Editor’s Note: Kicks presents 20Q, a feature that introduces readers to people involved in the area’s arts and entertainment community. Compiled by kicks Editor Greg Little, each piece will include a short bio, photo and answers to questions that provide insight into not only that person’s artistic interests but also his or her unique personality.
When she was 17, Janesville psychic Mary Summerbell had a premonition of her 10-year-old brother’s sudden death. When it came true, she questioned how open she wanted to be to her ability to see such things. In the years since, however, she has come to see her capabilities as beneficial.
Summerbell maintains humility, and she is quick to use words such as “quirky” and “eccentric” to describe her personality. First and foremost, however, she considers herself a serious student of esoteric wisdom.
A native Janesvillian, she hasn’t wandered far from home. Summerbell lives less than 2 miles from the house she grew up in. Past jobs include waitress, furniture finisher, teacher’s aide, phonics tutor, sales associate and a model for figure drawing classes. She considers her most important job as being Mom to her three children and now “Granny” to three grandchildren.
Besides reading, Mary maintains a love of theater and dabbles in writing, drawing, painting and photography. A former member of the Janesville Area Herb Society, she considers herself a “not-good gardener” who loves her herbs and weeds.
1. How and when did you first discover you had psychic abilities? The experience that stands out is a premonition of my brother’s death. I was 17. He was 10, when I had a dream hinting at his sudden, unexpected death two weeks later. After he died, when I was alone, crying, I heard the words, “I’m OK. It’s all right.” I felt his hand on my shoulder, comforting me. The sensation was so real and so solid that I looked up to see if someone had come into my room. When I saw no one there, I knew for sure it was him. I didn’t tell anybody about these things until many years later, simply because I didn’t think of them as anything more than just something that happened to me.
2. Have you ever avoided telling someone you are a psychic for fear of ridicule? I’ve been ridiculed. I can take it. But I don’t mention that I’m a psychic when people are so set against psychics that it makes no sense to try to discuss it.
3. Who was your favorite cartoon character as a child? Jiminy Cricket! “Always let your conscience be your guide.” He’s still my favorite, because he represents our own inner voice of truth.
4. The idea is that psychics can see into the future. If that is true, why can’t they give me the winning Powerball numbers? I believe you can get winning Powerball numbers intuitively—if that’s what you want and if you practice your skills to get good enough. Psychic abilities have been and can be applied for personal financial gain. But psychics are not fortune tellers. Psychics read a likely course of events based on current attitudes, desires and behavior patterns. Free choice can change the course at any time.
5. Have you ever done a reading for someone and been afraid to tell them the truth? Certainly apprehensive. Especially if I see the possibility of serious, impending illness or death, or the ending of a relationship. But I’ve learned to read people, to have a sense of the best way to tell each one something that might upset them.
6. People would be surprised to know that I: Once owned a 1956 Chevrolet, and also a 1974 Cosworth Vegas with a fuel-injected race car engine. It could go from zero to 60 mph in 10 seconds, with a top speed of 140 mph. I drove it once across a long, empty stretch of highway in New Mexico, going 90 miles in 60 minutes. Whoa!
7. What is the most common misconception about psychics? That they are bad, sinful or evil. Some people think that all psychics are phonies. Certainly some are just good guessers, probability players, or outright fakes. But many are genuine—sincere and honest. The test of a true psychic is that he or she can tell you with absolutely no prompting—something specific he or she couldn’t possibly know through physical senses.
8. Is being a psychic your profession? I am a professional psychic. I make money doing readings, but I don’t make a living doing them.
9. Is it possible to sharpen your intuitive skills, or is it kind of a “they are what they are” situation? You can definitely sharpen your skills. There are all kinds of books about developing your intuitive abilities. But the most basic and important thing is to just pay attention to them and use them. We all hear those little voices that say, “Don’t go home that way today” or “You know you shouldn’t be doing this.” We all get those little twinges and tugs that maybe we’ve forgotten something, or we’d best check something one last time before we leave. You know it happens to you, so listen.
10. You have two hours of free time. What do you do, and why? I might read a book, watch a movie, write, draw, paint, work in my yard, play with my grandchildren, go shopping, take a walk, call a friend. Or take a nap. These are the things I love to do.
11. How important is location when providing a psychic reading? To me, not very. It’s nice to have a table, chairs, good light and quiet focus, but I’ve read Taro cards on my lap in my car, in a school gym, a warehouse, an airplane hangar, in offices, restaurants and bars, houses, tents, yards, gardens, at herb festivals, farmers markets, picnics, the library, the grocery store—even on a blanket at a nude beach.
12. Name the one item you own that you simply could not live without? Two things are most vital to me: books and pencils. If I couldn’t read, or write or draw, I don’t know what I would do. I’d be a different person. Growing up, the public library was a sanctuary for me. Books are still sacred to me, and words a safe place for personal expression.
13. What is the difference between a psychic and a medium? A psychic is someone with highly attuned and developed intuitive skills. A medium is a psychic who can contact and communicate at will with people and animals who have died.
14. What is your middle name? Is there meaning behind it? Kathryn. My mom named all us kids after saints. I was named Mary after the Blessed Mother. As a former Catholic, I might have slightly missed the mark. Sorry, mom.
15. Do you feel insulted by those who question your abilities or do you just consider them unenlightened? I welcome questions. If you don’t believe, I respect that. But I don’t like it when someone comes to a reading with a “show me” attitude. If you’re curious, and try a psychic reading, be honestly open to the experience. I do my best. I’m willing to admit I can be wrong. Readers can make a mistake or have a bad day. Remember, no one’s perfect.
16. When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up? When I was 7 or 8, I wanted to be better than Jesus. Even he didn’t reach everyone. I wanted to do something positive that would directly affect every person on the planet. By the time I was 12, and more realistic, I decided I wanted to be a teacher.
17. Does everyone assume you own a crystal ball? I hope not, because I don’t have one. I just have lots of crystal rocks and jewelry. Lots and lots of rocks, and lots and lots and lots of jewelry.
18. What do you consider to be your worst habit? I struggle with time. I have a tendency to run late in my life.
19. One of the knocks on psychics is that they dispense vague information. Is that fair? Information gained and given by psychics can be vague or very exact, depending on influencing factors. As a reader, you accept what you get. Once, I told a woman to make sure her husband got new work boots, as the ones he had were worn too thin to protect him from injury. I saw a nail going through his boot into his left foot. That’s exact information. And, as I was reading, her husband called to tell her that’s exactly what had just happened. An earlier warning might have prevented injury. That is the purpose of psychic readings—to be alert and aware of what’s coming up so we can change, adapt and better master our lives. Psychic readings help empower people to make wiser choices.
20. I’ve already found true love and have given up on great wealth. What is the best reading I can possibly hope for at this point? Let’s find out!