Here + Now

That’s the Spirit

Sonya’s East Danforth apartment is both exactly and not at all what I expected.

“Hold on a moment,” she says, ushering me through her doorway after my knock interrupts her current session. I’m early. She disappears, but her low voice carries softly through the small, homey space as she wraps things up with her previous client.

Sonya’s apartment is also home to her namesake psychic reading business. The compact space feels cozy and smells of warm spice. In the background a daytime news show hums along. It feels like a perfect mix of every home I’ve been in, save for the bookcase stuffed to tipping with candles, cards, and other spiritual artifacts.

When her other client ducks shyly out the door, Sonya asks me to sit. We set up camp at her kitchen table where a deck of tarot cards awaits.

I confess that this is my first psychic reading. She smiles and asks me to shuffle the deck.

“Make two wishes,” she says, “and put your hands on the cards.”         

I almost laugh. I’m going to need more wishes.

I place my palm on the deck, and the reading begins.

-page break-[RN1] 

Sonya, who has worked as a psychic on the Danforth for over thirty years, doesn’t look how I expect a psychic to look, but perhaps this is because I’ve watched too many movies—she wears no flashy garb or jewellery, and her presence does not seem particularly mystical. But her expertise in making me feel relaxed and open makes me wonder if she works a side gig as a therapist. Her approach to spiritual advising makes her feel like a psychic counsellor, and she has enough client loyalty to make that comparison. According to Sonya, many of her guests have been visiting her for more than a decade.

“That’s how I know how accurate I am,” she tells me. “They check in with me, and they keep coming back.”

It’s not hard to see why—it already feels like I’m sitting with an old friend.

There’s an undeniable excitement surrounding a psychic reading. Something about a blinking neon sign or sandwich board that reads “Psychic Reader”is enough to have friends (both believers and spiritually agnostic alike) turn to each other and declare that someday, they would like to get a reading done.

But to Sonya, psychic reading is more than a neat party trick.

“It runs through my mother’s bloodline.” She fans out my first set of cards. “My great-grandmother, my grandmother, my mother…”

We get back to our reading.

Sonya spreads the cards out wide, face down, and tells me to pick three. I let my hands hover. Is something compelling me to pick the ones that I do, or is it by chance? Her eyes travel analytically over the intricate designs of the resulting spread. She reads the cards similarly to how one might read an engaging book, brows raising and falling, as if in quiet conversation with herself.

With each new spread, she tells me some things I expected—that my career is on the right track, that love will come, that my future is brighter than I think. I sit up straight, trying to make sure that my face betrays nothing. But then Sonya hits the nail on the head. She tells me about my family and my health with such precision that for a moment, I forget that this is the first time I’ve met her.

Sonya doesn’t ask many questions. Instead, she tells me what she knows. Over the half-hour I sit with her, she walks me through my own life, narrating my ups and downs as if she were there. And then she thoughtfully offers me guidance.

After my emotional disclosure by this enigmatic stranger, I ask if she would be willing to answer a few questions. She folds her hands in front of her and leans in.

 “How did you get into psychic reading?”

Sonya’s response is ready. I suspect she’s had to answer this question quite a few times before.

“I felt that I had a gift,” she says. “Premonitions were coming to me—it felt almost like déjà vu.”

Sonya tells me that her mother was the first to recognize her affinity for psychic reading. When she was young, her mother put the cards down in front of her and told her to read them. She did, and her predictions soon came true.

She tells me that this ability is deep within all of us.

she walks me through my own life, narrating my ups and downs as if she were there. And then she thoughtfully offers me guidance.

“Everyone is psychic in their own way,” she says. “You just may not know how to use it.”

“But where does it come from?” I ask.

The ceiling fan whirs quietly overhead. She considers this for a moment. “I think it’s a higher power. A spirit or other force guiding you.”

In setting up her space for a reading, Sonya tells me that it comes intuitively to her. When I press for more details, she tells me that so much of spiritual work is based on feeling, presence, and openness.

This, it seems, is the main divide between skeptics and believers. But Sonya isn’t concerned much with skeptics. In fact, she tells me that skeptics ought to practice their skepticism more authentically: “They haven’t given themselves an opportunity or a chance to have a reading done. They close themselves off and judge first. If you’re a skeptical person, you need to have an open mind. Get a reading, and then make your call.” 

But what about those on the fence?

Admittedly, visiting Sonya today wasn’t only a matter of curiosity. Though I’ve always wanted to know what getting a psychic reading was like, I can’t deny that part of me is searching for comfort and guidance in my life. After all, I’m fresh out of university and have no idea what comes next. Is my career going to pan out as I’d hoped? What, exactly, do I hope anyway?

Perhaps no one can answer these questions. But if Sonya has taught me one thing today, it’s that life is about flow.

“You’re going through a lot of changes right now,” she tells me, “but you have before, too, and this lends you strength.”

When I stand to leave, Sonya hands me her business card: a black-on-white design with swirling font and an illustration of a woman looming over a crystal ball. The card reminds me of my movie stereotype.

After I leave my appointment, I’m still fazed by the modernity that surrounded her. Her space didn’t feel thematic or specially curated toward the spiritual—it felt like a home. On her fridge, like so many others, was a collage of family photographs; her dog padded energetically around the kitchen. I think back to what Sonya told me about comfort in her space—the intuitive flow of that helps her to read. Perhaps it has helped me as well.

Like so many others, I don’t know where I stand on the spiritual spectrum—for me, visiting a psychic was less about spiritual advising and more a matter of curiosity, at least at first. But on my short walk back to the subway, I can’t help but think about how therapeutic it feels to have some sort of guidance.

Whether or not Sonya’s predictions come true, her reading challenges me to believe in something deeper, even if it’s just the mystic power of human connection.

Sonya Psychic Reader is located at 2846 Danforth Avenue.

Cristina DaPonte is a writer, editor, and designer based in Toronto. She believes that there are as many ways to tell stories as there are stories to tell. In addition to her work in writing, Cristina is also the photography director of On the Danforth magazine.

Leave a Reply