Exploring Tarot: An Interview with Kelly Nelson
In the fall of 2020, I was given Lo Scarabeo Universal Tarot cards as a gift. I've since been studying parts of the deck and the rich history of the practice dating back to the 15th century. My cousin Kelly has been a source of knowledge and inspiration since she regularly reads tarot and has accumulated a lot of wisdom. I'm so glad we had a chance to exchange words on the topic! Read the full interview below.
I’ve always been passionate about understanding myself and others on a deeper level. Understanding why we are the way we are, and diving deeper into who we are at a soul level.
— Kelly Nelson
1. Can you tell us a bit about yourself and your regular work with tarot and birth chart readings? How does the practice fit into your life?
When it comes to tarot, it’s more of a spiritual practice in my day to day. It’s a way to ground myself and provide clarity for my thoughts and feelings. I believe it draws parallels between my intuition and the current energy surrounding my life.
I pull a daily card to get an idea of what the energy will be for the day. It gives me a starting point and a place to come back to in certain situations or if decisions need to be made. On Sundays I do a weekly reading for myself to get an idea for the week. Something I always find interesting is when the cards from Sunday’s reading reappear in my daily pulls throughout the week. To some this may be coincidence, but to me, nothing is a coincidence. The cards and energy never disappoint!
I am often asked to do readings and charts for friends and family; I am always happy to do it. Sometimes it’s a one card pull just to provide clarity on a situation, and other times, we dive deeper into their circumstance to get more clarity and direction.
Tying in the astrology makes the readings more powerful and meaningful. All the cards are tied to the energy of the zodiac signs and planets, so there is a lot of overlap. It’s always helpful to have a natal chart for the person I’m reading so I can make those connections as well.
2. What drew you to tarot reading? How did you first get interested?
I’ve always been passionate about understanding myself and others on a deeper level. Understanding why we are the way we are, and diving deeper into who we are at a soul level. Tying this into my general interest in the world of tarot and astrology was the perfect match. Further to that, I like a world where science isn’t always the answer. The world, and life in general, is never black and white and there’s never a “one size fits all” answer. I believe tarot and astrology add colour to the grey area.
As I’ve always been interested in the esoteric studies and this world we know very little about, I really dove in when I was around 28-29 years old. For anyone who knows astrology, I was just beginning my Saturn return, which is a huge milestone in anyone’s life. It was a calling I was so drawn to, I couldn’t pass it up. I was living in Niagara Falls at the time, and my life was about to take an interesting turn, so it truly was the perfect timing. Niagara has a huge community of spiritual healers, readers, and light workers, so I took every opportunity I could to learn. I dove into tarot first and astrology was a natural next step.
3. Were you self-taught or have you been mentored by someone else?
For the most part, I was self taught in tarot and astrology. The important thing to note in tarot is that there really isn’t a right or wrong answer. Yes, the cards all have known meaning and symbolism to them, but it really comes down to the energy at that time and the intuitive hits you get.
Once I was able to get a foundation on the cards for myself, I took a class where I learned basic spreads (card placements) and how to listen to that intuitive voice in my head. I learned how to differentiate the base meaning of the cards and what it truly meant for the querent (the individual being read). We’re taught to think a certain way growing up, and learning to listen to my gut was one of the most valuable things I think I’ll ever learn in life.
4. Could you explain what happens during a typical reading?
Every reading is different but what remains consistent is opening myself and that person up for message from spirit. I begin by pulling an oracle card first. For context, oracle cards are quick one hit messages, whereas tarot tells the story. So, the oracle card usually gives me a sense of what the querent is looking for clarity or direction on. I will often ask the querent what their sign is; it gives me an idea of their approach to life and how they're seen by others. I then ask the them to shuffle the deck and pick their own cards. I do this because the deck absorbs their energy and they are naturally drawn to certain cards.
One card may not provide the clarity they need, but as they pull more and more cards, different connections form for me and I begin to tell the story the cards are telling. I’ll often have them pull 3-5 to start and explain the theme behind each one. From there the querent picks the card they want to dive into more. They quickly begin to connect to the story the cards are telling.
I have always looked at tarot as a way to read the current situation. It can often provide insight into what they already know deep down and what their higher self has been hinting towards. It will generally provide different directions they can take in a situation or decision. I never believe in “bad news”; it’s always what one needs to hear.
5. Have you ever experienced predictions coming true firsthand for your clients or for yourself? If so, could you explain an instance of this?
I absolutely have! Sometimes it’s obvious and very clear, and other times, it’s a bit broad and makes sense later on.
One of the best examples I have of this is a friend who was starting her own business. The idea to begin was just that….an idea! For context, she was beginning a wedding planning/coordinating service. She asked me to read for her and the cards were telling an interesting story of caution. They spelled out a general timeline of instant success, earned through hard work, talent, and drive. Following this was a period of hardship, devastation, and bad luck. It would end with her on top and in a really great place, but it would be over a three-year period.
It was all very confusing because she hadn’t even started at that point. Also, being as close as we were, it was difficult to spell out a hard story. It all made sense though, when she finally started in 2019. She had a great year of full bookings and was bringing in wonderful reviews from her clients. She was a server on the side and was quickly able to take down her shifts every week.
We all know what followed…..2020! Weddings and bookings were cancelled and/or moved. She struggled all year to follow all the changing guidelines and make adjustments. She lost clients and struggled to find shifts at the restaurant because they were also struggling.
Fast forward to 2022, she has another full year! She learned a lot during the 2020/2021 struggle and was able to apply it. She is now a full-time wedding planner/coordinator with people working for her, and she is no longer serving.
Tying that into the fact that she’s a Virgo sun (type A, hardworking, and analytical) with an Aries moon (driven, passionate, and stubborn), it’s no surprise she not only survived, but she THRIVED!
6. What is your favourite tarot card and why?
I have a close attachment to the High Priestess. The base meaning of the card is about listening to your intuition, and it’s the number 2 in the deck. 2 is all about balance and you need balance to listen to your higher self. In a way, I felt she drew me to tarot, to find that balance in my life, and learn how to listen to that voice deep down. I am forever grateful to her.
7. Do you think your work connects with the concepts of the universe and fate? If so, could you elaborate on how?
Yes, yes, YESS! I truly believe in fate and destiny, but I also believe in free will. For example, someone can be born to be famous. That is their destiny. Their free will through life will determine how. They may be an athlete, actor/actress, a politician, or an artist of some kind. How they approach life will determine this.
My belief is that your natal chart is a blueprint of your destiny: how you approach life, the challenges, successes and experiences you will have. You come into this life at the exact moment your soul has decided to enter with a path you will ultimately take.
Human nature is what determines how you take that path (your free will). Tarot is what helps interpret that part and navigate the tough emotions and feelings that are ultimately the human condition.
8. When should someone consider seeking answers from a tarot reader? Would a reading help with making tough decisions? Or should it be considered more of a regular touchpoint?
I think if anyone is considering a reading they’re already open to the idea and concept. I think being open and having at least a sense of curiosity is the first step. I know there will always be skepticism about this world, and as a reader and human being, I understand it. It’s unseen and hard to prove the validity.
I would also say that the reading is often an interpretation of the current situation and to not go in with any expectations of clear answers. You will always learn what you need to hear, not necessarily what you want to hear. The answers may not make sense now, but they will!
9. What kind of energy do the cards hold? How much of the practice is interpretation and intuition around that energy?
I think any reader will say their cards hold a lot of energy and have one deck that they always use. I have tried various decks over the last two years, but I always come back to the one I learned on. I use it all the time and I truly believe they're magic for me. The energy they hold is something I can’t explain. They’re almost electric to the touch for me and they open me up in a way to listen to my intuition.
As I said above, there’s a lot of base meaning to the cards, and they always provide that foundation in a reading. What makes the reading deeper and have more meaning is what my intuition tells me and the things that randomly come to mind. I follow the classic 80/20 rule when reading. 80% is my intuition and 20% is the base meaning of the card.
10. What are some of your challenges with tarot reading? What do you most enjoy?
I find the biggest challenge for me is when I read for someone I know, or myself. It can be very difficult to differentiate between your own bias and what you know, and your intuition. I would much rather read for someone I don’t know at all than someone close to me.
What I enjoy most is making people feel seen and heard. We often get so caught up in our lives and the day to day struggle of just being human. It’s difficult and challenging to navigate. When I am able to see them, read for them, and make sense of these difficult emotions and feelings, it opens something in people and gives them a sense they are not alone and always supported.
11. What advice would you give someone who is interested in learning more about tarot reading and studying the cards?
DO IT! There is nothing to lose. Take a trip to Indigo/Chapters or a spiritual shop and hold a few decks until you feel connected. Once you have it, just start! Pick a card and write down what comes to mind. There are a lot of great resources online to learn the cards, but your intuition is what will drive you the most. Learning to listen to that voice deep down is the most under-utilized skill we as people take for granted!
"When I am able to see them, read for them, and make sense of these difficult emotions and feelings, it opens something in people and gives them a sense they are not alone and always supported."
12. Is there anything else you’d like to share with readers?
Life is hard, don’t make it harder! Tarot and astrology is something that speaks to me, makes me happy, and gives me an avenue to relate to people. It’s not for everyone, but it’s for me. Everyone should have that one thing that makes them happy and brings them joy on days when it’s hard. FIND THAT THING!
Thanks for reading my conversation with Kelly! If you have any questions or comments for us, please leave them below!
**all photos courtesy of Kelly