When it comes to the hazy world of the paranormal, I have always been a fully-fledged on-the-fencer.
Without prior reason to believe (or disbelieve) in ancient spiritual crafts, nothing has compelled me to fall down the rabbit hole of psychic guidance thus far, credit card in hand. That is, until I quit my dead-end job back in my hometown of Glasgow to start a new life in Berlin. In the name of research, I bravely threw myself at the mercy of three psychics to find out what to expect for my year ahead.
Paranormal Prenzlauer Berg
My first stop is Heidi’s cosy shop, replete with crystals, incense and oddities of the occult (which you can feel free to purchase post-reading if you’re feeling particularly spiritual). She welcomes me into a small backroom where the reading is to take place.
While there’s enough red velvet and candles to ensure the cliché quota is sufficiently met, her appearance is surprisingly unassuming. She could be your aunt, your neighbour, your babysitter… in fact it’s quite possible that she actually is one of those things.
My ex pops up again, alarmingly. ‘He will travel to meet you here.’
We get down to business straight away and Heidi asks me to shuffle the cards. As soon as she begins speaking, the hairs stand up on the back of my neck – my primal intuition telling me chancery is afoot, or the cold air of the shop bouncing off the radiator?
“Has someone from the past been trying to contact you recently?” Affirmative. I tell her of a toxic ex who had been trying to ring me in the small hours over the past couple of weeks.
“He misses you and regrets his actions,” confirms Heidi. “He will travel to Berlin to get you back.” Suddenly, I am also blessed with the gift of foresight; I envision a scenario involving me, his head, and a frying pan. Worse still: Heidi tells me there is no sign of any real romance in the foreseeable future. Damn.
On the other hand, Heidi jubilantly informs me that career opportunities will come freely to me in 2013, I will never want for money and that journalism is the right path. Furthermore, she can see me ‘writing about people’… Exberliner gossip columnist, perhaps?
Tarot reading with Heidi Zötsche | €45 for 1h Lenormand & Tarot reading, 030 4405 9549, Prenzlauer Berg.
Hot tea and hand holding
Renate’s reading takes place in the setting of her apartment situated in Wittenau. Assumedly, she has looked into her crystal ball in advance to be sure that I’m not an axe murderer, but I’m flattered by the invitation into her home nonetheless, and she even kindly provides a cup of Earl Grey tea. As with Heidi, there is no sign of jangly bangles or heavy eyeliner to suggest ‘fortune teller’ by appearance alone.
Once again I am encouraged to shuffle the cards. “Touching them with your hands transfers your energy into them,” explains Renate.
A Reiki practitioner, she incorporates this peaceful Eastern philosophy into her readings. Once the deck is laid out on the table, she tells me a little about my nature.
“You are an extremely sensitive person. This means you work well with people, but that you get quite hurt if they let you down.” I mentally disagree. Okay, I once agonised for 10 minutes on a pavement after I trod on a worm, deliberating whether or not it would be kinder to ‘finish it off ’. I also once cried at a Spanish circus because I felt that the seal wouldn’t have selected performing as his career choice given the opportunity. Also, sometimes when I see an overweight person eating alone in a restaurant I have this overwhelming urge to run over and hug them. But I would hardly define that as sensitive.
Yet again it is concluded that there are no serious romances for me on the cards anytime soon. However, my ex does pop up again, alarmingly with the familiar phrase “he will travel to meet you here”. Apparently, 700 miles isn’t enough to keep your past at bay. I need to start wearing a crucifix.
One thing to be said about Renate is her patience and concentration. Throughout our generous two-hour session, no stone is left unturned in the dusty corners of my life. Like Heidi, she assures me that the cards speak of a promising year ahead career-wise. I’m feeling pretty optimistic about my job prospects all of a sudden.
On the way home, I am accosted in the S-Bahn by a young German man who bashfully tells me that he noticed me from afar and wanted to introduce himself. Why didn’t the cards warn me about this chance encounter, I wonder? Renate obviously knew he wasn’t my type.
Tarot reading with Renate Grünberger | €150 for 1.5-2h private reading and counselling, 030 4937 2239, Wittenau.
Going under the pseudonym ‘Lucetia’, Jaana welcomes me into her beautiful apartment in Friedrichshain for an astrological chart reading. Did astrology pay for all this space, I wonder? Not quite. Jaana tells me she also works in marketing.
Prior to the session, I had been asked to provide her with the location and exact date and time of my birth. Using this information, she pinpointed exactly where the planets were situated when I popped out. According to her, my ascendant line means I’m a typical Capricorn – serious, serious and yet more serious – but my descendant line lies in Cancer, which means I also possess a very sensitive, caring side. (Has Jaana been speaking to Renate?)
Overall, the chart deems me to be a serious hard-shelled sort with a tender centre, a bit like a reverse Bruce Banner. I am told for the third time to expect a very busy and successful year career-wise, and that the chart shows no new relationships in the near future, “possibly because you will be busy concentrating on the career side of your life?” Jaana kindly suggests, to my ego’s relief.
Astrological reading with Jaana Rusi | €120 for an initial 90-minute session, 030 2977 4100, Friedrichshain.
Sceptics may say what they like, but the upshot of my experience is that three unrelated psychics made the same basic predictions about my love life and career in 2013. Whether this is because they have seen the future or because all psychics have some sort of internationally recognised checklist of buzzwords and phrases that they think I want to hear remains unclear. I like to think it’s the former.
But whether you believe in the Esoterik or not, one thing is for sure: psychic readings are a more pampering experience than a spa day. Having someone put you and your needs at the centre of attention for two hours is the ultimate feel-good indulgence.
It’s a form of therapy too, if you let yourself believe. You go to a psychic with a problem, and theoretically, you leave feeling a bit less worried about it. “It gives people hope,” Jaana told me.
To my mind, that’s not such a bad thing.