“I’m aware of a lady and gentlemen from the spirit world here,” says Kay. “Have you got two grandparents who were a couple and are now a man and a woman in spirit?”
I do indeed. I feel somewhat uneasy. I didn’t really know what to expect when I came for my first psychic reading, but I was thinking more of a palm or a Tarot card reading than to be reunited with my dead grandparents. I hadn’t spoken to them in years before they died, so if they’re really there, I’d expect them to be a bit miffed.
In any case, I’ve never really believed that people can talk to the dead. I’ve watched Derren Brown—people just want to believe. Kay tells me the lady is impressing her with notions of practicality and enjoys working with her hands. I think of my grandmother and how she used to make curtains and dresses for us and paint intricate scenes with watercolours and oil paints. My mother told me that during the war she used to build ships. The sentiment fit, but, come on—“enjoys working with her hands” is rather vague.
“She’s got very high cheekbones,” continues Kay. “Well, that’s true, and oddly specific,” I thought. Perhaps Derren is wrong. I lean in. Maybe I do want to believe.
If anyone should be sceptical about these things, it really shouldn’t be me. I grew up in Glastonbury, in the midst of the vale of Avalon and one of England’s most spiritual areas. It’s where King Arthur’s trusty sword Excalibur was forged, battles were fought and morally ambiguous, raunchy sorceresses zapped him with spells to fix him up again afterwards. I was always bemused by Glastonbury as a kid; it was impossible to get a bus after 6 pm, but you could always purchase a matching hemp two-piece or mitigate any wifi-induced bad juju with a crystal from one of the many spiritual shops.
Now, I’ve found myself in another magical place, where elves are real, trolls hide in caves and ethereal green lights dance across the sky. If you’re going to start believing in magic anywhere, it’s Iceland. Plus, on a more earthly level, I’m skint and newly single, so when I saw the sign advertising psychic readings in the new Gjafir Jarðar on Laugavegur, it was tempting to find out if I’d be destitute and alone forever. I put my scepticism aside and decided to give it a bash.
Reading the runes
Inside, the new shop is clean and bright. Far from the dimly lit, chockablock little emporiums of my childhood, the shelves weren’t overcrowded with heavy glass trinkets and it was as yet without the musty scent of years-worth of incense worn deeply into the furniture. But still, familiar chunks of crystal greeted me in glass dishes, next to pretty candles and decks of Tarot cards waiting to reveal their secrets.
After our conversation with the deceased, I’m suitably intrigued. “These are like my Tarot cards,” says Kay, producing a silk purse full of runestones carved with delicate inscriptions. “Pick out nine and let them fall as they wish.” After laying them in a square, Kay began to speak of my future, with some extra help from my dead grandparents, of course.
Apparently, within the next 12 months I’m off to America, Canada and North Sweden for some writing projects. I’m going to be pleased with an opportunity in June and I’m good at persuading people to come around to my ideas. Less positively, I’m going to take on too much work, a female family member will get sick and I’m going to fall out with a mate in November.
Looking to the future
Despite my initial uncertainty, I found myself hooked. The reading did indicate some things I needed to address, but there were no real warnings of impending doom. I found it refreshing. When we finished, I only felt positive.
Strangely, it turns out that Kay—who’s also British—hails from Bath, just an hour away from Glastonbury. She considered moving there before coming to Iceland, but decided against it because of how little there is to do. I asked if she saw herself staying in Reykjavík permanently.
“I don’t know,” she said. “I don’t know if I can see myself getting old here.”
I had a new flash of scepticism. No idea? From the woman who just confidently asserted I’d have a spat with a mate within the first two weeks of next month?
But I let these thoughts go quickly. I’d had a taste of the magic now, and I wanted to believe.