Searching for the Psychic Shop
By Elise Trivers
Photos by Nathan Hindman
Published in Issue 117, September 2023
Syd and the Psychic Shop inside denver’s convergence station are a collaborative project from brilliant minds within and outside of Meow Wolf.
Rumor has it there’s a psychic on C Street.
The locals speak of them with reverence, the travelers speak with curiosity. You’re searching for them on C Street because you’re hoping for a psychic reading. You had a dream last night that you just can’t shake and you’re curious about what it’s trying to tell you. It’s your first time journeying through the bustling metropolis lit up with neon and buzzing with the sounds of commerce. Maybe you’ve been here before? You can’t quite remember, but no matter …
Behind the Glitzy Snurtle, you catch a glimpse of heavy curtains topped by an outstretched hand with an all-seeing eye in its palm. As if magnets had taken hold of you, you find yourself pulled closer. The room is dark so it takes a minute for your eyes to adjust. In front of you is a gray stone fireplace with the carved face of a red-eyed gargoyle, a harrowing sentry above the cluster of candles illuminating an infinite passage through the veil between these worlds and the next.
The air changes as you enter the Psychic Shop. It’s a little heavier, thicker, the baby hairs at the nape of your neck rising up. You have the distinct feeling you’re being watched by someone, but even though dozens of pairs of eyes follow you from the walls, there are no material beings in sight.
A low, guttural noise echoes out from the dark corners of the shop and you feel it enter your ears, sending shivers down your body. Whispers flutter around you, each one too soft and quick to catch. Overhead, lights flicker through ornate metal fixtures that look as though they were added by residents over decades of inhabitation. The soft purples, blues and oranges cast an eerie glow over the framed portraits on the wall, drawing you in for a closer look.
Each ornamental frame contains an otherworldly being, a glimpse into a ghastly world. You see representations of The Tower, The Hermit, The Moon, The Sun, The Magician, The Star, Judgement and Death. One could pose a question of self here, and receive an answer from these walls.
At the back of the shop, a victrola rests on a round cabinet made of dark wood. Across the wall, a painted portrait unfurls and commands attention. The subject is a disembodied, lavender-hued head that rests upon an exaggerated, frilly ruff. Their red eyes, framed by long dark lashes, bore into you with a supernatural knowing. The corners of their lips are turned upward in a satisfied smirk, exposing fangs that could take a life with little effort. Coils of turquoise hair spill out from their head and take on their own twisted lives. From each corner above you extend hands of the same soft, ghastly coloring, anchored by daintier wrist ruffs and capped by weaponous fingernails.
“They’re lovely, aren’t they?” a soft voice murmurs behind you. You startle, neck hairs again at attention, with the realization that you’re no longer alone in the Psychic Shop. Turning toward the voice, you lock eyes with someone seated in the plush velvet chair tucked into the front corner of the shop. They rise out of the shadows and you take in their presence. They have an ancient air about them, as if this physical manifestation of self is merely one of many, containing multitudes.
“I’m Syd,” they say with a slight bow of their head, “the Psychic.”
They hardly need an intro. Travelers across Convergence share tales of their encounters with the mystical shapeshifter who lives in the haunted Psychic Shop.
“Syd appeared to me as a swarm of eyeballs and moths.”
“I came across Syd when I was searching for a lost memory. They helped me look for a while, though we never found it.”
“Syd once read me a very strange letter that they keep folded up in
The borders of their body seem to shift in and out of focus, as if they are in constant motion between rapidly-changing figures. As Syd approaches, you notice their empathetic eyes. Despite the eerie energy in their shop, they’re approachable and you find yourself eager to ask for a reading.
They notice and ask you about the dream you had last night, which is still fresh on your mind. You share every detail, painting a picture with your words that hangs between you like a fog.
Syd nods along as if the dream is familiar. “Of course you had this dream,” they affirmed, “it all makes sense to me. Your dreams are full of flowers, perhaps you should go to Numina next.”
It’s a response that opens doors rather than closes them. A new curiosity has been unlocked, a new perspective from which to explore Convergence. You’re not sure what answers Numina will hold but you know where your journey will take you next. You thank Syd before turning back toward C Street. In front of you, the worlds await!
WHO CREATED SYD AND THE PSYCHIC SHOP?
Syd and the Psychic Shop are a collaborative project from brilliant minds both within and outside of Meow Wolf.
Internally, the project was art directed by Emily Montoya and Chadney Everett. It was project-managed by Cheyenne Bsaies; with narrative direction by Christina Procter and Billiam Rodgers; and concept art created by Max Neutra.
From Moss’ artist statement:
“Magic Hollow is a haunted, otherworldly, and psychedelic psychic shop. This is a space for people to sit and soak in the unsettling ambience before continuing on their long journey ahead through Meow Wolf. I found inspiration for Magic Hollow in horror games such as Amnesia: The Dark Descent, Affected: The Manor, and Castlevania: Symphony of the Night. I wanted to embody the atmosphere of save points in a scary game.”
“I was immersed in ghost stories and folklore podcasts while making Magic Hollow and wanted to emulate the richness of the lore in my own project. I wanted the space to seem sentient and alive, and beautiful and disturbing with a chilling soundtrack. The paintings were inspired by some of the Major Arcana tarot cards. I picked ones that felt very significant to me at the time. The wall sculptures were inspired by my love for gargoyles, grotesques and Gothic architecture. Some other notable aesthetic influences are Vampire Hunter D: Bloodlust, Labyrinth, andHaunted Mansion.”
Moss is a trans-masculine artist specializing in queer and trans dark fantasy art. He always loved fantasy art and video games, but growing up, didn’t always feel represented in fantasy media. Because of that, he chose to make art that he wished he had seen growing up.
He shares that he worked on this project during a time of gender identity exploration, which he chose to incorporate into this work. The Major Arcana cards he chose as inspiration for the wall art were selected due to the personal significance they had in his life at the time.
Moss is inspired by rock and metal music, video games, anime, fashion and horror. He envisions creating fantasy worlds to escape from reality — worlds filled with darkness, beauty, fantasy and nature all existing together.
Visit The Psychic Shop and more at Convergence Station in Denver, CO | Get tickets to Meow Wolf’s other locations: House of Eternal Return in Santa Fe, NM | Omega Mart in Las Vegas, NV | The Real Unreal in Grapevine, TX
This feature was produced in partnership with Meow Wolf.
Elise Trivers is a PNW-raised, Denver-based writer and creative, who specializes in social media, digital marketing, tourism and cultural attractions and arts events.
Nathan Hindman is an award-winning, Colorado-based photographer who specializes in creating iconic architectural and lifestyle photography for the hospitality industry. For more than a decade, he has been photographing luxury hotels and resorts. From safari lodges of southern Africa to the Czar’s palaces of Russia, his assignments have taken him to more than 50 countries and six continents around the world. Learn more on his site | Follow him on Instagram.
Check out Elise’s last Birdy contribution, Beneath the Biophony: An Interview with Artist Abby Gregg, or head to our Explore section for more of Meow Wolf’s past published pieces.