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I’m working on a story right now about a pianist, a curse, and a psychic tarot reader.  Yesterday, my colleague and friend Jill and I met at Tryst to discuss one another’s work.  She was fascinated with the Gothic style of the story and offered tips on how to make the curse work even more.  I’ve been struggling with this piece for sometime, because I don’t know much about curses or pianos, but on the other hand, I do know a lot about psychic tarot readers.

I’ve been fascinated with psychics since my freshman year in college.  The Lambda League invited a medium (who was the mother of one of the members) to explain her gift and do private readings for anyone who was interested.  She said we all had the capabilities to communicate with spirit guides and she explained the concept of soul mates — after all, she was talking to 18 and 19-year-olds — which are like branches off the same tree.  She told me privately that my mother would be with someone new for the next ten years — my parents had just gotten divorced — and she was right:  my mother found herself in a new relationship that lasted for the next decade.

I have been to many psychics since.  I’ve visited Miss Jessica, Miss Crystal, and Miss Nathalie in Georgetown, and Miss Charley in Dupont Circle.  Washingtonians have a clear interest and investment in mystics, as maintaining office space in both of these neighborhoods must be pretty expensive.  At $30-$50 a reading, each psychic is making a nice daily income.  They make an added income from each querent that they manage to convince needs extra work.  The psychics often tell you on your first visit that they can “work” with you for whatever you want.  An aura cleansing, special bath salts, crystals, and prayers (on their end) cost a personal investment of $300-$600.  Jessica, Crystal, and Charley all said I needed aura cleansing, with Jessica charging the lower end of the spectrum.  Visiting a psychic is often an impulse reaction, and being aware of this can help you avoid saying yes to forking over hundreds of dollars of your hard-earned money.

Psychic readings can also be fun and, at times, spookily accurate.  I have been a recurring customer of Crystal’s (1355 Wisconsin Ave NW) and she has read my tarot cards with startling insight.  Last summer, for example, she told me the man I was interested in would be taking a quick trip but that he’d be back before the weekend.  When I called him the next day, he told me he was in Chicago but would be back by Friday.  Most recently, she told me I had just moved into a bigger, brighter place with large windows and lots of sunlight, which is true, and that I’d be taking a short, work-related trip in April, which is also true.  I’ll be presenting at a conference in Atlanta next month.  Of course, she also said I’ll be taking a trip in June and another trip the whole of July, which is questionable as I will be teaching summer school during those months.

Whether or not psychics are real or fake depends always on you.  A friend of mine says psychics tell you what you already know and pick up on cues you give them.  I admit they may be more astute with body language than with clairvoyance, but the performance can be uncanny.  Metromix’s Brent Patterson visited about five area clairvoyants and assesses their abilities in “Local Nightspot Psychics Real or Fake?”  He visited some of those I mention here, but he also explored what Adams Morgan has to offer.  He concludes that psychics are at best a growing form of entertainment:  “Palm reading is worth a try (if you’re drunk) or if you’re looking for some pre-party entertainment. Considering I had to wait at almost each stop, the psychic business seems to be booming. But I’m going to have to stamp this one as FAKE! They all stated the obvious as though they share the same tired script. Perhaps there exists a secret palm reading pact the rest of us just don’t know about.”  I don’t necessarily disagree with him or my skeptical friend.  Sometimes psychics do say a lot of the same stuff, but sometimes when they hit the mark just right, they can keep you coming back for more.  As a writer, I find them intriguing enough to explore them further in my stories.

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