Is the Answer in the (Tarot) Cards?

by Karen Amster-Young

Maybe it was because Halloween was around the corner.  I’m not really sure.  But this past week, for the first time, I went for a Tarot card reading.  What made it even more unusual is that the reading took place while I was away with some friends for an annual “spa” getaway sans significant others, kids and responsibility.  I am sure other urban moms can relate when I say that while women around me had pedicures, facials and massages, it was quite strange for me to be sitting and having a “reading” with someone billed as a “special guest” – a professional Tarot card reader at the spa.  And in fear of sounding like this environment is typical for me, let me stress it is not; like most of us, I just finished decorating 35 Halloween brownies for my 4th grader’s celebration at school. Any “spa” getaway is annual at best and a manicure or other “indulgence” seems to last a New York minute when it does occur.  I mean orange frosting under your nails makes the whole manicure, pampering thing almost seem pointless.

With that said, for some reason I have always been drawn to all things paranormal. I am intrigued by psychics, astrology and the possibility of supernatural forces making things happen in life.  I have never done much about it other than read the occasional horoscope and secretly watch a paranormal special or two on cable.  Recently, though, I have felt a stronger desire for more of a spiritual connection with and understanding of the universe, and I am not sure why. I know this post will be met with rolling eyes and cynicism but I just had to have a Tarot reading. Maybe it’s my anxious and controlling personality that really wants to believe that there are bigger forces at work in our lives and that no matter what we do it’s all about energy and the universe and absolutely not about what we can control despite our best efforts. That would really take the pressure off right? And I’m not talking about being religious or finding these answers in traditional religious settings; that’s a whole other post. I am talking about the mystical, the spiritual, the occult, the bigger universe and how to understand it beyond what my religious beliefs may say.

The occult (and Tarot cards are about the occult) is defined as “something that either deals with or relates to supernatural influences or phenomena”.  According to, the word “occult” evokes thoughts of “devil worship” or other dark practices.  In reality, however, occult does not mean anything sinister whatsoever; it literally means “hidden” or “secret” as in “hidden knowledge” or knowledge beyond the scope of most people.  I wanted to have “hidden” knowledge and find more inner peace and I thought one of the things on my “52” list this year should be to begin this exploration; not as a time-consuming quest or obsession but just to see what is revealed.  I want to explore things like Kabbalah and mysticism.  My Tarot card reading was just a little step to see if I can shake my Type-A, controlling personality and just relax and see if there is a bigger force really at work.

So while I watched women in white terrycloth robes enter rooms for treatments I went, nervously, in my old sweat suit and entered the room of Paula Upton, psychic, clairvoyant and other things according to her “business” card. I immediately felt comfortable with Paula. She was warm, mellow (thank G-d!) and had been “around a bit” — I liked that.  At first I had to remind myself that I wasn’t entering my therapist’s office. I was so comfortable with her I wanted to tell her my life story. And then I stopped myself of course and realized that I was here to see if she picked up on things about me, my life, where I had been, where I was going and what was “in the cards” for me.  It was actually a relief not to talk that much. I am not going to detail what Tarot is all about here: that would be too tedious and I am sure no one really cares like I did at that moment. What I will say is that Paula was pretty “right on” with her intuition about me and where I was in my life despite me offering very little information. According to my research, Tarot is more of a guide than a map. It shows the flow of energy and events and helps direct you toward bringing about desired events.

Since our time was limited, she did ask me to focus on a question or two.  I chose to ask her about this blog (yes, I wanted to know if my passion about it meant anything and where it was going) and more importantly, my personal relationships.  The cards were dealt fast and furiously and I tried not to react too much as I saw the images laid out before me. The Hermit, The Wheel of Fortune, The Devil (agh!), The Tower, The Seven Cups, The Ace of Swords, and others were all before me in a deliberate pattern.

“It’s an important time to go inward,” she said, pointing to the Hermit card.  “Stop looking outside for inner peace and find it within yourself.”  “Is a glass of wine to reflect on this inner self allowed?,” I thought to myself.  I was scared of the Devil card of course (why in the world was that there?!) and asked her what it meant.  I didn’t really understand her answer but I looked it up a few days later: The lesson the Devil teaches us is one of simple awareness and human empowerment. Once you begin to realize that darkness is a natural part of life (i.e. shit happens), you can then begin to gain mastery over it. All human beings have the capacity to become properly self aware to the point where you are no longer controlled by any seeds of darkness (again, shit happens), you also gain freedom and don’t dwell on the forces that are always at work in the world at large.  Whoa!  That was a little much for me but I get it.  We just have to let go; we just have to accept that we don’t have much control over the bigger forces at work. Okay, I got it. I am glad I met Paula. I may even call her again.

According to Life & Style magazine, Brad Pitt (yes that Brad) turns to psychic Ron Bard in order to gain insight on his life. “The Hollywood hunk apparently asks for readings when he is struggling with a problem and is keen for the fortune teller’s guidance.”  I read about other celebrities and regular people like me who go to psychics routinely – almost as often as I go to the supermarket. I just can’t shake that image of the Devil card though.  Maybe it’s better to just talk a lot with a therapist. The Hermit, the Devil, the Tower, the Seven Wands

I think it’s time for that glass of wine.

commentLeave a Comment (4)  

categoryPosted: 10/29/10 12:52 PM

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

regan November 13, 2010 at 8:39 pm

“Shit” definitely happens that we don’t have control over. We can only control how we react to these stresses. And a glass of wine certainly helps….. interesting piece, not sure I have the courage to see what is in my own cards……


Tarot Card Readings February 6, 2011 at 12:44 pm

Tarot reading helps to learn how to improve their new heights in all areas of our lives: career, love, spiritual growth, family and creative expression, Gage’s overall energy around a particular person or situation, learn what and how to do according to the most effective way to not waste precious energy, gain critical assistance in critical moments of our lives, learn how to overcome difficulties and achieve the load and achievements, identify priorities of the outcome did not materialize in the physical, how to play a positive correction, learning The most direct way to accomplish our goals.


Modern Housewife February 19, 2012 at 2:03 pm

I recently had a tarot reading by an East Village psychic that didn’t go so well. I wrote about it on my blog: I’m realizing that she gave me one set of directions, when there are many routes to take to get to the destination. It took me a week to shake the experience off though. Thank G-d for a good therapist and positive thinking! 🙂 Btw, I thoroughly enjoyed my experience at the 92Y event and look forward to 52 weeks, the book if there is one coming!


Karen Amster-Young February 22, 2012 at 8:52 am

Thanks! Checked out your blog and I look forward to keeping in touch. We’re so glad you enjoyed the Y event!


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