On a recent fall day, I found myself sitting in a conference room, surrounded by five of my spirit guides. Historically, in Western spiritualism, a spirit guide is said to serve as a kind of human protector. Mine were wise and supportive... and they had surprisingly expensive, trendy tastes. They urged me to go to the spa more often, to take dance classes, to get luxe Ayurvedic spa treatments, and to stock up on a specific brand of supplements.
You're probably wondering how I ended up in this situation.
I didn't get in touch with my spirit guides on my own. I met with a medical intuitive, who was acting as a medium. I first heard the term medical intuitive when I got an intriguing email about Amy Leigh Mercree, a “holistic health expert” and the author of 11 books, including A Little Bit Of Goddess. As a medical intuitive, she does confidential, one-on-one spirit guide readings for clients all over the world. They cost $95 for 15 minutes, $195 for 30, and $395 for an hour.
After further research, I learned that medical intuitives are indeed "a thing." They go through various trainings (Mercree tells me she had a teacher that taught her Native American-style medicine healing), but she also has “extra-sensory skills” she was born with to figure out the cause of bodily “dis-ease.” That can mean actual diseases (say, hyperhyroidism), or it can refer to “smaller, harder to diagnose ailments, and, notably, the precursors of disease before they become known,” Mercree’s website explains. And at a time when 70 percent of Americans say their healthcare system has major problems, more people may be seeking out this kind of alternative option.
The term medical intuitive isn't regulated, meaning anyone can call themselves one and each intuitive defines what they do differently. Mercree describes it as helping "people find the root causes of mild and moderate health ailments." She says this includes "gene mutations, vitamin and mineral deficiencies, impaired cellular function, trapped emotions, stored trauma, limited beliefs about oneself, dense energy trapped in the body, and more."
I'm a cynic by nature, so I was skeptical from the start. But I'm always looking for new ways to relieve stress, so I agreed to try out a session. It was about 40 minutes, and while it was interesting and comforting, it also raised a few red flags.
As she began my reading, Mercree asked me if I had any health concerns, or if I wanted to talk about anything specific in my session. I told her that I’d like help managing my stress and being more productive at work. I added that I had some general neck pain from hunching over my computer all day, and some occasional joint pain from intense marathon training I was doing at the time.
She then summoned my guides with an opening invocation: “We ask [that] whatever is for Molly’s highest and best interest, come through easily and gently,” she said. “We welcome the presence of Molly’s highest vibrational guides, guards, and teams, and thank them for their help.” I squeezed my eyes shut (partially to conceal an internal eye roll), and tried to remain open to the experience.
She told me that five life guides — who will follow me from my birth to my death — then lined up behind me in a semicircle. She began to take fervent notes. She told me that one guide was from 28 generations back, and had a “detached” guiding style. “I kind of like that in a guide,” Mercree added.
The first part of the reading was up-lifting. Mercree told me that my guide had my back, that I would be in “building” phase of my life for the next three and a half years. Then, big things would likely happen to me, both in romance and work. After that, I’d move on to a phase in which I’d discover my “life’s purpose.” Sweet, I thought.
My next two guides offered advice about my single status. “They ask that you find ways to get in touch with your body,” and to tap into my feminine side, Mercree told me. They urged my to try dancing, yoga, sea salt baths, nature walks, and aromatherapy. “If you do more in your body and do all of this, energetically, you’ll attract some partners,” she said. I'd been relying on dating apps to help me meet potential SOs. But sure, I could get down with taking a bath or two.
Finally, I met my last two guides. Mercree then told me they were “a little bit more cosmic.” They were interested in helping me “spiritually evolve,” she said, comparing them to “the equivalent of Buddhist monks.” She said they would help me open my heart.
I was expecting to be told to meditate, maybe try a little yoga. But my monks had surprisingly specific advice for me. “They want you to become a connoisseur of sensory pleasure,” Mercree told me. “Get every body-based spa treatment you can.” They suggested I take a class to learn the Nia technique, which is a mix of healing arts, dance, and Martial arts. They wanted me to get a massage, and try Shirodhara, an Ayurvedic treatment that involves pouring warm herbal oil onto your forehead (where your third eye is) in a continuous stream. They also recommended Ancient Minerals magnesium lotion, Pure Encapsulations brand high potency turmeric curcumin as a general preventative supplement, and Neurofeedback therapy using a machine from the company bee Medic.
For the record, I asked if Mercree has partnerships with any of these brands. She says she does not.
I was already surprised that my ancient guides had kept up with all the latest wellness brands and therapies. (I was also wondering how they thought I would pay for all these treatments; Shirodhara treatments alone can cost $145 per session, and I was supposed to go quarterly.) But their last bit of advice really gave me pause. Mercree told me my guides wanted me to go off my hormonal birth control, and instead take two Nature’s Way red raspberry supplements twice a day for help with hormonal regulation. She added that a non-hormonal IUD could also be a good alternative.
To be fair, Mercree emphasized that she’s not a medical doctor, and recommended I chat with a functional medicine ob/gyn if I wanted to know more. That's advice I knew I would take. Even if my guides have been around for 28 generations, I prefer to get my gynecological advice from someone certified and with a medical degree.
After my session, I asked Timothy Caulfield, author of Is Gwyneth Paltrow Wrong About Everything? and a law and health expert at the University of Alberta, to weigh in on medical intuitives. He's not a huge fan.
"The idea of a ‘medical medium’ is 100 percent science-free nonsense,” he said. “It is based on the supernatural idea that people can ‘read’ what is the best health strategy is for a person. It is particularly offensive when this pseudoscience is coupled with the [apparent] marketing of products, like supplements, that lack good clinical evidence."
Even so, I can see why someone would go to Mercree. She has a calming presence, and if you’ve had bad experiences within the medical establishment, this could seem like a decent alternative way to find advice from a greater power. The recommendations I got certainly weren't all backed conclusively by science — but they were very in tune with the wellness industry, which is all about taking your life and health into your own hands. Or, in this case, the hands of your guides.
Feeling you have some sense of autonomy when it comes to your health is crucial, and intuitives like Mercree try to deliver that. Still, I took everything she said with grain of the sea salt my guides said I should bathe in.
But I did go to yoga. I didn’t feel “a spiritual richness,” as promised, but it did feel good.