Psychic, or psyched out? My visit to a fortune teller

When luckbox asked me to visit a psychic for this future-focused issue, I felt “shook.” I grew up in the days of Miss Cleo’s “call me now” television infomercials and the hit show “Crossing Over with John Edwards” (the medium, not the baby mama drama politician). Still, keeping the proposed article in perspective posed no problems—no need to mistake entertainment for reality. 

But a sizeable portion of the American public takes the occult seriously. A survey on states that one in five (22%) U.S. adults have consulted a psychic or medium. And a recent Pew Research Center survey revealed that roughly four in 10 adults believe some people can see the future. Not surprisingly, luckbox readers are a bit more skeptical.

Pew also tells us that women are twice as likely as men to visit a psychic. Chicks hustling to psychics over the sheer volume of emotionally constipated men means big business. The market for psychic services in the United States is estimated at $2.2 billion. Psychic services are categorized as astrology, palmistry, tarot cards, medium services and aura reading—and it’s a growing industry.

So being a newb to the whole woo-woo psychic thing, I went straight to Yelp and searched for “top psychics in Chicago.” The No. 1 psychic had a two-year wait list. The No. 2 psychic in town, a woman named Dorothy, runs a storefront called Spiritual Gallery. I called to set up an appointment and made it clear I needed a reading for an article. I don’t want that bad ju-ju of lying to a psychic. 

The storefront, located in Chicago’s bougie Lincoln Park neighborhood, has neon signs in the window advertising chakra alignment, tarot card reading and other spiritual services. Soothing music greets patrons as they enter, and display racks feature candles, healing stones and enough crystals to arrange for your next Instagram post. Dorothy herself is straight from psychic central casting. Exotic tilted eyes, raven black hair and artfully placed jewelry make her seem like someone with the psychic chops to lead customers on a spiritual journey. She claimed Armenian heritage and said she has known of her gift “since birth.”

Dorothy’s psychic abilities focus only outward, meaning she can read other people but doesn’t receive flashes of insight into her own life. She didn’t know my name, so there’s no way she Googled me before the appointment.

She had me sit on one side of a long wooden table while she sat on the other side. As the soothing sounds of Enya Goes to Whole Foods droned in the background, she asked me to shuffle a well-worn deck of tarot cards. She then arranged the cards in a past, present and future layout. She asked for my name, date of birth and place of birth. 

I came into the reading with an open mind. Sure, good psychics are part social scientist, part therapist and part healer, but are they seeing things or just guessing? 

Dorothy started with a generic, but not incorrect statement about me. “You’re very strong-minded.” Um, what woman isn’t? “You’re a very creative person.” I had already told her I was a writer. “Your love life has not been easy.” WHOOO CHILD. But again, I’m a middle-aged woman not wearing a wedding ring. I’m covered in cat hair, and a Hot Pockets wrapper is stuck to my purse. It’s not rocket science to discern that I suck at love.

But then it got a little goosebumpy when she said, “You have a hard time asking for help.” She pointed to one of the cards lying face up: The Hermit. “You’re very closed off in public.” She said I needed to get more comfortable in my own skin and use the laws of attraction to bring more balance into my life. Generic? Possibly, but it was spooky the way her piercing eyes stared through me as she read the cards and read me. I’m a proud, flag-waving introvert, and it’s not unusual for me not to leave my house on some weekends to recharge.

But in happy news, she said that even though “I have balance in all aspects of my life except for love,” (womp womp) I haven’t met my twin flame. She sees me meeting a Leo (the astrological sign, not the perpetual bachelor of Titanic fame) who will sweep me off my feet and move me out to the ’burbs. Our meeting will be organic (we will meet while I’m traveling) and  I need to stop shutting down good things before they happen.

Then she abruptly pivots, eyes going wide, telling me to stay away from water. I’m like, “What?” She says water is very spiritual for me, but I must stay away from large bodies of water. She says I can go on it, hello fancy yachts, and around it, hello lake cottage, but I must not go in it. Good psychic reading or “black people can’t swim” tomfoolery? I can swim, but I’m not the strongest of swimmers, so message received, psychic lady! 

Toward the end of the reading, Dorothy said something correct but esoteric. She pointed to the Wheel of Fortune card that was pointing right side up (direction matters in tarot) and said, “You’re too worried about your retirement. You need to stop obsessing over it.” Literally, just the week before I had moved an old IRA over to tastyworks brokerage, increased my 401(k) contributions and started researching high-yield savings accounts. I shared that I, like a lot of women, was worried that because I’m single I won’t have enough saved to support myself in retirement. “You don’t need to worry about that,” she said. “You will find love, and he will be very successful.” Can I get an ETA on that? Does your universe-matching plan have a contribution-matching plan? 

At no point did she try to upsell me a chakra alignment or a magical love crystal. Because people often seek out psychics at the most vulnerable times in their lives, the industry can be a hotbed of fraud. People have been scammed out of millions of dollars to “reverse curses” or “to find love again.” More than 94,000 registered psychic businesses operate in the United States, and they can’t all be gems. I did ask how often she recommends her clients visit her, and she said, “About every six months.” My reading was $75, and luckbox paid for it.

Dorothy asked if I was happy with my reading. I’m not going to lie—hearing that you’re not going to die alone and that your chihuahua isn’t going to eat half your face out of hunger is reassuring! What would you do if you knew you couldn’t fail? Or who would you love if you knew they would love you back? What job would you take if you knew you would succeed?

No matter what, we can all benefit from taking in as many outside perspectives as possible, keeping an open mind and being more positive. I’m going to let destiny play itself out, but if you’re a single Leo, call me. We just can’t go swimming on our first date. 

Vonetta Logan, a writer and comedian, appears daily on the tastytrade network and hosts the Connect the Dots podcast. @vonettalogan