I took several wrong turns before I found it, tucked away just off a busy intersection next to a restaurant selling chicken, a place called Sticks and Stones.

It’s not necessarily where you would expect to find a magic shop or, to be more accurate, a spiritual store. Although where do most people expect to find a store like this? The moment I walked in to the cozy shop, it smelled appropriately of earthy incense. Packets of sage and bottles of dragons blood lined the walls. I’d come here on a mission. It seemed like a place that would help me with my quest…


My First Encounter

As my daughter and I walked around the store, the door opened and a woman in purple blew in with the wind. She hurried to the shop’s owner and explained she wasn’t sure she would come in today because of the weather. It was icy just north of us in Maryland where she had come from but Northern Virginia was spared the wintry conditions. We just got gloom and rain.

I didn’t think anything more of it and followed my daughter over to an area of small figurines that represented spirit animals. My daughter says her spirit animal is a bumble bee – small and often underestimated but it can sting when provoked. She gravitated toward the Unicorn figurine though, explaining that you can have more than one spirit animal because there are so many different aspects to your personality. She cradled the Unicorn and looked at me with pleading green eyes. Alright, I told her, you can get it. 20170114_160041

Fate or Coincidence?

As we stood at the register, I asked the owner if she had tarot cards. She pointed me to a shelf. But, the packages of cards seemed a little silly. They had themes like vampire tarot and cartoon tarot. I’d imagined something more ancient feeling and less corporatized. These weren’t the cards I was looking for.

I then told the the owner about my YA fantasy novel about witches,  The Travelers. She asked for a copy and I happily complied. I explained I was writing a sequel and I wanted to experience a real reading but I had trouble finding someone in the area. Did she have any recommendations? She said that it just so happened Sandy had just arrived and she was a psychic reader. This had to be the woman in purple! Sandy had an opening at 1 pm. I booked it.

My husband would call this situation at best a coincidence. I was in a spiritual shop that had tarot cards, trying to get recommendations for a tarot reader, and not a random place like Home Depot. So it wasn’t so strange that one just happened to be there. However, after experiencing the reading, I think Sandy might have a different interpretation. I think she would say our paths were meant to cross that day.

The Introduction

Sandy’s area in the back of the store was large and open, partitioned off by rows of movable dividers and curtains. Blue and purple cloth pictures hung along the walls. I sat on a couch with large thick cushions, big round armrests and a velvety fabric. Sandy sat across from me in a cozy chair, a table with a hunter green tablecloth between us. She didn’t have a crystal ball, although they did sell that at the store. Instead, there were several stacks of cards that looked just like the cards I’d imagined. They had ancient, ornate drawings dripping with a sense of magic.

Sandy handed me a set and told me to shuffle. Then I cut the deck, to my left specifically as she instructed, and re-stacked them. Next she directed me to pick exactly 11 cards. She took them and laid them out in what seemed like a random pattern. She was quick to point out that the death card did not mean death but rather transformation. (Phew.)

This was my first reading and I would call myself a skeptic. I write about magic and I love the idea of it, but I don’t believe in it. I don’t believe in ghosts or psychics either really. However, I also don’t not believe. (Sorry for the double negative English lovers. Sometimes you need to break the rules.) Essentially, my philosophy in life is based on the tangible and the scientific. But, I’m not so arrogant as to think there aren’t possibly things out there my measly little human brain can’t comprehend.

The Reading

Sandy commenced with the reading, beginning with overarching comments and later diving in to more specifics. For some reason it feels as though I shouldn’t share too much from her reading. It seems like something one generally keeps private, like a therapy session.

I will say that the way Sandy described me and my life, while not so specific that I immediately became a believer, was very intuitive. She spoke about me, my family, my relationships, and my past in a way that had enough detail that it didn’t seem like something she could tell just anyone. And she didn’t just spew out comments until I found one and said yes that sounds like me.

There are a few things I’m comfortable sharing. She said my life was all about calibrating and trying to find balance. She said I wasn’t someone who was surrounded by a lot of drama, essentially I left behind much of my turmoil when I was younger, skipped through it pretty fast and settled into a comfortable life. She said now I mostly spend my time trying to balance many competing priorities. This is all essentially true about me and may not be true about someone else. As I said, vague but still specific.

Did I learn earth shattering information about me or my life? No. I came away from the reading thinking that psychic readers are part therapist, part storyteller (not in that they are necessarily making things up but in that they have to describe and explain ideas and concepts well), and either actually part psychic or really good scam artists.

The Skeptic vs. the Believer

So, after this experience am I still a skeptic or am I now a believer? I think the better question is, why can’t I be both? Perhaps the parts of the reading that made my hair stand on end were, was as my husband would say, in my head. She told me vague things and I twisted and molded her descriptions to fit my life. Or perhaps she read the cues I gave unintentionally and turned them into something prophetic. Maybe she does that without even realizing it. I can’t discount this either.

But I also can’t discount it might be real. Perhaps she is connected to some higher power, for lack of a better term, or cosmic ethos I can’t comprehend. How else did she know that big secret that happened when I was 16 and never told anyone? Just kidding. There’s no big secret.

The point is, I don’t really know. So, I choose to continue to both believe and not believe, to question and also be open to possibilities.

As for what she said of my future…Well, I will keep that to myself. Let’s see what happens.