STEPHANIE OBERLANDER/SPECIAL TO THE VIRGINIAN-PILOT Kaye Sturgis, left, helps me interpret the cards shown in the last stage of our lesson: my shot at giving her a reading. We were using the Osho “Zen” deck, which like the Motherpeace uses illustrations that ended up being easier for me to interpret than the deck I had bought.

along your intuition
learn to read tarot cards.

The plan: Take a short lesson and learn the basics of reading tarot cards.
How did it go? Cool. From a teacher who focuses on enlightenment and growth, I got a good grounding.

FOR YEARS after my first tarot readings, I wondered what the designs on those 70-some cards meant.
     The Fool. The Tower. The heart pierced by three swords.
     I wondered, but for someone who’s interested in a thousand things at a time, curiosity can’t always translate to action.

     But then I got a chance to learn more, with Virginia Beach psychic Kay Sturgis. In addition to teaching eight-hour group courses, she gives two hour private classes, for the fundamentals.

     At her home on a rainy afternoon, we settled in.

     Sturgis, lively and talkative, discussed her view of the purpose of the tarot.
     It is, she said, about telling a story and using intuition to connect what the cards show – action, colors, body language – and learning how the archetypes portrayed apply to life. Each card and position has a meaning, she noted, but as complex as tarot seems, “the less rules the better, really.”
     Nor does she see tarot as magical: “How we learn tarot, how we approach it, is all arbitrary,” and different readers interpret the cards differently.
     She uses tarot not for questions such as “Is my boyfriend sleeping around on me?” but rather for “a path of enlightenment, a path to reflect or mirror the value of the choices that we are making in our lives.”
To her it’s also a tool to alleviate severe stress because it helps us “learn the lessons we’re presented with.”

     Next up: a quick reading for me, to get reacquainted with how tarot works. She used her favorite deck, the Motherpeace, which she says is meant to “open the heart” and uses a “feminine” perspective.
     Sturgis had me shuffle and cut the cards, then pose a question using a framework that emphasizes learning: “What is the meaning of this experience in my life?”
     I thought a minute, then came up with a question.
     She laid out the cards in a modified Celtic cross and began to interpret. She was on target – in identifying concerns, influences, goals, preferences.
     Then she took us through another run-through, using a hypothetical client, and a guide to tarot decks generally, using a different set – the Osho “Zen” deck.
     Sturgis reviewed some of the set’s 22 “Major Arcana” cards, which portray “archetypes of the soul.” (My old friend the Fool appeared; in part, she said, it signifies not a dolt but “new beginnings” – and how we approach them.)
     She talked about the four suits, representing the spiritual, mental, physical and emotional planes, and the need to examine the detail of each card closely.
     Next: my turn to read for her.

     Me? So soon?
     Sturgis smiled.
     “You want to put yourself in the place of a 7-year-old child,” she said; don’t over think. She offered some guiding points: What does the layout look like? Tell a story with the cards, using intuition to connect the pictures.
     Then, “See how easy this is?”
     Her question: “What would be helpful for me to know right now?”

     She laid out the cards for me – there’s the Fool again – and I gave it a shot, always getting encouragement, sometimes needing prompting, sometimes earning praise for perceptiveness (“You’ve got a knack for this!”).
     A knack? I felt a bit skeptical – knowing Sturgis’ three decades’ experience versus my own – but encouraged. I was starting to get it, with tools now to learn more.
     A Fool, yes, getting started.

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