Down the years I’ve visited three soothsayers: a hefty muumuu-clad female tarot card reader in a barren Zimbabwe upper room, an elderly Hammersmith faith healer tucked away in a musty London Victorian row house, and a supremely confident Malaysian fortune teller (palms, cards, auras, you-name-it-I-have-it) perched in a niche in frenetic Chinatown Petaling Street in Kuala Lumpur.
Not included in the list is my Scottish mother who occasionally could be persuaded to read tea leaves. “Turn the cup upside down, turn it three times in your palm and hand it to me,” she’d instruct. A mysterious letter was inevitably enroute. In those days that was a safe bet. Everyone got mail.
Years later, seated at a gleaming mahogany dining room table bathed in a glowing red light in Hammersmith, I was informed I had a priest spirit guide and that “the bricks and mortar around you are crumbling.” Two thoughts sprang to mind: my Presbyterian grandmother would be horrified and I lived in a 19th century Victorian row-house, so no argument there. Within three months my roommates and I all – unexpectedly – left London.
The Zimbabwean reader insisted that, no matter what I believed, the cards informed her that I (an only child) had a sibling. Despite my firm denials, the sibling kept popping up throughout the reading. As my hour drew to an end the woman suddenly demanded, “Did your mother have a miscarriage when you were seven?” I was stunned. Indeed she had! The mystic was triumphant.
In KL the bloke in the hole in the wall demanded “Why you worry?”
Kids, money, business, I moaned. Confidently he firmly replied, “Kids fine. Money will come. No worries. Do you drink?” Not a lot I protested! I still have the numbers, colours and health instructions he hastily scratched out and handed to me. Five dollars well spent!
Last week the lure of aromatic incense wafting through Gypsy Moon’s open door on Cloverdale’s main street reminded me of these experiences. A small notice board alerted passersby: Tarot Card Reader 1 p.m. – 4 p.m.
How, I wondered, had a small independent otherworld-style business weathered the pandemic? Had pandemic panic increased business?
Inside the small well-stocked interior, I found bells, books, candles, an array of crystals, cards, sage bundles, oils and scents, and the soft-spoken, unassuming, non-psychic owner, Denise Cooke.
Between a steady stream of customers she told me that despite being closed for two months, 2020 was Gypsy Moon’s best business year to date. Sales substantially increased, possibly edging up to 40%. Crystals were bestsellers. Angel and tarot card readers, psychic mediums, and an intuitive guide had all been busy. Only tea leaf readings were cancelled for health reasons.
Originally called Hesta’s Haven (Goddess of Hearth and Home), it was clear that vaccines hadn’t been the only Covid 19 antidotes in demand. Encouraged by her daughter to open the Cloverdale shop 11 years ago, Denise had been hesitant. “I took tarot card reading and other card courses, but realised that wasn’t what I wanted to do.”
A marketing background was helpful, but opening a business was daunting. “I didn’t know how to do it,” she recalls. “Business has gotten steadily better every year with a substantially noticeable improvement since the pandemic began.”
In the interest of research I accepted an invitation to chat with tarot reader Christina Clarke.
A born and bred Cloverdale gal, we traded local folklore while she shuffled her favourite Rider-Waite deck. Her (cheap, she emphasized) EMF (electromagnetic field) reader was nearby on the off-chance an unseen force might be lurking. (It wasn’t.) For the next fifteen minutes cards like the Queen and King of Pentacles, the Queen of Swords and even the Death card appeared. Patiently Christina interpreted the card parameters, how they related and the perceived relationships to me.
Not being a psychic, my reader emphasized that she ‘had no permission’ to comment on any other person, or persons.
Clients often ask about the behaviours or intent of others in their lives, but the line is firmly drawn. Readings relate solely to the person physically present.
Barbara Halcrow, MSW, author of Ultimate Self-Care, happened to be on site for a book signing. I note the work lends itself well to browsing. For example, the Managing Changes chapter includes a Ralph Blum quote that ends “… when in deep water, become a diver.” I thought that apt for the timeframe, as was the Grounding, Clearing and Raising Energy chapter. An encouraging, well-balanced reference book for uncertain times, I thought.
Days later I returned to meet spiritual consultant, Reiki Master and author, Katharine Fahlman.
The granddaughter of a Scottish teacup reader, Katharine was raised meeting like-minded people so relating spiritually in this way has been a way of life.
Not a tarot fan, her two-deck cards choice is an artistic 100 card collection, Path of the Soul Destiny cards and the Divine Guidance Oracle deck designed by White Rock spiritual author and intuitive, Cheryl Lee Harnish.
“People like to connect with something visual, ” Katharine explains. “I hope that when people leave here they have received some hope, direction and guidance. Besides, I’m cheaper than a therapist!”
Her closing advice? Trust your intuition. Too often people don’t and later regret it.
Leaving the flourishing metaphysical books and gifts shop, the 1956 film Bell, Book and Candle starring Kim Novak, James Stewart and Jack Lemmon sprang to mind. Could my subliminal desire for a black cat named Pyewacket (see the film) finally be justified I queried any lurking muse? No response. Perhaps I’ll settle for a twinkling crystal and incense sticks instead.
Gypsy Moon is located at 5693-176th Street in Cloverdale. The website is gypsymoonstore.com.
Ursula Maxwell-Lewis is the founding publisher of the Cloverdale Reporter. Magically reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.