Psychics, astrologers and other purveyors of the paranormal have plenty of customers in tri-county area
By CHUCK DARROW, Courier-Post Staff
Sunday, July 31, 2005
There is much that is unknowable about the occult and those who indulge in its myriad realms, from communicating with the dead to divining future events. But there is one thing that appears to be certain: There are a large number of adherents in South Jersey.
"It's absolutely more prevalent than you might think," insists Keith Madden who, since 1996, has owned Follow The Rainbow, the Audubon shop that is the unofficial headquarters for local residents interested in such subjects as witchcraft and non-medical healing.
The store, which was originally in Collingswood, offers such items as books, music, candles, incense, oils, herbs, wands, Tarot cards and crystals. Thanks to Madden's background in geology, his store is also renown for his custom jewelry, which is often used as talismans.
"Unfortunately, because South Jersey is, in my opinion, a very conservative area, we still live with people who don't want to discuss anything as being positive outside their realm," he says.
"A large portion of our customers are people you'd never think would be producing some of these thought processes."
That opinion is seconded by Stanley Kruczynski, a 59-year-old Atlantic County resident who conducts psychic readings for between $80 and $300 per hour, depending on location.
"It's wealthy, reasonable people, that's the amazing thing," says Kruczynski. "My best clients are bank presidents." He adds he's also consulted accountants, doctors, stockbrokers, restaurant owners and even Catholic priests, most of whom come to him for investment advice.
While most who avail themselves of the goods and services offered by Madden and Kruczynski would not seem out of place at a Rotary Club meeting or church picnic, "There are," says Madden, "those who look the part. But we don't have that many `Goths.' "
While its focus is on Paganism, Wiccan and New Age lifestyles and beliefs, Follow the Rainbow also stocks merchandise dedicated to Buddhism, Hinduism and even Christianity. That's a result of Madden's philosophy that anything that gets one through the day without causing harm to others is to be encouraged.
Although trained as a geologist and paleontologist, Madden - who also specializes in psychomotry, which is the practice of divining information from the energy emanating from stones - long ago came to grips with the notion that there are unseen and misunderstood forces that guide our existence.
"The basic premise here is that you go through life using 10 percent of your brain," he says.
"(Albert) Einstein used 13 percent. That leaves 87 to 90 percent that they can't tell you about what's going on."
"There's no such thing as coincidence in the universe. Modern science has just not found the formula," proclaims Stanley Kruczynski (pronounced kru-CHIN-ski), a 59-year-old, Haddonfield-born psychic who lives in the Atlantic County hamlet of Rosedale.
Kruczynski, who has been a professional psychic for 40 years, became aware of his ability to foretell the future, as well as other paranormal abilities, when he was 7.
"I was able to use my gifts to understand what would happen the next day," he says. "And I knew what people were saying and thinking about me."
While he went on to a career as a musician and music and voice teacher, Kruczynski continued to develop his psychic powers. Today, he charges between $80 and $300 for one-hour consultations that involve various disciplines including palm reading, Tarot cards and astrology.
The lower-cost sessions are conducted over the phone. Those on the high-end take place at his home. "The high-paying customers are 100 percent men. The low-paying customers are mostly women," he says, offering no further explanation.
Although Kruczynski, an elegant, gracious and soft-spoken man, admits he does not believe in traditional medicine - he claims to have cured his own melonoma by changing his diet - doctors are regular clients of his.
"They don't consult me on medical issues, just personal and financial issues," he says. "And they come to me if there's a lawsuit and ask me how it's going to turn out."
Kruczynski, who also serves as a medium for people seeking communication with dead relatives and pets, takes pride in his forthrightness with clients who demand to know everything he knows.
"I feel the truth," he says. "If someone is going to die and they want to hear the truth, I tell them."
Of course, it is often difficult for his clients to hear what Kruczynski has to say about them.
"You're pulling down their veneer and getting down to the subconscious," he offers. "And when you get down there, people get uncomfortable."
Kruczynski understands there are many people who consider what he does to be, at best, nothing more than parlor tricks. But he also suspects that many naysayers protest too much.
"There are probably more (believers) than you or I think there are," he says.
"I think there are a lot of hidden people who believe in this, but wouldn't go to a psychic."
It's understandable that Angelique, a witch who lives in Audubon, prefers that neither her last name nor photo appear in this story.
"I've had my kids threatened on the street and we had our windows broken," she says, describing the reaction her family encountered when they first moved to town.
Those days may be gone, but the scars obviously linger, hence the request for semi-anonymity. But the self-described "recovering Catholic" makes no apologies for becoming a witch some 30 years ago after reading a book by Hans Holzer, a leading literary light of the occult world.
Not surprisingly, if you passed Angelique on the street, you wouldn't give her a second glance: She forgoes the trappings of witchcraft popularized in the entertainment media.
"I don't wear pointy hats," she says with a sly smile. "They're uncomfortable and hard to keep on your head."
Thanks to pop culture, the most common image of a witch is a scary-looking old women who conjures spells mostly to bring harm to others.
Angelique has little use for that stereotype.
"I don't do magic with a `c,' she says. "That's sleight-of-hand-tricks. I do ceremonial `majick.' It probably stems from the Kabbalah (Judaism's mystic offshoot that is all the rage among many celebrities including Madonna).
" `Majick' is using the energies in and around us for any purpose you want. But you have to be willing to pay the price. There's always a price to pay. It's really kind of the ultimate `What goes around, comes around.' "
Angelique, who describes herself as being "between 50 and death," says she is neither a "black witch" nor a "white witch."
"I'm a human being, which makes me a `gray witch,' " she says.
"A black witch is totally evil. And being a white witch, that would be terrible to have to be good 24 hours a day."
So, can she cause harm to someone via spells and incantations?
"If you came to me and said someone was trying to do you harm, I'd try to figure out a way, using herbs, and talismans and incantations, to keep that person away from you."
In addition to being a witch, Angelique is also a practicing Pagan which, she explains, is not just another word for "witch."
Paganism, she explains, is a religion whose core tenent is that all of life's forces and energies emanate from the Earth.
"The Earth does everything we do," she says. "It has a circulatory system and it has a beating heart and it has a nervous system. The Earth is a living, breathing entity. It's a scientific fact.
"We have a bumper sticker: `My goddess gave birth to your God.' We were there first. It was a flourishing religion long before Christianity came along."
As a Native American of Cherokee descent, it would be easy to characterize Fairton's Rick Boney as a "shaman." Easy, but inaccurate.
"Because my background is Native American, when I was young I was exposed to sweat lodges . . . all of that," says Boney, 44.
"But I would probably describe myself as a `universal mystic.' Throughout my life, I've studied the great traditions of the world and drawn from all of them."
Boney (pronounced "Bonnie"), who does not charge for his mystical work, uses various "spirit journeys" including drumming rituals and meditation, to facilitate the expanding of the consciousness. Regardless of his modus operandi, the goal remains constant.
"The whole of mystic practice is for one purpose," he says. "Everyone is given gifts by the creator. The problem is, in our modern society, we don't have the access to develop our capabilities. Mysticism helps people learn about themselves and their capabilities, and teaches them how to reach their fullest potential.
"All mysticism is about personal development. I find that when people get into this it really does begin to happen."
Despite Boney's reference to "the creator," he emphasizes that mysticism is not a religion.
"In mystical practice," he explains, "you start out with the belief that God is there, but is certainly not a guy with a long, white beard floating around on a cloud.
God is the collective creative force in the universe.
"Do I believe in a personal God? No. Do I believe in a God behind everything in the universe? Absolutely."
Boney, who, with partner Karen Taylor of Cherry Hill, creates murals based on the psychic energy of clients and their surroundings, believes mysticism can be a positive force in people's lives. But he doesn't engage in any sort of proselytizing.
"The interest comes within, not from the outside in," he says, likening an individual's quest for this kind of enlightenment to a basic physical urge.
"Over time, as we develop this, a `spiritual puberty' comes about, and the experience of the mystic becomes a drive, much in the same way the sexual drive develops in adolescence," he says.
"When that happens, people seek that out in a powerful way."