The Other Side of the Tarot Table

Published May, 2011.

By Karen M. Rider, M.A.

The Other Side of the Tarot Table

Karen Hollis, never intended for a career in the metaphysical arts. Sometimes, the Divine Conductor orchestrates a symphony of an entirely different nature. Clint Eastwood grappled with this very topic in his recent film, Hereafter, starring Matt Damon. Though not quite as dramatic for Karen, who embraces her intuitive gifts and all that it brings to her life. However, Karen was led away from a high-profile career in multimedia-publishing to what has become a thriving practice as a professional intuitive and Tarot reader. Her clientele of more than 1600 spans the globe as her skills transcend both time and space.

Karen took me to the other side of her Tarot table for my very first professional Tarot reading. We spoke about her career, professional ethics and her hopes and fears.

Fascinated with Tarot Art History

Om Times, May, 2011

While an undergraduate student Salve Regina University, Karen "fell in love with the art, the spiritual and esoteric symbolism of the Tarot." She also was intrigued by the historical influence the Church had on sending the cards underground, during a specific period in history. Little did she know that this innocent appreciation and curiosity was the thread that would tie together some of the most important moments in her life.

Years later, Karen went on to work for The Knot and a number of other high profile marketing organizations. One afternoon, while traveling her sales route in Connecticut, she happened upon a new age store. "I went in to sell advertising space and wound-up staying for a reading with the shopkeeper."

"This complete stranger knew things [about my life], which he could not have known from any other source." The man told Karen she would "have a career as a professional psychic. She laughed and was prepared to leave the store when the gentleman invited Karen to join a psychic development group. "I was still intrigued with the cards. You could say my curiosity got the best of me and I showed-up at the first class." Soon after, Karen met the regarded psychic, Virginia Randolph, who has been her mentor for many years.

A Reading by Karen

"The Tarot cards provide a source of information that can help people in situations where they are so close to their own issues they can't see clearly," Karen explained.

A reading by Karen begins with a prayer to invoke Divine guidance. I recorded my name on the sign-in form and gave my date of birth. Next, Karen prepared the regular deck of cards. I shuffled and split the deck a few times. As she spread the cards, Karen read (interpreted) the patterns that emerged.

The layout Karen used in my reading encompassed three timelines: past, present and future. Karen sees her job as "being a witness to" and "assisting a client in determining if she/he is living in the present moment, hanging onto old baggage or worrying about the future." She also guides a client to seeing how events in the past infiltrate the present.

In my reading, Karen questioned an incident between my spouse and his brother. She noted that this event "was anchored in the recent past but was on-going."' She also saw another person in the middle of it, "a mother or mother-in-law—more likely the latter." If my spouse, whose picture appears in the dictionary under the term 'skeptic,' were sitting next to me, he'd have fallen out of his chair. Karen, whom I had never met (nor even heard of before this interview) had intuited a situation that was wrecking havoc in the lives of more than a few family members. Even though it was not the first thing in my conscious mind when the reading began, it carried enough psychic energy to reveal itself in the cards.

Tarot Cards in a fan

For the next phase of the reading, Karen prepared the Tarot deck. Her deck of choice is The Hanson-Roberts Tarot. Like the traditional deck of cards, the layout is significant but, with Tarot, the way the symbols emerge in the layout provides a more striking revelation of the patterns, problems and possibilities in the client's life. Based on the way cards turned for me, Karen provided guidance about my role and choices I might want to consider as I navigate through this family challenge.

Apparently, going into the reading and interview with thoughts about my writing career was not in the cards for me that day. One thing my subconscious wanted to see more clearly was my spouse! Even though we had not spoke since very early that morning, and I made the conscious effort to clear my mental clutter before I entered Karen's sacred reading space, the event she spoke of in reading the regular deck emerged in the Tarot reading as well (and so much more). Karen didn't make generalizations that I superimposed upon circumstances in my life. She was very specific. Karen and I have never crossed paths before this interview, yet she could see so much. There was a lot of information and energy to take in and hold space for in my mind and heart.

Guidance, Choice and Responsibility

Karen encourages her clients to think about the guidance revealed in the cards in light of who they are and before making any changes in life, to consider the resources they have or need to acquire (e.g., timing, social support, financial and emotional resources).

"I do not make decisions for a client. I may talk through choices with them. My obligation to the client is to remind them of their responsibility for their life—what they choose or do not choose for themselves. I remind them to be patient with whatever they decide for themselves. No one should expect instant gratification is the result of following guidance received during a reading."

"It seems people have forgotten that manifesting (a verb) requires intention, action and surrendering expectation for a particular outcome. It took me a long time to understand this and it is a lesson I relearn on a regular basis!"

Karen continues with a smile, "its part of human experience to learn such things, part of evolving. Psychic guidance, intuition contributes to the process. Again, a psychic's ethical responsibility is to share information from Source without interfering with a client's decision-making process. [If they ask], I can try to help them think through consequences of choices they may be considering but I don't interfere with free will."

This lesson she learned from her grandmother and mother both of whom demonstrated the ability to know things before they would happen. "I never thought my mother or grandmother were different from anyone else's. . . while they didn't read cards or anything of the sort, they did honor their own powerful intuition and recognized the great responsibility tied to it. My grandmother taught me, no matter what 'my feelings,' not to meddle in other's lives without their permission."

Psychic or Intuitive: Do You Predict Your Own Future?

Karen Hollis, Professional Intuitive

"I believe that the word 'psychic' has taken on too many negative connotations. There are fraudulent people who call themselves psychics, and I do not wish to be associated in any way with those folks. People who have genuine psychic skills will never tell you that you have a curse on you. They will not increase your anxiety in any way. They will not promise you things without some action on your part."

"Are psychics accurate at their own readings?"

"I can't predict my own future. It is my position that psychics should not attempt to read themselves. We're too close to our own stuff to see objectively," she responds with conviction.

"No matter the extent of one's training, I don't think it wise to read for one's self."

She reflects for a moment. The space around Karen is luminous. I don't know if it is the lighting in the room, which is like an inter-spiritual chapel where you are surrounded by cross-cultural icons, or if it's her aura. (If it is the latter, thanks Karen – yours is the first I've seen and, at the time of the interview, it's a soft golden-green hue.) As if she were reading my mind, she continues:

"Everyone has a gift of intuition. The difference between people who do this for a living and everyone else is the level to which one has studied and developed her or his intuition."

"Are there certain qualities that make a person an effective reader?"

"I believe an effective reader wants to make a difference in people's lives. They are non-judgmental listeners who can discern when a client may need a referral to a licensed counselor or other medical professional. I do abide by an ethical code to do no harm and to work with people within the limits of my knowledge and skills."

Messages of Light—What About Shadow?

"Help me understand something, if you can. A lot of advertising in the metaphysical community emphasizes 'delivering messages of light.' How can only light come through when we all have, in archetypal language, the devil in us just as much as the angel? Isn't a psychic obligated to deliver both messages of light and shadow?"

Tarot cards from Om Times article

"I don't use that language in my advertising, so I can only speculate. I think the professional [psychic] community wants to reassure potential clients. Some folks won't go to a psychic if there is even a chance the practitioner will "see" something disquieting. In fact, many of my clients are anxiety-ridden. They seek answers to their troubles—financial crisis, loss of a home and other base securities. That being said, what is disconcerting to one person may not be to another.

"For example, is Death a bad thing? I am not God. I do not ask to see and will not predict a person's death. I recite an opening prayer to create a sacred space. I ask that useful and uplifting information come through if possible.

"This is where professional ethics are paramount. My rule is if a client can avoid and/or actually do something about [a potentially distressing circumstance that comes through], then I will share that information, providing it does not increase anxiety in any way. What would be the purpose in creating more turmoil in someone's life? I'd much rather reveal to them where they can effect change and inspire them to bring light into their small piece of the world."

Like the character in Hereafter, Karen does feel the heaviness of the Sight she has been given and the level to which she has developed it, it's not what she does or does not see that scares Karen Hollis.

"What scares me is that I will die someday and I will have done so little to change the world for the better."

Just as there is Light opposite the Shadow, so there is Hope to conquer Fear:

"Every day I am given another opportunity to be remembered for caring about another human being's suffering in the world, and that may change the world, for the better, one person at a time."


Karen Hollis offers her readings by appointment for $120 for an hour. Call Readings By Karen at 860-665-8024 between 9:00 a.m. and 7:30 p.m. Eastern Time to make an appointment.

Our House Media interviewed Karen for an episode of Paranormal Survivor. This episode has aired in the summer 2015 season on Destination America.

Find out more about Karen's Media Appearances.