FRESH YARN: The Online Salon for Personal Essays//Current Essays FRESH YARN: The Online Salon for Personal Essays//Contributors FRESH YARN: The Online Salon for Personal Essays//About FRESH YARN FRESH YARN: The Online Salon for Personal Essays//Past Essays FRESH YARN: The Online Salon for Personal Essays//Submit FRESH YARN: The Online Salon for Personal Essays//Links FRESH YARN: The Online Salon for Personal Essays//Email List FRESH YARN: The Online Salon for Personal Essays//Contact


McMystic: 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.

I was 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.

Fate 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.)

He 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.)

My 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.

In 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.

And Then…

I had 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.


In 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."

When 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.)

And 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.

I've 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."

I can live with that.


PAGE 1 2

-friendly version for easy reading
©All material is copyrighted and cannot be reproduced without permission

home///current essays///contributors///about fresh yarn///archives///
submit///links///email list///site map///contact
© 2004-2005