Philadelphia Psychics: Screwed, and then Not So Much

Originally Posted 5-03-07 

On Friday April 27, 2007 news sources started reporting that Philadelphia police were alerted to a 30 year old law banning fortune-for "gain or lucre".  The exact damning phrase is "A person who pretends for gain or lucre to tell fortunes or predict future events by cards, tokens, the inspection of the head or hands of any person."

As of the writing of this blog at least 16 Philadelphia based fortune tellers have been shut down with the promise of more to come.  The law has been in place since 1971, but apparently no one was aware of its existence until recently.  News outlets are reporting that the law was first brought to the attention of the police.  The police approached the Department of Licenses and Inspections who were shocked to find that in fact, yes, the practice of fortune telling for money was illegal.  It is considered a third degree misdemeanor.  It also should be noted that they are not making arrests or issuing fines, but will if the offending individuals attempt to return to work.  Bummer for all those they issued business licenses to, eh?

A city official has been quoted in the Philadelphia Inquirer as saying, "Most psychics were con artists who prey on vulnerable people."  A sentiment that I’m sure skeptics and rationalists world wide are agreeing with, and cheering this new development on for.  The difference being, the skeptics I like, such as James Randi, are man enough to put their name with their quotes.  (It’s one of many reasons I love him.  James call me, I adore you.)

But was Philadelphia being ravaged by charlatan psychics?  I’m not going to sit here and say that every psychic is legit and not in it for the money.  On the other hand, I think that many psychics and fortune tellers view their chosen occupation as an entertainment and something that is filling a specific need in our modern society.  It is a sad but true statement that some psychics take advantage of needy and desperate individuals, but I think it’s an equally true statement that people will also get taken advantage of by doctors, lawyers, and a host of other professionals.  Just because one doctor screwed their patient certainly doesn’t mean I view all doctors as quacks.  I think we can afford to extend the same courtesy to fortune tellers and psychics.  When any of these professionals take advantage of or mistreats one of their clients, the wronged person has the option to sue … and the same happens with psychics.  (They can also be reported to the Better Business Bureau.)

I have had one psychic reading so far in my life.  I paid $25 for a unique experience.  I have spent that amount of money many times over for all kinds of experiences in the forms of books, movies, concerts, and more recently things like seances and travel to religious observances.  Although perhaps sometimes let down by the purchase, I never felt taken advantage of for having spent the money for the experience.  Except for when I bought the movie "Alone in the Dark", if I could’ve taken someone to court over that loss of funds I would have.

What I’m trying to say is this, visiting a fortune teller or psychic should be viewed perhaps more as an entertainment based experience.  Sure, listen to what the psychic has to say, many of them wish nothing more than to help and support you, but by no means allow a fortune teller to run your life.  The good ones wouldn’t want you to let them.  Visiting a psychic or fortune teller should be a rewarding experience that you may want to repeat, much like seeing the movie "Serenity" (three times in the theater).  It should never take over the entirety of your life, much like the movie "Serenity" (don’t ask how many times on dvd).

Come on Philadelphia, they were local businessmen and women.  Paying for licenses, paying their taxes, voting in elections, and being a part of your local economy.  Can’t something be done to help them out?


Apparently something can be done!  Starting May 3, 2007 news sources out of Philadelphia began reporting that psychics and fortune tellers operating within the city are going back to work.  Monica Mitchell, who runs a psychic shop in Manayunk, PA, was rightfully peeved and instead of sitting around whining about it, like I was doing, she took action.  She lawyered up, and thanks to her attorney John Raimondi, psychics in Philadelphia have a second lease on their business lives.

According to The Philadelphia Inquirer Raimondi filed a request last week for a restraining order and preliminary injunction on the ground that the statue could be invoked only in cases of fraud.  He is quoted as saying, "What we said is the law is part of the crimes code.  You have to prove that someone has been taken advantage of, and you can’t expect L & I (Licenses and Inspections) to enforce that."

The City Solicitor’s Office agreed with Raimondi and advised the L & I to back off because the state law banning fortune tellers seemed better suited to fraud prosecution than to regulation. 

Hopefully, this means things will settle down for the storefront psychics and fortune tellers in Philadelphia.  We’ll keep you posted…..

HSI Seance

“The people at the Holistic Studies Institute were incredibly friendly and a lot of fun. They hold weekly séances (Fridays at 8:30 pm and Sundays at 6:00 pm) and I have every intention of visiting them for one of those sooner rather than later.” – Rebecca “A Moveable Feast: HSI” 10/02/06

Well sooner just happened. On Friday January 19, 2007 I headed back to the Holistic Studies Institute in Albany, NY to attend one of their séances. My husband Jim, who has gone with me on every Magical Buffet field trip, was unable to go with me on this one. As a testament to how cool Jim is, it took 3 members of the Northern NY Paranormal Research Society and one of their friends to compensate for his absence! That’s right, I brought together two great groups that go great together, the Holistic Studies Institute and the Northern NY Paranormal Research Society. If you know the NNYPRS, you know they never turn down a chance to check out any paranormal experience!

Just like my first visit to HSI, things were not as anticipated in a very good way. It looked like the renovations on their offices were either complete or very close to it. The space is a wonderful mix of metaphysically homey and professionally officey, is it any wonder why I like these guys? Things there were bustling as people were leaving from the healing circle that just got done and people were showing up for the evening’s séance. In that bustle, Dave (NNYPRS Albany Team Leader), Dan (Team Member), Misty (Team Member), her friend, and myself made our way into the sacred space set up at the back of their offices.

The lights were dimmed and relaxing music was being played. A large group of people started coming in and grabbing chairs that lined the walls of the room. In the center of the room was a small table with two Spirit Trumpets sitting on it, and later a chair was positioned near it so spirits could take a seat there if they chose to. The room is wonderfully multi-functional. That evening it was being used for a séance, but other times it serves as a church, and others a classroom.

Charlene Robbins was leading the séance. The first thing she did was split up our motley group, which might seem a bit odd, but it was done for a reason. Since we all knew each other we could be sharing the same energies, which could confuse the mediums from being able to determine exactly who certain messages were intended. So after we all split up, the séance began.

Charlene first gave us all a little information about HSI and their séances. Someone came around to collect donations. We were all told to put ourselves in an open position, which meant arms down and feet on the floor, a difficult task for a leg crosser like myself! Then all of the lights were turned off and the music was turned up.

We started out with what I will describe as a group guided meditation. Charlene guided all of us to an open and relaxed state. I have to confess, I am notoriously bad at relaxation and meditation, so I was not as relaxed as I probably should have been at the end of the opening. After that, Charlene began getting in contact with spirits.

For obvious reasons, I agreed not to write about messages relayed to people at the séance. These can be of a personal nature, and although I’m not naming everyone there, most people would probably not like me airing their spiritual laundry in a public forum. Here is what I will share with you.

Charlene was the lead medium, but HSI helps people get in touch with their psychic abilities and there were other HSI people there that also acted as mediums. They were encouraged to share impressions they were getting with others. In fact, if anyone felt they were seeing or experiencing anything of note they were encouraged to share with the group. It made for a séance, but also an educational experience for those interested in exploring their possible inclinations towards mediumship.

I wish I could say that I saw some mind blowing physical manifestations, but alas none were to be had. That’s okay though, the Holistic Studies Institute does not endorse the use of any of the tricks that gave Spiritualists of the past a bad name. This means that sometimes there are no big surprises, but what it also means is that if something happens….something actually happens. Also, not being that psychically aware, there could have been spirits forming a cheerleading pyramid in the middle of the room and more than likely I would have been oblivious!

The séance lasted about an hour and a half, and was worth the time for the relaxation practices alone! Just like the last time, the folks at the Albany, NY Holistic Studies Institute were friendly, kind, and just gosh darned likeable!

Just like I mentioned the last time I wrote about HSI, they hold weekly séances (Fridays at 8:30 pm and Sundays at 6:00 pm), except on the weekends they hold their psychic fairs. To learn more about the whens and wheres I encourage you to visit:


On Saturday October 28th Jim and I hopped in the car and took the much shorter trip to visit The Holistic Studies Institute in Albany, NY. We were visiting them to attend their Halloween Psychic Fair. Avid readers should note that this drive took us 15 minutes (even in the pouring rain) as opposed to the 3-4 hour drive we took on our last adventure!

Upon arrival we were greeted by Cathy, one of the people that helped organize the event. For those of you that have never attended a psychic fair, like myself, I have to tell you that it was not what I was expecting. I imagined booths of psychics lined up hawking their wares, cajoling you to try them. Instead I found an inviting and much more professional atmosphere. What happens at an H.S.I. fair is that you sign up on a list for a reading, which is only $25, and you’re given a time and a psychic on a little chit of paper. Then you wait, but it’s not a dull wait. They offer you refreshments like coffee and cookies, and they have various types of healers that give complimentary healings (more fun with that later). Also, when their office space is isn’t being renovated, which it is currently undergoing, they have a book store that sells new and used books. So there is plenty to do and see before you are within 10 feet of one of the psychics!

I had a reading set up with Lorrie De Marco for 1pm. I was told that she not only does readings, but she teaches the first year course in Psychic Development at H.S.I. At 1pm I was taken to a room that was reserved for readings. So not the psychic free for all I was imagining! Lorrie was very friendly. She asked me to give her a personal item, one that has only belonged to me. Lorrie asked me my first name and my date of birth and away we went. Obviously I’m not going to tell you what occurred during my reading, it was my reading…go get your own! I do want to tell you that Lorrie was a warm, comforting woman and I had a wonderful time speaking with her.

After the reading, I went around the corner to visit the healers. There were three vivacious women waiting for me. I was offered the option of Reiki Healing or Therapeutic Touch. I opted for Therapeutic Touch, which meant that I got worked over by Susan Ikenhoffer. She told me that most people after receiving Therapeutic Touch tend to be very relaxed, that was my experience too. Once Jim was done taking pictures of us that is!

The people at the Holistic Studies Institute were incredibly friendly and a lot of fun. They hold weekly séances (Fridays at 8:30 pm and Sundays at 6:00 pm) and I have every intention of visiting them for one of those sooner rather than later.

To learn more about the Holistic Studies Institute visit them at:
While you’re there you can sign up for their free newsletter that will give you a complete list of their numerous events and courses that they offer.

Since I had never had a reading before I was given a leaflet entitled, “How to Get the Most Out of Your Psychic Reading.” I figured I would share it with you, in case you visit H.S.I. for a reading.

*Seek a Psychic’s assistance when there is a sincere need.
*Be open-minded. Do not try to “test” a psychic or come with a “prove it to me attitude.” Judge the reading as it is being given to you. Listen calmly.
*Don’t make a psychic guess what you want from your reading. This only wastes valuable time in which your psychic could be answering your questions.
*Be prepared with a list of meaningful questions whether in writing or in your mind. This will help stimulate psychic impressions.
*Don’t expect a psychic to read your mind. It is your responsibility to ASK specific questions.
*Topics your psychic can tune into may include: travel, employment/career, family, friends, spirit family, spirituality, finances, health, relationships/romance, and education.
*Give your psychic an object that you own. This object should not be previously owned or any part of it previously owned by any other person. A watch, jewelry, keys, etc. work the best. This personal object will help the psychic get closer to your energy and use it as fuel for the reading.
*You may want to bring in photos. Psychics can draw a lot of information from a photo. Photos may be of living or deceased persons.
*Psychics do not see everything. However, they should tell you everything they see. If they see something negative, they will tell you, but they will also tell you how you can change or avoid the negative event. A code of ethics for a truly professional psychic should embody the saying “ to be forewarned is to be forearmed.” This is one of the great values in going to a psychic. They can help prevent possible problems.
*Most psychics are also mediums. This means that they will receive information from your deceased loved ones. Your psychic may refer to these important people as “spirits”. You may want to give your psychic the name of your loved one in spirit, enabling them to tune in to the name and possibly give you a message from that person.
*Keep in mind, psychics are human beings like everyone else. Psychics are not always correct. However, most of our clients at H.S.I. return for more readings because they are pleased with our 80%-100% accuracy rate. By most standards this accuracy is exceedingly high.
*Psychics at H.S.I. do not use Tarot cards. Our experience tells us that Tarot cards and other such props are less accurate and tend to be very general.
Enjoy yourself and have a great reading!

I did enjoy myself and I had a great reading!