These days, the old tea house is closed, and the neighborhood psychic spends more of her time teaching Yoga and Pilates classes. I first met Vicki in 1999, when she ran the Village Tea House in Bay View, Wisconsin, a few blocks from Lake Michigan. Back then, the Tea House actually served tea.
Then over the years, Vicki added Tarot card readings to her offerings at the tea house, and she built a loyal clientele. She also gave Reiki and vegetarian cooking classes at a local community center.
But then her personal life started to change, and it changed again, and again. Divorce, custody battles, a parent's death, and several other setbacks later, the tea house is "offline," and she has been "taken down a different path," as psychic readers would say.
But her old clients still track her down occasionally. There aren't many psychics like her in Milwaukee. To this day, she remains one of the most accurate psychics I've ever known.
READTAROT: Vicki, every interview with a psychic seems to start with a question on how and when they "knew" they were psychic. That's the "natural gift" model. Others say that everyone is psychic if they learn to use their natural abilities. I know you spent some time developing your ability, and wonder what you think about it all?
VICKI: I think I knew when I was younger, but I didn't develop it until I had a dream after my uncle died, when I was 20. I was working at a health food store downtown, and a man came in who was trying to get me to go to his spiritualist church. I told him about the dream and he said "Honey, you have the gift." At the time, I didn't know what he meant.
It wasn't until my 30s that I had an herbal Tarot deck. I was an herb buyer for a health food store at the time, and went to California to a health foods industry show. I went to a seminar with Michael Tierra and other top herbalists. They said they had a seminar on an herbal Tarot deck, and half the people left because they were Christians and didn't believe in the Tarot. In that seminar, they were talking about the spiritual qualities of herbs. For example, that chamomile and lavender were connections to the angels.
So I not only found out about the spiritual qualities of herbs, but I also learned more about the Tarot.
Then I started doing readings for my friends, looking at the book. And then I expanded to people who wanted readings from me for a love donation. And then it just kept going.
READTAROT: One technique you use amazes me, and so far you're the only psychic I know who does it -- you mix many Tarot decks together in one big basket. When you're not using one of your newer decks that you keep separate, people can pick cards from that basket for their reading, and you pick some cards, too. That basket must provide incredible visual imagery, and you don't even use a layout when you read that way. Could you share some of that special technique with our readers?
VICKI: At first I started adding more Tarot decks to expand my Tarot collection.
When I started doing readings, I don't mean to sound funny, but I realized that I wasn't playing with a full deck. I'd notice a card was missing, or I'd give a card away or use it for meditation, and then it wouldn't get back into that deck.
It wasn't until around 1995 that I decided to mix all the cards together to see what would happen. And so I started adding more, and more through the years -- I have over 200 decks.
I had to develop my own way of reading the cards, just like I used intuition to vary my Reiki techniques.
I think that imagery is the key, and you get a better perspective from so much imagery. You might also get the same card that pops up from different decks. It's like a confirmation in a way. I've learned that when two or more cards come up with the same image, you have to pay attention.
READTAROT: People often come to readers during the worst times of their lives -- when their marriages are breaking apart, when they're suffering financial hardship, or after a loved one dies. They come to a psychic a lot of times because they want feedback from the spiritual world on what's happening to them and why, maybe even how they can cope with it. Could you describe for new readers what that's like, how you often serve as a spiritual advisor, and also how peoples' fragile emotional state influences your readings? For example, do you ask their spirit guides to help them through it, do you try to give most of them Reiki to help heal them, or what?
VICKI: I would say that each individual is unique, but the common thread is "Love and be loved." So if they're not feeling loved, I want to remind them that they are loved.
I make sure people feel better when they walk out my door, even if it makes the reading longer. I try to help them become more emotionally calm.
I think the reading awakens their soul to their life's purpose, which isn't always about making this other person happy, it's about making themselves happy. Some people "get it," and some people aren't ready to let that part of their life go, and let what's around the corner for them come in. They want to hold on. I try to help them let go with love, to help them feel that they are a part of something more.
READTAROT: I notice that you're a very ethical reader, you don't push your clients for money, like the "someone-gave-you-a-curse-so-give-me-hundreds-to-remove-it" thing. You just charge for a reading, and you give a good reading. You told me once that you thought the extra energy healing and prayers were a part of the deal when they paid for the reading. Do you have any insights for young readers on this, or on reading ethics in general?
VICKI: I do pray for people, and I do send extra healing energy. And they can feel it, and they know.
By the time people come to see me, they want an answer. And some want what they want to hear, not necessarily what the reader is going to say. I'm going to say what the cards say, and that is to be true to self.
It might take time, they might need time to process what I tell them. These things take time. So if people come back to see me, that's great, I see them grow. Grow inside and out.
READTAROT: The holidays are here, and with it comes parties. Do you have any tips for giving readings at parties, or inviting a reader to parties?
VICKI: Some small parties are easier than the larger groups. I might not have time to see everyone, even in smaller parties. I love parties, but some people take longer to open up, and I don't want to tell them that their time is up. I'm working with peoples' souls as well their daily routines in life, with all levels -- mental, spiritual, emotional, and physical.
When time is limited, I usually have something written up to give them. If I don't have time to meet with everyone, a couple of sentences are written on a card. For instance, in this season I have snowman cards that I write things on, for Halloween I had Dracula cards. When someone picks a card among a bunch of cards, there's a small sample reading that can help them until I can do a full reading. For example, for the ace of diamonds it might be about money issues, and suggesting a money spell or whatever fits for that person.
READTAROT: Your life has been full of changes, and now you're spending more of your time teaching classes. Why do you think you were led down one path after another, developing skill after skill but not having the opportunity to "settle down" and make a "permanent" living from any one of them? I ask because my life has taken a similar path -- it's as though the spiritual realm has decided to make certain people "generalists," or is training us for something down the road maybe? Do you think that your own hardships help you empathize with others when they're having problems?
VICKI: We're all connected, it's all about karma and destiny. My path is to grow and learn as a spiritual being, as well as teach others about these modalities -- herbs, crystals, stones, etc. -- my classes vary from healing the body to the spiritual. Not only am I a teacher to others, but I learn something as well.
And then there's the coincidence of how a lot of us have the same things going on, and how we can be supportive of others. I might recommend someone go to a chiropractor if their back is out, or to a doctor, or to another health professional.
READTAROT: I know that a part of your past difficulties -- in fact one that led to the closure of the tea house -- was over custody of your grandchildren. That situation was made worse when a lady from Social Services saw some of the books on your shelves related to your psychic studies, like the one on spell work. She also didn't like the irregular income that came with being a small businesswoman, rather she wanted you to hold down a regular 9-to-5 job somewhere. Do you think that bias is fair to women who make their living as readers? And do you think it's a form of religious discrimination?
VICKI: I was shocked that I wasn't more supported in being a businesswoman, or in being a psychic. I guess I wanted to be true to myself, "This is who I am." Getting the 9 to 5 job wasn't the answer to it. This is my job, and I volunteer a lot, and the pay isn't always monetary but I give back to my community. Karma and destiny has proved itself again.
And the custody of my grandchildren, I just have three words -- "Get an attorney." Obviously, owning your own business is a risk, it's a gamble. They didn't like that part of it. They wanted me to get a "real" job, whatever that meant, but this is my real job. Grandparents should have more rights.
READTAROT: After the custody battle and everything else, your grandkids aren't with you now, but things always change when kids turn 18 and buy their own wheels. Do you want to confirm that you still love them and would welcome seeing them again, for when they Google your name in the future?
READTAROT: I know my website is about Tarot cards and so my questions have been more about psychic readings, but you're a Reiki Master, too. Personally, I developed an interest in psychic skills after learning energy healing. It helps you to feel that "something's there," and psychic skills are another way to explore the spiritual realm. How does Reiki or energy work help you as a reader?
VICKI: It's the old saying, "It's so thick you could cut it with a knife." You can feel when something isn't right -- you can feel vibes.
"Rei" means "soul," and "Ki" means "energy" or "movement." Reiki means "soul energy," it's to change the energy of the soul. Things like Tai Chi, Yoga, meditation, exercise, even a funny movie can change the Chi.
"Psychic" is from the Greek psykhikos, meaning "of the soul, spirit, or mind." It's all related to each other -- Reiki helps me be a better psychic, being a psychic helps me with my Reiki, it's all connected.