Fragrant Messages from Fairies

Mystery for sale at the Psychic Festival

By Anne Skove

Smells pretty and says mysterious stuff. Photo by Anne Skove.

Who knew the paranormal could be so darned normal?

As the person most likely to finish “If you can’t say anything nice” with “come sit by me,” born and bred in Clifton (where chiropractors almost outnumber gift shops), and an Aquarius, I seemed to be the perfect candidate to tour the Psychic Fair. The Streetvibes editor couldn’t go due to his past life as an agitator of psychic clergy. The photographer was ejected on sight. So I drove my Chevy to Sharonville, Best of Joan Jett blaring, my inner Cherry Bomb ready for anything.

But something went horribly wrong. Inside it looked like any other convention – large halls with rows of table-clothed booths, seminars in small beige rooms and attendees milling about. The exhibitors have a job remarkably like mine – sales.

I blended. The first person I saw wore beaded jeans – hers had butterflies, mine had flowers. The woman whose job it was to help entrants don bracelets (the kind you get if you’re old enough to buy alcohol at an all-ages show) was swathed in tie-dye and had a Lauperesque (without the day-glo colors) headwrap/hairdo. She said I looked “Awesome!”

‘You don’t know?’

Immediately, the shopping began. There are many wonderful smells in the world. Patchouli is not among them. The lavender booth, though, smelled fabulous. The proprietor, a younger guy with tattooed arms, told me about his purple acre in Clinton County. I got an “intuitive fairy message” – a small glass bottle with a cork, full of beautiful smells, dried flowers, glitter and a tiny scroll tied with thin ribbon.

One booth reminded me of my cousin’s import business. Barak (not to be confused with “Barack” or “Borat”) and I discussed the import business and how conservative (yet friendly) Cincinnati is. He said, “Ciao!” as I left, something I have not heard since the days when I worked with Alessandro.

People in colorful witch hats, possible belly dancers, and a woman in a tiara pushing a toddler in a stroller strolled the aisles. The scene was shockingly similar to shopping at CVS.

“O mighty Isis!” Buddha, Native Americans, Mayans and ancient Druids are in. Absent are other old-time religions – Greeks, Romans, the fairies of Slavic folklore. (Here come the letters from neo-Delphic oracles…) Note to self: ask anthropologist and religious studies friends why some religions are co-opted by New Agers while others wither in obscurity.

I reached into my pocket and found a message from a Chinese restaurant in my past. I pulled it out: “Experience is the mama of Science.” B-side: “La experiencia es la mama de la Ciencia.” (Whatever happened to “learn Chinese?”) There was at least as much science here as in a Texas textbook. Some vendors tried – CranialSacral Therapy had a poster of anatomical drawings. I asked about the technique. She explained, “It’s like reiki!” The only thing I knew about reiki was that some nuns were told not to do it anymore. She looked at me like I was an utter noob: “You don’t know what reiki is?”

Here’s what not to say to Edgar Cayce enthusiasts: “Didn’t he get run out of town?” Makes them livid. He blamed Pat Robertson and told me someone had been telling me “Bald-faced LIES!!!” I didn’t mention that my mom used to eat four almonds a day, just in Cayce, or that Virginia Beach, where Cayce central operates down the road from Regent University, is the California of Virginia.

The place was rife with Ghostbuster-type entrepreneurs. Paranormal Investigations of Northern Kentucky should win a prize for best acronym. I showed a picture of a house with a ghostly reputation to a woman at a different table. She sensed that it had been “visited” but was not currently haunted. Perhaps the “For Rent” sign in the window was her clue. My psychic friend, Blanchard, told me the place “had some energy” but he couldn’t tell much. Granted, it was a crummy photo. But he did tell me this fun fact: The apartment across the street from this house gave him “a vibe.” Surely it comes from the orange carpet they had there in the ’70s. I can still picture it glowing on the huge stairwell under the skylight.

New Age cafeteria

To stop myself from running amok in sparkles, I decided to take a more academic approach and attend a lecture: Meet Your Ascended Master Self! The one who tells white lies to make people feel better, stands up straight, never needs a ride home, doesn’t shoot herself in the foot, loses her appetite when she’s stressed and can gracefully decline a free martini.

The soft-spoken lecturer asked whether anyone ever felt left out. A few hands went up. She told us we could change reality – including our past – with our thoughts. I tried to think that the room was warmer but my goose bumps did not vanish.

She spoke a few phrases of the “language of light” (or “lite?”). When she finished speaking in tongues, she asked, “Sound familiar?” A man in the next row whispered something to the woman beside him. She burst out laughing. They soon left.

The rest proceeded on a guided meditation (the lecturer called it “real”) 1,000 years into the future to meet that Ascended Master Self. Our A.M.S. gave us a robe and hugged us. What was it like? “I saw colors,” a woman noted. “I walked through a waterfall,” volunteered another. “I was wearing a kimono,” said one man. (Me, too!)

Good news: time doesn’t exist, she explained. Thus, my hour was not wasted.

Outside again were Dreams of Stardolphin, mystical artwork (photos of “auras” date back to the beginning of photography), beer (lite or not) and hot salty pretzels.

People lay supine on massage tables. Some sat soaking their feet. With the exception of the Yanni wannabe playing keyboard in the lobby, quiet music played. But for the crowd, it resembled a scene from a spa. We are all cafeteria New Agers, choosing what works – aromatherapy (AKA “pleasant smells that don’t make you feel worse”), the sanely positioned furniture of feng shui, relaxing music – and tossing that which does not pass through our threshold of normalcy. Candles, incense, spirituality – sound familiar? You’ll either bust out laughing and leave the room, or stay awhile.

“The amazing beauty of this earth holds the potential of our entire being. The birds echo for miles, and the seasons change with such amazing enthusiasm. … It is the natural state of our soul … BLISSFUL.”

— The fairies’ intuitive message