Festival of the Dead in Salem, Massachusetts
 

Christian loves teaching his annual Tarot workshop as part of the Raven Moon School of Witchcraft. One of these days, he plans to turn it into a full seminar over several weeks so that participants can learn even more!

Tarot 101
By Dinah Cardin
The Salem Gazette, Friday, October 20, 2006

The colorful cards look like small stained glass windows and are spread on the table in the dim glow of lamplight.

Their symbolic language is too confusing for most to bother attempting to untangle. But some claim it comes through loud and clear like a native tongue.

Christian Day is our translator for this circle of would-be readers from Swampscott, Lynn and places further away like the Midwest.

This is Beginning the Tarot, a basic how-to course to begin to unlock the ancient tool of divination and psychic development.

It's part of the Raven Moon School of Witchcraft, an offshoot of Shawn Poirier and Day's Festival of the Dead. Located in a forgotten corner of the Museum Place Mall now draped in fall leaves and filled with skeletons, it's been open 12 hours a day since Oct. 1 and has brought in both straggling shoppers and those serious about getting a reading.

Other "courses" have included the Art of Making Love Spells, Secrets of the Black Flamed Candle and Jinxes, Hexes and Protection Spells.

The point of psychic readings, says Day, is to gain insight and do something about your life. "I believe there is no such thing as fate. There's no point getting a psychic reading if you can't change and empower your life."

The visual clues kick off the clairvoyance, we're told, to make what seems like a picture of a person standing in a forest suddenly have meaning.

"Christian taught me about the bored Princess card," says Poirier, "that has a little snail in the corner. Some things are worth waiting for and just take a very, very long time."

Poirier and Day are sitting with their pointy witch hats together at the head of the table. A hideous hanging figure looms behind them. A rushing sound running through the mall's exposed overhead pipes gives the place a magical underworld feel.

Day goes back and forth between a very serious instructor to a drama queen, eliciting hysterical laugher.

"You are literally God when you read your cards," he says. "You will blurt things out that you don't even know you've said like 'how long have you been cheating on him?"

At his first Salem physic fair in 1996, Day barely needed cards, he tells the group. Instead, he would just hold the hands of the person he was reading.

"I won't do that again," he says with a theatrical roll of the eyes. "Well, maybe now that we have hand sanitizer."

When a card falls to the floor, Poirier playfully purrs "what falls to the floor, knocks on the door ..."

The two Salem psychics also do phone readings. It's amazing how clear the readings come through when someone is in the comfort of their own home with a pint of ice cream in their lap, says Day.

"Or we've got a pint of ice cream," Poirier chimes in charmingly.

They also do readings online at www.keen.com, where people pay $4.99 a minute, of which Day says he gets $2.92. Poirier is more of a homebody and better about logging on, he says, and therefore makes more money.

The goal, says Day, is to make as much as those psychics who earn up to $250,000 online.

"I gave up working for corporate America because I got sick of working for other people," he says. "This is my show."

If doing psychic readings sounds hard enough without putting hundreds of miles between two people, a phone line or Internet service provider, Day assures that as long as a person's energy is open, he can get a clear reading.

Though he won't take any help from clients, he doesn't want to be completely off course. "Stop me if I'm going in the wrong direction. I don't want to spend 15 minutes talking about the grandchild you never had."

During the course, Day launches into a complicated explanation that mixes ancient religions and indicates he knows quite a bit about the history of tarot. But he inserts humor just when it's getting too cerebral.

"Thanks to Madonna, we now have sort of an US Magazine understanding of Kabbalah," he says, referring to popular Jewish mysticism. "The Tree of Life you can now pick up at Neiman Marcus."

Jeannine Roy, a housewife from Swampscott attending the class, says she has always felt psychic.

"I've seen tons of things ever since I was little," she says.

Whether she starts reading for other people depends on how good she gets, she says.

A woman from Illinois says that during a depression, she once cut up her tarot cards into "teeny, tiny pieces." Without knowing this, her acupuncturist later told her she needed to reconnect with her spiritual side. She now holds a new deck in her hands.

Those in search of readings, says Day, often want to know: Will he come back? And does he think about me?

That's not always such a bad place to be in life, says Day. "Is she finding enlightenment waiting on the boyfriend from 1973?"



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