Satan 8: Covert vs. Overt Witchcraft.

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Sooner or later, you must decide if you’ll make it known that you're a fortune-teller and if you’ll agree to deceive sitters. If you use fortune-telling to deceive only yourself in secret, then there’s nothing to worry about. You can isolate yourself in a ritual chamber of your own creation where you may suspend disbelief and open your mind to the impossible. Whether you indulge in this self-deception to purge your mind of the anxiety of not knowing, or whether you do so to evoke magic and divine the future is up to you—no judgement is made regarding which you prefer—but if this is a secret and solitary practice, then that gives you power because you need not defend yourself against self-interested critics, nor suffer the laughing idiots who'll ask you to guess the color of their underpants.

As it happens, the best way to respond to laughing hecklers is to have a laugh with them. Do you remember Peter Popoff? He was a Christian con-artist who pretended to speak to God and claimed to be able to heal people of diabetes, arthritis, and even cancer through the power of the holy spirit. To what should have been nobody’s great surprise, the famous skeptic and paranormal investigator James Randi revealed Popoff to be using a radio earpiece to communicate with his wife who fed information to him from “prayer cards” submitted by attendees in advance of the event. Popoff’s faith-healing crusade came to an abrupt end almost overnight, but just a decade later he was back to work with a similar routine. If somebody like Popoff can have a career as a liar-for-Christ even after being exposed on national television, then how much can a stray heckler really hurt you? Personally, I rather enjoy the hecklers. Unlike most of my sitters, they’ve usually got a terrific sense of humor and I can have fun making a few tongue-in-cheek jokes. They jib at me, “What color are my underpants?” I jab at them, “Eww, why’d you go commando today?”

Another frequent jab made against fortune-tellers who let their interests be known is, "If you can see the future, why weren't you prepared when That Awful Thing happened to you?" Any lapse in judgement on your part will be held up against you as a sign of weakness, but so what? Having a laugh at your own expense is no disqualification for being a fortune-teller, and is one of the best ways to defuse a tense situation. So said Anton LaVey, anybody without a sense of humor is too pretentious to ever be a good magician, and I completely agree. Be the first to laugh at yourself, and you'll never get knocked out by the punch-line.

And this doesn't even get into the prejudices that Christians, Muslims, and other religionists have against fortune-telling. If you live in a deeply religious community, then any dalliance with the Devil can lead the fearful to shun you from social circles, employers to dismiss you, government clerks to deny service, judges to rule against your interests, herd-minded youth to vandalize your property, and so on. Fortune-telling is very mainstream in many parts of the world, but then, it's still taboo in some places for all the reasons you already know. Choose carefully if you'll let it be known that you practice the dark arts, because the price could be more expensive than you're willing to pay.

On the other hand, once word gets around that you can pierce the veil, you'll have more friends than you ever knew you had. Some of them will be psychic vampires of the worst variety who should be immediately killed with fire, but the majority will be exactly the sitters you need to provide a much-needed service while at the same time they cross your palm with silver. The disadvantage is that this requires you leave a means open for them to approach you. This is very important because a successful performance always depends on the sitter's voluntary participation. If you leave no opportunity for your sitters to voluntarily invite you to deceive them, then the deception can never begin. Consequently, you'll have to grow a thick skin so that you can disarm cranks and critics who just want to get a rise out of you, but also develop a strong measure of patience for handling sitters who occasionally have no respect for your time and boundaries.

Do you have time to answer inane emails? Can you pretend to enjoy listening to ignorant sitters talk about their problems? Do you have patience to deal with sitters who'll insist that you divine answers to literally the exact same question multiple times each week? Do you have the strength to push back when psychic vampires intrude? Can you easily disarm or ignore cranks, critics, and trolls? If the answer is "no," then you won't enjoy being open about your practice of the dark arts. But if the answer is "yes," then you'll be able to walk the left-hand path as you please.