Part of Home is Where The Art is Series in Issue 3, The Home Issue
Storm is 1 of 4 people interviewed.
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Storm Arcana, Tarot Card Reader, San Francisco
Storm greeted us outside of his apartment near the Castro, sapphire eyes rimmed with charcoal, a comfortable aura about him. As he led us through the hallway, I noticed feminist paintings on multicolored wall, fairy lights strung everywhere, and a different tarot card nailed to each door.
He reads tarot for a living, helping people through major life decisions, predicting their future, and settling their past, all from a spare room in the house. It’s the one at the end of the hall on the right, always bathed in California sunlight.
As we spoke, he dealt out cards, combining a classic tarot deck with an X-men themed deck of playing cards. He gave us a sample reading: predicting how his blind date later that night would go.
Tell me about your practice, tarot.
I discovered comics and tarot at the same age. Both are a sequential narrative, moments of time frozen in small squares. Past, present, future, and you fill in the gaps in between with your imagination.
I was raised a Southern Baptist preachers’ kid and told not to play with tarot, which is probably why I did it. I stole my first deck at 13; my mom kept finding them and throwing them out, and I’d somehow get another.
The path I took in life—both personally and with tarot— that was accepted by my family. While my grandma was always a big role model in my life, the men were shadow guides, examples of what not to do. I think I’m very grateful for them. I wouldn’t have pressed so hard in the direction I chose if they hadn’t been a negative aspect.
But now, I’m 44, and I look in the mirror think, “oh I look like my dad now”. I see a part of my past that is tragic and negative in lots of ways. But I can’t change that, I can either own it or feel like the victim, and I’d rather feel empowered.
What is the purpose of this specific tarot card nailed to the door?
She’s the queen, I look for a feminist perspective usually, because that’s what I relate to. Lately I’ve been taking on the patriarchal as a positive, because I did come here as a man, queer as f*ck, but I’m still a man. It’s about finding a balance between the masculine and feminine.
We look at feminine and masculine as polarities, which doesn’t help. In tarot, there’s a hermaphrodite: an integration of feminine and masculine, that sits besides the emperor and empress. She’s found a sacred space in between.
How did you form this space with your roommates?
We’re constantly creating and surrounded by art, it is a co-creation. The plants are mine, the altar is too, and the skulls are from another woman that lives here.
I’m constantly taking apart my room and piecing it back together, and I do the same in this room (tarot reading room, used for clients).
I think that’s helpful so that energy doesn’t become static. In my field, we talk of evolving to a higher consciousness, so I’m thinking about creating that in the physical realm as well.
How do you keep this space and yourself grounded in-between readings?
There are lot’s of rituals I do in the morning. I talk to archangel Michael, light Palo Santo, light candles. I dust off my alter, and do that after a reading as well, to clear the energy.
How has living in San Francisco impacted your work?
My grandma died and left me a trunk, but told no one what was in it. Underneath this heap of linens were all of these amazing dresses from the mod 60s. She was never supportive of me being gay. It was a weird post-acceptance thing.
I started doing tarot readings with these X-Men cards, wearing her dresses, right outside of the Castro theater.
I was channeling her, using her abilities to be very judgmental and charismatic. I would read on Friday, Saturday nights, in full drag, that’s what put me on the map.
I gave those clothes away, but that deck and those readings got me out there. I don’t do the X-Men readings much anymore, but I’ll pull it out for parties. I think it’s important to marry pop culture and tradition. The images represent and translate to a tarot deck. But whatever medium I use, whether it’s traditional tarot or X-Men cards, I don’t need them; we could talk for 30 minutes before ever touching them.
North Carolina taught me to be unbreakable, but San Francisco…. I don’t plan on leaving anytime soon that’s for sure.