I’ve gotten more open about being a healer- I can even say it to people without coughing. It’s when they ask me, “What kind of healing?” that I still stammer a bit. I can joke with friends about being Deanna Troi identified, or being “psychic tarot card reader identified”, but it’s still a profession with a lot of woo stigma in it.
It’s sort of easy to say that I do tarot and divination. But I’ve realized that what I do maybe is a little more than that- or maybe it’s what most tarot readers do most of the time. A friend and client said, “It’s like you’re one part card reader priestess, one part older sister giving you the real deal, one part life coach, with a little bit of somatics thrown in.”
A lot of folks who come see me are people who feel more comfortable getting their cards read then going to therapy. Or who can’t afford regular, $40-$100 a week every week or two therapy, but they can spend $60 on a reading once in a while.
There are lots of folks who don’t trust therapy for very good reasons. Therapy and psychiatry have been used to control and put down many of us. I had my life saved in the late 90s by the anti psychiatry/ pscyh survivor/ mad movement’s fierce creation of space for mad people to talk about the ways the psychiatric system has been a scary and murderous place, and for us to talk on our own terms about what madness and PTSD felt like, and how it could come from things like abuse, racism and colonization. I also owe a lot to the high quality therapy I have been able to access at different points in my life- the healing I needed to do from child sexual abuse and abusive dynamics in my family wouldn’t have happened without it.
But finding theraputic spaces that were actually worth it didn’t come without a fight. I owe it to feminist people of color healing organizers for creating, for example, the feminist anti oppressive and anti psychiatry therapist referral service, WCREC, that was my first good job and also the place I found my counselor at. Born out of the feminist health movement and watered by feminist of color and anti psychiatry organizing, WCREC screened therapists we put on our referral list for accessibility, for being sex worker positive, for whether they had a critical understanding of the medical model of madness, for how they understood racism and colonization, for whether they were culturally appropritative. They made their counselors have some free, $5 and $20 spots, too- and that $30 spot I got was the only way I could (kind of) afford to see my counselor. Financial access, and also providing information and understanding that people needed in order to trust a stranger with the most vulnerable parts of our lives.
Spaces like those are still rare, and because of this and many other very smart reasons, I often see folks who feel more comfortable coming to a psychic tarot card reader than to a shrink. I’ve been re-reading a piece by my friend and mentor, Dori Midnight, this week, “more healing, more of the time.” In it, among many brilliant things, she says, “My work is rooted in collective liberation and self-determinism and draws on traditional healing modalities passed down to me through my bloodline of Roma, first nations Shawnee, Cherokee, Ashkenazi, and sephardi peoples. It’s nothing new to invite people into your home, give them some tea, listen to their grief, hold space for their pain, lay them down on cushions on the floor and pray with them or touch them or move energy, and offer them remedies made from plants and stones. This is ancient. This is deep healing. And this is radical. “
I see my work as an intuitive healer as absolutely part of this tradition. There have been many witches and traditional healers in many communities who have done this healing at kitchen tables with tea, where people go to when shit gets rough. Sometimes I think of divination as a kind of psychic homeopathy. Homeopathy, as I understand it, involves taking these little tiny doses of something that can touch off a big change in your body/mind- just like flower essences or tapping. Instead of using a log to dig out an eyelash, these tiny little drops of pusatilla or arsenic or rose quartz can touch off big changes.
I feel the same way about divination. It’s different than being in a regular counseling practice, where you see your counselor regularly and build slow change over time. I think that divination can be those five pellets under someone’s tongue, those three little drops of essence. As a divinator, I have a moment to sit with someone in sacred space, listen deeply, make room for their pain or their what-the-fuck or all the questions they are sitting with. I sit and I pray and I am with my altar and that person. And between the cards and me and them- maybe- we can do some healing work that can be a moment where the fulcrum shifts, the pendulum swings the other way.
The word crisis comes from a Greek root that means “turning point.” And between the cards and me and the person I am sitting with, sometimes we can do healing work that is those five pellets that can clarify things, make things plain, and show folks what the moment is and who they are in it and what the possibilities of what’s next are.