By Gerry Moran
I am walking down the Castle Road towards the Parade when I see a little camper van parked up, outside Rinuccinis restaurant. The notice on the window caught my eye: ‘Madame Helena. Palm Reading. Crystal Ball. Tarot Cards. Step in.’ And in I stepped.
Madame Helena is low-sized, blondish, sallow complexion and is maybe in her early 40s. “You want a reading?” she smiles beckoning me to sit at a small table and sits across from me. The first thing Madame Helena does is place a crystal ball in the centre of the table, takes my hands, places them around the ball and says: “I want you to make a wish for yourself.”
Now I always have difficulty making a wish just for myself (it seems a bit selfish) so I silently wish for the health and happiness of my family. Madame Helena, reading my mind almost, says: “You have a kind face, you love your family and your family loves you but make a wish for yourself.”
And so I wish for my own health and happiness and that of my family.
We then get down to business. Madame Helena tells me she reads the Tarot cards, palms and looks into the crystal ball. Having no idea what the going rate is for a session with a fortune teller I ask how much. “Fifty for all three,” she says.”Thirty for two.” I opt for two not because I’m a cheapskate but because I have only two 20 euro notes in my wallet and I doubt if Madame H takes a credit card (maybe she does!) though I did think 50 was on the steep side.
Replacing my hands on the crystal ball Madame Helena, who herself has a kind face and soft, probing eyes, tells me that I am kind-hearted, a good person, but I need to love myself more! “Throw away all those things you don’t need,” she says as I wonder what those things might be. And I need to have more faith, more faith in the Higher Power because there is a Higher Power, she assures me.
Madame Helena exhorts me to light some candles (I was tempted to tell her about the incident from some weeks back when I lit a candle for a friend in the Black Abbey and ended up having a three hour conversation with a Dominican priest over dinner in my house). There are angels all around me, Madame H, continues, “one of them is your mother who loves you very much and watches over you but she is not smiling. You should try to make her smile”.
Oh dear. I’m beginning to feel like a proper pagan (and perhaps I am). “You’ll live to a good old age,”she then informs me. “I am a good old age,” I say. Madame H smiles.
She then hands me some Tarot cards, tells me to shuffle them and hold on to five. One after another I lay the cards on the table, read aloud what’s on them (and they are all interesting) as Madame H interprets their meaning. Seems I should stay close to water that I should walk near rivers and lakes. I do. I regularly walk down the canal or along John’s Quay.
I should also find a new perspective on things as, according to Madame H’s interpretation of the cards, I need more purpose in life! I should also forget past mistakes. “We all made them, stop blaming yourself,” she announces. “Move on. You’re an educated man but education doesn’t just come from school… [well I know and I hadn’t the heart to tell her that I was in education all my life] we learn from people.”
And then, a comment that really caught my attention, “Keep a diary,” she tells me. “words make you happy and they keep the dementia away.”
That’s when I told her that I actually write a column for a local paper and stepped in to hopefully get one from my visit. Madame H is all ears. “What will you call the story?” she, with those probing eyes, enquires. “I may call it: Back to the future with Madame Helena and it will be positive.”
Madame H suggests a title of her own but then says: “You know best yourself.”
As the session ends Madame Helena takes my hands again, places them on the crystal ball and says: “To life, vove, happiness and health.”