Reflections of an Unlikely Oracle
By Carole Murray
Back in New York City, I realized that astrology was an invaluable
tool for rating the guys I met. I devised delicate ways to find
out a birthday without the obnoxious "What's your sign?"
With my newfound info I raced home to check my ephemeris. Did he
have an afflicted Mars? Were our Mercurys in harmony? Whether or
not the news was good, it was always accurate if I had the sense
to heed it.
so naïve that when I read an ad in the New York Times for an
"astrologer's assistant" I actually believed that the
job existed. When I arrived at the employment agency, they gravely
informed me that the position had been filled five minutes ago,
but they'd be glad to send me off to an interview at a rug warehouse.
played around with me, and I played around with it. Fate won. When
I was 24 I had a meeting with a remarkable stranger. I had heard
from my artist friends (who knew everything) that there was an astrologer
on the Upper Westside that I should see. When the day of my appointment
arrived, I was so excited I skipped work. (Work equaled a corporate
job with a title and decent salary. Go figure.)
was the first person to address my soul. Sixteen years of Catholic
education had done a fine job of convincing me that I had none,
or that if I did, it should be beaten into submission. I walked
into his room and after two hours left with a plan. He was intelligent,
intuitive, kind, and connected to a voltage that interested me.
I had been exposed to enough "psychics" whose devastating
readings had sent me to bed for a week. (One palmist said to me,
"You have the same mark on your hand as Einstein. Why aren't
you successful?" I'm sure even Einstein had off days.)
astrologer showed me that there was a way to incorporate everything
that interested me into a profession. A metaphysical counselor was
part Witchdoctor, part Personal Coach, and hopefully part Friend.
the Golden Age of Metaphysics (1967-1975) it was actually possible
to study Astrology, Parapsychology and even Witchcraft at reputable
schools. I was a steady customer in the night classes at the New
School for Social Research. Ten years later I was ready to practice.
some adventures. I temple hopped my way across Asia, found redemption
at a gospel service in the Abyssinian Baptist Church in Harlem,
courted a guru who blessed me with peacock feathers, checked out
a mosque in Senegal, dug up the sacred dirt at Chimayo, N.M., left
offerings at Marie Laveau's grave in New Orleans, sat in a dark
room with a group of Spiritualists every Tuesday for four years
waiting for ghostly apparitions (they came), received a white flower
cleansing from a Santero in Brooklyn, floated in an isolation tank,
did yoga, joined an online monastic organization to honor Bridgid,
ate dal at the annual Ganesh festival in Queens, had my dogs Ginger
and Hope, blessed at every St. Francis feast, paid my respects at
Salem, meditated at Stonehenge, carried a Gris Gris bag blessed
by a Voudou high priestess, drank tea and ate cookies with a Sri
Lankan monk, made an offering of gin at 11,000 feet altitude on
the rim of an volcano in Hawaii to Pele. And I never once missed
an opportunity to light a candle anywhere.
April I will celebrate my 25th anniversary of private practice.
(A term used to indicate that I don't work from a storefront.) Introducing
myself as astrologer and card reader (or, "Planetary Spin Doctor
and Cardeologist") makes some people think I'm raving about
supernatural powers. I'm not. I don't market myself as a psychic.
Psychics have TV shows and leisure capital. They have biographies
that state their abilities came to them in childhood, supported
by a Grandma who could see the future. (My Grandma had too many
Grandchildren to even remember their names.) Some readers attempt
to take the stigma out of the word psychic by substituting "intuitive."
An intuitive is someone who wants to be a psychic, but isn't that
secure. It's "Psychic Lite."
I gave my first paid reading to a neighbor, I was so nervous that
I served him dinner to compensate for any inadequacies. My next
client was a woman who showed up at my studio apartment with her
boyfriend and three young kids. I had to shout out the answers to
her angst over their racket. One prissy customer told a colleague
that while my reading was good, he was outraged at the golden dog
hair on his suit from my overly affectionate hound. (Never saw him
again. Never wanted to.)
then it got so much easier. My guiding philosophy was "Above
all, do no harm." Most people come for a reading when something
hurts, something scares them, or something is so mysterious that
they need a detective. I learned that the tools I use -- the stars
and their motions, or a deck of cards -- can work wonders with illuminating
the obvious. Together, the client and I work as a team to define
personal happiness and success. It's very simple. We listen.
read that those who study the stars have God as a teacher. Good
company. I have finally managed to change the jukebox in my head.
No longer does it play "Oh Lord I am not Worthy!" A line
from The Charge of the Goddess has replaced it: "All acts of
love and pleasure are my ritual."
live with that.
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