It's a blustery November night, and I'm meeting with Anna Grindrod-Feeny for a tarot reading. We sit together in the dim evening light, huddled over a table in a quiet corner of my empty office. Anna sets three different tarot decks onto the table and tells me to choose the deck that resonates with me most. After looking through the cards’ intricate designs, I eventually select a beautiful blue stack of cards called the Prisma Visions deck. With that, Anna begins to shuffle.
Anna and I first met at Precious Metal, a small bar in Bushwick, Brooklyn, where she reads tarot on most Friday nights. It was there that Anna gave me my first-ever tarot reading. I still remember being struck by its eery accuracy; at the time I had a lot of existential questions floating around in my mind, and Anna’s interpretation of the cards helped me to distill them into a focused clarity. This time, however, I am looking for insight on something more specific: my career.
Anna does career readings all the time, she tells me, whether it’s someone unsure about taking a new job, feeling stuck in a current one, trying to decide between two offers, or wondering when to ask for a promotion.
“In my opinion, this is what tarot is best at,” Anna says, expertly sifting the cards between her hands. “It’s more of a tool than anything, it’s about tapping into your own subconscious and what you’re already thinking or need to hear. It provides a framework for you to sort through it.”
Tonight, I'm less concerned about a specific job question, but I'm curious about my bigger career picture. Like many millennials, I don't identify as only one thing — I am a journalist, a writer, an illustrator, an artist — and sometimes, knowing how to nurture each of these distinct facets can be a challenge. As someone with an atypical career path (I was a freelancer and entrepreneur for the majority of my career and recently transitioned into a full-time role) and with multiple interests, I decide to ask the cards: How should I balance the pursuit of a multi-faceted, non-linear career path?
Tarot is more of a tool than anything, it’s about tapping into your own subconscious and what you’re already thinking or need to hear.
As I ask the question, Anna begins to spread the shuffled cards out across the table into what she calls a ten-card clarifying spread. I ask her about how targeted readings differ from more open-ended readings. “Questions help you interpret the cards,” Anna says. “And the spread influences what story you’re telling. This one delves into the real-world considerations of things and gets into the ‘what do you need to do about this’ aspect of a question.”
Each of the ten cards Anna lays down stands for a different aspect of my life pertaining to my question: The situation I am in, my subconscious priority, my conscious priority, what I think will help me, what I think will hinder me, what will actually help and hinder me, and what my next steps are. As Anna goes through each of the cards and explains their significance, I find myself paying close attention to how each of the cards makes me feel. “You should take your first impressions seriously,” Anna cautions.
Among the insight that arises from the spread of ten cards, I am able to glean several pearls of wisdom. According to the cards, my conscious priority is currently dictated by the six of wands, which suggests that I am on the right path. It also suggests that I need to take time to reflect not only on what I would like to do and where I would like to go in the future, but also on all of the things I've accomplished already.
I am struck by the cards that represent what will actually help and hinder me: The five of pentacles in reverse and the lovers. The first card — representing what will help me — reminds me that I have more tools at my disposal than what I might think. It encourages me to remember what I have instead of what I lack, and how to use these things to get closer to my goals.
The lovers — which speak to what will hinder me — is a major arcana card (representing a major energetic shift), suggesting that I need to learn to find balance within myself and with those around me. “You don’t want to be too focused on finding the perfect thing right now,” Anna explains. “Be okay with being in the gestation phase. Expecting perfection will hinder you.”
The last piece of advice comes from the final card in the spread: The four of pentacles. This card represents a natural pause. “It’s the idea that you’ve reached a certain level of security, a certain place that you’ve wanted to reach,” Anna says. However, she cautions that this card means that I should not be afraid to take risks for fear of losing what I’ve built or the money I’ve saved.
”You have to be willing to let go of some of the security you’ve built for yourself and set new goals,” she continues, surveying the spread. “You must move on with the understanding that when you take risks you wind up opening yourself up to more abundance than you could have ever imagined.”
My first career tarot reading strikes several chords within me, but I'm especially moved by the idea that I should focus on the things that bring me joy. My spread is littered with chalices and, therefore, rooted in the emotionality of my work. Because of this, Anna warns me not to get so swept up in my feelings that I disregard the practical side of things. The cards also remind me that it’s never good to hold so tightly to things that I no longer push myself out of my comfort zone. “Don’t be afraid to risk something to start something new or continue growing,” Anna adds.
Ultimately, coming away from this reading, I am reminded that we often hold the answers to our biggest questions within ourselves. Anna makes it clear to me that whatever realizations I extracted from this reading are the right ones. No matter what a spread suggests, a tarot reading is, in many ways, a mirror to your own subconscious. For this reason, it's best to go into tarot readings with an open mind and a clear understanding of yourself.
“When people come to me and ask ‘should I quit my job or should I stay?’ they usually already kind of know what they want to do,” Anna says with a smirk. “This is what tarot is best for: Channelling yourself back to you.”