Toledo City Paper
In times of uncertainty some turn to tarot for guidance.
Link to Toledo Blade Article
Printed: March 15, 2021
In times of uncertainty, some turn to tarot for guidance BY NICKI GORNY BLADE STAFF WRITER
The pandemic hit in March. By April and May, the effects were becoming clear to Janet Amid.
“It was so busy, I couldn’t keep track,” recalled Ms. Amid, who’s been reading astrological charts and tarot cards for local clients since the ’80s. “I was dealing with so many people.”
Her experience aligns with others in her line of work locally in that some of her clients come to her office in simple curiosity. But, for her and others, more often there’s something on their mind, some issue or question that they hope she will help them sort out by way of her deck.
Count on an unprecedented public health crisis to introduce a plethora of issues and questions.
“I think just with the pandemic and there being so many unknowns, a lot of people have turned to it as a way to get some assurance or make sure that they’re doing what they need to be doing during this time,” Troy Miller, of Toledo, suggested.
His interest in tarot precedes the pandemic, he said, but he can relate. He thinks back to a reading with Amy Lynn Schacht of Soul Sisters Studio in Woodville, where he had in mind a potentially shifting work situation and all the unknowns that came along with it: Was he heading in the right direction? Was the timing right for a shift?
“I think that’s a lot of what people want to know,” he said.
Whether a person sees tarot as spiritual or secular, a tool of divination or a catalyst for self-reflection — or, frequently, a little of both — there’s plenty of appeal during a pandemic.
Ms. Schacht, who goes professionally by Amy Lynn at Soul Sisters Studio, has seen her clientele triple in the past year; as a growing business she can’t attribute the entirety of that growth to the pandemic, but she does credit it with an uptick in requests for emailed readings. Ms. Amid is working long days at her office, where she uses tarot as one of several modalities. And Don Wagner, another local reader through Shaman’s Tarot, has picked up that people are “definitely hungry for information” at the parties and events where he’s read in the past year.
It sounds ridiculous to suggest that an astrologer and tarot card reader would have been an essential worker in the early days of the pandemic, Ms. Amid acknowledged. But, often, she said, that’s how she’s felt in her conversations over her tarot deck since last spring.
“Because I was trying to keep these people afloat,” she continued. “It was hard. I mean, everybody was going through it. It was a very difficult situation.”
What is tarot?
Tarot traces its roots to 1400s Italy, where decks were first introduced as a sort of expansion to the traditional set of playing cards. Their adaptation for divination, where meanings were ascribed to each card, came later in 1700s France.
Tarot today is less intimidating than it might appear to the uninitiated, according to Ms. Amid, Ms. Schacht and Mr. Wagner, who assure their clients that there’s nothing dark or evil at play. While some in their community feel more strongly than others about the spiritual v. secular nature of tarot, essentially all readers agree that it serves as a tool for self-reflection.
“I think it’s basically a way to begin a discussion about someone’s life,” said Mr. Wagner, whose interest in tarot stretches back to his childhood days reading magazine horoscopes.
He and other readers lay down a set number of cards in a chosen formation during a reading, then interpret the symbolism, individually and collectively, of the cards they overturn. They describe it less “fortune-telling” by way of specific predictions than it is probing and exploring a person’s past, present and future, as prompted by the symbolism in the cards.
“I think it’s almost like weaving a story that provides us with guidance,” said Ms. Amid, who began learning tarot and astrology as a child from her parents. “Through the impressions of each card, it kind of tells a story, your past, your present and your future.”
She sees these conversations help to “unscramble” her clients, especially when they come to her in distress or conflict, she said, borrowing the word she hears often.
“They always say that I help to unscramble them,” Ms. Amid said. “That’s their word.”
That can be quite helpful to individuals like Mr. Miller or Candy Busdiecker, of Woodville, whose curiosity led her and a friend to a full moon reading with Ms. Schacht in February. A social media post advertising the readings had initially caught her eye, she recalled, and it wasn’t out of character for her to give something like tarot a shot. Ms. Busdiecker admits she went in with a bit of skepticism, but was interested and impressed by how relevant her reading proved.
She, too, had a work-related situation in mind at her reading, and she said the reading proved helpfully thought-provoking. It ultimately gave her some clarity about her situation.
“I guess it made me think,” she reflected. “It really made me think about where I am and where I want to be, and what steps I need to take to get to where I want to be. It really made me realize that I have to think a little deeper about myself and what’s going on.”
Aiming to help
Ms. Schacht aims to help people at Soul Sisters Studio, a motivation that’s echoed by Ms. Amid at her office off Monroe Street in Sylvania and by Mr. Wagner through Shaman’s Tarot.
Ms. Schacht has long been interested in “the magical, mystical things,” as she described them, and picked up a book on tarot about 12 years ago. Once she’d gotten the basics down she began reading for friends and at parties, where she’d sometimes run into repeat clients who would tell her how much a past reading helped them. Then she decided to get serious.
“It just kind of hit me: I can do this, I need to do this, because it’s helping people,” she said.
She and Jennifer Featherston opened Soul Sisters Studio about a year and a half ago, and are currently in the process of shifting to a new space in Woodville. Ms. Featherston brings reiki to their business model. Through their studio and through an enthusiasts group organized on Meetup, Ms. Schacht said she’s invested in growing the local community around tarot.
She’s seen a growing desire locally for a spiritual community encompassing tarot, reiki and the like, she said, even preceding and independent of the pandemic. But that’s not to say a pandemic isn’t helping it along in the case of tarot.
Echoing other local readers, she said she sees plenty of reason to turn to the cards.
“I’d love to say that my clients all come to me because they’re looking for personal growth, but generally if it’s a new client that’s coming to me, they’re coming to me because they’re in trouble,” she said. “They have problems in their life, and now they’re turning to a tarot reader because they’re looking for that guidance and that help.”
“So of course during a pandemic, you’re going to get more of that.”
Contact Nicki Gorny at