Luisa Kay Reyes
I had just spent two-hundred and fifty dollars on a twelve dollar candle from The Dollar Tree and a pretty pink pebble that could be had for seven dollars off of Amazon.com. I felt a sense of disappointment, naturally. But, also physically sick to my stomach. For my favorite psychic had convinced me that if I meditated for ten days with this candle while placing the small stone on my lower abdomen, it would align all of my chakras— something I was willing to try— but once I noticed the candle gave me headaches, it dawned upon me to look up the brand name I saw printed in small letters on the very bottom of the label. I discovered to my astonishment that despite the fact that my psychic had made me wait for several days before picking up the candle since it would take several days for it to be shipped, it was readily available for all of twelve dollars at our local Dollar Tree store. Ugh! How did I ever get started doing this? I pondered. For I had visited several fortune tellers over the years all over the United States and I was currently feeling like the biggest fool in a medieval court. Yet, according to Chris Morgan’s book on fortune telling, “There is a fascination with the future which draws most people [...] into spending some time and money on trying to discover what is going to happen to them, or what decisions they should make.” And after church one sunny Sunday in Warrenton, Virginia, I decided I wanted to pay a visit to the palm reader whose large rudimentary sign couldn’t be missed while driving along the highway.
“Are we really going to see a fortune teller after church?” my mother asked me.
“Yes,” was my immediate response. For there was no better time to go since the rest of the week it would take a full hour each way just to drive the fourteen miles down the road to the nearest oversized grocery store due to the D.C. overflow traffic.
“What lousy Baptists we are!” my mother exclaimed. And down the highway we went.
Upon arriving to the palm reader’s office that doubled as her home, we were welcomed in by a rather solemn looking, very dark-haired and dark complected older lady who took me to a chair and seated herself directly across from me. She reached for my hand and began asking me some feeler questions to which I replied with basic “yes” and “no” answers. Which irritated her highly. And after giving up on prodding me for more elaborate responses, she then asked me if I had any more specific questions I wanted to ask of her. I actually didn’t have any. For what was most pressing on my innermost psyche at the moment was simply the desire to know if I had any kind of a future. I was tired of trying to seek and find it on my own since I was unemployed. And somehow it seemed like all of my efforts and prayers were getting waylaid somewhere along their path from planet earth to Heaven above.
Disgruntled at my lack of specificity, the palm reader assured me I’d get a job in six months and then sent me on my way. With the most reassuring comment that it was “difficult” to tell my fortune. Needless to say, I was disappointed. But at the same time, with her being the first professional fortune teller I had ever seen, now that I had crossed the Rubicon and perhaps due to her lack of aid, I found myself completely hooked and filled with the desire to learn more.
Several years prior, a family friend we met while my grandfather was in the hospital in Ohio told me her interpretations of my future. Having first experienced her psychic visions when she was a little girl, she seemed quite sincere when she told me I would be Miss America. An undoubtedly delightful prediction, but unfortunately a most fanciful one, since the handful of local preliminaries I entered while I was in college landed me squarely in last place.
Nonetheless, while we were staying with my grandfather in Hartville, Ohio, I decided to venture out into the fortune telling world once more, and I paid a visit to a lady who was located not too far from the historical circle park in the neighboring village of Tallmadge. She was a light blonde lady, also on the verge of old age from middle age, who did her soothsaying by describing the images she saw through one’s aura. And during my session, she proceeded to tell me all about my “husband this” and my “husband that” while staring intensely at my aura.
Only, before too long, I found myself staring at her equally as intensely. Albeit, the object of my wide-eyed stare was not her aura but rather the lady, herself. Maybe she means a future husband? I tried rationalizing to myself. But my reasoning was falling short, for she was unequivocally referring to this “husband” of mine in the present tense. Undaunted by the look of shock on my face, so focused was she on my aura, the lady continued prattling on and on about “your husband” with seemingly no end in sight. These women are usually quite observant, I thought to myself. Maybe she’ll notice I’m not wearing a wedding ring. But the lady happily continued her discourse on this mythical fellow without a care in the world.
Finally, after realizing her zeal for this imaginary husband of mine showed no signs of abating, I simply told her, “I’m not married.”
Aghast, she covered her face with her hand and looked away. Then, after recuperating from her embarrassment a moment, she proceeded to tell me that I had six siblings. Now this was something I could relate to; having majored in mathematics in undergrad, I naturally gravitate towards numbers whenever they are mentioned. Yet, I have one brother and one half-sister. But, given that when my paternal grandfather passed away, two extra women and their children showed up for the funeral, I decided to wait before questioning the veracity of this latest statement of hers.
Undismayed, I visited enough fortune tellers to discover I had a favorite one - the young psychic who lived on the outskirts of my hometown of Tuscaloosa, Alabama. So very proud was she of the fact that her ancestor hailing from Argentina was the one who invented the technique of placing bright red bows on the outside of windows to keep the negative spirits from entering one’s home, that she had every window covered with red velveteen Christmas-type bows all year long. She was also more agreeable than her sometimes critical and dour mother, who happened to be the fortune teller on the other end of town. And, yes, one I had paid a visit to a couple of times as well.
Sensing that in spite of my scientific and rationally-minded background I was paying seven-hundred dollars for a generational curse removal, about eighty dollars for aura readings, and sixty dollars for tarot card readings without end, my pastor friend felt the need to provide me with a gentle reminder concerning the Old Testament’s severe admonitions against fortune tellers. I appreciated his concern, but since even Aristotle wrote on the subject of divination by examining the hands in 340 B.C., I continued on my merry fortune telling way. After all, I had experienced the religious variation of fortune telling in one of the youth groups I had attended while I was in high school.
Bestowed with the gift of prophecy, the youth pastor one evening sat me down in the middle of everybody with some of the other youth members forming a circle around me while laying their hands on me. Others had already had their fortune told that evening, and now it was my turn. So while everyone prayed, the youth pastor told me “To not be afraid…” Seemingly simple and sound enough advice that I couldn’t argue against and still try to follow to this day.
Nonetheless, as I found myself checking and double checking The Dollar Tree candle to make sure it was indeed the same as my two-hundred and fifty dollar one, I found myself wondering if perhaps there was some valid reason for the Biblical admonition against consulting soothsayers, after all. A reason that was more simplistic in nature rather than theological. One simply based on the notion of being more prudent with one’s money than I had been. Consequently, I threw away my overpriced, headache-inducing candle and deliberated whether or not I should keep the pretty pink pebble. Being a deep fuchsia in hue, one of my favorite shades of pink, I decided I’d keep it. For maybe one day I could turn it into either a paperweight or a necklace. And after my ten days of meditating were up, I decided against following up with my favorite psychic.