October 16, 2019

Queen of Cups

Teacher by day, tarot card reader by night, Sarah Bernstein divines your future while you drink.
By Ross Boissoneau | Sept. 14, 2019

It’s not like she has a secret identity, but mild-mannered high school teacher Sarah Bernstein does have another side: Taproom Tarot Gal. Bernstein moonlights as a tarot card reader for friends, private events, and publicly at area brewpubs.
 
Why brewpubs?“Because that’s where the people are. And I love people, and I love tarot,” Bernstein said. “Plus, brewpubs let me.”
 
Well then. That’s settled.
 
As one might expect, there’s more to the story. Bernstein became interested in what she refers to as the other side or spirituality as a youngster.

“I was a weird kid, an only child,” she said. “I used to roller skate in cemeteries and feel quite at home. Even as a young girl, I was really interested in the other side, spirituality, energy. What makes a soul? Where do we go?”
 
That interest remained even after she grew up. As an adult, she began studying Buddhism and reading books and teachings by spiritual teacher and author Ram Dass and renowned Buddhist teachers Pema Chodron and Thich Nhat Hahn.

“I still loved woo-woo energy stuff, but I was more interested in learning about our minds: the conscious, the subconscious, ego, the stories that define us. It’s all so fascinating.”
 
Ever curious, Bernstein began looking into tarot. She had some friends who were into it. But though she had the inclination, the working mother of two didn’t have much time to learn. That changed when her third daughter was born.

“I was home alone all day for eight weeks of maternity leave right in the middle of a frigid winter. So I picked up a tarot deck and taught myself. All I did for two months straight was feed my infant, flip tarot cards, and watch marathons of Finding Bigfoot,” she said.
 
As to tarot, it dates back a bit further than Bernstein. Tarot cards entered Europe in the mid-15thcentury. The earliest known decks weren’t designed with divination in mind; initially they were used for games similar to bridge.
 
The cards were divided into four suits: cups, swords, coins and polo sticks (which eventually morphed into staves or wands). What today would be considered face cards were originally limited to a king and two male underlings, then the queens and the fool were added. The addition of the trump cards completed the deck, totaling 78 cards.
 
The tarot gained credence for mystical uses — called cartomancy — in Paris in the 1780s. Since then, divining the future through them has been embraced by a variety of mystics, Bernstein included.
 
She said tarot helps her to practice Buddhism on another level. She said each card represents some archetypal experience of life: friendship, community, love, loss, greed, charity, etc.

For those reluctant to try tarot for fear of revealing a dismal fate, don’t worry: “There are no bad cards,” Bernstein said. “Every card, every experience, is important and purposeful. The Death tarot card is always featured in films or whatever as something terrible and foreboding. It’s not that at all! It’s the best card in the deck. It stands more for rebirth. Life is cyclical. Things move out of our lives to make room for new, fresh experiences.”
 
Bernstein said she keeps her tarot life separate from her work in the classroom. “I’m an otherwise sort of boring teacher/mom who needs an excuse to paint my nails red. Would you trust a fortune teller who didn’t have red nails? I hope not,” she said.
 
So what inspired her to bring her tarot deck to the public via local brewpubs? “It’s fun, it’s playful, it feels quirky — where can I do it? I thought maybe brewpubs.”

So she emailed some owners, and asked if she could ply her trade there. Receiving a positive answer, she and her red nails began regularly appearing at various nightspots.
 
She said the atmosphere at brewpubs lends itself to her readings; patrons there are typically relaxed, and she’s able to approach people and be approached without suspicion. “It’s buckets of fun, and I meet the loveliest people,” she said. Bernstein is at Right Brain Brewery the third Friday of each month from 6pm to 11pm. “And I pop around to other places on full moons for extra theatrical flair. I've done full moon mini-readings at The Workshop, Rare Bird, etc.,” she said. 
 
Coming up Oct. 16: She’s offering a beginning tarot reading class at Right Brain Brewery. Her Tarot 101 will feature what Bernstein calls “the tarot novice’s starter pack: a tarot deck, booklet, and three hours of introduction, spreads, and fun card-flipping practice.” Cost is $75.
 
Of course, once can’t learn everything about tarot in one class. The order in which the cards are exposed and the many meanings each one holds adds to the complexity. Bernstein said that even after three-plus years of daily use of her cards, she discovers something every time she flips them.
 
Ultimately she believes tarot simply helps people connect with one another and to whatever life source they believe is in the universe. “Every person I know who does tarot [experiences] a connection to something bigger,” she said. “You’re loved and supported by God, love, source energy, the other side. It’s a chance to be playful and loving in a spiritual way. Ultimately it’s what you get out of it.”
 
Want to learn more about Bernstein or her tarot events? Visit www.sarahandsource.com.

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