Top 5 Places for Tarot and Mysticism in San Francisco: It’s in the Cards by Nancy Garcia (Featuring me at the end!)

Thank you Nancy Garcia for this great article about Tarot in SF and including me in your list. I am very honored to be included.

Top 5 Places for Tarot and Mysticism in San Francisco: It’s in the Cards

There was a time when San Francisco had numerous shops that carried mystical supplies, and clouds of incense filled the air. If you’re interested in learning about the tarot, connecting with some of the best readers, or discovering exotic, hand-blended incense, there is still a wealth of resources in this town. Some of them may even take you back to simpler, more magical times. We see endless possibilities in your future.

Precious oils and incense at The Sword and the Rose | © Nancy Garcia
Precious oils and incense at The Sword and the Rose | © Nancy Garcia

The Sword and the Rose

This tiny mecca of mysticism and wisdom in Cole Valley has been here for almost thirty years. Access to the shop is through a long alley, which opens to reveal a perfectly picturesque garden, and at the far end, obscured by vines, is the door to the shop. Surely this passage must lead to Middle Earth, but even better – it leads to a treasure trove of supplies for those seeking spiritual assistance (or wonderfully scented incense and oils).

More than ninety different incenses and oils in colorful glass bottles are displayed behind a counter, and are all handmade and consecrated in the store by Sword and the Rose’s owner, Patrick Ferry. During a recent visit, Patrick traced the origin of these elixirs: “We gather the ingredients from all over the world, India, Egypt – some of the resins have been sacred to the gods and goddesses for thousands of years, so it’s appropriate for us to honor them and continue in the legacy and tradition from whence they come.”

The staff and Patrick at the Sword and the Rose all do tarot card readings, and they take the time to work with each customer, listening for what they are seeking, and suggest an incense, an oil or bath to connect them to a particular energy or entity. The Sword and the Rose also carries gems, minerals, house blessings, jewelry, books and tarot cards, and have a Native American area as well.

Visitors tend to mention how many wonderful things are packed into this tiny shop, which looks small from the outside, but feels mysteriously big once you’re inside. The response to this is that “the Sword and the Rose is inter-dimensional.” As befits such a place, there is no website, and no address on the street. But look carefully, and you will find it. Blessed be, Culture Trippers!

Anastasia Haysler | © Photo Clarence Hilford
Anastasia Haysler | © Photo Clarence Hilford

Anastasia Haysler

Tarot master (or in this case – Mistress), Anastasia Haysler believes that “divination is not so much about predicting the future as it is about choosing the future.”

Haysler shares, “The best way to see into the future is to create the future you wish to see, and working with the oracles provides guidance and insight into clients to help them do exactly that.” This gifted tarot card reader’s approach to divination focuses on the root of the word – “divine.” By working with the images in the cards, she believes that clients can discover their own divine energies and reconnect with their authentic selves.

Haysler is also a respected San Francisco writer who runs Tarot Media Company and Black Swan Press, which provides distribution and publication of works of special divinatory and cultural interest. Her most recent works are Painting the Soul: The Tarot Art of David Palladini, and a video collaboration with James Wanless, Ph.D. creator of The Voyager Tarot. Some of her favorite decks are: The Aquarian Tarot, The Voyager Tarot, The Giants Tarot by Raven Kaldera, and an out-of-print deck The Wheel of Change Tarot by Alexandra Genetti, which you can view online.

Anastasia Haysler reads for clients in S.F, and provides remote readings via web chat and telephone. She comments on Tarot, divination, and life in general on her blog. She can be reached via email at: anastasia@Tarot-To-Go.net, or by phone at +1 415 508 7347.

The Tower and Nature Tarot Cards | © Maria Strom
The Tower and Nature Tarot Cards | © Maria Strom

Tarot Time

It’s very fitting that this city of mystery has a tarot meet up in the heart of the Mission.

Maria Strom, an artist, runs the Tarot Time meet up, and is currently working on designing and painting a modern tarot deck for the new millennium. Strom leads the meet up on Wednesday evenings, every other week in the summer, at Café La Boheme.

Anyone can join, regardless of experience. A recent meeting brought together people with varying skill levels, from a curious young European tourist, to Tarot enthusiasts with decades of experience. The uniting factor is a curiosity for learning, and an open, fun attitude about this ancient divinatory tool. Maria Strom leads Tarot Time with patience, and encourages participation by leading the study of individual cards and their meanings, and by practicing different spreads. Strom says, “I see the Tarot as a tool for spiritual and psychological growth, as well as a way to navigate situations. Life brings us challenges and the cards help us see creative ways to solve them—and to grow. The cards challenge us to open up and be our best selves.”

Her fantastical artwork is colorful, bold and conveys a refreshing and modern view of the Tarot: “My goal is to make contemporary artwork that conveys the age-old teachings of the Tarot. I want the symbols to be easily recognized today.”

She is available for individual readings, and can be contacted at: mariastrom@yahoo.com.

Cafe La Boheme, 3318 24th Street, San Francisco, CA, USA, +1 415-643-0481

Scarlet Sage on Valencia Street | © Scarlet Sage
Scarlet Sage on Valencia Street | © Scarlet Sage

Scarlet Sage

Two herbalists, Lisa Kellman and Dino Lucas, founded this store for healing and transformational goods in 1995 in the Mission District. This month, Scarlet Sage will experience its own renewal, as the founders move onto the next phase of their lives, and “pass the broom” to former employee and clinical herbalist, Laura Ash. The sunny shop packs a mind-boggling selection of products in an organized, yet creative way that encourages discovery and exploration. The staff are friendly and helpful, and somehow always know exactly where everything is located on the packed shelves.

In addition to a great selection of supplements and natural beauty products, Scarlet Sage offers healing talismans, books, and metaphysical supplies. For Tarot devotees, they sell over 50 different tarot and oracle decks, ranging from the more typical to the obscure, and even carry a few decks in Spanish. The store has over a hundred types of crystals and stones for healing and magical properties, and bulk herbs for healing, rituals and spells, in addition to incense and anointing oil supplies. Scarlet Sage carries a large selection of books on healing, spirituality, metaphysics, and books for ritual, herbal healing and magical purposes, as well as exquisite, handmade magic wands, made by a Russian witch who embeds crystals and stones into each one.

Scarlet Sage offers Tarot card readings twice a week, and will be expanding to pet psychic readings, spirit guide readings, and past life readings in the next six months.

Rose Red

Rose Red is a tarot card reader, who has certification in the Voyager Tarot method of reading and coaching. This smart lady has created three iPhone Tarot apps, is working on a book of Tarot spreads, and teaches Tarot at the Fremont Tarot Meet N’Greet. If that isn’t enough, she also co-hosts the Tarot Visions Podcast with Charles Harrington. Favorite decks are the Robin Wood deck, as well as The Druid Craft Tarot. Her philosophy on reading cards is more about creating fortune – not letting it happen to you. She says, “I think we can change our paths if we are open to doing the work. When a person comes to me for a reading, we are working to create a new path, or to figure out a way to move forward with a problem. This is not just a discussion – we create an action plan to help them as they work through the issue at hand. I won’t tell them what to do. I will help them come up with a plan that they can implement themselves.”

Outside of the city, Rose Red likes to buy cards at Mystic Dream in Walnut Creek, and East West Books in Mountain View.

Rose Red can be reached on her website or by email at roseredtarot@gmail.com.

By Nancy Garcia

Nancy Garcia is a writer and television producer who lives between San Francisco and New York. Visit her at her website and on her Pinterest.