I don’t know if this is true of Latinos in general, but we have a long tradition of bruja tendencies on both sides of my Mexican-American family. When anyone on my dad’s side of the family was going through a stressful situation (a bad breakup, job troubles, even health scares) my Mama Lola would always have a dream about that person. If she had one dream, she might ask how you’re doing the next time she saw you. Two dreams meant she’d call someone in your immediate family to make sure you were okay. Three dreams? You’d get a call from her the moment she woke up (no matter the time of day or night) and without even identifying herself she’d demand to know what was wrong. There are countless stories of ghosts, hauntings, sightings of La Virgen, you name it. It’s all just par for the course in my family, like the many home remedies we still utilize. No one even bats an eye. Speaking of which—don’t even get me started on the evil eye. My mom’s side of the family speaks about curses the same way other people talk about property taxes or parking tickets.  Virtually all of my relatives (even now and yes, even I) have an altar in their house dedicated to some purpose or other, with the velas burning 24 hours a day.

Read Related: Latino Traditions and Superstitions

That said, I don’t remember talk of consulting psychics or brujas among the older generations. I guess they saw no need to buy the cow when they could get the milk for free? My parents’ generation however, coming of age during the Age of Aquarius, took very naturally to astrology, psychics, mediums and more. Most of of my aunts and uncles have, at the very least, had their astrological charts compiled and interpreted for them. By the time I came along, the occult and alternative medicines were a deeply integrated and accepted part of my family culture. None of these “occult” practices seemed the least bit odd to me as a kid, certainly no more odd than the things that went on in our Catholic church.

Dr. Usui, founder of Reiki

My dad was one of the most insatiably curious people I’ve ever known. He wanted to know as much as he possibly could about other cultures, other religions—anyone whose background or point of view might be different from his own. I’m not sure when he consulted a psychic for the first time, but it was something he did regularly, especially if the psychic had been highly recommended. He also tried every kind of “energy healing” under the sun: tai chi, chi gong, acupuncture and anything else he heard about. Around the time I became pregnant with my first child, he’d discovered Reiki (a Japanese energy healing technique) and was so impressed by it that he paid for me to have Reiki treatments throughout the pregnancy. Later, when he was bed-bound with terminal prostate cancer, he believed so strongly that Reiki helped him manage his pain better than medication that he insisted all of us who were caring for him (my mother, my husband and I) become certified Reiki practitioners. My mother and I even became certified in “2nd Degree” Reiki healing, sometimes called “distance healing” because it’s done without any physical contact. I’ve found Reiki to be both energizing and calming, and I’m still sometimes asked to do a “reading” for the people in my life.

When I was deeply grieving after my dad’s death, a cousin recommended an intuitive counselor whom she said had been extremely helpful to her with some serious grief she’d recently experienced. I was so sad that I was willing to try anything to find my way out of the dark place I was in.  I was pleasantly surprised to find the counselor to be very down-to-earth and no-nonsense. Her advice was practical and over the years she has helped me many times when I need to get perspective on something I’m going through. She’s very much like a traditional counselor or life coach, only with tarot cards and the uncanny ability to see things that will affect my future. I visit her about once a year, to get a clear view on where I am and where I want to go. As far as I’m concerned, the whole “psychic” aspect of my visit with her is just icing on the cake. Once I walked into her office and before saying anything else she blurted, “You’re pregnant? I thought you weren’t planning on having any more kids!” I laughed and told her she was nuts, no WAY was I pregnant! About four weeks later I learned that, in fact, I’d been the nutty one—I was three days pregnant at the time I visited her and, of course, didn’t know it.

Since then, I’ve expanded my “psychic” experiences to include consultations with a medium (that’s a psychic who can speak to the dead) and past-life integration. Of all the “woo-woo” things I’ve tried, the most unsettling was, by far, past-life integration! The practitioner, a gentle and soft-spoken yogi (if I remember correctly), asked me to relax on a massage table while he went into a trance in which he could see some of my past lives. As he toggled from life to life, his voice changed; sometimes growing loud and guttural, sometimes becoming so weak and quiet that I could hardly hear him.

I did NOT learn that I was royalty or a hailed beauty in a past life. Oh, no! Each of the past lives the yogi recounted were sadder than the last: in one ancient life I’d been locked in a cage with an iron shackle around my neck, in another I was an adolescent, one-legged boy who died during the civil war, there was one in which I was a socially ostracized unwed mother and one where a hip deformation led to a life spent bedridden. I remember thinking, “Does the fun ever START?!” The yogi told me that my soul had chosen these past lives to develop a deep understanding of human suffering and, as a result, in this life I had very little karmic debt. He also said I had some karmic “residue” at the top of my right hip (that was the leg that had been missing and where the crippling deformity had been). He did some energy healing to try to clear it, but he told me he didn’t think he’d gotten it all. I used to giggle every time I remembered the yogi—and the way he’d spoken, until years later when I fell down the stairs of my home and fractured my pelvis in precisely the place he’d tried to “clear.”

So why do I this? It’s partly out of curiosity, but mainly it’s because I want all of the help I can get. So far I’ve been lucky never to have felt “burned” by any of these individuals. (After all, there are those who prey on the vulnerable and prescribe some “fix” that requires more and more money.) The best advice I can give anyone wishing to visit a psychic or medium is not to see anyone who hasn’t been recommended by someone you know and respect. Most of the people I’ve mentioned so far I’ve consulted only once or very occasionally. But I do have another intuitive counselor whom I meet with fairly regularly. Her name is Jackleen Holton and she uses tarot, astrology and intuition. Mostly though, she gives me practical advice and guidance. Also? She HATES to be called “psychic”—so watch your language if you ever meet with her!

Jackleen Holton, Intuitive Counselor

Porras: How/why did you come to do what you do for a living?
Holton: I was drawn to astrology from a very early age. As a kid back in the 70s when the question on everyone’s lips was “what’s your sign?” I was fascinated by daily horoscopes, as well as the classic book Sun Signs by Linda Goodman. After college, out of work, I answered an ad for “phone psychics,” which led to a job working as a “psychic” in a metaphysical bookstore from 1997 until 2003 when the bookstore closed. I’ve been working independently as an intuitive counselor and astrologer since then.

Porras: What would you say is the biggest misconception people have about you and your job?
Holton: Early on, I thought it would be fun to say that I was a “psychic” when people asked what I did. That lasted about five minutes. Although at the bookstore where I worked, we had to be called psychics, I really never felt at home using the P-word to describe what I did. This is partly because it seemed to endow me with this super-power that others don’t have, which is not true. We all have intuition, and we all use it to some degree. An intuitive counselor is just someone who has strong intuition, who develops that natural gift, and has the compassion to counsel others.

Unfortunately, the word “psychic” has been bastardized by the practitioners who use it to extort money from their clients by saying something like “You have an ancient curse on you that will cause you to suffer in your love life—or whatever area the vulnerable client is currently suffering in—unless you give me $250 (or specified household goods, such as bed sheets) to do a ceremony to reverse it. So a good rule of thumb is, if there’s a big neon hand in the window, it means “don’t go there.”

Porras: What is your favorite thing about your job?
Holton: It’s very gratifying to help people. That’s the purpose of all work. If you can do it on your own terms, serving the clients that you want to serve, being your own boss, that’s the way to go.

Porras: What advice would you offer to someone who is apprehensive about consulting an intuitive counselor?
Holton: Aside from avoiding the neon signs, remember that when you get a reading, you are just asking for a different perspective, and consulting a compassionate individual who will see things objectively when it’s harder for you to do so. The best readings that I give usually confirm what the client already knows on some level. Don’t let anyone give you gloom and doom or tell you that you’ve got a curse that must be removed. No one has that right. Ask for your money back as soon as you hear anything like this. It is absolutely not true. Finally, use your own intuition in selecting someone that you connect with to give you a reading. When you do get a reading, realize that things can change. And, more importantly, you can change things. We all have free will, and each of us creates our own reality. A good reading should inspire you.

To learn more, check out Jackleen’s facebook page or visit her website:

Wishing you love with extra cheese—
Nacho Mama