essica Lanyadoo can feel your pain. Literally. If you’re sitting with her at a dinner party, silently nursing a migraine, she’ll turn around and ask, “All right. Who here has the headache?” Or her knee will throb because she has inexplicably absorbed a stranger’s injury as her own.
She can also intuit that your sex life is on the rocks because your girlfriend secretly prefers oral over penetration. Or that your cat is grumpy because he thinks the dry chow you’ve been feeding him blows.
Not only can she sense a specific angst in the living, but the dead channel their needs through her too. Like the time a long-buried family patriarch wanted an introduction to his grandkid—at a party, Lanyadoo says with a smirk, “When I was off the damn clock.”
She even claims to have counseled hair stylists and estheticians on the plumbing issues of potential salon spaces long before her clients unearthed them—because, you see, Lanyadoo has a sensitivity to the energy of structures too.
So how does this gold-toothed, 41-year-old Canadian have such a precise read on the otherwise unknowable?
The short answer is that she’s a modern day psychic, astrologer, medium, and intuitive counselor with an uncanny ability to suss out a strange array of information. Lanyadoo has turned a childhood burdened with “boundary issues” into a suite of functional services that includes helping people lessen their anxieties, navigate their difficult bosses, and craft their billion-dollar business plans alongside channeling the thoughts of the long gone and linguistically incapacitated with whom they wish to communicate.
Since moving to San Francisco from Montreal in 1994 to be an astrologist, Lanyadoo has built a solidly-booked intuitive counseling practice where she’ll spend hour-long sessions on matters ranging from romance to addiction, and from ulcers to indoor plumbing. Her clientele, which of course she can’t reveal specifics about due to the secrets she keeps for them, includes San Francisco’s culture makers and shapers as well as the people who design our computers, sell our houses, write our best-sellers, podcast our stories, and play our concert halls.
Lanyadoo, who now lives in Oakland, isn’t your stereotypical crystal baller with crushed velvet pants waxing poetic about auras. In fact, she hates poetry. And she’s more attuned to discussing Miley Cyrus spectacles than phases of the moon. Lanyadoo is a pragmatist, with four pages of five-star Yelp testimonials underscoring her ability to offer practical, personalized advice based on a skill set she admits is mysterious.
Most clients come to her through others in the know, but they occasionally arrive in her Oakland office for a $255 turbo counseling session based on the suggestion of a licensed medical professional—like one woman who sought Lanyadoo’s help based on the recommendation of her therapist. “The therapist noticed it took her six months or a year to get to things with her clients that I got to in the first 15 minutes,” Lanyadoo says.
Admittedly, Lanyadoo sometimes tells people things their therapists and doctors have, or eventually will, discuss with these seekers. But when a wisecracking psychic who talks to the dead cuts through the bullshit to land on the reason for your pain and the actionable path forward—well, now suddenly becomes the right time to listen.
Spirit Guides Magazine chatted with Lanyadoo on the eve of the release of her upcoming audiobook, Relationships 101: Your Astrological Guide To Doing Intimacy Right, about getting her start as an intuitive counselor and keeping her psychic powers in check.
Your popular horoscopes columns (on your website and for Oyster, StyleCaster, and Chatelaine) generally include positive affirmations. Is that intentional?
My thing is I want to help people help themselves. Horoscopes are a fun, quick way to sneak attack high-value spiritual or self-help strategies. I try to write my horoscopes like I talk to my friends and I try to be as normal and accessible as possible. Because even though I’m a professional psychic, I don’t really enjoy reading about the moon. I don’t really enjoy waxing poetic. I think the people who like my horoscopes like that they’re overly practical and I give actionable advice.
My hope is to not be a dick when I’m saying don’t be a dick (laughs).
How long have you been working full-time as an intuitive counselor?
Sixteen years, since 2000. But I have been doing it since 94-95. Not many astrologers do counseling full-time.
A good amount of people I work with wouldn’t necessarily see a psychic or an astrologer. I hold a non-judgemental state for a lot of people. There’s something very powerful about having someone bear witness to your secrets and not be judgmental and help you work with it. When we say the damn truth in its distilled form, options for strategy open up organically. That’s something I’m good at helping people with—how can we pare down all the bullshit and all the stories and get to the most essential truth. When we name that, you don’t necessarily get the answer but you get really close to what the question is, and that brings you closer to getting the answer. I want to hit the most real truths I can hit within the first 15-20 minutes of a session with someone.
Photo Credit: Catalina Havlena
How do you describe what happens during your readings?
Generally I get a person’s astrological data: time of birth, birth date, year, city and state of birth, and draw up a chart and study that chart and take notes. And then I ground into the person’s energy. Then when the person arrives, I give them my spiel and I ask them what they want to talk about.
Someone can come in and say, for example, I was supposed to get a raise and I have a new manager and they’re not giving me this raise and I don’t know if I should stay or go. And a lot of times I’ll say let’s look at how you’re holding anxiety. We’ll talk about how they experience anxiety, how they hold it in their body, We’ll start there because how we manage our stress levels has everything to do with how people respond to us, which has everything to do with what happens in our lives.
How did you get into this line of work?
I’ve really been interested in astrology since I was like six years old. I went to an alternative college [in Montreal] called New School and I had a professor who taught an introduction to astrology from a Jungian perspective. I was in his class, and it became my food and my air and my water. Halfway through that semester I decided to move to San Francisco to become an astrologer.
I was working as an astrologer in SF but patently did not believe in psychic abilities for many years before I realized I had psychic abilities and realized I was able to communicate with the dead. Several years after that I realized I was able to communicate with animals. There are so many gifts that have revealed themselves over time to me. It hasn’t been especially linear. It’s just been something that’s kind of developed. I would never believe in my psychic ability if I didn’t have the proof of strangers telling me over and over again.
Does having the ability to be so porous emotionally have a lasting effect on you?
Yes, absolutely. I work really hard to have strong boundaries so I’m only receiving information that is consensual—I’m not a psychic peeping tom at all. I don’t want to be bombarded by people’s shit. I’ve worked really hard at that, so I’m not the most social person in the world and part of that is because of how affected I get when I go out.
The way I’ve worked it out with my guides is that I get information through specific cues. It’s something I’ve worked out as a way to protect myself. So I don’t just walk around willy-nilly picking up everything, because that’s a terrible way to live.
All photos by: Catalina Havlena
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