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Not Your Typical Fortune-teller
by Nirmala Nataraj on May 21, 2010
There’s a special place on Valencia Street where hundreds of diehard clients go to dish about their personal lives, get some much-needed validation, and, while they’re at it, see what the stars have in store for them. This is the atelier of intuitive counselor and astrologer Jessica Lanyadoo.
Don’t let the moniker fool you. A smattering of crystals might festoon Lanyadoo’s colorful lair — whose ambience is more playground for adults, full of fun tchotchkes and baubles, than chamber of esoterica — but even those of us chary of new-age accoutrements will want to have their tape recorders readied as they hang on to every word of what’s sure to be an informative, hilarious, maybe even transformational hour-long session.
Skeptics who’ve had one too many run-ins with street-corner charlatans will find Lanyadoo’s no-nonsense approach refreshing. A modern-day oracle who’s more likely to explain the various pieces of artwork on her wall than scatter the runes, Lanyadoo boasts a virtual Rolodex of clients who tend to seek her counsel before making any major decisions.
Lanyadoo discovered her calling as an astrologer the age of 17, while studying Jungian psychology and astrology at an alternative college in her native Montreal. After moving to San Francisco in 1995, she embarked on a rigorous apprenticeship for eight years, during which she learned the tricks of the trade — not to mention all the minutiae and complex planetary knowledge that generally helps distinguish amateur horoscope buffs from the real deal.
Lanyadoo integrated psychic and medium skills into her practice as an astrologer in 2005. She gradually discovered her intuitive skills as a regular tarot reader at the Lexington bar, but until that point, she typically focused on astrology in her sessions with clients.
“It took a long time for me to out myself as being a psychic, because there is a terrible misconception about what that means,” says Lanyadoo.
In fact, Lanyadoo probably scores points among the non-woo-woo set because a session with her is more like a visit to a highly empathetic therapist (with an extra dose of humor and effervescent wit thrown in for good measure) than a soothsayer.
While a reading will probably consist of a bit of astrology, tarot, counseling and medium work (in case your late great-uncle Chester has a burning message from beyond for you), it’s Lanyadoo’s practical synthesis of complex information that impresses even the most vigilant of disbelievers.
This is clearly evidenced in Lanyadoo’s diverse roster of clients, who run the gamut from teenagers to grandmothers, from agnostics to born-again Christians, and from people who come in for annual birthday forecasts to those who find themselves in need of Lanyadoo’s sixth sense on a more regular basis.
“I have an intensely thorough knowledge of astrology, but I recognize that most readings can either feel like they’re robbing someone of their free will or are simply too piece-mealy and don’t integrate various aspects of a persons’ life,” she says. “I don’t see any merit in those approaches; they don’t allow someone to walk away with skills on how to help themselves, which is ultimately what I’d like to do.”
Lanyadoo’s approach is also much more descriptive than predictive. Rather than plying clients with winning lottery numbers, her work is about getting people more deeply in touch with themselves and enabling them to recognize the choices that are at their disposal.
As I discovered in a particularly intense and illuminating session with Lanyadoo, irreverence is something that helps mitigate the goose bumps you’re likely to get when she picks up on something she couldn’t possibly know about you.
“I firmly believe in humor,” she says. “My readings tend to be dense and I am very, very direct. It’s difficult for people to integrate that level of information when they are overwhelmed, so I like to keep things as light as I can — and also tailor my readings to what I think someone can handle.”
by Nirmala Nataraj on May 21, 2010