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What's Up For Today?
New York Stories

STOREFRONT PSYCHICS
Written and Photographed by Melinda Maclean

 
Queensboro Plaza Long Island City

If you look up the word psychic for New York City using the on-line White Pages you get 629 separate listings in 12 different categories: Psychic & Medium, Astrologer, Fortune Teller, Clairvoyant, and Palm Reader to name a few. Storefront psychics are all over the city, on major avenues and quiet residential side street, in every neighborhood, not as ubiquitous as nail salons, but noticeable nonetheless. Those garishly beautiful red, blue, green and purple neon signs that prick our sub-conscious, advertising the services of the storefront psychic probably become part of the dream-life of most New Yorkers at some particularly transitional point in their lives. The typical storefront psychic is relatively discreet and probably relies on customers who come to them by word-of-mouth as much as the random walk-in off the street who is drawn in by the neon sign and set of mysteriously lit curtains. The services range from palm and tarot card readings to astrological charts and spiritual cleansing. The signs outside may advertise a special reading for $5 or $10 but that just may be a consultation fee and the reading itself could be from $15 to $30 and upwards.


615 E 2nd. Avenue @ 32nd Street

Fate, chance, destiny, the gods, or whatever unseen forces that rule the universe had recently left me nothing but a string of days that felt somewhat empty and predictable (in the mundane sense). I had never been to a psychic on my own before except at a company party and didn’t really know what to expect. Though I believe in clairvoyance, I had always taken the stance that life is mysterious and that is part of the beauty of it – I liked not knowing what was going to happen next. And also I was afraid that I would be told that I would die in some horrible way, like a house fire or being hit by a bus. But dealing in specifics is not the usual practice from my experience. Most psychics will offer only a general vision of who you are and what will happen. They will offer advice and guidance but usually steer clear of anything too negative.


324 E. 48th Street

The first psychic I went to was near Chelsea. The woman was older, maybe in her sixties, stocky, like an extra in an Italian film from the fifties. She sat me down and had me cut the tarot deck in half after shuffling it. I asked her if she wanted my name and she shrugged, No! The tiny salon felt a little claustrophobic at first, but then as I relaxed it felt more like a protective womb. She spoke in a maternal and reassuring tone telling me that I would meet my soul mate in six weeks. She said that I had had a dark time lately but things were looking up and not to worry. I would have success as a writer and marriage would come with children and before ten years were up I would be living far away from where I was now. I handed her the $25 and even though I felt that what she had said was quite vague, her words had given me some hope. I walked out thinking that six weeks is not too long to wait for my soul mate. But then I realized I had forgotten to ask her how I would know who he was.

Another psychic in the West Village advised me in an old-world monotone voice that I should take up law and not trust anything at face value said to me by someone with the letter J in their name. She did tell me that I would live a very long life into my nineties, but other then that she seemed to be doing a reading for someone else.


403 W. 51st Street Between 9th and 10th Avenue

The last psychic I consulted did a more in-depth palm reading for $25. She disoriented me a little me at first by telling me that I should have been married and had a child a year and a half ago. I tried to think back to see the face of the father of my unborn child. Her approach was almost that of a therapist. I could almost feel invisible fingers flipping through my consciousness like it was a roladex. She told me I had been a man in my past lives and had too much masculine energy around me and that I was scaring men off. I silently agreed but didn’t tell her that I thought that was the reason. She looked at me with a concerned expression, “I want to help you!” I felt a slight panic rising in my chest and asked, “How would you do that?” Her eyes narrowed, “You are very blocked!” She told me that for a certain amount of money she could do an astrological chart for me and that if I came in once or twice a week she would work with me to unblock my energy. I politely took her card and told her I would call her sometime soon for an appointment.

If you’re walking down a dark New York City street one night and happen upon a psychic salon whose storefront beckons to you my advice is go in knowing exactly what you want to ask and don’t be afraid to be direct with them and ask questions if you feel unsure. Most likely you will get a general reading with some hits and some misses – but over all you may just find yourself believing a little more in life’s mysteries or at least let yourself be moved to use your own intuition and imagination for guidance and inspiration

 


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