10 Red Flags That Signal a Mystical Charlatan

A clear crystal ball balanced on a pile of wooden coins and stones surrounded by beads and a chain.
(Image Credits: Дмитрий Шаповалов via Pixabay)

As I have begun reworking the intuitive services available in my shop, I’ve found myself contemplating the current state of our culture and economy and the heightened sense of desperation these things can induce. While I firmly believe that, given the system we currently live within, those with a passion for the metaphysical should be able to make a living by assisting others through various mystical services, it is imperative that those of us who do provide these services acknowledge the presence of con artists and charlatans in our midst who seek to take advantage of the emotionally or financially vulnerable. Today, I’ll be discussing some of the potential warning signs that are good to keep in mind when seeking spiritual services, whether they be divination work, energy work, or any other form of spiritual assistance you may encounter.

1. Claims of Exclusive Abilities

If a prospective spiritual service provider insists that they possess some sort of unique, one-of-a-kind ability that cannot be found anywhere else on the planet, it is likely they are a con artist at worst or lying as a marketing gimmick at best. While, in some cases, such claims may be related to a system of working that is truly of their own creation, there are always routes to be taken by others that have the ability to yield similar results. In truth, as with any skill, mystical abilities can be mastered by anyone willing to put in the time, effort, and dedication, including those who may not have been blessed with “natural-born” inclinations.

Certainly, those who have put in such work prior to offering mystical services may show better focus or discernment when delivering results and interpretations when compared to those who have begun offering services with little prior experience, but the tools available to achieve the former are not unavailable to the latter by any means. In fact, for those interested in delving into the world of divination and magick, I offer comprehensive articles packed with free, fundamental information for anyone at any level here on this very website. Everything that a spiritual service provider can do for you, you can do for yourself, and the choice to hire someone else is one that should be one of convenience rather than desperation.

2. Claims of Superior Abilities

While I will reiterate that a more experienced and well-studied spiritual service provider will likely show evidence of stronger focus or discernment in the results they yield, the need for them to put others down in their various interactions and marketing material should be obsolete. The ability of a good service provider should speak for itself without the need for name dropping and muckraking. This is another red flag which strikes me as scam-bait at word and sleazy marketing tactics at best.

Further, claims of exclusivity or superiority have the potential to create a dynamic of inauthentic dependency. Rather than returning to a service provider because you find them to be reliable and helpful for your particular needs, you risk being hooked onto false claims which prevent you from seeking out other providers who may work better with you, and as with the previous red flag, you also run the risk of developing a subconscious complex of inferiority which hinders you from developing your own abilities.

3. Fearmongering About Curses

Throughout my extensive journey in the realms of spirituality and magick, I’ve found curses to be an exceedingly rare occurrence. Even for those who associate with the more unsavory occult crowds, the individuals who dwell within them tend to lack the necessary depth of knowledge and practice, courtesy of an ego-driven approach, to produce meaningful enough results to cause you any substantial issues that a quick cleanse won’t cure. Such is the case, as well, for inadvertently directed negative energy by non-practitioners, which can deliver rather unpleasant results but can ultimately also be solved by a quick cleanse.

Regardless of the “level” a curse may be at, however, it is worth noting that these things can be cleansed, banished, and/or mitigated by anyone who takes the time to familiarize themselves with the appropriate techniques. If a prospective spiritual service provider tells you that you have a curse that only they are capable of removing – or, in the same vein, if you have any sort of spiritual haunting or attachment going on that they claim only they can remove – they are attempting to deceive you. More than likely, there is no curse or entity or energy plaguing you, and they are simply saying so to hook you into another payment. Even if someone does legitimately provide cleansing, banishing, healing, or protection services, a good one will never force you into that service through fear, and a better one will always assure you that you are entirely capable of handling it yourself if you are unable to or simply do not want to outsource the work.

An unfortunate possibility that should be mentioned here, however, is that feelings of negativity, especially when paired with a newfound awareness and acknowledgement of other realms, can sometimes attract unsavory energies and entities who feed on or thrive in such emotions. Horror and despair are especially powerful at drawing such attention. As such, it is a good idea for anyone seeking out spiritual services for hire to at least familiarize themselves with cleansing, banishing, and protective techniques that feel appropriate for and compatible with them. I feel that my article, The Basics of Spiritual Safety & Wellbeing, is a very important one for anyone dipping their toes into such explorations. I would also like to note that I am available within my office hours to offer guidance to those who feel they need it, so if you have come across this article after a negative experience with a spiritual service provider which has drawn any unsavory presences into your midst, feel free to contact me here and I will be happy to advise you where I am able.

4. Threats at Any Level

On the topic of fear, if a spiritual service provider has threatened you in any capacity, whether it pertains to threats of curses or harmful spirits or threats against your mental or physical wellbeing, they are most definitely not someone you want to continue working with, nor should you keep open any methods of contact. Keep a paper trail of such threats to the best of your ability to report them to their web host or to the customer service of the platform they are selling their services on, and in the case of a physical threat, to report them to the proper authorities. Beyond this, block them from continued contact wherever you are able.

Unfortunately, in the digital age we live in, most services are online, and the internet is very much still in this sort of murky, weird territory when it comes to law enforcement. Speaking from experience, I urge anyone with an online presence to be very careful with how much personal information is shared online, and it is also a very good idea to search yourself on Google in order to request the removal of your personal information on places like Whitepages if you’ve ever used your real name online. We seem to have gone from the era of “stranger danger” right into an era of no fear at all regarding the sharing of identities online. This is no less dangerous than taking out a physical billboard with that same information.

Returning to the topic at hand, however, if a prospective service provider is threatening to curse you in return for an unwillingness to hand over money, they are no different than those I mentioned previously who lack the sufficient expertise to do such a thing. More than likely, these types of people are practitioners at all. The worst they can do, in both of these cases, is direct a bit of negative energy your way, which, as I also mentioned previously, is an issue easily resolved with a simple cleansing.

5. Claims of All-Knowing Abilities

While this is particularly relevant for divination-based services, it’s still necessary to note in this article: If your prospective spiritual service provider makes grandiose claims of possessing any sort of all-knowing, 100% accurate ability, they are being fraudulent. Even the most highly skilled among us, while having the capability to give accurate and highly beneficial information in most cases, will still make the occasional mistakes of misinterpretation or a slight unsteadiness in focus. As is currently theorized based on the multitude of practitioner experiences which confirm it, the subconscious has a habit of communicating via symbolic gesture, emotional appeals, and vague notions.

This is why, when seeking a divination service, providing as much information about your situation as you are comfortable with is crucial to a thorough and relevant interpretation. The more context you give to a cartomancer, astrologer, or medium, the more context they can focus on when requesting information via other realms. This is also why many of those who offer blind readers as a viable option will make use of personally crafted proprietary spreads, as this allows them to put some degree of context where there is none. The tower card in tarot, for example, can be interpreted in various ways depending on the circumstance it is applied to, and an interpretation that makes little sense to you cannot necessarily be credited to the ability of a reader you have given little information to.

Further, I have found in my experiences and the experiences of many others that our futures are quite malleable. Magick done by a practitioner can influence a particular outcome, but it does not completely eliminate the many other factors that also bear influence. Divination done by a reader can reveal to us one or more potential outcomes of a situation or give us a peek of the path we are currently on, but it is up to us to take this knowledge and utilize it to either follow the same path or take a new one. If the world of metaphysics was set in stone like the physical experience, it would be much easier to observe and repeat in a scientific context, which is not the case at this time.

6. Dubious Pricing Practices

Market-conscious and economically-consider pricing is a key aspect of any service, and it’s equally important to exercise caution when hiring spiriting service providers as it is when hiring any other service provider. Prices that are too high raise concerns of deceit, while prices that are too low raise concerns of unpracticed ability. It is worth noting, however, that unstable pricing does not necessarily reflect malicious intentions. Speaking as someone who offers freelance service in a number of sectors, it can be difficult at times to know what your ideal price range should be while taking into account the monetary value of the time and effort a project will take you, the state of the economy and the effect on the average person’s spending ability, and the reflection and impact the pricing of a new service will have on the rest of the industry who are all in the exact same boat as one another. So, I will once again reiterate that, when you hire someone for a spiritual service, you are paying for the convenience of not having to put forth your own time and effort to achieve a similar result. Some things, like a one to three card tarot reading, may be a couple dollars, while others, like a thoroughly-written astrological report or a time-consuming ritual, may be a couple hundred because it takes far more time for one to complete with the amount of energy such a service calls for.

Ultimately, it is not really up to you to determine what someone “should” be charging for their services, but if something does truly seem outrageous to you, consider reaching out to the spiritual service provider to ask for more information about their service. If you find that it is something that it worth while but is out of your budget, ask about potential payment plans or if they offer any more affordable services. If all things fall through or if you simply don’t have a good feeling about the provider, seek others who provide similar services.

7. Cliffhangers & Other Vagueness

While taking into consideration that the less information you provide a reader, the more vague of a response you are likely to receive, there is a time when it can cross into the realm of a predatory practice or simple inexperience. In the case of a tarot reading, for example, if all information you are given is a copy-and-paste of what can be found on a website like Biddy Tarot (an excellent tarot resource, by the way), it’s possible that your reader developed only a surface-level understanding of tarot before deciding to enter the field. This is not inherently malicious or deceitful, but it does cause its own set of issues in that it can be a waste of money for those who are expecting services with depth, it can spread the potential client pool more thin for those who have put in the time and effort to hone their craft, and it can further muddy the already-skewed public perception of those who study, practice, and/or sell these services.

On the other hand, if a spiritual service provider is telling you that there is something you need to know or do that they cannot share with you until you purchase another service (or an initial service, in the case of those who may reach out to you first, which we’ll discuss more later on in this article), they are most likely appealing to your curiosity to lure you into giving them more money. Now, this does not refer to providers who may tell you, “You are asking me to do something that is not part of the description of this service. Please purchase another service if you would like me to do the additional work you are asking me to tack onto the service I have just done for you,” in response to you having asked for something more than they’ve given you. Requesting that someone do additional work for you for free is, quite plainly, taking advantage of someone. This warning is reserved only for those who are bringing up “concerns” of their own volition without giving any detail whatsoever as a deceptive marketing gimmick.

8. More Money, Same Service

Similarly, if a spiritual service provider has not provided you with the full extent of what they have promised in their service description but instead stops short to ask for more money, they are, without a doubt, a con artist. Commonly, this is seen in ritual or energy work services wherein the scammer will tell the scamee that they suddenly require more energy for their working than they initially thought, and so it is “necessary” for the scamee to send more money for the service to be fulfilled. This should never be the case. Anything beyond what is listed in the description of a service is a separate service or a favor, but a service must include everything that is listed in the description once it is paid for.

This is why it is crucial as a spiritual service provider to comb through our service description with strict attention to detail and an enhanced awareness for how our words could potentially be misinterpreted. Sometimes things may slip through the cracks, and other times there may be customers who are intentionally misinterpreting things to take advantage of us, but we should attempt to mitigate these potential situations to the best of our ability before such a thing happens.

Please note that this red flag does not apply to service providers simply adjusting their pricing overall. If a service you’ve paid for once before is more or less expensive the next time you return to it, this is more than likely a simple reflection of a shifting market.

9. Love, Light, & Yes Men

While it is more than normal to receive positive news and validating information from a spiritual service provider, if it is the case that you are always being told exactly what you want to hear – and especially if your experiences outside of the service don’t necessarily reflect what you are hearing – it is likely that the provider is carefully choosing their words and/or glossing over potentially crucial information in order to keep you coming back as a recurring customer. Not every working goes as planned, and not every reading is pleasant to hear. A good reader is an honest one, and at times, that may lead to receiving information that makes us uncomfortable, angry, or otherwise upset. As a client, it is important to approach any potential spiritual services with a desire for truth and an understanding that the truth is not always in alignment with our desires.

10. The Opportunistic Approach

In today’s digital landscape which is plagued by ever-transient algorithms that seem to always favor corporations, clickbait, and marketing threads written with that distinct belittling for-profit pacing, advertising can be challenging. Authenticity often comes at the sacrifice of optimized search engine results and oppressive levels of visibility on social media. This is something I am intimately familiar with, as when I had first started this blog, I attempted to reconcile my unique voice and desire to be thorough with the need to be keyword-conscious in order to please the technocrats who determine which ventures are most profitable and, therefore, most worthy of circulation. I ultimately decided, however, that my authenticity was more important than my visibility, and my visitor count has taken a hit as a result.

With this decision in mind, this leads one to seek out more creative methods of promoting their goods and services. Those looking to get their work seen may then seek out and follow/interact with users who share relevant content, may host giveaways in exchange for assistance with internet visibility, may regularly post about the goods or services they offer alongside the other content they may share, and/or may mention their goods or services in passing when pertinent to the discussion at hand.

When it becomes worthy of an eyebrow raise, however, is when you are approached either entirely at random or at a time when you have expressed some sort of desperation publicly and the appeal used to market to you is an emotional one. If, for example, you’ve recently posted something on social media about your troubles with love or money and you suddenly find your inbox filled with WhatsApp numbers and promises of infallible rituals cast by powerful spellcasters who can solve all your worldly problems, you are being propositioned for a fairly common scam.

Looking for legitimate intuitive readings? Check out the Intuitive Services I offer in my own shop and make sure to subscribe to The Witchy Housewife below to receive updates by e-mail whenever you release a new article. No spam – just updates! )O(

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