On a crisp autumn morning I have returned to Ken Reid Conservation Area in Lindsay, Ontario with Katarzyna Lipinski. With the colours of fall in full effect, and a freshness in the air from a rain the night before, the woods are more active than usual with people searching for a little bit of wilderness not far away from the city. For me Ken Reid is a special place where, a few summers back, I went into the woods with Kat and emerged somehow different. I can’t find the written word to explain what happened except to say that through nature and meditation, Kat helped awaken something within me which allowed me to experience a universal power far beyond anything I had ever experienced. It was only a glimpse of something, larger than man and beyond all understanding, but when I came back I was somehow changed forever. While I may never understand the workings of the universe, Kat Lipinski has special gifts to help people navigate the unknown. A gifted medium, Kat has come to be known as “The Lindsay Witch” for her reputation as a psychic, a tarot reader and her ability to communicate with the dead.
“The in-between, between life and death, is where I fit,” Kat says to me. “I’m at a crossroad place. That’s where I function. It’s my whole life. I give messages from beyond. I have spirits in between worlds talking to me. I’m with people after they die until they go into the ground when they are in that weird in-between life and final resting place. Everything I’ve ever done has always been about transition. It’s always been about the weird places that people are uncomfortable, and I want to guide them from where they are to where they need to go in order to be in either death or healing.”
I have always had a fascination with psychics and fortune tellers, and people with the ability to see into the beyond. I am a believer, who has had some powerful and emotional life changing moments with people with unexplained powers. Granted, most people are either phonies, or believe they have powers they don’t have. But Kat Lipinski is real. She just knows things, and has guides that tell her truths. However, for me, Kat is more than just an interesting person I’ve met in my travels. Over the four years I’ve walked with her she and I have become trusted friends, sharing our most profound secrets and personal thoughts.
Kat’s gifts are not something that she learnt. Kat was born with them, and they are a product of her Polish Romani heritage, which is something that Kat holds very dear to her.
“My family came to Canada from Poland in the late 1950’s but once they were in Canada their lives in the old country were left behind,” Kat tells. “Memories were hidden or destroyed like so many of their Holocaust records. I learned very little, but what I do know I hold sacred and close.”
Kat’s family story is solidly connected to the Holocaust and the Nazi’s attempt to eradicate the Romani people from Europe. Her grandfather, who was part of the Polish resistance, was captured while blowing up a Nazi train at the age of fifteen, and her grandmother was taken away from her parents at thirteen years old. Both were incarcerated within concentration camps, which became an unlikely backdrop to start a future together.
“My grandfather was incarcerated in Auschwitz and somehow survived his time there,” Kat tells. “He was later moved to another camp where he met my grandmother. They fell in love in a concentration camp. After they were liberated, they got married and had their children in displaced persons camps. My grandfather spent fifteen years in various camps, until he was able to find an opening to move his family to another country. There was literally nothing left for them to go back too.”
“That’s why I got this,” Kat says, rolling up her sleeve to show a replica of her grandfather’s concentration camp numbers tattooed on her forearm. “That’s for my family. That’s for them.”
When I begin to move the conversation from her heritage and her work as a psychic medium, Kat stops me to stress the danger of putting racial stereotypes on her culture. “There’s too many stereotypes about tarot cards and crystal balls and fortune telling and ‘gypsies’, and I’m using the term ‘gypsy’ because people don’t know the term Romani,” Kat says. “I think you are going to be seeing less and less people using the ‘g-word’ but, for now, I need to use it to identify myself to people. I tell people I’m Roma and they say ‘Are you from Romania?’ I say ‘No. I’m Roma.’ They ask, ‘What’s Roma,’ and I say ‘It’s gypsy, but we don’t like that word.’ But they say to me ‘Oh, but gypsy is just a word. I’m a gypsy too. I’m nomadic. I like to travel.’ No. Look, I can’t be Chinese. I can’t be Italian. I can’t put on a t-shirt that says Black Soul. You know what would happen to me? I can’t put on a costume of a black person and not be racist. Why can people dress up like a gypsy for Halloween, or wear a shirt that says Gypsy Soul or have a Wandering Gypsy tattoo or claim that being a ‘gypsy’ is a ‘lifestyle.’ It’s racism.”
Kat began communicating with the dead at very young age before she even understood what was going on. “I was three years old. I was sharing a room with my sister, and I woke up one morning and there was this man standing beside my bed leaning over me,” Kat recalls. “I remember that he was bald. There was a lady beside him, and another lady kind of behind her, and they were all looking at me. I looked up at them, and I knew there was something wrong with this. These weren’t my parent’s friends. Who were they? On TV, when someone sees something scary, they close their eyes and rub them and when they open them again the scary thing is gone. So I did that, but the people were still there. I looked over at my sister, who was still sleeping, and I was scared to call her name. So I put my blankets over my face and I stayed there for a little while and when I uncovered my face they were finally gone. I guess that’s the first time I saw what you would call spirits. It was a frightening experience, and all through my childhood I saw and heard things constantly.”
“I can’t make them go away, but I can tell them to leave ma alone if I’m not comfortable,” Kat continues. “They used to scare me because they’d come in the night. But now if they come in the night I say ‘Business hours is tomorrow, 9 to 5. Come back tomorrow’ and I roll over and go back to sleep. I’m not frightened anymore. I was terrified for so long and didn’t know you could have this and not be afraid. I don’t know what it’s like not to be able to do this. It’d be like if someone asked you if you notice having legs. You always have had legs. You walk on your legs. You’ve never thought about them, and wouldn’t even notice that you had legs unless they were gone.”
I have firsthand experienced Kat’s uncanny ability to receive messages from beyond. It isn’t scary or shocking, but when it happens it is incredibly emotional. To receive a message from a loved one that has crossed over from our realm of existence to another is a powerful experience. “Although seeing things went by the wayside, I never stopped hearing things,” Kat tells. “I still hear things. This is a literal example. Once I was at the bank and I heard a voice say ‘Go tell Frank his suit looked nice at the funeral.’ First I thought, ‘Oh damn. Who’s Frank?’ but I’ve learnt to trust the messages. I went to the one person there I knew and I said ‘Do you have anybody named Frank who works here?’ He said ‘Yeah. He’s over there,’ and pointed at this large guy. I said ‘Someone just told me to tell him his suit looked nice at the funeral.’ He said ‘Yeah, his Mom died last week.’ So I went over to Frank. I always apologize ahead of time. I say ‘I’m sorry for what I’m about to say and you can take it any way you want, but someone just told me to tell you that your suit looked nice at the funeral.’ Well, he just burst into tears and melted into me. This giant man. It was his Mom speaking to me.”
“Sometimes people don’t even speak English,” Kat continues. “I had this lady with me at my house and a voice was speaking in some Asian dialect. I said to the lady, ‘So I have this woman and I can’t understand what she’s saying. She’s just pointing at her manicured feet and she’s yelling and I can’t understand her.’ The lady said ‘That’s my mother. She’s Filipino and doesn’t know how to speak English. We used to get a pedicure every week.’ That was very affirming for me. That’s the difference between schizophrenia and being physic. The line between being gifted and mentally ill is a very fine line. Its only after the affirmation of others that I know what side I’m on.”
When it comes to reading the Tarot, Kat is so accurate that sometimes she doesn’t get messages she wants to hear. I received a call from Kat one evening in December just prior to a scheduled appearance on a BOB.FM holiday broadcast where the announcers wanted her to do a reading to predict what might happen in 2020. At that time none of us had any clue to the traumatic events in the year ahead, but Kat expressed to me that the reading was extremely bleak, and that she did not want to send a message of fear and discomfort to the audience on what was supposed to be a cheerful celebratory broadcast. In one fell swoop, Kat predicted COVID-19, the black lives matter resistance growing, widespread political unrest and, oddly enough, the cancelation of the Kardasians.
“I said there would be a world collapse,” Kat says, recalling the reading. “I said there would be an increase in people who would rise up in righteous anger and would use their voices to demand justice. I said people were getting tired of the Kardashian fakeness of the world and people were going to stand up against it. I said there would be political unrest. I said there was going to be a collapse, but I didn’t know if it was going to be a natural disaster or what it was going to be.”
“Cartomancy is what I used to make the predictions about 2020, and the reason it was so accurate was because I’m Roma,” Kat continues. “When a Roma person does cartomancy, we are reading it the way its meant to be read and that’s why it’s so accurate. From a Roma perspective, Tarot is a closed practice. It’s something only we can do. Anyone can receive a Tarot reading, but not everyone can give a Tarot reading. It’s about us. It’s not about white people. It never has been. I used to sell tarot cards but I stopped. When asked by people if I’d help teach them I say no. It’s a cultural practice. It’s like how voodoo is pulled from Africa, and doesn’t belong to the white girl who wants to put bones in her hair and make a honey jar. It’s not for her. Black and Indigenous people understand me more than most people because they have closed practices.”
Through her life Kat has had a number of careers including working as a veterinarian technician, a social worker and she is still licensed as a funeral director and mortician. But most recently she has become a trained death doula. “If you’ve heard of a birth doula, who helps you make a birth plan and then helps you bring a baby into the world, a death doula is the same thing on the opposite end,” Kat explains. “I help you make a death plan, and then help you leave this world. It’s not the same as the MAID program, where a doctor helps you die on a date of your choice. A death doula is for people who are dying at home, and they want the room to look a certain way, or to have certain smells and want to put some legacy projects together to have something to leave behind for their family. At the time of their death, the family can call me and I’ll go over and hold their hand, and do meditations with them that we practiced beforehand and help guide them into death.”
“What’s more vulnerable than someone who is dead? Nothing,” Kat states. “A baby can cry, or an animal can make noise. A dead person can’t cry out, so who is going to protect them when they are in their most vulnerable state? Me. I am. That’s what I do.”
Bur out of all or her gifts, one of Kat’s greatest gifts is her ability to bring comfort to people who are scared, grieving or hurting with compassion. I have been with Kat and seen the way people hang on to all of her words, and the way that she cares and generates true empathy for the people she works with. “Comforting people is humbling, because I feel that every time I can do something for another person, and come from a place of compassion, I’ve served a purpose in that moment,” Kat says. “I am the universe, and so are you, and there is so much suffering in the universe. People who hurt each other are simply suffering. That is why the world at large feels so ugly. But we are all mirrors of one another, reflecting at each other both our compassion and our suffering. My mirror reflects a purpose which is to guide others through their suffering and remind them that we are all connected, altogether, and always in some kind of transition. The only thing that is constant in this world is the fact that nothing stays the same.”
PHOTO GALLERY BY SAMANTHA MOSS