Leviathan 11: The Seven Fortune-telling Archetypes.

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A key part of fortune-telling is looks, and that's because you're an entertainer. And as an entertainer, you must accept the fact that different audiences are attracted to different kinds of entertainers. There are certain kinds of theatrical roles available to you, and these are called archetypes. Some archetypes will be a natural fit for your personal style, and others will not. The key to success as a fortune-teller is finding the archetype with which you most naturally align and building upon it to maximally enhance your performance.

1) The Psychologist

Believe it or not, but there are board-certified psychologists who make use of the Tarot for purely clinical reasons. These licensed professionals use their academically acquired skills, knowledge, and abilities to provide an actual counseling method for clients in need of mental health care. In this setting, no woo-woo is expected—instead, this is an entirely secular method of shifting perspective and exploring thoughts and feelings. 

These kinds of professionals are among the most respected and envied in the fortune-telling world, and considering the number of years they've put into their education, training, and certification, they deserve it. This kind of (non)fortune-teller might also be a transpersonal psychologist, but ultimately everything he or she says is rooted in secular and academic approaches to counseling. Actual psychologists may read Tarot for clients in a clinical setting, but more often the bulk of their money comes from selling Tarot-related books and courses to other fortune-tellers and the bullshit psychologists who wish they were the real thing.

2) The Bullshit Psychologist

This is the fortune-teller who has enough education to avoid becoming a shut-eye, but not enough education to recognize that he or she is nowhere near the experience and qualifications of an actual psychologist. The bullshit psychologist plays at psychotherapy and often fancies him or herself a keener judge of human nature than the actual psychologist who's been reviewed by a board and is subject to stringent requirements for continuing education. 

The bullshit psychologist likes to quote cherry-picked lines from Carl Gustav Jung, Deepak Chopra, or Eckhart Tolle, but has rarely read any of these authors' works entirely, or if so, reads through the lens of his or her presumed greater understanding of human nature. The more self-aware bullshit psychologists will defend themselves against accusations of being unqualified by calling themselves lay counselors, and this defense would be largely successful if they didn't immediately follow it by doubling down on the immense knowledge and wisdom they claim to have (which thus far remains unrecognized by academia.) 

Bullshit psychologists advertise themselves as equal to or better than an actual psychologist, and for this reason tend to attract sitters who are mentally or emotionally damaged. Bullshit psychologists relish their role as healers and cultivate a large following of broken sitters, but this habit is borderline illegal and brings trouble at best, indictments at worst. Do not pursue this archetype.

3) The Parapsychologist

This fortune-teller believes that everything can be explained by science, and if it hasn't been explained by science, then it's only because somebody like him or herself hasn't come along and done the work to convince everybody that bigfoot is always just beyond the next hill, the Loch Ness monster is always on the other side of the lake, and the smallest, most insignificant blip on the scanner is always a ghost who just needs to be properly coaxed into playing peek-a-boo with a photographer.

The parapsychologist—who might also be a cryptozoologist, ufologist, or even Atlantologist—believes in everything. For this person, the problem is never lack of evidence—just ask them, they have plenty!—but those damn, stubborn scientists who coordinate vast international conspiracies to blackball evidence that doesn't fit the worldview chosen by the Illuminati. The parapsychological fortune-teller is almost always a believer in the ability to divine the future and will explain the magic of divination with all manner of pseudo-scientific explanations that are superficially plausible enough to convince anybody who already wants to believe. The truth is out there, and they're going to find it even if they have to create it from whole cloth.

The parapsychologist tends to attracts like-minded sitters who believe in anything and everything, and between them there’s always the subtle acknowledgement that “All of this is real!,” and they’re doing important work that ignorant scientists just won’t acknowledge. For parapsychologists and the sitters who follow them, there’s always a suitable excuse for when the magic doesn’t work. Perhaps there’s an international conspiracy among mainstream scientists to shut out controversial research? Perhaps the psychic energy doesn’t flow right because they failed to notice the unhelpful arrangement of furniture in a bedroom? Perhaps no ghosts appeared because they brought the wrong type of cameras? For these kinds of fortune-tellers, there’s always another excuse available. Speaking for myself, I dislike the parapsychological archetype because it just takes too much effort to keep track of all the conspiracy theories. 

4) The Occultist

The occultist isn't necessarily the product of higher education, but is learned and possesses a vast knowledge of esotericism. The key thing to remember is that the occultist gains power through acquired knowledge, and for that reason is fundamentally a student. Embedded deep within the role of the occultist is the assumption that knowledge—and secret knowledge in particular—is the key to power. Thus, the occultist is powerful because of the sum of acquired knowledge, and he or she strives to reflect this innate superiority in everything that he or she does.

The important thing to remember about the occultist is that while he or she might claim the abilities of a psychic or medium, the core of his or her true power is in knowledge; thus, the occultist shares more in common with the bullshit psychologist than anybody else on this list, because—even if it's grade "A" bologna—the occultist is ultimately rooted in knowledge acquired through study and research. Deep down, the occultist believes that there are secret methods and rituals which when performed at the correct time, in the correct way, with the correct words, and with the correct tools, the bounds of reality may be broken. This kind of role is deeply alluring to sitters because it plays to their fantasy that there's always an easy method for accomplishing difficult tasks.

Most fortune-tellers play the role of the occultist to one degree or another. The only fortune-tellers who won’t play this role are the ones who are trying to attract sitters who want the white-light, pseudo-Christian occultism sold by Sylvia Browne, Theresa Caputo, and others. 

Speaking for myself, even though I don't strictly consider myself an occultist, it's a role I gladly play because it affords me the most freedom to improvise in my performances and draw on the things I learned from my past obsessions with western occultism, New Thought, Wicca, Reiki, and psycho-energetic mind/body practices that supposedly lead to astral projection. None of it served me very well in the past, but it’s proven surprisingly useful to me in the present for entirely different reasons.

5) The Psychic

On the woo-woo spectrum, the psychic is the first significant step away from the people who are at least minimally rooted in knowledge and information that can be acquired through study and observation. The psychic—who may also call him or herself a sensitive, empath, clair-voyant/sentient/audient, or any other variation of "clair"—is somebody whose ability to know the unknown is made possible as a result of an inborn ability. Even though the psychic may claim the same skills as a medium, the difference here is that the psychic doesn't claim a spiritual gift, but a biological talent that either is exclusive to the psychic relative to other people, or is a talent that anybody can develop withs practice. 

Psychics such as Uri Geller as well as the medium John Edward have attempted to use pseudo-scientific arguments and just plain non-science to dress up their appeal to sitters. They might have a cooperative scientist who's willing to conduct poorly planned experiments, a psychologist friend who's willing to do sham interviews, or even a doctor friend who's willing to take strange measurements, but at the end of the day it all comes back to the psychic using a crutch made of science-sounding lies to convince sitters of his or her ability. In this case, the other professional becomes a tool of the psychic. What he or she gets out of it, I'll never know, but let it be resolved that the psychic gets the better end of the bargain.

Psychics are a dime a dozen, and they attract sitters who ask very specific requests. Psychics are expected to telepathically implant thoughts into lovers’ minds, perform remote viewing on the lives of hated enemies, and guess the color of the president’s underpants. Speaking for myself, I don’t ever claim that I’m psychic because I can’t stand performing for the kind of sitters who seek that kind of entertainment, but who knows? This might be just the role you’ve been looking for.

6) The Medium

The medium might claim his or her ability to communicate with all manner of ghosts, spirits, angels, demons, and imaginary friends is an inherited ability, but mediumship is largely a matter of faith and spirituality, not skill or biology. Sometimes this is a gift passed along family lines, one that even skips every other generation, or is only present in the third daughter of a third daughter, but whatever the case the medium almost always relies on spirit and quite often will say that the skill can't be learned or taught: either you have it, or you don't.

The medium might be religious, but unlike a priest the medium usually defies hierarchy, claims that his or her abilities are a gift, and that he or she lives to serve—and by the way, you still have to pay money for access to that gift, but you know, the medium lives to serve!

The upside to playing a medium is that the sitters who want to believe in mediumship will trip over themselves to throw money at you. The downside to playing a medium is that the sitters who want to believe in mediumship will ask you to make predictions that are easily disproven. 

My professional opinion is that playing the role of medium is more trouble than it's worth, not only because the kind of lies you'll be required to make are difficult to sustain in the long-term, but also because the sitters you'll attract will always make you regret working with them before the end. I also don’t play the medium because I don’t ever want to be in the position of channeling dead children for grieving parents, or dead parents for grieving children.

7) The Priest

Like the medium, the priest claims a spiritual gift, but typically claims it for the perceived power it imparts and the pleasure of claiming to speak for a god, angel, demon, or other imaginary friend. Priests might also be both mediums and occultists—there's a lot of overlap between all these categories—but the fundamental point around which the priest revolves is the perception that he or she speaks for a higher power and is the mouthpiece by which that power's will is made known to the world.

The advantage to playing a priest is that the priest can sell ritual services including curses, blessings, purifications, divine petitions, and all manner of hand-waving and word-chanting. These services allow the priest to collect an additional revenue stream apart from mere fortune-telling, but the downside is that he or she will have to find a way to manage sitters' inevitable disappointment when their desired wishes fail to manifest.

The priest attracts all kinds of sitters from every religious background, and I should know because I play this role frequently. The only downside that comes from playing the role of a priest is that the sitters I attract will persistently ask me take responsibility for their lives or teach them to walk the left-hand path. They can be irritating, but if I'm patient they can be molded into my preferred audience of sitters who understand the fantasy of fortune-telling yet even so appreciate the ritual of it.


These different roles that I've described aren't exclusive. Some fortune-tellers will play only one of these roles at a time, others will play several at a time, and others still—including myself—will adopt and discard roles on an as-needed basis to be the kind of fortune-teller their sitters want to see.

The most important thing to remember is that you who read this aren't the role you play—you are yourself. The roles you play are totally plastic and may be formed, reformed, and even malformed as needed. Professional plasticity and the ability to discern and satisfy your sitters' desires is a key to success.