I walked past the shop and read the notices. One read: Tarot, Crystals, Essential Oils. I snorted.

Another notice read: Chakra Foot Reflexology. Another snort.

Then I saw Aromatouch Massage, Psychic Readings, Spirit Healings.

All this was too much for me. I sneerted. Sneerting was a skill that came to me at precisely that instant – when I felt the need to both snort and sneer.
I was nearly around the corner when I sighted the words, Divine Bhakti.

I found myself snortless, without a sneer.

Divine! Bhakti! What does that mean, I wondered?

Abruptly my curiosity conquered my meanness and opened my mind.

So I went inside.
I asked the jolly lady, Are you Ms Bhakti?

She laughed – a contralto earthquake: No. Bhakti is Sanskrit.

She asked me who I was.

I said: Howard. I am a writer.
The jolly lady attended patiently to my many questions.

After a while she asked me: Why do you ask?

I am old. I have passed nearly threescore and ten years with my eyes and my mind open to the world, looking for understanding. I saw your notices and I realised

I understood not a word. I understood too – since you have a shop, you presumably pay rent, and you like to eat – that you must have customers; that they recognise

your services and value them; and they pay good money in return.

Another big gurgle, a smile that wobbled its way across her happy features.
I asked about Tarot. I learned it rhymes with arrow not carrot.

My informant said, I used to do a lot of Readings. Not so much now. We had a wonderfully gifted reader here in the shop earlier today.

I asked about the spirit.

The spirits come to me from the earth. They rise, I feel their light, their white light, they come up from below and pass through me and above. They will come to all who are open

and they will teach what you need to learn. You will learn what you want to learn.

Please tell me of crystals.

When I speak with the crystals they bring healing.

Do you use words? Do they answer in words?

I use words. The crystals answer in understanding and I express this to the seeker in words.

Which crystals are the correct ones?

All crystals bring healing.

How did you learn so many arts, such ancient knowledge? Who was your master? Your guru? It must have taken many years…

The lady looked at me vacantly as if to say, What’s your question.

Then: My grandmother was a Tarot Master…

My mother was a healer, ‘though it took me some decades to learn this.

And Tarot was taught to the West at the dawn of the twentieth century by an American named Crowley. He was a witch.
A witch!

Can this knowledge be used for harm or falsehood?

Huge volley of laughing: Anything can be used by crooks for deceit and harm. But the healing will come to one who seeks it.

How can an ignorant person – such as I am – know which is true?

When you enter the place of healing, it will feel right or wrong. If you feel you do not want to be there, turn around and leave.
It was closing time. I thanked the lady and together we put away her furniture. I thanked her again and as I left I told her I might write of our conversation and put it up on my blog.

Warm smile, soft shake of my hand: Thank you. That would be nice.