Fortunetelling, practiced for years in Frederick city limits, is only now permitted

Tamar Bradley, owner of The Owl Nest, a metaphysical store on West Patrick Street, shows the room where different types of fortunetellers meet with clients using a variety of ancient forms of predicting the future and connecting with the past.

There have been places to go in the city of Frederick to get a psychic reading for years now, but only now is it permitted.

The city's Board of Aldermen voted unanimously Thursday to repeal a section of the city code that prohibited fortunetelling within city limits.

This only means that the fortunetellers who are already operating can continue to operate.

Alderman Michael O'Connor said this is an example of a regulation that no longer serves a purpose and should be removed.

"These kinds of throwback pieces of language in our code are probably worth revisiting," he said.

The section had been in city code since at least 1953. It stated that it was unlawful to engage in or practice clairvoyance, mind reading, palmistry, phrenology, divination or other (psychical) means or pretense of fortunetelling for gain, either directly or indirectly, within the city. 

The fine for violating the rule was $25.

In recent years, the city has not enforced the rule, or received any complaints of illegal fortunetelling, said Rachel Depo, a city attorney. Depo said she can't remember one case in the 13 years she has worked at the city.

Tamar Bradley, owner of The Owl Nest, a metaphysical store on West Patrick Street, said she considered it a "don't ask, don't tell" kind of thing.

"They haven't come after us," she said.

City staff suggested the city make the change because in 2010, the Maryland Court of Appeals held that a Montgomery County ordinance prohibiting fortunetelling violated the right to freedom of speech.

O'Connor joked that the fortunetelling community told him during his last administration that it was an issue they should take up.

The Owl Nest moved from the county to inside city limits three years ago, and has always offered psychic and tarot readings.

"I don't have a flashing neon palm in the window, but people know we are here, people know what we are about," Bradley said.

Zoë Richter has been operating as "Zoë the Psychic" for freelance work since the beginning of the year, she said. She has been hired to events such as bachelorette parties.

Richter had no idea that city code prohibited the practice. She told the aldermen Thursday that while some people may not believe in her practice, that doesn't mean it shouldn't be allowed.

People can choose to pay for her service just as they choose to pay for anything else, she said.

Bradley and Richter said they think Frederick is an open-minded area.

"That's one of the reasons I like the community so much," Richter said.

Follow Jen Fifield on Twitter: @JenAFifield.

(8) comments


A new low.

Extra Ignored

If business can sell anti-wrinkle cream that doesn't work why not fortune telling services.

Caveat emptor; let the buyer beware.


I predict feedback from fundamentalists.


But most of them are absolutely certain that they know what the future holds.


Who would have seen this coming?

I just couldn't resist.


They were never worried. They could see when the police were coming.


The clergy are fortune tellers too and none of them were ever fined so far as I know.


I knew this was going to be a front page story...

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
Engage ideas. This forum is for the exchange of ideas, insights and experiences, not personal attacks. Ad hominen criticisms are not allowed. Focus on ideas instead.
Don't threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
No trolls. Off-topic comments and comments that bait others are not allowed.
No spamming. This is not the place to sell miracle cures.
Say it once. No repeat or repetitive posts, please.
Help us. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.