Sonya Fitzpatrick says she can talk to dogs and cats too. And now the heavily promoted “Pet Psychic” has her own show on “Animal Planet.”

Fitzpatrick claims she communicates with household pets through mental pictures and wild animals through body sensations. She also speaks with dear departed doggies. Is that another market share? Sonya seems to have convinced at least one reporter at the LA Times.

A so-called “pet psychic” is improbable, but like other paranormal types Sonya makes people feel good. Lonely for your old pet? Sonya will hook you up. Concerned about a messy litter box? Fitzpatrick will work it out, or at least seem to.

The ratings for such shows are good, so expect to see more.

What about an insect psychic? Can cockroaches be reasoned with and an infestation arbitrated? Perhaps some network will offer a plant psychic for gardening buffs? Those pesky weeds could stand a good talking to.

The House of Representatives unanimously passed a “non-binding resolution” to condemn “rebirthing,” reports Associated Press. This bizarre therapy caused the death of a 10-year-old child in 2000. Two “rebirthing” therapists were subsequently sentenced to prison.

Maybe congress will soon condemn Scientology? That organization has some pretty bizarre practices and a wrongful death lawsuit now pending. But since Scientologyists have deep pockets, a good lobby and friends in high places, this seems unlikely.

A mythology of dark conspiracy theories has evolved around some secret societies. The most popular conspiracies include the Freemasons, Rosicrucians, and the “Illuminati.” Each group is supposedly bent upon world domination through a vast web of underground plots. At times there are even stories of human sacrifice that amount to blood libel.

There are no objective facts to support these fantasies, but conspiracy theorists really don’t seem to care about that.

One of the big three, which comprise a virtual “Axis of Evil” within the conspiracy mindset, has regular tours of its headquarters in sunny California. The Rosicrucians, who have been called a “cult,” own a multi-acre complex in San Jose.

But instead of dark conspiracies all reporter Gary Singh of the Metro saw was beautiful gardens, a museum, elaborate Egyptian decoration and artifacts. The Rosicrucians sponsored a new exhibit within their Egyptian museum to commemorate their 75th year in San Jose.

The only doctrine Rosicrucians have is to “master your life.” Or as one member said, “To know thyself…[and] learn things yourself.”

Does this sound like a conspiracy? Maybe a bit self-absorbed, but so what.

Aging 60s guru Maharishi Mahesh Yogi makes his own money, reports the Des Moines Register.

Iowa is the home of “Maharishi University” and nearby is “Vedic City,” a new town created by the guru’s devotees. In an interesting development, residents, students and tourists can trade dollars for the new “Raam.”

The currency is accepted by some businesses selling souvenirs, services and snacks in and around Transcendental Meditation’s new hometown, but many Iowa residents reject it.

The scheme to create the new currency is not surprising, Maharishi is an old pro at the guru game and can coax his followers to do almost anything. And he seems willing to do almost anything for a buck, or is that a “Raam”? It would be surprising if the guru converted his personal assets into this funny money.

The Raam appears to be backed by little more than an ego, which suffers from a long history of inflation.

Rev. Moon is a “messiah” or “cult leader” depending upon your perception. But no one can dispute his talent for staging a spectacle. Moon officiated over another one of his mass weddings, this time it was in New York. 250 couples gathered to tie the knot with the Unification Church founder’s blessing, reports the NY Daily News.

It seems Moon can’t pass up an opportunity to milk the media. And apparently September 11th was one more theme for him to spin into self-promotion.

One couple featured was a mixed marriage, between a Muslim and Christian. Moon sycophant Rev. Phillip Shanker called this staged event, “a statement of reconciliation and hope.”

But Moon’s own family seems to need its own “reconciliation and hope.” Substance abuse, divorce and wife beating and tragedy have plagued the Moons. One son died in a car accident another fell to his death in Nevada, some say it was suicide.

Perhaps Rev. Moon should focus the power of his “blessings” closer to home.

One Santa Claus has confessed that he practices witchcraft. Bev Richardson plays Santa on Christmas, but really seems to prefer Halloween. He mixes potions, practices incantations and calls himself a “hedge witch.” He’s named his home “Castle Pook,” or is that “Kook”?

According to The Indian Express, Neo Pagans like Richardson are popping up everywhere on the Irish countryside.

The old “hedge witch” even held a conference at his castle recently. Richardson may be developing a cult following amongst the broomstick and wand set. Fifty assorted “wizards, ” “warlocks” and “witches” showed up.

Is there something magical about the British Isles? Or is this what the Irish would call “blarney”? Richardson emphasized that he and his friends are a “peace-loving community, not a bunch of lunatics.” Well, maybe harmless eccentrics and a bit odd.

The “International Church of Christ,” has often been called a “cult.” The group was founded by Kip McKean in the Boston area of New England, but quickly spread to old England as well. Its membership went from a mere dozen in 1978 to more than 100,000 in twenty years, though now its numbers appear to be slipping.

Damian Thompson, an English journalist spent a week with the group to make a documentary and said, ” I did not get the impression that they were a sinister group,” reports The Times. Maybe Mr. Thompson should have stayed longer.

In the United States and around the world Kip McKean’s “International Church of Christ” has received perhaps more bad press than any other group called a “cult,” with the possible exception of Scientology.

These reports have included suicides seemingly linked to the group and its influence, the “deprogramming” of members and its expulsion from numerous college and university campuses.

A troubling issue has also been the lack of detailed disclosure regarding the total compensation received by some of the ICC’s top leaders. ICC founder Kip McKean is a resident of an exclusive gated California community. He calls a half –million-dollar condo home. Mr. McKean recently went on a “sabbatical,” presumably with pay.

Whatever the “politically correct” description is for this “new religious movement,” it has apparently hurt many participants. And its attrition rate has continued to climb in recent years. There now may be more former ICC members than current ones.

The ICC requires each candidate for baptism to “count the cost” before becoming a “disciple” and officially entering the group through ritual immersion. But shouldn’t the real question be what cost those who left personally paid?

William Pierce, the leader of the National Alliance died last month. But the old Neo-Nazi would have been proud to know that his cult following continues to keep hate alive.

National Alliance members littered the streets of Charleston, South Carolina with handouts blaming the Jews and Israel for terrorist attacks on September 11th, according to the Daily Mail. It seems that scapegoating passes for patriotism amongst Pierce’s single-minded progeny.

And for young aspiring Nazis the Alliance has a “Youth Corps,” which offers “fun…for…white men and women” and instruction on how to “resist…race mixing.” But they probably don’t sing “Cumbaya” around the campfire.

The Universal Church Kingdom of God (UCKG), known for its exorcisms is under investigation by British officials regarding its treatment of children, finances and discrepancies in its constitution, reports Local London.

The church founded by Brazilian preacher now media tycoon Edir Macedo, is being probed for its failure to report concerns about a child’s welfare and transferring funds from its English branch to another in Portugal.

The UCKG has a history of controversy and now one more seems to be brewing. Perhaps it needs to exorcise its own demons?

Skeptic Michael Shermer pitched a concept for a TV show, its theme would be debunking psychics and paranormal practitioners who are now so popular on American television. But there were no takers, according to the LA Times. Perhaps Shermer now gets it. That is, TV executives know fantasy sells better than reality.

There might be a market for contrived “reality TV,” such as CBS’s “Survivor” or MTV’s “Real World,” but apparently a dose of the real thing is not what the public wants.

TV ratings for shows about communicating with the dead or reading the future are good and that translates to revenue from advertisers. Apparently, there is little interest in skepticism, which would be a downer for viewers and thus bad for ad sales.

Let’s face it, paranormal promoters make people feel good. The dead usually have something nice or comforting to say in the current pop format and that’s reassuring. Most psychics can almost always find a silver lining, even within the darkest future. Professionals in these lines of work know how to keep their ratings up too.