Sitting in the fluorescently lit room of a church basement gave me a strange sense of nervousness. Prior to the flip of the cards, I didn’t necessarily believe that psychic ability was real, and I certainly didn’t put a lot of stock in it, but I had a feeling that something was about to happen. The woman held the tarot cards in front of me and instructed me to ask a question about my future. This seemed routine; not wildly different from tarot card readings I’d seen in movies. I asked, “Where will my career be in about six months when I graduate college?” Then I proceeded to pick three cards from a selection of the 22. The first card would represent my past and what my career goals had been. The second would show my present career; the third would tell me about my future. I didn’t quite understand why the past and present cards were important, but chose anyway. Despite my skepticism, I couldn’t help but hold my breath as she flipped the cards over.
She explained that the cards showed a time of change. The past card showed that I had a solid plan of what I would do, but in the present, I was changing my mind in a major way. The third card — the one that showed my future — said that this change would be a good thing.
She looked at me, waiting for a reaction, but I wasn’t sure what to feel. Not because she was wrong, but because she was so spot on that it almost scared me. I couldn’t understand how she knew. I’d kept my face straight, not letting her know what I was thinking during the reading. I figured it had to be a fluke, but every question I asked about my future was just as accurate. The kicker of the whole thing: she isn’t even a professional psychic. She’s a student who had barely been doing this for six weeks when I met her. I was sitting in a class on developing psychic abilities.
Connie Bratton and Judie Randall, the owners of Psychics in the Cities, have been teaching classes on developing psychic ability for years. The Minneapolis-based company also holds workshops that are one-time events that focus on learning about one aspect of psychic ability such as past lives and monthly galleries where other psychics are brought in to do different types of psychic readings for guests. They also participate in expos, do private readings, and host parties.
Randall started the company with several other women nearly 10 years ago. They initially just did readings and expos, but transitioned into teaching classes about a year later. Bratton was one of their first students.After studying with Psychics in the Cities for several years, Bratton was asked to join them.
Bratton and Randall have been a team for five years, and while they sometimes do readings on their own, most of their work is done together. “Part of our purpose from day one has been to work as a group,” Randall says. “That’s been our niche in the market too, especially at expos, because you sit down with us for a reading and get two people talking to you.”
Working together allows them to use their individual strengths and skills to give their students the most information. They’re both psychic mediums, meaning they receive information from outside themselves. This can mean communicating with people who have passed, or hearing information on someone’s future. In addition, Randall is a healer and a shaman — she believes that all things on earth, living or not, are souls and are connected.
Bratton is also a paranormal investigator. She is hired to go to places that are haunted by spirits and explain more about the situation and what can be done. Bratton has investigated everything from an old strip club – where dancers and customers who had passed on were still residing – to the Villisca Axe Murder house – an old farm house in Iowa where eight people were brutally murdered in 1912. Randall and Bratton have different strengths that allow them to learn from each other and enhance their own skills.
Their teamwork transfers into their classes. They have different approaches to elements of the class, but always let their students know when they don’t agree, with the hope that students will form their own opinions. The classes are a low-pressure environment where students can feel free to try new skills and ask questions without feeling judged.
“We do readings for each other and practice a lot, but it’s never a performance,” Bratton says. “We’re not in the spotlight having to prove that we’re psychic, we just have these experiences.”
Bratton and Randall believe giving students plenty of chances to practice is essential to strengthening their psychic skills. “It’s just like any other gift, any other skill,” Randall says. “You don’t just sit down and play the piano, you have to get there. Yes, people are gifted, we have gifted athletes, but they work at it too.”
One of Bratton and Randall’s students, Birdie Rand, discovered that she had the gift of mediumship while she was taking the beginning psychic development class when her uncle who had passed away appeared in front of her.
“As they were talking, all of a sudden my uncle’s face was right in my face,” Rand says. “I remember talking to him and I said, ‘You can’t be here. I’m in a class, and I can’t hear what they’re saying if I’m talking to you.’”
When Rand told Bratton and Randall what she had experienced, she remembers them looking at each other and saying, “‘Oh, we’ve got a medium.’”
“I thought, ‘Oh what did I do?’” Rand says.
After watching the students practice tarot cards and mediumship and talking to Rand, I couldn’t stop thinking about how much I wanted to have a full reading done. In that moment, I realized I couldn’t convince myself to not believe anymore. I believe that the psychic ability I witnessed is real, and while I might not understand how all of it works, I believe Psychics in the Cities’ classes teach people how to harness psychic ability.
Today, Rand gives readings to other people with the hopes of helping them gain something from reconnecting with their loved ones who have passed on. She wants each of her readings to give people a sense of hope.
“I don’t know why I was given this gift,” Rand says, “But I think it’s because I’m supposed to help people.”