S.F Chronicle Interview – Sept 2002

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Tarot card reading elevates spirits
By Pati Poblete
Chronicle Living Editor
Sunday, September 29, 2002

Ever since my friend’s mother read my palm in fourth grade, I’ve avoided tarot card readers, palm readers, fortune-tellers and anyone with a Ouija board.

Maybe it was the way she shook her head and made that clicking noise with her tongue. Or maybe it was when she told me my health, love life and career would plummet in midlife.

It just wasn’t a feel-good moment.

So when I saw the press release on my desk touting the wonders of Susan Levitt, “The best astrologer of San Francisco,” I was tempted to form a cross with my fingers to keep its evil powers away.

But then I read the next line: “Her clients claim she could have saved them from years of therapy.”

Not that I need therapy, but it was intriguing. Doesn’t everyone just want to be understood? Plus, I’m still healthy, with a good job. What did my friend’s mom know?

So, in an effort to face my fears, I picked up the phone and made the appointment for my first tarot card reading.

As I climbed the stairs to her home and pressed the buzzer, I imagined a woman with jet-black hair and thick, dark eye makeup opening the door — a Morticia look-alike who smelled of incense and sandalwood, and something else that was indefinable.

Before I could turn around and head for my car, the door opened and there stood Susan. In a printed shirt, black capri pants, sandals and red polished toenails, she looked like someone who could be teaching a floral arrangement class. Maybe she’s like Samantha, the good witch, I thought.

She led me upstairs to a room filled with light. Reflections of the bright melon-colored walls bounced off each strategically placed mirror. (She’s also a feng shui consultant). And the scent of oranges and cinnamon permeated the air.

Though I tried to fight it, I actually felt spiritually elevated just being in this room.

“You can sit there,” she said, pointing to a wicker chair in front of a low coffee table. There I saw the deck of cards. With its browned, curled edges, it was the equivalent of the old village soothsayer, just waiting to be asked what was in store.

“What is your sign?” she asked. Oh brother, I thought, how SO cliche. “Scorpio,” I replied. “Ah, you’re a water sign,” she said, “The three water signs are Pisces, Cancer and Scorpio.” According to Levitt, we mermaids are most interested in things such as spirit, feeling, emotion, intuition. But, wait, that’s just my Western sign, she explained.

What makes Levitt different from your average astrologer/tarot card reader/feng shui consultant is that she combines Western astrology with Eastern. In fact, she’s written several books on Taoist astrology, Western astrology, tarot and Taoism.

“What year were you born?” she asked. After I told her 1969, she referred to her book and informed me that I was the year of the phoenix or rooster, “The Golden Hen,” she said. So which one is it? I wondered, feeling fowl and cocky.

“I like phoenix because it’s much more spiritual,” she said, “It’s rare and enticing, a symbol of transformation and rebirth. It’s as if your life is a series of rebirths. Why do you have all these breakthroughs? Because you’re the phoenix.”

And that’s when she got my attention.

I started thinking back to junior high school, when I decided to change my look and shed my shy exterior. Rebirth. Then in high school, when I decided to sign up for all the honors classes just to prove I could hang with the smart kids and be cool. Rebirth. And then there was . . .

“But when you don’t have the breakthroughs,” she said, interrupting my thoughts, “you get stuck, and you’re like the chicken. Scratching and pecking for every grub and worm. All you see is the earth you’re pecking. So you have to keep your beak to the wind and keep looking for ways to be reborn.”

She reached over to her cards and began to shuffle. “Is there anything specific you’d like to ask the cards?” she asked. “We’ll address the questions to the cards, and the pictures will tell the tale.”

I started getting nervous, wondering if she’d flip over images of skulls and Grim Reapers. “Maybe we can just start with work,” I said meekly.

“I’d say success!” she perked up, pointing to the card. “Ten golden coins! Successful and very prosperous.” My kind of reading. “More golden coins!” she laughed, flipping over the second card. “But,” she paused, looking at the third card, “you’re going to get to the point when you don’t want to do it anymore, and you go to the next level. Because you’re a Scorpio and a phoenix, you want to do what you want to do, regardless of the money.”

Before I knew it, I was asking about health, love, finances and even housing. Then she read my palm and eerily described the past few years of my life. “What a powerful hand,” she said, marveling at each crease. “You have psychic powers that sometimes overwhelm you.”

Wow, me? Psychic? I felt like the star of that old ’80s sitcom “The Greatest American Hero,” where the guy had superhuman powers but didn’t know how to use them.

By the end of the hour, she had me at the edge of my seat. Did I believe everything she said? Maybe not everything, but it was interesting to think there was an explanation for every trial and triumph that’s happened — and will happen — in my life.

All I know is that I came feeling chicken.

But I left as a phoenix.

Past, present and future
Susan Levitt is the author of:
“Taoist Feng Shui: The Ancient Roots of Chinese Art of PLacement” ($14.95, Inner Traditions Intl Ltd);
“Taoist Astrology: A Handbook of the Authentic Chinese Tradition” ($14.95, Destiny Books);
“Teen Feng Shui: Designing a Space That Works for You” ($14.95, Inner Traditions Intl Ltd).
“The Complete Tarot Kit” (U.S. Games, Inc.) will be available in stores in October.
Original at San Francisco Chronicle, Sept. 29th, 2002, p. E3.