Psychics, tarot readers, and mediums are old crafts that have been of service to New Yorkers for hundred of years. Still to this day these occupations are full of mystery with many members of the psychic world keeping their talents secret. We were lucky enough to talk to Janet Horton about what it’s like to be a psychic in the city, and her interesting path to becoming a full time psychic and tarot reader.
What is it like working as a psychic?
I have been earning my living being a psychic for maybe 20 years. It’s a lot different than you think it’s going to be, and you begin to realize that you are really in a position to inspire people to have happier lives. I don’t want to sound conceited, that is not where I’m coming from but I have learned to walk around the world feeling big wings, so that I can help people.
Do you think people go in to being a psychic because they want to help people?
You know it doesn’t start off that way, when I was five I was aware of things like ‘that old historic building, there are ghosts in there’ and I would start to get who the spirits were, their appearance, maybe what happened to them, and what was the major influences in their lives.
I was the oldest of four kids and when you are five it doesn’t occur to you that not everybody isn’t operating on the same level of consciousness, you think it’s normal. Then you get a little bit older and then you start to realize. I remember when I was five, we had just moved to Cleveland and it was just me and my mother. We were home alone so mum and me were hanging out in the living room she was doing the ironing. I’m sitting on the floor next to her on the floor and one of my brothers had left out some train toys. I picked up one off these trains and I was pushing it on the carpet, I pushed it slowly away with my finger. I’m telling you that the train went and went and there was no way it could have gone that far. I was thinking did I do that or do we have ghosts. Then I glance up to see if my mum had seen any of this, and we just stared at each other.
My mum was only 20 when she had me and she was 25 at this point and I got to give her a lot of credit for how well she handled it. I didn’t have the verbal ability at that point to describe what was happening but we both saw that, and that it really happened. My mum was comfortable with the fact that she had a psychic in the family. Within weeks she was taking me to visit the lady who just moved next door and I was picking up on the ghosts that lived in that house.
Were you scared?
Oh no I’m never scared, never threatened it’s a state of joy…
It may be that i grew up in the suburbs with regular folks, what they see on TV is spooky stories, saying there’s the pit off hell in in your basement. But that’s not what is going on at all. What’s really going on is the people that live there (spirits) are actually thrilled to have you there and really want to make a connection with you. It depends on our attitudes really.
“It’s an ability that everybody has, its like musical ability.”
Why do you think some people become psychic?
It’s an ability that everybody has, its like musical ability. You put all these three year olds together in preschool and they all bang on drums and play the piano, and one of the kids sits down and starts playing Mozart. So you’re like ok thats the musical one.
Some of us grow up to realize this ability and pay attention to it, others have it suppressed. It has a lot to do with the people around us.
Have you always been a Tarot Reader?
I started doing readings and learning how to use cards when I was about 16. I just did it with family, friends, and off in college with boys. Then when I came to New York, I wanted to be a magazine writer, a novelist writer really. I started doing freelance writing for magazines. I was offered a job in American Homes as a senior editor when I was 26. I remember when I was offered the job as a senior editor I was like I can’t do that job, I just assumed it was too big for me I mean I had the writing down but I didn’t know if I had the managerial skills to do it. But then I was like wait a minute, in a corporation like this its takes a year to fire you and then by then I’ll know the job! So then I decided, I would do it. I just got started then Us Weekly offered me a job there.
I did the publishing for a while, it’s small pay and it’s incredibly long hours, one long day after another. I was never going to be an author after working such a long day, I can’t work 14 hours a day for a magazine and write at night I physically can’t do it and the income I could make even at that point in my career just paid my basic bills. By this time I had made lots of friends in the city and I had some girlfriends who were working as stockbrokers who were making three times what I was making. So I decided I was going to be a stockbroker, make some money and then I could be an author. I went off to become a stockbroker and I made some money. Then I realized it was the most soulless thing I ever did with my life, then there was a stock market crash so it was an opportunity to go back and start writing.
When I needed to start making a living again, I had been working on a novel based on a psychic in a restaurant in 1939 and I couldn’t quite pull it off before my savings ran out. I had to go get myself a job. I figured I couldn’t do corporate again, but I may go and work in a restaurant. There was a local restaurant in Hoboken where I lived it was a great place. I’m walking past the restaurant, the owner is sitting in the restaurant on her own. I went in, and she said ‘oh your the writer right, what’s your book about again?’ – I said ‘psychic works in a restaurant, murder mystery set in 1939’ then she says ‘you wouldn’t do that here would you?’ and ‘I’m like ok!’ I had not gone on one job interview and just by chance I’m walking passed her restaurant. As I walked away from her restaurant it took about two blocks before I processed what just happened.
The next morning I realised wait a minute, now I’m going to be doing readings in restaurants and I had been doing readings with different cards, I realised I had to do it with the tarot and I had a week to become a pro. It wasn’t like I wasn’t an experienced tarot reader but I had never done a reading for a stranger, I didn’t know just how psychic I could be. My proprietor had seven friends and family who wanted to do the first night I was like gulp!
How was your first reading at the restaurant?
So the first one sits down and she starts to shuffle the cards I went with what I knew I ask her to pick 24 cards, she says ‘24 cards?! No one does tarot cards like that!’. Most tarot readers will first have two questions they want to address and they are: ‘are you married’ and ‘do you have kids’ but I really think I should be able to tell the person that without having to interview them first. So her first card was a husband card, and three child cards. I remember saying to her ‘your married’ she said ‘yes!’ and I say ‘the cards representing the ideal husband he’s a doll and you have three children’. Then i described each child with the personalities of the cards that she pulled, like ‘this is the sweet one the one that’s always with you’. She was in tears it was so accurate from her point of view. What I could see in the cards was that her mum was getting a little bit older and was beginning to lose it, but her and her husband were pretty comfortable I asked her if I was right about that and she said ‘yes, but she won’t let us help her!’. I say alright here’s what you do: you walk through her room to get to the bathroom right? I say you open her top draw you give her five twenties, when she comes across it she’s not going to remember that she didn’t put it there, and you don’t have to discuss it with her’ and shes like ‘I can do that!’.
What does giving a reading feel like, is everyone different?
I approach each reading as a completely different experience there are trends I have people do 24 cards with a life reading. To see what comes up first naturally for them, as a rule what pops right up ‘who on the other end wants to talk to you’. That’s standard.
Are people surprised by their loved ones wanting to talk to them during their reading?
People are floored. One of the things I learned is when your psychic is you go to every psychic you come across when your growing up. I started going to psychics when I was ten. I was with family in Atlantic City and there was a lady on the boardwalk doing $2 card readings, now I don’t approve of a ten year olds getting readings, I’ll do it in the restaurant if the parents say it’s ok, as I know what is going to come up is that ‘grandpa wants to talk to you’ and that’s kind of spooky not every 10 years old even knows their grandpas. So I always invite the mother to sit in with kids.
Any memorable readings?
There is so many! They each stand out especially when they are happening. There was one a couple of weeks ago that blew my mind. Two sisters came into the restaurant, first one sits down and right up front in the reading I say ‘who is the young man who passed away?’, my instinct was a brother had died or child. She says ‘no I haven’t lost any young men’ and I ask ‘no brothers or child? No one from school or college who was young then?’ She says ‘no’, so I let it go, but I have been doing this so long that I know when people are just not thinking right, I know from when people get back to me after. We do the rest of her reading about the career, marriage and all of that and off she goes. Then her sister comes and sits down, the first card that comes up is a child card, I ask ‘did you lose a child? and right away she goes ‘oh my god my step son!’. At the end of the reading at the questions and answers I can tell her ‘oh you raised him he said you were the most wonderful mother’. He wanted to come through to his aunt, but i think it’s not a very common experience and people aren’t always ready for it.
Sometimes you get people who get the grandfather card, their grandfather trying to come through and they say ‘I don’t want to hear about that I want to know if my man will marry me!’, and fair enough, but where is the sense of honouring the universe and the family and what life’s all about.
Janet does readings at Raoul’s in Soho and La Lanterna Restaurant in Greenwich Village, definitely visit for a truly exceptional reading. You can also hear more from Janet who appears on episode 4 of the Beyond! ,podcast with Mike Kelton, for some more insight into the world of the psychic and some supernatural fun.