March 7th, 2018
Bonnie juettner fernandes,
Tarot reader, science writer
Last November, I had the privilege of attending the Tarotpreneur's Circle, a tarot business event hosted by the fabulous and much revered Theresa Reed (aka The Tarot Lady). It was there I had the pleasure of meeting and connecting with Bonnie Juettner Fernandes. Her presence is quiet and gentle. She is an introvert- extremely observant and very wise. It is in her blogging and writing that her inner world pours through, and one gets to see all the richness of spirit and mind that bustles underneath the surface. I want to showcase her and introduce you all to this deep thinker, for whom the phrase "Still waters run deep" could have been invented.
How did you begin your journey into tarot reading? Why tarot, and what led you to pursue it as a career?
This question always makes me sigh, because I still ask myself, when did this all start? Did it start when I was a child, experiencing the awe of being outside in the Sonoran Desert or in rural Alaska--places where I to this day feel as though I can feel the presence of the divine? Did it start with reading my mom's astrology books? Did it start with reading herbals written by witches when I was in my 20s? Did it start with learning to meditate in karate class and with starting to work with energy in the martial arts? Or did it only start when I "officially" started reading for the public and doing my blog (originally Intuitive Blogging, then Tarot Salve, and now Quiet Mystic)?
I don't know. But what I can say is that for me there's always been a tension between the occult and the world of science. I kept getting drawn to the occult, and then debunking my own perceptions. For example, I started seeing auras, and decided that it must be an optical illusion like what happens when you look at a light for too long and then look away. I did lots of experimenting to see what I could see and in what circumstances and even then, said to myself, well, it's not like my physical vision is that great! (I've been wearing glasses since high school and it seems like my vision gets a little worse every few years.)
I even sold my first tarot deck in a garage sale when I moved from Kenosha to Milwaukee! And I really regret that, because it was the old version of the Witches' Tarot, and now it's super expensive. But I had said to myself, come on, really? And put it out with the games and toys in the garage sale when I was cleaning out my old house after my divorce.
The thing is, though, that mystical experiences kept coming along out of the blue and saying, fine, then explain THIS! For awhile there were things I knew that I shouldn't have known. I knew the day my ex-husband was going to propose that he was going to, and he was very disturbed that I couldn't come up with what he felt was a rational explanation for how I knew that. I told him, well, you came downtown to meet me at the vet early (our cat was ill and staying at the animal hospital), so I knew. And he was like, what kind of answer is that? How could you know from that? I just did. That was a minor thing, though. I didn't think much about it.
But later there were other things--and the funny thing is that they all happened in a very everyday, not very otherworldly-seeming way. My current husband's dead stepfather appeared in my office when I was trying to get a lot of work done before we left on a trip (it was to Antarctica, where we were going to get married, so I really needed to finish stuff before leaving), and I couldn't see him but I could hear him behind me, pacing around and swearing (in reference to his stepson's lack of proper preparation for travel), and he kept saying, "this is a typical JP fuck job, this is a typical JP fuck job!" Now, I didn't really have any experience with ghosts, but I was VERY BUSY. And I told him to go do something useful because I was trying to WORK. And only later thought, was I talking to a ghost? how did I think that was normal? how did I not, like, REACT, more? But all I can say is that I was very busy and stressed and did not have time to deal with some ghost's anxiety. And I feel like my brain could not keep track of what was going on with him while I was focused on writing. Like my brain didn't fully register that he was there until he was gone. I regret telling him to go away, though, because now I'd really like him to come back for a chat.
Another unexplainable thing that happened was, one day I waiting for a Milwaukee bus, and the doors opened, and Death was driving it. Or at least, he looked like Death to me. And I thought, huh, I'd better give him my token. (That was before they phased out tokens.) The way my brain processed this was, I mustn't make him feel uncomfortable or make him think that I think that he looks odd. Not that doing so would be dangerous or anything, just that it would be UNKIND. Because, this seemed like a very ANXIOUS Death who kept apologizing to every passenger for, like, being there. And my brain processed that as, it's important to be kind, don't make him feel like he's screwing this job up. And I felt really bad that I had to ask him for a transfer, because I was worried about the implication that he hadn't THOUGHT of that, because he was being SO self-conscious and apologetic, but, I really did need that transfer to get home, so. And I also kept thinking, where and when does he think he is? Because he took out a hole punch and punched a hole in my token, which made no sense, because that's not how tokens worked, even when we were still using tokens. It was like he thought he was a train conductor. Milwaukee bus drivers don't even carry hole punches!
And even that day, the science part of my brain said, maybe there's an explanation here. And, maybe there's a medical reason for how he looks. (If there was--I've been over this and over this in my head--it must have been pretty serious, because the thing is, he was missing his face, and seemed to be talking through some sort of metallic filter or machine. Do people who have those kinds of injuries drive buses? I have no idea.) And, I thought, let's observe how other people react to him, because surely, if they see what I see, they won't be as calm as I am. So I watched each and every passenger who got on the bus to see what their reaction was to the driver, but nobody reacted, at all.
I haven't ridden that line often, but when I do, I've watched for that driver to see if I would see him again, but never have. If he was not Death, he was at the least very atypical of Milwaukee bus drivers! But even that, you know, was very typical of mystical experiences for me, in that they just pour themselves into everyday moments in a very nonscary way (for which I'm grateful, I'm not a big fan of fear!). And so it's always very normal, until afterwards, when I think, what WAS that experience? What just happened?
The other thing that propelled me to start my tarot business was that I was spending SO much time on tarot. I was anxious and depressed and relying on tarot to help me ground. I wasn't good enough at reading literal stuff in the tarot at the time for it be an addictive checking in kind of thing, though, it was more that I would draw a card, and read it more as if it was an oracle card, telling me what was going on in my inner universe. And by reading the tarot that way and journaling about it, I got through a stressful time. But because I was spending SO much time on it, I decided that I could only justify the investment of my time if I started a business reading. In retrospect, it was a completely insane decision because I was SO new to tarot at the time. But it also didn't feel like it was some crazy idea of mine. It felt more like, the universe said, okay, now it's time for you to be reading for people, and when I would tell people who were close to me that I was doing this, I literally could not explain to them why. The only people who took me very seriously were Theresa (Theresa Reed, The Tarot Lady), and my husband JP. JP had no idea that I didn't know what I was doing, though. I don't know if Theresa (who at the time I knew only through yoga) was surprised or not, but she didn't seem to be. She was just like, "definitely, do it!"
One thing to mention is that I don't just read tarot as a career, I also do freelance writing and editing for textbook and reference book companies, often for science textbooks, and sometimes social studies or literature. (Any of my freestanding reference books--as opposed to textbook features and whatnot--can be found on Amazon on the Bonnie Juettner Fernandes author page.) And I sometimes do web writing/editing for people, and transcribing. I like having a variety of income possibilities. I even briefly experimented with driving for Lyft (but my GPS wasn't working reliably and it made me too nervous to think that I might lose my directions to a location halfway through taking somebody somewhere). So the idea of doing something as an entrepreneur or freelancer was not new to me; it felt natural.
What do you strive to provide and achieve with your clients during a reading?
I am super shy, so my first goal is to make my clients comfortable and not retreat into my own shyness. Basically to BE THERE with them and not be in my own head. And though I have ADHD and normally my brain is all over the place, I do find that while reading for clients, my brain becomes laser focused on the person I'm reading for. My next goal is to provide my client with something actionable, some real actual help, something concrete. For me, that starts with simply helping to release their tension and stress. I have a practice of doing an energy clearing, if appropriate, for each client before they walk in the door, and I generally will also take a moment and ask the tarot, what does this person need from me today? Sometimes I keep those cards out and mention them to the client, and sometimes I don't, but the actual reading, in that sense, generally does start before they show up. (I make a huge effort to be at the office close to an hour early, partly for this reason and partly to be extra careful not to be late, since I am massively punctuality-challenged.)
Then when my client or clients arrive, I usually will ask them to take a few breaths, some good belly breaths, to calm their nervous systems (you'd be surprised how many people are nervous about coming to see me!), and I ask them to let go of the stress and worry of trying to get there on time, to find the Clocktower Building and my office (and you'd be surprised how many people find that challenging!), and finding parking. So essentially, I want my clients to right away set down their stress and worry and just be there with me, and likewise, I do the same thing so I can be right there with them.
The next thing I want for my clients is for them to feel heard and validated, not by me (it really doesn't matter what I think, because the reading is not about me), but by the universe. I usually will start with a general overview without letting them ask a question, for that reason, because it makes people feel cared about and loved when the reading turns up issues that they were worrying about without them having to say, to me, a stranger or relative stranger, what those issues were. It protects their privacy until they decide if they want to share with me what they were specifically worried about or not, and lets them decide in the moment how narrowly to zoom in on any given concern--for example, whether to ask generally, "how does my relationship look?" or more specifically, "why does this particular problem keep coming up IN my relationship?" The latter might be too much for them to share with some reader they don't know, and that's okay, because the cards will--and I think this is one of the wonderful, magical things about cartomancy--either tell them their answer without me having to know the details, or let them know that it's safe to tell me what's really bothering them.
The next thing I want for my clients is concrete answers to their questions and concerns, answers that are ACTIONABLE. So if the reading is telling them vague shit that is true, but who cares, because they already knew that, then I really want to zoom in on what they need to know to take their next best step, the step that will move them forward to where they're trying to go. I don't want them to have wasted their money on me!
Finally, when they get up to leave, I want them to feel better, to feel like, "okay, I've got this, I can deal with this." I guess that's saying that I want them to have hope, but I really do want it to be more than just plain hope, I want them to have a concrete sense of how they might proceed.
This "I don't want them to have wasted their money" feeling is why I don't charge for energy clearing or distance reiki (which are two of the other "woo woo" things that I do). I bring those things up and offer them if I think it's appropriate, and as noted above, I generally include a clearing in a reading whether people know that or not, but I don't separate them from tarot, as a service, because I just am not comfortable, ethically, charging for something that I can't quantify. At least with a tarot reading, I can quantify and document what they received in terms of minutes of my time, cards drawn, things that were said. I do think that clearing and reiki offer real value, I just don't know how to *measure* it.
You have a unique style in card interpretation, which I find really interesting. I see in some of your Facebook posts that you use two different cards for your “Card of the Day” posts, some of which contain cards from two separate decks. How did that begin/evolve?
I was sometimes drawing two cards accidentally, in the beginning, because I was a bad shuffler and an extra card would fall out of the deck, when I first started doing a cards for the day reading for my Intuitive Blogging interpretations. But people responded really well, and one person told me that doing two cards stood out compared to all the other readers who were drawing one card for the day, so I stuck with it. I guess I like being different!
Do you have advice you'd like to give to aspiring intuitive professionals?
I haven't thought about this very much, because I've only been in business as a reader for five years. But the two things I would strongly recommend are meditation, and setting sacred space--having a ritual for making a space sacred that you're about to read in, especially if you're reading outside your own space. I know that seems basic, but, it's always worth looking carefully at the basic things that one does. It's always worth reevaluating how you operate from the beginning of a spiritual practice to the end, to see, what's working here? What isn't?
I would also tell aspiring readers: don't feel like you have to do what everyone else in the tarot world is doing. Do you! Be original! Cross-pollinate with your other passions! (Huh, I guess I had more advice in me than I realized...)
Thank you so much for your time, Bonnie! It's been such a pleasure to learn more about your spiritual work, and to learn more about you as well!
If you are interested in learning more about Bonnie and her services, please visit her website at:
It is chock full of fantastic and interesting blog posts about tarot and other metaphysical matters. Check it out!
You may also follow her on Facebook at:
From the "About" section on her Facebook page:"What is tarot? Tarot can be a vacuum that siphons drama out of a situation. Tarot can be a tool to calm you down or fire you up, depending on what's needed. Tarot can be the rock that helps you climb out of the waters of De Nile (denial). Tarot can deploy humor to sneak common sense into you. Tarot can be a comfort, at times when you need to know that it will be all right. Tarot can be a place to turn when you need to talk and no one else will listen -- you can always have a dialogue with the universe, through the cards. Tarot can be a reality check. Tarot can remind you of your unique position and your unique set of skills that you may, or may not, actually be utilizing. Tarot can also remind you of the resources around you, of the abundance in your life, of the people who care about you. At times, tarot can point out places where you are not being supported or loved -- places where you may need to find some support. Tarot can caution you about areas where you face a challenge. Tarot can be a tool for finding a solution outside the box. Tarot can provide guidance for spiritual development, meditation, and contemplation. And sometimes, yes, tarot can be just for fun. :-)"