A six-foot by six-foot room with Styrofoam covering all four walls is not what I expected to be surrounded by. I sat down in a wrought iron chair at the matching circular table with a glass tabletop. The setup felt similar to a lot of suburban basements I’ve been in with the patio set stored inside for the winter.
I wasn’t in a basement, though. I was in the back room of The Chakra Shoppe and I was seconds away from getting my Tarot cards read.
Tarot is a pack of playing cards, typically with 78 cards in a range of suits. Tarot is typically regarded as occult or even just a load of crap. In their origination, thought to be around the mid-15th century, their original purpose was closer to a card game than telling the future.
But Tarot cards don’t tell the future. Tarot cards are meant to enlighten the receiver of the reading about the choices they have.
“This is all about choice. These cards aren’t supposed to tell you your future, they are supposed to open you up to what choices you can make,” Rayma Sanchez said. “You have to make these choices to determine the path of your life – you need to make the choices that will lead you to doing your highest good.”
Sanchez is a small, Hispanic woman standing at a mere five feet tall. Her graying black hair is cut short into a bob that frames her face and cuts off at her chin. She has the face of a mother and has been reading Tarot cards for 15 years.
What drew Sanchez to Tarot was a deep-seated interest in the realm of spirituality and intuition. After the birth of her first child, she found herself questioning larger aspects of her life, and most notably, why she was put on this earth.
“I wanted to know what my purpose was. I went to a new age store called Healing Earth Resources and got my cards read,” Sanchez said. Her first reading gave her the mental clarity she was seeking and allowed her to better understand what she was feeling. “After that, I just kept going back and I eventually felt like learning the craft was something I was meant to do.”
I had been sitting in the chair for barely a minute when Sanchez said a prayer over the cards and began. She laid out the first card and said, “Do you find yourself focusing on the past a lot?”
Over the course of my 15-minute reading, which seemed to creep by at an eerily slow pace, I had experienced a spectrum of emotions I hadn’t expected. At a point, I thought I could start crying, right in front of a woman I had just met, inside of a dimly lit room padded with Styrofoam.
Despite the anxieties the preceded this encounter, I felt my heart rate become slower. After every card she laid out on the table in front of me, one mental weight was lifted off of me. I could breathe easier and think clearer.
Unlike a lot of people within the craft, Sanchez wasn’t born into it. “A lot of people are born intuitive. My mother was born intuitive but was told she was doing the devil’s work and stopped,” Sanchez said. “When I started to learn Tarot, my mother didn’t approve of it, but I knew that this was the right choice for me.”
A typical reading for Sanchez begins with her personal cleansing of energies. “I come here to mentally connect. Before I can begin working with a client I have to clear my aura and my energies; I have to balance my chakras. I do this so that I don’t bring any of my own energies to the table–it has to be focused on the client,” Sanchez said.
Tarot cards are open to the interpretation of the reader, which is what makes readings so subjective, and also serves as fuel for a skeptic’s fire.
“Each card in the deck has many meanings, which is why learning Tarot takes a really long time. Us spiritually connected people aren’t here to change anybody’s mind though. Skeptics aren’t ready to confront this part of their spiritual self,” Sanchez said.
At the conclusion of my reading I felt a sense of lightness and relief. In some way, it felt like taking my makeup off after a long day–bare and refreshing. I felt a new sense of direction and empowerment.
“You have to be okay with not being 100% correct, that’s tied to your ego and you have to know that Tarot is about your own interpretation of the cards and trusting the information that comes in,” Sanchez said.
Before exiting, Sanchez cleansed my chakras with burning sage and told me that nothing is an accident; even our meeting was meant to happen.