Chicago, IL

Fortune Tellers: Real or Fake? Here's What You Need to Know

Rene Cizio

Photo by Shreyas shah on Unsplash

There are 17 psychics within walking distance of my downtown Chicago apartment. I counted them after consistently noticing their neon-lit windows advertising “Psychic” or “Astrology.”

I thought it’d be interesting to visit one, but that wouldn’t turn out to be as easy as you might expect; psychics, it turns out, aren’t known for their dependability. I'd try three more times with various psychics only to be delayed and canceled until - after some confusion - I finally found one to take my money.

Photo by the Author

The first psychic I visited was on a whim when a friend and I walked past a street sign that said, “Now Open, Psychic Readings, Walk-Ins Welcome.” We walked up two flights of stairs and knocked.

The psychic, via a video intercom, told us she was available by appointment only. So much for truth in advertising, I mumbled.

Over the weeks, I passed that sign several more times and finally made an appointment. She asked, “What service would you like?” and I realized I had no idea what any of her services were or how I should choose. That’s when I started researching and found the 17 psychics.

Many people don’t believe in psychics, but for whatever reason, many say they’ve had incredible experiences that changed their lives. No matter what you believe, here's what I learned when deciding on which service was right for me.

Psychics 101: A Beginner’s Guide


A clairvoyant is someone who uses extraordinary perceptive abilities; to sense information about you and your future. This includes clairvoyance (seeing), clairsentience (feeling), clairaudience (hearing), claircognizance (knowing) and others.

Fortune Teller

Fortune tellers use tools to interpret information about your future, such as tarot cards, rune stones, your palm, or astrology, for example.


A medium is a person who is especially attuned to, or able to channel, the spirit world and can commune with the deceased.


These people have precognition, to perceive, without knowing you, what is going on in your present and how it impacts the future. They will assess why circumstances are the way they are and guide you in approaching problems. Some also have retrocognition to perceive past events.

Many people in these trades claim to have multiple abilities, such as being medium and clairvoyant.

Aura reading

Your aura is an energy field surrounding you and emanating close to your body. Some psychics say they can see the color, size, and type of the aura around others and know their different meanings.


Palmists believe as you clench your fist in the womb, your future imprints into the palm of your hand. Reading palms dates back thousands of years and involves understanding the lines and shapes, curves and wrinkles in the palm that can be read after you are born.


When an object is precious to a person, psychometrists believe they impart their energy onto it. After that, that energy can be read to show details about the person to whom the objects had use or meaning.


Runes are stones inscribed with letters from old alphabets. Typically 24 symbols or rocks are cast out or drawn from a bag. As you cast or remove your stone, you fixate on a question or problem. Each symbol has a meaning, and from them, you can discern future events or the path an issue will take.


A tarot card deck is 78 cards called the minor and major arcana representing archetypal ideas. Every card has a meaning that can be applied to answer questions and gain insight into your life or future. You shuffle and choose cards, and the psychic explains what they mean for you.


Involves making predictions based on the relationship between numbers and coinciding events in your life. Numerology is based on the idea that a foundation of numbers can explain the universe. A numerologist can help you find your life number and how it resonates in your life’s path.

Tea Leaves

Once the sitter drinks the tea and the teacup is nearly empty, they use their left hand to swirl the remaining leaves and flip the cup over on the saucer while thinking of a wish or question. The leaves’ pattern on the cup forms shapes and symbols. The size, position, and shapes made by the leaves each have different meanings.


Astrologers believe that the planets’ astronomical positions at the time of a person’s birth directly influence that person’s character. Astrologists think they can forecast events through the interpretation of the stars, sun, moon and planets. For people, these forecasts vary depending on the position of the elements when you were born.

My Experience

I ended up only asking a regular psychic two questions about my career and family. I didn't see a lot of "accuracy" in her reading, but I did learn a lot about their trade, what they do and how they do it, and I think those are the answers I was really looking for.

Often we think that everything has an answer or a logical explanation, and we get so blocked thinking that life has answers — that there is a right or wrong, good or bad, true or false, real or not — that we forget to just have fun and enjoy. I don't know if psychics are "real or not?" but if you choose to use one, also use your common sense. Start with the least expensive service and do what feels right for you.

I decided I don't need their “powers” to be true or false, their answers to be correct or incorrect. I only need to find value for myself in each moment I’ve alive. For one night, it was more interesting than sitting on the couch, and that's good enough for me.

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Digital nomad, solo traveling full time. I write about travel, adventure, universal energy, and the journey through life. Pictures on Instagram @renecizio

Chicago, IL

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