The Second Sight

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Laguna Beach is a hotbed of psychic activity, as more and more locals turn to spiritual advisers for guidance.

By Tess Eyrich | Photos by Scott Sporleder



As George Lauricella tells it, a psychic’s advice may very well have saved his life.

George Lauricella has been aware of his psychic abilities since childhood, and now works as an intuitive and metaphysical consultant at Laguna’s Chakra Shack.

“My mother told me before the Northridge quake [of 1994] that she’d had a premonition,” he says. “She told me she wasn’t coming to visit from New York, but I didn’t listen to her; I was too busy. So I went to Los Angeles, and my friend asked me to stay over. … For some reason, at that moment, I said, ‘I’ve got to go home [to Laguna Beach].’ All I could think of was my mother’s voice in my ear saying, ‘Stay out of Los Angeles these next couple of days.’ … I sped home, and I was under the 10 freeway at La Cienega or Fairfax and I did something I never would have done at 2 o’clock in the morning: I looked both ways, and I went through the red light because I didn’t want to be under the underpass. And of course, that’s where it collapsed a couple hours later.”

George, who has since followed in the footsteps of his mother and now works as an intuitive counselor at The Chakra Shack off Coast Highway, is just one of the many Lagunans well-versed in new age philosophies, and according to him, Laguna is a magnet for psychic phenomena.

“Laguna has always had a reputation as being a Pisces vortex, similar to Santa Barbara—not in energy, but similar to Santa Barbara in that both are power sites,” he explains. “It’s always attracted artists, gay people, show business people, surfers. It’s always been a very eclectic town, and it’s always been very open. Laguna was the center of the New Age, even before it was the New Age.”

Just in time for the new year, Laguna Beach Magazine sat down with some of the area’s top psychics, who were more than willing to dish about this city’s penchant for mystic spiritualism.

Laguna’s Hidden Secret

“I have found Laguna to be so receptive to psychics,” says Michele Amburgey, one of George’s co-readers at The Chakra Shack. “There is a quality to the people in Laguna that is very open, very spiritual.”
Michele, who has worked in the field as a medium and energy healer for the past 12 years, claims that she was just 3 years old when she started becoming aware of her own psychic abilities. Since then, she says, “I’ve had too many experiences—I can’t doubt that I’m psychic.”

Jill Templin, owner of The Chakra Shack.

Her trajectory is far from extraordinary. In fact, most psychics purport to have experienced visions, feelings and other metaphysical communications since childhood. “I started having dreams that would come true,” George says of his journey into the psychic underground. “I don’t know if you’d call them visions, but I started being very aware of that at a very young age.” After being given a deck of tarot cards at the age of 12 by a cousin, George plunged headfirst into the world of psychic phenomena and has remained in the industry for 46 years, advising an average of 40 clients per week. “Everybody has an interest in wanting to know what’s upcoming,” he remarks. “I’m not saying they necessarily want to look at a crystal ball, but most people want to know what’s coming down the pipe.”

Psychics use star charts and tarot cards to help clients with issues related to relationships, finances and careers.

Laura Williams, who refers to herself as the Laguna Beach Psychic, entered the industry as a spiritual reader in 1980 while living in Whittier, Calif. She now performs between 10 and 15 readings per day, both in person and over the phone, attracting a slew of international clients who shell out $25 for a 30-minute session. “You can talk so much, your tongue gets numb,” she says, sharing that she currently has a three-week waiting list.
“A good 90 percent are regulars,” she says of her clientele. “Because I’m consumed with so many people’s lives, it kind of gets ridiculous. … When you’ve been dealing with it for so many years, it’s an emotional rollercoaster that you go through.”

Another local reader, Vivienne Simchowitz, bills herself as something of a Renaissance woman, mapping astrological charts, balancing chakras and even teaching yoga. After a childhood spent in Durban, South Africa, she was performing tarot readings at age 19 and working as a professional astrologer by 21. “Most clients will record their [astrological reading] … and then years later they’re still listening to it,” she says. “It’s so much packed information. I can even see right away, like, trauma in childhood—it’s amazing what the chart can show you.”

Vivienne advises between 15 and 20 clients per week, charging $100 for live, over-the-phone and Skype readings (she can even do a chakra rebirthing via Skype, she adds). She’s crisscrossed the globe, touching down in far-flung places like South Africa, Mexico, Australia and Hawaii. Still, she muses, “Out of everywhere, I say Southern Californians are the most willing to hear, just because so many of them are already doing therapy and self-reflection.”
Of course, that’s not to say all Southern Californians are thoroughly convinced of the accuracy of a psychic’s knowledge. Laguna local Amanda Montrose speaks for a large swath of the population when she says, “Psychics tell people what they want to hear to get more money of out them. They’re good at reading people—not the future.”

People and Priorities

In Laguna at least, psychics tend to agree on the general demographics of their clients. Most are female, but more and more guys seem to be jumping on the spiritual bandwagon.
“I am seeing a trend where more and more men are coming in and beginning to open up,” Michele says. “I really feel that males have been closed off to this kind of stuff for a long time, but it seems like they’re opening up, and it’s really exciting.”

So what’s the common denominator that pushes these clients into psychics’ orbits? “Love issues,” Laura says. “Ninety percent are love issues, along with 5 percent health and 5 percent finance issues.”

All of the readers we spoke to unanimously agree that relationships are by far the No. 1 concern of Lagunans who turn to pyschics for guidance. “[I get] people who are involved in relationships, and many of them come to me because they’re at a crossroads in their relationship,” George says. “I also get people who are in a transition in their marriage. They may have caught a partner being unfaithful, or they themselves may have struggled with being unfaithful. Relationships are big.”

Meanwhile, Vivienne notes that many of her clients aren’t in partnerships but are looking for them: “A lot of my clients are wanting families and kids, or feel the clock’s ticking away, so the theme of  ‘Will I get married?’ or ‘Is this the right guy?’ seems to be a very prevalent one in Laguna,” she says.

After relationships, financial- and career-related queries are high priorities for locals who seek psychic insight. “I knew when the housing market was going to collapse, and a couple of people listened to me,” George says. “I know when certain financial trends are going to happen. People think I’m crazy because I’m not a Realtor and I’m not a Wall Street banker, but what can I say? I tell my clients, if they ask me, that I’m not qualified to give advice, but in my suggestion, I wouldn’t invest in the stock market right now.” He contends that in Laguna, however, clients typically exhibit less anxiety about money than people living in other areas.

“Laguna Beach is owned by the superclass, and they’re pretty much beyond any financial concern,” he explains. “But in many other areas … people are very concerned about their children, about world changes. They’re very concerned about the collapsing capitalist economy.”

Vivienne explains that many Lagunans instead crave reassurance about their career choices: “I do get a lot of clients [who want to know] ‘Is this the right decision with my career?’ You know, a lot of people are going through big changes.”

The New Therapy

Speaking with a handful of Laguna’s most popular mediums, readers and healers, one thing becomes strikingly clear: The line between psychic and psychiatrist has blurred.

“[Clients] are basically coming in for counseling,” Laura says. “Some want meditation, and some just want reassurance. You know, ‘Is she really cheating on me so I can move on?’ ”

Michele adds, “Psychics are kind of like therapists, in a way. We give peace of mind, and we counsel people on what’s going on in their lives and how to reach their goals, how to get to where they want to be. … I think that as psychics, we’re facilitating healing. Anytime someone can come to an understanding of an aspect of their life, there will be healing there.”

LBM_43_Psychic_Michelle_Chakra Shack_By Jody Tiongco-3
Michele Amburgey, pictured in The Chakra Shack’s healing room, has worked as a medium for 12 years.

Forget the fortunetellers and soothsayers of yesteryear—today’s psychics are more like mental health professionals who dole out advice and referrals for everything from attorneys to doctors. “Some people say it saves them a year—or two years—of therapy to find out what their issues are,” says Vivienne, who, in addition to her psychic certifications, holds a Master of Science in counseling and offers life coaching services.

Accordingly, seeing a psychic often allows clients to realize self-truths they’d otherwise overlook. “I have a client who thanks me for being so straightforward with her,” George shares. “She says no one else talks to her that way—they’re afraid to, because she’s a high-powered businesswoman.”

Being in an honest, intimate environment with someone who seems to know it all creates a cocoon of safety, allowing clients to confront feelings, fears or frustrations they may have been avoiding.

“It allows the client to be in a space where they can open up to what maybe isn’t working for them, or they can open up to where the problems or imbalances are, and by doing that it allows their mind to open up to receive information, energy, wisdom and guidance to help them reach their goal,” Michele says.

“The reinforcement of knowing that you’re not alone and that we’re all in this together can be very beneficial to people,” George adds.

Perhaps it’s no surprise that in a city as progressive as Laguna, many locals are tuning in to a new kind of contemporary enlightenment. As many psychics will attest, most—if not all—people have some degree of clairvoyant energy or awareness; they just have to recognize and cultivate it.

“If there’s such a thing as psychic phenomena, it’s probably another form of communication that we simply haven’t been able to nail down,” George says. “Two hundred years ago we didn’t know what penicillin was, 100 years ago we didn’t know what rocket travel was. I think the mind is probably the last frontier, and we’re still learning lots of things about the mind, in terms of its extrasensorial perception and the fact that we’re open to so much more information than most people understand.”

Will the Real Psychics Stand Up?

It’s an unfortunate reality that in the psychic arena, “there are as many charlatans as there are bad lawyers,” says George Lauricella, an intuitive and metaphysical consultant who performs regular readings at Laguna’s Chakra Shack.

According to Southern California-based spiritual reader Laura Williams, known by clients as the Laguna Beach Psychic, this is how you can tell the phonies from the fakes: “When people say that they are a God-given psychic with all of these great abilities. The power of knowing what’s going to happen is not a great ability—if I were to say anything, I’d say it’s more of a curse.”

“Anyone that tells you there’s a curse on you is full of it,” George continues. “You have to use your discretion.”

Vivienne Simchowitz, a holistic reader and astrologer, adds, “Some psychics go irrelevant. They’re telling you about all of these past lives, and some people want to hear it, but to me, [I feel like we need to] bring it to the here and now.”

Meanwhile, medium and energy healer Michele Amburgey’s advice is a bit more succinct: “Follow your instincts.”

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  1. Great job on your article if it was never published I would have never found this great psychic! .
    This is one of your psychics that you posted about Laura Williams indeed she had a long waiting list it was going around 7 weeks but I told her I was here on vacation and she squeezed me in:
    Reading indeed was $25.00 and may I say it was dead on she was reading me like a book I was little scared how much she knew about me and the trouble I was in, I say this is by far the best psychic I have ever been to 5 stars all the way highly recommend it

  2. Do you have any contact information on Laura Williams? I googled her but couldn’t find any contact info on her.

    Would be greatly appreciated!


    • I would also like to know how to contact psychic Laura William I would love to get a reading. I live in Laguna Beach thank you.


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