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Is it in the cards? For sure.

Tarot card readings appeal to a wider audience

The origin of tarot cards is uncertain; the 78-card deck might have been invented in 15th century Italy, but it's also been traced back to Egypt and Israel and, by the 18th century, was very popular in France. Three centuries later, tarot is having a comeback in many places, including Milwaukee.

Recently, I started teaching tarot at Waxwing, 1800 E. North Ave., and it has been a really transformative experience. I never thought I liked teaching but, it turns out, I really do. I also have been able to share my knowledge of and love for the cards with dozens of other people, including FOX6Now's Brian Kramp, who stopped by to shoot a segment at Waxwing last month and while he was there had me pull a few cards for him.

The segment airs today – Wednesday, May 25 – during "Studio A," which is on from 4 to 5 p.m. on FOX (channel 6). Kramp and his wife are about to welcome their first child (who was born on Monday) and, not surprisingly, the cards reflected this. (The World card in the deck, drawn upside down, made perfect sense in Kramp's case because his world truly is about to be turned upside down.)

This is where the cards sometimes get iffy for some people. They think they are too general like newspaper horoscopes and that people stretch too far to force them to be a Magical Truth. I completely understand this, but in my experience there is an uncanny coincidence that the cards we choose are often the cards we need the most to reflect on an aspect of our lives that is not working.

For me, tarot is not a fortune telling device – it does not give you an exact date of your death or disclose what day of the week you are going to finally find your soulmate or your new favorite sandwich shop. For some readers, tarot does serve more as a glimpse into the future, but for me, it is mostly about the here and now and a tool to understand myself and the people and situations in my life.

The cards themselves are only as special, or even as magical, as we make them. They are, of course, made in factories, not by fairies or spirits from beyond, but when studied and taken to heart, the cards – in combination with our minds and intuition – can offer a lot of interesting food for thought.

I started reading tarot cards 13 years ago when a friend gave me my first deck (in tarot culture, it is best if one's first deck is a gift) and taught me the meanings of the cards. I took voracious notes, which I still have today, and continued to read my cards, the cards of others and as many books and articles about the deck as I can.

There are numerous people in Milwaukee who have been reading cards for a lot longer. Theresa Reed, aka "The Tarot Lady," became interested in tarot 35 years ago.

"One day, I was at Walden Books searching for astrology books in the tiny New Age section when I spied a tarot deck. On a whim, I decided to buy it. I had seen tarot cards in movies and I thought they seemed interesting. I went home, took the cards out of the box, started reading and never stopped," says Reed. "I've been reading tarot professionally now for 25 years and I'm still as passionate and curious about those cards as the day I first laid my hands on a deck."

Today, Reed operates a successful business offering tarot readings via email, phone and, occasionally, in person.

"I work with clients from all walks of life – from homemakers to CEOs to artists," she says. "My tarot readings are meant to empower the client. While the cards can show what may be ahead, you always have the ability to change course at any given time. As I always say: 'the cards tell a story but you write the ending.'"

Reed also mentors tarot students, wrote a book "The Tarot Coloring Book" (dropping November 1 by Sounds True Publishing) and is currently collaborating with Kyle Cherek (host of "Wisconsin Foodie" and "Chef Talk") called "Tarot by the Mouthful," a weekly blog series in which they go through the tarot deck, card by card, and relate it to food.

"I'm not only a tarot reader but I'm also a big-time foodie. I love to cook and eat," says Reed. "It's been so much fun. I've learned a lot about food from Kyle and I think he has learned a few new things about tarot from me. We're almost finished with the whole deck so it will be coming to a close this fall."

Jen Cintrón is a long-time tarot card reader as well. She purchased her first deck a couple of weeks before her 18th birthday from a Borders Bookstore in San Juan, Puerto Rico, where she was born and raised.

Today, she offers one-on-one readings, in person and also via telephone, Skype and email. She also does readings at parties and leads team-building events. Locally, she reads at Ascended Gifts' Spirit Fair, the Riverwest Farmer's Market (on occasional Sundays) and will be doing readings at a tent during Bastille Days this year.

She also started a Facebook group, the Milwaukee Tarot Coterie for Milwaukee tarot enthusiasts of all skill levels and walks of life or anyone who's just curious about the cards and wants to learn more about them.

"I can't wait to geek out with you all," says Cintrón.

Cintrón's relationship with the cards has changed over the years. Although originally smitten with the deck, she had what she describes as a "crisis of faith and creativity" and studied, then worked, in science-related fields for five years.

After being diagnosed with – and beating – thyroid cancer in her twenties, Cintrón realized she had deviated from her truth path as an artist and musician. She dusted off her old tarot deck, realized it wasn't quite right for her, so she got a couple of new decks and in 2010 started her business, Intuitive Insights Tarot.

"I have regular clients in San Francisco, New Orleans, Honolulu and I've done email readings for folks in India and Germany," she says. "Thank goodness I'm a night owl."

She also became, and is currently, the vocalist of the gypsy swing band, 4th Street Elevator.

For Cintrón, one of the best parts about reading cards are impressing the skeptics. "I love it when a skeptic gets that cognitive dissonance look on their face like, 'This is just a coincidence, but what a striking coincidence,'" she says. "Sometimes I'm just blabbing on about what I see in the cards, even if it doesn't make sense to me, and then the client says, 'Wow! You are more right than you know!' And that's totally cool. The message was for them, not for me."

Talkbacks

michaelmhughes | May 25, 2016 at 10:57 a.m. (report)

Good article, but there is no evidence tarot predates the 15th century, and any links to Egypt are completely baseless.

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