Established 1826 — Oldest College Newspaper West of the Alleghenies

The world of tarot and how one Miami academic adviser navigates it

<p>Hayes has been reading tarot for 30 years and enjoys providing wisdom for people in the community.</p>

Hayes has been reading tarot for 30 years and enjoys providing wisdom for people in the community.

It was a random Wednesday night in February when I walked into Withrow Hall to get my tarot cards read. I wasn’t entirely sure what I was getting into, but I knew one thing for sure: I wanted Tracey Hayes to be the one to read them.

During the hour-and-a-half event, I wasn't the only one to throw myself into the ideas she laid out; however, some participants were more hesitant than others. The student before me ended up resonating with their reading on the last card. Hayes, who has been reading tarot for 30 years, said she saw something click in them after so much uncertainty.

The readings for the night were set up by Emily Hoffman, the Withrow Hall Resident Director (RD), who knew Hayes personally.

“She cares so much about students, and she was genuinely so excited to do this, which I thought was so cool because I wasn't offering her anything out of it,” Hoffman said. “She was stoked, and I know that she really does love doing this kind of stuff and working with students.”

Throughout Hayes’s education at Northern Arizona University, she did research in psychology and counseling concerning how the brain works and how people interact with each other. In her studies, she came across the concept of advice and how nobody takes it.

“When you're seeking advice, when you're struggling with an answer, [or] with a question, you're going to ask for input from other people,” Hayes said. “And somebody is going to say something that really reaffirms what you already know, in your core value system, but you need to hear it from an external perspective.”

Photo by Sarah Frosch | The Miami Student

Tracey Hayes read tarot for more than an hour for Withrow Hall residents, some more open to the process than others.

As an academic adviser in the College of Creative Arts, she gives advice every day, but she said she’s just reflecting back to them what they already know.

However, Hayes said she never reads a student’s cards during an advising meeting because she likes to keep her spirituality separate from her job. But that doesn’t stop students from finding her outside of class or during events.

“It's kind of interesting [because] as advisers we connect with our students by being authentic and being human,” Hayes said. “But at the same time, we also have to be mindful and walk that line of what my personal beliefs are should not impede my ability to do my job or your ability as a student to get information from me.”

Even though Hayes keeps the two parts of her life separate, she is open to being a mentor. She said the individualistic nature of tarot reading is difficult because the reader has to find a version that speaks to different people while also keeping that card's meaning.

Enjoy what you're reading?
Signup for our newsletter

“There's a gazillion billion people on the planet, and we can all have different interpretations and versions, and if how I read resonates with you, awesome,” Hayes said. “If how I read doesn't resonate with you, awesome. Go find somebody that does resonate with you, because oftentimes, you're looking for comfort and solace and a way to make sense of the chaos that we live in and tarot can be a tool for that.”

Hayes said there isn’t a large group of tarot readers in Oxford, but if someone is looking for them there are tells, just like in any community. 

“When you're in the spiritual community, you see these coded messages like, are you just wearing a triple goddess because you like moons or because you're one of my people,” Hayes said.

Photo by Sarah Frosch | The Miami Student

Hayes has more than three decks of cards she works with, allowing her to choose one that best fits the person she's reading.

One of the people that Hayes has found in the tarot community is Evelyn Mendlowitz, an RD at Marcum Hall. She said she started about eight years ago when she lived in Pennsylvania to find a spiritual outlet and to feel more connected with the universe, but when she moved to Miami she didn’t know anyone until Hayes.

The pair met through Hayes’ partner who also worked in Residence Life, and over time they have learned from each other as well as read for one another.

“She's incredible, [and] it’s so great being with her because she is so more well versed than I am,” Mendlowitz said. “I'm like a new little baby, which I've only been so for like eight years now, but she is knowledge upon knowledge, which is wonderful.”