THE FORTUNE HUNTER
I sit atop my bed surrounded on all sides by paper— Once again, as life dictates, I am at a crossroads. forming battle plans and contingency maneuvers, to analyze my next moves.
But even with all this attempts at organizing my world, I’ve never had a life plan. Dreams, perhaps, but never a plan. The never-ending manic phase that was my twenties ensured that plans were simply dreams; forgotten in the greater scheme of my life, where everything was a reaction to the misfiring pulses in my brain. I was lost in a haze and it took me a while before I could find my bearings and begin to navigate with some modicum of clarity.
“Life and living are a vast ocean, so just keep swimming,” I keep telling myself whenever I’m feeling a little bit aimless. If I just keep going, I’m bound to find something that takes me to what I’m supposed to do next. But what if my ocean was nothing more than a glorified fishbowl and I’m bound to swim around in circles repeating, regurgitating, never resolving or…? Insight. I need insight.
We seek advice from our elders, those we consider wise. We seek counsel from friends, family, priests, and psychiatrists. So is it too far a stretch to seek guidance from those who seem to have a line to something beyond the veil? Has our empirical view of life so narrowed that we refuse to believe what we cannot see?
When did trying to understand the intangible become lumped together with fairy tales and myths? From before the time the Oracle sat at Delphi to the present, divining futures has always been a human pursuit. Emperors, kings, and pharaohs who wanted a clearer, more direct line to the Great Beyond went to oracles of the ancient world: high priests, shamans, and soothsayers. This isn’t New Age. This is isn’t even old; this is ancient. But as the world progressed, we began to have less use for mystical interpretations. Empirical thinking tuned us into a whole new, wholly different Age of Enlightenment. We have the new gods of science, mathematics, logic. We’ve forgotten how to keep in touch with our spiritual selves.
Spiritualism is more than organized religion. I believe in God. I believe in the strength of faith. I believe in the power of prayer. I also believe that there is much more out there that we cannot even begin to comprehend, and that some people are better at understanding these unknown forces than others.
I believe, for in belief there is faith; and where there is faith, there is the will to move forward, to persevere, even if it is largely considered to be just a bunch of hocus-pocus. I don’t know when the art of prophecy became more akin to a parlor trick, but once upon a time everyone who was anyone checked in with those who could conduit for the divine.
I must digress: this wasn’t supposed to be my story. I picked up this story when the original writer gave it up. By the time I decided to take on this tale, I had pretty much decided on what I was about to do with my life—but a second, even third or fourth opinion wasn’t a bad idea. And why not try a different path to clarity?
My cast of characters are as varied as they come, except for one thing: they were all women. But women were always the prefered oracle to the gods, the Pythia, high priestess of Apollo at Delphi, being the most famous of them all.
I FIRST SPOKE TO PRINCESS, THE MENSA-
certified genius who runs the Yin and Yang Shop of Harmony in New World Hotel with her mother. Talking to her is like taking counsel from the Buddha himself—she is so calm and collected, even when she is trying to help prevent disaster stars from affecting your future. The feng shui reading went a lot more different than what I had expected.
After some calculations based on the time and date of my birth (it’s Year: Earth Horse, Month: Wood Tiger, Day: Wood Rabbit, Time: Wood Rooster, for those who are wondering), Princess looks up and says, “You’ve got a lot of wood in your life.” I refrain from making a dumbass frat boy joke and ask if that was a good thing or a bad thing. Princess smiles and tells me that there is no such thing as good or bad, it is simply who you are.
Sandy from Cubao X’s Reading Room also tells you who you are, which may or may not be what you want to hear. She introduces herself as someone who uses a deck of cards called Soulcards to look into people and see who they really are: who they are at the moment, who they may have been before, and what they might become. From her, I gained energy. The truth of who I really am and what I am poised to become is inspiring. And daunting. And freeing. And terrifying. I’m not quite sure, but the stress of it all may have caused me to have my first ever bout of full-on, crawling-on-thefloor, wishing-I-could-have-a-head-transplant vertigo. Okay, I exaggerate, but it did cross my mind considering the vertigo started a few hours after speaking to her. Nothing she says is truly surprising, for deep inside I know what she says resonates within me. Whether I like what she is telling me is another thing altogether. But this is what I asked for: a light shone into the subconscious recesses of my mind. And that is exactly what I got. Going to Sandy is like going to a psychiatrist; the tough love kind of doctor who gives you exercises to do at home.
When I was in Madam Rose’s home, however, I got a different reading altogether. It was the more traditional way of divination— more what we would now call fortune-telling. She told me about loves I’m soon to meet (two, this August, the second of which shall be “The One”), the future we’re supposed to have (she sees us living our retirement years abroad), and the children we’re supposed to raise (twin boys, yeezus christ!). This sort of specific predictions unnerve me. Though Madam Rose exclaimed, “Why are you consulting with me? Your cards are fantastic! You have a great life ahead of you.”
She read my palms, too, showing me faint lines and thick lines that corroborate what she saw in the cards; crossed lines and broken ones too, giving insight to paths I have lived and paths I have yet to walk. I couldn’t help but feel a tinge of fear. It’s easy to know the endgame when consulting with psychics, but choosing which play to make in order to achieve it is what worries me.
“Ah, I don’t like it when psychics tell you too much,” Tata Mapa says. “It’s not good for you.” I agree, the information, whether or not what she sees is true, shouldn’t give one the feeling of being overloaded because life isn’t a done deal until you’re six feet under. A decision here, a turn there can change a future. Throughout my journey to part the veil, I’ve had my own Virgil in Tata. An ex-Summit editor, she’s well known in the office for “saying things that freak people out.”
Close your mind !!!! Tata can read minds!!! Sasha Lim Uy, managing editor of Esquiremag.ph, messages me after she connects me with Tata on Facebook. It’s true. You don’t have to believe it, but I do. A lot of us here in Summit do. Tata messaged our editorin-chief, Kristine, a little bit before she officially joined Esquire. News of Kristine taking over was still under wraps, but Tata
When did trying to understand the intangible become lumped together with fairy tales and myths? From before the time the Oracle sat at Delphi to the present day, divining futures has always been a human pursuit
had already messaged offering her services (you can see a few of her essays in previous issues of this magazine). When Kristine asked how she knew, Tata simply replied, “I’m Tata, remember?”
It was through Tata that I began to see the value in seeking out people like her. It was through their intuition that we access knowledge that might somehow be blocked in our subconscious for one reason or another. We have a conscious mind and a subconscious one, that much we can all agree on. But whereas a psychiatrist treats our conscious mind through therapy, the subconscious can be treated by people like Tata through what is called “clearing.”
“Clearing is when you get rid of what blocks you from attaining your goals, desires, and happiness,” Tata explains. Imagine how great it would be if you could clear the past traumas that block you from wanting to commit to a relationship, for example. You can clear negative beliefs, such as “money is the root of all evil,” and be able to attain better financial success. “Many of us regularly clear blocks on a surface level such as when you decide to stop hanging around a negative group of friends,” Tata continues. “But what makes energy healing so effective is that we are able to go into the subconscious to clear hidden blocks you might be unaware of.” So if going to therapy clears out the conscious mind, the mind that remains active and at the forefront of our thoughts, going to psychics like Tata helps deliberately draw out those subconscious issues that keep us from achieving our goals. You know those goals: the ones you deliberately try to achieve but always fall short. These include those objectives that always seem thwarted by outside forces no matter how hard you try.
Tata sent me to her friend, Tin Jacinto, for consultation and clearing. Tin—who came armed with a deck of tarot cards and a small pendulum—intrigued me the most. Her face is bright and open, welcoming. She begins with the pendulum and the cards, swinging it back and forth between her fingers, her eyes closed, eyelashes fluttering. “What happened to you when you were 36?” She suddenly asks. I think back and I reply. This question repeats itself twice more. “What happened when you were 27?” The issues surfacing were buried deeper still. “What happened when you were 19?” Three big blocks were revealed through these three questions, and those were the blocks that Tin intended to help clear. Again, she used her pendulum to help the process along, swinging it between my fingers above my open palm. Tin whispers invocations, asking for these blocks still hanging around me to pass. I can’t help but close my eyes and pray along with her. Please, God, help me find the next path I must take. Please, God, help me heal the hurt and pain. Please, God, help me let it go… let it gooooooo… That song annoys the hell out of me. I snap my mind back to the present before I start singing out loud. Tin is looking at me slightly bemused. I wonder if she could hear the song in my head.
The last psychic I visited is the famous Ms. Stargazer. She’s become a celebrity in her own right, counting among her clients the likes of Kris Aquino. She struck me as a tough cookie, the kind that won’t stand for BS. “Why are you here?” She asks immediately after offering me a seat. I explain that aside from wanting to hear what she has to say about me, I’m writing a story about fortune tellers. She looks at me triumphantly “I knew that there was something else. You can’t lie to me because I’ll know.” I’m not allowed to record our conversation because the energy that she emanates tends to fry electronics. Her airconditioner, she says, is always on the fritz because of it.
Ms. Star (as she is often called) picks up a pastel crayon and starts coloring around a photocopied sheet of paper featuring the outline of a human form. She is using the pastels to show me the color of my aura. I’m surprised to see my aura is basically yellow and orange, two colors I’m not very fond of, but Ms. Star picks up yet another color, a flat yellowish-beige and begins to color over the yellow and orange, creating a muddy mustard color. It looks sickly, almost jaundiced. I never get to ask her what that means because after a little more talk, her eyes light up and she smiles, stating that my aura has changed as I spoke, the orange and yellow, leaping up and around like flames. Apparently, I am happy, I am energized, I am excited by my plans. She pulls out another photocopied sheet of paper and shows me the current color of my aura. It was pure yellow and orange, with small sparks of orange flashing at its borders. I feel better, reassured. Ms. Star also uses my birthdate to foretell my life path. My life path is a four, which for all intents and purposes is a great number to be filed under. Those who fall under the number four are strong, organized, enduring. But then I remember that in feng shui four is a most inauspicious number. Though in feng shui four also means being grounded and having strength and protection, it is commonly known as a bad luck number because the Cantonese word for it sounds similar to the word for “death”.
And therein lies the uncertainty of having your fortune told: who do you go to? Who’s the most reliable? Whose words do you follow if predictions begin to contradict? Yet another ancient question. Croeseus, that very wealthy king from Lydia, tested oracles from near and far to see who was the most accurate by asking each oracle what he was doing at a specific time. (For the curious, the winner of the test was the Oracle at Delphi, who correctly predicted that the king was making a lamb and tortoise stew.) Lacking the resources of a crazy rich Lydian, I begin to amalgamate the prophecies these women have laid out before me. From Ms. Star, Sandy, and Tin, I got insight into my subconscious. From Madam Rose, I got a forecast of what is to be. From Princess, I got understanding of the energy that surrounds me and how to harness and attract the positive around me.
At the end of this journey, I realize that whether or not I truly believed, I felt better because of the experience. In our progression as humans, we must stop eschewing the esoteric. Clearing the clutter created by the past is always a good thing. This is KonMari for the soul.
Because I write for a men’s magazine, people keep asking me how this can help men. I simply cannot understand the question. Can’t this story benefit everyone? What if this so-called fortunetelling is nothing more than the conduit from which we see a different aspect of life? The life that we, because of whatever life hangups or traumas inhibit us from becoming the whole, productive, and engaged humans that these women see? Whether you believe in the mystical or not, all these women say the same practical thing: clear the clutter in your head, open your mind to possibilities, make peace with your past issues. To live an exclusively empirical life is to deny a world so bright with imagination and possibility. Beliefs can create the blueprint for your life. It drives your priorities. It’s the jumble of unresolved issues and traumas that get in the way.