All in the family Fortune teller has Hoboken roots

When Hoboken resident James Jacob Pierri learned about the nature of the tarot card, he wasn’t thinking in terms of a career.

Pierri was introduced to mystical mysteries through his family, namely his great-grandmother, Cecelia Wladich, the first known person in his family to have powers of persuasion.

He said stories about his great-grandmother, with her flaming red hair, were legend in his family and known to certain people in Hoboken. He was told that she worked as a barmaid in a tavern across from City Hall.

Gaining insight was something she was good at, he said.

“She was also very good at doing shots and drinking [customers] under the table,” joked Pierri. Pierri says that there is a mystery surrounding his great-grandmother’s death, and says that it was a subject that other family members avoided.

Yet his great-grandmother’s legacy continues on. Pierri’s mother was named for great-grandmother Cecelia and it is said that she resembles the red-headed maven.

“Hoboken used to be an old-world place,” said Pierri. “I remember waking up to old Italian fishermen yelling in the streets.”

Old-world skills

Pierri said that Friday nights in Hoboken with his mother, neighbors, and friends were a truly enlightening experience. He said that his mother would discuss dream interpretation and would take out the tarot cards.

“Ever since I was little, we would talk about religion and philosophy,” he said. He added that the mood would be set with candles and wine.

One of the things he learned from his Italian family was a tradition of believing old myths. He was taught to study art, music and history.

“Our imagination was never limited,” said Pierri. “We were encouraged to be whatever we wanted to be. There was always a draw to the metaphysics.”

Learning through experience

When Pierri was 18, he learned perhaps the most valuable lesson of all – he learned to value his skills. After traveling to the city with friends, he realized that he didn’t have the money to get home on the PATH. He began doing readings for people for cash to get back to Hoboken. He was also taught to study numerology by his grandmother Lillian.

“We always were taught to believe in hope,” said Pierri, “but we were also attracted to the mystery.”

According to Pierri, it is through tarot card readings that one can get a glimpse of a person. “They tell little parts of the story until someone is comfortable enough to tell the whole story,” he said.

While Pierri says that he is familiar with palmistry, tarot card readings, astrology, and numerology, he tends to work with whatever medium a person is comfortable with. “I hope to make a client for a lifetime,” he said.

Special events

In addition to personal consultations, Pierri also has an astrology column in several publications, including Z!nk Style magazine and Next! Magazine.

Pierri has also worked high profile events such as the NFL kick-off party, benefits, and others, he said. He also believes it is important to use your gifts for good. As a result of those beliefs he has helped battered women.

“I am always grateful for the life I’ve been given,” he said. “It is always right to give back.”

Another upcoming project he is working on involves designing tarot cards, which he plans to draw by hand. For the project, he sketched the cards in pen & ink and then colored them in with computer graphics. He said he wanted them to look like old playing cards. So each deck is special, and he plans to only make about 50 or 100 decks a year.

Another thing he takes seriously is his gifts. Although he has had friends ask for answers to trivial things such as a football game or politics, he won’t do it.

“You don’t want to abuse [power],” he said.

He says it is important also to know when a client, such as someone with an addictive personality, is beyond his aid.

“You have to know when it has gone beyond the area that you can help with,” he says. In order to help other people, he works daily to keep a balance in his own life with meditation, yoga, and eating the right food. What he strives to do with clients, is to help them gain balance, purpose, and give them guidance.

“You need to keep your mind, body, and soul fit,” he says. For more information on Pierri, visit: Comments on this story can be sent to:


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