Issue 06

Ways of Seeing

Tidal sits down with three Angelenos who tap into the “other” in their work to help others

Written by Lisa Butterworth and Heather Culp

Photographed by Heather Culp


“I believe that we’re all on this web called Mother Earth, or life, and whatever we do to the web we do to ourselves,” Nigel Crook says. We’re sitting in the cozy living room of his West L.A. apartment; a stack of tarot cards sits on the table in front of him. “But also, when you’re on the web, you’re supposed to make it vibrate. You’re not supposed to just stand there. But once you make it vibrate, you become in tune with everything else on the web. That’s when you become intuitive. That’s what I do.” It’s a little hard to explain how the British-born Crook, and others like him who seem to tap into the spiritual realm, channel energy, and harness messages from the universe, accomplishes these things. But that’s exactly what we asked him—as well as German expat Lola Babalon, a palm reader, psychic, and astrologer who’s made her home in Topanga Canyon, and Jane Anne Thomas, a seer (and former Tidal columnist) living in L.A.’s Koreatown—to do. (All three were chosen by Heather Culp, who’s intimately familiar with this community through Mercado Sagrado, the music, organic food, craft, design, and wellness event she co-curates and hosts, the next of which takes place November 5 and 6 in Malibu Canyon.) Here, they walk us through how they receive the information they relay to someone during a session, how they tapped into these talents in the first place, and how they use their unique abilities to help the people who come to them seeking answers. The results are thought-provoking, insightful, and totally mind-bending.   

Nigel Crook, Intuitive

How would you describe what you do?

They call it an intuitive here. In Europe I’m a clairvoyant/clairaudient, which means I see and hear spirit in full form, like me and you, and I get messages from them. The dead tell me what’s going on with people not related to them.

What’s a session with you like?

The connection’s made as soon as [a client] texts me or calls me. And then on the day of seeing the person, I’ll get messages the minute I leave the house. On the way to the client, I’ll actually see a spirit, who’ll give me information, and then when I get to the client’s home, I won’t tell them till halfway through, because more often than not, the client doesn’t want to know what I’ve just been told. I’m known as a brutal psychic; I used to make everybody cry who came to see me, and they actually needed that. It can be difficult. I’ll bring up stuff that’s affecting you now. I deal with cause and effect. And more often than not, what’s happening now has been caused in your past or even a past life. You’re carrying baggage through lives, and we have to stop that. I also give homework. The fact is, I don’t see myself as a healer, I call myself a helper. I will not cure you, you’ll cure yourself. And I will give you tools to do that which are invariably affirmations and prayers. It’s the intention that resonates with the universe.

How did you discover your clairvoyance?

I’ve always seen spirit in full form. I was raised in a household that was Catholic, so my Catholic auntie every Sunday would take me to the cemetery to her husband’s grave. And then we’d go around the cemetery, and she’d stand in front of a gravestone and ask me who was in. And I’d tell her, because they’d be standing next to her. I’d tell her what they died of and when and all that. I actually thought everybody could do it. It was only when I started high school that I realized they didn’t. 

When did you begin using your ability to help others?

When I was in my 20s, I was working at a restaurant in the north of England. This is how it started to change what I do. I’d be in a market, and I’d see somebody across…the market and know I had to touch them. And the minute that I touched them, one of their relatives would have an accident. And I would simply say to them, “Call your mother, there’s been an accident,” and walk off. It took about three weeks before these people started to find out where I worked and just started coming in saying, “Can we have a sitting with you? Exactly the time when you touched me is when [the accident] happened.”

Then I went to live on Ibiza in Spain, and that’s when everything started to open up. I don’t know why. I met an American lady, Carol, who taught tarot cards. Somebody had said, “We know of your psychic abilities, that you see spirit. She could help you control what you’re seeing.” Because where I was, it was like a vortex, there was so much stuff going on. So I went to see Carol. She gave classes, and everybody in the class was a different nationality—French, German, Italian, Spanish. At that time I only spoke English. We learned a three-card draw, which is past, present, and future, and took it in turns to read the class, whatever they pulled out. And at the end of the class, Carol came to me and she said, “I didn’t know you were bilingual.” I said, “I’m not.” And she said, “I don’t know how you’ve done this, but you just told everybody in that room the next two years of their life in their language.” What I think I do, I actually talk to a person’s soul—I call it your self. And I get your soul integrated in your body again.

What’s the one takeaway that you hope people get from working with you?

To believe in themselves, really. Learn to believe in yourself and learn how to treat yourself, the person inside, better. Literally to treat yourself as you’d like other people to treat you.

Lola Babalon, Astrologer and Psychic Consultant

How would you describe what you do?

I love helping people understand themselves and handle the challenges in their life more easily by understanding the bigger picture. I combine astrology, palmistry, and various visionary tools, such as the tarot, to read people and to connect with what is going on with that person. I find that it’s very helpful for people going through major changes to have some sense of direction.

How did you discover palmistry?

When I was 18 I was a nursing student, and I met a doctor from Ghana who read my hand and blew my mind. [Laughs] He predicted all kinds of things that happened very quickly; my life changed altogether. Within the next two years, I met two other palm readers. The second one said, “You should be doing this!” That was just what I needed to hear. I went full-tilt into studying it. The German masters on the topic said, Palmistry, it’s a science. There is no woo-woo about it. But as soon as I started to get good at it, I tapped into this whole other sense of spirit connection where I suddenly knew these things with a type of certainty that had nothing to do with my personal experience.

Can you describe the first few times you had this connective experience?

The palmistry books I was studying at the time opened all these possibilities about the planets and the kabbalah and the chakras and yoga. The spiritual path is a curious thing that unfolds as you start walking on it, and it was like that for me. Sometimes I’d be sitting down in a reading with somebody who would have a specific question. I would start figuring them out on the rational plane, and then I would just feel this shift in energy of total knowing coming through, which sometimes would also come with a change in my voice. But I now feel that I am not a channeler in that way, because I like to keep one foot in the real world and have both my psychic faculties as well as my grounded, practical, real-world German-Capricorn sensibilities also be intact. That enables me to be a better translator. The traditional definition of a witch—or a shaman, from the Russian point of view—they call it hagazussa and it means “the one that sits on the fence.” The trick is to straddle that divide between the visible and the invisible and to find some way to communicate or help somebody in whatever goings-on they might be experiencing.

What is a typical session like?

My preference is to meet in person. Usually I will take down your birthday and take a look at your planets beforehand. The funny thing is, when I look at the planetary picture, there’s always a reason for why somebody needs to have a reading right now. [Laughs] Then we sit down together in my cozy little mountaintop spot in Topanga, and we get into those things. I often start by giving an overview of what I see going on, and then I specifically get into relationships and relationship patterns, like why we are attracted to people that are showing up, and why we engage in these different dances, some of them more painful than others. Often we go into what might be going on in their families and with their parents, and how the patterns they grew up with may or may not have served them in their own personal growth. Sometimes there’s information about past-life patterns or achievements and how they might lead us into what is coming easy to us now or where the growing curve is. I also pull out some tarot cards, which will expand on those things that have been uncovered. And then there’s a sense of timing that can help people understand what this current astrological cycle is about and when it’s going to ease off.

What do you hope people take away from a reading with you?

Most people take away a great deal of clarity and comfort. I’m not here to tell them what to do or what’s going to happen, even though I do make predictions. I am here to help people help themselves and to tap into that part of knowing they already have. If I am seeing something, it’s very often something they already know and just need to hear. I believe that we are all spiritual beings walking in this physical manifestation, and the more we can trust and listen in to our own hearts, our own essence, and do the best that we can with the tools we’re given, that is the kind of thinking that will help us collectively grow and heal and wake up and help each other.

Jane Anne Thomas, Seer

How would you describe what you do?

It’s a blending of guided-meditation healing practice and a formal set of callings. Then I move into what could be called channels work. It’s not like altered voices are coming out of me or anything, but I have a couple different forms of clairvoyance. I see, feel, hear, and experience in my body various messages. My main interest is someone’s soul growth. A lot of traditional seers will give you that old-fashioned, gypsy-style reading where they give you a bunch of facts about your life. I’m really interested in helping a person manifest their soul’s dream in this lifetime. When I work I’m calling to that, to those beings and ancestors and lineages who are there for you in this way.

How do you work toward that in a session?

A lot of people, when they’re reaching out for readings, are in a place of needing deep healing. I take it very seriously. At the end of the day, the questions they think that they’re coming to answer become irrelevant when in the healing process you connect them back to themselves. Because a lot of times questions will be about other people, or about other circumstances. And you realize that their mind and their emotional body has been trained on something outside of them. My goal oftentimes is to give them back to themselves.

How did you realize you had the ability to channel?

I learned the hard way. I had no training, no background, no family that did this. I grew up in a very conservative Christian, Bible Belt Texas environment where you’d never even see a tarot card in the house. It was considered very taboo. I always had things happen as a child. I thought it was something I would grow out of.

I moved to Santa Barbara for college, and I took my first yoga class, I laid down for savasana at the end of class, and when I opened my eyes and sat up, I could see through the walls. I was like, Oh my god, I’m insane, or I ate something weird, or I put my hands in the photo chemicals too long. All the molecules in the room were vibrating really hard, and I could see through them. For the whole four-week introduction to hatha yoga that I took, the same thing happened. Then the hauntings started. It was like a circus in my house. I was being woken up in the middle of the night, and all this crazy stuff was happening. At the end of the yoga class series, I went to the teacher and I broke down crying. She said, “This is a gift. I practice with a shaman. I can give you a few techniques. You have to learn how to claim your space.”

I continued through art school and moved to L.A., and it kind of went away for like three years. And then I had what’s called a quickening, where everything started coming in rapid-fire again. It became abundantly clear that I needed to learn how to ground and protect myself. I ended up living in the home of a healer; it was a kind of apprenticeship. I went into a space of being visited again but having positive experiences, where it wasn’t frightening and I didn’t feel like I was in a horror film. That was when I was like, “Oh, this can be beautiful. I can actually have exalted, life-affirming, love-affirming, healing experiences.”

Animal medicine is a big part of your work. When did you start giving readings, and how did that become an element of them?

I decided to pull out this animal-medicine deck of cards that I had been given, and I did a reading for myself. I didn’t understand any of it. Once I put it deeply away from my consciousness, the dreams began. In them, this one very intense, very specific animal came forward from the spread. It was the size of a house, and it would chase me. I woke up realizing I had accessed something that was real, that was beyond my understanding of what was going on with nature. At that point, I didn’t think of animals [as having] the same level of sentience [as people]; I didn’t think of them as beings that could meet you in the psychic world, much less teach you. So I was completely blown away. I started doing readings for friends. I was like, “I feel like everyone needs to have this experience. They need to connect to what this is because the natural world is all around us, actually trying to help us, to heal us, to connect, to teach us.” I realized over time that [a reading] was like an experiment in telepathy. That the person would sit in front of me, and after establishing what we were holding space for, the messages would come.

In 2012 I became an apprentice to [a shaman in Santa Barbara] and have learned more formally how to work with the amplified things that are happening for me, traditional ceremonies to learn how to work with the other side.

How do you feel about your abilities now?

I definitely didn’t plan to be doing this, and I really just started my journey out of personal survival and healing. Then it kind of surprised me, like, “Oh, this could actually help somebody? Awesome!” That gives it a point.

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