Bude's 'Wise Old Crow'
By dawnrw | Saturday, April 23, 2011, 08:13
Upon meeting ‘Wise Old Crow’ Sue Clarke (who is not old and is nothing like a crow incidentally) she almost
The Wise Old Crow shop
The Strand Shopping Centre
immediately mentioned that she had been born with six digits on her hands. “Ah,
like Anne Boleyn then”, said I. Sue then showed me the book she was reading: a
Philippa Gregory novel about no other than Anne Boleyn. Coincidence. Anne, of course, had stood accused of
witchcraft, among other things, in her time, and suffered for it; luckily for Sue we live in more
enlightened times. Alongside the six digits, Sue was also born with her
umbilical cord around her throat. Through good fortune, or through some sixth sense, her
mother – also psychic - refused to push and she survived that trauma.
Sue first realized she was psychic at 8, when she saw faces
and had "horrific dreams", but her life was relatively normal, and she started to
use her gift quite late on, starting out by doing readings for friends and
family. At 41, she moved from London to Glastonbury, intending to take a 'normal' job at a
timber merchant’s, but started doing professional readings instead; since, she
has never looked back. Now, alongside
her shop in Bude, she reads in Glastonbury and Covent Garden (at a well-known New Age shop called Buddha on a
Bicycle) and reads for Michele Knight which, despite my reservations about telephone clairvoyance, she feels is a very professional
outfit. With telephone readings costing £47.50 for half an hour though, you are better nipping into Sue’s
Bude shop and getting a face to face one for £20.
Feeling blessed to have her psychic gift Sue uses many
esoteric arts to inform her readings. Rather than rely on any one method, she
uses clairvoyance to connect intuitively to her tarot cards, something she also
teaches others to do, but also incorporates astrology to unpeel the subconscious
layers of the issues people want unveiled. Like most people she first learned about
the tarot by reading the interpretations in a book, but quickly moved on, having soon realized that her
intuition was much, much better. She has since been guided by this confidence in her
own psychic qualities. Originally, Sue was going to set up shop in Tintagel
where she now lives, but felt strangely urged towards Bude. When she found her
premises in The Strand shopping arcade, she found the black cupboards she
wanted were already there and was drawn to the unit number - 3. "Somehow it just
felt right". I mentioned Pamela Colman-Smith, an illustrator who died in Bude, a
reference which Sue quickly picked up on as perhaps part of her natural attraction
to the place. “She was an Aquarian, like me” commented Sue. Pamela , nicknamed
Pixie, was born in 1878 and died in 1951, designer of the Waite-Smith tarot card
deck, the most widely used deck in the English-speaking world.
Sue’s small, select shop, which has only been open for about a month, is an eclectic mixture of pagan,
New Age and esoteric items, but Sue realizes some people may hesitate to go in
because of the pentagrams on display which are associated with Wicca. Don't be afraid. The shop is light and
airy, rather than scary, creating a relaxed atmosphere which Sue prefers. She
thinks people have moved on and are more open-minded about new ideas and ways
of thinking, that Wicca is a religion, just like any others. In Glastonbury, during the Catholic Holy Week processions,
however, eggs have known to be thrown at the New Age shops, implying that people
like Sue are still a persecuted minority. Sue though is a great believer in the powers
of attraction: “what you put in, you attract”, she says, and she generally
keeps her business quietly contained while being true to herself, selling items
which she likes and finds attractive. She is not out to change the world or to challenge traditional thinking. People who come to her are those drawn to New Age thinking, on the whole. Her items range from incenses, hand crafted
jewellery and books, plus very pretty limited edition tarot bags, to a boline knife
which she keeps in a cupboard. This is a magical tool used in Wicca but primarily for
chopping nothing more sinister than herbs.
So, where did the ‘Wise Old Crow’ name come from? Well, they
were gifted it: one day Sue and her husband were standing at a bus stop in
Boscastle, listening to the cawing of the crows as they discussed shop names.
Her husband then found his inspiration. It's a good name, easily remembered. Apparently, crows are bringers of dreams
which I’m pleased about given we rescued one from our chimney recently. Forget
all this ‘one for sorrow’ idea, I’ll go with Sue’s version.
So, what does the future hold? Well, Sue read my cards and
shared some interesting pointers, picking up on some things which she could not
possibly have known (indeed, I chose to have the reading before our chat so I
didn’t give out too many clues). I will listen to the recording but
unfortunately, it is on an old-fashioned cassette tape so I need to find my
old-fashioned cassette player, which will be buried under a mound of stuff somewhere. That’s my only criticism as not everyone still
has this ancient technology– moving on to MP3 will be a positive step forward! Sue feels that, more generally, we are moving
out of the age of Pisces to the Age of Aquarius (gosh it seems years since I
first heard that song – it was - as Hair
was produced in 1967) in 2012 which is all about revealing of truth. It will be
a disruptive time and there will be change, but Sue views change as a positive,
nothing to be fearful of. She feels this
is more a shift in humanity’s thinking, than about major disasters, and that fear breeds negativity, so change is best embraced rather than feared. Perhaps
some of the major ideological shifts taking place around the world are a sign
of things to come in this search for truth.
As for the Strand's shopping arcade, Sue would love to see it
develop. She is currently nestled
between a tattooist and a shoe shop, with the odd blast of bass guitar (well,
when I was there) from music shop, Rhythm and Bude. There is also a hairdresser's, a cafe, and Ship's Stores. There are still empty units
which could be filled by niche goods, feels Sue, which people would be prepared
to go out of their way for. She feels the town suffers a shortage of children’s
clothing shops and fashionable ladies’ underwear, for example. The units there
were designed as starter units so offer low rents on a monthly rolling contract, which are a low risk option to encourage new business. Sue believes she is the
only shop offering natural clairvoyance in Bude
which, in itself, is something unique. It’s certainly an interesting place and one which hopefully the tourists will happen upon while on holiday.
Sue’s readings cost £20 for half an hour, £40 for an hour.
She will carry out general readings or focus on specific questions but feels
ethically bound not to answer questions on certain subjects like pregnancy
outcomes, issues in a court of law (where the information could be used in
evidence), or health issues which require specialist medical advice. Not only a
conscience but a sense of social responsibility makes Sue a caring clairvoyant who one feels is trustworthy, and genuine. ‘Fortune
telling’ has always attracted charlatans, so the fact that Sue’s clientele
mainly comes from personal recommendation is in itself a good advertisement.