Three Kinds of FortunesFEBRUARY 16, 2008
- Tools of the Trade
- (Shirley Shin)
- View the Slideshow
More From Shirley Shin
I've always gone to fortune tellers. It started off at an early age. I followed my aunts, who would visit fortune tellers before any big events or big decisions. My cousin wants to get married? Let's go see a fortune teller. My uncle wants to start a new business? Let's go see a fortune teller. Time to take the college boards? Let's go see a fortune teller.
One year ago, I visited a Korean shaman in Los Angeles. She took down my birthday, consulted some charts and pronounced my fate for 2007. She told me to marry my boyfriend. She warned me that my mom's health was in jeopardy. And she said piles of money were coming my way.
Now it's 2008. I'm still broke, my mom is healthy and I'm still not married. So I've decided on a new tactic. I'm going to see three different clairvoyants, all of whom are sure to give me the same fortune. Right?
I didn't have to go far to get my first reading. Just a few blocks from my apartment stands a tiny pink building: Mrs. Lin's psychic reading shop. It's about 10 by 12 feet and shares the parking lot with a 7-11.
Tammy Lin, daughter of the original Mrs. Lin, prepares a tea leaf reading. She takes a pot of boiling water and pours it into a cup. She drops in a tea bag and lets it seep in the hot water for a few minutes.
After waiting for the leaves to settle to the bottom, I pick up the cup, swish it around three times counterclockwise, and take three sips. I then turn the cup over and let the tea spill out into a bowl.
"Now, we should be able to get some pictures," says Lin. "Let me know if you see anything. It can be a picture of a house, a boot or whatever."
A tea leaf reading is a little like an inkblot test. You look for images in the patterns of the tea leaves that remain in the cup. I try to tap into my childhood imagination. I try to let the leaves speak to me. I stare hard, but I can't see a thing.
"I feel like you have a couple of whales in here," says Lin. "The whale is a symbol for something very large. So if you're not in a relationship or you are in a relationship, this could be the one for you."
The next half hour was filled with statements like: you are about to make a major change in your life; your finances are about to get better; and you might be dating the one.
Next stop: Venice Beach. It's a sidewalk circus and tourist attraction, with no shortage of psychics and fortune tellers.
"My name is Luanne. Luanne Hughes. People call me Luna."
Hughes hands me a stack of tarot cards. I shuffle the cards three times, say my name out loud three times and wait for my divination.
"This is good, this is very good," Hughes says as she flips over the cards. She fans the cards out in front of her and proceeds to rattle off a series of cliches: I am a beacon of light who inspires others; I will do very well in my career with a promotion on the horizon; there will be a party for me in the future. Well, she's right about that. My birthday is in May.
"Now, first you have to put $50 on the table and give me your full birth name as you were born," instructs Charles Guelperin, also known as Baba Funke. Guelperin is a Santeria priest who channels a 500-year-old Congolese spirit named Manuel.
He uses cowrie shells to give me a reading. "You are a volcano, a subdued volcano at times, but who can erupt without knowledge and without preparation," Guelperin says. "Or if you don't explode, you implode and create pain and sorrow to yourself."
This was less fortune telling than it was therapy. At the end of our session, Guelperin advises me to get a gong. "And in the morning, hit the gong and feel the vibration. Let your soul rise with the gong vibration."
I left his place feeling defensive and confused. I'd always seen fortune telling as a harmless way to get glimpse into my future. But maybe, when someone seeks insight from a psychic, it's more about insecurity than a need to actually know. Maybe my infatuation with fortune tellers is really just my need to be reassured that everything's going to be OK.
I think I know how 2008 will be for me. It'll be a lot like 2007. Except maybe this year, I'll stop planning and wondering about my future, and just be.
- Music Bridge:
- 10 Section VIII
- Artist: Steve Reich
- CD: Music for 18 Musicians (Nonesuch)