When I first entered Sacred Source at 73 Brock St. the scent of eucalyptus was the first noticeable aroma. Filled with spiritual books and figurines, the store created a calm and tranquil atmosphere.
Entering a small room slightly to the side of this new age store, I was about to experience my first tarot card reading. Sitting across from me was Kellye Crockett, a tarot card reader at the Sacred Source. Across a black table lay 10 cards in a specific layout.
“Very interesting,” Crockett said, after a dramatic pause.
Having drawn an implausible amount of threes from the deck, Crockett explained the majority of my cards were unusually well drawn.
Unfortunately for me, these lucky threes were soon followed by a card depicting a dead man wallowing in a pool of blood and resting uncomfortably on top of 10 rather sharp swords—the card called the X of swords. Crockett said this card represents challenge, but my challenges were over and so, for me, this would signal a new phase.
A tarot reading like the one I went to is not an uncommon phenomenon in Kingston if Crockett’s full appointment book is any indication.
Crockett works full time as a tarot-card reader, having recently added another day to her practice due to the high demand for appointments. That, however, isn’t nearly enough for the high demand of clientele. Crockett and her tarot cards have both made their way to television, projecting themselves on The Oracle, a show on TVCOGECO on channel 13.
“The lines are always busy—people love the show,” Crockett said.
Tarot cards are often used to help people find spiritual growth and peace, while providing more skeptical clients with pure amusement, Crockett said.
Individuals who get their cards read—called quernets by the experts—aren’t just elderly women who believe in witchcraft. Many members of the Queen’s community—students, staff and even professors—are regular clients at the Scared Source, Crockett said.
Crockett’s own involvement in tarot reading comes as no surprise.
“I was raised in Prince Edward Island where my Irish grandmother regularly read tea leaves for people,” she said. “The art of divination is very much a part of my family tradition and Celtic heritage.” But Crockett said anyone can pursue a similar path.
“Everyone is psychic to some degree, just as everyone is born with some degree of musical talent or sports ability,” Crockett said. “We can develop our sixth sense in many ways, including regular meditation, in-depth study of an esoteric art and spending time alone in nature, just to name a few.” Crockett said the ability to read tarot cards mainly depends on practice.
“Some people think this is an extraordinary ability, whereas I believe it to be a very ordinary one, one which I’ve practiced much more than the average person,” she said. “In the past 15 years, for example, I’ve given well over 10,000 tarot readings. So, yes, I am very well-practiced at it.
“At the same time, it is an ongoing journey; there is always more to learn.” The reading of tarot cards places some clients outside of their comfort zones, she said.
“The tarot can tell you everything—sometimes more than you want to know.”
What the reading reveals, she explained, depends on the level of receptivity of the quernet. The cards can reveal so much that extreme lifestyle changes may result from the reading.
“I’ve personally made significant lifestyle changes,” Crockett said. “ I have adopted vegetarianism and avoid wearing animal fur [because of the cards].”
Tarot reading has also changed the life of Cheryl Pelow, a local Kingston artist whose art is strongly inspired by astrology and tarot.
Pelow’s work can be found illustrating Elizabeth Greene’s The Moon Card and her paintings are featured in Sultan’s Bazaar at 339 King St.
Right now, Pelow is working on another project that incorporates her passions for art and tarot.
“I’m designing the cards themselves,” said Pelow, who has been collecting tarot cards as works of art for years.
For Pelow, these cards are more than just art.
“I see them as philosopher’s cards. The answers are already inside of you. The cards just prompt them out.”
Pelow said the deck of 78 tarot cards depict universal symbols that come from the study of Kabbalah. There are many different decks of tarot cards because those universal symbols can be interpreted in various ways.
Her own cards mix symbols meaningful to her with universal symbols.
“I’m not even close [to being finished],” Pelow said. “It’s a life’s work.”
Pelow became interested in tarot when she wanted to learn more about her own astrological chart.
“I started with astrology. It doesn’t matter what path you take; your studies will be interconnected.”
“Astrological charts are very closely intertwined,” she said. “The tree of life, which tarot is based upon, is based on the different planetary levels … in astrology.”
Pelow said she has always had an interest in tarot and astrology.She eventually took up this interest and learned how to read the cards by reading books, studying the symbols and by intuitively knowing what the symbols mean.
The cards, she said, aren’t reserved for professional readers. Like Crockett, Pelow said anyone with time, a good tarot book and a deck can embrace the art of the tarot.
“I think we all have psychic ability,” she said, adding that this ability just needs to be honed and meditated on.
“It’s something that you study to learn yourself,” Pelow said. “[People who read tarot cards] learn their own psychological makeup.”
She said tarot doesn’t necessarily tell you what to do in a given day, but directs you towards trends in your own life and you can make life changes based on those trends.
“You can turn things around in your own life,” Pelow said.
Following the advice of one of the cards I drew—a gardener card—I decided to buy a plant for my room. Representing balance and productivity, the plant is now wilted and dying.
Although not every card holds literal meaning—as demonstrated by my gardening skills—Crockett advises readers to “take from this article what you need and leave the rest … but do keep an open mind.”
—With files from Jill Buchner
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