Outside of her studio apartment on 98th Avenue in East Oakland, Linda Noble “MTZ,” a card reader and holistic healer, displays a happy birthday sign and balloons for her four-year-old grandson Izias, who has been missing for a year.
Noble -who says she is a certified ordained minister and prefers the term “spiritual advisor” to fortune-teller or psychic-likes to add the suffix “MTZ” to her name, short for her mother’s name, Martinez. The 41-year-old is the fifth generation of spiritual advisors on her mother’s side of the family, who are descendants of the Yaqui, an Indian tribe that claimed the area between Arizona and Sonora, Mexico.
In her community everyone knows Noble as “Mama Linda.” As she hands out birthday pie to her friends and neighbors, “Mama Linda” celebrates her grandson and accepts the limitations of her gift.
“I can help anyone, but I can’t do for myself,” Noble said. “Like a doctor.”
She cannot see if the future will reunite her with her only grandson, but she feels his presence and believes. Meanwhile, Noble, who first realized her gift at age nine, continues her life mission to help others selflessly.
“I do things for people and I don’t expect anything in return,” Noble said. “But people give me things and I take it because I’ve always felt that God would bless me and bring me things this way.”
Four years ago, Noble was the owner of Marian’s Candle Shop on Foothill Boulevard in Oakland, after having worked there for 20 years as a card reader. As a worker and later, the owner, Noble did not charge for her services, only for the materials such as candles and Bibles.
“When I had my shop, I felt like I made millions of dollars,” Noble said. “It was a beautiful, beautiful thing.”
In 2005 Noble could no longer afford to keep the shop. But her humble yet eccentrically-adorned apartment, wallpapered with the many mementos she collected over the years in lieu of money, reminds her daily of years gone by.
Now, Noble works for her community, taking small sporadic jobs that are offered to her and moving farther away from reopening a shop.
“And how could she?” said her 20-year-old son Samuel Noble, who emancipated himself the year his mother lost her shop. “Unless you have a job where you have to pay taxes, you’re not making enough money to even support yourself.”
Still, her son maintains that Noble cannot escape her path. He brags about her skills as a card reader and healer and even claims he has “a little psychic” in him. “I wish I could go get a job like my kids do but it’s not my calling,” Noble said. “I do in-home care. I’m a fanatic about working with prisoners and I love to work with teenagers,” she said, smiling, as two teen boys from the neighborhood walked into her apartment to show “Mama Linda” their new tattoos.
Noble complimented the tattoos and asked the teens to return so she could take pictures to display in her home alongside model low-rider cars, butterfly collages, crosses, empty Grey Goose bottles and Mardi Gras masks. She asked for pictures “because it’ll make the kids feel proud,” she said.
“And these kids need to feel that sometimes. No matter what a kid does, they know they can come to me,” she said. “I am not their judge.”
Noble also reaches out to youths outside of her immediate community by volunteering at “Scared Straight,” a program where troubled youths are taken to prisons to be mentored by inmates serving lifetime sentences.
Reaching out to struggling women in particular is another passion of her’s. So much so that Noble and her friend Pumpkin began a free Women’s Prayer Line, which is offered every Monday through Friday from 6:00 a.m. to 7:30 a.m.
“You just call in and state your name, maybe request a prayer for someone in particular if you’d like,” Noble said. “Put your phone on speaker while you’re getting ready for work and just listen and absorb.”
The number for the free Women’s Prayer Line is 218-339-4600, code: 267160.