That day, I knew something was off. I can’t really explain it, but I felt something. My entire body was breaking down on me that morning. The bright sun seemed tainted with something dark. And as the day wore on, the feeling intensified as my muscles and head ached for absolutely no reason.
On the bus home from the Tempe campus, I received the text. It was an ASU alert signaling students to stay away from the Goldwater Building. Later we learned a 21-year-old student had jumped from that building.
Was I feeling terrible because I knew something was going to happen? I had no idea someone was going to commit suicide, but did my body know? On some otherworldly level, it still feels to me that those things were connected in some way. Or could it have been a coincidence? Was it just my body’s turn to sag and buckle like an old car on its last leg? This random incident is just one of the strange occurrences I constantly mull over in the back of my head, things I can’t explain like déjà vu or premonition dreams.
Whatever the case, these questions remained present and persistent in my memory as I traveled across town with Luu Nguyen, an SPM videographer, on our way to my first psychic reading. The metaphysical culture is extremely prominent in Arizona. Everyday I pass about five shops in Tempe advertising psychic services of one kind or another. Whether it is tarot card readings, palm readings, past-life regression, astrology or aura readings, Arizona’s got ‘em all. My curiosity overtook me.
While my parents were pretty open in terms of religion and spirituality throughout my life, they wished for our family to remain separated from the mystic and metaphysical. They just don’t want me getting possessed or cursed by a person who plays with voodoo dolls — or any of the other stereotypical Hollywood portrayals.
I am also currently taking an astronomy course. And while the various actions of stars and planets can be explained by physics and chemistry and facts, does that mean fate holds no merit? A large part of who I am supports the mentality of seeing is believing. And in today’s society driven by technology and scientific truth, believing in spiritual things like fate and energy is almost taboo.
As my astronomy professor stated in passing: astronomers don’t like astrologers because the belief that the stars and planets affect our lives is kind of idiotic. And the entire auditorium laughed. While that comment bruised the part of me that believes in a higher power, I have to admit that I am afraid of believing in fate so completely that I might get hurt if it’s not true.
Whether or not my parents or that astronomy professor fostered my interest in the metaphysical, I can’t say. But I have always been fascinated by this culture and everything about it. As interested as I am, I’ve never had any experience with the mystical. I have never interacted with a psychic before, had my cards or palm read, or talked about my aura or energy. So, I thought, why not jump in?
The Search My first goal when searching for a reading was to find someone who was credible, if there is such a thing in this field.
Accuracy was my only cynicism about the whole experience. Really, how many times can a person be told they will acquire a large sum of money or find a love interest in the near future, and have it actually happen? Maybe psychics just tell believers what they think you want to hear.
So I searched for businesses and people offering psychic services in the Phoenix and Tempe areas that had some type of review or rating online. Many of these places seemed to be small houses or tiny buildings boasting images of gods, goddesses, eyes, or palms in the “halt” position. While wading through website after website, I came across the Yelp page for Katherine Metcalf: astrologer, intuitive counselor and ASU alumna. While there were only two reviews on the page, each had given the highest rating possible and wrote appreciative reviews of her services.
What is different about Metcalf is that she doesn’t have a physical place of business. All of her readings are conducted from her home in Peoria. While this seemed a little odd to me, she was one of only two Phoenix-based psychics I found with positive feedback. So, after some correspondence, we set up an appointment and I provided her with the information she needed: my date of birth, my birthplace and my time of birth down to the exact minute.
I have to admit — it was weird knowing that I’d be stepping into a stranger’s house to talk about my life for 90 minutes, and paying $150 out-of-pocket to do it. My life is one of the dullest lives a person could lead. I go from class to class to meeting to dorm room on a daily basis with little variance in between.
Could she really fill up the entire 90 minutes?I worried about what she might say, what she might know. Would she know I gorged myself on junk food the night before? Would she know about that white lie I told in third grade? Would she know I spent that one night crying in the shower out of homesickness?
Photo by Luu Nguyen
Being a newcomer to psychic readings, it was unsettling. I felt my life being broken open and unfolded like a fortune cookie, but I couldn’t see the reader. All I could do was wait. She also mentioned that the reading would delve deep into who I was as a person and what my life had in store for me, including secrets, relationships, sex nd so forth. Yet another source of uneasiness settled on me. What would she say? Would I have to explain a deep secret or well-crafted lie to Luu, who was accompanying me to take photos?
But while all this uncertainty massaged my brain with fingers soaked in what-ifs, I have to say that my curiosity outweighed any fear or insecurity. I wanted to know what she would say. I wanted to have this experience, even if my parents, friends and wallet didn’t entirely approve.
We were late, but she was ready. As we unloaded equipment and walked up the driveway, Metcalf appeared on the small patio, waiting to greet us.
She led us through a house that smelled of dogs and cats — not surprising as we were accosted by four loving and excitable dogs of various sizes who all nudged our hands and tried to sit in my lap. The room we entered was a tiny one of turquoise walls and bright, warm lighting. Bookshelves nearly overflowing with metaphysical books, tarot decks and a crystal ball squeezed the room into a state of close comfort. A table of dark wood stood in the middle with two chairs on opposite sides. Behind the plush beige chair I sat in a shrine graced with various holy beings including Jesus, Buddha and Krishna.
“It’s definitely my space, filled with all of the weird stuff that I love,” Metcalf said with a hearty laugh. “I’m one of those people who don’t believe in organized religion, but I’m very spiritual. I love all of them so I have all of their energy in here.”
I have to say that as we started, I felt comfortable. All of those obsessive thoughts retreated to the back of my brain and I just listened to her speak. But then jittery, anxious excitement started to run through my veins.
It was starting.
She began by saying: “What is so fascinating about astrology that has kept me interested, is that everybody’s chart is completely unique. To me it’s like opening up a new book every time I get to read for somebody.”
Metcalf explained a bit about the wheel that astrologers use and how the positions of the planets say certain things about each person. She talked about my zodiac signs. Because my birthday is right between two signs, I am actually more of a Scorpio than my classified Sagittarius. The first part of the reading centered around who I am as a person. This section included things like my personality type, whether I am a leader or a follower, what career path would be right for me and how I act around other people.
About four minutes into the reading, Metcalf said the first of many unexpected things:
“You have psychic abilities, you know that right?”
“Oh, no...” I said, a little breathless.
“Oh yes,” she said, her voice knowing and tilting up on the last word. “Yeah, you have several hits in here.”
After this moment, my mind flew back to that Tuesday when nothing felt right. Could that have been some psychic nerve of mine kicking in? She said that by walking into a room I can pick up on the energies and assess a situation, which I feel is true.
She then told me I have medium abilities. I don’t really know if I want to connect with the dead. But she assured me that whether I decide to utilize these abilities or not is entirely up to me. So I brushed the diagnosis off as we continued on. But I still think about that moment in the reading. Uncertainty and possibility dance around that simple assessment. Is it true?
“Interested in anything hidden, deep, dark and scary,” she said, of my personality. It made sense because I had begun to watch “The Following” the night before, and murder mystery shows are truly my guilty obsession.
As we continued my personality assessment, her accuracy was a little alarming. Much of what she said was spot on in terms of who I am, how I act and what I do in my life, even with actions and emotions I myself am scared to confront. And whether the skeptics believe me or not, it is true that nearly all of what she told me is true to my being. And believe me, I know myself almost too well.
The second part of the reading moved to the future. Metcalf turned to a second wheel that had an additional tier with the icons shifted and specific dates, months and planets jotted down in pen.
“Thanks to the Mayan people and NASA, we know the exact location of the planets, where they’re moving and how fast they move,” Metcalf said. “That’s what allows us to be ‘fortune-tellers.’ It’s all very scientific, actually.”
The first thing she pointed out on this chart was that Jupiter was in the house of partnerships. Next to it “5-22-13,” was written.
After pointing out these numbers she clapped her hands together, her smile lighting up.
“So you will be getting a love-interest before May 22,” she said excitedly. “So you better get busy, sister.”
This aspect of the forecast came up repeatedly through the rest of the reading. Being a person who has taken herself out of the love equation as far as not looking and not forcing anything for the past few years, it was surprising that this played such a large part in my reading. I really never think about having a boyfriend, or why I don’t have a boyfriend or things like that. Although I have to admit it would be nice to have someone to celebrate Valentine’s Day with. I just never give it much thought.
Nevertheless, apparently someone’s coming in the near future.
We continued to move around the wheel, and she told me I would be getting some money that I wouldn’t need to work for and that I will “probably have a lot of job offers when I graduate.”
But the conversation kept coming back to an approaching love interest.
In the Cards
The third and last aspect of the appointment was a tarot card reading.
She took out a thick deck of well-loved cards with particularly vibrant faces. Metcalf explained the several different types of cards in one deck. The Major Arcana consists of the stereotypical cards such as the Goddess, the Devil, the Moon and Judgment. There are also four suits in a tarot deck: wands, swords, pentacles and cups. Each card has two meanings: one when it is dealt right-side up, the other when it is dealt upside down.
Photo by Luu Nguyen
She had me shuffle the deck and focus on a question or a subject in which I wanted guidance. I didn’t really know what to focus my thoughts on, but the past few weeks had been bombarding me with various emotions from excitement to depressing homesickness. So I wanted help in making sense of my current conflicting emotions.
I began to shuffle as Metcalf said, “While you do that I’m going to say a little prayer and call your guides in.” Before dealing the cards she told me she is clairvoyant, meaning she can hear things in her head that are beyond the normal range of seeing and hearing, sort of like a medium.
And she asked me if I knew of an ancestor named Henry.
“So Henry, is an ancestor of yours who was an architect, he built things,” she said. “He’s actually one of your guides and it feels like you can call on him if you’re needing help on anything with art.”
Where one half of my family is pretty disconnected, the other half is so tight-knit that they see each other on an almost-daily basis. A phone call to my parents turned up no knowledge of a relative named Henry; however, I do plan on looking into it over summer break.
She dealt the cards and the theme of imminent romance returned.
Metcalf said he will be very different from me, whether that is in terms of race, religion or personality. She also provided a description: light brown hair, blue-green eyes and performing on a stage.
And it’s a safe bet this information has been on my mind ever since I walked out her door. However, a small part of the advice she gave was to not over-analyze everything. So I’m really trying hard not to scan the crowds of various ASU campuses for a guy who could fit this exact description.
Lastly, she had me draw a single card from a separate deck: the angel deck. I drew a card labeled “Ascended Masters,” a beautifully illustrated card with images of various holy beings gathered around a bright white light. I’ve never thought of myself as a powerful person — I’m always that person in class who never speaks. But when this card came up, she told me that I had powerful people on my side, and that I was a powerful person.
I still don’t know how to react to that assessment.
Do I really matter? Am I going to make a difference, as she said?
She gathered the cards and then it was over. She joked with us, her passionate laugh echoing through her home, and hugged us goodbye as we left.
So, do I believe in psychics? The answer cannot be stated definitively. But the accurate things she told light a spark of belief I can’t ignore.
Is it wrong of me to nurture hope for the things she predicted in the chart of my future? I don’t believe so. In fact, I’ve fully embraced them.
If she told me I would lose a relative or develop some type of disease, I would be concerned, but my reaction to the experience wouldn’t change. I loved it.
I attribute much of that to Metcalf’s calming and passionate nature. But letting myself indulge a long-held curiosity lifted a weight off my shoulders, and I can’t help but smile about it. That dichotomy of proven facts versus fate-based intuition will continue to coexist inside me. But now I’ve found more solid footing in the latter, and I am not one bit ashamed to say I believe in this metaphysical stuff.
That $150 was worth it, and I never cared much for science anyway.
Reach the writer at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter @mackenziemicro