By Ryan Cornell
A Front Royal ordinance prohibiting gypsies or anyone else from receiving compensation by fortune telling or practicing magic could be repealed due to the efforts of one tarot card reader.
Maya White Sparks had been reading tarot cards in the back of a shop on Downtown Main Street -- she declined to name the business -- until she was told last month to stop.
She said customers reading the sign outside the shop advertising for her readings complained to the store owner, who told Sparks she was banned from the shop.
"She said people in the shop and on Main Street said I was not appropriate for Main Street so she couldn't have me back to read the cards," Sparks said.
Not only did tarot card reading provide spiritual counseling for customers, she said, but it also provided her with a source of income.
Titled "Fortunetelling or Practicing Magic Art," Front Royal Municipal Code 110-17 states that: "It shall be unlawful for any company of gypsies or other strolling company or person to receive compensation or reward for pretending to tell fortunes or to practice any so-called 'magic arts.'"
The code further states that every person violating the section "shall be guilty of a misdemeanor and fined not less than $500, or confined in jail not less than one nor more than six months, or by both such fine and imprisonment."
Front Royal Town Manager Steve Burke said he's not sure how long the ordinance has been in place, but suspects it's more than 20 years old.
He said the town attorney will present to town council about rescinding the code at a work session "in the very near future."
"We appreciate her bringing it to our attention and will act as quickly as possible to bring it to council for consideration," he said.
Sparks, a priestess of interfaith nature spirituality and a member of the clergy in the Spiral Grove community, said the code is another instance of discrimination toward pagan and nature spirituality.
"My goal with bringing this to the public's attention is to get people thinking about interfaith tolerance," she said. "We live in a pluralistic society of many faiths and our Constitution guarantees us freedom of religion and I don't think people on Main Street who have complained about me really understand that."
Until the code is rescinded, Sparks said she will explore other venues, including conducting readings over the phone.
Contact staff writer Ryan Cornell at 540-465-5137 ext. 164, or firstname.lastname@example.org