Reaching for the Stars

by Catherine Hedgecock

Published January 20, 1997

As a self-employed astrologer, psychic, and counselor, Hank Friedman must keep his eyes on the heavens and his feet on the ground.

A trained scientist, Hank Friedman began studying astrology in order to debunk a friend's belief in it. Friedman had a degree in psychology and had studied neurochemistry in a doctoral program. He was confident he could quickly show his friend evidence that astrology was meaningless.

Friedman, who at the time was working for a disabled children's school in Boston, began to make astrological charts for coworkers in his spare time. Like Peanuts' Lucy Van Pelt, he charged per consultation -- $5 -- and the results were astounding. "People told me the charts were 80 percent accurate or more. As I learned more, I was able to improve the results to 90 or 100 percent accuracy."

Friedman continued to study astrology, and it has been a cornerstone of his business for more than 20 years. In his cottage-like house in the hills above the San Francisco Bay, Friedman meets with clients in a comfortable sunny room, his pomeranian, Sasha, and cat, Poncho, curled up nearby. He most values being able to help people understand their problems and work through their difficulties, which are often spelled out in the stars.

Although astrology is an ancient field of study, some things have changed with the times. Friedman now uses astrological software, manufactured by a score of U.S. companies, and writes reviews of software programs for astrology magazines.

Friedman, 46, doesn't regret leaving scientific pursuits for a field he once thought bogus. "There's a deliberate nearsightedness to science. It is more about saying 'no' than saying 'yes.' Science is alienating. It cuts people off from anything that can't be tested or measured."

Along with being an astrologer, Friedman is a certified clinical hypnotherapist, offering traditional counseling for individuals and couples. But his consultations tap deeper into the cosmos than even astrology when he does psychic readings.

He traces his psychic interest to his childhood. At age 5, Friedman had a waking dream experience in which God told him his purpose in life. God also said he would forget what that purpose is, but would remember that he had been told. "That had a big impact on me," said Friedman. In his early teens, he practiced developing his psychic abilities with a deck of Rhine cards that alternate among five symbols on one side. The average person would get five of 25 correct, Friedman said. He consistently got 10 or more correct.

He continued his psychic training after he moved to California in the 1980s and gave free psychic readings for two years. "I didn't want to charge for it, I enjoyed Friedman supported himself by doing astrological charts and counseling. Eventually he became aware of two spirit guides who advised him to charge for his readings. He wouldn't, but began accepting donations. After six years, he set up a sliding scale of fees that averages $80 an hour. "Money is part of the natural balance," Friedman said. "In order for people to receive, they have to give."

When clients come in for a psychic reading, they usually have an important decision to make or a crisis to resolve. Friedman sits across from a client and looks into the person's eyes. He experiences seeing the soul and hearing words or seeing pictures about the client's situation. He then goes into a trance and channels the advice of his spirit guides. Recently, Friedman has done psychic consultations by phone for out-of-state clients. Most people who come to Friedman already believe in psychic abilities, but some don't. "If they are in enough pain, they'll try anything," he said.

With his eclectic services, Friedman has been happily self-employed in a way that brings out his best qualities -- compassion, insight, close listening. He doesn't worry much about whether people think his work is for real. He has always relied on word-of-mouth for clients and done minimal advertising. He knows the results his clients achieve, and that's what really matters. "It's about helping people grow and change and heal and flourish. I see the impossible happen every week, things that by logical standards are impossible. There is so much more grace in the universe than we realize."

Hank Friedman can be reached at

Catherine Hedgecock is a freelance writer and editor in Berkeley, California. She has written for USA Today, Knight Ridder newspapers, GNN, and other publications. She has won first place investigative reporting awards from California Newspaper Publishers Association, Gannett newspapers, and Best of the West. Ms. Hedgecock is currently writing a mystery novel.

1997 Catherine Hedgecock, all rights reserved.

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