Tarot on the Square brings spiritual fortunetelling to Denton

Tarot on the Square brings spiritual fortunetelling to Denton

Tarot on the Square brings spiritual fortunetelling to Denton
November 16
17:53 2017

A group of people sit criss-cross upon the Denton Courthouse lawn in the early dusk of a Thursday night. Curious onlookers diverge from their path in order to get a closer glimpse of what is happening.

From afar, it may look as if the group is playing some sort of trading card game, but upon closer inspection, something much deeper is taking place — something spiritual.

“I often say there are a lot of things that happened the year that I was 17 that were really transformative,” said Susan Harper, who refers to herself as a “feminist witch.” “But picking up a tarot deck was the thing that most changed my life. It set the tone for everything that was going to come afterward.”

Harper has a Ph.D. in cultural anthropology from Southern Methodist University and now works a staff position at Texas Woman’s University. She has been reading tarot cards for 25 years. One night in June, she and her friends decided to do readings on the lawn of the Denton Courthouse, and they have not quit since.

We came and read cards on the Square one night, and people got interested,” Harper said. “We thought, ‘Well, let’s build a Facebook event and if nobody shows up then we’ll just read cards. People showed up. We were like, wow people who are not even our friends, people we’ve never even met, are showing up at this thing.”

The event became known as Tarot on the Square, which meets every Thursday night on the Denton Courthouse lawn. It is open to readers of all levels and people who are just interested in learning more about tarot. Many of the members also offer free readings to passerbys.

“I’m pretty sure sometimes it looks like we are just hanging out and having a picnic — which works for me,” said Kamilah Hasan, a community health worker in Denton and co-founder of Tarot on the Square. 

Elise Vollien and her friend Lavina Moon, University of Texas at Arlington students, traveled to Tarot on the Square from Arlington. Vollien only began practicing Paganism recently and is fairly new to reading tarot.

“I went into this wonderful shop in Richardson called the Silver Pyramid,” Vollien said. “There was just this deck there, and the feeling that I needed to take it home was so strong that I just left with that deck and started reading tarot.”

While Vollien has not been reading tarot for long, it has made a strong impact on the direction of her life.

“Tarot is for me like the way of finding out what you need to know,” Vollien said. “It’s what’s next and where you’re going, especially with my deck. My deck is very forwards with what is happening at this moment and how to guide you from there.”

Moon has been a practicing Pagan and Wiccan for two years. Tarot is the most social form of the many forms of divination that she practices.

“I’m generally a solitary practitioner,” Moon said. “But it’s been nice coming out to this community that we found in Denton. It’s small, but it’s really powerful to find people that you connect with that believe the same thing that you do.”

Harper loves how diverse and inclusive Tarot on the Square has become, and she hopes that it continues to grow.

“It’s a diverse community,” Harper said. “I’ve been really amazed at watching how people who have shown up to Tarot on the Square, who didn’t know each other from a hole in the ground at first, have come together and grown really strong friendships. It’s really supportive. There are people I only ever see at this event, but I’m always really excited to see them. It’s grown almost every time, so I think there is a want for it.”

Hasan, who organizes the Facebook page and events, feels that the event is something that the Denton community wants and needs.

“We found that there is kind of a lack of some of this nature here in Denton,” Hasan said. “Which is kind of interesting. Denton is a little hippie dippy, but it’s a very conservative city when you look at things overall. We were like, ‘Let’s just provide a space and if people are interested or people want to learn more, or just come and hang out, they can do so.”

While the Denton community may be accepting of tarot and Paganism, Harper believes that there are still a lot of misconceptions about their religious practices.

“A lot of people, certainly here in the American South, believe that any kind of divination is of the devil,” Harper said. “A big [misconception] I get is that you can’t read tarot if you are Christian, and that is absolutely not true. One of the best tarot readers I’ve ever worked with was the strongest Roman-Catholic I ever met and probably would have given her priest a heart attack if she knew. We have all kinds of people out here. Lots of Pagans and Wiccans, but we also have Buddhists and there’s the occasional atheist who’s like, ‘I just want to know if it works. Let’s try it.’”

Harper believes that movies and pop culture are also to blame for many of the misconceptions surrounding tarot, Paganism and Wicca.

“They’re worried that somehow working with the cards is something out of a horror movie,” Harper said. “Even people that might be comfortable with the idea of divination or fortune telling, they’re worried that, ‘Oh, you’re going to predict my death and something horrible is going to happen to me.’ I’m telling you, in 25 years, it’s never happened to me. I’ve read for thousands of people. It’s never happened.”

Harper began reading tarot for pizza money in the dorms of Bruce Hall, but she has come a long way over the last 25 years. Tarot has become a significant part of her life.

“It’s really a massive tool for transformation if you use it correctly,” Harper said. “It’s also a cool party trick, I’m not going to lie. Is was a super cool party trick when I was in college and it got me a lot of beer, but it can be a serious spiritual practice if you want it to be.”

Featured Image: Kamilah Hasan, a health educator who has been reading Tarot cards for 15 years, gives her friend Onyx Fury, 32, a free tarot card reading. The group gets together every other Thursday on the Square to do readings. Cameron Roe

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Slade Meadows

Slade Meadows

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3 Comments

  1. Andy
    Andy November 16, 17:59

    Barf.

    Reply to this comment
    • Stepping j
      Stepping j November 29, 15:50

      While I believe in the readings tarot cards show, I have been torn to shreds and smashed by what they reveal. I have paid price for what I now know.

      Reply to this comment
  2. Kamilah Rose
    Kamilah Rose November 17, 09:01

    Thank you for the delightful article. It was a pleasure to share our practice and community with you.

    Reply to this comment

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