I love when I discover a new Tarot reader bringing the art of card reading into the modern age, and Bakara Wintner is certainly one of these people! She’s the owner of Everyday Magic, an intentional lifestyle shop in Durham, North Carolina, and recently she published a book called “WTF is Tarot? …& How Do I Do It?”, which brings old into the new, using pop culture references and colloquialisms to make sense of card reading for a now generation.
I invited Bakara on to the Biddy Tarot Podcast in Episode 111 (lucky number!) to talk about moving from the busy publishing industry in New York City to quitting her 9-to-5 to pursue the spiritual full time.
Visit Bakara’s website at BakaraW.com
Check out Bakara’s store in Durham, NC at ShopEverdayMagic.com
You’re listening to the Biddy Tarot Podcast, and this is Episode 111: WTF is Tarot? With Bakara Wintner.
Welcome to the Biddy Tarot Podcast, where you’ll learn how to connect more deeply with your intuition and live an empowered and enlightened life with the Tarot cards as your guide.
Listen as Brigit and her guests share their very best tips and strategies to help you read Tarot with confidence. And now, here’s your host, Brigit Esselmont.
BRIGIT: Hello, and welcome back to the Biddy Tarot Podcast. Now, I know for all of you number lovers, you’re going to love this episode because it is 111—very fortuitous, and I’m sure our guest will be super excited that she’s been allocated to this number of podcast.
Now, our guest today is Bakara Wintner. Bakara is a Tarot reader, dog mom, girl boss, writer and owner of Everyday Magic, which is an intentional lifestyle store that’s both online and in Durham, North Carolina.
In her few short years reading Tarot, she has gained a reputation as an innately gifted intuitive and Tarot reader. Her dynamic and no-nonsense reading style has earned her a vast client base and recognition from Nylon, Refinery29, Urban Outfitters and Stone Fox Bride.
Now, she is also the author of the book WTF is Tarot? And How Do I Do It? My goodness, when I saw this title of the book, I was like, “Man, I’ve got to talk to this woman!” I love the bluntness of the book title, and it’s really an indication of Bakara’s style. It’s this no-nonsense, up-front, “This is what Tarot is really about” and more in the modern style, more in that more approachable style.
In this interview, we talk a little bit about the book. We also talk about Bakara’s journey, how she’s come to be writing about Tarot, and how she brings Tarot into her own life and connects with her clients. I’m sure you’re going to love today’s interview, so sit back, relax and enjoy!
WTF IS TAROT? WITH BAKARA WINTNER
BRIGIT: Welcome, Bakara! I’m so excited to have you here. How are you doing tonight?
BAKARA: Thank you so much, Brigit. I’m very, very excited to be here. Thank you for having me on.
BRIGIT: My pleasure. Now, you have had one of these gorgeous, multi-phased/faceted journeys to becoming a Tarot reader. Tell me a little bit about your journey from a career perspective and also what has led you to Tarot in the first place.
BAKARA: Yeah, I had no interest or desire, I thought, to ever, ever connect with the Tarot. I was working in the publishing industry in New York City, which was a very intentional decision. I grew up loving books, and I studied publishing in school, so it came as a shock to me when my mentor person gave me a deck as a gift kind of out of nowhere.
From there, it didn’t take long to completely change my life. I think, within 8 months of receiving my deck, I had quit my job to read Tarot full time, and that’s a whole story within itself.
But long story short, I started giving readings to just friends and interns at my company randomly in my office, and it just kind of naturally escalated. People started telling people, and within 8 months, I couldn’t keep a full-time job and give readings at the level that I wanted to and was being asked to. I quit my job about 8 months after getting my deck, and yeah, I went on to be a full time Tarot reader.
BRIGIT: Yep, and was it actually such a smooth transition? Or did you have some challenges in terms of making that transition?
BAKARA: It’s so funny, boiling it all down to just a couple of sentences years later, but no, it was very challenging for a number of reasons. I mean, I think that more and more people are starting to show interest. Interest in the Tarot is growing, and interest in metaphysical matters, in general, is growing, and I think that it’s a good thing that there are more people… There’s a bigger surge of interest now because there’s more community available to people who are interested in it.
When this first happened to me, I felt like I was going insane because everything that mattered to me, starting from my job and the way that I saw the world, changed almost overnight upon receiving this deck.
The only thing that was easy for me was my relationship with the Tarot. I saw the cards and felt an immediate connection to them, and that journey, in spite of being challenging and demanding, there was distinct sense of effortlessness to it. But the rest of it—working, going to my 9-to-5 and then giving readings until midnight every night—was not easy. Quitting a job that I loved was not easy. The things that I had to move around to make room for this weren’t easy. Outgrowing people as a result of what I had been learning through the Tarot wasn’t easy. It was worth it, but it demanded quite a bit.
BRIGIT: Yeah, it’s funny because when we relay our story, it often boils down to those few sentences of “Then I quit my job, and then I became a Tarot reader,” but really, in between all of those lines… My goodness, there is so much stuff to go through. Even letting go of friends, like you just said, that aren’t in alignment with where you are at. And letting go of a career that, no doubt, you worked incredibly hard for.
BRIGIT: Do you see now, though… This is my theory: All of this stuff comes full circle in this beautiful spiral of evolution. Are you seeing now your publishing career is coming back to you but through the lens of Tarot?
BAKARA: Absolutely. I was approached about a year and a half ago by a publisher to write a book on the Tarot, and college Bakara was just screaming because the only thing I ever wanted as someone who studied publishing and as a writer was to write a book. I never in a million years thought it would ultimately be about the Tarot, but it does feel…
What I’m starting to feel really strongly now is that everything that the Tarot asks of me, it gave back a thousandfold. Not even tenfold! It didn’t just meet me halfway. I’ve definitely come to almost implicitly trust the journey that it’s put me on.
BRIGIT: Yeah, it’s funny. I can relate a lot! Oftentimes, I sit there, going, “Whoa! Am I doing all of this in Tarot? This is so amazing and bizarre at the same time,” you know? But it seems to be the channel for me and for you in terms of how we can have an impact on this world. It’s quite amazing. I’m curious: Do you think it’s Tarot, or do you think it’s intuition? Which one do you think is sort of taking the lead? Or maybe something completely different?
BAKARA: I mean, I think that there are so many different doors that one can find to enter into the space of being intuitive and trusting that, and Tarot was the one for me, absolutely. I have a lot of friends who came to magic through yoga. I have friends who came to magic through learning about Ayurveda and the chakra system. But I really do believe that all roads lead to the same mountaintop, which is connecting with your intuition and learning to trust yourself.
BRIGIT: Yeah, absolutely. Beautiful. Now, you mentioned your book. I would love to hear a little bit more about it, and I guess, just based on the title being WTF is Tarot?… So, we generally don’t swear on this show, just to keep it friendly!
BAKARA: I can do that!
BRIGIT: So, tell me more about your book and where this concept has come from. I think it’s really cute.
BAKARA: Absolutely. When I was approached by my publisher to write this book, I was plagued by anxiety and this feeling of… At that point, I had been reading Tarot for about 3 ½ years, and I had been studying under people, reading books of people who have been writing about Tarot for five times as long as I had even been reading it, so there was definitely this feeling of “Oh no! What do they possibly think I have to say that could be worthwhile?”
With the title, I wanted to kind of give the most honest portrayal I could, which was the feeling that I had when I first got my deck of cards. “WTF is this?” I felt that it was powerful. I felt very connected to it, but it’s also this very daunting prospect, because in giving yourself to interact with the Tarot, you’re doing multiple things at once.
You’re giving yourself permission to be magical and intuitive, which is something that a lot of people don’t feel like they have a right to embody. There’s also the sheer expanse and scope of the Tarot, which is 78 cards which all have different meanings that have been studied across creeds and faiths and continents for hundreds of years at the very least, so you’re tapping into this collective history and usage and also these parts of yourself that you may or may not be familiar with.
So, I wanted to break it down as simply as I could for people, I guess, who are feeling what I was feeling, which is “I’m scared! I don’t know if I’m allowed to do this. I know I really want to do it.” Then with some choosy cuss words for good measure and bunch of pop culture references—because I am, after all, a millennial.
BRIGIT: Yeah, I think it’s brilliant because I’m really excited to see Tarot coming through to… I wanted to say, “the New Age,” but that’s got a whole other meaning to it.
BRIGIT: But it’s this old concept of Tarot coming into the now, and I feel like it needs to be reborn and recreated in a way to make it relevant for now. You see the certain ways of working with the Tarot the we often see in a lot of books, but now I’m getting super excited because we’re seeing books like yours that are coming out and saying, “Hey, this ancient wisdom, this ancient tool of Tarot can now be used in this new way of helping us connect to our intuition.
BRIGIT: Tell me a little bit about that. How are you bringing Tarot into this modern world?
BAKARA: Well, I definitely feel kind of a sense of urgency in spreading not just Tarot but Tarot as a tool for people to empower themselves and connect with their intuition. The way that I’ve chosen to do it in my book… I mean, my whole thesis is we already know what the Tarot is. We’ve already met these archetypes either in the form of someone else in our life or an experience that we went through. So, the way that I wrote about it with the Major Arcana was about the meaning… I wrote about what it could mean in a reading, but I also included personal anecdotes of times in my life where I was in the presence of that archetype or where I had to embody that archetype or something.
I feel like that, for me, the most powerful way of spreading Tarot is taking it out of this esoteric, cool kids, New Age club and kind of… Not rebranding it but almost debranding it. This is available to anyone. Are you a stay-at-home dad? Are you a CEO? Are you a student? Are you an artist? It’s universally relevant because it’s the human experience, so there’s actually nothing more universally relevant, in my opinion, than the Tarot.
I’m also finding that a lot of people my age are disenchanted with bigger organised religions. People just aren’t buying it anymore. People are craving a more direct connection with source and with themselves, and this is just a way to do it, so I think that there’s definitely a wave, a trend around Tarot coming up now, but I feel like it’s almost like any way that it can be spread in this moment, I think, is ultimately going to be a positive thing.
BRIGIT: Yeah, it’s interesting. Is it heading down the path of a bit of a fad and being on trend because Vogue.com and so on? Or is this something that we can have here to stay that’s really honouring its spiritual roots but bringing it into more of the modern world? Where do you see that going?
BAKARA: Well, I think that I definitely view the Tarot as a living organism. It has its own heartbeat, and I think, like any living things, it wants to survive. It wants to perpetuate itself, so I honestly think about the fact that Tarot is ending up in Vogue, and it’s ending up in Urban Outfitters. There are so many different possible homes for it. I think of someone kind of blowing a wish, like a dandelion, and the seeds just finding home wherever they will. I think that there’s wisdom inherent in the Tarot in the way it’s spreading. I don’t think it has anything to do with us, honestly!
BRIGIT: Yep. Yeah, it’s beautiful. Where do you see Tarot heading in the future?
BAKARA: I think that Tarot will eventually lose the big mysterious, shrouded, mystical hype that it has right now and eventually just become ingrained into people’s daily lives. I’ve seen it with my clients where they pull a card for themselves every morning, or a friend of theirs is struggling, and they bring out cards. I have friends that, when I first met them, thought I was very, very enchanting for reading Tarot, and now they call me, and they’re like, “I have a big thing coming up—can we schedule a reading?” It’s the same thing as asking for advice. I think it just kind of grounds into the everyday, which ultimately is its most useful function, in my opinion, because it brings in mindfulness, it brings in context, it brings in archetype, it brings in the divine, it brings in intuition, and the useful implementation of all of those functions is in our everyday life.
BRIGIT: Yeah, I absolutely agree. How are you using it in your personal life on a daily basis?
BAKARA: Well, I own a shop called Everyday Magic in Durham, North Carolina, where we sell Tarot cards, and we sell crystals and different healing and ritual objects. I’m also a full-time Tarot reader, so my whole life has kind of become Tarot at this point, but it definitely helps me to… It’s definitely my base framework for contextualising the world.
I’ll give an example. Yesterday, I was talking to a friend of mine, and he’s starting to learn about the Tarot right now, and he was talking about this guy that he’s been friends with for a while who used to really annoy him and trigger him. He was like, “But I realised that he’s just the Fool. He is authentically the energy of the Fool, and I feel like because I know that, I can understand him, and I don’t have to be annoyed by his behaviours because I can zoom out and see him in the context of this archetype.”
I definitely like to sit and categorise my friends inside of all the archetypes and court cards and stuff like that, but I think that, even more than that, the Tarot has fundamentally restructured me almost on a cellular level. All of my trauma has been healed or is healing through the Tarot. The way I view the world, the way I think when something bad or good happens, it’s kind of altered that at this point. There’s kind of a “before meeting the Tarot” for me and an after.
BRIGIT: Hmm, it’s interesting. As you’re talking, I’m visualising almost this filter system, right? The filter system is the Tarot, so all of this uncertainty and craziness of what happens in the world on a day-to-day basis can be passed through this filter, and then it almost comes out where it’s just so smooth and clean, and I’m seeing just straight lines, which make me very happy.
But I feel like that, where sometimes you can make sense of things by looking at it through the lens of Tarot. For example, when everything is going crazy, you’re like, “OK, this is just like the Tower.”
BRIGIT: And I know that with the Tower, it feels awful when you’re in it, but it’s making way for new growth. I wonder if you’re having that experience, where by being able to translate it in terms of Tarot, you can see what the purpose of all of these things are.
BAKARA: Well, I feel that in both ways. When I was writing the book, I was absolutely in Tower energy. I had just opened my business, and I had no idea what I was doing. When I was writing the book, I felt like I had no idea what I was doing. I had just gotten out of a long relationship, so I was pseudo homeless. I was just in Tower energy, knowing that everything that’s burning down right now, everything that feels chaotic, this all needs to happen.
And now, I feel like, a year and a half later, I’m standing in the energy of the World, and on the flip side, I’m just like, “I wonder how long I’m going to get to enjoy this before everything just starts back up again!”
BRIGIT: Yep, it’s like a reality check where… I don’t know. It’s almost like it’s giving you foresight but not in that fortune telling way of doing things. It’s more foresight into understanding these life lessons and how things generally work—universal law and all that good stuff.
BAKARA: Right. It’s so “as above, so below.” If we expand, we will contract. If we breathe in, we have to breath out, and I think that there’s perfection in all of it. I feel the perfection of the Tower as much as I feel it in the World.
BRIGIT: Yeah, absolutely. Interesting. You’ve got the book out now. What’s coming up next for you in terms of your Tarot projects and you’re expressing yourself through Tarot?
BAKARA: It’s endless, endless! I was fortunate enough to work with one of my dear friends and an extremely talented illustrator, Autumn Whitehurst, for the book. We had started working on a Tarot deck before I got approached to write the book, so we had a set of images in mind. The images that are in the book are actually the preliminary sketches for a Tarot deck that she and I are designing, which is loosely, loosely supposed to come out in late spring or early summer.
BRIGIT: Yep, and what’s that experience like, creating a deck? It always sort of freaks me out a little.
BAKARA: It feels like this very intense… Because Autumn is also… I’m not just working with an illustrator and telling an illustrator what I want. Autumn is also a scholar on the Tarot. She comes at it from kind of a different perspective. She’s a little bit older. She studied it through some kind of more classical channels, so it’s two people who really, really love and revere the Tarot sitting together in prayer for days at a time, making sure that the concept of a single card is in perfect integrity in every way.
It’s ultimately very satisfying because, you know, we’ll finish the concept for a card and really feel it come alive and feel the rightness of it, but I also have a thing where I hate long, unending projects because there’s no feeling of satisfaction of it being done, and I feel like, for someone who hates long, unending projects, I put a lot of them on my plate! There’s the big pay-off at the end, but right now, we’re kind of just still mired in it.
BRIGIT: Yep, and I always think of once you’re in, you have to keep going and going until you have those 78 cards. You can’t stop at 56—do you know what I mean?
BAKARA: Absolutely not. I mean, Autumn is the illustrator. I don’t have an artistic bone in my body in that way. I’m coming up with these crazy concepts. For Temperance, I’m like, “Oh, my gosh! We should have a nest made of amethyst crystals that has fire and water inside of it!” and Autumn is just having a meltdown. She’s like, “How am I doing to do this?!”
BRIGIT: Yep. It sounds awesome, and I cannot wait to see the finished product with that Tarot deck. I guess, kind of to wrap things up a little bit here, what would be your advice to younger people who might be thinking about starting to read Tarot or have just been dabbling and want to dive deeper? And I guess I’m saying this also particularly for younger people because I think we still have… There’s still a difference between the younger and the older style of reading Tarot, so how could a younger person find their power and find that beautiful place of modern Tarot reading?
BAKARA: Well, I think that for me, when I first got my deck, what was scariest was looking at other healers and light workers and what I assumed a healer to be and what I assumed a light worker to be, and just feeling so not like that. I meditate, and I have a practice, and I have a relationship with my spirituality that’s very important to me, but it just didn’t look like anything that I was seeing that was being reflected back to me with young people or the older generation. I think that was the hardest thing because I equated that to being not allowed to do it or not capable of doing it.
I think the most key piece of advice that I could give is you could be exactly who you are read Tarot and read Tarot through that lens. In fact, if you try to be anything else, then the particular brand of what you have to offer and the people that you can help by being authentic in your practice is missed. So, comparison is a death wish always, to let yourself be freaked out and to let yourself feel like you’re not worthy of doing it or allowed to do it, but to also know that none of that is true. There is no cool kids club. There are no chosen people who are allowed to do it or are more equipped to do it than you. It’s just a matter of getting started and giving yourself permission.
BRIGIT: Yeah, I think that’s great advice. I know when you’re first starting out, you do! You kind of look around and go, “Oh, but there’s that Tarot reader over there, and she’s done it for 40 years! And there’s that one in their crushed velvet! I never wear crushed velvet!”
BAKARA: I know! Exactly!
BAKARA: The first time a client emailed me for a reading—my first real reading with someone I didn’t know—I actually responded back to her, and I’m like, “No, I actually can’t give you a reading because I’m completely unqualified to do it, but here’s the number of a reader I know who is been reading for 25 years. You should go to her.” That was my initial entryway into professional Tarot reading. Luckily, she was like, “No, I’m going to go with you,” even though I tried as hard as I could to persuade her otherwise. But yeah, it’s all relative. Of course, someone reading Tarot for 25 years has a wisdom that you don’t, but the person who has been reading for 25 years can’t read for every person in the world. There’s someone who has been reading for a month or been studying for six months that can offer someone… Just because you’re coming in their path, I don’t believe that there’s any scarcity with this. The need is increasing at the same proportion that people are waking up and showing interest in it.
BRIGIT: I love it! Love it. Awesome. So, Bakara, where can people find out more about you?
BRIGIT: Fabulous. Excellent. And, of course, you can get your book on Amazon and probably in really good bookstores as well, right?
BAKARA: Only the best bookstores, yes!
BRIGIT: Anywhere that books are sold! Fabulous. Awesome, and is there anything that you want to wrap up with so that this interview feels good and complete?
BAKARA: Just that I’m so happy to be here talking to you right now. This is my favourite thing in the world to talk about. I hate small talk! The Tarot is such an amazing way to kind of authentically and immediately connect with people, and it’s my sincere hope that anybody who is feeling unsure of if they can or not just give themselves permission to dive off the deep in and just see what crazy amazing things happen.
BRIGIT: I love it. Thank you so much for sharing your inspiration and your journey, Bakara. I really appreciate it.
BRIGIT: So, there you have it. I hope you enjoyed that interview with Bakara Wintner. If you want to find out more about Bakara or get access to her book on Amazon, go to BiddyTarot.com/111. Gosh, good numbers! You’ll also find the transcript for today’s call there and all sorts of goodness as well. Now, I hope you’ve enjoyed the conversation. I can’t wait to connect with you again next time.
In fact, on our next episode, I’ll be talking a little bit more about intuition and how to recognise when it’s your intuition and how to really listen to your intuition instead of resisting it, which I know we all do. I can’t wait to have that chat with you very, very soon. For now, enjoy the week, and I’ll connect again next week! Bye for now.