Dr. Dolittle has nothing on Tucsonan Kat Riegel.
Dolittle, as you may recall, is the character created by author Hugh Lofting, made famous by Rex Harrison and, later, Eddie Murphy. Dolittle was able to speak with animals. So can Riegel—even when an animal is not in the room.
I discovered Riegel's ability at a recent Mystic Messengers fair, held at Windmill Suites in St. Philip's Plaza. (Visit mysticmessengers.com for more information.) I showed Riegel a picture of my dog, and she proceeded to tell me about my pup. Specific things were mentioned: My dog is not a big talker; she likes soft toys, not rubbery ones; she enjoyed the treats I used to give her; she had some waxy buildup in her right ear; and she likes the grassy area in my backyard.
All of these things were accurate: Xolo dogs do not usually bark unless it is as a warning. My dog loves soft toys. I did buy different treats. The vet diagnosed an ear infection later that week. And there are two large grassy areas in my backyard. How common is grassy in Tucson?
Riegel told me that she took an animal-communication class seven years ago. "This wasn't something I always felt I could do," she said. "I tried something new. A lot of information came to me (about the pets of my classmates)." Using Reigel's input, relations improved between the pets and owners. "People came up to me later and said that everything was better with their pets.
"I consider myself an interpreter," Riegel said. "I have the ability to hear what (the animals) are saying and relay it back. ... It's an honor for me to be able to be their voice."
Riegel was just one of the "messengers" at the fair that day. Held on the first Sunday of the month for 11 years now, the fairs offer a variety of readings from astrologers, Tarot-card readers, intuitives, numerologists and others. There are also practitioners who use alternative methods such as reiki, reflexology and therapeutic touch to promote healing. And artists and craftsmen display wares that are intended to promote spiritual health.
Patricia Kirkman is the driving force behind the fairs. She started them 11 years ago because she was not satisfied with other fairs around town. One in particular, she said, was run by a man who "walked around with a cash box under his arm." There was also a charge to enter the fair, and readers were not interviewed before participating.
In contrast, Kirkman and her associates do not charge a fee to attend the fair. (There is a charge for readings.) Nor are readers just anyone off the street. Kirkman interviews readers and validates their abilities before letting them participate. She verifies that they "do what they say they do." She looks for those interested in helping others rather than just "feathering their nests."
Kirkman is an intuitive reader with 38 years of experience. She wrote The Complete Idiot's Guide Numerology Workbook and had a radio program with Journal Broadcast Group for several years. Kirkman conducts Psychic Wednesdays each week at Luna Bella Restaurant and Catering.
Kirkman said she still has some of her original clients from her start 30-plus years ago. "My main thing is helping people get answers they need to help themselves. I don't want to do it for them. I want to get them to a point where they can get answers themselves."
When I asked Kirkman what happens when people disagree with her information, she gave a surprising answer. "If they are not in agreement with what I have to say, that's good. ... I want them to ask questions. ... If you don't agree with something, please tell me, and I'll tell you why I say it. Sometimes our interpretation of what is said and what is heard is different."
She also said she encourages people to contact her "only when you feel you need to. If anyone tells you that you need to see them, run! It's more about when you need it, not when they think you need something."
As for skeptics of metaphysical practices like numerology and intuitive readings, Kirkman said, "These are all tools. Things are there to learn from. Why throw away a tool if you don't know yet how it works? Give it a chance. Take a look at things."
That sounds reasonable to me. And who knows? Your pet may thank you for it.