By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
Sterrett charges $120 for an initial visit, which lasts about two hours. Any return, or "maintenance visit," as she calls it, is $83 for 2 hours. The digits "83," she explains, add up to eleven, "which is a master number." The eight is prosperity, the three creativity. In adding up to 11, they create a number which is "highly, highly spiritual."
Numerology, the study of numbers and their supposed influence on humans, plays a role in Sterrett's work. But the heart of a session is her deck of "image" cards, which she uses in place of Tarot Cards. Sterrett made her deck of cards using pictures from magazines and art books, images, she says "that don't frighten people" like Tarot Cards. The images she chooses include corralled horses, children, flowers, clocks, and hands. She says her cards are "a puzzle that turns into a tapestry."
With New Age music playing softly in the background, Sterrett invites her client to sit at the formal round mahogany table in the dining area of her home. An ornate crystal chandelier hangs over the table. It is the same table and chairs where she ate her meals with her parents and sister while growing up.
After her client is situated, and Tata the cat is in place, Sterrett turns on a small tape recorder, then begins the session by explaining the numerology chart she has prepared. Then it is time to weave the tapestry.
But first, "I take them through a little meditation to where they can actually begin to feel their own guides and their angels...I try to keep it sometimes funny and yet we get real deep too at the same time." Sterrett gives the client a cassette tape of the session for future reference.
Sterrett calls her work "psychic therapy." And she is well aware "that there are a lot of psychologists who wouldn't approve of me doing this without credentials." But "as far as I'm concerned," she declares, "my credentials are established by God and by my own higher self."
She estimates she's read from her deck of image cards for thousands of clients. Montana Walsh is among them.
"I like the way she lets me direct [the session] in the way that I pull the cards," explains Walsh, a 39-year-old Spanish instructor who has been visiting psychics for a dozen years. "They are always very appropriate to what's going on."
Walsh says Sterrett is different from others she's encountered "because she doesn't give specific information about what is going on in my life. With [her], it's something that I feel like is on a more internal core experience." Sheryl Sterrett, says Walsh, "is how I fly through the universe."
While Sheryl Lew Sterrett never did discuss her inclinations with her father, she feels certain he shared her special gift.
Several years before Lew Sterrett's death in 1981 at the age of 79, Sheryl read her father's palm. "He had a nice long life line," she recalls. "He had a good balance--a nice balance between logic and intuition.
"He was very psychic.