Deuteronomy 18:9-12. "And do not let your people practice fortune-telling or sorcery, or allow them to interpret omens, or engage in witchcraft, or cast spells, or function as mediums or psychics, or call forth the spirits of the dead. Anyone who does these things is an object of horror and disgust to the Lord."
As some of you may know, I suffer from insomnia, and Facebook has been in many ways my salvation - enabling me to work, but also chat, into the small hours. Using my trusty i-pad (other tablet gadgets are available lol) , I can post my adverts and have chatty comments on the side as I work - perfect solution to my sleepless nights !
However there is a certain time when the UK give in to the Sandman, and I am left with the Americans coming online. They have a very different take on a lot of things, and its quite interesting to talk to them. However, no chat has ever given me quite the food for thought as one I recently had with a woman who lived in Deadwood.
I have to say, my knowledge of Deadwood until now had been confined to Calamity Jane, and the rather rowdy song about the stagecoach coming up over the hill, so I was fascinated to hear what this woman had to say about my way of life.
She was really interested in the work that I do, not only running Inspiral, but also the meetings that we hold at the Haven every week. She expressed regret that she was unable to attend a similar centre, and talked about how it would have helped her through a recent bereavement to know that the support was there and that we do not just die and thats it.
I suggested that if there wasnt a centre in Deadwood, maybe there may be one in a neighbouring town, when she dropped the bombshell - to do what I do in Deadwood is actually illegal !
Deadwood's ordinance states :
“No person shall advertise or engage in or carry on any business of telling fortunes, carrying on a business advertising or involving a cult or psychics powers, facilities or forces, clairvoyants, spirits, mediumship, seership, prophesy, astrology, palmistry, necromancy, or other craft, science cards, tellsman, charms, potions, magnetism or magnetized articles or substances, oriental mysteries or magic of any kind or nature or numerology, or engage in any of these businesses within the city limits.”
The law was introduced just 20 years ago, in a town that makes a substantial income from tourists visiting for gambling activities, and also has a long history of prostitution. However, to have your hand read in this town, would leave you, and your reader, open to arrest, a fine, and possibe imprisonment !
Although 1 in 7 Americans are believed to have visited a medium in the past year, many US states are less than hospitable to the spiritually minded.
The Detroit suburb of Warren in 2010 began requiring psychics to get licenses that entail fingerprinting and criminal background checks.
Meanwhile, St Johnsbury, Vt, repealed its venerable soothsaying ban in 2008 amid concerns that it outlawed feng shui, the traditional Chinese practice of harmonisng one's environment for health and financial benefits.
A federal appeals court upheld a psychic-licensing law in Chesterfield County, but courts in some states, including Alexandria and Montgomery, recently overthrew fortunetelling bans as infringement of free speech.
Maryland's Court of Appeal wrote in 2010 : "Fortune-telling may be pure entertainment, it may give individuals some insight into the future, or it may be hokum," but Montgomery County's prohibition on paid psychic readings has "a chilling effect on constitutionally protected speech"
So signs are variable, where Deadwood refuse to repeal in a recent debate, other states are being forced by the Courts to stop this archaic practice.
Of course, the bans are driven by the church. My chat buddy revealed to me that there were churches "practically wall to wall" in her town, and that they were the ones who opposed the "fortune telling" as they believed it was against the Bibles teaching to speak with the dead.
I was quite humbled once I had finished speaking with her, and I must admit, a little tearful.
It makes you realise how much we still take for granted here in the UK. We have the right to practice our religion - Spiritualism - openly and without persecution, and all aspects of the spiritual world, and practices related to "fortune telling" are performed without restriction.
How fortunate are we that we no longer have to meet in secret in private homes ?
Maybe next time we decide to start fighting amongst ourselves, and playing the "Im more spiritual than you are" game, we should remember that in the USA there are many people who risk imprisonment to have the freedom to do what we are doing. We should be grateful and present a solid, positive face, so we can PROVE to the established Church and any of our other detractors that we are here to stay.
Would love your comments on this one - feel free to feed back !
Love Jay xxx