After a heavy meal of MSG-laden noodles and spare ribs, helped down by a dozen gulps of sweetened green tea comes the best part of the Chinese dining experience- your fortune. But after tearing open the crinkly plastic wrapping and cracking the factory-produced cookie at its middle to reveal the small white paper, you are disappointed to receive a factory-produced answer; An answer that is in no way related to your leading question about the vast unknown.
“Will I be rich? How many children will I have? When and how will I die?” are questions for professionals with an intangible gift. Psychic conjures the image of a haggard looking woman, sitting in a darkened room at a small, round table with a crystal ball in the center. Those who are ill-informed of the practice will probably visit a tacky storefront psychic boutique and get exactly that, along with an unsatisfying reading of their fortune.
But savvy Charlestown residents interested in going beyond the five senses know that there is only one source to see for a genuine experience. More of an intuitive consultant than a psychic, MaryLee Trettenero helps clients diagnose plaguing concerns and general curiosities alike in her sunny Prospect Street apartment.
A local to Charlestown for 25 years, Trettenero has performed readings for many residents and has even become somewhat of a town celebrity by those who recognize her from the funky purple streak that runs through her light hair.
“The kids sometimes stop me and want me to read their future,” Trettenero said. “One girl in town (about 10 years old) keeps trying to ask me who she’s going to marry. But I never read for a kid without the mom having approved for it first.”
Although Salem is considered to be the most witchcraft-centric town in Massachusetts, Trettenero suggested that Charlestown has its own bewitching history. “The very first Charlestown resident was accused of being a witch. There’s a big history there, and it’s a pretty interesting topic for people in Charlestown,” Trettenero informed, adding that at the Charlestown Library last year, she held a seminar on ghosts and spirits, where over 100 residents discussed the difference between the two entities and shared their own personal experiences.
But Trettenero does more than talk about spirits, she talks to them. Or more specifically, her spirits transfer insightful messages after talking to a client’s spirits. “We all have our own guides,” she established. “I know that when I’m doing a reading, my guide is talking to your guide.” And throughout one’s lifetime, there is primarily only one guide that stays with you, according to Trettenero, who expressed interest in the intuitive realm before hitting double-digits. “My mother and my grandmother are intuitive and psychic, and my two sisters and three brothers, all except for one, admit to being pretty intuitive,” Trettenero said. “My mother always had books she brought into the house…and she would play telepathic games with us. Like if we weren’t home she would say ‘call me,’ and we would. I think everybody’s pretty intuitive. It doesn’t have to be a dramatic feeling, but more of a gut instinct that people base decisions off most of the time anyways.”
What Trettenero is able to do, that most people can’t, is isolate that intuitive feeling and delve into its deeper meaning. Sitting comfortably on the couch in her living room, surrounded by relevant books and tarot cards, Trettenero spoke so knowingly of her gift that it was shocking to hear that she refuted it for several years.
“I was in the hotel business first,” she revealed. ” I tried to have a normal career and started with the Westin Hotel chain in Chicago. So, I was working my way up the ladder and every hotel I worked in was very, very stressful…When I got to Boston (as a senior assistant manager) I just felt like the incentives were not as appealing to me as having my freedom. When I was doing a career transition nothing else appealed to me.” Now, Trettenero imagines herself still reading people’s cards at 90 years old. “I really love the work that I do,” she said.
But every field has its bad apples, and Trettenero was quick to identify the ones in hers. “The people that do it in a false way, we call them gypsies,” she said. The gypsies are the ones with storefronts, luring undiscerning customers with vapid tarot card readings and vague visions that are just as cloudy as the fake fog floating through the room from a machine.
“I always feel badly when I hear from a client that they got taken,” said Trettenero, “especially when there’s a lot of money that’s been changed. Not all of us operate like whoever they had that bad experience with, and fortunately, somebody will go out of business because you have to be good at what you do. The word will spread if you’re good, and the word will spread if you’re bad.” For Trettenero, the word is undoubtedly good.
Her list of services includes personal readings with tarot cards, past life readings, energy healing, spiritual house cleansings, seances, emotional freedom programs, and missing persons cases. “I really do run the gamut,” Trettenero said of her multi-faceted profession.
Despite being highly sought-after, Trettenero always stays faithful to meditating for about 20 minutes before a reading, separating appointments by a half hour to allow necessary time to disconnect from the last reading. “I feel like my obligation is to come to the reading in the right state,” she said. “I don’t try to plan too many activities in a single day. I also have energy practices so that I’m grounding myself.” One of the practices Trettenero uses to disconnect from one reading to another is to imagine a cord that goes into the earth, and starting from the head, it is slowly released. This practice can also be used by anyone who needs to disconnect from a bad experience, emotion, or relationship. But for anything to work in this Bermuda Triangle of professions, the key factor is believing.
“Everybody is open differently,” Trettenero explained. “If you’re really open, you can get such a different reading than someone who is shut down. When someone comes in for the first time they have no idea what they’re in for. I get a lot of believers in the reading. What I usually ask people to do is wait until the second half of the reading to ask questions. It’s really consistent that when we get to the second half I’ve already answered all their questions.”
Aside from personal questions of career and love, one of Trettenero’s most commonly received questions is how people can be in touch with their own guides. “The best way to do that is to set aside quiet time,” she suggested, adding that, “meditation is the most recommended. Another thing you can do is set up tests. A fun thing to do is take a deck of cards and play black or red. It gives you an idea of your accuracy, and over time you get used to that voice between logic and intuition.”
While developing your own intuition may help you become more confident in following your gut instinct, nothing can replace Trettenero’s natural born gift. “In the reading itself, I rely on my guides,” she said. “The guides talk to each other and relay it to me. I work with tarot cards, but when people experience a reading with me they know I’m working with more than just cards.”
To see her in action, you would think she was having a conversation as normally as you would in a coffee shop- only, there is no one on the other side of her. And for the moments when Trettenero is receiving a message about you, it is as if you don’t exist to her. But you most definitely exist to the guides, or spirits, which you can feel surround you, creating a tingling sensation that overcomes your body. When the message is received, Trettenero turns back to you, and the tingling sensation leaves as swiftly as it came.
Sometimes it is a string of words that she relays, and other times they are images that she describes. And even though you hear it from a third party, you’ll find yourself recognizing exactly what it is. You know when you were young, and a parent or mentor left you with a cryptic life lesson saying that when the time came you would just know? Well, when you experience a reading with the esteemed Trettenero, you’ll just know.