Esoteric New York: Tarot Reading

By Aleks Degtyarev

I had contemplated the idea of a ‘tarot reading’ for quite some time. In midtown, where I work, there are many ‘psychic’ parlors all advertising in similar manners a smorgasbord of services from crystal balls, palmistry, numerology, astrology, and of course tarot readings. For whatever reasons I never found this appealing. Still, I remain interested in this art of the Tarot.


When I went to Quest Book shop to interview Lyn Trotman for my previous post, I happened to also meet Angella Focas. We spoke about the Tarot for a little bit and about how neither one of us believes that merely praying for good fortunes will make them rain gold upon us. Taking this as a cue for recognizing the opportunity that I had long sought, I scheduled an appointment for Angella’s Tarot reading the following Monday.



In the back of Quest book shop is a small space divided by a curtain. Angella is already seated at the table. She has a distinct voice that travels inside of you and reverberates, creating a sort of calm before the moment, as she invites me to sit at her side (she speaks slowly giving me time to contemplate her message).


The tradition of reading cards requires the participation of both parties. Angela and I talk for a moment, and I explain that I do not have a particular question in mind. She explains that a question is not necessary to do the reading and asks me to shuffle the deck then to cut it into three piles. I notice that her cards are very old and she has laminated them to keep them from further disintegration but even the laminate is coming apart. I get the sense that she has been doing this for a while. She explains that the cards she uses are called, Cartouche and were created by Martin Jones and Murry Hope (currently out of print). Unlike traditional Tarots of 78 cards this deck only has 25 cards with simple Egyptian styled illustrations. This is her sole occupation since leaving corporate accounting in 2006.


Angella begins to lay out the cards five at the top, five on the bottom and only three in the middle creating a rectangle. Then she lays two cards to the left of the rectangle. Right away my attention is drawn to the card that is basically all black with a dogs head. Angella diverts my attention by telling me that my personality is that of ‘Isis’ the card that looks like a light blue Tetris piece to me. So begins our dialogue…From my understanding the way the cards are laid out corresponds to different aspects of my life: on the right-most, three cards representing my romantic relationship. The central figure – a cobra snake, my destiny. On the left most my work and finances. This allows us to start having a conversation where Angella explains the cards and their meanings and how they correspond to this layout. Some things she begins to say open up new questions, others offer up perspectives to things I had been pondering in my life.



I ask Angella if people come to her to ask very specific things or if she ever sees something in the cards that may not be ‘favorable’? She explains that many people over the years come to ask when they will die. Understanding that she does not have the capacity to make such predictions accurately, otherwise she would not be doing this, Angella instead has a dialogue with people interested in such questions about mortality. She has them explore the question of ‘why they are interested in asking such a question in the first place?’


I leave with the images of the cards on my mind: a snake, a pyramid, a black dog, a beetle. These are such elementary and instantly recognizable pictures, yet they have been invested with so much symbolic meaning. I’m thinking of my life in terms of these illustrations, do I agree, do I disagree with what was said? I have new perspectives. I don’t have to make up my mind for now.


A thought comes up; when do we have a chance to talk so intimately about our lives, all the different aspects of our lives with another person at length, to address any fears that may be dormant or any aspirations?


For me the experience is worth the $35.