The term ‘psychic’ conjures up images of dimly lit rooms, shrouded with draperies and overpowering incense as you are asked to gaze deeply into a crystal ball. Although skepticism and disbelief have become more of a normalcy in today’s culture, there is still something eerily thrilling when a complete stranger reveals information that doesn’t seem possible for them to have known.
The Gypsy-like mysticism that many people think of when imagining what a psychic or a reading might be like isn’t quite the case. You won’t be meeting Sheila Martel (popularly referred to as Psychic Sheila) a in a dreary voodoo lounge when you visit her at the Shuga Shack. Martel is a friendly and welcoming person and the atmosphere at the Shuga Shack is open and comfortable.
The question of how Martel’s talent developed and when she first knew she had psychic ability is not an easy one to answer without a detailed and emotional history of family, love and loss. Martel had visions as early as her teens, but didn’t recognize or accept that these were actual premonitions until she was older. Martel was also taught psychometry at a young age, which is touching an object or photograph belonging to the person who is being read to uncover details about them.
Always having been someone with a strong desire to help people, Martel worked as a drug counselor at a youth facility before deciding that using her psychic abilities would be a better way to make a positive difference in the lives of others.
Going about providing this service proved to be challenging in the beginning. First, Martel began selling ‘Magic Muffins’ around Boise, delicious baked goods with a significant word or phrase on a piece of paper placed inside them. The issue arose that, without a license and commercial kitchen, this practice was illegal. However, a kindly city employee advised Martel that giving the muffins away while charging for a reading would be completely lawful.
Magic Muffins became a mainstay of Psychic Sheila’s publicity, and were given away not only to those who came to her for readings, but also to radio DJs when Martel visited to take callers on their shows. Members of the studio audience were also treated to these clairvoyant confections during Martel’s local access television show.
Though Psychic Sheila, the Shuga Shack and Magic Muffins have become an iconic part of the Boise landscape, there was a brief period where the atmosphere was not so accepting. It was brought to attention that, according to the wording of municipal law, psychic readings were illegal within city limits. Martel devised a campaign to show the faultiness of the trivial law. She performed readings on the street under the guise of taking passersby down ‘happy trails’ and giving them Magic Muffins before telling them that they had taken part in an illegal activity. The law was soon repealed, making Martel’s practices legal.
Martel offers readings, chakra healing, and group meditation sessions at the Shuga Shack and is also available for private parties and events. The Shuga Shack is a place of acceptance and learning and Martel encourages people to come in to open their minds to the psychic powers that are within all humans. Martel can be reached by calling 429-1434 or by visiting the Shuga Shack at 1821 West State Street.
This article was written for The Urban Liaison Magazine‘s Fall 2014 issue, which can be read online here.