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MANHATTAN SEERESS

From the start, I’ve looked for a seat at the table; I wanted to partake of the feast and add my voice to the conversation.  So I came to New York with an open heart hoping to find my way.  On the surface, my journey was the typical story of a grad student living in poverty on the Lower East Side, looking to find time to write. I had tested the seriousness of my intent to speak my mind and enter the conversation by going on a vision quest before coming to the city.  It starts with a camping trip through my home state of Maine.  After a week alone, without the comforts of home, my programmed life begins to deteriorate; I become more connected to the earth, sunrise, sunset, time to get up, time to turn in.  On an old logging road, I sense a presence, is it the sorcerer?  It occurs to me that my mind is filled with thoughts from morning till night, because life is too fearful otherwise, without boundaries, chaotic. My plan is to find an appropriate place to go on the vision quest.  I spend 4 days and nights alone in the woods fasting. And what is New York to such a person moving to the city?  It is affirmation, the truth swept out from under the rug.  NY is ugly, vulgar, filthy, it’s a tart in a too-short skirt looking for a good time, it is the streets and avenues I’ve read about, the violence, the architecture, the art, the beautiful people, the best of the best and the lowliest of the low; it is terrifying and desirable.  I have arrived at the banquet table!  Its inhabitants don’t doubt for a moment what is commonly known as psychic phenomenon.  How else can one survive and even thrive here?  Midway through my MFA in creative writing at Sarah Lawrence College, and out of money, I look through the help wanted ads in the Village Voice, and I come upon this: Psychics Wanted, set your own hours, work in the privacy of your home giving readings over the telephone. Thus begins my career as a Manhattan seeress. The psychic networks provide me with incalculable training as I spend evenings counseling client, after client, for hours on end. From the beginning, I love the work, and at some point the parts meld, and I am no longer a writer, and separately a spiritual person. My ear is tapping into the heart of America, its passions, fears, obsessions, its poetry and mystery, its stories. This book is about power and spirituality. How one becomes a seeress is what I chose to explore in this memoir.  I have specifically selected stories to illustrate, from the sublime to the practical, a spiritual journey introduced in each chapter by an atout, the Tarot’s major archetypes.   From the Fool, to The World, our human journey with its risk and folly unfolds.  The development of a seeress becomes a hodgepodge of stories about power and the lessons one collects, or formulates, about rules, attention, listening to the untold story, tapping into other worlds, other ways of being; it’s about commitment.  There is also an artist here alive to her new world seeking inspiration among artists on the Lower East side, learning the ways and foods of her Chinese neighbors, falling in love.

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