$20, by Psychic Tabitha of Psychic Tabitha
Psychic Tabitha works in a parking lot off Denny Way, sandwiched between the Space Needle and a 7-Eleven. "Something told me I needed to be based here. It was a very strong feeling," she says. Her business's facade is pastel orange, the color of apricot frosting. Its windows blink with neon lights, while a scrolling billboard sign advertises various fortune-telling services. The stand is smaller than an espresso shack, smaller than a parking spot, and the full unit fits tidily into the lot's corner. "I think they used to use this section for motorcycles," says Tabitha.
Inside, the sunset colors and dainty furnishings evoke a dreamy bedroom quality. There are butterfly rugs, capiz-shell chandeliers, scented candles, bright curtains, and polka-dot ruffles. Tabitha sits at a white table, radiating authority. Her makeup is elaborate and perfectly applied, and her fingernails are exactly the way you'd want a fortune-teller's fingernails to be: from the length (dramatic), to the tips (stiletto), to the color (dolphin gray), to the finish (high gloss).
I imagine her clicking them searchingly against a crystal ball. She has one! Readings are $100. I ask her how it works. "When you connect with the crystal, it drains everything out: your feelings, your affairs, certain times and dates, situations that need to be mended. Just whatever you're going through in the moment. That's what I pick up on," she says. "I love crystals. I use them around my house, too. They're very untouched, very raw. They're the oldest thing on earth," she says.
For my reading, I show her the palm of my dominant hand. As Tabitha observes its various important lines, we talk about my life path. Like a stream of liquid gold, it stretches out promisingly before me, says Tabitha. "I feel something new coming to you. You're meant to be in a bigger place," she says. And then: "I'm seeing a little debris in your path, and it needs to be removed." (Here, I imagine my life path as a sidewalk. It's strewn with discarded fast food. A crow is pecking attentively at a rubbery french fry.) Tabitha instructs me to vanish my problems by writing a list of my obstacles. Then I must go outside and burn the list. The last step is important. "You don't want to trap any negative energy inside the home," she says.
Random questions come up. I ask Tabitha what color Seattle's aura is. "It's impossible to tell. Millions of people live here. Their colors all muddle together," she says. I ask about her business: "It's great. I get a lot of foot traffic." I ask what the most common topic is: "Love. It's the most powerful thing in the world."
Astrologist Nancy Kahn runs her business from her Queen Anne home, a calming space with rattan furniture and flower-print pillows. On every wall, a series of large paintings depict a man, Meher Baba, standing center before a backdrop of languorous swirls and powerful feelings. Meher is an Indian mystic with a silken mustache, whom Nancy describes as "a Christ-like spiritual master." (Fun fact: For decades, Meher sustained a vow of silence. From his deathbed, he conveyed his final message, using hand signals: "Do not forget that I am God.")
"Long ago, I met a woman in a temple who was really into him. She loaned me his book and said she couldn't stop crying as she was reading it. So I opened the book, and it was like Meher Baba was opening my heart. I couldn't stop crying, either. I've been with him ever since," says Nancy. After Meher's death, Nancy took a pilgrimage to India and hung out with his disciples. "It was like being high on love for a whole month," she says. Upon her return, she was fired from her job as a secretary. There and then, Nancy decided she'd become a professional astrologer. She opened her first office in 1979 and never looked back.
It's hard not to be charmed by Nancy, this elderly woman in a tie-collar blouse. We're doing my birth-chart analysis, which she created after I told her the date, time, and location of my first breath. During the reading, she speaks confidently into a silver microphone plugged into a cassette recorder. She gives me the tape when we finish our session. I play it whenever I'm alone, gliding over the soggy black streets in my big yellow car. Nancy's voice matches the shower curtain in her tidy bathroom: white lace with a lavender underlay.
There's a short, complicated silence as she peers into my chart—a circle containing numbers and symbols whose meanings are ungraspable to me. Nancy presents the information in cogent nuggets, such as: "Your neck is sensitive to cold. Wear mufflers in the wintry weather." Some vague conflicts do appear, but they end so happily that my heart wants to reach out its little arms. "As Saturn sits on Neptune, it's gonna feel weird. It's gonna feel heavy. But don't believe it if Saturn tells you your high ideals can't be fulfilled. Just don't believe it," she says.
Days later, Nancy thoughtfully checks in, warning me to avoid any negative thoughts I might have in the coming year. She's created a 2016 forecast for the citizens of Seattle and its surrounding areas. Here are the thrilling basics: You can manifest your dreams; you'll want to communicate with everyone you're relating to, both verbally and in writing; and the sun is in conjunction with Pluto, bringing transformations to your home or family or identity or personal life, potentially.
$30, by Susan McAliley of Spirit Art by Susan
You have several spirit guides, and at all times they're with you, being thoughtful and gauzy and busily swooshing around, according to Susan McAliley, an illustrator in White Center with a caressing voice, cloud-soft hair, and Native American–inspired jewelry. Despite the ubiquity of spirit guides, perhaps you're oblivious to your spirits' presence. That's because "the guides exist at a different vibrational level than we do," says Susan. "They can't interfere with your life unless you ask for their help directly."
Our guides come in a range of varieties, she says as we flip through her portfolio of custom portraits. I follow along, taking notes. Some are angelic, sent from a higher dimension. (A towheaded, bewinged fellow.) Others are ancestral, descended from one's biological family. (Heavy wrinkles, bowl cut.) Some might've played a role in a past life. (Enrobed in medieval costumery.) There are nature spirits, including totem animals. (A bear who calls himself Root Bear, which makes Susan chuckle.) And there are plenty of extraterrestrial beings. (Some are chubby and inquisitive, others have star-shaped pupils, or nubby horns, or other whimsical characteristics.)
Susan presents me with an image of my guide. It turns out she's an Egyptian pharaoh with a serene expression and striped headdress. Since I'd placed my order via e-mail, I ask Susan to explain her current production process. "Whenever I'm working remotely, I start by meditating on the person's full name. Then I run through a visualization. I take myself to the Hall of Guides. The title is something I made up, but it really seems to fit well. When I'm in the Hall of Guides, there's a series of doors that rotate or float by. Then a door will stop. That's the door with your name written on it. I open the door and enter a room. Sometimes I'm drawn to an open space that feels like a Greek temple, and that's your Room of Guides. There's a big marble throne in the middle. A guide is sitting in the throne. I'll start to ask it to step forward, but usually before I'm able to get that far, they'll have already stepped forward. That's when I'll start sketching the portrait. The picture might not always come in at once, but it fills itself in. Now and then I might need to ask the spirit a question, like 'What color are your eyes?' but before I can even finish, the answer always appears in my mind."
A moment passes. I let Susan's words flow through me. "Your guides already knew you wanted this done," she tells me, smilingly. "They're very excited about my work. They love getting their picture drawn."
$50, by Neave of Neave, Animal Communicator
Neave the animal communicator says she has spoken with slugs, snails, beetles, spiders, cats, snakes, owls, dogs, and horses. Goldfish too: "I asked them what kind of food they liked to eat, and they responded as a collective mind. I heard them say, 'Peanut butter.' I said, 'What? That'll stick to your lips.' Then there was all this giggling. I realized they were teasing me!" she says.
Neave usually works from her Ballard home, using a stuffed animal as a surrogate for the pet, and speaking to its owners by telephone. But on the day I get to watch Neave work, she's meeting her subject in person, a 4-year-old whippet mix named Polly Darton. Polly has glossy patchwork fur and an introspective expression, and she moves with somber urgency. She's wearing a cape on the day I meet her. Though she lives in a luxurious high-rise downtown, she was previously a rescue dog, discovered roving the streets of Atlanta. Neave gets set up, placing various mystical items before her: beaded charms, healing orbs, horsehair, chakra crystals, rose water, an assortment of forest-critter pelts. I ask about her preparation process. "It's like I'm tuning the energetic universal radio to the station of Polly," she says.
Neave swirls a pendant above Polly's body to unclog some settled energy. Then she concentrates, enabling a telepathic connection. The two fall easily into conversation. Neave asks questions and conveys the dog's responses aloud. Polly's tone is frank, with a lighthearted cockiness. The owner and I ask Polly what she's looking forward to in the coming year. "I don't understand what you mean. I live in the present. I look forward to going on a walk today," says Polly. As her messages spill out from Neave's mouth, Polly mostly sleeps on the floor. Now and then she springs up and trots about the room, glancing nonchalantly at any objects or persons in her path. "What animal were you in a previous life?" we ask.
"A dog," says Polly.
Neave stops communicating with Polly for a moment to share with me a few details about her own dog, who's died: "I know that my dog was an eagle, but I don't know what she is now."
Through Neave, Polly requests that her owner touch base with her whenever she leaves Polly alone in the unit. "Let her know when you'll be back. Just say the time out loud. Polly will understand it," adds Neave. From there, the session quickly gets deep. We explore Polly's abandonment fears stemming from a separation from her mother in childhood. Neave takes Polly through a trauma-processing exercise, inviting Polly to imagine the upsetting memory and rewrite its outcome, multiple times. What follows is too personal to discuss here, but the work seems to have brought Polly a positive spiritual transformation in the days that followed. Also "her clothes are fitting better," said her owner.
Marti Jonjak is a longtime Stranger contributor and a columnist for McSweeney's. Her series examines the 2013 shooting at the Twilight Exit. Find it here: mcsweeneys.net/authors/marti-jonjak.