It has occurred to me that it might be a good idea to let you know what my book, Manhattan Seeress is about, since I’ve been going on about it for a while now. Below is the book’s preface:
A seeress is one who sees, one who knows. It's not something one talks about. In the talking one reduces this "awareness" to the questioners’ ability to grasp something foreign to them; it becomes trivialized. For the past few centuries, humankind has turned its back on non-rational ways of perceiving. There are many names attached to this area of human experience, shamanic, psychic, mystical, intuitive, spiritual, religious, superstitious. This other way of perceiving is at odds with the rational world and is rightly seen as a threat.
Science rules our present era. Any opposition to the rational is quickly dismissed, condescended, ridiculed, attacked. Yet it is here, a part of every human being's experiences. We have no true words for these unexplainable happenings. A seeress is someone who uses that way of perceiving the world as her guiding force. She is aware of many separate worlds she navigates in, aware of forces in the universe with rules that must be obeyed in order to survive, protect oneself, live a rich, meaningful life.
I am not alone with this gift. There are others. When we meet there is that flash of recognition, yes, he or she or he is one of us. The word psychic is one that I detest, but is the only way I can make myself understood by most. My gift is easily lost; the everyday life overwhelms; the everyday life has its comforts, its known fears, one is soothed, caressed, fed, loved, one is ill, broke, fired, attacked, despised, one will die.
Seeing is about pulling that mask off, and truly being there at that moment, its that part of self that you understand as ancient, has always been, will always be, the one who knows you, the totality of you.
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 NYC 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 as little or as much as you want in the privacy of your home giving readings over the telephone. Psychic Reader's Network, 1-800-***-****.
Thus begins my career as a Manhattan seeress. It was not something I sought out. Like the trickster Coyote, I stumble in inadvertently. It was only going to be a summer job. 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.
What is the rationale for this book?
It is about power and spirituality. I am not a guru with a product to sell, or directions on how to attain nirvana. I will not take you to the Himalayas or Machu Picchu to connect with the ancients, that is a journey taken alone, but I will point out some signposts along the way. 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, the first of the atouts, to its last and twenty second atout, 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.
The favorite essay this month has been, Learned Helplessness