Twenty-five years ago, when I was forty-seven and living in Berkeley, I had a three-month relationship with a woman who lived in Los Angeles. In the course of our brief liaison, I made two trips to LA and she made a few trips to Berkeley, and at some point I asked her, “Have you ever been in therapy?”
“I have three good friends who are therapists who talk to me about their problems,” she replied, “so I’m not drawn to therapy. But I do go to a psychic and he’s incredibly helpful in that way.”
“In the way of therapy?” I asked, doubtfully.
“Yes,” she said. “He’s great. In fact, you should have a session with him.”
Never having gone to a psychic, the next time I was in Los Angeles I went to see the guy. I was expecting a smooth operator, either a shyster or a wannabe shaman. His house was in a woodsy neighborhood in the middle of the LA sprawl. When I arrived at his place there was a hawk circling above his beautiful adobe house, keening. What was the raptor trying to tell me? Get the hell outta here? Welcome to the mystic?
I’d been instructed to go into the adjoining studio and wait for the guy, so I did. The place was gorgeous, white walls, an old table center room, a well-used Rider-Waite tarot deck on the table, two chairs, arch-topped windows built into the adobe, and several shelves of fantastic crystals. Seeing all this, I expected the guy to have long brown hair and a deep voice and a hawk feather in a psychedelic headband.
Instead, in comes a wiry guy in an old sweatshirt and baggy trousers, short gray hair, barefoot, brusque, Brooklyn accent.
“Hey,” he says, shaking my hand. “Todd, right?”
“Larry. Sit down.”
“I’m a friend of Renee’s.”
He nods. “So… you here about anything in particular?”
“No. I’ve never been to a psychic and Renee said you were great, so…”
“Good,” he says, nodding.
We sit across from each other at the table and he gives me a long look, and while he’s looking I say, “Gorgeous crystals.”
He glances at the shelves. “Yeah, people gave me those. I was never into rocks, but one client brought me that big amethyst chunk and another client saw it and brought me that giant quartz crystal and the rest followed.”
“I carry rocks,” I say, liking him despite his tough guy persona. “Have since I was a little kid.”
“Oh yeah?” he says, his eyes twinkling. “You got one on you?”
“Always,” I say, taking the two rocks out of my pockets.
I hand him the rocks and he looks them over, hands one back to me and keeps the round one, white quartz in gray stone.
“I can do the reading from this one,” he says, studying the rock. “Or we can use the cards. They’ll both get us to the same place.”
“Oh then from the rock,” I say, amused and curious.
He holds the rock for a moment, sets it on top of the tarot deck and closes his eyes. “When you were five? Four? Five. Your mother placed you as a shield between her and your father. She wanted you to protect her from him, and she kept you there… “ He opens his eyes. “A long time.”
I gasped, not because he had reiterated something I’d learned in therapy, but because he’d given me a hugely important missing puzzle piece in the story of my entanglement with my mother and my father’s extreme antipathy toward me.
“Of course that was way too much to ask of a little kid, to protect his mother from his father, but that’s what she asked you to do. And you did the best you could, but of course it was impossible, and the impossibility shaped your life.”
I ceased to doubt him and listened in amazement to his remarkably accurate description of me in the world, though he never asked for any information about me. Near the end of the hour-long reading, he handed me my rock and spread the tarot deck face down in a fan on the table. “Pick a card.”
I picked The Magician.
“So this is you,” he says, looking at the card and nodding, “which is not surprising. I knew when I walked in here you were psychic. Are you aware of this?”
“No. I’m aware of being intuitive, but…”
“This is not guessing, this is knowing,” he says simply. “You’ll be with people and without knowing how you know, you’ll know things about them they aren’t aware of or are keeping secret. Ring a bell?”
“Kind of,” I say, thinking of times when this might have been true. “And I’m a writer. The stories come to me unbidden. I don’t make them up. Not consciously.”
“That’s different, though it’s probably related. I don’t know. And now our time is almost up. Anything you want to ask me?”
“Yeah, this tarot card. The Magician. How is he me? Or how am I him?”
“You’re a powerful person. You have unlimited potential, and your work in this lifetime could be some kind of connecting the physical world, so-called reality, with the spiritual world. And my guess is you’re mostly unaware of this unless…” He squints at me. “You a musician?”
“So maybe you know a little about it from that.”
“And how does one… how do I access my power and potential?”
“I don’t know,” he shrugs. “I’m not a therapist. I just tell you what I see.”