“Can you see? Does she have a scarf on her head?”
I peered in through the glass of the psychic’s door, genuinely expecting a combination of Professor Trelawney and Jafar from Aladdin; perhaps she would be donning a long, flowing orange skirt, or sporting gray hair with the unruliness of a recently electrocuted cartoon character. The exaggerated Hollywood figure that I conjured up in my mind did not, however, bear any resemblance to the disappointingly normal-looking woman who let us in.
Genuine curiosity and superstition prompted me and my friend to make an appointment with a psychic. When phoning the psychic I could barely contain myself asking whether or not she had been sitting by the phone, knowing in advance that I would call.
Astrology and tarot have always intrigued me, and shamefully, I receive my daily astrological forecast in my email and count one or two Virgo-themed Twitter accounts among my feed. On any given day, I can usually tell you whether or not the moon is in my sign.
My friend and I had done intensive Googling (page one only) to come up with questions to ask the psychic. The great minds of various psychic-themed message boards advised us to ask open-ended questions to allow for wide-ranging answers. We wrote our questions by coming up with basic concepts that we would want to know about: career, finances, education, romance, and, for good measure, contact with deceased relatives.
With our questions scrawled on a cue card, we climbed the stairs to the psychic’s office, which was not draped in dark curtains and did not feature a prominently displayed crystal ball. Our psychic’s office was rather like any other office, except for some tarot cards that were tacked onto the wall. So far, we weren’t sensing any overwhelming supernatural energy or seeing the cliché trappings of a psychic, to our disappointment.
The psychic handed me a deck of thick, large tarot cards and asked me to shuffle them. I can’t emphasize the heaviness of these cards. I have never been a skilled card player, and even at my best, shuffling a deck of cards isn’t my strong suit (pardon the pun), which is why I have no explanation for my sudden decision to try to get fancy in shuffling these cards. My attempt at a bridge was sad, and the psychic watched my clumsy try at impressing her with an air of superior ambivalence. After a painfully prolonged minute or so, I finally gave up, having not even successfully moved one card, and sheepishly went about mixing up the cards using a more graceful, if unimpressive, strategy.
The psychic, unfazed, took the cards back, spreading them all out before me and having me pick five. I tried to let instinct guide me, though instinct coincidentally happened to lead my hands to cards distributed at fairly equal distances from one another from left to right.
The psychic then laid out the cards with four forming a rectangle and one overlapping the inward corners in the centre. Now I could ask my questions, and the answers, it seemed, were in the cards. Shockingly, our Google research failed us as the psychic advised me on my first question that I was being too vague. So I altered, “Can you tell me about my future career?” to “What will my future career be?”
Presently, it turns out, I am not on the correct path. I need to learn more and take more courses. In two years (rather conveniently upon my graduation), I will figure it out — but the psychic didn’t answer my question, so I’ll be waiting until 2013 to have that information. I do know that I was “born to help others,” and thankfully I will “always be financially independent.”
The psychic was surprisingly therapeutic. Although she was offering predictions for the future, she framed her fortune-telling in suggestions about the ways I am presently limiting myself. She did provide specific information. Looking me in the eye, she asserted, “You will meet your partner in the year 2014.” I involuntarily chuckled, but she plainly clarified, “It’s in the cards,” with a knowing smile.
By my final question, I was feeling confident and decided to go for a question in the realm of the supernatural; the psychic advertised that one of her specialties is communication with the dead. I asked about a dead relative of mine and if I could possibly communicate with them. She confidently responded, after reading the array of cards, “She is very close by to you at all times, and she hears your thoughts.”
By now, I was spooked. The psychic’s close reading of the tarot cards was eerily accurate as she described my insecurities and preoccupations. Her pragmatic style of interpretation and her confidence as she relayed the contents of my future to me were disarming and hair-raising.
The reading was very brief, and the speed at which she interpreted the cards was simultaneously impressive and frustrating. I wanted to stop her and ask her to slow down and explain her thought process to me. How does the card of “swiftness” in combination with the card of “temperance” mean that I will always be financially independent?
But she was very clear when she was done answering a question, and she was not going to say anything further.
My brief, bizarre glimpse into the paranormal psychic trade ended abruptly after my final question. At the end of my reading, she eerily wished me “Good luck,” managing to sound both ominous and encouraging.
For skeptics and for the superstitious alike, visiting the psychic is at least thrilling. The accuracy of my nondescript psychic’s predictions for my future will be seen in two years if I find my career, or in three years, if I happen to fall madly in love. But for the present, she offered sound advice and exact descriptions that left me with fortune-telling fever.
I may not have met the eccentric, musky medium of my imagination, but the experience was nonetheless supernatural. With my future roughly scheduled and my ability to communicate with the dead confirmed, I left the psychic’s office perplexed, curious, and relieved that I was not alerted to my imminent death or inevitable failure in life. I can at least consider that much a victory for the future (and present) me.