If you could know the future would you want to? The question that launched a thousand B-movies. If you could know when you’d meet your true love, when or how you’d die, would you want to be told? Like most of us, I’m highly skeptical of fortune telling while still being intrigued by the possibility.

It goes without saying that a profession like this one attracts a lot of charlatans so for this list item I asked my writing mentor Pat (who is familiar with the practice) for some advice on how to find a reputable Tarot card reader: she told me to find a local new age or occult bookshop and see if they had one on staff. I’m inclined to trust people who spend their lives around books so this advice made sense to me. I confided in Pat that I was a little scared about what might happen if the reader told me something bad. She said I needn’t be nervous, that the future isn’t fixed and that any reader who tells me something dooming isn’t legit.

The Edge of the Circle is an occult bookstore in Seattle’ Capital Hill neighborhood. The word occult makes it sound a little scary but it has the feel of new agey yoga studio to it with an extra dash of Goth. When I arrived, out came Raven the tarot card reader. She was much shorter than me but still somehow imposing with a head of spectacular dreadlocks, pushed out of her face with a red scarf. Upon meeting her I explained that I was going to write about this for a column, just to make sure she was comfortable with the idea. She seemed unimpressed.

‘So you don’t actually have a serious question you’re wondering about?’ she said in a withering tone.

I assured her that I did. Now I was twice as nervous since I felt like a phony.

We sat down and she told me to shuffle the deck.

‘How does this work?’ I asked her.

She told me she honestly didn’t know but that people got out of it what they put into it. ‘I am the least woo-woo tarot card reader you’ll ever meet,’ she said and added that many times the cards were best at telling us what we already knew but were having trouble facing or processing. She told me to focus on what I wanted to know about: my mind reeled.

We chatted as I shuffled and I was able to relax a bit after Raven and I discovered that we have a shared love of writing, Buffy the Vampire Slayer and True Blood.

After I cut the deck, she laid out the cards in an intricate pattern.

There was a lot of information to be interpreted and it got a bit overwhelming at times. But a lot of what she said rang true: it was eerie to see my life laid out there before me by a stranger from my work conundrums to my creative life to a recent separation from someone I love. She was offered a lot of rally practical-sounding advice, telling me to trust my instincts with people and stop doubting myself so much with work. She also told me to avoid stress for the next 28 days, to stop carrying the weight of the world on my shoulders.

She mentioned that the spirit guide card was telling me I needed to focus on my own life for a while. I told her that would be hard since a family situation has been taking over my life lately. She picked up her dreadlocks and mimicked whipping me into shape ‘cut it out!’ she said. I knew I liked her.

She ended the reading by giving me ‘homework’ to make a five year plan for my writing goals and to make it as specific as possible; she said it helps to imagine a perfect day in my future life and decide which of those I couldn’t live without and focus on getting those.

It was not unlike spending an hour on the therapists couch and I left feeling comforted and invigorated. Raven told me after our reading that a lot of what she does is to help people process what happening in their lives. Her advice for anyone interested in having a reading done is to avoid people who talk about things like fixing auras, soul retrieval or lifting hexes and, perhaps obvious but worth mentioning, avoid readers who ask for exorbitant fees; she says she’s had clients come in who’ve been charged thousands of dollars by unscrupulous readers to lift ‘curses’. ‘In my ten years doing this professionally, I have never had to lift a curse,’ she said, ‘but I have had to tell people to take their meds’.