Brunch, with a side of the future

The smell of stale beer lingered from the previous night’s dance party in Clinton’s dimly lit back room.

“I don’t like working in a pub,” said dreadlocked palm-reader Melanie Ollenberg, as she examined a client’s outstretched hands on Sunday afternoon. “It’s the energy of the night before. But I do like the people—putting out positive energy is all I can do.”

Ollenberg was one of two clairvoyants working at the Psychic Brunch—a monthly metaphysical event at Clinton’s Tavern where hundreds of curious Torontonians have been coming to split the deck, lay out the cards and have their fortunes told—with eggs and toast on the side—since 2003.

Typically, the clients are middle-aged and female. “It’s a fun girl’s day out,” said Jayne Marie, a tarot card reader who sat at a small table across the room from Ollenberg.

Jayne Marie, who cites Swiss psychiatrist and tarot enthusiast Carl Jung as a major inspiration, uses the cards to answer her clients’ questions about health, finances, careers and relationships.

“I’m sort of brutal, I don’t always give good news,” she said. “If someone’s hours are going to be cut at work, I think they need to know.”

Even comforting news can result in surprising reactions. Juanita Morris came to Clinton’s with a clay cat’s paw she’d made from a mold of her recently deceased, 17-year-old cat Rupert. She walked away from her reading teary-eyed, and said: “Jayne Marie held the paw and got a reading—a feeling of comfort, that he was frolicking. So I’m feeling a little unsettled right now.”

Psychic Brunch participants also received an “intention candle” to take home with them—a prop meant to help them meditate in advance of important events—included with the $45 prix-fixe menu.

While Sunday was unusually slow, with only seven people signing up for readings, the professional psychics weren’t concerned.

“There’s periods in this business when things slow down a bit,” said Ralph Hamelmann, the event’s main organizer. He predicted Psychic Brunch attendance would pick up in January, when people start worrying about the year to come. “It’ll be gangbusters,” he said.

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