PHILOSOPHY WAS BORN IN PARIS BUT IT DIED IN LOS ANGELES
We Sent Our Writer on Some Chakra Shenanigans to Find the Hollywood Fortunes That Live Outside Our Cookies
Mystic Maria was wary of appearing in a magazine if she didn’t know what the article would say: “I have a five star rating on Yelp, why do you think I would compromise that for your publication?” she queried before hanging up the phone.
I realized that with the next psychic I might have to be a little clandestine with what I was researching—I wondered, will the psychics foresee my subterfuge?
The first one I met we’ll call Zara. In her mid-60s, her hair was pulled up in a loose chignon, her clothing faded and Olde World in the Goodwill style. Her office, a small house ablaze with neon flashing signs and glowing white piping, had what some might call a Vegas feel. I sat down at her table and she offered a full life reading with Tarot cards. The background noise was deafening—television blaring, husband bellowing on the phone about child protection services. Zara, unperturbed by any of this, fluttered down her first round of cards, many of them containing images of the sun.
“There will be sun to bring brightness to the dark moments. The sun will bring light to the inner battling and move it in the right direction.” She had a thick Eastern European accent and kind eyes.
Listening to a psychic talk feels almost like a form of hypnosis. She tells you who she thinks you are; the details of the person you will marry; how many children you will have; your career trajectory. It’s almost like she’s planting hypnotic suggestions that will inspire those things. You never know when her suggestions will kick in, but when they do, she’ll be right. Perhaps she’s already right, and now the first man I meet whose name starts with the letter ‘T’ will cause some instant, Pavlovian, Krakatonic reaction of love.
“There’s a love through the color purple, through the color orange, and through the color red.” Zara tells me solemnly, “Red means passion. Someone is looking out for passion, someone is looking out for goodness. Someone is looking out for purity.” Her language is evocative; the colors float behind the mind’s eye, the clock ticks. And then, the time is up.
“Any other questions?”
She shied from my queries of that other timepiece: death. She offered instead a surrendered fatalism: “God gives life and He takes it away. It’s in His hands.”
The second mystic “Eloise” was younger with streaks of blue in her hair and a nose piercing. The scene: a hip psychic parlor in on the East Side—desert sage New Age.
Eloise doesn’t use cards, rather she talks directly to her angels: “You’re being hunted,” she intones, “But when he gets what he wants he backs off and drifts away. You’re playing with fire.”
I started a little, wondering if the jig was up, and whether the angel was going to tell her that this reading was going to be fodder for an article in a sassy magazine.
She looked at me levelly from across her little table. She told me she’s had angels around her since she was a little girl. When she was younger she asked them to go away, but now that she’s an adult, she’s realized it’s a gift: “They give me messages that people need to hear.”
She informed me that I need to research the Egyptian God Anubis, Guardian of the Underworld, and sent me out the door.
Transcendental Tabitha lives in a shrink-wrapped mansion. The couches, tables, rugs—everything is encased in plastic. This is her second location. The first one I drove by the day before—in a much shadier neighborhood, with the storefront sign advertising her services, “Readings by Tabitha,” filthy and decrepit. I can only assume the two contradicting façades of her business are an intentional ploy of savvy economics—broadening her appeal to a wide demographic of spiritually-curious clientele. Tabitha left her Tarot cards back at the other shop, so she too talked to her angels.
My curiosity as to my own psychic fortunes perhaps a little sapped by this stage, I asked her who was going to win the Presidential election. Hillary. She didn’t know Trump’s name, just knew it was something that started with a ‘T.’ “The future of the country is very bright,” she reassured me. I started at this second reference to a man named ‘T,’ god, what if? Surely, not!? I could never love…’
The angels informed her—and she promptly translated that I needed healing (I wondered if I might) and she offered to help me with a $1400.00 a week chakra cleanse. I reluctantly declined, her eyes glassy like an automaton.
She tried to fleece me at the end for $150, but I didn’t have the cash. I gave her a crumpled twenty from my purse. Shifty-eyed, she took it. A $20 in the hand was better than a rogue client dashing off to an ATM machine.
It is not fashionable to believe in psychics, but a few mainstream media stories lend credence to certain ones. The bones of Richard III were exhumed from under a parking lot in England after Philippa Langley, a screenwriter working on a project about him, had a strange feeling wash over her and thought, ‘I am standing on Richard’s grave.’ In 2015, the College of Policing in London released a statement that detectives should ‘consider the advice of psychics’ when investigating missing persons cases. Nancy Reagan hired an astrologist after the assassination attempt on Ronnie to advise her on everything from Cold War talks to dinner plans.
As I packed my things and departed from my final reading I wondered what to make of all these predictions. Maybe I will fall in love with a man whose name starts with T. Maybe my angels are pissy with these shenanigans. Maybe Tabitha has foreseen the election results. Maybe opening my Third Eye will uncover the truth. But then again, how can you possibly judge between a cosmic gift, a ruthless con, a well-meaning delusion, and a carefully planted suggestion? Tabitha smiled at me as she closed the door. “You’ll come back,” she told me. “They always do.”
Written by Bonnie Foster
Photographed by Jim Turner