Building a Spiritualist Community
After a falling-out with her family, Lynn Raines, a spiritual psychic and founder of the Your Spiritness Holistic and Spirituality Expo, decided it was best to leave her home in Michigan.
She founded Your Spiritness 23 years ago and has gathered vendors and psychic readers in Michigan and northern Indiana for just as long. Though her move to Indiana was two years ago, it was the first place she thought of when she needed somewhere to go, she said.
“When I first crossed the state line into Indiana, I felt this relieving feeling, like, ‘Ahh, I’m home,’” said Raines.
Since then, she has carried on her company and used her expos as an opportunity to connect the public to spiritual arts and practices they may not fully understand. As a psychic, Raines connects with the energy of people, places, and objects to help people along their spiritual path, she said.
“Just like how you would know, if you're a parent, which child just came in the house … or without even having to look you just know there's something right or wrong with that particular child -- you can just tell by the way they walked in the door,” she said, explaining how she uses her intuition to connect with people.
Her own spiritual journey began when she was a child, before she ever realized she had psychic abilities, she said.
“As a child, it was all, ‘Oh, your eyes are just playing tricks on you.’ ‘Lynn, who are you talking to?’” she said, recalling how the people around her commented on her experiences. “I didn’t realize at the time that … my ‘imaginary friends’ were actually spirits I was communicating with.”
Raines became a member with the now dissolved Seekers of Truth Spiritualist Church in Berkley, Michigan, around the same time she founded the Your Spiritness company. Rev. Dan Kivel introduced Raines to the church and, alongside members of the community, taught her about the intricacies of her psychic ability.
“By going to the spiritualist church and learning more … about the psychic world, I learned a lot more about my own self and about my abilities in terms of what I’m capable of getting from messages and also how to present them,” she said.
Raines, as a showrunner through the Your Spiritness expo, makes a point of vetting all of the vendors and psychic readers who take part in her shows, she said. She wants her shows and its readers to conduct themselves ethically, not extorting clients or knowingly giving faulty or flawed readings.
“One [reader] I actually had at my show many years ago, she was telling people if they go back to her hotel room, she had rocks for $300 that she was going to sell that would help them,” Raines said. “If you’re trying to give advice or suggestions or some sort of life guidance, offering to sell them a rock at your hotel room is not one of the ways that you would go about it.”
She also says that making sure the people who set up shop at her events are legit is her way of combating the stigma surrounding the spiritualist community.
“I get a lot of people that … [denounce] the whole psychic aspect because they don’t believe in it or because they were taught not to believe in it,” she said. “Not everyone wanted to hear the messages I had … because of the stigma with psychics being a bad thing, or that psychics are just frauds.”
Raines, as a practicing psychic, embraces the multifaceted nature of psychic readings and the spiritualist community, she said. She performs readings not just with her own innate abilities, but also with tools such as oracle cards, pendulums, and crystal balls.
“It’s not been uncommon for someone to go to every reader in the room and get almost the same message over and over again,” she said. “If a message is meant to come though, it’ll come through.”
Packages of sigils with wax candles made by Takeya Searles, taken Oct. 20, 2022. She uses color psychology and takes inspiration from many different spiritualist cultures to create these symbols. Miguel Naranjo, DN
The Science of the Stars
Candice Clemons, an astrologer certified with the International Society for Astrological Research (ISAR), grew up surrounded by the spiritual arts; her mother taught how to read her great-grandmother’s deck of tarot cards when she was in grade school, she said.
Outside of the four walls of her home, however, Clemons did not find such an accepting community.
“They called my mother a witch in the town paper when someone found her reading [tarot] cards,” she said.
Clemons noted a lot of strife in her childhood -- she was stubborn and impassioned, she said, and met a lot of resistance and judgment when she pursued an education in physics.
Until 2016, Clemons was a regulator of nuclear physics for the U.S. government, but retired from that position to pursue an ISAR certification in astrology. She had grown up learning astrology and already held a fair understanding of it but still wanted to attain a professional certification, she said.
“When you get your Bachelor of Arts in journalism, it means you didn’t just read a couple [newspapers] or get a Cosmo subscription and now you’re a journalist,” she said. “It means you did put time and study and effort into learning the items and materials to be a journalist. It’s like that for astrology, too.”
To become an ISAR certified astrologer, one must undergo a four-year curriculum that covers the history of astrology, the basics of astronomy, chart calculations, forecasting skills, and more. The curriculum culminates in a final six-hour comprehensive exam where students apply all of the skills they learn on real-world example charts.
ISAR was founded in 1979 and is based in California, though chapters of the organization exist all over the U.S. and in 46 other countries in Europe and South America, according to the ISAR website.
Clemons’ studies in astrology began after she received a reading from Ann Gallagaher, another ISAR certified astrologer in Ohio who introduced her to the organization.
“She had my chart pulled up when I came in, and -- I don’t think she opened with this statement -- but she asked me, ‘Did you lose your father before you were 15?’ [It was true], and she showed me the place in the chart where it indicated that,” she said. “I was bewildered.”
Because of astrology’s astronomical roots and pattern-based nature, Clemons considers it to be more of a science than an art, she says. However, she also said that astrology is intertwined with emotion, intuition, and human nature.
“It’s a science that people have been using for about 5,000 years,” she said.
ISAR also has an astrological code of ethics that bars practitioners from intentionally bringing harm to or needlessly frightening clients, from giving readings beyond their expertise, and keeping clients charts and personal information confidential.
“I recently encountered somebody who came up to my table and said, ‘I just want to learn about this so I can know about people and how to work them,’” she said. “I was a little put off by that notion. Astrology for the sake of spying on so-and-so because we know his information -- that’s not good astrology.”
Clemons practices astrology and gives chart readings to help people “learn how to live their best lives,” she said. For all her practice and expertise, however, there is a well-defined limit to the guidance she can give, she said.
"You can’t shortcut time,” Clemons said.
Takeya Searles poses for a picture Oct. 20, 2022.
Past, Present, and Future
Takeya Searles was placed into the foster care system at 10 years old.
“I didn't get a chance to … look into creative things I wanted to do, like go to classes or anything because I was just a chick. So they didn't care.” said Searles.
Many aspects of her childhood were overshadowed by her circumstances, she said. This included her security, her social life, and her personal interests.
The most important item in this list? Her connection to the divine, she said, which she never fully rediscovered until about 2 decades later.
Searles is an empath -- someone with the ability to connect with, read, and take on the emotional energy of their surroundings, she said. She also has the psychic ability to communicate with spirits. Her first experiences with this began when she was still living with her biological parents.
“I didn't know what I was doing. I thought I was praying, but I was commanding, like, ‘She has kids, I just get bullied at school every day, I could deal with the headaches, just give them [to me],’ and I took on her migraines,” she said.
She also had a knack for creativity when she was younger, she said, but it was never encouraged at any point in her childhood. She was too preoccupied with surviving and fending for herself in her youth and young adulthood, she said.
“Once I turned 10 and left home, I was like, ‘I’m so mad at you, God, I can't stand what you did to me, I can't believe you put me through this,’” Searles said. “I said all kinds of craziness to where if God is the way we believe Him to be and heard that, I should have been fried by lightning 25 times in 10 seconds, because I just vented about everything.”
When she aged out of the foster care system at 19, Searles moved five times through four different states with her partners. Wherever she ended up, she never felt accepted or “at home,” she said.
“I'm black, I’m Hispanic, I'm part of the … queer community, I'm educated, and I look younger than what I am,” she said. “All of those things put me in a position to be judged and treated as if I'm less than somebody in some kind of way.”
During this time, she discovered a new age crystal store in Kentucky that called out to her. Since she grew up Christian, it took three months for her to work up the courage to walk in and look around, she said.
“It was like a weight came off of my shoulders when I went through the door,” she said. “So I started looking at all the stones and pendulums and necklaces and then I thought, ‘Wait, I could make those.’”
She then started TKeys (tee-keys) Crafts and Creations, a festival stand where she sells handmade crafts and jewelry as well as spiritual stones and artifacts.
“There were a lot of emotional blocks that had to be taken care of before I could look back at my childhood and see that this is what I wanted to do,” she said.
The purpose behind her business is to give people around her more access to and education on spiritualist practices, she said. She researches the significance and uses of the stones and symbols she uses in her work so that her clients can see what they represent and discern why they are drawn to it, she said.
Though her business is modest, Searles finds a lot of fulfillment in her work and uses it to pay homage to her struggles and experiences, she said.
“I don't want to forget where I came from. I never ever do, because it'll help me stay grounded and to remember not to be like that in my future,” she said. “The way that I work is past trauma with a positive future and [putting] those two together. So I do my jewelry making like that too.”
Contact Miguel Naranjo with comments at firstname.lastname@example.org or on twitter @naranjo678.