Actor Turned Psychic

Only your own deep need to salvage something from the void – to act or to write or to create – can keep you from the commonplace and from dying out….Be careful what happens to your talent. – Stella Adler

Let’s start out with a juicy magical story. During my woebegone days as an actor, I tried to do a lot of magic to help my obstructed career. But short of black magic, there’s only so much you can do if something’s not meant to be. In Rosemary’s Baby, John Cassavetes gets the part because the other actor goes blind from black magic. Well, my magic doesn’t work that way. And while we’re on the subject, those were satanists in Rosemary’s Baby – NOT witches. Hollywood has been particularly damaging to the true witch’s reputation.

But here’s the best magic I ever succeeded in doing for my acting career. Having worked with the planets and gods that represent them, I’d had very good luck with Jupiter, who rules the Wheel of Fortune card in the Tarot. So I planned a rite of Jupiter to try to create some good fortune in my career. But after an elaborate ritual, nothing seemed to be happening. Now much of my magic is with seven-day candles; I’m quite good at this, if I do say so myself – but it was the last day of the candle – and nothing. Was it because my neighbors had been so noisy during the ritual? That must have been it.

That day I was doing extra work on the film, Quiz Show. I remember seeing my dwindling purple candle as I left my apartment at the ungoddessly hour of 5 A.M. “Come on candle, do something!” I cried. Well, my day turned out to be every extra’s dream: I happened to be standing in the right place at the right time and got upgraded to Day Player. Robert Redford, the director, approved my saying four lines. Guess what the Kabbalistic number of Jupiter is: four! I returned home after signing the contract and (the only time this has happened) the glass of my finished candle had shattered! It turns out my scene was cut from the movie, but I still get residual checks to this day.

And that, folks, is the best thing I can tell you about my former acting career.

Oh, extra work: I remember it well. At first it was exciting to hang out on film sets with the stars; but after a few months of making your living this way – and realizing that you’re not exactly doing what Stella Adler trained you to do – the tedium sets in big time. I’ve always been good at making the best of situations and found a wonderful way to deal with all those hours of waiting: to practice Tarot reading with my newly acquired Tarot deck.

Now learning cards is somewhat like learning lines: you can’t really act until you’ve put down the script. Similarly, you can’t really read the Tarot until you’ve weaned yourself off the instruction book. I noted the parallel and one day bravely left my instruction book at home.

The results were astronomical: I achieved the popularity I had always dreamed of in high school! Everyone wanted a reading and no one wanted to go to the set. I was able to unite factions of competitive and jealous actors, everyone truly interested in the intricacies of each other’s lives. (Those were the days I used to allow people to listen in; today my readings are strictly private.) I discovered that reading cards became a good way to get out of myself, the self-involved actor; and perhaps for the first time, I began being interested in other people.

Having studied magic for several years, I soon realized that the Tarot encompassed the same forces (of earth, air, fire and water, for instance); but instead of thrusting these forces into action, as one does in magic, I simply interpreted their influence on people’s circumstances in life. My accuracy was astonishing, even to me. And almost everyone agreed that I should do it professionally. What? And give up my childhood dream of the stage and screen and bright lights? Never!

One day I was called to the set in the middle of a reading. I sat at a bar with a young woman who asked if I brought my cards with me. When I said no, she handed me her watch and said, “Here – see what you get from this.” What follows is my first experience doing psychometry: 

I held the watch to my head and immediately got an image, but said, “I can’t say this. It’s too embarrassing.” She said, “It’s OK – just say it.” I replied, “I really don’t think I can.” “C’mon,” she persisted, “we’re all actors.” I said, “All right, you have a vaginal yeast infection, don’t you?” “Oh my God,” she exclaimed, “I can’t believe it! I do! What else do you get?” I continued concentrating and said, “You’re very uptight about having sex with your boyfriend this weekend.” She said, “How true! But not because of the yeast infection. Go on.” I said, “The reason is because he’s impotent.” And I was right.

I began to realize that I was truly becoming psychic – but where did this power come from? 

The “wisewoman” mentioned in my article, “Adventures on the Magical Path,” got me started on a daily regimen of exercises for my balance and protection. She warned me that the forces of magic could be very powerful and that I better proceed safely. I had read these exercises in Modern Magick by Donald Michael Kraig. They included the Lesser Banishing Ritual of the Pentagram, the Banishing Ritual of the Hexagram, and the Middle Pillar Ritual. I began doing these twice daily. They filled me with light and strength.

Stella used to tell us that Stanislavsky, the great Russian director, worked on his voice until the day he died. But as an actor, I hated my vocal exercises; as a psychic and magician, though, I love my magical exercises and will probably do them until the day I die. (Or maybe even after I die!) And I believe that the discipline of these exercises inadvertently made me psychic.

Here’s how I found out. I was spending a weekend in Massachusetts at the home of an older Jewish man who was dying. One morning I asked if he’d like to witness my Kabbalistic exercises; I thought he might enjoy them because of their Hebrew content. He said he would love to, and his huge dog joined us.

My eyes were mostly closed during the fifteen minutes of the exercises, but I could hear the dog moving around quite a bit – and when I finished and opened my eyes, this enormous dog was at my feet, lying on her back with her legs – and tongue – in the air, panting in total ecstasy! The old man said she had never done this before and that her head had whirled around and around, watching all the swirling lights surrounding me. He then described the three colors of the light: white, blue, and gold, which was absolutely correct!

This proved to me for the first time the validity of a very important magical concept: first you begin by imagining a blue pentagram, or a golden hexagram, or a white beam of light. But as you advance in magic, they are no longer imagined; they are truly there. And this man and dog could see them! (Obviously, the man was spiritually advanced; he told me later about his two near-death experiences.)

That was a profound day for me magically. I learned that the light I was bringing down into my head and body was truly entering me. And it was this light from my higher self, my Higher Genius – and beyond – that was making me psychic.

There are so many stories from those early days but a few stand out in my mind. My favorite is when I held a woman’s ring and got a cat named “Boots” and “Jesse, the Cool Cat.” This sounded so silly, I thought I was making it up. But 3 months later, her California friend moved in with a Jesse and told her, “Jesse named our new cat Boots and now he’s so pleased, he’s going around calling himself Jesse, the Cool Cat!” The woman almost dropped dead on the spot but survived to tell me the tale.

Once I was flying to London on my first non-smoking flight. (When asked if an actor should give up smoking, Stella once said, “Dahling, if you don’t smoke, you’ll drink!”) So due to my lack of puffing, I accidentally overdid it in the booze department and got totally smashed. The man sitting next to me struck up a conversation and asked what I did for a living. When I told him I was becoming a psychic, he confessed that he didn’t believe in such things. So I offered him a free demonstration:

I held his ring and got a girl named Maria with blond hair. He said this was his daughter and that she was sitting several rows ahead. Well that was fine, so I tried his other ring and got a Friedrich who was very sad. He told me that Friedrich was his son who had a very unhappy situation occurring in his life – and that he was sitting right next to Maria. This time I was the one who said, “I don’t believe you!” So he fetched his attaché case from above and showed me two passports with the names “Maria” and “Friedrich.” Another skeptic turned believer, with me under the influence, no less.

There’s nothing wrong with being a skeptic: show me a hard-boiled skeptic and I’ll show you a good egg whose shell can come off. Like the time a young man handed me his bracelet with that defiant look in his eyes. I held the bracelet to my head and said, “I’m getting a Frank…Mesa.” He said his best friend was Frank. I said, “So what? Frank could be anyone.” He countered, “Well, I was thinking, if you don’t say my best friend Frank, I’m not going to believe any of this.” But what about Mesa? The next day he called to say he spoke to Frank, who revealed his mother’s maiden name: Mesa!

So skeptics, I’ve got one thing to say to you: BEWARE.

Years ago, while working as a chauffeur, Mike Nichols told me that good actors were a dime a dozen. I think I was a good actor but I was never the right type: I was either too young or too old, too Jewish or too not-Jewish-enough, too good-looking or too not-good-looking-enough. After twenty years, I had had it. I don’t think I’d ever have “given up,” though, if I hadn’t found something else that I loved. And good psychics are not a dime a dozen!

On the set of “Guiding Light” I did some psychometry for one of my fellow extras. I got a Natasha with long, black hair. He said, “Thanks for reminding me – I’ve been meaning to call her all day.” I jokingly added, “You call her Boris, don’t you? Just kidding.” He said, “No – I really do call her Boris! You’re good – you should write a psychic column somewhere.” I responded with, “Naaah.” But a few weeks later he was selling advertising for a magazine called VICE – and they called to offer me a column.

So I became a psychic columnist. And I soon got the idea to visit one of the restaurants advertised in the magazine to see if they’d like to have a Tarot reader on weekends. The manager was an English bloke who loved the idea. So during the week I continued my battle for acting, but on weekends I started making my first money as a psychic.

I did quite well. And the more disgusted I became with Show Business, the more encouraged I became with my psychic work. I knew if I could find a few restaurants and work four to five nights a week, I could make a decent living at it.

Which is just what I did. A red Mars candle led me to my best gig ever at Caffé Sha Sha in the West Village; and VICE Magazine led to the very popular NEXT Magazine, which brought lots of people into Caffé Sha Sha to see me. I was on my way.

What a crazy life it is being a psychic! People expect perfection; they think I should know everything. And I don’t – I only know what comes to me through the cards and my psychic messages. I don’t claim to be 100% accurate, but I do try to be 100% honest. And I think my clients appreciate that; it’s so rewarding to be able to help them in a deep way.

But God, the flack I have to take sometimes! I’ve heard every psychic joke in the book and some can be downright nasty. Let’s face it: I’m not in a very respected profession. What’s difficult for me is that I get super-sensitive when doing a reading – that’s part of my talent for it. So sometimes the “vulgarity of the public” really gets to me. I have to remember to keep my sense of humor.

It’s thrilling, though, to have so many wonderful clients. I never thought it could happen. Much to my own amazement, they return again and again, saying how my predictions came true. I always maintain, however, that the future is never as important as one’s understanding of the present (from which we create our future).

Every once in a while, I get a real stinker. One of my worst experiences early on was a woman who wanted to know when her former psychiatrist was going to call, because she just knew he was in love with her and seven other psychics said he would call in February. Well, February was almost over and the cards were terrible. So I said, “I’m sorry, I don’t think he’s going to call you.” Then she stood up and announced in a very loud voice: “I DON’T LIKE THIS READING!”

One of my most uncomfortable experiences was with a woman who lived in my building. The session started out great: when I got the name Fantine from her ring (the character from Les Misérables), she said that her boyfriend left her for the woman who was playing the role on Broadway. I thought the rest of the session was OK, but for a whole year she gave me the gloomiest looks in the elevator. Finally I asked her about it and she said that nothing I predicted came true! I felt awful because I’m such a perfectionist. So I offered her a free reading but she never showed up.

Maybe I was off, but I’ve learned from experience that people don’t always take my advice; I’m a psychic counselor – so if someone doesn’t choose the job I highly recommend, and stays with the one he hates instead, then he won’t have the fabulous summer I predicted – which is exactly what happened to one of my clients.

But thank God, the exasperating experiences are relatively few. My work is constantly amazing; and no one is more amazed than I.

There’s a beautiful play I saw years ago about a man so in love with his childhood sweetheart that he follows her all over the world – only to discover one day that he’s much better suited to her older sister, whom he marries in the end. It haunted me at the time, wondering if I was chasing after the wrong dream. But over the years, one dream simply vaporized into another dream. And I cry as I write this, for I realize that it’s all really the same dream: it’s about finding the life that you love.

Kyler James is the author of the novel, The Secret of the Red Truck, which made Dennis Cooper’s favorites list for 2014 and sold out repeatedly in New York City bookstores. A former actor and NYU graduate (studied with Stella Adler), Kyler started reading Tarot cards on film sets and has been a professional psychic for thirty years, amazing people (and animals) with his talents. He has written columns and short stories for a number of magazines and is known for being “The Wizard of Washington Square” when the weather succumbs to his will. Kyler’s newly published novel, MERCURY’S CHOICE, is currently available at Amazon, Strand Bookstore and McNally Jackson in NYC.

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