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Spiritual adviser Ms. Taylor said she can see people's auras and then interpret their energy to offer guidance. She uses tarot cards passed down from her grandmother for her readings.

The room smells of burnt incense and herbs. Crescent moons decorate the walls and shelves. A portrait of Jesus Christ is among the wall decorations.

There's a feeling of personal connection as Ms. Taylor sits behind her desk with a client.

Known only as Ms. Taylor, the self-proclaimed spiritual adviser can use tarot cards or the palms of answer-seeking clients to provide advice from her at-home office on Brainerd Road.

Though she rejects the title "psychic," Ms. Taylor can tap into people's energy to counsel them in money or marital problems, or just give general life advice.

"It's about picking up on one individual and tapping into their energy. I'm not a mind-reader," Ms. Taylor said. "It was a calling. I could have ignored it and looked the other way, but I wasn't comfortable doing anything else my entire life."

At a young age, Ms. Taylor says she knew she was different. Growing up in a church-going, Christian-based household, her days would be punctuated with what she called "premonitions," envisioning things about certain family members that were not seen by other people.

"I'd be playing with other children and I'd see visions of family and friends," Ms. Taylor said. "As I got older I was able to just touch them and see into them."

"I'm able to see people's auras," she added. "It's a light color around them that's an outer layer of energy and protection."

The ability to pick up, see, and interpret the energy is a gift that's handed down by the women in her family, she believes. In fact, it was her Grandmother's large, round tarot cards that she had displayed on her desk and uses in her readings. Her grandmother gave them to Ms. Taylor before passing away in 1996.

Psychics have utilized their gifts to help advise police in the past. A Phoenix, Ariz., based organization called FIND ME is dedicated to helping aid law enforcement find missing persons and homicide victims.

According to the Chattanooga Times Free Press archive, FIND ME was used last year in the search for Gail Palmgren, a Signal Mountain resident that went missing on April 30, 2011. The search was unsuccessful.

Tools of the trade

In the back of Mystic Modes, 415 N. Market St., is the Arcana Room. Arcana means secret knowledge.

The smell of herbs and incense is prevalent. Atop a small shelf is an array of multicolored crystal balls small enough to fit in your hand. Those crystal balls are used to help see energy, according to Sandra Miller, one of the store's owners.

Below them on the second shelf is an empty spot where a small stock of tarot card decks should be, but rarely ever are.

"I can't keep them on the shelf. They sell like crazy," Miller said. "I just placed an order but they'll be gone almost as soon as they get here again."

Miller said she couldn't identify a specific type of customer that purchases tarot cards. They run the gamut in gender, age and religious backgrounds, she said.

"I think people are looking for answers that they're not finding in their choice of religion," Miller said. "I think we're getting away from religion and moving toward spirituality."

Like a surgeon and his scalpel, or a journalist and his notepad, a spiritual adviser or psychic needs implements to perform the task at hand. That's where tarot cards, crystal balls and incense come in.

"Whatever vibration or karma they're giving off is thrown into the cards," Ms. Taylor said.

Utilizing the tarot cards as instruments better conveys the energy readings.

Ms. Taylor combines palm-reading and tarot cards into a full reading for $60. As opposed to the sample reading of 10 cards for $10, the full reading gives a comprehensive look into the client's past, present and the all-important future.

"One palms tells different than two palms," she said. "There are three main lines in the palm to read. For males, the past and present is on the left. For females, it's on the right."

Seeking guidance

A mother, wife and businesswoman, Ms. Taylor has developed clout and recognition as a spiritual adviser for more than 10 years, she said.

"Curiosity brings people in," Ms. Taylor said. "My biggest clientele are skeptics."

Ms. Taylor said that a reading starts with asking the client to focus on one wish, while saying the other one aloud.

"I use that to tap into their energy and it sort of goes from there," she said. "No two people are alike. There's different energy through different readings."

Ms. Taylor has the clients relax to make reading of their energy easier. She only does private readings with one person at a time, behind closed doors.

"When the economy was down, a lot of people were asking if they should stick to what they're doing," she added. "Lately more have been based on family."

Ms. Taylor says her approach is no-holds-barred, conveying what she sees in the client's energy to the answer-seeking person in her office, no matter how good or how bad.

"I don't see death," Ms. Taylor said. "Only the Lord knows that."

A spiritual adviser cannot read their own energy and fortune, Ms. Taylor said.

Spirituality and religion

Throughout the years, Ms. Taylor has found a niche in the spiritual adviser business in a community with assured religious values. Ms. Taylor said she believes in the Holy Trinity and attends the City Church of Chattanooga.

"A lot of people are afraid of someone as myself," she said. "They automatically think I'm bad or that I have something to do with evil."

"If you're a true Christian, you don't judge a book by its cover," she added.

Psychics are not always on the up and up. One famous example is TV medium Ms. Cleo, who was the subject of a federal district court complaint filed by the Federal Trade Commission in February 2002. According to the FTC website, the free readings advertised online ended up not being free at all.

Miss Cleo, who's real name was Youree Dell Harris, was seen on late-night infomercials in the early 2000s. Despite her Jamaican accent, her birth certificate revealed the Los Angeles-born woman had lied about her nationality, according to news reports. Her psychic abilities were debunked, and the company Psychic Readers Network was shut down after the lawsuit from the FTC.

"When you're not truthful with it, that's not a gift from God," Ms. Taylor said. "That's a curse."