WSU professor will read your fortune at Haunted Palouse

Volunteer tarot reader says interpreting painted cards involves physics because of shuffling patterns, intimacy with recipient



WSU English professor Leslie Sena shares her experience as a fortune teller at the annual Haunted Palouse event on Monday morning in Avery Hall.

EMMA LEDBETTER, Evergreen reporter

There’s more to WSU English instructor Leslie Sena than meets the eye — and Sena might say the same thing about you.

For the past four years, Sena has volunteered as a fortune teller at Haunted Palouse, where she reads tarot cards for eventgoers, she said.

“[My students] know that I do stuff outside of reading their papers,” Sena said.

When Sena’s yoga instructor asked if she was interested in volunteering, she agreed, Sena said.

“Now I’m the person who’s been doing it the longest in our group,” Sena said. “I’m in charge of making sure it keeps going.”

Sena said she never went to Haunted Palouse as a participant but enjoys being a fortune teller.

“I don’t like super scary stuff, and it’s extremely scary,” Sena said.

Fortune tellers can read fortunes in any way they choose, but most do tarot cards, she said. At their tables, fortune tellers can see individuals or small groups. Sena said she has told fortunes for everyone from groups of junior high schoolers to retired farmers.

“[Sena] is a great fortune teller, she brings a sense of calmness to it all,” said Catherine Cooper, also a fortune teller at Haunted Palouse and an associate professor in the School of the Environment. “I think she’s the best fortune teller that we have.”

One of Sena’s most memorable groups at the event was a party of WSU graduate students who asked her how tarot reading works, she said. Sena said tarot reading is based in physics because shuffling the cards creates a pattern she can interpret when she reads the selected cards.

“I said, ‘it’s just physics,’ and these were physics department graduate students,” Sena said. “They were like, ‘oh, that’s cool!’ … I thought they might just be like, ‘that’s crazy talk.’”

Last year, Sena and the other Haunted Palouse fortune tellers saw over 400 people in four days, she said. Because of the high number of people, Sena said this year they will be charging a $1 fee for fortune telling, which will be donated to the Palouse Swim Team.

“The challenge with fortune telling is the volume of the interactions you have,” Cooper said. “But the excitement is also the volume and all the people you get to interact with, and share little tiny moments about people’s lives.”

Sena said she enjoys helping at Haunted Palouse because it is a massive community effort and the event is an opportunity to meet people.

“If you’ve ever thought that you wanted to learn to read palms or something, there’s nothing better than having a steady stream of strangers with very low expectations, just to give it a try,” Sena said.