CENTERVILLE — A New Age shop owner says she’s been told by city officials to cut out the card and palm readings at her store on Houston Lake Road.
“I’m not allowed to practice spiritualism. No meditation, no prayer, no healing circles,” Courtney Bibb said. “I can’t do any of that.”
Bibb, a former Macon police officer, said she was notified by certified letter Wednesday that she was in violation of an ordinance prohibiting “fortune-telling” and other acts of “clairvoyance.”
“If I’m practicing my spiritual beliefs, I can be fined $500 or be imprisoned for 60 days,” she said.
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Mayor John Harley said a Houston County ordinance on the books since 1985 prohibits charging fees for fortune-telling practices such as palm readings. Also, he said, Bibb’s business is licensed as a bookstore.
“Those things are not on her business license,” the mayor said. “You can do it for free, but you can’t charge for it.”
Bibb opened the store in January. About 80 people, including some elected officials, attended a chamber of commerce grand opening the following month, she said.
“Two city council members were there, along with the mayor.”
Harley said he attended the ribbon-cutting ceremony with the impression the business was a bookstore.
“She had books there,” he said. “We didn’t interpret that as spiritualism or reading palms, things along those lines.”
Bibb offers dream interpretations, healing sessions, tarot and angel card readings, palm and crystal ball readings and other consultations, along with a variety of classes.
The shop also offers detoxification services, and there’s a gift shop with CDs, books, candles, incense, wind chimes, jewelry and various healing items.
The shop also has free wireless Internet and gourmet coffee.
Bibb questioned the timing of the city’s actions.
Bibb says she had planned an event for April 24, called the Mind Body & Spirit Expo, which she expected about 35 vendors at her store at Galleria Pointe Shopping Center.
“Nobody’s bothered me,” she said. “Now they’re bothering me, days before my event.”
Bibb said she plans to stay open as a bookstore, even if it means no fortune-telling and no spiritual healings.
“That’s my calling,” she said.
To contact writer Rodney Manley, call 744-4623.