Two decades of psychic readings at Alhambra's Lunar New Year Festival
The 21st annual Alhambra Lunar New Year Festival will be on February 4. Since the first festivals, local mother and daughter psychics Rose Lin (better known at Mrs. Lin of the booth at Commonwealth and Atlantic) and Kate Chen, have been giving readings about what the year will bring. Chen, 38, an Alhambra resident who this year set up her own San Marino Psychic office, has been providing tarot and palm readings since she was a teenager. The highlights, she said, is "meeting a lot of people and seeing what's going on with the New Year."
Last year writer Joe Soong visited Lin and wrote this profile, which was originally published October 20, 2010.
If you’ve lived in Alhambra, you’ve likely seen the tiny red gingerbread-like house with the white picket fence many times as you waited at the intersection of Atlantic Boulevard and Commonwealth Avenue. And, on at least on a few of those occasions, you probably wondered, “Who is Mrs. Lin, the Psychic?”
After years of wondering, my curiosity finally got the best of me and I called to arrange a visit to meet her. I entered a small but functional office, consisting primarily of a sofa, a wicker chair, and small table. Rose Lin, 61, welcomed me and within minutes told me I would have a successful future as a journalist. I liked the way our meeting was beginning.
The first thing that struck me about Mrs. Lin was she did not look like a Mrs. Lin. That is, as a long-time Alhambra resident, I’ve learned to associate the last name Lin with persons of Asian descent. So when I entered the small, nine feet by nine feet office, I expected to meet an Asian woman. Not quite. Rose Lin has singularly Caucasian features, although, as I found out, she also had a bit of San Gabriel Valley in her.
Lin sat me down, and as she told me about my future, she also let me know a little about her past. Born in Colorado to a Chinese-French father and German-Irish mother, Lin and her family left the state when she was very young. They eventually moved to California, first stopping in San Francisco before setting down roots in Alhambra more than three decades ago.
Lin became aware of her abilities when she was very young. “When I was seven years old, I began to see things,” she said. “I remember seeing a kid playing on a slide and he slid down several times. Then I sensed he would fall the next time he went down the slide and I told his mom, who didn’t do anything and the kid fell off the slide.” Recognizing her skills, friends began to consult her and Lin eventually turned her advisory skills into a career.
At first she just provided her services from her Alhambra home. That grew into a business with a brief stint on Valley Boulevard, and at her current Atlantic Boulevard location for nearly 15 years. “I have all I need here” in order to conduct palm and tarot cards readings, which are the most popular client requests, explained Lin. One of her two daughters, Kate, inherited her psychic skills and the mother and daughter team work together, with Kate seeing clients a few days a week when Lin is not there.
I asked for a reading and Lin obliged, dealing several tarot cards, explaining the meaning of each card and the relationship between them. It was admittedly fascinating and I began to understand why so many were drawn to psychic guidance.
Additionally, she interprets astrological and birthday charts, performs sand and crystal readings, as well as other types of readings. Several times a year she also performs house blessings to rid homes of unwanted spirits. The cost of each reading varies with the type and complexity.
One of Lin’s most interesting roles is as a conduit to the deceased. Several times a year, she performs a past life reading, where someone who has passed away may place an idea into the mind of a living relative or friend, who will not initially realize where or why the thought originated, causing them to approach Lin for guidance. “My role,” said Lin, “is to help them find out and understand what that idea is.”
Ethnically, her clientele is diverse and reflective of Alhambra’s population. Half are Asian, 30% Hispanic and the remainder Caucasian. Yet, Lin noted, they all have the same concerns: Regardless of ethnicity, most questions relate to affairs of the heart, business, or family life.
Located in an area with a significant non-English speaking population, Lin has adapted to her clientele. She performs birthday readings for the lunar calendar, which is favored by many Asian cultures, as well as the traditional Western calendar. Members of her family can also provide translation in Chinese or Spanish during a session if needed.
Lin believes that regardless of ethnicity women tend to be more inquisitive about important life issues and her customers bear this out. Whether in person or via telephonic consultation, she has four to five clients each day on average, with women composing 70% of the total.
While much of her business is on a drop-in basis, Lin has established many long-term relationships with her clients. One has been with her for 25 years and continues to consult two to three times a year regarding personal and business issues. The client’s adult daughter also utilizes Mrs. Lin’s services.
Some of her customers are even overseas. While initially establishing the relationship here, she maintains contact with two customers who are now living in Taiwan and counsels them telephonically when needed.
Her clientele encompasses all age groups, but she does have some restrictions. “A few times a week, students from some of the schools around the area will come by,” said Lin. “Kids who are thirteen or fourteen years old will ask for a reading, but I refuse and ask them to bring an adult.”
On occasion, she also has parents bringing in babies for a palm reading. They are sometimes so young, Lin has to gently uncurl the child’s fingers to see the palm.
“I won’t read the palms of babies because they are still developing and it’s too early to say what could happen,” said Lin. However, if requested, she will assist the parents in selecting a name for the child.
Not every question from a client will have an answer. She has self-imposed limits on the issues she will address. Lin said, “The questions I won’t answer are ‘When will I die?’, ‘What will I die from?’, and ‘Will I have a miscarriage?’” She prefers to turn away from the negative and focus on issues that send a more positive message.
Lin realizes that there are many who are skeptical of her abilities and she understands their doubts. However, it is not her goal to convince them. For those who don’t believe her, she says, “Don’t believe. I’m not here to make them believe me.”