it’s my job to get them to calm down. You find this with, like, high school girls. Some people put up a barrier because they are negative about it or they’re in a testing mode. If somebody comes to me and they want to test me, they might as well forget it because then I’ll get obstinate, and as soon as my emotions get in the way then I can’t read you.

MT: What if I felt that psychics are just bunk?

Sheldon: Some of them are, you know.

MT: But if that was my global attitude, would that make me difficult?

Sheldon: Usually people who go for a reading are open anyway … I can read anybody’s palm, this is a map to me and you don’t even have to be psychic to read palms – it’s a science. I can sit there and read somebody’s palm and pretty soon they’re like, "Whoa!" so it doesn’t really bother me that much.

MT: How do you know if somebody’s a fraud?

Sheldon: Word of mouth, you gotta go with word of mouth … Get a referral, talk to your friends, find out if somebody’s good.

It’s big business – there are psychics out there who prey upon other people’s fears, and there’s a key line to look out for: "Don’t tell anyone or it won’t work." Don’t listen to anyone who says that. Always be up front and businesslike. The first thing you’re going to ask them is how much, and if they won’t tell you, forget it – either there’s a set price or there’s not. A scam will try to charge you what they think they can get from you, so be careful.

MT: Can anyone be a psychic?

Sheldon: Can anyone be a musician? Anyone can, but as you well know, you can teach anyone to play the piano. Some are going to pick it up and play really well, some can practice for five years and they’re still going to be mediocre. Natural aptitude counts. The first thing you have to do is learn to meditate and clear your mind, but yes, anyone can do it. Think what you will about the "psychic industry" of 1-900 phone lines and telekinetic movie action heroes, but if you’ve ever experienced intense flashes of déjà vu or uncanny moments of synchronicity, you must deep down suspect there is more to this world than what you got in science class or what you get from network news.

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