Nick Lasky is not your every day McIntire Comm School graduate.

The Roanoke, VA native works at the Aquarian Bookshop on Ellwood Avenue. One of eight resident psychics, his daily duties include one-on-one psychic consultations, tarot card readings, and leading shamanic journeys. Lasky explores the non-physical realms of existence with his dog Nigel, and will take guests with him for $20.

How old are you?

I am as old as the universe and as young as the moment.

DHR: When did you first realize you had psychic abilities?

NL: When I was little— like seven years old— I could see spirits. It wasn’t anything I really thought about.

Then, as I got older, I forgot about all that stuff. I was very uninterested in spirituality or religion until the summer of 2012, when I had a profound spiritual awakening.

I traveled all around the country, meeting all kinds of interesting people. It was a huge opening of my energy, and I started having a lot of psychic experiences. I was what people might call an “empath.”

I was able to really feel what other people were feeling. I could stand next to someone and hear what they were thinking. When people were talking, I’d finish their thoughts, without any conscious knowledge of where that came from in my mind.

So, there was a big up-and-down journey integrating that with Comm School. (Laughs).

I got connected with the old Aquarian Bookshop in Charlottesville. Then I got connected with a program called vipassana, which is a meditation retreat where you meditate for ten hours a day for ten days in a row.

That was the profound third-eye experience that allowed me to become aware of my energy and psychic ability in a different way. Before vipassana, it would just happen from time to time. After meditating for a hundred hours, it was like, “Oh, I can focus, tune in, and receive non-physical information.”

DHR: Had you practiced vipassana before that ten-day trip?

NL: No, that was my first experience. Now I do one every summer.

It’s diving into the deep end. It’s the most challenging thing I’ve ever done in my life. Total self-confrontation. But it’s worth it, if you feel that you’re ready.

DHR: Do you believe that everybody has the ability to access psychic knowledge?

NL: 100 percent, yes.

Everyone is psychic, but there are varying levels of sensitivity.

It’s like coffee. Personally, I’m very sensitive to caffeine. If I drink coffee on a normal day, I’m bouncing off the walls. Some people can drink a whole pot and go right to sleep.

It’s the same way with psychic abilities. Some people come way tuned in, but it’s definitely a muscle that can be developed in everyone.

DHR: Does that include Nigel?

NL: Dogs are extremely psychic. They can’t express it in words, but oh yeah.

DHR: I’ve found cats to be even more aware.

NL: Cats, dogs, babies.

You can tell that they know things before they see things.

DHR: Do you have any idea why?

NL: Up until the age of seven, human brain wave states oscillate at an alpha frequency.

After seven, the brain sets in and starts vibrating at a beta frequency. That’s the waking conscious state now.

Alpha, for adults, is a frequency that can be activated through meditation or extreme relaxation. It’s slower, more receptive, more tapped into your own subconscious. If you ever get hypnotized, that’s what they’re doing: slowing your brain waves down so that you’re more open.

That’s the brain wave state that babies are always in.

As for dogs and cats— they’re in their natural state. In our natural state, we’re all psychic. But as a society, we’re so far removed from our natural state.

DHR: Can psychedelic drugs open this window?

NL: Um, yeah. (Laughs). 100 percent, they do.

It depends on the kind of drug or plant, but they can absolutely force open your third eye.

DHR: Does that include cannabis?

NL: Maybe to a very mild extent.

But here’s the thing: with LSD, peyote, mushrooms, et cetera, people come and ask me all the time if they should do them. I always say that it’s not for everybody.

It’s something that, if you know it’s in your path, you should do with an expert or a guide. Like, if you want to do ayahuasca, you should go to Peru and journey with a shaman. If you don’t know what you’re doing, you’re opening yourself up to realms that are way out there. Psychedelics blow the gates wide open, so to speak.

DHR: S.N. Goenka— the leading figure in the vipassana movement— said that psychedelics are something of a trapdoor on the journey to enlightenment. He labeled them an “intoxicant,” the ingestion of which is a violation of the five Buddhist precepts. You might think you’re enlightened…

NL: …but really, you’re just on a huge ego trip. Yeah, that’s another part of it.

You could have the same visionary experience during an ayahuasca ceremony as you may have during a vipassana retreat. But what has really changed? You go, you come back. Yes, you’ve had the experience. But if you do vipassana, you do the grinding work, and you can achieve visionary states that are grounded. There’s no comedown, and you don’t need anything to get you there, except for being still.

DHR: Are there other ways to enhance psychic development?

NL: Absolutely. There are a lot of different philosophies and techniques. Several people teach psychic development at the Aquarian Bookshop. There are books, there are YouTube videos. It is absolutely something that anyone can learn and develop.

DHR: Are there certain days when your abilities are stronger?

NL: Yes.

DHR: Do you have any idea why?

NL: From my understanding, it boils down to energy.

It takes energy to tune into somebody. On days when I’m low energy, it takes more of a concerted effort to focus. I’ve also experimented with things like fasting, and I’ve found that that can make me more sensitive. But if I’m too hungry, that’s a distraction. But being very full can also be a distraction. It fluctuates.

DHR: How do you tap into someone else’s energy?

NL: It depends on what they’re looking for. Sometimes people will come in with a general, “Tell me what you got.”

The majority of the time, people want specific answers. “Tell me about my man: are we going to work out?” “Tell me about my health.” “Tell me about my financial situation.”

What I often do is ask the person to take a deep breath and say their name out loud a few times. Hearing their name gives me a whiff of their energy. I’ll breathe that in, and that open up energy within me. But there’s different techniques for different lines of questioning.

DHR: Is it possible to read someone without their consent?

NL: Yes.

DHR: I guess that’s probably not ethical. (Laughs).

NL: Well, as a professional psychic, people are paying to see me, so that’s their consent. (Laughs).

If you mean, like, tuning into someone at the grocery store, I would never go up to someone and tell them about themselves without them asking.

DHR: Do you ever read random people just to see what they’re thinking?

NL: Yes. I don’t do that now, but I used to do that as a technique for development. But I don’t have time to do that anymore.

DHR: Now that psychic reading is your job, is it more taxing?

NL: Very rarely.

Psychic readings are just one of the things that I do. The most fun that I have at work is teaching. I lead a guided meditation once a week, I teach astrology, I lead cacao ceremonies, I lead shamanic journeys. Because of that variety, I don’t really get tired of any one thing.

DHR: Back to something you mentioned earlier: you said that when you were little, you could see spirits.

NL: Yes. Now, I don’t see spirits like I see you. But I can see spirits in my psychic vision, in my third eye.

DHR: When you see things in your third eye, is it perceived in a similar way to the way I perceive sight?

NL: The third eye is your center of intuition that goes beyond the physical. It could mean seeing things beyond the senses.

I can also see auras, which is a derivative of using your third eye.

DHR: Can you see auras in the three-dimensional world, as if they were physical?

NL: Yes. I’m looking at yours right now. It’s turquoise.

DHR: Do auras change color throughout the day?

NL: What I’ve found is that people have a predominant aura color for periods of your life. But yeah, if you’re sick it’ll get weaker, or if you’re angry, woah, now it’s all bright red. It’s based on emotion a lot of the time. An emanation of your energy, so to speak.

DHR: Can you communicate with spirits?

NL: Yes.

DHR: Is that a two-way communication?

NL: Yes.

At times, communication with spirits is clear. At other times, it’s not. Tuning into someone in the physical world is much easier for me.

DHR: Do you think sometimes they just don’t want to talk?

NL: It can be. Or it can be the energy around a person, or my energy.

DHR: Are beings in the spirit world typically deceased members of this world?

NL: That’s a loaded question. Many times, yes. That’s usually what people want from me— to connect to an ancestor or something. But there are spirit guides that haven’t incarnated recently.

DHR: Do spirits communicate with you while you’re off the clock?

NL: Yes, but rarely.

Usually it’s a nudge in some direction, like “do this,” or “don’t do this,” or “bring this.”

I’ll also do shamanic journeys where I’ll lead people on a guided journey outside their bodies to connect with a spirit themselves.

DHR: Is there anything you can tell me about me?

NL: Yes.

Take a deep breath and say your name three times.

DHR: David Hunter Reardon. David Hunter Reardon. David Hunter Reardon.

NL: Okay, I’m just tuning into your body right now, and one of the things that I notice is that I feel a very strong pressure behind your eyes, in your temples. I don’t know if that’s an indication of a headache or stress, but there is a lot of stuck energy right here behind your eyes.

Editor’s note: Vision has been the focus of a sensorimotor OCD fixation of mine for years, recently aggravated by a retinal burn sustained while sungazing. There’s no way Nick could have known this.

I sense that it’s something you can move. I don’t know how long you were staring at the sun, but there is so much stuck energy here.

If you go to a good acupuncturist, they’ll know how to move the chi to different parts of your body, so that your energy will flow better.

DHR: Is it dangerous?

NL: It’s dangerous in the sense that stuck energy manifests in some way in the physical. That’s just the nature of energy.

It will give you headaches. It will give you stress. That’s in the short run.

If you don’t do anything about it in the long run, it will create something weird. That’s how people get diseases: stuck energy.

DHR: Has anything truly terrifying ever happened to you in this room?

NL: No.

But I have done readings for people that have had really intense, crazy, terrible, unfortunate journeys. So very occasionally, I will walk out of a reading like, “I need to lie down.” But no experience in this room has ever terrified me.

DHR: One more question.

Do you believe in God?

NL: No.

I experience God.

I don’t have to believe in anything; I’m not into blind faith. You have to get rid of your preconceived notion of what God should be.

God is in everything: source, universe, whatever you want to call it. But you don’t have to put stock or faith in it when you can experience it directly yourself every day.