Why you need to get a tarot card reading in Paris
The Louvre can wait.
Meet Jaspre Guest: A metaphysical-obsessed traveler (and founder of the good-vibes brand Happy Noise) searching and reporting on enlightenment and the most woo-woo experiences you can have around the world. This month she’s getting her tarot read in Paris, France.
I’ve been entrenched in the metaphysical since birth. Before the word “wellness” was being used to describe, well, everything, I spoke astrology and energy fluently. After all, my mother is a natural medium, my grandmother would do automatic writing, and my grandfather practiced hands-on healing. (Edgar Cayce, the celebrated clairvoyant, was a regular guest at my grandparents’ home.) Although it wasn’t considered cool and trendy, within my world it was normal.
So when my 2018 started to look like a Where in the World is Jaspre Guest? (I’m on a plane about once every two weeks for work), my mom suggested I use my travels as a way to really expand my understanding of the esoteric and spiritual. How do the Irish view the metaphysical? The Chinese?
First stop: Paris, to see how the French do tarot.
Paris may be considered the City of Lights or Love, but to me it really is the City of Magic. (Need proof? Look no further than the Louvre, with its glass pyramid and symbols carved into its stone foundation—hello, Da Vinci Code!) You can feel each corner of Paris pulsing with the power from thousands of years of alchemy.
Paris may be considered the City of Lights or Love, but to me it really is the City of Magic.
And yet, finding someone to meet with for a tarot card reading proved harder than finding a gluten-free patisserie. (Which, FWIW, does exist.) I spent six weeks hunting for an elusive English-speaking tarot card reader in Paris, hitting dead-ends at every turn. My crew of intuitives—who span from New York to Los Angeles—came up empty. I couldn’t find a database in France to help me track down any woo-woo resources. My Parisian cousin was at a loss. Even Instagram, usually the ultimate underground travel resource, came up empty; I found six potential suitors for my tarot reading…and every single one fell through.
And then, finally, I found my unicorn: Emmanuelle Iger, who spoke perfect English and offered to come to my hotel to read my cards. Dieu merci!
Because the whole process of even finding her was difficult, I was convinced she wouldn’t show up at our agreed time. But there she was—a lithe, elf-like creature wearing the most impeccable masculine-chic outfit—sitting in the lobby of my hotel at 9 a.m., as promised. We greeted each other (double kiss!) and went up to my room, settling into a couch near my terrace.
As Iger would explain to me in her charmingly thick French accent (she learned English by reading Stephen King books, natch), she’s long been a fan of the paranormal and has a master’s degree in Philosophy. Somehow, she found a career where she could combine both. “Esotericism is some type of psychology with another vocabulary,” she explained. “It’s not about woo-woo stuff or fortune telling; it’s another way of doing psychoanalysis, but much more practical.”
The first surprise came when she began laying out the cards with her long, nimble fingers. I’ve had varied experiences with tarot readings, but Iger’s technique was something I’d never experienced before; she consistently referred to tarot as a “game”, and instead of using the traditional tarot card spreads, each question I asked got a different layout. From there she’d sketch on a piece of paper the layout for that specific question and what each card represented.
Plus, she was using the French version of the Rider Waite tarot card deck instead of the French Ancien Tarot De Marseille deck because, as she explained to me, the “imagery is easier to understand. When your situation is a big mess in your head, you have it represented with images. What you couldn’t put into words beforehand, you now have seen images that define the situation.” What she had found was that, at the end of a session, her approach allowed clients to have “more focus and clarity” around any given situation.
“Wow, you are brave,” she said, looking up from the cards. “Are you sure? I don’t even ask my cards about myself in that way!”
Another huge difference was that, instead of having me shuffle the deck, Iger did it herself, spreading the entire deck out in front of me. Her reasoning? Most people get stressed out when they’re asked to shuffle (true), so she finds this way much calmer. Score one for French tarot.
Instead of launching with a softball question, I decided to go straight to the heart of the matter: What’s an aspect of myself that I can work on to be better? “Wow, you are brave,” she said, looking up from the cards. “Are you sure? I don’t even ask my cards about myself in that way!”
I insisted, so Iger began to sketch out the situation, with six cards total, covering general energy, what was hindering me, where I was coming from, what I was working towards, what I should keep in mind, and what is hidden underneath. She shuffled the cards, laid them out in front of me, and asked me to select a card one by one.
“You’re not broken, but there are rules put on you that you resent,” she told me, surveying my cards. “The problem isn’t internal, but the ways that people have told you how stuff has been done.” I immediately thought of how, in sixth grade, my teacher told me I needed to be easier on myself. And that’s the magic of metaphysical readings: It was a validation that what I was doing was correct—as well as a reminder that I can make small autocorrects along the way. In other words, I have control of my decisions…but it’s always great to get a little help from my guides.
Before Iger left, she shared with me her go-to spot for picking up a French tarot deck (it’s a small, metaphysical shop off of the Rue de Rennes called Librairie De L’Onconnu)—and yes, I bought the Ancien Tarot De Marseille deck as a souvenir. But really, the best thing I took home with me was Iger’s words, which echoed in my head long after my flight took off from Charles De Gaulle.
Emmanuelle Iger is based in Paris and charges 50€ in cash for an hour reading. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org—tell her I sent you.