Angie Banicki is a professional tarot-card reader who lives in Los Angeles. She was a publicist for many years, until 2012, when she was given a deck of Prada tarot cards and realized she had a deep connection to tarot. She never looked back. Now, tarot reading is her full-time job and she does up to four readings a day. Banicki has read the cards of celebrities from Usher to Nikki Reed to Sophia Bush to Ellen Pompeo to Emma Roberts. Since her career change, she’s begun consuming less caffeine and likes to sage her room after every tarot reading. Here’s how she gets it all done.
On a typical day in the life of a professional tarot-card reader:
No day is ever the same for me, so I try to make some of my routines happen every day — like walking my dog or spending time in nature. I live up in the Hills, and getting some time outside is crucial for me. There’s something about what it does for my headspace. Sometimes it’s a hike, sometimes it’s a walk around with my dog. I touch the flowers and plants. By the way, if I ever heard myself saying this in the past, I would not believe it. But it puts me in the space I need to be in in order to do tarot readings. That’s the difference between this job and the job I had before. It’s really important that I’m at my best.
Throughout the day, I do between three and four hour-long tarot-card readings. My clients either come to my house or I do Skype readings with them. A lot of times, though, I’ll have to do an emergency reading. I had two readings recently that were last-minute, and because they were with someone who is going through a tough relationship time, we did short sessions that were deeply focused on what she needed to understand at that moment.
On what she does between tarot-reading sessions to freshen her mind:
I’ll usually take a little sage around the room, sometimes I’ll go for a little walk. Usually I shower before a big event, because a lot of people who are healers tell me, “Make sure you’re using water.” One morning when I woke up, I realized, “Oh my god, I’m carrying other people’s burdens.” Because I’m pregnant, I’m so clean in every other way, but I knew when I was sweating and cold, I was carrying other people’s energy with me.
I realized more recently that, in some ways, there is a part of my energy or my makeup that is a little bit insensitive, and that allows me to do this job. It’s not that I don’t have empathy for people, but there’s a certain distance that I’m able to use, and that makes it possible for me to do this all day.
On what a tarot-reading session actually looks like:
When I start with someone new, I usually walk them through what is going to happen first. I tell the person that they’re not allowed to say anything just yet. I explain that I’m going to have 20 different decks and that I’ll be using four or five at a time. I put on my music playlist, we’ll pull the cards, and then I tell them about the music.
For some people, the whole reading might be based on one issue or one thing that’s coming up for them in a strong way. Sometimes there are people who say they don’t want to talk at all, and I roll with it. But for the most part, I enjoy it when I have the person really talking through things, then we can dive deeper and deeper and understand what’s coming through the cards.
On why a great playlist is an essential component of a great tarot-reading session:
I have 1,070 songs on this one playlist. I just started making a list of all my favorite songs. When I started in 2011, I had a bunch of funny songs on there, and then it just evolved. I’ll add new songs every week, every month, or I’ll hear a song on a TV show and be like, I love how that song makes me feel and I’ll add it on there. It’s as if you’re having a conversation with the music; it’s talking, listening, giving advice. I read someone and she was like, “This is about the ex that was a really big relationship for me. It’s going to come back up and I feel okay about it.” The song switched to “Black and Yellow” and she freaked out and told me that that was their song the summer that they lived in Laurel Canyon.
On whether it’s possible to “get better” at reading tarot:
It’s just like any job. If you started reading cards, your skills get stronger, just like working out a muscle. It’s not easy at the beginning. Early on, I was like, “I don’t want to do this for life,” but as I did it more, I started to feel slight shifts during readings. Something would happen where I’d feel a shift, like I just went into the next level. Anyone who meditates or does yoga, you can keep getting better, and keep connecting. That’s what happens to me during tarot.
I take my job so seriously, so I never want anyone to get half the treatment they deserve. I’ve evolved enough in this that I don’t need everything to line up perfectly in order to do my job. I can do my job, just like anyone else.
On how to read tarot cards when you’re in a bad mood:
There are definitely days when I’ll wake up on the wrong side of the bed. What do I do? I go for a walk. It’s still a process, but now I’m in a place where 99 percent of the time, even if I start a reading in a bad mood, when I’m in the reading, it takes me out of it. I go in with the intention that I want to help that person and even if there is that thing that is bothering me, something else takes over.
I really have no stress in this job, it’s the most beautiful thing. I still have worries about money like everyone, but worrying isn’t going to fix that.
On what she does when she encounters someone who is skeptical of her abilities:
I don’t try to convince people. I read cards for a Goop event and there were all these investors, financiers, and billionaires there. One of the guys sat down with me, and I could just tell when he was walking over, that it was going to be fun with him. The cards told me that he was cheating on the woman he was with, so I started saying, “Why would you cheat on her? She’s so amazing. This is your choice, but my cards love her. You need to move through this.” His jaw dropped. He was such a flirt, too.
That doesn’t always happen. There are some people who just may be able to block it. There are some people where I know that what I’m telling them is right and they just don’t want to hear it. That’s life.
On what a tarot-card reader eats to stay on top of her game:
I drink way less caffeine now. I don’t really need it as much, and the healthier I eat, the better I feel. And when I’m feeling good, it helps me sit and connect with that person better. It’s always better if you’re comfortable in your body.
I’m vegetarian, but I’ve always been that way. A lot of how my lifestyle already was is already pretty consistent with doing this job. If I got really drunk the night before, it wouldn’t be good for reading the cards.
On when she decides to read her own cards:
I used to do it a lot more. I do it more for fun now. I went on a road trip with my boyfriend and we would ask the cards, “Should we stay in that city or this one?” We asked the cards if we should we gamble or watch movies. I’ve got to be careful of how I’m asking the cards and when. You don’t really need to be asking the cards about every single thing.
On her monklike sleep schedule:
I have this thing that’s been happening for nine months where I sleep four hours, wake up for about two, and sleep for about four more. It’s a monk thing. I’ve read books about how they believe that this kind of sleep cycle is important, because that break allows you to connect from that dream and go into the next. I’m wide awake during the break, so I’ll have something to eat, answer all my emails, read some of the articles that I’ve saved, and I’ll fall back asleep and wake up in the morning. It was annoying at first, but I figured I could choose to look at this as annoying or look at it positively and actually get something out of it.
This interview has been condensed and edited for clarity.