Desperate Spaniards turn to fortune-tellers

By Daniel Bosque, AFP

BARCELONA–Maite Izquierdo and her family are doing their best to get by in Spain’s economic crisis, but work and money don’t come by magic. Or could they? After years looking for a job in a country where one in four is unemployed, this 48-year-old mother of two has turned to alternative ways to try and improve her fortunes. Around her neck hangs a necklace of shungite �X a shiny black mineral from Russia, said by occultists to bring emotional stability. In her bag she has a statue of a smiling Buddha and another of a three-legged frog �X Asian charms reputed to bring wealth. They are her latest purchases at Magic International, a spirituality fair in crisis-hit Barcelona where crowds browse over magic stones and spiritual tomes and countless fortune-tellers seek new clients. ��Any kind of help is welcome,�� said Izquierdo, who has curly dark hair and bags under her eyes. ��In our house, we’ve had enough. My husband can only find temporary, badly paid jobs. My eldest son can’t find anything and neither can I.�� The government says Spain is recovering from recession, but many Spaniards are still struggling. Attendance at the occult fair has surged to 50,000 this year compared to 30,000 before the crisis started in 2008.

At one stall, hung with red drapes and gold stars, a woman waits for a tarot card reader to tell here whether her small family restaurant can escape bankruptcy. ��I often come for a reading, especially when times are hard,�� says the woman, Natalia Herrero. ��It calms me and gives me an insight into how to face my problems.�� The tarot-reader, dressed in a white robe, reassures Herrero that her restaurant will survive. Business Consulting For Izquierdo, it is the first time she has consulted spiritualists since she lost her job as a factory administrator four years ago. She didn’t use to believe in the occult, but says she was persuaded by friends. At the fair, she asks a public panel of four seers whether she should sell a flat in order to pay off her debts. ��It looks like a difficult time to do that,�� replies one of them, Maria del Mar Tort, one of Barcelona’s best-known tarot-readers, scanning the cards. ��The price seems a bit high. You should lower it and in a year or so, you’ll sell.��