Second sight

You couldn’t pick a more apt setting to meet Joan Carra – the new psychic in residence at Wainwright House in Rye – than the stately holistic center’s library on a wintry eve.

Picture wood paneling, serious portraits, books standing at attention and two lamps – one on and one that goes off and on as if it has a mind of its own. Or is it perhaps a sign from the Great Beyond?

All you need is Sherlock Holmes to burst in and announce that the case – any case – has been solved. The logical Sherlock would, of course, scoff at any paranormal doings. We predict, however, that he would be disarmed by Carra. The Greenwich resident is a kind, warm-hearted woman. But don’t let that fool you. Having a session with her is an intense experience that packs a real emotional punch.

It begins easily enough. Carra hands you a deck of cards – actually half a deck, just like her Aunt Josie used – for you to shuffle. The cards are spread, and you select several that remain for the moment face down. Carra groups the rest, turns yours over and, adding them to the other groups, begins telling you about yourself, your present and your immediate future. Then she asks you to open your palms and begins reading the lines and examining your fingertips.

Having spent more than 30 years as a journalist and seen more than a few episodes of “The Mentalist,” you think, What? Here is a woman who’s good at reading body language and picking up on social cues, right? A lot of this must be observational, albeit instantaneously observational, which is partly what intuition is. And Carra acknowledges that palm and card reading are interpretive crafts.

“What’s Texas?” she asks. And you think, Texas? You’ve never been to Texas. And then it hits you like a thunderbolt – Texas, Austin, the home of the Greenleaf Book Group, publisher of your new novel, “Water Music.”

Joan Carra is good.

Apparently, that’s what Jack Rourke, author of “The Rational Psychic,” concluded. (She’s also been written up in five other books, including “Psychic New York” and “The 100 Top Psychics in America.”) In his book, Rourke calls her Jane:

“I do not remember what I expected to see when psychic Jane took the stage, but I can tell you she was as unassuming as unassuming could be. Once she started working, those of us in attendance were mesmerized by her abilities. She called me up to the platform where she began speaking a laundry list of things only my twin could know. In fact I interrupted Jane more than once to prevent her from revealing things I did not want mentioned publically. After a gentle pause, Jane began sharing the very private last few moments my sister and I had shared as she crossed over. I was dumbfounded as Jane recounted my empathic near-death experience from my dead twin’s point of view!”

As Rourke’s book suggests, it’s Carra’s work as a medium that is most moving. The cards go away, the palm-reading stops and Carra begins to speak about and for the dead – regrets and unfinished business but also their pride and happiness in you. Try as you might, you can’t help it: The tears fall. But in the end, you feel cleansed and lighter, as if you yourself have crossed a bridge.

Carra has been crossing bridges for a long time. She grew up on Long Island in a family with psychic abilities and interests. There was the aforementioned Aunt Josie, the mother who had prophetic dreams and the father who collected metaphysical books. (Psychic gifts run in families, she says, although anyone can tap into his or her own psychic talents.)

Carra made her way to Greenwich Village and to Goddard College in Vermont. She had learned the psychic arts by doing. But she had also grown up with a sense that this wasn’t something you necessarily shared with others.

“During a difficult period, I cried out to the universe,” she recalls, “and I experienced this light beam, which I knew was the all of one.” The door had opened to the path of healing.

Carra read cards for fun while working other jobs. A friend got her a job reading, which led to restaurant gigs and a party agent.

“Then it snowballed and I did a phone line, which actually was good training,” she says.

Carra often has visions. She saw Hurricane Sandy five years before it happened, and the Japanese tsunami.

“These visions upset me … and they’re not always perfect with their timing.”

So don’t ask her to predict who’s going to win the World Series this year or the weather next week. It doesn’t work that way. She does make some predictions, however. She sees the map of the East Coast changing, and not for the better, thanks to flooding, and she sees school violence in this country continuing.

“The psyche of America is wounded.”

One good thing she sees for the future is a high-tech invention that will give sight to the blind. Perhaps because of the rollercoaster nature of the job, Carra says psychics try to maintain a sense of optimism.

And a sense of humor, “Because, after all, it’s so absurd.”

Joan Carra conducts private and group readings as well as séances. For more information, call Wainwright House at (914) 967-6080. You can also contact Carra at (203) 531-6387 or visit her at 

About Wainwright House

Along with a new psychic, Wainwright House executive director Peggy Hill says, the center has new board members who combine business acumen with an affinity for the center’s mission – “to inspire greater understanding through body, mind, spirit and community.” Wainwright House – the oldest nonprofit, nonsectarian holistic center in the United States – was founded in 1951 by Fonrose Wainwright Condict, whose father, Col. J. Mayhew Wainwright, had built the French chateau-inspired stone manse on land that belonged to his prominent family. Today, Wainwright House is a complex of three buildings totaling 25,000 square feet overlooking Milton Harbor that supports programs ranging from yoga to dream journaling to nutrition to environmental awareness. Among the upcoming offerings are a March 9 concert with Luke Hendon and Bandjango (in collaboration with Small Towne Theatre) that’s part of The Jazz Brunch Series and a weekend retreat March 14-16. For more, call (914) 967-6080 or visit

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