A Glimpse into the Longest-Running Psychic Fair in Long Beach


Mark Martin & Mary Ann Crysler, past readers at the UMS Psychic & Healing Arts Fair. Photo by SRW.

The Universal Mind Science Church, located on the southeast corner of 8th Street and Obispo Avenue, hosts a Psychic & Healing Arts Fair on the fourth Saturday of the month. The church, which was founded in 1968 by Damien Simpson, started the fair in the early 70s, and it has been running ever since. According to parishioners, it is the longest running Psychic Fair in Long Beach.

In this interview, medium Mark Martin talks about the very early days of the fair. His involvement in the fair began in 1973. Mary Ann Crysler started doing astrological readings at UMS in the mid-80s. Both stopped doing readings in 2006. Diane Johnson, a medium, and Rochelle Cooper, an astrologer, both currently do readings at the fair.

Long Beach Post: How did you get started with the psychic fairs at Universal Mind Science Church?

Mark Martin: They were student fairs. I came into the church through the School of Christian Metaphysics, which was sharing the church with Damien Simpson’s Universal Mind Science. I found it through my aunt, in Massachusetts, who was a spiritualist medium. She gave me a book of all the churches. My base religion was Catholicism and Orthodox.

I began studying here. Both groups started a fair for the student readers, and the teachers. It was packed. They did a buffet dinner and a reading for the price of $1.75 and, if someone wanted a second reading, it was an additional 50 cents. That was the beginning, then they started on the weekends. I participated for 30-some odd years.

Mary Ann Crysler: I participated for 20 plus years.

How was it received in the community?

MM: It was very well received. In the late 60s and the early 70s, it was the ‘Flower Child’ era, and everyone was into peace, harmony, love, accepting everyone and exploring different pathways. It was quite well-received.

MC: Damien’s part of it started in 1968 and, at that time, his teachings were considered to be very much on the tip of the arrow. Everything was about the New Age, metaphysics, astrology, and all of the psychic arts.

MM: We had workshops and classes here for the public. We had a Native American woman teach the medicine wheel, we had things on crystals, workshops on virtually every religion.

How did you develop your interest in astrology?

MC: I started reading sun sign books when I was 14 years old. It became a passionate interest of mine. Later on, when I had a little more time and energy to devote to serious study, I took classes at Pegasus Metaphysical Book Store. Nicki Milette was my mentor and teacher there. I studied with her for several years and then she mentioned to me that there was a church nearby that was very much in need of a reader. She said that I had the ability, and a computer, which wasn’t as common a thing in those days. That was ’83, or ’84.

What was your experience of doing readings at UMS?

MC: People would want to know more about their basic natures, their relationships, and what’s going to happen in the future. The chart shows people’s potentials revealed, based upon the date and place of birth. It is not that events are fated, but the tendencies and basic personality traits are very much evidenced.


Diane Johnson, medium. Photo by Sander Roscoe Wolff.

Diane Johnson is a medium who has been working at the UMS Psychic Fair for a number of years, and is one of their most popular readers.

How did you first become aware that you were a medium?

Diane Johnson: When I was about five or six, I knew there were some things I could see, but I just wasn’t sure what it was, and it scared the heck out of me. Not knowing what it was, I was just fearful, and I let it go. When I got older, my ex-husband introduced me to Maureen Gilson who was a member of the church. She was my first mentor. That was around 2000. She taught me about the veil between here and the spirit world, but I was still fearful of it all.

What kinds of things were you seeing?

People. I was seeing actual people, and they were looking at me, and I could hear them say, “Help me!” I would try to push it away and, the more I pushed it away, the closer it came. I knew I couldn’t ignore it anymore. Then, I started calling it “The Nag.”

Maureen told me not to be afraid, and to accept what was coming to me. She taught me about the light that protects us, about negative energies, how to protect myself from that and, from there, I went on to work with Kathleen Vance.

I took a year off, after I got pregnant with my son, and then went through a divorce. The talking with spirit didn’t stop, but I would just ignore them. They were always there. I remember laying down, when my son was 1, and the person who I’d seen when I was 5 came to me and told me who he was. He was my master teacher, my spirit guide. He came out of the corner, from the dark. He looked like Merlin, wearing purple and white. He told me he was there to protect me. I’m going to cry! [laughs] Because, in our home, we needed that. My dad was very abusive to my mom, but she always fought back. He never touched us, but the hurt we felt for her… This guide was always there, every night. He’s still with me to this day.

How did you develop your abilities?

When I met Kathleen Vance, I took her beginning class. I was so excited. I loved how she gave her readings. She was so ‘on it.’ I didn’t want to see any more spirits, but she said that was part of it.

She told me, “You know you can see, right now, if you want to.” Like I’m looking at you. That’s how clear I can see now. She helped me, along with my first guide.

Once I started getting the visuals of who and what they were, it made much more sense to me. It wouldn’t stop coming. She taught me to differentiate between different energies. She always told us, when we’re giving a reading, to say what you get. People will tell you, “no,” but you be confident, clear, and deliver it. It is up to them to accept it or reject it. I give it like I get it.

Do you have a sense of the kinds of people who come for readings?

Sometimes, before I get here, I start picking up stuff, which I don’t like, but my guides do that for a reason. They’ll tell me how many clients I’m going to have, if I’m going to have a difficult one, or a skeptical one. My guides always tell me that I’m not here to prove anything. When I get skeptics, I’ll ask, “What are you here for?”

I was a skeptic as well, but Maureen gave me a message about my grandmother, and said that I could talk to her, or talk with her in my dream state. I asked my mom about an incident that happened when I was one, and she said, “How do you know that?” I would come home smelling lilies. I didn’t have flowers in my house. That’s how I knew my grandmother was around.

Do people come back having gained insights they didn’t have at the time of the reading?

Yes. They’re very thankful. They’ll come back and really validate the message, and that makes me feel really good because I know that spirit is helping me do my job. I’ve never had anyone come back and say, “What you said was not true at all.” I always get really good confirmation, which is nice.

What is it about UMS that keeps you coming back?

It’s the people that run UMS, and those that come for their readings. The energy makes you swell up. It is really big. It is a good feeling. This area has a lot of positive energy here.


Rochelle Cooper, astrologer. Photo by Sander Roscoe Wolff.

Rochelle Cooper provides astrological and tarot card readings at the fair.

How did you get started with astrology?

Rochelle Cooper: When I was 19, I picked up a book called The Only Astrology Book You’ll Ever Need. When I started experimenting with it, looking at my own chart and everyone else’s I could get my hands on in my life, I was like, “Holy Mackerel! This is pretty accurate!” It was off to the races from there. Going into it, though, I had no opinion either way. I was pretty neutral.

Did you take classes?

Most of my learning was self-paced and self-initiated. I was going out and finding one book after another. There were some early fits and starts, including a correspondence course that was part of the American Federation of Astrologers. In the United States, there are three main certifying bodies that will make you take a really long-winded eight hour test and certify you as an astrologer. What I learned about myself during that process is that I need a class that meets regularly. I need someone to crack the whip over me.

There’s an astrology school called Kepler College that is online-based. I’ve been doing that and, when I get done with that course, I’ll be certified. In the meantime, I started attending UMS and some people from the church were saying, “You should do the Psychic Fair as an astrologer.” I had been afraid. I knew I had the knowledge to do it, but there was a jumping-off point where I just had to start talking to strangers, look at their charts, and answer their questions. I felt very supported, here.

How did it go?

Once I started, my confidence went up. I sometimes have to educate people about what I do, because a lot of people don’t understand what an astrologer can help them with. If a person is going to a medium, they’re looking for advice from the universe, or to speak to someone who has passed on.

An astrologer can answer the ‘advice from the universe’ questions. It just comes about in a different way. There’s a lot more math involved. I’m looking at a lot of data, but I can still help with the normal, every day problems that people come up against by looking at their chart. Astrology is also good for timing things. I can point to the best day for selling a house, for example. Everything in the world is included in a person’s chart, so almost any question can be answered. We’re all just normal people, trying to get through life. We’re all just looking to get a better grip on the unknown.

Universal Mind Science Church is located at 3212 East 8th Street, in Long Beach. The fair is held on the fourth Saturday of the month from January through October, and on the third Saturday in November. A reading session is 20 minutes, and costs $20. Doors open at 9:30 for appointment scheduling, and appointments run from 10:00AM to 2:00PM. Plan to arrive early if you want to schedule a reading with a specific person.  

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