"Is my grandmother still with me?”
“Am I going to have the money to pay for my kids’ college?”
“Will I find my soul mate?”
“Should I take that job offer?”
We are professional psychics based in Salem, Massachusetts, and these and many more questions occupy the minds of our clients. They are the kinds of inquiries that are at once reaching out to the spirit world and tethered to the challenges of everyday life. Our mission is never to feed the desperate, obsessive, or unhealthy anxieties of our clients but to empower them to take control of their lives and manifest their dreams. This book is our chance to reach even more people and give them resources they can work with independently.
We’ve been reading for private clients and hosting public events for decades. We launched our first Mourning Tea in 2007, and have counseled thousands of people one- on- one and in small groups— people who by and large were not witches but who came to Salem looking not only for answers but for magic.
Sandra Mariah Wright
I remember the first time my mother shared my “baby book” with me; this modest collection of fun facts about the only child she would ever raise meant so much to her. And while every baby’s jour-ney has common steps, every baby’s journey is entirely unique. I remember the way reading about myself gave me an odd feeling, as if the book told someone else’s story, because I didn’t remember the majority of what it recorded ever taking place. Some things re-mained true: I was still extremely verbal (I talked at nine months old), still fascinated by animals, and I still loved tea. It was the first line under the “favorite foods” category.
As a child, I spent an inordinate amount of time at my grand-mother’s house: my Nana watched me while my mother worked two jobs. My father was an alcoholic, and I was petrified to be alone with him because he’d drink himself into a stupor. Even at five years old, I could sense that being with him was really no better than being on my own. Luckily, my grandmother didn’t have a job, so she was there for me after school and into the evenings, sometimes even overnight. Nana was very nearly born in Ireland; her mother was pregnant with her when she came over to the United States on a ship in 1911. Tea was a family tradition my grandmother carried on: she would put the kettle on at nine a.m., noon, three p.m., six p.m., and nine p.m. every day. She is the main reason tea was the first line in my baby book, as well as my first line of defense against whatever was troubling me as I grew up.
It was my father’s alcoholism that first awakened my psychic abil-ity. School was done for the day. I would be in the house with my father while my mother worked her second job, waitressing. As I walked down the hill toward home, I had a vision that he would have one of his “attacks,” a physical episode where he convulsed and had to be taken to the hospital in an ambulance. I was terrified to be alone when this happened. I prayed that he would have the attack before my mother left for work. I could see her there, in her uniform, helping me. Sure enough, just a few minutes before she would have been out the door, my father went into convulsions, and I called out to her. This convinced me that I had a sixth sense, a way to see into the future, to sense what would happen so I could be better prepared for it, especially if it would be otherwise out of my control. This night set the course for me to spend most of my life helping others see into the future so they, too, could respond to the opportunities, obstacles, and challenges of life.
I began practicing witchcraft when I was still a preteen in junior high school. Laurie Cabot had a shop on Essex Street in Salem, and I purchased the components for my first spell there. Of course, it had to do with a boy! In the years ahead, I would come to counsel hun-dreds of people about their relationships. Throughout my life, the Craft of the Wise (otherwise known as “witchcraft”) has provided the support I have needed to overcome obstacles, and I’ve had the honor of providing many others with the guidance they needed to live their best lives.
I grew up an only child in a traditional Italian family with a few uncommon traditions. My Nana read tea leaves and interpreted dreams for her neighbors. Unfortunately, I learned very little from her before she passed away, but I believe I have her to thank for my gifts. I realized at an early age that I could tune in to people’s inner lives through the sound of their voices. By high school, I picked up tarot cards and was often in the school gym playing with a Ouija board while my classmates were outside playing sports. But as gradu-ation approached, I felt the pressure to lead a “normal” life that met the expectations of others. So I pushed my vivid dreams aside, and I began to focus on college and walking a more conventional path.
I went to Katharine Gibbs School to be an administrative as-sistant, graduated, and secured a dead- end job that basically con-sisted of pushing papers. I moved into my parents’ Revere basement apartment and got married, all before my twenty-second birthday. After two lovely children and more than ten years as a stay- at- home mother, I had lost my identity— and my magic.
That is when I met my friends and mentors, Shawn Poirier and Christian Day, at my first Pagan Pride event. I was restless, eager to rediscover my magical self, and find like-minded people who could understand me. I felt an immediate connection with Shawn, and we were inseparable from day one. Shawn brought magic back into my everyday life, and I returned to my tarot cards. Shawn told everyone how psychic I was, and soon people were coming to me for readings. I started believing in myself again.
In 2003, I started working as a psychic and medium. I had rediscovered my gifts, supported by an amazing circle of people. I got involved with a local coven and proudly called myself a witch. It wasn’t long before I was able to quit my day job and do readings full time. While these changes made me incredibly happy, it wasn’t all sunshine and rainbows. My marriage fell apart, and I found myself in the throes of a nasty divorce. There was no turning back: my life as a typical soccer mom was over, and my children watched me transform into a full- time psychic and witch in Salem, Massach-setts.
Life as a public intuitive in the Witch City was a different social atmosphere than I was used to, and it posed many challenges. This community’s waters were difficult to navigate. Everyone was posi-tioning themselves to be top witch in the group, and I grew frus-trated with some of my new friends. I looked for a deeper friendship, one that didn’t rest on status. That’s when I met Sandra. We were attending a ghost-hunting event for Festival of the Dead. I had heard her name mentioned with reverence and some fear. I wondered who this Sandra was and why she evoked such strong reactions. All I knew was that she had an important job with the October festival.
My friends were all drinking and following the festival owners around, trying to find the gates to the castle, so to speak. That’s when I saw Sandra sitting alone, blond hair framing her face like a lion’s mane. In that moment, my motivation to introduce myself and sit with her was a mixture of curiosity, social strategy, and loneliness. In the two hours that I spent talking with her, we shared more genuine honesty than I had felt in years. I came to understand why my friends were intimidated by her. She didn’t seem to care what anyone else thought of her, she didn’t buy into the politics, and she spoke her mind, even when it went against the popular opinion. When Shawn and Christian saw us chatting, their eyes betrayed a mixture of amusement and concern. But I was thrilled. A friendship was born.
Over the next four years, I worked hard to become one of the most sought-after psychics at the Festival of the Dead. While Sandra was a talented psychic, her ability to manage an entire stable of them was even more valuable, and so she was tasked with “herding the cats.” We put together events to enlighten and entertain the tourists who flocked to Salem for the entire month of October. Our faces were plastered on posters all over the city. We worked closely together forming memories, making magic, and creating an empire.I was finally living my wildest dream. But in the spring of 2007, tragedy struck. Shawn Poirier died suddenly. I owed so much of who I had become to Shawn, and he was gone. Once again, I found my life in turmoil. October was no longer a bright spot in my year. Instead, the approach of the Season of the Witch now caused me dread and anxiety. I very nearly left the business altogether to run back to the safety of carpooling and soccer games.
In Shawn’s absence, Sandra became even more vital in helping Christian run his rapidly growing business, but their calls lacked their usual humor. When we look back today, we know we were all consumed with processing our grief. Out of that grief, we gave birth to the first Mourning Tea.
At that first tea, we encouraged our guests to share stories and photos of their friends and family who had crossed over. We believed this was the first step in healing after grief and in making connections with our Beloved Dead. We served a traditional three-course tea in the Victorian tradition. When everyone had eaten their fill, we began the readings. Sandra and I showed the guests how to interpret the symbols in their cups and delivered brief messages from the dead. We both found great personal healing in the process. I had barely been able to share my story of Shawn, but with Sandra by my side, I poured my heart out to complete strangers. This genuine act of sharing helped me open up and begin to mend. Now, when I read tea leaves for guests at our annual Mourning Tea, I know I am conveying messages that will help others who are walking through grief.
Every year, the event has grown, and we continue our mission to bring the magic of tea to as many people as possible. We have hosted the Mourning Tea, the Mother’s Tea, the Holiday Tea, and the Mys-tic Tea for many years, and each event has a focus all its own. The power of our friendship has allowed us to do great things for others. We hope this book will help us continue that tradition with an even greater number of people. Welcome to the next step in honoring the past, celebrating the present, and manifesting a better future.