The customers at Crystals by Cordelia are doing more than shopping. They are seeking.
"I feel like I was meant to come here," a woman from New Jersey said as she walked through the door Thursday. "There's something I'm supposed to find."
Women such as her usually find the store by accident. Cordelia Maasdam doesn't advertise.
"Only those who need to find this place, do. That's why I'm not on Lincoln, so I don't get every Lookie Lou walking in," Maasdam said.
Customers search through the crystals and the books, the tarot cards and the Runes, but, more often than not, what they are looking for is not on the shelves. What they are looking for is sitting in a chair in the corner, like a queen on her throne or a sage on her mountain, watching them as they search.
Finally, she starts the conversation.
"My name is Crazy Cordelia," she says. "What are you looking for?"
Maasdam has been sitting in that chair, in a room the shape of a shoebox, since 1987 and since that first day, people have come looking for something -- for answers, for advice.
She draws them in with a few questions and they stop their shopping. Soon, they are sitting next to her behind the counter as she tells them her life story. She slips pieces of advice between the anecdotes and the bawdy jokes. She watches their faces and lets it lead her to the thing they need to hear.
"It's 50/50 in this shop," Maasdam said. "Some people know what they are looking for and they ask for the title of a book or tarot cards.
"The other half are seeking spiritual advice. What they really want is confirmation of their own thoughts and reassurance that they are on the right path."
Behind the counter, in a place only she and the people who sit next to her can read, she has a sign that reads, "Do not follow where the path may lead. Go, instead, where there is no path and leave a trail."
She tells those who ask, "Life is choice. When you make a decision, at that moment it's correct. From there, you're glad you made that decision or you figure out what you learned from that choice. Lessons I learned from the past are gateways to new beginnings."
At 69, Crazy Cordelia isn't your typical New Age teacher and psychic. She has a Molly Brown, "like me the way I am," Wild West attitude and a sense of humor to match. She keeps her long gray hair in a braid, decorated with a couple of purple streaks near her face.
She moved to Steamboat Springs in 1987 from her home in North Hollywood, Calif. Her husband, Felber Maasdam, was born here and owned a ranch on River Road. Until they moved to Steamboat full time, the couple had been spending summers on the ranch.
Maasdam said she was told to move here by two women at a crystal workshop in California.
"They told me that I was going to move here and open a crystal shop," she said.
She found the office space on Eighth Street and opened with a few crystals and very little knowledge about the metaphysical world or the New Age subculture.
Her knowledge grew over the years as she talked to the people who came to her store and read through a library of religious texts and books on spirituality.
In the 1990s, she discovered the skill that she is most sought for -- tarot readings.
"People were coming in and more or less demanding tarot readings," Maasdam said. "I'd never even heard of Runes or tarot cards. But my family is from the Appalachians of Kentucky. Those people have the gift of insight."
She conducts the readings in her home. Maasdam has a "spirit guide" that she consults for these readings, an Indian (from India) woman named Leandra.
There is no set price for the two-hour reading. She's charged anywhere from $20 to $300.
"This is not my livelihood," she said. "It's a pleasure for me. I just do it to enable others.
"During these readings, I am more of a sounding board. They come for advice, I'm just here as a guide to tell them what they already know."
-- To reach Autumn Phillips call 871-4210
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