“Astrology to me is like electricity. You turn on a light and it
works, so why question it?” says JUDITH AUORA RYAN, an
astrologer and feng shui master in Bayonne who has been in
business for 30 years. She compiles astrological charts ($168
for an initial chart, which she can e-mail or provide in person) and gives her insights a grade of A for Accuracy.
“Clients come for advice in all areas of life: business, career,
the psychic teacher
relationships. A lot of times, people come to me wanting
advice about when to pursue lawsuits
and divorces. I have never been wrong.
Never,” she insists. Most clients return
annually for chart updates. “It gives you a
good road map of what’s going on, where
you need to be,” she says.
Ryan claims she has been clairvoyant
since childhood, but steered herself into
astrology as a teen after studying under
well-known astrologer Charles Jayne in
New York. Her work is substantive and
consuming, she says, and she has no time
for those who feel otherwise.
“I don’t look like I just walked out of
Shirley MacLaine’s closet, and I don’t go
around with a pound of crystals around
my neck trying to convince people what I do is real,” she
says. “If someone wants their life changed, then they’ll come
have their chart done. It’s a way you can shift the planets
into very different houses, and it can affect your health, your
career and your relationships.”
The Montclair Metaphysical and Healing Center opened in
2007. Its owner, LEE VAN ZYL, a native of South Africa and
former lawyer who lives in Clifton, moved it to Rutherford in
2012 to accommodate an ever-growing flurry of psychics-in-training from New York who wanted easier access to her classes. “I feel that mediumship does not belong to the select few,
and that we’re all psychic. What we offer is a chance to develop
those skills,” says Van Zyl.
Prior to training others, Van Zyl studied under psychics in
Australia, New Zealand and the United Kingdom. The center’s
classes include psychic
neling, energy healing,
card reading, spirit res-
cue, mediumship devel-
opment and hypnothera-
py. Prices range from $20
for a single class to $400
for a weekend-long semi-
nar. Van Zyl works in
several modalities, “but
my focus is on past emo-
tional and even health
issues. I try to bring heal-
ing,” she says.
She says people should
trust their instincts
when seeking a credible
medium. “If you can get a verification of what you know deep in
your heart, then you’ve had a good reading,” she says. “If you get
into fortune-telling, you’ve gone wrong, into ooga-booga land.”
wiccans and neo-pagans
Like most Wiccans, NIKI SOMERS does not travel by broom
or wear a pointy hat, and she is not overly fond of our tendency to associate witches with the occult.
“Wicca is an earth-based spiritual path. Some people go to
church to pray; we like to go to the forest,” says Somers, the
high priestess of a coven of 16 fellow New Jersey witches and
the leader of the Bergen Wiccan and Pagan Group, a monthly
meetup group with more than 200 members. Somers, of Paramus, is also a legal secretary.
Somers discovered Wicca as a high school student in the
1970s in Hackensack, where she had a teacher who mentioned
during a Shakespeare lesson that she was a practicing witch.
“My ears perked up, because using the word witch can be
shocking,” she says (Somers prefers the term “lightworker”).
“Then I started going to chat with her after school, and my
whole world opened up.”
Since becoming an active Wiccan in the 1990s, Somers has
watched Wicca mushroom throughout the state. “There are
at least four or five covens in the real
SHARING HER SKILLS
Lee Van Zyl says there’s a little bit of
the psychic in everyone.
Judith Auora Ryan
says her readings
road map to
what’s going on in
a client’s life.
A number of entry-level experiences are available to those who
want to dabble in the supernatural before joining a coven or
sitting down with a medium.
At Asbury Park’s Paranormal
Books & Curiosities, visitors
can reserve a spot at monthly
public séances ($30) and weekly
ghost tours ($12 for adults, $6
for children under 10). “The
séances are our most popular
thing,” says owner Kathy Kelly.
“People absolutely love them
because they’re casual, they’re
not ceremonial or ritualistic.” If
even that sounds overly spooky,
Kelly sells tarot cards, books,
candles and Ouija boards for
at-home paranormal exploring.
The New Jersey Ghost
Hunters Society o;ers public
meetings open to those who
hope to find proof of life beyond
the grave and to the just curious.
Meetings take place at several
Northern and Central New Jersey
locations ( njghs.net).
Those who feel they’re being
haunted at home can consult
brothers Barry and John Rug-
giero, who will listen and maybe
even come check out what’s
causing the heebie-jeebies
free of charge. The Ruggieros
formed New Jersey Paranormal,
a ghost-investigations outfit,
a decade ago. Most often,
says Barry, of Brick, he and his
brother, who lives in Rahway,
debunk such suspicions using
their investigative techniques
and the kind of sophisticated
equipment seen on ghost-hunt-
ing TV shows. But not all the
time. “It’s rare, but we’ve come
across three or four places in
New Jersey where paranormal
activity was happening,” Barry
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