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Relax, It’s All in the Stars

Our dueling psychics forecast the year ahead

Concerned how 2023 will unfold? No worries, star children. We’ve got the psychic skinny on the year ahead from two of our favorite soothsayers. That’s the good news. The bad news? They can’t seem to agree — on anything.

Five years ago, if you’d told me that I’d be staring into dirty teacups for a living, I’d have asked to have a bite of your brownie. Yet, here I am. Getting intimate with a wet clump of tea leaves shaped for all the world like a great, prehistoric chicken. But more on the bird and its prophecies later.

A brief backstory for you first.

I started divining with tea leaves quite by accident. It was an ordinary Sunday in 2019. I was cradling a warm cup of tea — a loose-leaf pu-erh from my favorite aunt — and Lyla was curled up beside me for Game of Thrones. (Much too grisly for my taste, but Lyla lived for that show. You should have seen how she’d twitch and chatter at the screen, whiskers bristling. Scratched the high heavens out of my couch, too. But I digress.)

There I was, sipping the last of my brew when I happened to look down. Staring up at me from the bottom of the cup was a face not unlike that of the Virgin Mother, though undoubtedly more seductive. As I gazed back, trying to place those immaculate features, I noticed the two fish-like tails encircling her like an ouroboros. That’s when it clicked. My tea leaves were shaped exactly like the Starbucks siren. You know the one. Crown, flowing locks and the like. 

Well, this is when I started feeling dizzy. Not two minutes later, during a celebratory scene at Winterfell, I saw it: the iconic white cup famously left on set. The siren was calling to me. I took it as a sign from the cosmos.

The Game of Thrones howler marked the first of many oracular visions I would receive while drinking tea. Although I knew nothing of tasseomancy (divining with tea leaves), a sixth sense was awakening within me. I began studying every tea-ringed guidebook I could get my hands on. Eventually, I even sought out a mentor — a third-generation “tea-seer” whose childhood tea parties, as you might imagine, were not about the crustless finger sandwiches. Here’s the part that still makes the hairs on my arms rise: She’d been waiting for me. Had seen my name emerge from a puddle of red rooibos.

“Tea-seeing is your destiny,” she told me, sending an affirmative shiver down my spine.

I could feel it in my gut. A deep knowing. Couldn’t fight it if I tried.

Like all forms of divination, the clarity of a tea reading hinges upon the purity of the seer’s intention. In other words, it must never be used for selfish gain.

The ritual itself is quite simple:

First, select your teacup. Bone china is nice, but a simple cup is often best. Just be sure it has a handle. And a saucer. Minor details, really.

Next, add a pinch of loose tea leaves. Some seers swear by oolong, but I’m a sucker for the herbal blends. (I try not to swear.)

Pour your hot water — careful not to scald the leaves — then give it a minute or three.

Now, contemplate your question as you sip the tea, slowly and thoughtfully, straining the bits with your teeth. Once you’re staring into a pool of tea sludge — “The Mystery Mire,” as I like to call it — there’s a bit of swirling involved, an inversion, then more swirling.

Finally, you must let the tea speak.

Which brings me back to the chicken in my cup . . . well, almost.

Considering how the last couple of years played out, you can imagine my hesitation to pry too far into the future. But as my mentor likes to say, “It ain’t all about you, Sweetheart.” She’s right, of course. It ain’t about me. Which is why I asked for a glimpse into 2023. Perhaps this reading is for you?

In any case, I opted for a soothing blend of tulsi, kava and rose hips to steady my nerves. As I swirled round the mire, I whispered a simple prayer: Que sera, sera.

Whatever will be, will be.

For better or worse, here’s what the tea says:

Near the rim of the cup, which indicates the present, is what looks like a bird’s nest cradling a single egg — a very good omen. Could it represent a new relationship? A new vision? A financial boon? Give thanks. You know what this is about.

Not far from the rim — the near future — I’m seeing what’s either a cattail or a rattlesnake. (I know, I know. The range of interpretations can be all over the map. You get used to it.) If it is, in fact, the reed-like plant, suffice it to say that someone’s looking out for you. An ally. Alternatively, the rattlesnake asks that you listen to what your fears are trying to tell you. Perhaps you’ll be surprised to discover what’s behind — and just beyond — them.

A bit further down the cup — late March? — I’m seeing a heart. Love is surely on the horizon. But more importantly, love is already within you. Now is a fertile time to focus inward. Cultivate what brings you joy. This is your path to lasting happiness.

There are several animals in this reading: A bat with a damaged wing (check the attic); a cockroach (check the basement); a fox (keep an eye on the aforementioned egg).

As for the big-ass bird? I can hardly believe its auspicious position! The bottom of the cup? Highly favorable. But what, exactly, is it trying to say about the year ahead?

Well, as I mentioned earlier, the bird is ancient-looking. A prehistoric “wonderchicken.” Chickens are believed to represent good fortune. That this particular fowl resembles a beast that might have pecked and scratched upon the Earth millions of years ago gives it an unusual twist. I’m getting the sense that this year will evoke some kind of primal awakening within each of us. Something that our ancestors knew in their bones. Something we buried long ago. A nugget of intrinsic value.

More will be revealed as the year unfurls. That said, when this “remembering” occurs — and I’m not sure what stirs it — we’ll have a choice: Use it or lose it. Which, dear reader, will it be? 

— Zora Stellanova

Update, Star Children:

I moved to the Happy Hills trailer park two years ago. Can you hear my snort? Happy Hills, my happy ass! Long story short, my beau and I lost our lease. And that’s when our problems began.

My ex, Daniel P. Justice*, caught me in a weak moment with my roots showing. Vulnerable. I caught sight of myself in a mirror, grays popping, one of my knee-highs with the elastic shot, sagging down like a worn-out grandma. Ironic. I was once considered very good looking. 

But I couldn’t find my usual hair dye during COVID! Or knee-highs!

Dan suggested we just try dropping out. He was convinced we were being bombarded with microwaves when he started losing his naturally curly hair. Then, the Cubans shot microwaves at somebodies somewhere. Ironic, I said to Dan, halfway agreeing with him.

So, we had a yard sale — outside, socially distant, all that — and I let go of all my Hummels and Beanie Babies. A low point, having spent my inheritance on fine collectibles. 

A legacy, right down the drain! Don’t get me started. But back to that RV thing. What started out as a big-time adventure wasn’t. For example, during lockdown, people started hoarding toilet paper, alcohol and peroxide, not to mention canned goods. Well, in an RV, there’s nowhere to hoard. Or hide.

We began living a one-toilet-paper-sheet-at-a-time reality.

If you have IBS like moi, or just a gassiness problem, too durned bad. RV life is the death of mystery and romance, I am here to tell you.

Wherever you go, there you are, just worse looking.

Lockdown was Y2K squared. On replay.

Lady Destiny can and will track you down and kill you with experience.

But back to life advice: If you go off the grid, don’t do it during a plague. Sketchy internet and TV. One little can of Planters, GI problemos and one tee-nine-sy toilet between the two of you. And a boyfriend — whose hair is falling out — constantly griping about privacy. Seriously? We ain’t got none when I can lean over and touch the other side of the RV with my nose. And who in bloody HE double L is surveilling us? It wasn’t like we were Kardashians or something. 

So ironic it makes my stomach cramp up just writing about it.

It didn’t take long for us to blow all my fine collectibles money on essentials.

There was no possibility of giving in-person readings, given what Dan calls The COVID. Like he insists on calling Walmart The Walmart. And with the general public in the USA getting angrier and stranger.

Understandably, I was leery of meeting strangers in the Happy Hills camp site woods for picnic table readings.

Most especially when good fortune was in as short supply as toilet paper. 

Then my chakras got all blocked up and nothing whatsoever flowed out of me but blankness. I sat still, waiting, looked into the crystal ball.

And so on and so forth.

Looking into my crystal ball was like awaiting the results of an at-home COVID test.

Nothing. No little pink line. It was a total whiteout. Spirit could not get through to me. So, I spent a whole lot of COVID like that, eyeballs drying up from staring. 

To my mind, the universe was deliberately on lockdown.

Forecast for 2021: crystal ball cloudy with a 100 percent chance of ongoing storms.

Forecast for 2022: If you can believe it, 2022 looks worse than 2021.  Strap yourself in.

So, I just stopped altogether, and tried my hand at writing a memoir: Fortunes and Misfortunes.    

Then, early one morning, I swear, when the sun was just peeking over the tippy tops of the trees came something — a message. Crystal clear. An epiphany!   


Just that. It was like “Rosebud” in Citizen Kane

First communication from the astral plane in months, and it was the name of a shoe that resembles a potato. 

I didn’t know what to do with that, so I shook it off. But after some Nescafé transformed me into a human, I decided just one more time to attempt a reading. And spidery letters appeared in the ball, clear as Dan’s shiftless ways: B, I, R, K . . .

Yeah. Birkenstocks!

What could that portend?

Well, I had been wearing my Birks during the COVID, living in this stupid little cramped RV. Wearing sweats, day in and day out.

Was Spirit telling me to get more comfortable? Was it saying the opposite, time to stop being so comfortable

Or, was Spirit saying, you are too damned poor to afford genuine Birks? Buy The Walmart knock-offs.

(Or, was Spirit saying potato shoes and RV life are as good as it’s ever going to get for you, Astrid Stellanova?)

I can’t tell you, because I don’t even know myself.

Meanwhile, a blind psychic in India has been laying down a whole lot of hard-to-swallow stuff. And none of it was rosy.

If you’re reading this, you are a fellow survivor of 2022, and a few things have, at long last, come through. Call this my free reading for all of you outside the Happy Hills Park.

Star Children, this much finally has come clear to me. It don’t matter if death is imminent, or you’ve got a hot date. Either way, Honey, you’re getting laid.

Speaking of which: Death row meals aren’t something only inmates should think about. What do you love and need? And if you have the power to make it happen, Sugar, time’s ticking like that gator that swallowed Hook’s clock in Peter Pan.

And while you’re at it, think about humility, you attention hogs out there. So full of yourselves! Time after time, we take credit for too much. We stand on the shoulders of everyone in our ancestral line, those who have delivered us to this point in time. 

Turns out somebody else loosened the pickle jar lid a lifetime ago; you just opened it.

And if anybody out there can help this sister out, let me know what the H-E—double L you think Birkenstock means.  OH

Still Living the Mystery,

— Astrid Stellanova


*A deliberate irony. Name of my ex changed because of a court order. The ex has moved back in with his Grandma, and I remain temporarily domiciled at Happy Hills for the immediate future.