by Aretha Welch

Trinis no longer go by faith and prayer alone. There is a new craze in T&T and it has nothing to do with Carnival, soca or the Soca Warriors.

Tarot card readings, intuitive coaching and “looking into one’s tomorrows” have captured the interest of many locals. “In the past, it may have been viewed as superstition or bad, but as life becomes more uncertain and every day is a struggle, people really want to know what tomorrow holds,” said professional tarot reader and intuitive coach, Sarina Bland who is also founder and CEO of Mirari Intuitive Coaching and Consulting Services.

It may seem like an odd profession, especially with the commonly held view of tarot card readers being boxed away in some little room, with spooky lights, eerie music and a crystal ball. This is not for 29-year-old Bland, though. She operates from a sunny back room in Woodbrook and like most other professionals, is clad in a sombre business suit.

She knows her job may not be traditional but says she enjoys every minute of it. She has mastered the age-old art of intuitive tarot card reading and defines herself as a professional tarot consultant and life coach, helping people to identify and sort through their problems.

“I love it when my client looks at me with a light in their eyes knowing I have helped them solve a problem. That’s the highlight of my job. That’s one of the reasons I got involved in intuitive coaching. I used to watch Oprah (Winfrey) and see how the life coaches there would change people’s lives for the better and I combined that with tarot reading, which I stumbled upon as a teenager…and that’s how I started my career.

Though Bland is based in T&T, her clients live in various parts of the world and because of their faith in the results she achieves, they visit her whenever they are in town.

“Sarina puts her energy into helping clients sort through their emotions and personal baggage, more like a psychotherapist than a psychic,” said one of her clients who resides in California, USA.

Another, who came in from Toronto, said, “Her ability to read what is in the human psyche is phenomenal. I would recommend her readings for they are insightful, helpful and accurate.”

When asked how and when she realised and developed these accurate, instinctual senses, Blanc said, as an only child, she was always introverted and at times would make up imaginary friends.

“I fed my imagination, which eventually led me to having great instinct. I could tell how a person was feeling because I spent so much time caught up in creating these characters, it was almost like I did an unofficial study of human beings and society.”

In her late teen years, though, Bland made her study of society official when she left T&T to read for her bachelor’s degree at Smith College in Massachusetts, USA. At Smith, she created a hand-picked, individualistic course, which was called Society and The Moving Image, a study of sociology, film and government. “It really helped me open my eyes, think outside the box and examine some of the real issues that humans face. It contributed to my intuitive senses. My parents also supported me in everything I did. They see the real results of my work and have faith in the authenticity of my practice.”

But even with strong instincts, Bland does not rely only on her insight to help her clients. She also gets some help from the tarot deck. In a typical session, she allows you to select a deck of tarot cards, which can be defined as a set of 78 cards. Each card has pictures and symbols on them and are used to connect the user with the collective unconscious in order to get information about a person or situation.

She then fans out the cards on the table, with the printed side face down and asks you to select nine out of the deck, which she then places into rows of three. The first row signifies your past, the second is your present and last, but not least, comes your future. She then asks you some questions and explains what each card says about the specific time in your life that it is supposed to represent.
But, unlike most other tarot readers, Bland does not simply read the cards and let you to leave with the knowledge or realisation of your problems and no way to work them out.

“With me, you can expect to leave sessions with an agreed-upon and personally customised action plan to implement between sessions. When you come to me, I want you to begin living a life that is true to your own personal vision, understanding what really motivates you, being able to pinpoint what you’ve been doing wrong (and what you’ve been doing right), and finally, silencing the negative dialogue in your head and having your own personalised road map for personal and professional success.”

“T&T has so much potential but we don’t take hold of our lives and I want us to. That’s why I do what I do. I have always been interested in millionaire thinking and positivity, so bit by bit, I try to help people rekindle or find their spirituality, creativity, life vision, health and financial freedom.”

As much as Bland tries to help people gain freedom, she admits that her job sometimes hinders her own freedom. “People still have a stereotypical view of what I do and some people think I am a con artist. Others even think I am ungodly but I don’t pull people away from religion and I don’t rip people off .

“People’s opinions don’t upset me. Tarot reading is, to some extent, controversial but I am free to help whom I want, in which ways I can. I will not allow a few people to cut off my social freedom, mental liberation and professional growth.”

And her business has indeed been growing. Bland said her clientele ranges from business executives to housewives. She added that she will continue to strive towards making Trinis more self-aware.

“Though some people are skeptical at first, I usually get another chance to help them because after a session, they come back amazed at how true my observations are. I am certain that I can do my part in helping T&T become more complete, one person at a time.”

* Honour – Honour yourself and others in your thoughts, words and deeds, whether public, private, professional or personal.
* Exercise – It’s not just good for your body, it’s also great for your mind. In addition to the feel-good endorphins that physical movement releases, exercise also reduces stress, depression, anger and anxiety by allowing our analytical minds to rest.
* Laughter – Whoever said that “laughter is the best medicine” was right on the money. Like exercise, laughter releases endorphins, lowers blood pressure and boosts our immune system. The average pre-school child laughs 300 times a day. The average adult, 15. Is it any wonder we have so many problems?
Get together regularly with your funniest friends, watch your favourite sitcom or a funny movie, or open the comic strip. Laugh like your life depends on it. It just may!
* Prayer – The mental health benefits of prayer/meditation have long been documented. I encourage clients to use regular, private prayer as a time to deal with their deepest hopes and fears.

The following article originally appeared in the Sunday February 6th 2006 issue of the Trinidad Guardian’s WomanWise magazine.