In New York, it seems you can't go two blocks without seeing a sign for a reader. They all seem to be offering low-priced readings, and have big neon signs in front of their storefronts, "Psychic Reading $5", "Special Reading $10", "Tarot Reading $10". Except that those prices won't even pay the rent, much less make a living for the reader. And, if you go in to one of those places, you will find out that, minimally, they will try to talk you into a far more expensive reading. Or, they will tell you that you are under a curse, and offer to remove the curse, for a price that will often run into hundreds or even thousands of dollars. For most of these storefronts, the curse breaking is the real business; the readings are just a come-on to get people in for the curse-breaking services. If a reader tells you that you are under a curse, do not see that reader again, particularly if the reader offers to remove the curse.
But that brings up the question, how do you find a genuine reader? Or at least one who uses serious reading techniques, as opposed to reading from a script or making it up as they go along? There are a number of ways to do this.
The first, and often the best way, is a personal recommendation. If someone you know and trust has been to a reader, and had successful results, that at least puts the odds a bit more in your favor. Still, given the poor public perception of readers (largely gained through the aforementioned "curse-breakers"), people tend to be reluctant to even admit that they get readings, much less recommend one.
Psychic fairs are often good places to contact a reader. Most of the readers you find there are seeking clients more than payment, and will therefore tend to put their best face forward. This means that you will generally get a somewhat better picture of the reader than the fee would normally imply (the Quest Bookshop has frequent fundraising Psychic Fairs; check out our calendar for our next one).
Also, look at the reader's advertising material. If they are making all sorts of grandiose promises ("Become rich! Get the lover of your dreams! Gain power over others!"), one wonders why they are doing readings instead of using their gifts on themselves (the old saw that a reader should not do readings for themselves has more to do with lack of objectivity than anything mystical). The material will tend to concentrate more on the services they offer, what they can do for you, and what their qualifications are, including certifications and organizational memberships.
Finally, see if the reader is sponsored. Although esoteric stores are a vanishing breed (and make s ure it's a functioning store, and not a storefront with a handful of dusty items on even dustier shelves), since the readers reflect on the reputation of the stores, and there is huge competition among skilled, ethical readers to read out of these venues, being a reader for one of these stores is a major plus (such as, for example, the Quest Bookshop, where new readers are generally selected from those who have proven themselves at our Psychic Fairs, and a few of our readers have been here for a decade or more).
The price you would expect to pay for a reading varies, although for Tarot, Runes, Palmistry, I Ching and similar readings, $100/hour seems to be the standard. More specialized readings such mediumship, astrology, or readings combined with healing sessions, tend to be more expensive, due to the greater degree of training required, equipment required, or stress levels on the reader.
In terms of the type of reader to look for, many readers do more than one kind of reading (although the more types they do, the less skilled they may be in each one). In general, Tarot lends itself to looking at possibilities and probabilities; seeing what decisions you have, and which way those decisions may go. Astrology offers a more comprehensive picture, notably at seeing the parameters of what you can do, and what sort of things are likely to happen and thereby influence your own choices. I Ching is excellent for helping determine what your mindset should be in terms of the way that you attack a problem that may be facing you. Hand analysis/palmistry not only looks at what has happened, but is good about seeing how your own efforts affect your future. Mediumship allows you to get in touch with those who are no longer on this plane of existence with whom you have a love connection, and receive information that will be important to you. And there are psychics and intuitives, for whom whatever methodology they use is more of an aid for their own abilities than directly using them.
You also have to depend on the way the reader interprets the information they get. Many readers will explain the reason they are making their interpretation; this is useful because if they are going in the wrong direction, you will be able to see why, and work with them to get results that are both helpful and relevant. On the other hand, you may just want the results, and not want to be bothered with the details; never hesitate to let the reader know what it is you are looking for.
Finally, realize that not all readers are psychic; often, even the reader isn't sure whether it is the effectiveness of their technique or innate ability. Many reading techniques have been developed over long periods of time, and a reader can be highly skilled and accurate without any more psychic ability than the average, say, weather forecaster (and often a lot more accuracy). And, as through a lack of background information, the interpretation can be in the wrong direction, it is always a good idea to work together with the reader.
Always make sure that you have a record of the reading. Minimally, you should take notes. Many reputable readers will allow or even encourage you to record the session, as taking notes can be distracting and cause you to miss an important piece of information. Never hesitate to ask questions; most readers love talking about their work, and will be happy to answer them. And when you do find a good reader, don't forget to send on recommendations to others!