When you receive an invitation to be read by the "psychic to the stars" on a bright Friday afternoon, you don't ask any questions; you just go. I found this out for myself early last week, when a routine check of my work email found me stumbling upon a message asking whether or not I'd be interested in receiving a reading from Maria Papapetros at a pop-up shop for Gwyneth Paltrow's lifestyle brand goop's second fragrance and candle, Edition 02, Shiso.
I, of course, had no idea what to expect; but after reading the email and discovering that this pop-up shop would be open to the public on April 29 so visitors could sample the fragrance in person (something that is impossible when shopping on the website, obviously) and receive a free 20-minute reading from Papapetros herself, I felt I had to try it out first and share my story with the public, so they would have some idea of what to expect. I am, after all, always a journalist first and foremost.
The fragrance follows goop's first, Edition 01, Winter. As Erin Cotter, the head of beauty at goop, tells me at the pop-up shop, Edition 02, Shiso, contains all natural ingredients, most prominently the shiso leaf (meant to remove stress), oakmoss (meant to "release past wounds and trauma"), and palo santo (meant to "cleanse spaces of negative energy"). When put together, Cotter says, each of the components are said to "create clairvoyance" and "fend off old lovers," which are both things that I'm 100 percent into: Clairvoyance because I've always felt a sense that I'm more intuitive than I give myself credit for (as my friends know — spoiler alert — I totally called Perry being the one to die on Big Little Lies), and fending off old lovers because who doesn't need that every once in a while? "We worked with shiso as a primary scent, which is rare in the perfume world — it is closely hinged to the other notes, so it begins simply and then slowly opens up into spicy greens, crushed stems, and ancient exotic woods," Paltrow's statement reads on the goop site. I'm into it.
So, that's how I found myself rushing down Mott Street at 3:52 p.m. on Friday, April 28, clumsily checking my phone to ensure I wouldn't be late for my 4 p.m. appointment at the pop-up store. I arrive at 252 Mott Street with only a minute to spare, nearly tripping over my own flats as I amble to the door. A neon sign reading "psychic" hangs above the glass door of the pop-up shop, alerting me I'm in the right place.
Stepping through the door transports me into what I can only describe as an Instragrammer's dream. I regard the moss-covered shelves holding the Edition 02 fragrance and candle, as well as the neon sign flashing bright pink in the corner: "Fend off old lovers." It's not quite the conscious uncoupling sentiment we got from Paltrow during her divorce from Chris Martin, but it's a statement I can relate to more as a 26-year-old single woman living in Manhattan with a penchant for going on lots of dates with men I meet on Bumble and Tinder. Papapetros sits in the back, reading another visitor. I'm next, the publicist tells me.
Papapetros, who, according to her personal website, counts stars like Vanessa Williams and Kelly Rutherford as her clients, bears a warm, welcoming presence through her petite frame. As I walk toward the nook in the back of the shop where she was performing her readings, I could almost feel the energy emulating from the space; a familiar feeling of nausea took over my body as I drew closer, a development that isn't abnormal for me when I'm around situations where the energy is just a bit more palpable than usual. (Papapetros would later tell me that this was due to my being naturally "intuitive," which sounds pretty cool so I'm not gonna argue with it.)
As I sit across from her, eyeing the mini tarot card deck and crystal that are reposing on the glass table between us, Papapetros smiles warmly and I can immediately see why she's attracted so many celebrity clients; even I, as a normally skeptical person, feel like I want to talk to her for hours. She asks if I've ever seen a psychic before, and I tell her yes, but it was only once a few months ago. "Was that here or in Los Angeles?" she asks.
"Oh, here, I live here. But I'm from LA," I answer, figuring that she was asking because goop was based in LA.
"I know," she responds. "I got LA from you. Where in LA?"
"Where in the valley?"
"North Hollywood, but I lived in Sherman Oaks."
She smiles, and proceeds to mention she has a house there, near where my childhood home was. And then she tells me the cross streets of that childhood home of mine. Color me shook.
She asks for my apartment keys then, so she can hold them and use them to read me. I hand them over, apologizing for the clunkiness (perhaps adding that Slytherin house charm recently was one too many keychains, but I'm willing to carry around clunky keys if it means I get to show my Hogwarts house pride). She holds them in her hands, regarding me with narrowed eyes.
I won't go into the specific details of my reading because of their deeply personal nature, but I will say that Papapetros wasn't wrong about many of the things she told me about who I am as a person and how I live my life. She knew that I often suffer from stomach pain, for instance (thanks, gluten intolerance!), and that I'm currently going through a bit of a "journey" when it comes to dating and especially using dating apps (and thanks, Bustle's Appless April).
And then, of course, there was the nausea: It hit me as I sat down in front of Papapetros, and only grew stronger as she took my keys and began her reading. I asked her about it as our session drew to a close, recalling that this had happened last time I was read, and also whenever I was in situations where I felt a gut feeling particularly strongly. "It's because you're very intuitive," Papapetros smiled. "More than others. And you don't know how to control it." It inexplicably dissipated after I left the pop-up store and walked down the block.
My relationship with astrology and psychic work has always been slightly hazy; there are things I've experienced that I can't explain, but my inherently scientific nature has always led me to at least attempt to. However you feel about psychics, though, receiving a reading from any is good fun; especially when they're as on point about you as Papapetros was about me. Maybe it was the scent of Edition 02 seeping through my nostrils, or maybe it was something more — but either way, this extremely logical gal became a believer, at least for a bit.
If you're in NYC, you can check the pop-up out for yourself (and receive a free reading from Papapetros) at 252 Mott Street in SoHo on Saturday, April 29. Edition 02, Shiso will be available at the pop-up store in candle form for $72, and in fragrance form for $165. They're both also available on goop.com for the same price right now.