Spiritual counselor setting up shop
By BRIDGET HALL GRUMET, Times Staff Writer
HERNANDO -- Just past Dan's Gun Room, over the rumble of the motorcycle repair shop next door and the whirring traffic on U.S. 41 N, Danny Kelly prepares to reach the spiritual world.
A small table sits ready with tarot cards. A bookshelf is adorned with Buddha statues and a thick red Bible. Kelly's portrait of an angel-warrior from his dreams keeps protective watch.
A nondenominational Christian by upbringing and a construction worker by trade, Kelly said he has become a self-taught spiritual counselor through years of reading and meditation. He plans to open his center, Mystical Journeys, at a small Hernando strip mall this week.
"If you had asked me 20 years ago if I'd be doing this, I would have said you've got to be out of your mind," Kelly said, smiling.
Getting to this point has been a journey in itself.
It started with an epiphany 15 years ago, Kelly said, a tranquil vision he received while praying over his deceased father-in-law. He had vivid dreams and started painting landscapes, along the way reading everything from ancient Buddhist texts to works by modern-day psychics John Edward and Sylvia Browne.
"Each and every one of us, whether we're skeptical or not, get that feeling like maybe I need to turn here or maybe I need to do this," said Kelly, 50. "It's angelic help, the gift God gives us to help a bit."
"We all have this ability to see just a little bit around the bend, if we listen to our (spiritual) guides," Kelly said. "We just get in the way."
Kelly said he learned to read tarot cards and palms, a trade his now-deceased mother, Victoria, practiced for 30 years in Citrus County. But he said his focus is as a medium: Connecting with souls that have "crossed over."
Although he has done informal readings for friends and family during the past five years, he needed the county's approval before he could set up shop.
A 1992 county ordinance requires background searches and five local references before a fortune-teller, palm reader or other clairvoyant can get a permit to open his doors.
"The way this came about in 1992, to the best of my recollection, was there was some problem with this type of activity in Hernando County," said county code enforcement officer Jerry Schaaf. "Somebody got ahold of Larry Haag, the county attorney at the time, and he drafted this to protect the people who may be drawn to these people."
Kelly, whose references included School Board member Sandra "Sam" Himmel and Citrus County sheriff's Deputy Winn Webb, earned the County Commission's approval for a permit last week.
He expects to open this week, once he receives the necessary paperwork from the county and completes the renovations at his 111-A N Florida Ave. storefront. Readings will last 15 or 20 minutes at $30 a pop, although he said this venture is not about the money.
"I would do this for free if I could," he said. "I gave up a decent paving business. If it's just to make money, I could make more money paving parking lots."
He thinks some customers will come in out of curiosity, others because they are distressed. Kelly said he hopes his spiritual counseling will help steer them toward the comfort of a church or the help of a psychiatrist.
And what about the critics who might stereotype him with Miss Cleo and other psychics that have been branded as frauds?
"It's like being a reverend and being lumped in with Jim Jones," Kelly said. "People have the tendency to lump people into categories. It makes it easier not to think."
-- Bridget Hall Grumet can be reached at 860-7303 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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