The cards don’t tell me when I’m going to die—which is a bit anticlimactic—but they do give me further insight into the mysterious world of the paranormal. Welcome to Psychic Saturday.
As a budding paranormal investigator, I’d found myself at Psychic Saturday, a small craft market and metaphysical fair hosted by Richmond Moon Market at Champion Brewing Company. The event promised a collection of local artisan craft vendors, psychics, and healers, all with the intention of offering insight, spiritual council, and a peek into a thinly veiled world beside our own.
At least, that was the pitch.
What I found instead was an array of booths and vendors and a few dozen people milling inside Champion Brewing Co., the air thick with incense and craft beer. There were more than 20 booths, selling everything from Tarot card readings to painted meditation pillows.
I had my Tarot cards read at the Sword & Sworcery booth, a couple’s joint venture to bring traditional folklore and magic into the modern age. Ash Emrys, one half of the founders, said she’s been practicing in this field for as long as she can remember.
“I tell people I’ve been practicing witchcraft for over 20 years, but the truth is that I can remember working with spirits and connecting with the earth as far back as around five years old,” Emrys said. “People talk about having a job or a career—I’ve always felt I had a calling.”
Sword & Sworcery offers Tarot readings, energy work, magic consultations, enchanted jewelry, and Reiki—a healing technique based on the principle that the therapist can channel energy into the patient by means of touch.
Emrys said that the mission of all of their practices is to help people. “We try to make some of this stuff translatable for people so they can actually incorporate it into their lives. I remember feeling really overwhelmed thinking it would be impossible to live a truly magical lifestyle in my everyday, and yet now that I’m doing it it’s incredibly simple.”
She described their home in rural Ashland as part of an intentional community, where they have a meditation and art studio and live close to the land. “There’s always some plant or bush or tree or animal greeting us like an old friend,” Emrys says. “The world feels a lot more full than it used to.”
Most of their work is done at events and pop-ups, catering to seasoned practitioners and the casually curious, alike. I fall into the second group, more a skeptic than anything, but I try to approach my card reading with an open mind.
Ash’s husband does a three card reading—past, present, and future—and after I randomly chose a deck, he paused to “connect with the cards and say a prayer.” Then he shuffled the deck until a card fell out. “Sometimes the fate is just out there,” he said.
He interpreted each revealed card in turn, and as much as I tried to listen and nod, I had trouble taking it seriously. But his passion for the work was apparent, and my cards—The Lovers, The Knight of Cups, and The Fool—were explained to me patiently. After he flipped the last card, he told me “you’re free to start whatever it is that you want to do.”
As vague as that may be, it was a nice message to hear. And ultimately, that’s the point of Tarot readings: to provide the promise of a future broad enough for it to mean what you need to hear.
“The Tarot is basically a system of self help,” Emrys said. “Nothing the cards tell you is written in stone—our readings are typically aimed more at helping people find help and inner guidance.”
I’m still a skeptic after my hour at the metaphysical fair—I don’t know if I believe, but I also don’t think I have to. Regardless of beliefs, it’s important that anyone in downtown Richmond that day could walk off the street to escape the stifling 90 degree heat, and find themselves somewhere a little different.
Whether you are researching haunted mansions, UFOs, or just searching for some spiritual guidance, we all deserve a little mystery—cosmic or otherwise.
See some of Sarah Honosky’s previous paranormal research in “The Peculiar and Spectral History of Swannanoa Palace.”