Astrology has often been looked upon as the prophecy of the influences that the moon and stars have on human affairs. If this truly is the case, then I believe it’s safe to say that the stars have quite literally converged to bring me, Jessica (Adams), and Daisy (Waugh) on the roof of the Piccadilly Picture House.
With Daisy having practised the art of tarot for the last six years, at times under the tutelage of schools like the College of Psychic Studies, and Jessica’s well-charted career in both the universes of tarot and astrology, the air seems to hold a kind of constant cosmic murmur that floats above the whiz of cars and conversations of Central London. This all leads us towards first beginnings, collective wisdom and star signs for The Ingénue.
To start off, I really wanted to ask how you discovered the tarot?
Daisy, I know went to a class, but Jessica how did you come across it?
Jessica Adams I’m just trying to remember the tarot and how far I go back with it. Oh! When I was twenty–three I was in Sydney having a really bad time, I was in a shared house full of sexist men; I was a student, I’d been quite ill and wanted to move out my house, but couldn’t afford it – I was pretty much in a spiral. Then one day I came across this tarot deck on a bookshelf in Sydney, it was this How To book written by a woman called Sasha Fenton, a very good tarot reader; it predicted this amazing future! This blonde man, this new life and this new house, and I went. ‘Yeah right, whatever’, but I wrote it down anyway and it came true. One thing led to another, I ended up in this new house and the blonde man came to be my partner for about 20 years – the cards were absolutely right. So, I didn’t train, but I started with Sasha Fenton’s book and a deck of cards.
Daisy, I’d actually read before tarot you were a journalist; I think we all know the cynicism within that world, so I wondered what made you want to go to those classes?
Daisy Waugh I think it was actually a reaction against journalism, because it couldn’t be more opposite really. You know journalism is all about reducing things to little nuggets of slightly glib certainty, whereas the tarot is opening up everything to a sort of beautiful sense of possibility and magic. So, I definitely think it was a reaction to this glibness of journalism, which completely took me by surprise. The first thing I predicted was actually much more negative, I had this idea for a book that I’d thought was brilliant, so I sent it off to my agent never more confident of anything I’d written before, I asked the cards how it was going to go down; I got the tower and the moon, then I heard back from my agent and she said it was rubbish, which completely blew my mind! I ended up getting completely obsessed with my tarot.
Starting off in tarot, you really have to build up a client base – mostly just random people. So, with that in mind, how did it feel to know those people’s innermost feelings and futures?
Jessica With random people? Well, I got into the habit of picking out the present and the past fairly early on. I went into it quite a lot and that would build trust with the client, then you would proceed to the future, sometimes talking about the present was all people needed and if it didn’t work in the first five minutes I’d say: ‘It isn’t working, you’re free to go’. But I got the hang of it eventually. Really the only time it ever went wrong for me is when a young man who was very sceptical and cynical came in, it was really a bad atmosphere for the reading, but in general, I’ve found people to be very open-minded Daisy It can be difficult reading for people who almost want to prove you wrong or trip you up, coming to you in this very hostile way. It’s been difficult in my case where people have paid for the reading and you just kind of stick with what the cards say and almost always clients will settle down, but occasionally some won’t, and it’s like: ‘Well what are you doing here?’ So sometimes it can even be a struggle with my own temper at times.
People always say that tarot is tapping into a collective wisdom, so for you two personally, has it actually helped with your inner wisdom being able to go into that on such a regular basis?
Jessica Golly! That’s a good question. Well I use a deck called… the proper name for it is a ‘Smith Waite deck’ created by Pamela Colman Smith and Arthur E Waite in 1909; he was inspiring her to go into some really old wisdom, which is what they called Occult in knowledge, but was also quite religious. The pair of them were Roman Catholics, so when you go into one card in the tarot called the ‘Hierophant’, you tap into about 2,000 years of history about religion and spirituality, the problems that they both struggled with too. Then you’re looking at your client who may be dealing with religious issues too, like say, struggling with being Jewish or not believing in anything at all; then you do find that you access, through Pamela’s illustration, something bigger than you are. Only with her deck do I find that happening, but Daisy I’m not sure if that happens for you.
Daisy Well, I find that dealing with the whole process of using the cards has sort of opened something. I was raised Catholic, so I had a lot of spiritual stuff going on anyway, but it’s definitely returned me back towards that sort of collective wisdom or sense of divine presence. I’m not really sure how to answer in a way that makes sense, but the cards have made me more – hmm, religious sounds too structured – but more spiritual than I was before. There was a period in my life where I was sort of self-ex-communicated and I feel like I’m back in, they’re really like my friends and it’s all one collective wisdom, they’re a great source of comfort.
When it comes down to the core of things, you’re definitely both writers, as well as tarot readers. I mean Daisy, especially with your ‘Dolly Greene’ series too, do you think tarot has actually complemented your literature in any way?
Jessica It does Daisy’s absolutely, I love that series!
Daisy I mean that was a fun tool to use in storytelling.
Jessica Well, I’ve used cards in fiction before and I know writers who routinely use the cards to break through creative problems. I remember using them on the ‘Girls Night In’ series where I met Daisy, for War Child about twenty-years ago when it started. So if I hit a problem, I’d get the tarot out and it would be very, very specific about who to work with, who not to work with – when to do it, when not to do it… but yeah I think this series (Dolly Greene), is very unique; I mean there’s no other tarot series, it’s great!
Daisy It was definitely fun!
Have you ever used tarot to predict or manifest things in your own life?
Daisy Oh yes!
Jessica Yeah, all the time! I use it to get myself out of a fix – when I’m in one I’ll turn to the tarot and it will fix it. If I have people who are in a crisis, even if I don’t really give personal readings any more, I can still get the cards out on the telephone and go, ‘Oh ok’, and it’ll work. I trust my Pamela deck implicitly; it’s like an old friend.
Daisy I use mine a lot in advice for other people, in their absence actually, which is quite an intrusion of their privacy and I use them for advice for myself. There my sort of constant companion, it’s really amazing; sometimes they’ll say things like: ‘Oh, can you just try to be nicer to this person’, so then I am.
Since you started, you’ve really spent the online part of your career building this 23-year archive of astrology. Looking back now, do you think you’ve changed much yourself
Jessica Heaps, I started when I was twenty-three and I’ll be fifty-five next week, God help me, but you know when I started, I was the astrologer for Elle magazine in Australia and I was quite cocky. Quite glib and superficial.
Daisy Like most twenty-three year olds, not you, of course!
Jessica Yeah, so you know how it can be, and I was a shocking – well not shocking, but I was very arrogant, you know the arrogant confidence of youth where you don’t really know anything and things really hit you and people that you know. Then by the time you get to your forties, you’re on a very different radar. I definitely think it’s true that astrologers get better the older they get, you really need to go through your Saturn Return when you’re about twenty-eight, twenty-nine to really get what life’s all about and I feel like even then you still haven’t really got it until you’re probably about sixty, so I’m five years off.
Daisy I mean gosh, I don’t think I’m ever going to get it! I’d say I’m a work in progress.
You’ve both practiced Tarot for so long, personally what do you think the future of tarot is
Jessica The future, I reckon, is this 3D, hologram reading where you can walk into the card, interact with the card, change the card, so on a quantum mechanics level it makes perfect sense. At the moment the best thing that we’ve got is a deck called the ‘before tarot’ and a deck called the ‘after tarot’, which shows you the card as if it was part of a film clip, you know this is what might have happened before, this is what might happen after, which makes the card move. So, I expect in the future they’ll have an almost hologram where you can step inside the card, maybe bring in actors or props within the card. I think it will be quite mind blowing; hopefully I’ll get to see it.
Daisy Actually, there are meditations that you can do, where you can do exactly that and they’re really brilliant.
For me personally, I think since Jessica published Astrology for Women in 1998, the world of astrology has become much more mainstream, especially with people my age. I can go onto Instagram or YouTube and find things like tarot and astrology so easily now. What do you both think about how mainstream it’s become
Jessica It’s great that it’s popular, but the downside is when something becomes so popular, it becomes a bandwagon for people to jump on to. People who are in it for the money but haven’t done the work, so I think the quality of astrology has absolutely plummeted; online a lot of it is just a load of rubbish unfortunately. There are some good astrologists in their twenties who are doing the work, that are studying and coming out with brilliant astrology, but there’s also the get-rich-quick thing.
Daisy Yeah, I think it’s the same with tarot, there is some junk out there, but there’s some really good stuff as well. I think sometimes especially on social media there’s just a lot of affirming, wishy-washy stuff, that doesn’t really say anything, and I don’t think that’s helpful, it’s really gibberish. The truth is
I think above all with the internet you have to have some sense of discernment or we’re really all sunk; I think there is some great stuff that even I’ve personally found about the tarot online, but a lot of it can be junk.
Do you think Tarot plays a larger part in the world we live in now?
Daisy I think aesthetically it’s quite fashionable, whether or not spiritually…? I believe people are attracted to it because they’re quite lost. The lack of spiritualty in our culture is really bewildering and lonely-making, so people are really sort of keen to find it in a way that isn’t orthodox or organised.
Jessica In the world around us, there is something quite weird going on with the tarot card. I find it really, really odd. There’s this image of the tower that goes across all the decks, which shows a tower being hit by lighting, people falling out of the top and crashing down below, the tower as a symbol in American consciousness has been there ever since 9/11. Now we’ve got Trump Tower – the skyscraper where Jeffrey Epstein was arrested, there’s something about towers that are kind of an archetype; towers coming down by fire, like Grenfell. There’s something about a skyscraper as the modern image of greed and corruption that’s actually weirdly in the tarot and every time I go towards it in the deck it goes beyond personal, it’s almost an archetype of what’s happening now and I do find that a bit troubling. I think it may even be a bit of warning all the way back from 1909 from Pamela, that if you build high rise apartments from greed, then it will come down. I just feel there’s something about that card that’s in our world now and it’s not a good idea.
To end on a lighter note, just to put it out there, I’m a Taurus.
Do you believe star signs play a part in your work?
Daisy I’m Aquarius. I’m not much on the astrology side of things, but it doesn’t really play much part in my tarot
Jessica They pop up in Pamela stories; she trained in astrology with the Golden Dawn, so they’re in almost every card. The temperance symbol is the Aquarius symbol and she was one too, it’s good to crack through and astrology question; it lets you go as far as you can go knowing what’s coming next if you’re asking big questions.