Angeliska Polacheck “I believe in free will, and that the most accurate way to predict the future is to create it!”
I met Angeliska Polacheck in New Orleans 2004 whilst touring with Einstürzende Neubauten. The day after the show we had an off day and I was wandering through the city with Alexander Hacke when we discovered a side show shop. It was full of authentic carnival props and odd vintage objects, which we sorted through in delight. The woman there was gorgeous and very friendly so we started speaking with her.
It turned out that she had been at the concert the evening before and was acquainted with one of my dearest friends and greatest inspirations: the musician Dorothy Carter. Dorothy had moved back to New Orleans after being my roommate for a couple of years in Berlin. She specialized in antique instruments and Angelsika told me that they had started playing music together shortly before Dorothy died. We hugged and cried and the bond was there and we have stayed in contact.
A couple of years later after Hurricane Katrina had swept over New Orleans I visited Angeliska in Austin, Texas where she had relocated and had established herself as a Tarot Card reader. I visited her in her beautiful home, for an afternoon but would have loved to stay longer. I have worked with Tarot cards for decades and am always attracted by people that can teach me more. Angeliska does amazing work in many regions and sends out a regular newsletter with teachings and thoughts that I always relish receiving and I hope to see her again soon after the pandemic is over.
I am delighted to present Angeliska Polacheck here today. May you enjoy the encounter as much as I have.
The Mardi Gras videos and the “Roll Out”-show-video about parade culture included in the editorial are part of Angeliska Polachecks work.
Danielle de Picciotto: There is a saying that “The most powerful sources of information comes from within; the Tarot aids in coming in contact with one’s Higher Self.” Would you agree with this?
Angeliska Polacheck: Yes, absolutely. The Tarot is a very powerful tool for connecting with not only one’s higher self but also, I would say – the higher collective consciousness, and the Divine or the Great Mystery (or however one’s relationship to Source is defined).
Do you work with Tarot cards as guidance or do you also look into the future?
I went to a Tarot reader once and she predicted my then next three years and she was spot on with everything. I did not really enjoy that though and felt disempowered. She also worked with astrological charts. Do you do this as well?
This is what I tell my clients who want to know how my process with the cards works, and if I offer predictions:
The tarot functions like a map of the spirit, it can reveal what’s happening in our emotional, physical, mental and spiritual realms, show us how to manifest the future we want for ourselves, and help us to best prepare for whatever may come.
I am a natural intuitive reader who has been working with the cards for nearly 30 years. The work of reading tarot is based on healing and compassionate service, and I am extremely grateful to be able do it accurately and effectively. I am not a mind reader, or fortune teller – and I don’t make predictions as to what will happen in the future, as I believe that these are disempowering to the querent’s free will. I am here to lay out the path for you, but you are the one that must choose how you proceed on your journey.
If the future is predictable what is the use of making decisions?
Sometimes readers, psychics, and astrologers will use their tools to make predictions – but as I said, I don’t generally believe that these are incredibly helpful for the querent. Astrology especially, is more of a map that uses time and transits to help you plan and understand what is coming up, based on what you could think of as a “celestial weather report” – but I that doesn’t mean that you’re powerless to affect change in your own way. I believe in free will, and that the most accurate way to predict the future is to create it! The future isn’t set in stone – it’s a pretty malleable thing.
A weather forecaster may see storms on the horizon, or know that in winter, it may freeze, or that in summer in will likely be hot – so we try to prepare as best we can for those things! But there are always a lot of other variables, including our own powerful wills at play – which have a huge affect on how things actually play out. For the most part tarot is the tool that I use with my clients. Tarot and astrology are two completely different sciences – two completely different tools for helping people. I do incorporate some astrological wisdom into my readings, but I’m not currently offering chart interpretations.
How did you come about choosing this proffession ? Is it a profession or calling? How did you learn to do it?
My mother died when I was seven years old, and I inherited my first tarot deck from my mother when I was 11. My father decided I was ready to have her cards at that time, and he also showed me the I Ching and gave me some books about tarot to read and study. I’ve been a voracious student of the occult from an early age, so I started learning everything I could, and then began reading for myself, and then friends and family.
At 19 years old I moved to New Orleans (in 1999) and started reading professionally, for the general public at a witch shop called Esoterica Occult Goods in the French Quarter. I continued reading for people until Hurricane Katrina in 2005, I took a break from doing that work after the hurricane, and then opened my own private practice, Sister Temperance Tarot around 2011.
I think it is definitely a calling. My father didn’t know that he was opening the door to my future profession by giving me my mother’s cards – and probably I would have found my way to it anyway, eventually. But it does feel meant to be, for sure. It’s the work I have found to be most fulfilling, in my life.
What I specifically like about how you work is that it is very positive and down to earth. Especially now where there are so many desperate conspiracy believers, fake news distributers and depressed superstition followers it is refreshing to hear about the Tarot and astrology in a calm way.
What are your thoughts to our situation momentarily? Can you offer any advice? How do you deal with the pandemic, the politics, environmental disasters?
I tend to be very pragmatic in my outlook – towards all things spiritual and otherwise – though I think the word “pragmagical” is probably more apt for describing my worldview. I don’t feel that sensationalism in spirituality is a particularly healthy, and I think it’s important to talk about things that affect us deeply in a calm and rational way. There are plenty of people who don’t believe that divination or magic have anything to do with logic or rationality – but I firmly disagree.
We are absolutely in a dire situation, the astrology of 2020, and the year to come – clearly point to massive upheaval, shift and change – particularly in the United States. A major reckoning is at hand, and it helps to have, again, a “celestial weather report”, to be able to navigate all of these quite difficult aspects of what we’re dealing with – from civil rights uprisings, a global pandemic, the rise fascist authoritarian leadership, white supremacy, and most especially climate collapse.
The thing that helps me the most, and (by extension helps the people I work with) is that I tend to take a quite zoomed out/big picture view in how I look at current events. I try not to be so chronocentric in my approach – meaning that I can see that as majorly wild and intense as these times we’re living in – we’re not the first people to go through these kinds of events. I look to history, and to the wisdom of our ancestors, to help us know how to survive what we’re going through, and what how to grapple with what we’re experiencing now. We only exist because they managed to survive (with far less in the way of resources!), so I feel there’s a lot we can learn from the old ways.
You were very active in New Orleans and lived there for a long time. How is the city doing today? How is its soul doing?
I lived in New Orleans for about seven years before Hurricane Katrina blew my roof off, during a really formative time in my life – basically my pre-Saturn Return early twenties. I witnessed a major shift in what we tend to think of as pre-Katrina New Orleans, and post-Katrina New Orleans. Though the storm was 15 years ago now, people who lived through it still feel the impact of that tragedy – less from a natural disaster perspective, and more about how citizens were treated by the government. So much of the really bad shit that went down was completely avoidable, if people had cared to prevent it, or to offer help (rather than neglect and violence) when people really needed it.
Many things have changed in New Orleans, due to the storm – including many people (like myself) who were forced to leave when our homes were destroyed, and many people who were never able to come back afterwards. Major gentrification, landgrabs, displacement of Black people, and general corruption and fuckery within city government has long been a problem there, but it definitely was worsened intensely after Katrina.
However – New Orleans has a spirit that prevails, and that can’t be wiped out by just one hurricane, or even the massive damage caused by lack of federal response, critical aid, and the hideous racism perpetrated against victims of Katrina. New Orleans is a city that has been through so many disasters, hardships, and profound tragedies – and yet, no matter what, I believe that the soul of the city is immensely resilient, joyful, scrappy, and resourceful, and brilliant in the way that the people know and continue the traditions of processing grief publicly, through celebration, honoring their dead in public ritual that combines music, dance, and costume. New Orleans absolutely make self-expression, togetherness, connection, (and of course good food) a major priority.
Do you see your profession as one that can help our society find new ways?
Yes, I truly do. What I’ve seen in the many years that I’ve been reading tarot for people, is that many people will seek out a tarot reader before they will go to a therapist, or they’ve had bad experiences with therapy and feel more comfortable seeking out someone who has more of a connection to spiritual realms. I am humbled by the way that complete strangers are so often willing to be very vulnerable with me, and grateful for the way that this tool I use for divination helps me to go directly to the heart of the matter, so that I can help offer perspective, and new way of looking at things. The work that I do is trauma-informed and trauma-focused, looking at developmental trauma, shock trauma, and epigenetic trauma. I feel strongly that healing our trauma and working on ancestral remediation is key to being able to show up for the lives that we want to live, and being able to participate in making the world a better place. Understanding and processing what our ancestors experienced and went through, and the effect that those events have on our lives is a huge piece. I fervently believe that if more people put their focus on healing themselves and their lineages, and moving their trauma through and out of their bodies and nervous systems, that we would live in an infinitely more peaceable world.
From an astrological / spiritual point of view why do you think our society has become so lost?
I wouldn’t necessarily describe us as lost, really. I think that we are on a journey, as humans – and that currently, we’re stuck in a bit of a thicket. I am hopeful that at this point in our journey we will recognize that we are being forced to reckon with the fact that we have lost our connection to the earth and to the rest of nature (which we are an integral part of, and not separate from). I feel that the philosophies of individualism at the (expense of the collective), have contributed to us losing our way, and becoming more isolated, more dependent upon technology, and more forgetful of our place in the family of living beings, our relatives – the natural world, the trees, the rocks the birds, the animals – all of whom out are our companions, our family – and not simply resources to be exploited. I feel that returning to an animist perspective is one that has the potential to greatly change the the damage and disconnect that we’re currently experiencing in the modern world.
Any thoughts on the future? What do the stars say for 2021?
We have a long road ahead of us, with even more change and upheaval – but I do believe that it’s all necessary change, bringing forth a much needed paradigm shift. Hold on to your hats (and your loved ones)! I think of the Chinese blessing/curse: “May you live in exciting times”.
You used to compose music with Dorothy – do you still work in music?
Occasionally, though mainly I sing medicine songs – for healing and connection with the divine, rather than performing. I have also deeply reconnected with the music of my ancestors, and enjoy singing traditional Irish Sean-nós style songs. My parents are folk musicians, and mainly play traditional Irish music, so I was raised with it. Folk music in general (from all over the world) is really what gets me going most. I think because it’s the music of the people – by the people, for the people. It tells stories, preserves history, and offers a way to move emotion – which really I suppose most music does too, but… Folk music feels very raw and unvarnished in a way I deeply appreciate. It’s authentic and personal in a way that moves me very powerfully. Meeting and making music was Dorothy was an instrumental of that process for me too – she really gave me confidence to just make music because it feels so good to do it!
You were very much part of Mardi Gras when you were living in New Orleans. What did this day/ parade mean to you? Was a ritualistic mystic experience?
I am actually still very much part of Mardi Gras, though I don’t live in New Orleans anymore (since Hurricane Katrina blew my roof off) – but I do go back every single year to celebrate this very important holiday.
Mardi Gras day is my absolute favorite day out of the whole year! It is definitely a ritualistic and mystic experience, a wild explosion of color, wearable art, music, decadence, frivolity, but also solemnity and honoring the dead. The Krewe of Saint Anne developed a tradition about 50 years ago, when many of their gay members were dying of AIDS, of taking their loved one’s ashes on the parade route, and eventually ending up at the river, where the ashes would be released into the muddy Mississippi. New Orleans is a Scorpio city, a deep subterranean, below sea level city, where sex and death, Eros and Thanatos, dance side by side. The practice of mourning death and celebrating life as two sides of the same coin is everywhere – but especially in the Second Line Parades and Jazz Funerals created by the Black communities and their Social and Pleasure Clubs.
Parades are a powerful reclaiming of public space, by dancing in the street and moving en masse through the city, often in altered states and elaborate costumes. These traditions are indeed ancient, going back centuries and rooted in ancient rites of Saturnalia, and wild pagan bacchanals. I believe humans need these free and public celebrations, and love that Carnivals are still celebrated all over the world. It’s a very particular tradition in New Orleans, however, that I love so much. People create new costumes every year, and but so much labor, creativity, and ingenuity into them!
I’ve been part of parade culture and putting on events and parades in New Orleans and here in Austin for many, many years including Austin’s Queerbomb parade (an anti-corporate transgressive queer answer to the more staid and square Gay Pride Parade here) and well as 12th Night, and Day of the Dead parades. I’ve stepped back from organizing all of those these days, but still attend and participate in parade events here and in New Orleans, because they truly are my favorite way to celebrate and honor this miraculous thing called life!