QUEEN MAMA DONNA HENES
Specialties: Tarot, Sky Reading, shamanic rituals, blessings
“QUEEN” is spelled out in big metal letters on the pink wall of Mama Donna Henes’ Tea Garden and Healing Haven, a skylighted sanctuary on the top floor of a former public elementary school. Henes, whom The New Yorker once dubbed the “Unofficial Commissioner of Public Spirit of New York City,” lives and works here with her little black-and-white dog, Poppy. Mama Donna once learned from an animal psychic that she has spent many lifetimes with Poppy, whom she accurately calls “perfect” and “a truly ascendant being.”
Fans of this kindly earth mother include former New York City Mayor David Dinkins, who once honored Henes’ “skill to communicate cosmic consciousness” with her public rituals, such as teaching how to stand an egg on its end during the Spring Equinox. Notable clients include the stars of VH1 reality show Mob Wives, for whom she performed a televised house blessing, exorcising “a little bit of the devil.” Henes blesses pets, too–at a recent ceremony at Grand Army Plaza, she blessed 100 dogs and a parrot, as well as a stuffed toy cat, meant as a “symbolic surrogate for all the stray cats of Brooklyn.” As leader of the annual West Village Halloween Parade, Mama Donna marches with her Blessing Band, sprinkling attendees with a fairy dust concoction of glitter, sugar, and cornmeal (a “traditional blessing substance”) in honor of the holiday’s Pagan roots.
How she reads: When I visit Mama Donna, she first dips her index finger in a little vial of glittery water and amethyst crystals, one of many blessing oils she’s concocted, and presses it to my third eye. “I bless you,” she says, “on your path, in your life.” And I feel #blessed. Next, she reads from the Voyager Tarot deck, her preferred mode of divination. The cards say, among other things, that I need to better honor my inner hermit.
“For me, the benefit of the Tarot is prescription,” says Henes, “not prediction. It points out patterns, it points out where the energy is, how you might be blocking yourself, what talents you can explore. But I think predictions are so stupid. Do you really want to know the day you’re going to die?”
Philosophy: “Shamanism is the oldest brand of spirituality, predating any kind of organized religion. It’s really the belief that everything has a spirit. Even what we would consider the inanimate: rocks, clouds. It’s that connection to spirit and the understanding that everything is interconnected, that we’re all part of the same weave of life. And, of course, science backs that up these days–that’s every bit of quantum physics.”
Cost: $180 for a 90-minute Tarot reading.