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I took a magical, practical, and radical journey into tarot 101

The tarot cards, Cassandra Snow

The tarot cards, Cassandra Snow Courtesy of

To the uninitiated, tarot readers probably fall into the same category as psychics or fortunetellers. And Cassandra Snow doesn’t care for it.

“I hate that phrase [fortunetelling]. It makes people think about looking into crystal balls and stuff like that. I believe strongly in free will, and the idea that the choices you make can always change your future outlook.”

Snow has been a tarot reader for more than 10 years. While the majority of her readings take place at Eye of Horus Metaphysical, today she’s shuffling her deck to provide me with a reading in a coffee shop in Northeast. Clearly, my nerves are a dead giveaway that this is my first time.

“People are usually pretty interested and excited the first time they have a reading,” she explains while thumbing the metallic gold card edges. “Sometimes people are skeptical, and that’s okay, just as long as they aren’t rude.”

In some cases, Snow explains, people come to her with very specific questions, ranging from business planning to overcoming creative blocks on art projects. Then, there are the people like me who have no idea.

“The thing I enjoy most about tarot is that it’s very personality-based,” she explains. “A lot of times when people don’t have anything specific in mind, I’ll do a reading that just focuses on where they’re at today, where they could be in a year or two, and what’s blocking them from getting there.”

As for how she got her start in tarot reading, she attributes it to boredom, overcoming a difficult time in her life, and Lord of the Rings.

“I picked it up as a college freshman, just bored and looking for something to do,” she explains. “My friend gave me a Lord of the Rings deck, and I figured I really like Lord of the Rings, so maybe this would be cool.”

She quickly realized that fangirling over Frodo wasn’t the only thing the cards were good for, and began teaching herself more about the art of tarot.

“I was having a really hard time in my life that year, and tarot helped me with healing,” she says. “After reading up on some guidebooks and practicing a lot more, I knew I wanted to help others learn what I had.”

In addition to providing in-person readings, Snow teaches curious newcomers how they too can read tarot through classes and workshops all over town.

Over the next month, she is teaching three classes at Seen the Future: Tarot 101 for Creatives on May 24, Sex and Tarot on May 31, and Queering the Tarot on June 14. Each of these events are beginner to intermediate-level workshops, with slightly different areas of focus.

“The 101 is kind of the intro to tarot. It is about learning to read the cards, the symbolism, and just providing a general framework. The other two classes also have a little bit of that 101 instruction, but with the Sex and Tarot I say it’s about how to have more and better sex, and the Queering the Tarot is about restructuring some of the beliefs about tarot surrounding queer seekers that are seen as not friendly.”

But today’s reading is more basic in focus. After having me shuffle the cards while thinking about where I am today and where I want to be in the future, she cuts the deck and asks me which half I’m more drawn to. I point, and she lays down five cards on the table.

“You’re in a good place right now, but there’s kind of a struggle between your will and the universe,” she explains. “The universe – or whatever higher power you believe in – is telling you to sort of take a leap of faith and hope you have wings. You’re interested in doing that, too, but you want to make sure you have wings first.”

She goes on to explain that the things blocking me could be professional (“It might be a job that you’re good at but isn’t what you truly want for yourself”) or simply rooted in fear and anxiety (“The cards say you are holding on to some old beliefs that you need to fully let go of in order to get where you want to be.”).

I don’t ask any additional follow-ups, but Snow says often times people will want to share the details of their lives in order to help provide more context into her readings.

“I think some people just need someone to talk to, so it’s very therapeutic in a way,” she says. 

Regardless of whether my reading is the turning point towards bigger and better things in my life journey, Snow’s passion and understanding of tarot makes her an authority on the subject. So much, in fact, that she is releasing a book in 2019, Queering the Tarot, and currently has an e-zine, Tarot Tips & Tricks for Creatives, Radicals.

She also has a growing clientele that includes regulars, referrals, and even long-distance email readings. Despite her expanding business, she says that her classes and her own learning continues to be a priority.

“It’s not the most interesting or exciting answer, but practice is the most important thing,” she says. “I try and read tarot almost every day, and give myself time with the cards. That’s advice I give to anyone regardless of how long they’ve been doing it.”

To learn more about Snow and the upcoming tarot classes, you can visit her website at www.cassandra-snow.com.