When it comes to tarot card reading and psychics, I'm a skeptical believer. I believe—like how a musician can have a better ear for the difference between a G and a G sharp—that there are those who are more attuned to certain frequencies.
However, I am not so trusting of all who claim this gift. I've got a pretty strong BS detector, and I fully employ it when visions into my past and future are concerned. Once, I got tarot card reading from a psychic who warned of a nemesis burning candles against me. "Her name starts with an S," she cautioned. The only way I could counteract the hex, she assured me, was to purchase her very own set of white candles—for $300. Another psychic foresaw me completing medical school. When I told her I was a writer and actor, she course-corrected: "I mean, you'll be playing a doctor . . . on stage."
So with a healthy dose of skepticism, I entered the Astrology Boutique, located in Chicago's Wicker Park neighborhood and owned by Carolyn Miller. What happened with her was exactly what I'd hoped. Buy the deal for a tarot-card reading or full psychic reading with Carolyn.
Carolyn first felt "the gift" at ten years old—she was the only one of her sisters to feel it, at least as fully as she does. Her grandmother, who hailed from Calcutta, first noticed (they say the gift is passed down through generations, so I assume she watched her granddaughters, waiting for some sort of sign). And so, it was Carolyn's grandmother who taught her how to "exercise" this gift and to train it so she could use it to help people.
Today, she uses her talents to read people's auras, interpret tarot cards, and—while she says "hearing" isn't the right word—translate messages from what many psychics call "spirit," but I interpret as the source for these abilities.
Carolyn's Astrology Boutique lies on Division Street, the main thoroughfare of a neighborhood that has undergone 20 years of upheaval that's still very much underway. While new construction is quickly paving over some of the neighborhood's grittier elements, the psychic's modest brick two-flat stands as a landmark to the street's more colorful past. So while I was expecting a plain, sparsely kept storefront—or maybe a dark, cozy garden unit tucked down a creaky stairway—I found instead a bright waiting room filled with sunlight, painted in pastels, and perfumed by a flume of fresh flowers.
When we met, Carolyn was dressed in crimson and white, her hair pulled back. She was warm and friendly, but no-nonsense—straightforward but not unkind. Right away, she asked, "How deep do you want me to go? Because I will tell you everything I see, no matter what, if that's what you want." That, I said, was exactly what I wanted.
Carolyn's reading room is a tiny cupboard off the waiting room. It felt more like a typical psychic's room: darker, decorated with crystal balls, adorned with angel statues—but not worn around the edges, like the ones you see on TV. The room fit her sleek urban persona. She asked if I knew "What is a tarot card reading?" and I assured her I'd had mine read before, a few times.
We sat across from each other, and although I'm naturally chatty, I kept quiet, resolved to prevent a "cold read." I'd read about charlatans using this technique to trick people into revealing information about themselves, and didn't want it used on me.
She handed me a deck of tarot cards, and asked me to shuffle and split the deck into three stacks before handing her a stack. After she laid out the cards, she asked a few questions concerning what she saw in the cards. I gave short, one-word answers, trying to keep my facial expressions as neutral as possible.
Carolyn eyed me carefully, picking up on my guard, which I'd raised against the cold read. But then she continued to narrate what she was "seeing." Not two minutes into her reading, she had me. I let my guard down, and I started to cry.
Quite honestly, she was spot on. From the cards and her psychic reading, she saw a lot of my current life. And even though she warned me that she'd go no holds barred, she still brought me to tears. Because I felt vulnerable, my blockade was no match for her skills. She pinpointed the fact that my husband and I don't get to see each other much. She recognized that I've had to be fiercely independent from a very young age, and she also touched on trauma too deep to share here.
She also read my aura, which she described as bright and colorful. But parts of it were blocked, something she attributed to a heaviness—a heaviness I did not create, she clarified, but was given by other people in my life. More specifically, their unhappiness has weighed me down. It's something I've heard from my own therapist, but of course not in this exact way. It seems strange to fact check a psychic against a therapist, but in this case, it worked.
Going into this reading with my guard up was definitely not the best decision. You have to be ready to interpret what the reader says. If you take my example at the top of the story, this does not mean throwing out a list of everyone you know with an S in their name. But it does mean that, for example, when Carolyn said, "You and your husband are far apart a lot of the time," to acknowledge the truth in the statement: yes, he travels a lot for work.
Skepticism is fine, but a proper reading is also a transfer of energy. Much like you wouldn't have a conversation with someone and keep yourself completely closed and expressionless, you can't do that during a psychic reading. He or she does not have the whole story of your life, and they're latching on to impressions they get from spirit, from you. A good psychic reading is about a give and take. It's like a conversation in which both parties participate. And if you're lucky, you'll get a new perspective on yourself, like I did.