It’s been two years since I launched my private practice, without having contracts with other group practices in October 2021. At times where my friends and community were offering congratulations, joy, and support, I was sitting in so much self-doubt, uncertainty, and trauma.
I used to tell myself the story that creating this practice came from trauma, and that’s part of the story. I burned out of a leadership non-profit job that was no longer filling my cup and while I was unclear of what my next career move would be, it somehow led to therapy. My journey into the therapy world was also not filled with sunshine, rainbows, and welcomes in the beginning and led to some rough lessons when it came to trusting myself.
I’m choosing not to dwell on this part of the story but each journey that deviates from the path that is considered “normal” in our world in 2023 comes with setbacks, tests, trials, and pain. It involved periods where I disconnected from people, community, and spaces that were no longer serving me; creating distractions that contributed to my sense of self as a therapist and business owner. There were times where it felt alone and isolating and at the same time I knew I needed this time alone to really trust myself.
One of the many tools I use as a therapist and adjunct instructor at UW are tarot cards. I believe in the power of the images, art, and universal archetypes that can unlock periods of stagnation to facilitate healing for clients. It’s more than just pulling cards at the beginning and ending of sessions; it’s allowing a client to facilitate a conversation with their intuition. I drew the Hermit (pictured below) from the Star Spinner Tarot by Trungles. I received this deck as a gift when I had the pleasure and opportunity to attend the 2023 Northwest Tarot Symposium this past September in Portland, Oregon.
That was a wild time; I had just started teaching my second course as an adjunct and was very anxious already. By the time I got to the end of that work week I was scramble packing the night before and barely grounded in this trip. I sent a promotional video a couple of weeks before classes started that I definitely thought was not my finest work explaining my practice, who I was and why I believe tarot was such a helpful tool in therapy work. I found myself having to do multiple takes recording the video, felt limited in my recording capabilities so used my phone to record, and had to write up a script I kept looking at while filming the video, trying really hard to have better presentation etiquette. Not to mention, I was also a teaching assistant for a 60-person class, trying to work on an EMDR certification and get a supervision group running, while also seeing clients. It was way too much, and I found myself so irritable with the technical aspects of creating this video I just submitted the best version and left it at that.
That video had me spiral in a period of self-doubt about all the work I had put into my practice the last two years and barely seeing the results reflected in the income I was earning, figuring out what my niche was, and how to get these other income revenue streams; 1:1 tarot readings, 1:1 licensed supervision, teach, and achieve financial stability at the same time. That video was shown on the last day of the conference on a big screen. I remember hiding my face in my yellow lightning bolt sweatshirt because seeing myself amplified on a big screen was new, made me anxious, and was quite the celebrity shock all at the same time. (Pic of me on the big screen below).
I remember the dinner I attended that first night of the conference totally not prepared to interact with strangers. I’m an introvert, so being in social situations without someone I know can be really difficult, but I knew that I still wanted to be in this space as a therapist that sits at the intersections of mental health and spirituality. I knew that I deserved to be in this space. While filling up my water to take back to my table, I noticed a woman with a really cool sweater in one of my favorite color schemes; green and pink. She turned around and looked at me, saw my red hair and instantly said, “Banshee Therapy Services!” in excitement.
She recognized me from that video? Random strangers at this conference know my practice already? What world am I in? Am I dreaming? Did that just happen? She introduced herself, she was one of the organizers of this conference and she had the same first name as me. Talk about a synchronicity I wasn’t expecting! Throughout the conference, we would exchange lots of dialogue and I would be supporting this symposium in ways I hadn’t even thought about as a tarot therapist. (Image of Hermit card from Start Spinner Tarot below)
This depiction of the Hermit in this deck states, “the Hermit is most concerned with assessing everything that has happened to inform your place in the world. Perhaps difficult decisions were made, but have largely made peace with the outcome. The Hermit represents a need for introspection and retreat. Sometimes it is difficult to be in the world, so it is necessary to step back and affirm yourself.” I didn’t realize that you can embody Hermit energy from accessing a space that allows you to step back and affirm yourself. I had always thought of it as complete social withdrawal; which is what I had to do in the earlier stages of building this practice.
Those three days at the conference were the medicine I didn’t realize I needed that affirmed that I had reached my goals of establishing a reputation, niche, and influence in worlds of tarot, therapy, spirituality, and mental health. I instantly received praise from other participants for my presence; dressing up as the Star card for the tarot conference, a table where I cheered other participants on as we won prizes during Bingo, sitting with others and getting to know the stories and intersections in their lives that led them to tarot. As the Star card depicts a figure pouring a cup into a larger body of water, the Northwest Tarot Symposium poured into my cup in more ways than one; I’m still unpacking and integrating those experiences into my life.
I became a Star and celebrity in an unexpected place, and all that required was me being and living in my authentic truth. An embodiment of that truth is reflected in my Star costume. I met famous tarot creators Mary K Greer who complimented my costume. Chris-Anne, author of both the Muse and Light Seer tarot decks told me my red space buns made her so happy and that I’m glad I’m sharing the magic that is my smile and style more with the world. Ethony Dawn autographed one of my tarot decks! My inner child even joined in on the fun dressing up, making noises of excitement at all the raffle prizes I won because I participated in all the challenges that allowed me to connect with other participants during that weekend. I even teared up while in my hotel room many times because I was in shock that I had that much influence in that space because of my hyperfixation, love, and joy of integrating tarot in both my personal and professional life. (Picture of me dressed as the Star below)
Moral or lesson of my story? Keep living and embodying your values in your world; integrate them into every aspect of your life if you can and you might be surprised at where it takes you. The Hermit doesn’t always mean complete social withdrawal, but another reminder to come back to parts of yourself that were originally based in fear and trauma, and seeing where they can be sources of wisdom.