I've changed more lives as a tarot card reader than as a social worker – Metro.co.uk

I was getting ready for another day as a social worker in summer 2018, battling to find housing for one of my care leavers who was turning 18, when I opened the email from a tarot reading client I had seen the day before.
My reading, she said, was ‘hugely inspiring’ and had given her the confidence to restart a business she had abandoned due to a sequence of traumatic events in her life. 
‘You said you saw fruit trees and herbs all around me and little jam pots – I used to run an organic condiments shop. I had been thinking of restarting it but I’d lost confidence – now I think I’ll look into it again’, she wrote.
Immediately, I felt that jolt of excitement, like when I had solved a problem for one of my teenagers in care. I’d not long been reading for strangers, so it was reassuring that the intuitive messages I had been receiving for friends and family since I was a teen translated to everyone I read tarot for.
And it occurred to me that tarot reading is not that dissimilar to social work. 
Apart from addressing safeguarding issues, a lot of social work is about empowering people to make beneficial changes to their lives and to give them the confidence to achieve goals that will improve their lives – which also happens to be what most people take away from a modern day tarot reading.
Tarot readings have a reputation for being secretive or mysterious ways of ‘telling the future’ and lots of people are scared they will get ‘bad cards’ or be told something awful. But any reputable tarot reader these days will focus on strengths, positives and ways of inspiring someone to make necessary changes to their lives, rather than predicting doom and gloom or abstract statements that leave you wondering, like ‘you will have five children’.
Social work in a local authority was not how I thought it would be as a fresh-faced 39-year-old recruit, setting out to solve the world’s problems. I enjoyed working with teenagers leaving care because they had so much energy and enthusiasm.
But there was so much time spent filling in paperwork and begging managers at ‘resource meetings’ for assistance for appropriate support packages, alongside troubleshooting issues with benefits, that I hardly got to spend any quality time with the young people on my caseload.
Most of them had been ‘in the system’ for years, experiencing multiple placement and school moves, bereavement and loss, and in some cases criminal or sexual exploitation. 
Somehow it was my job as ‘their latest social worker’ to befriend them, support them and set them up for successful independence in a short amount of time. It was the hardest job I’d ever had – relentless and exhausting. 
After three years, I was burnt out and I had to leave. The thank you cards from the young people I’d supported when I left made me cry.
While I was recovering and looking for a new job, I turned back to tarot. I’d always had a deck to hand since I was 15 years old, when my mum handed me hers. I didn’t even know she read the tarot and we never really discussed spiritual issues.
I studied the system in my haunted bedroom (when redecorating my parents had found pages of the Bible and an exorcism certificate under the wallpaper) and I had started collecting different tarot decks shortly after. 
I learned the basic meaning of the cards in around a year, but now I’ve been reading for 30 years, I find there is still more to learn, the symbology is so vast.
When I got used to using them, it was as if the cards were having a conversation with me, talking some sense into me about my crazy plans and ideas, and when I read for friends, things I had predicted in their readings started happening.
I told one friend she would be emigrating and then have an issue with ‘two bosses’, which would then cause her to leave – within three months she was on the phone from America, saying she was moving jobs due to the terrible office politics between two senior men in her team.
But it wasn’t until the Covid lockdowns that I decided to act on my passion for tarot and open an online tarot and oracle shop, The Wootique London.
It should have been scary to invest all my savings into an idea that came to me out of the blue, but preparations for opening the shop just seemed to slot into place without any issues at all. I felt excited, it was like the universe was willing me on and telling me there were other ways to help people.
I tapped into a worldwide community of tarot readers on Instagram and my tarot readings became more popular too, as I was able to offer them over email.
People ask me ‘how can you read tarot for someone who isn’t there?’, but I believe the intention to connect is all you need to tune into the energy around another person, as long as they consent.
One man came to me for his first ever reading. I saw that he was going to be asked to re-apply for his own job, and that he should move to a different company instead – again he contacted me to let me know that his company had been restructured and instead of getting down about it, he had taken the tarot’s advice and applied for a new job, which turned out to be much better paid.
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Of course, I’m not saying that tarot should be followed to the letter. We all have free will and you should use your own discernment. However, I found riding the wave of positivity you feel after consulting the cards can be the first step to making some constructive life changes.
I still do work part time in a charity social work role because it’s my calling to help others, but I truly believe I can help just as many people change their lives with tarot as in social work – and it’s my aim to offer the tools of change to as many people out there as possible.
Do you have a story you’d like to share? Get in touch by emailing jess.austin@metro.co.uk
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