It would be easy to dismiss psychics and mediums as fakes. Illusionists such as Penn & Teller certainly believe they can explain what they do in perfectly rational terms. They, and countless other sceptics, contend psychics are “cold reading” – a combination of reading body language, clever guessing and suggestion – and that, at their worst, unscrupulous practitioners prey on the bereaved or distressed.
But there is no denying a growing interest in the paranormal in Britain. Training schools for psychics are springing up across the country and for many, spirituality has replaced religious faith. Even health spas are offering psychic readings and healing sessions alongside facials and massages. One is EarthSpa in London’s Belgravia. “A lot of spas are now offering things that deal in healing energy,” says EarthSpa’s co-owner, Susan King. “Some of our customers may have a massage and it seems a logical extension of that to talk to someone who explores the spiritual or mental side of what’s causing their stress. I think people feel safe in this environment with a reputable practitioner.” A 50-minute session with their psychic reader, Elizabeth Rose, who claims to channels angels’ energy, costs £80.
Meanwhile, Joe Power, who charges half that fee, is taking the spiritual world by storm. The 43-year-old Liverpudlian, who readily admits to an “interesting” past, which includes a spell in prison, regularly sees clients who have lost loved ones in violent circumstances. He’s written an autobiography, entitled The Man Who Sees Dead People, and is currently doing a live show of the same title at the Edinburgh Fringe.