At 19, Gina Gagliardi reached a crisis of indecision, she said. On a whim, the Branford resident pulled into a strip mall and paid $80 for a Tarot reading, her very first.
Already struggling with academic choices, the Quinnipiac University student had heard some bad news from her boyfriend, and “in that moment, I was compelled to talk to someone,” she said.
The price tag at first seemed steep, but Gagliardi’s skepticism soon began to lift when she was able to validate specific information provided to her, she said.
Leaving the shop, Gagliardi felt like a weight was lifted. More than $500 was freed from her wallet for a healing-cleansing meditation that she purchased next. After selecting three crystals to represent past-present-future — at $150 each — the Tarot reader told the client those crystals will remain within the shop’s meditation room.
Gagliardi has no regrets paying for the healing cleansing, she said.
Was Gagliardi’s faith in the Tarot cards and crystals, or was some wisdom found within herself? Gagliardi isn’t really sure, she said.
Whether spiritually guided or purely psychosomatic healing, the end results are equal in Gagliardi’s mind.
“I believe (the Tarot reader),” said Gagliardi. “In 10 years, I won’t worry about that $500.”
Psychospiritual healing services are alive and well in Connecticut, a unique service industry operating over centuries around the globe. From psychic or spiritual mediums to Tarot readers and medical intuitives, astrologers and other lightworkers, including Reiki energy healers and shamans, all types of light healers are said to share a devotion to heal the planet of fear, according to Chantal Guillou-Brennan, an energy therapist and founder of the Integrative Energy Institute in Milford.
Psychics and tarot readers often hang a shingle in a shop in town, or can be found tucked in strip malls, with both choices found liberally throughout the state. Some practitioners choose private practice, others trend toward holistic collectives, with most offering online or phone services.
There are psychic fairs and other ongoing events, like a gallery reading that may help satisfy a seeker’s curiosity. There is also a school devoted to mediumship, energy and higher consciousness studies, in Connecticut in addition to many related Meetup groups focused on topics that include intuition development.
Imagine if people really can heal themselves and we can manifest change in our physical health, said Diane Hiller, a retired social worker now employed as a lightworker and Feng Shui Master.
“The healing power of the psyche is amazing,” added Hiller, a Torrington resident who operates Elemental Empowerments in Litchfield.
When she took a buyout from the state to retire five years ago, Hiller knew she was taking a big financial risk.
Once a licensed practical nurse, Hiller later earned undergraduate and master’s degrees from the University of Connecticut and UConn School of Social Work. She now practices from a Litchfield office, offering services such as Feng Shui, psychic mediumship, medical intuitive and life coaching.
Included on a list of 100 top psychics worldwide, Hiller is an evidential medium who is highly sought in her field, several of her clients said.
“There is an energetic shift that goes on for a medium,” said Hiller, who provides clients with one or more solid qualifiers, or details that will confirm and validate the source of information provided. Usually, this is something only the client will know and respond to, she said.
“The spirits will tell me their name, nicknames, aspirations and describe their home,” noted Hiller, who said she has served thousands of clients and has worked in the field full time since 2012.
Another of Hiller’s clients, Elaine D. of Riverdale, New York, sought a phone appointment with Hiller for medical intuition. The client needed to get a handle on an autoimmune issue, she said.
During an hourlong phone call, Hiller performed a full-body scan, informing the client of a spectrum of issues, all of which later were confirmed by an “exhaustive battery of medical tests,” according to Elaine D., who said she paid thousands out of pocket on tests that ultimately confirmed Hiller’s analysis.
“I didn’t learn anything that Diane hadn’t already shared,” she said.
Hiller reported about an 85 percent success rate in her work, adding that free choice and free will do have an impact on our lives.
“People can have a reading and make a choice (based on the reading) that changes the future,” Hiller said.
“She’s fantastic at what she does and as a human being,” said Ron W., 74, one of nearly a dozen of Hiller’s clients who agreed to participate in a story with some anonymity.
“I went to her, led by the angels, to get counsel and to see if she had some sense if I could salvage my relationship,” said the Burlington resident, who traveled to Litchfield for three mediumship readings to resolve his relationship issues. “She was unbelievable.”
“I always left myself open to all possibilities, and (Hiller) saved me,” Ron W. said.
Within the sea-green walls of Mystics by the Sea in Milford, more than 40 women — and one man — sat chattering excitedly until spiritual medium Catherine Crowley was poised to begin speaking about life after death.
Silence fell immediately on the hyper-attentive audience, each paying $25 for “nonjudgmental, gentle guidance, insight and healing,” to learn about “what happens to your loved ones, with the possibility that the medium may connect with your loved ones who have passed,” according to the flyer by Mystics.
“A spiritual medium comes from a place of wisdom and compassion,” said Crowley, an Irish Catholic who has practiced spiritual mediumship for 30 years. “It’s healing that comes just from knowing their loved ones are all right.”
Over more than two hours, Crowley shared her story and discussed perspectives on the spirit world. Next, she performed a gallery reading, sensing any of the spirits that may choose to “show up,” she said.
“We’ve all written our lives before we come here,” said Crowley, adding that nothing unwritten happens in this life.
“We will meet our loved ones again,” she tells the crowd.
As Crowley starts to recite names of some spirits, a rumbling noise seems to shake the room from below.
“Walter, William, Sharon ... are a few names coming through,” as the locomotive-like noise continued to offer an otherworldly effect.
Crowley laughed at the symbolic synchronicity as a train whistle screamed.
“Walter is a nice gentleman, and he says he has the patience of Job,” Crowley tells the crowd. Shaking her head yes, while wiping away a tear, Walter’s widow identifies herself via a smattering of details Crowley provided the group.
Another spirit, William, is not as patient and tells Crowley so, she said.
Using clues like letters, names, numbers and other flashes of detail and data, audience members try to identify with details given, hopeful they will be the ones chosen to connect.
Sometimes, Crowley digs deeper, asking more questions than there are answers available. Many in the audience, even through tears, appeared relieved, even joyful at the potential of the unseen spiritual connection.
“Every day we have clarity — energy is energy,” Crowley tells the audience. “You have it, and it’s how you choose to use it. Will you act out of love or fear?”
Spiritual mediumship relies on an altered state of consciousness at will to channel a message from a supposedly spiritual entity who speaks through the medium.
“If it’s meant to be, it will find a way,” said Mary Kenyhercz, a Tarot reader, numerologist and owner of Mystics. “That’s the saying around here.”
Offering a talk recently about anxiety at Middlesex Hospital in Middletown, Guillou-Brennan wound up discussing death and what exists beyond. The energy therapist and founder of the Integrative Energy Institute in Milford provides a “holistic and synergistic approach to energy work using methodologies based on the Chakra system as well as the Meridian system,” according to Guillou-Brennan.
Some in the audience asked questions about past lives.
“Time is an illusion, a metaphor,” said Guillou-Brennan, adding that divination — or knowledge of the future or unknown — is obtained through your own personal vibration that connects to other particular frequencies, rhythms.
“Spiritually, emotionally, physically — we are pure energy,” Guillou-Brennan, who advises Reiki as a starter path for spiritual seekers. Reiki is a healing technique based on the principle of channeled energy to activate the natural healing processes to restore physical and emotional well-being. “With Reiki, you can heal yourself,” Guillou-Brennan said.
“What I stress about high sensory perception, mastery of awareness, using energy of Reiki to heal yourself, is to raise our own vibration by choosing the type of activity, thoughts that we want to nurture it,” said Guillou-Brennan, adding that the gift of mediumship-intuition is available to every human.
“Perceiving non-visible reality is a part of the brain we are not using,” said Guillou-Brennan, who considers extra-sensory perception a part of human evolution as opposed to a gift. Tools like Qigong and energy medicine help us “to open our heart, to have unconditional love,” Guillou-Brennan said. “It’s a personal journey to this center of intuition or universal consciousness.”
Saying she has been a clairvoyant since birth, the Rev. Elaine Kuzmeskus has written eight books on the supernatural and founded the New England School of Metaphysics, located in Suffield. A spiritualist medium, Kuzmeskus is certified by the National Association of Spiritualist Churches.
The majority of people who come to Kuzmeskus have lost someone close to them, she said.
“I’ll ask them to bring a picture and place it face down, and go into a trance state to try and contact that person,” said Kuzmeskus, estimating that 80 percent to 90 percent of those she intends to contact come through. “Sometimes, a trusted relative will guide them.”
Kuzmeskus will try to get at least an initial or other detail to positively verify the information with the individual.
While many hope to reach into the spirit world, Kuzmeskus also reads people interested in the future. The nationally recognized speaker has presented workshops at Lily Dale Assembly and community colleges throughout New England.
“I always say it is a probable future,since free will and future choices impact the outcome,” she added.
Her school is small but the niche is popular, said Kuzmeskus, who teaches a class on remote viewing, or sensing with the mind, that draws people from throughout the region.
Even for those who “know there is no death, it’s complicated because you miss the person you love,” Kuzmeskus said.
“I went back to school to get psychological training,” said Kuzmeskus. “People need to connect with the spirits of loved ones, and they need to be counseled about dealing with grief.”
All parties interviewed advised fortune tellers or psychic consumers to be wary of those who may prey on people already in difficult circumstances.
“If they ask to come back, or for more money to assist, be suspect,” Kenyhercz said.
Hiller sees a continuum or range in the quality of services offered, the same as any other trade or professional service. A referral is always the best route when seeking psychic, metaphysical or any professional services.
As for individual qualifications, length of practice, where they trained, and the best way to get a recommendation, Kuzmeskus said, the Astrological Society of Connecticut offers psychic fairs and good readers.
Or, go to a Spiritualists Church and ask for a pastor, she said.
Over the past five years, no complaints have been filed about fortune tellers in the state, according to Lora Rae Anderson, spokeswoman for the state Department of Consumer Protection. Though fortune tellers are not specifically regulated by the state, all businesses are subject to the Connecticut Unfair Trade Practices Act, which regulates false advertising and breach of contract.
Psychic industry projections see “steady growth” as consumers gain discretionary income that “will spur a demand, and growing acceptance of (psychic) industry services,” according to IBISWorld, the largest provider of industry information in the United States.
Ultimately, the bottom line for consumers is that the truth lies within, based on personal intuition, faith and trust.
“The healing power of the psyche is amazing,” Hiller said.