Gainesville Sun Article April 29, 2004
Psychic, activist, musician, spiritualist... she is a woman of many callings
ZOOM DARON DEAN/Special to The Sun
Flash Silvermoon decides which flower essence to use while treating monkeys at Jungle Friends, a local primate sanctuary.
By COLLEEN FLANNERY
Sun staff writer
n a quiet street in Melrose, Flash Silvermoon pulls up in a blue Ford Taurus with a tall yellow dog named Apple. As Flash gets out of the car, Apple does, too, bounding through the gate of Moonhaven Ranch, the 1 1/2-acre property that is her home base.
Moonhaven Ranch is a shady wilderness of palms, oaks, magnolias, orange and lime trees nestling a purple house, six cats, and an Appaloosa mare named China Moon.
Flash, 54, has been a practicing psychic and astrologer for almost 40 years, and considers herself an authority on witchcraft, African mysticism and "earth-based spirituality." She is a woman of many facets - an animal lover, an activist, a musician, an artist, and an ardent disciple of ancient traditions.
Over the next couple of weeks, Flash's musical and psychic talents will be in the spotlight in Melrose. Flash will be singing in concert at Take Me Places coffee shop Saturday, and on May 8 she will be leading an Animal Communication workshop at Moonhaven Ranch.
National and international clients contact Flash by phone for psychic readings. She gets regular calls from a developer in St. Thomas who needs advice on creating a theme park. She fields phone calls from people who are trying to locate lost pets. Sometimes, she's even contacted by people looking for lost relatives.
She meets with locals who consider her to be spiritually attuned and thus able to give them insights into their own lives. Flash estimates she does between 10 and 20 readings a week.
Raymond Chobaz, conductor of UF's Symphony Orchestra, is one of her clients.
"I have worked with her on very tricky issues," says Chobaz. "Very vulnerable things . . . After going to her many times, I have to tell you she is right on . . . right on the money."
Crystals all over
Much of Flash's furniture is covered in vibrantly colored tie-dyed cloth. There are comfortable chairs and crystals everywhere. Cats and cat food on counters and tables. On the walls, photos of Flash with many generations of pets. In one photo, she looks like Janis Joplin. And zipping around on the floor like a wind-up toy is a Russian Blue kitten named Serena.
The phone rings.
"Hi, Cherie," Flash says immediately. "How did I know? 'Cause I'm psychic, silly! No, I've got caller ID."
Cherie McArthur is a close friend, having known Flash since the early 1980s. Once a first-grade teacher on the West Coast, McArthur is an acupuncturist these days, and owns the Take Me Places Café in Melrose. She and Flash use the barter system - acupuncture treatments for psychic readings.
"I don't go see Flash as a psychic to see what she knows that I don't know," says McArthur. "I go to her to pull out some of the things that are already inside of me.
"I think we're all born into this world with intuition and insight. (Flash) shows you how simple it is to tune in."
Flash Silvermoon says her goal is to help her clients develop their intuition, even if it means her services are no longer needed. "I very much believe in sharing power and empowering people to be the best that they can be," she says. "My job is sort of to put myself out of business."
"We're taught to look to authority in this culture. I say: No. 1, trust your intuition, and listen to your inner voice."
Flash says that "word-of-mouth" keeps clients coming in.
"I've been doing psychic work longer than anyone in this town," she says. "Whatever it is you do, doctor, lawyer, flipping a burger - you can't serve a bad burger and stay in business."
For most of Flash's psychic sessions, she uses tarot cards--a client will turn over a card, and Flash will interpret it. When Flash is reaching out for psychic clues during a reading, she may experience visions, hear voices, or she may experience emotions related to the issues are being explored. A growing part of her practice involves communicating with animals, especially pets.
ZOOM DARON DEAN/Special to The Sun
Following the release of her second album, Flash Silvermoon performs at the University Club in downtown Gainesville. “Music is in my blood. It makes me feel good. It's as easy as breathing,” Flash says.
As an adolescent, growing up in New Jersey, Flash remembers being drawn to subjects girls her age were not.
"I was interested in the Bermuda Triangle, and where (human life) came from," she says. "Not prom, not dating . . . you know, that just wasn't on the menu."
During college in New Jersey, Flash was hired on at the Triple Inn club in New York City's theater district as a fill-in for the club's pianist, who was touring with a Broadway show. While she was working there, the owner asked Flash to do a reading for him.
"I predicted the exact day that he would sell a loft he had on the market," Flash remembers.
So, when the regular pianist returned, the club owner hired Flash to do nightly psychic readings for clubhoppers. It was her first paid gig as a psychic.
It was around that time that she changed her name from Debbie to "Flash."
Flash has gotten several speaking engagements at the University of Florida. Dr. Judy Turner, who studies ancient history and teaches in UF's Classics Department, has studied the upswing in the spiritualism movement in the last part of the 20th century. Turner sees modern spiritualism as an incarnation of ancient earth-worshiping religions.
Turner engages Flash as a guest lecturer for her class, Ancient Magic, Witchcraft and Mystery Cult. The classes, Turner says, are always full.
It was important to Turner that Flash is a practicing spiritualist, that Flash traces her beliefs back to ancient history and wisdom, and that she is a reputable psychic.
"There are a lot of people out there who do the things that she does who are just out to make money. Frauds. Miss Cleo types," Turner says. "But I've asked a lot of people who go to (psychics) . . . who they consider the most genuine and the most accurate. They will admit that Flash isn't always accurate, but that she has a higher percentage. She has a good reputation in her line of work."
Turner conducted several interviews with Flash before asking her to speak before the class. "I encourage people to think independently while evaluating (Flash)," says Turner. "Someone . . . different than they've ever been exposed to. I think it's important that they be open to the rest of the world."
Flash has been a part of Gainesville's feminist scene for years. But long before that, even as a child, she says she raised a little hell for the cause.
In kindergarten, in New Jersey, Flash's music teacher, Mr. Amato, "a real old-world Italian with old-world views on women," prompted what Flash calls her "first feminist action."
Captivated by the snare drums in the rhythm line, when her turn came, she moved to the front of the room to play, but was promptly told, "girls don't get to play the snare drums.'"
For the rest of the year, Flash recalls standing in the corner finger-painting during rhythm band class, in protest.
Later on, in college at Trenton State University in New Jersey, where she earned a bachelor's degree in Art, Flash entered a beauty pageant in October 1970. "I just got this idea that I should make a farce of it, protest the meat rack mentality," says Flash. "I did everything I could to bust it up. If they wanted me in heels and a dress, I'd be in funky heels, argyle socks, and a dashiki."
"What was funny was that I was getting all the interviews," she says. "I made the front page. It said, 'For winner, see page 2.' "
When she was told she couldn't learn percussion in kindergarten, Flash simply taught herself. By high school, she was a thumping good classical pianist, secretly playing pop tunes when she was alone. "My mother wanted a little Mozart," she says. "To play anything else was like a sin in my household."
In the late '60s, while Flash was still in her late teens, she says she jammed with Bruce Springsteen and some early members of the E-Street Band in Asbury Park's "Upstage Club." ("That's where all the good musicians in New Jersey played," she recalls.)
Her first rock band, the Sandtones, drove to gigs on the Jersey shore in a 1956 black Cadillac hearse.
These days, Flash plays piano-based rock and blues in Gainesville and Melrose, mostly at the University Club and Take Me Places coffee shop. She has recorded two albums and says she is working on new material daily.
Today, she gives an impromptu concert in the studio that doubles as her living room. "Music is in my blood," she says. "It makes me feel good. It's as easy as breathing."
Flash conducts her stone healings in the living room, which is lit by a huge window smudged by China Moon putting her nose up to the glass. The horse comes to the window, and peers inside. The Appaloosa, Flash explains, is actually the reincarnation of Moonshadow, her former pet dog that had a fatal heart problem. Gathering from her conversation, Moonshadow was a great favorite. "She can never figure out why she's the only dog not allowed indoors," Flash chuckles.
Flash is also a pet psychic, both for profit and on a volunteer basis.
Guy Webster, co-owner of Earth Pets, a pet store in Gainesville that features earth-friendly pet supplies, hosts some of Flash's pet therapy sessions at his store. "I've known Flash for probably 20 years. I've referred many people to her," he says. "She's extremely popular. Whenever she gives readings here, there's a line of people waiting. The minute we make the announcement that she will be giving animal readings at Earth Pets, we'll be booked."
Pet owners might bring in pets with behavioral problems, or talk to Flash about how to understand a pet better.
Flash says the hardest part of her practice is locating lost animals. She can get information on the animal's location using a toy that belonged to the animal, or work with a description given by the owner. She might receive words, pictures, or feelings from the animal, once she locates it. "Sometimes you're inside the animal's head, looking through their eyes," she says. "Sometimes they tell you in pictures ... but one bush looks like another. You have to get some really good hints to find them."
Webster testifies to Silvermoon's ability to locate lost animals through telepathy. "Over the years, she has located over 30 pets that I'm aware of."
In every room of her purple house, clustered on most flat surfaces, are crystals and semi-precious stones in blue, green, purple, and iridescent pink. Flash calls them her "power tools."
In addition to psychic readings, Flash performs stone healings. Functioning on the assumption that all things have a certain energy about them, both animate and inanimate objects, Flash uses "high-vibration" crystals, burns herbs, and applies flower essences to affect the balance of energy in a person's body. The quality of that energy impacts physical and mental health, Flash says.
This is not such a radical idea. Yoga and meditation, for example, both use the channeling of energy to promote physical health.
On the coffee table sit two crystal balls, which Flash says she does not gaze into. "That's called scrying," she says. "I don't think I've done it more than once or twice. All you need is a reflective surface. You could do it with a salt shaker."
Chobaz says that current society is "not ready" for the kind of spiritual wisdom that Flash taps into.
"Flash is living in a world that is very fragile," says Chobaz. "This world is very hostile to people who are different . . . It takes an enormous amount of courage, strength to be somebody like she chooses to be, to counteract the status quo."
But the status quo doesn't worry Flash.
"If people really did practice the Golden Rule, we'd all get along a whole lot better," Flash says. "Nobody has to live the way I do but me. I try to model peace and love in my life. It's why I deal with people and animals the way I do."
In fact, worrying is actually against her beliefs.
"I believe in the power of prayer. Worry is negative prayer," she says. "You want to be positive about any endeavor."
Daron Dean contributed to this report.