I Got a Walk-In Reading From a Random Psychic
Be open to the universe, but guard your energy against con women
For years, I’ve wondered what it would be like to park the car and knock on the door of one of those places with a sign on the lawn advertising “psychic readings.” In almost 30 years of driving cars, however, I haven’t ever been curious enough to carry through with it.
Yesterday, quite accidentally, I found myself face-to-face with a woman named Bella, who claimed to be an intuitive chakra healer and whose services started at a $10 palm reading.
I’ve had psychic readings from strangers before — at fairs, wellness center open houses, and holiday parties. In fact, for a few years, I scheduled regular appointments with an intuitive massage therapist I met while writing an article for a local magazine. She had a reputation for offering psychic guidance along with bodywork, and her instincts were often on the mark. (She’s also great at deep tissue massage.)
But I learned yesterday that just as I would not walk into a hair salon and allow a random stylist to take five inches off my hair, it’s not wise to permit a random psychic access to your pain body, your aura, or one bit of your emotional suffering, let alone all of it.
I thought it was a new crystal store. There’s a sign above the display window that reads “Crystals.” I noticed it first, but then my brother mentioned something to me about it at a recent holiday party.
“Did you see there’s a new crystal place over by the old bike shop?” He asked. I told him I’d seen the sign. I figured I’d find a time soon to head over and check it out. The shop I’ve been frequenting up until now was a good 15–20 minutes from my house while this new one was only five minutes away.
In the morning yesterday, I had an appointment with a traditional Chinese medicine practitioner that both my daughter and I have been seeing for the past few months who has been treating us with acupuncture and herbs. It was a good session but left me feeling emotionally raw.
It’d also been a particularly rough week, and while laying alone on the table with needles in various points, all sorts of sadness rose to the surface: my oldest child being a year away from leaving home, my daughter’s anxiety and school aversion, my divorce, various chronic health issues, old family trauma.
After the appointment, I decided to go search for new healing stones, specifically ones geared toward “self-love” recommended in this book I got as a gift recently. Over the past year or two, learning about and buying new crystals has brought me comfort. I find them to be grounding, whether or not they truly possess significant healing powers.
I parked the car behind the new shop and made my way around to the front door. I opened it and was pummeled by the smell of old cigarettes. Inside, the mostly empty 400-square-foot room was populated only by a few glass display cases. There was no salesperson, no person at all. I figured I must have opened the wrong door.
I walked a few steps to the next storefront and opened that door. Inside I came upon a similar smell and layout and also a woman in a maroon wool peacoat with black faux fur trim.
“Hi, hun. What kind of reading would you like?” She asked. Wearing heavy but reasonably well-done makeup, the woman appeared to be in her mid-thirties.
“Oh, this isn’t a crystal shop?” I replied, looking around the room again. I then saw oracle cards on a table covered by a tapestry and a small tent sign with a list of services.
“No, it’s not. What kind of reading would you like?”
Thinking back, I felt uncomfortable from the start. It wasn’t just the stale cigarette smell, but also the fact that her question felt like an assault. There was no inquiry, no soft sell.
I didn’t answer her the first or second time. Instead, I tried to get my bearings and understand the situation. I suppose some people — maybe even most — would have walked right back out, but as I’ve already admitted, I’ve always wondered about walk-in psychics. Add to that my melancholy, loneliness, and surprise, and in that moment, I became fresh meat for many varieties of predators.
When I asked if she was new to the space, she told me she’d been there for a while — three years, in fact. She and “Mom.”
“Did you put a new sign out front recently?” I asked.
“Well,” I said with a smile. “I guess I’m here for a reason. Why don’t we do a palm reading?”
She brought me over to the folding table, asked me to turn over my hand, and think of two things that were currently worrying me. I did. It wasn’t difficult.
“Tell me one, and keep the other to yourself,” she instructed. I told her about my concern about my daughter’s anxiety.
Does anyone ever ask for only the good?
She nodded. Then she asked me if I wanted to hear only the good or the good and the bad.
When I think back to this part of the story, I wonder what would have happened if I had replied, “Only the good, please.” Does anyone ever ask for only the good? What does it say about me that I told her I’d “take the good and the bad?” That I didn’t hesitate?
I also would like to know: Is there a manual she follows? Is it the same every time? With every person? Is there a flowchart for finding the heart of a person’s pain-body and crushing it?
I almost didn’t want to write about this.
I’m not just a believer in psychic abilities but a proponent and sometimes practitioner. There are enough skeptics out there to do the job of trash-talking psychics. Why would I want to do their job for them?
However, what this woman did to me — if she is in fact a fraud and/or a scam artist as I now believe she is — amounts to a kind of emotional date rape.
I know that’s a bold accusation, but when I think about all the kinds of scams a person can fall prey to, one that not only feeds off of your faith, your losses, your fears, and your deepest wounds but also does so in the name of healing—that’s gross. That’s despicable.
And, I now believe that’s what this woman did.
When she asked me if I wanted the good and the bad, what I didn’t realize was she was actually extracting as much of the bad as she could in order to set me up for her pitch at the end. The only “good” she saw in her 20-minute reading of my palm was a supposed new love about to enter my life. But in order for him to appear, she said, she had to clear my negative energy — negative energy that originated in childhood, in abuse I may not have been aware of.
She pointed to a massage table in the back of the room that had a light contraption overhead; each of the bulbs color-coordinated with the major chakras. “In order for you to hang on to happiness this time, we need to open up at least three closed chakras,” she said solemnly.
It’s easier now that I have some distance from the situation, but admittedly, at the time, some of her “hits” hit too close to home. I felt unsettled by what she had to say precisely because she was sprinkling energetic salt over already open wounds.
Which makes me wonder if, despite it all, perhaps there was a reason I found myself there yesterday, a reason very much associated with my initial purpose that afternoon — to strengthen my sense of self-love.
It turns out, my sense of self-love is stronger than I thought. If it wasn’t, I might not have so easily walked away from her offer to heal me. If it wasn’t, I might have latched on a little easier to her promise of great love and permanent happiness being just around the corner.
How did I discover she was a fraud?
Google Street View.
In many ways, Bella was a skilled con artist. Perhaps she even possesses some real intuitive skills, which help her navigate a person’s emotional map. Perhaps, if I want to be generous, she believes her abilities are authentic.
However, if a stranger lies about one thing, that lie certainly injects doubt into everything else she says.
When I got home, I looked up the address of the psychic on Google Maps. It turns out there used to be a florist in that location, which I remembered upon seeing the photo.
On the desktop version of Google Maps, there’s a note as to when the photo displayed was captured. The florist was still in that location in July 2018, less than a year and a half ago. Which means, Bella (and her mom) weren’t yet offering any “healing” services there, and by default, not three years prior, either.
Drive-by psychics have a lot to learn from Bella and her mom about both location and advertising.
As a marketing professional, I’m pretty impressed with their efforts. The signage really worked—it got my attention and my brother’s. Drive-by psychics have a lot to learn from Bella and her mom about both location and advertising.
The little girl in me who used to read Ray Bradbury almost expects that if I were to drive by the shop later today, it would be gone, and the florist will have returned to the space, never actually having left. That girl wonders if the only reason the shop existed at all was to show me that in the palm reading that is my life, I am already well aware of the good and the bad, and I should be more careful about who I seek guidance from; that even when I’m not as careful as I should have been, I will be all right; and that when I smell stale cigarettes on a person professing to be a healer, I should turn and walk away.
As a human, though, particularly a human who still has hope for humanity, I walked away from the experience deflated and a tiny bit disturbed. That said, I think I still managed to walk away from the not-a-crystal-shop with a gem of a lesson.