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I Was A Tarot Reader At Laurie Cabot's Authentic Salem Witch Shop

Photo: Courtesy of the Author
I Was A Tarot Reader At Laurie Cabot's Authentic Salem Witch Shop

People often ask me what it was like to work as a tarot card reader in Salem, MA. They're usually in awe or fascinated by my answer because I worked at Enchanted of Salem, the home of famed Laurie Cabot, Salem's official witch.

For those of you unfamiliar with Laurie Cabot’s witchcraft, she is undoubtedly one of the most revered witches that ever existed — to be touched by her energies is nothing short of magical and life-changing.

Laurie changed the way the public viewed witchcraft and was ordained the “The Official Witch of Salem” in the mid-1970s by Governor Mike Dukakis for all her great works with children. 

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Laurie also believed, as I do, in the science behind witchcraft.

People often think we can see right into their consciences and soul, or perhaps read their minds — but it doesn’t work that way. 

Real Magick is energy and energy can’t be destroyed; it can only be transformed.

For example, centuries ago, we never thought we would have the ability to converse wirelessly through cellular devices, but here we are. It’s by the level of frequency, radio waves, and vibration. As society becomes more technically advanced, so does the veil that separates the real world from the magical one.

Mat Auryn, a psychic witch from Salem, has gone on to graze his own path of success, by writing several books on witchcraft, full of unique wisdom and enchantment.

He describes a true witch in his book, Psychic Witch, as "what witchcraft is when you strip all the different trappings and traditions away. In other words, the Craft of witchery revolves around 'the ability to manipulate energy and shape it for desired outcomes.'”

To prove this scientific theory even further, Laurie was photographed with a coven of witches in Salem by National Geographic. This was the 1970s, so back then there was no quick-fix photoshopping.  

The photo Nat Geo took of this bevy of witches, when developed, had a blue thunderbolt around it. 

The only scientific explanation at the time is if they had been shooting in arctic conditions, but the photo was taken in the middle of summer in 95-degree weather. 

In the picture, all the women are in sundresses. Nat Geo almost didn’t publish the photo because they couldn’t figure out why this blue lightning bolt kept appearing every time they developed the film.  

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When asked about the photo, Laurie said the thunderbolt appeared because "we were coming together to create science, putting our energies together, to create the color blue of Jupiter.” 

Proof once more, behind the science of witchcraft.

To this day, National Geographic has no logical explanation. 

However, there is a logical explanation, if you believe in the advancement of technology, energy frequency, and radio waves — then you believe in magick. 

Alice in Wonderland

Laurie was devoted to the theme, Alice in Wonderland, and implemented its decor throughout her official store, Enchanted of Salem.

From the stardust glitter that greeted patrons at the door, to the majestic artistry that hung from the ceilings, each handcrafted cord was filled with powerful cryptic messages and curative antidotes.

Each one held mysterious beneficial powers from its fairytale teacups, entwined with vibrant ribbons and handmade Tarot. All of Laurie’s handmade goods held their own unique, elusive sorcery, magick, and charm. 

It was never my plan to take over as the main Tarot reader at Enchanted of Salem but it just happened, as all things that are meant to happen often do.

When I walked into Enchanted of Salem, I was an innocent lamb, naive to the world around me. My eyes were wide shut but opened to a kaleidoscope of different cultures, religions, fads, and sexual orientations. 

Soon, I was past the point of no return. I had entered Wonderland, and would soon descend into the rabbit hole, where the Mad Hatter awaited to escort my guests for tarot readings. From the Mad Hatter, I quickly learned that indeed, ‘everyone is mad here’. 

Down the rabbit hole, I went where cash flooded my descent and great madness awaited — yet my wisdom abated. 

In the pursuit of her true purpose, Alice encounters a variety of splendiferous creatures who encourage her to get in touch with her inner fabulosity — and so did I at the shop.

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In Wonderland, I struggled with the importance of who I was and what I brought to the table. I was praised by one of the owners, "You’ve made the store more money than any other reader since the store opened.” 

Excluding Laurie, of course, who was no longer available for readings. (Laurie continues to teach online, making her magick wands, cords, candles, and spell bottles with her daughter Penny Cabot, a magnificent, magickal artist and practitioner in her own right, from home.)

There were also the poppies of grief that thrived in the underworld of the rabbit hole: Families who had lost loved ones to the poison derived from poppies, opiates, and fentanyl. Poppy bereavement infused the underworld. Yet, I would sit with these families, lost to the underworld, to let them know a new day would dawn. 

The Queen of Hearts

One day, The Mad Hatter gave me a scrupulous playing card explaining The Queen of Hearts and her distinct attributes. This message was an enigma of sorts, a puzzle to be solved.

The card read: “You are the Queen of Heart.! You do not follow the rules, you are the rules, and you are a relatively impatient and confident person. People think you are arrogant, but in reality, you are a polite and thoughtful person."

The realization set in that I wasn’t Alice in Wonderland anymore. Instead, I was mirroring The Queen of Hearts, the playing card The Mad Hatter gave me to amuse me. 

Burnout happens. Impatience happens, but not to Alice unless she’s looking through the wrong end of the looking glass. 

While I did follow the rules, after three and a half years of a three-day stint, with a 45-minute commute, and gas prices at an all-time high, I was lost in a maze of desperation and frustration. I was on sensory overload and about to short-circuit. 

Tarot card reading in Salem is not for the faint of heart, especially if you work at one of the more popular stores, as I did.

There were days I would do 15 tarot card readings back-to-back and come back the next day and do it all over again.

During Halloween, it was always a marathon of at least 20+ readings per shift. The most I ever did was 30 readings, my first Halloween in 2019. 

After three years, I found myself mirroring the Queen of Hearts: I went from the innocence and wonderment of Alice in Wonderland to the insolence and jadedness of the Queen of Hearts. 

The Queen can be nasty, short-tempered, and rude. Her tongue can be as sharp as a sword. The jaded Queen of Hearts had a hold of me and wasn’t going to let it go. From the Queen's point of view, all her subjects were insufferable. She just couldn’t. She just wouldn’t anymore. 

In my defense, it was nothing a few weeks of Vitamin D and a vacation couldn’t have solved. 

One afternoon, I sipped tea with the Mad Hatter and asked him for advice about my confused state. 

He reminded me that the looking glass has two sides and to proceed with caution. If I looked through one side of the looking glass, I would see innocence of Alice. If I looked through the other side, I would see my alter ego, The Queen of Hearts. 

When I explored further, I realized there was no right or wrong side of the looking glass. Both personas served me —but in different ways. 

Through this maze of Wonderland, I learned no one is perfect. We all make mistakes. It is up to us what we do with them. Today, I embrace all my eccentric quirks and carry with me the advice of The Mad Hatter: We're all mad here.

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Julie Randazzo is a spiritual advisor specializing in Tarot, manifestation rituals, and astrology. She runs her own online Tarot business.