Sky Mapps isn't a psychic. She's not a fortune teller. She can't read minds. She can't tell you the winning lottery numbers. She can't see into the future.
Mapps is a tarot card reader. Tarot cards date back to the mid-15th century when they were used as simple playing cards. In the 18th century, mystics and occult followers began to use them as a divination tool to map mental and spiritual pathways. Today, tarot cards, usually 78 in a deck, are used for a variety purposes including offering guidance.
On any given Friday or Saturday evening, you can find Mapps sitting just outside JudyBug's Bookstore on Broadway. Mapps reads tarot cards for passers-by as well as friends.
And for Mapps, it's just for fun. She just wants to make people smile. She claims she's no expert and certainly doesn't take herself seriously.
What she sees in the cards is serious, but herself, nah.
She doesn't do it for profit (she simply takes donations); she just loves being part of the downtown Columbus scene and interacting with people.
Mapps, 41, is very wary of telling people about her family and where she works, because there are skeptics.
While she's been reading tarot cards for about three years, she's only been reading cards for people on a regular basis since January.
A Buddhist, Mapps studied in an Oregon Buddhist monastery for three years. She said while there are Buddhist monks in Atlanta, she didn't make a connection. She returned to Columbus in 2009.
She had just gone through a painful divorce.
"I had a lot of work to do on myself," she said. "Nobody could do this work except for me. I let it happen."
The training in the monastery helped her learn how to meditate.
"It helps me to sit quietly and when this works, it's a success," Mapps said. "It helps me to listen to people and then I can help them to see."
Mapps often sees some people week after week. Others are just walking by and stop to get their cards read. Some are couples.
Typically, a reading takes about 10 minutes.
"It depends on how open people are. It can go to an hour. Everybody's different," she said.
Others are skeptical and refuse to get their cards read. "One said, 'You'll read my mind.' I'm not doing that. They're doing that with the help of cards," Mapps said. "I don't have special powers."
Some people see what she does as a "gypsy gift," while others see it as a "dark art."
Mapps, a single mother, has two teenagers, one going to Georgia Tech soon and the other a student at a local high school.
The extra money she earns every weekend helps with the family finances, she said.
One client, Tim Glackmeyer, was hoping that the tarot cards had good news about his daughter, Mary, who performs with a group called LightWire Theater and was going to be on "America's Got Talent."
"It's positive reinforcement," Glackmeyer said. "I am a good guy. I'm a good dad. I have great kids. It's not 'The Wizard of Oz' and going to Fantasyland. It's all good."
Mapps told him that the cards won't tell him how well Mary's dance company will do because she wasn't here to choose the cards herself. But that his cards boded well for the group. LightWire Theater made it through the quarterfinals and is scheduled in the semifinals after the Olympics.
Andres Buckley is a skeptic, who hasn't had his cards read.
He quotes William Shakespeare, saying "It's not in the stars, but in ourselves."
Darius Beers had his first reading last week.
"She's amazing," he said. "She's more than amazing."
He said Mapps put things into perspective for him.
"I feel calm now," the Columbus State University theater major said. "I feel really great about meeting her.
Beers said he now has an idea about what to do to succeed and finding balance and stability in his life.
Alek Ansley, who owns JudyBug's said he's happy to keep the shop open as late as Mapps has customers but don't expect him to have his cards read anytime soon. He's a skeptic.