The Everything Guide to the Occult

Livia ZeimetPhoto: Bobby Doherty/New York Magazine

The nineties gave us the Psychic Friends Network, vamp M.A.C lipstick, and Edward Scissorhands. Today, as American Horror Story: Coven surges in popularity, the fashion crowd embraces a goth revival, and the literary world fusses over Eleanor Catton’s Booker Prize–winning, zodiac-themed novel The Luminaries, all things occult appear to be headed back to the mainstream. New York is seeing its own new wave of pagan record shops, rooftop Wiccan rituals, and occulty spaces like Observatory in Gowanus, not to mention the first Occult Humanities Conference, which just took place at NYU over the weekend. (On the darker side, there’s the swindling Seventh Avenue psychic, who was convicted last week for cheating her customers out of $140,000.) Here, a look at the city’s clairvoyants, astrologists, and hypnotists sought out by New Yorkers both well known and not. Hey, don’t knock the shamanic colonic till you try it.

The Medium:
Thomas John
Despite being based in New York, this agent to the other side has a Hollywood-heavy clientele that includes celebrities like J.Lo and Courteney Cox, as well as industry bigwigs. Which isn’t to say that he doesn’t have devotees here too. “I do all of the Real Housewives of New York,” he says.
Endorsed by: Hollywood Reporter senior style writer Merle Ginsberg, who says that when John dropped by her house, she was skeptical—until he told her, “I’m hearing the word bird.” That was Ginsberg’s mother’s nickname; she’d died the year before. “He said, ‘She wanted to tell you she was sorry she was such a burden on you and your sister.’ He didn’t even know I had a sister.”
Know before you go: Making a family tree is a good idea if you want to connect with dead people, because, John says, “you’d be shocked who you forget about!”
214 W. 29th St., nr. Seventh Ave., sixteenth fl.; call 347-637-8592 or book through; $175 for 30 minutes.

The Tarot-Card Reader:
Vanessa Facciola
Fittingly for a fortune-teller whose home bases are the Warren-Tricomi and Patrick Melville beauty salons, Facciola cut her tarot-card teeth when she was working at a cosmetics company. “I was reading some of my co-workers, and they started falling off their chairs,” she says.
Endorsed by: Salon owner Melville, who was hesitant to try her services himself until his wife insisted on it. Melville was contemplating opening a new business in L.A, he recalls, and “Vanessa told me, ‘No, it’s not going to be good. Someone’s trying to pull something over on you,’ and, sure enough, that’s what happened.”
Know before you go: Facciola works in a Patrick Melville pedicure room. Also: “Don’t expect her to weigh in on a new do. That’s up to me, not Vanessa,” Melville says.
Patrick Melville Salon, 45 Rockefeller Plz., nr. 50th St.; 212-218-8650; Warren-Tricomi Salon, the Plaza Hotel, 1 W. 58th St., nr. Fifth Ave., second fl.; 212-262-8899, ext. 1; $100 for 30 minutes.

The Animal Whisperer:
Livia Zeimet
Zeimet started working with animals as a dog walker, but, she says, “I realized they needed more than just a half-hour walk, so I started sitting with the animals, learning to communicate with them.” To practice, she began working with a rescue dog who was scared of traffic and ambulances. “I just sat there and could feel that she was nervous and afraid. I communicated that she was safe with me until she wasn’t scared anymore.”
Endorsed by: Amanda Haft, who works in real estate and hired Zeimet when one of her shih tzus kept scratching at the front door of her new apartment whenever she left the house. “Zeimet told me, ‘Your dog didn’t realize you moved,’ ” says Haft. Zeimet telepathically explained the move to Haft’s pooch and instructed Haft to communicate (while she was out of the house) that she’d be back soon. The dog stopped pawing the door the next day.
Know Before You Go: You don’t have to bring your pets to Zeimet; she can work with them over the phone.; from $80 an hour.

Photo: Bobby Doherty/New York Magazine

The Clairvoyant:
Paul SeligSelig leads a double life: When he’s not transcending the ordinary plane of perception in order to read people’s inner thoughts, he teaches playwriting at NYU. The clairvoyant says that he’s been able to channel people’s spirit guides (which he sees as colored light that speaks to him) for twenty years but only started taking clients recently. “Because I’m an academic, I kept a pretty low profile,” he says.
Endorsed by: Fashion designer Isaac Mizrahi, who’d gone to see Selig about a business deal (Selig convinced him it would be fine, and it was). “I don’t really believe in God, so I’m not sure what this energy is that he’s looking at,” Mizrahi says, “but it’s not bullshit. He’s getting deep intuitions. He does this thing where his hand is fluttering, and then he says something like, ‘You’re signing a contract.’ ”
Know before you go: Mizrahi suggests recording the session; Selig often doesn’t remember what he says.; 212-929-4535; $175 for 30 minutes.

Photo: Bobby Doherty/New York Magazine

The Intuitive Counselor:
Tony LeRoy
LeRoy, who recently appeared on The Dr. Oz Show, can feel sadness, physical pain, or anything holding one back from achieving one’s full potential. “It’s easy to predict the future and tell people what’s going to happen,” LeRoy says. “It’s much harder to tell people how they can take the future into their own hands; some outcomes are fixed, but maybe we can slow things down or delay them.”
Endorsed by: Regine Thorre, a makeup artist. “When my mother died, I didn’t talk about it, but he saw it,” she recalls. “He calls your shit: When things aren’t moving for me, he’ll tell me it’s because I’m thinking in a fishbowl. I’m not thinking in the ocean. He talks about the limitations we put on ourselves.”
Know before you go: LeRoy starts out by drawing a stick figure of you that helps him understand the feelings you’ve suppressed.
1133 Broadway, nr. 26th St., Ste. 600; 877-818-2700; $250 an hour.

Photo: Bobby Doherty/New York Magazine

The Shamanic Healer:
Alexandra Defacio
Defacio, the founder of Green Star Wellness, a center for both spiritual and physical healing, blends modern bodywork, like colonics and lymphatic-drainage treatments, with the ancient way of calling to and interacting with the spirit world.
Endorsed by: Fashion publicist and reality-TV star Kelly Cutrone, who first went to Defacio for a simple colonic. In the midst of the treatment, the healer asked if she was open-minded, and Cutrone said she was. Then, she recalls, “The next thing I know, I hear her chanting ‘Archangel Raphael’ and walking around me with a crystal ball and sage, and I’m like, ‘What the fuck is going on?’ ” But the treatment—which Defacio calls a “shamanic colonic”—helped Cutrone feel like she was more centered.
Know before you go: Colonics aren’t mandatory. Bashful types can dip their toes in with a less intense, inflammation-reducing lymphatic massage.
224 Fifth Ave., nr. 27th St., third fl.; 212-213-8520; $193 for 75 minutes.

The Astrologer:
Kim Allen
Allen is beloved among the Broadway set—her clients have appeared in such shows as Wicked and Newsies and often hire her to read their charts at cast parties. “Astrology is really good for timing,” she says. “I can help figure out when a contract will get renewed or a show will end.”
Endorsed by: Bryan Byrd, the theatrical general manager and associate producer of Fuerza Bruta. Byrd had been living in a rent-stabilized apartment for nineteen years when Allen told him the stars showed a move in his future. “I thought she was crazy,” he says. “I was never leaving 87th and Central Park West.” But she was right; Byrd’s building was sold. He now lives in New Jersey.
Know before you go: Allen doesn’t want any information about you up front. When beginning a session, she says, “I just ask that you open your psychic eye and let your angels come down.”
718-443-3202; $100 for 30 minutes.

The Hypnotist:
Carmen Harra
The raven-haired Harra, who was born in Transylvania, uses hypnosis to cure phobias. Her strategy is to get clients so relaxed that they can recall what caused their fears in the first place. “When you remember, you erase,” Harra says. “And the phobia can be gone so fast.”
Endorsed by: Gratziela Lazarov, an Oriental-medicine doctor. Harra asked her to imagine she was on a train and took her through stops that represented different points in her life. The purpose of this ride was to help her get over her fear of dating, and in a video of the session (which Harra can also make for you, upon request), Lazarov says, “You can see me literally trembling through the whole thing.” Six months later, she met her new husband, just as Harra—who also makes predictions—said she would.
Know before you go: During hypnosis, according to Lazarov, you will feel very cold; bring a sweater.
917-771-6035; $50 for ten minutes; $250 for a half-hour.

The Potion-Maker:
Lata Chettri-Kennedy
Chettri-Kennedy, the founder of the East Village shop Flower Power, technically an herbal-medicine apothecary, stocks concoctions like Love Potion No. 9 (an aphrodisiac liquid of oat tops and Siberian ginseng), Vibrance (an invigorating blend of red clover and nettle), and Healthy Liver Tonic (a detoxifying drink of dandelion root and fennel).
Endorsed by: Conni Mallchock, an organizational consultant. “Going to Flower Power is like browsing a farmers’ market,” she says. “It’s not intimidating at all.” Likewise, she says, there’s nothing scary about the word potion. “It’s just a combination of certain essences or herbs. I think the negative connotation comes from that movie Hocus Pocus.
Know Before You Go: Per the law, Chettri-Kennedy & Co. aren’t allowed to diagnose or prescribe anything, but can say things like, “If I had a neck ache, I’d probably rub arnica on it.”
406 E. 9th St., nr. First Ave.; 212-982-6664; potions from $12 each.

The Energy Healer:
Aleta St. James
St. James, who made news in 2004 as the oldest woman at the time to have had twins (she was 57), acts as both a healer and life coach. “I heal the blocks people have from creating their dreams,” she says, “but I also coach them in terms of how their dreams can happen. It’s a full one-stop shop here.”
Endorsed by: Supermodel Carolyn Murphy, who recalls: “She told me to ‘envision these colors and breathe them in.’ At first I was like, ‘What? What?’ But the next thing I knew, I just started crying. As cynical as I can be, I’ve learned that there are some things that can’t really be explained. There are certain people who have gifts.”
Know before you go: St. James works out of her home. Be prepared for lots of dangling crystals, tinkling music, and her tiny white dogs scampering around. The first time Murphy saw it all, she says she thought, What am I doing here?
Call 212-246-2420 to book an appointment; $300 an hour for the first session, $250 after that.

The Psychic:
Stacey Wolf James
The tall, blonde NYU Tisch grad is known for her hyperspecific predictions, like what you’ll eat on the first date with your soul mate and exactly how many interviews it’ll take before you land your dream job. A rabid Knicks fan, she calls herself the Carmelo Anthony of soothsaying. Endorsed by: Christene Barberich, editor-in-chief of Refinery29, who came to Wolf when she was conflicted about how to treat a medical problem that two doctors had diagnosed differently. “Stacey didn’t mince words,” Barberich says. “She told me so-and-so is right, so-and-so is wrong, and how and when the situation was going to play out, down to the month.” She also told Barberich one of her employees would quit, which came true too.
Know before you go: Wolf’s a fast talker; have coffee beforehand so you can keep up.
214 W. 29th St., nr. Seventh Ave.; 212-330-8189; $280 for 30 minutes.

Need An Exorcist?

Unfortunately, you’ll have to wait till 2016. Currently New York doesn’t have any sanctioned spirit banishers. As any horror-movie aficionado knows, the job requires certification by the Catholic Church, and according to the Archdiocese of New York, the new trio of exorcists-to-be won’t complete their training for another three years.

The Everything Guide to the Occult