Behind the Magic Theresa Reed

Theresa Reed

Can the rational and the unexplainable co-exist? What can we learn from ancient methods of divination and truth-seeking? Can the mystical be used to repair and assist with very real trauma and confusion? Is there room for faith and magic in a world that is constantly testing our collective limits? In this interview series for Violet Online, author and artist Sarah Faith Gottesdiener talks with healers and mystics to explore their work and experiences – and to ask what is behind the magic.

If you find yourself in the American occult/tarot/astrology world for even a short period of time, you’ll encounter Theresa Reed. She’s worked as a full-time tarot card reader for 30 years, helping others use the mystical arts as a tool for guidance.

Theresa is the author of several books, including iTarot: No Questions Asked – Mastering the Art of Intuitive Reading, The Tarot Coloring Book, Astrology For Real Life (A No B.S. Guide for the Astro-Curious), and co-author of Tarot for Troubled Times with Shaheen Miro. Her latest project is Tarot for Kids, a beautiful kid-friendly tarot deck she created with artist Kailey Whitman.

In addition to writing, teaching, podcasting, and speaking at tarot conferences, Theresa also runs a popular website, TheTarotLady.com, where she dishes out advice, inspiration, and tips for tarot lovers of all experience levels. She also hosts two educational podcasts, Tarot Bytes and Astrology Bytes, which have been downloaded by millions of people around the world.

I’ve been impressed by Theresa’s integrity, kindness, and generosity for a long time. I was excited to ask her questions about her work, astrology, tarot, and how the heck she gets so much done!

Sarah Faith Gottesdiener: You've been an astrologer and tarot reader for decades; you have an impressive resume with celebrity clients. You've served tens of thousands of folks looking for insights, information, and healing. I want to know what astrology and tarot have given you. Did the cards, or your chart, provide you with specific healing? I'd love a story or example, if you've got one (or two!).

Theresa Reed: Astrology was the gateway to all metaphysical things. I was introduced to it through a friend’s mother when I was 15. At that time, I remember being quite angsty and restless. I felt like an alien, never fitting in with my family or peers. I had so many questions - and most of the adults didn’t seem to have answers. So when my friend’s mother offered to read my chart, I was game and curious.

At the time, that reading blew me away. While I don’t recall all of the details, what I do remember is that it sparked my lifelong obsession with astrology. It helped me start unravelling what made me tick - and feel so different (Scorpio Moon!). This gave me the permission slip to be unapologetically myself. Instead of trying to mould myself into something “acceptable,” astrology allowed me to appreciate my unique self.

That’s the beauty of astrology. When you understand your gifts and challenges, you can befriend yourself. More importantly, you can develop compassion and tenderness for yourself as you are. Self-acceptance and compassion are the first steps to healing your trauma. I grew up in a supremely dysfunctional family, and astrology taught me that I could break the wheel and chart a better course.

Tarot came in a little bit later, and my earliest work was strictly predictive. While many modern tarot readers eschew divination as a form of “fortune telling,” I found it to be highly practical. Tarot was like a roadmap—suddenly, I could see what was ahead, and it allowed me to make better decisions. I always say that most folks are asleep at the wheel. Somewhere down the road, they wonder, “how did I get here?” They don’t stop to consider their choices, motives, or the consequences. Tarot is a tool for conscious living. The more mindful you are, the more likely you’ll make decisions aligned with your highest good.

That said, tarot has also been a trusty guide when I needed advice. For example, there was a time when I was in the midst of a difficult drama with my ex. Without going into the details, I remember being distraught and couldn’t see a way out of it. I decided to ask tarot for guidance. As I shuffled the cards, I asked, “what can I do to change this situation?” The card that fell out was the Queen of Swords reversed. Swords symbolize conflict but also our thoughts. It seemed to tell me to put my sword down, and change how I was thinking about the situation. I stopped engaging in fighting. Instead of referring to him in derogatory ways (yes, I was guilty of that), I started interacting respectfully. And guess what? We had a cease-fire. More importantly, we began to work together, which meant better energy for everyone involved.

You are incredibly prolific: you write newsletters and blogs, have at least two podcasts, a Patreon you create content for, provide daily transit information, and it appears as though you’ve written a book a year for the past few years! How do you manage all of it, on top of giving readings? Is it magic? What advice would you give aspiring writers and content creators?

My secret is simple: I’m highly disciplined and organized with my work. You might say it’s my stellium in Virgo, or the great work ethic my Virgo father instilled in me. Whatever the case, that’s the truth. It doesn’t hurt that I’m doing work I love, either. My passion for what I do makes it easier to remain motivated. If I was in a job I didn’t like, who knows what my output would be?

There are a few things I keep simple to avoid mental overwhelm. For one, I eat the same breakfast every day: a bagel. I don’t want to think about it. I also wear simple clothing, which is a uniform of black yoga pants and a black t-shirt. My daughter is a fashionable clothes horse, and she finds my way of dressing to be “utilitarian.” She’s right. Again, I don’t want to be bothered—I need my mind focused on creating.

Every single thing in my life is scheduled. I have specific tasks I do on specific days, and those are always on the calendar. For example, Monday is an admin day. I take care of all the nuts and bolts of running my business. Meetings are usually scheduled on this day, which makes it easy to say no to other things. And, by the way, I say no a lot. If something doesn’t light me up or compensate for my time, it’s a no-go.

As I get older, I realize my time is limited, so I’m super greedy with it. I won’t put my energy into anything or anyone that feels like a drag. I need to be on my shit so I can continue to create. At this stage in the game, I’m focusing on legacy work and passing all the batons. When I take on a project now, it must be something that feels aligned. Once I say yes and agree to a deadline, I map out how much time it will take, reverse engineer everything, and then get to work. I don’t make excuses. I don’t slack. I’m a professional.

Lastly, I’ve also learned to let up on a few things here and there. I don’t always put out a weekly podcast. I do what I can, and if I’m too engrossed in a project, I make room by easing up where I can. It’s all a matter of following my energy and passions - and trusting my gut to sort it all out.

My biggest advice to aspiring writers and content creators: focus on what you love, say no to anything you don’t. The rest will work itself out.

I've always deeply admired and appreciated how you support other people in the occult/esoteric/astrological community. In my experience, it’s rare to come across someone so supportive of others in the same vocation. Is this one of your core values or spiritual missions? Do you think it comes from your punk anarchist background?

When I grew up, we were poor. But my father was extremely generous, and that made an impact on me. He’d often bring guys from work home for a good meal. Sometimes he would pick up hitchhikers and pile them into the car with us. He would tip generously on the rare occasions we went to a restaurant. So it comes naturally for me and my siblings.

I would also say that my punk anarchist background plays a role. I got into punk rock in the late ‘70s—it completely shaped my worldview and politics. It’s no surprise that I ended up working for an anarchist newspaper back in the day! That experience taught me a lot about equality, justice, and free thinking.

I love supporting my peers! I’m all about community versus competition. I truly want to see people succeed, and I believe there is plenty of work for all of us. There are so many talented people in our industry. Why not share their work?

The landscape around spirituality has changed in the past few decades. What is your take on the resurgence around the spiritual arts? Has it affected your business?

The world has gotten into another dark place in the past few years—whenever that happens, people start searching for light and healing. They want to connect with the divine, and they need to feel secure in uncertain times. Tarot, astrology, and all of the sacred arts are fabulous tools for guidance—people have always known this, but they tend to forget about those spiritual allies until something goes wrong.

Frankly, it hasn’t impacted my business much. I’ve always been a high-volume reader, and I’ve been busy through good times and bad.

The other thing I will add: the internet has changed everything. It was harder to find this information back in the day, making it inaccessible for many. I had to make a great effort to get my hands on the information. Thankfully, I’m stubborn and resourceful, so I found a way.

It was the same with punk rock music. I started listening to it when I was 12 years old. At that time, I remember seeing a post about it in a newspaper. I asked my mother, “what’s punk rock?” Of course, she didn’t know! The next time we were in a grocery store, I picked up a copy of Creem magazine because it had something about punk rock on the cover. I became instantly obsessed. I would save my allowance, go into the record store, and demand that the guy behind the counter special order things I wanted. He would shake his head but get it for me anyway. I still laugh when I think about that.

Anyhow, as I said, the internet has made it possible for people to connect with like-minded souls, find spiritual resources, and learn how to practice. How I wish I had the internet when I first began! No doubt I’d be buying all the candles, incense, tarot decks, and a punk rock album or two.

You just released a tarot deck for children, which is such a great idea. It also makes complete sense, as tarot began as a game; they are literally playing cards. What are some ways parents can begin with kids and tarot? How can children benefit from working with the cards?

I think tarot is wonderful for children. It’s a lovely visual aid for storytelling, introspection, and guidance. The images in the tarot are filled with universal archetypes and symbols that everyone can understand. I’ve found that children naturally grasp the images and put together the most wonderful interpretations! That might be because they‘re intuitive and more in touch with their imaginations.

Here are a few ways for parents and guardians to share tarot with their kids:

• Choose a few cards and use them as prompts for a storytelling game.

• Ask your child to pull a card that represents how they’re feeling. That can open up a wonderful conversation, especially for a child who feels shy about expressing their emotions.

• If your child is having trouble making a decision, encourage them to pull a card for each choice. Ask them what they think that means.

• Encourage your child to have a journaling practice with tarot as a prompt. Each morning, they can pull a card and write in their journal what they think that means for their day (or anything they feel called to write). At the end of the day, revisit the journal and reflect on how the day went. That practice encourages mindfulness.

Those are just a few of my favourite ways to introduce children to tarot. I also want to add: I’ve never had a problem getting kids interested when I pull out my cards! They always want to play with me when I do.

Find Theresa at TheTarotLady.com.

iTarot: No Questions Asked – Mastering the Art of Intuitive Reading

Astrology For Real Life (A No B.S. Guide for the Astro-Curious)

Sarah Faith Gottesdiener is an artist, designer, writer, teacher, and Tarot Reader. Her artwork and designs are based in the spiritual, feminist, and mystical. Her book from St. Martin’s Press, The Moon Book, was published this year.

Find Sarah here: modernwomenprojects.com

IG: @gottesss

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