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A Psychic’s Vision: Article on Aly Cardinalli

The Complete Works of William Shakespeare, The Essential Plato, Medicine Maker, Dark

Mythology, and a paperback copy of First-Year Teacher’s Survival Kit are five books among a witchdoctor’s personal library of hundreds.

Sitting atop the eight bookshelves which line the rear-wall of a dimly lit office, are an array of taper candles, wooden totems, and statuettes. As Aly Cardinalli, 39 lectures in his Zoom classroom, his students catch a glimpse of the collection of mystical trinkets, which peek above their Headmaster’s head of curly bleached blonde hair. Sitting comfortably on a velvet-green couch in his home-office in Austin, Texas, Cardinalli instructs a class of psychics.

BearBridge Academy, founded by Cardinalli in 2021, is an online school for witches and psychics in training. Course content aside, it would be easy to conflate a BearBridge course with that of a traditional college. A syllabus is closely followed. Lectures are given and notes are frantically taken. Homework is assigned and then drudged through. Discord channels lend help to struggling students.

The academy offers dozens of classes and workshops, ranging from a free course on “Modern Blood & Sacrifice” to a $275, six-week course on “Green Magick Mastery.” Classes are typically instructed by one of fifteen specialized faculty members, who oversee a student body of over seven hundred—composed mainly of women in their thirties.

Raised in Hawaii by a family of traditional healers, Cardinalli is no stranger to the mystic arts; his grandmother was well-versed in spell casting, his mother was a witch influenced by druidic tradition, and his sister, a psychic. Yet there were physical signs that seemed to suggest that Cardinalli was “touched” with a gift.

He has piercing green eyes framed by clear eyeglasses, and was born with curly hair—traits foreign to his family. In comparison to his family members’ darker ones, Cardinalli’s complexion is fair. Standing out against his pale skin are the words “If You Cut It Down, Then You’ll Never Know,'' laid in bold ink, traveling down his right forearm. Cardinalli’s frame is lean, standing at five feet, five inches.

“They’re bigger,” said Cardinalli referring to his family, hands gesturing outwards, “and then there’s me. I was always, kind of, a runt.”

Reaffirming her suspicions of his psychic ability, Cardinalli’s grandmother, Maria, recalled seeing her grandson, as young as six years old, interacting with spirits imperceptible to the average eye. The most notable of these spirits Cardinalli describes as taking the head of a crocodile, and the body of a giant rabbit.

“This little child talking to something that no one else can see is kind of scary, but Grandma Maria saw that this is a special child, not a scary child.”

At eight, Cardinalli began training as a witch—a term he is reluctant to use due to its stigmatized implications—under the careful instruction of his grandmother, who taught him the art of healing, witchcraft, and spirituality. Up until the pandemic, when BearBridge was founded, Cardinalli pursued a career in the performing arts: studying dance, music, choreography, and directing. All the while, Cardinalli maintained a secretive private practice as a psychic, where his talent lent itself to his reputation as a skilled exorcist.

One client was left physically impaired after two Tikbalang—Philippine creatures, taking the body of a man and the head of a horse—possessed his body. He was unable to drive, as the entities would take physical control of his leg, and in videos sent to Cardinalli, the Tikbalang could be spotted worming down his calf, or walking behind his eye.

The possession impacted his personal life, rendering him unable to pursue romantic relationships, and hindering his career as a professor of mathematics. After failed consultations with both a Catholic and Islamic exorcist, and thirteen years of possession, the man turned to Cardinalli.

The witchdoctor met with his client over Zoom. Cardinalli sat crossed legged, in a meditative state. His client was laying down, resting. Through an intensive hours-long process, involving the careful curation of spells and a process of spirit-walking—what Cardinalli compares to “leaving your body, and taking a walk to another location”—the two spirits were peacefully expelled.

As a psychic, Cardinalli boasts an impressive resume. Cardinalli is an oversensitive clairsentient psychic, meaning that he is able to share the feelings and physical sensations of both people and spirits. In a laundry list of his abilities, Cardinalli is also clairvoyant, clairtagent, claircognizant, and clairaudient—perfectly equipped to navigate psychics-in-training. A “psychic’s psychic” as he describes it.

Cardinalli’s psychic talent led Vanessa Rosenblum to learn of hers. Rosenblum, 53, is a petite woman, standing at five feet, three inches, with a sharp bob, and bangs falling just above the colorful frame of her glasses. An NYU graduate, who when not writing scripts for television and film, is a training psychic and the White Coat at BearBridge Academy. If BearBridge were comparable to a conventional university, the White Coat would be the president of the school’s Associated Student Body, charged with aiding students throughout their academic journey.

Rosenblum was skeptical of psychics, until she first met Cardinalli. With the intention of conducting research for a project, Rosenblum attended the 2022 Annual BearBridge Retreat, just outside of Austin, Texas. The retreat began at 9AM, and it was past midnight when the group began their last workshop—a class on mediumship. She, and about twenty five other students, sat scattered around a dimly lit room, all facing Cardinalli. Each person was given a candle and a mirror. Rosenblum sat cross-legged, staring into her hazy reflection, and falling into a meditative state.

Rosenblum was succumbing to her exhaustion, when she perked up at Cardinalli’s description of a familiar entity: “I’m seeing a man. His name begins with a C. He has dark hair parted on one side, a mustache...wearing a polo shirt and khakis...”

Shaking, Rosenblum immediately knew that Cardinalli was describing her step-father, who had passed twenty years prior. That night, driving back to her hotel, Rosenblum pierced the silence with a reluctant question: “...Carl?”

While Cardinalli thanks his abilities for enabling him to provide a guiding light for those like Roseunblum, his mystic talent is a double-edged sword.

A witchdoctor's night-out is inevitably laced with potential risks. While his peers may dance beneath the yellowed light of a bustling bar, or find themselves stuck by the momentary brush of a stranger, Cardinalli sips a drink with heightened caution. In an unspoken act of camaraderie, a friend quietly hovers around him, ensuring that Cardinalli is untouched. Being touched means receiving unsolicited psychic information, which may cause Cardinalli to faint.

A witchdoctor’s night-in can be just as precarious. Lazing on their couch with the intention of enjoying a quiet night, Cardinalli and his former husband were focused on a movie. Unwillingly, Cardinalli became vaguely aware of a situation unfolding beyond the screen.

“My daughter, Nina, was on a date, and I could feel that things were escalating into a sexual way,” Cardinalli remarked, chuckling at the situation with a sour grimace. “No dad want that information. I don't want that!” adds the witchdoctor, arms waving, “and I didn’t mean to invade her privacy.”

Cardinalli’s ex-husband informed his daughter of the situation, and if she were adopted into a family devoid of mystic prowess, Nina might have been mortified. “But she grew up with a psychic dad,” mused Cardinalli, “so her reaction was, ‘Oh, that must’ve been torture for dad to see!’”

“There’s an everyday life for psychics that isn’t performative, that isn’t a service charge. I feel very fortunate to have understanding and loving people in my life who know that it's a gift when it’s a service, it’s a disability in everyday life.”

Cardinalli imagines a world where witchcraft is common practice, accepted as useful in professional settings. “It doesn’t have to be one or the other,” he said about revolutionizing the medical field with the medium. “Why can’t it be both?”

A witchdoctor is tasked with walking the line between the mortal and the spirit world. Cardinalli—in true witchdoctor fashion—exists with one foot firmly in the present, and with the other grounded in a realm that has yet to be named.

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I love this!!!


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