Astrologers and fortune-tellers thrive in the Bay Area, serving an uncertain tech community
Even Niels Bohr hung a horseshoe in his house to bring him good luck, saying it worked, regardless of one’s belief in it
A long time ago, in England, there lived a blacksmith named Dunstan. In those days, one of the main jobs a blacksmith had was the creation and fitting of horseshoes. One wild and windy night, a man came into Dunstan’s smithy, asking the blacksmith to put horseshoes on his feet. The startled Dunstan looked down, and saw that his visitor had hooves, and not normal feet. The devil himself had come to visit the blacksmith.

Dunstan nailed the horseshoe to the devil’s foot. As the devil writhed in pain, Dunstan chained him, and released him only after extracting a promise that he would never enter a building which had a horseshoe over the door. Niels Bohr may have been a Nobel prize-winning physicist, but even he hung up a horseshoe over the door of his country home. When a visitor once asked if he believed the horseshoe was lucky, Bohr replied: “Of course not. But I understand it’s lucky whether you believe in it or not.“

SUPERSTITIONSThink about this. In San Francisco alone, there are 128 psychics and mediums in the city and there are 141 listings for astrologers.The city may have been a counterculture heaven once, but those days are long gone, the people from that time being replaced with wealthy tech executives from the valley . And yet, faith in mediums and numerologists and astrologers survives ­ indeed, thrives ­ in the Bay Area.

If a scientist of the calibre of Niels Bohr was unable to resist superstition, it seems that it’s far harder for the techie ­ who lives in constant fear that his or her employment is the result of a bubble that may burst any moment ­ to be rational.

Nicki Bonfilio is a psychic. When she was five, she says, an apparition of St Francis visited her in the backyard of her family’s Mill Valley home. That kicked off a childhood procession of phantom colours and 3D shapes levitating in midair. When she was 13, she experienced something like “an explosion from the inside out“ ­ a firework in the brain that uncorked her extrasensory gifts. After working at a number of jobs, she became a full-time psychic after a vision showed a close friend had a potentially fatal tumour ­ a vision that was confirmed by an MRI.

That was 15 years ago. Today , Bonfilio sees about 25 clients a week and has a calendar that’s booked two months in advance. “The tech boom seems to have helped my business. It created more people who are here looking for answers in a different way ,“ she tells SFWeekly’s Jeremy Lybarger.

Joyce Van Horn is an astrologer ­ an evolutionary astrologer. She charges $150 an hour. “Most of us are born having forgotten the information from our past lifetimes,“ she says, “but there is information encoded in us that remembers the essence of who we were and what we were about.“

She helps people recover that information.The majority of Van Horn’s clients are from the tech industry . Besides in-person readings, she also does phone and Skype consultations, as is natural for the valley .Sometimes, her clients need to relax before they become more receptive to Van Horn’s sessions ­ and MDMA (Ecstasy) is the chemical of choice .

Sometimes, the requests can get bizarre. Joey Talley is a Wiccan witch who has a number of tech clients. She gets requests for cyber-security miracles as well.“Most people want me to protect their computers from viruses and hacks,“ she tells Lybarger, “so I’ll make charms for them. I like to use flora.“ And sometimes, she casts spells to keep the whole office safe ­ for a fee, of course.

Most of the people in the valley may identify with logic, not magic. But still, deep in the lizard recesses of the human brain, there will always be room for superstitions, it seems.

Source: TOI 26 July 2015