Karen was one of the first friendly faces I met in Charleston after I moved here from New York over ten years ago. I met her through mutual friends and observed her floating effortlessly around every Charleston fashion and style event. She reported for a couple local publications and always seemed self-assured and in tune to what was going on in the creative community and radiated friendliness and warmth.
After getting married, leaving Charleston for a few years, having two children and then returning, she has parlayed her background in religious studies, social work and her own spiritual practices into a new path for herself as a Reiki Master Practitioner, Intuitive Tarot Reader, and a Meditation Instructor. She came and did Tarot readings at the Charleston launch party for our Celestial Collection and I was particularly impressed with mine, as was everyone who sat with her for a reading. So I thought I would chat with her about the path that has landed her where she is, developing and sharing her spiritual and therapeutic gifts.

We actually started this conversation towards the end of 2019. A lot of people I know (myself included) had had a rocky year that was coming finally coming to a close. “The last couple weeks have been a little bonkers…” she said when we got on the phone. And this was pre-corona, pre-stock market crash, pre-school closures and social distancing measures. So in an even a more uncertain time when we are still pressing for answers and guidance, our discussion is just as relevant. I have also asked her to share her thoughts and advice on how we can stay calm under the current circumstances and best use the time in isolation we are now being given.

A New Yorker Article came out last fall called Astrology in The Age of Uncertainty  about how more and more millennials re turning to alternative, non-traditional forms of spirituality to make sense of the world. I asked her if this made her more comfortable transitioning from studying social work and working in a more traditional medical environment (her day job is is managing data for neuro research trials) to sharing what had previously been a private spiritual practice for her. "I don't think so," she said. "It’s more painful for me to put on a mask and pretend this isn’t who I am and not share it with the world. It is scary, I do have an conservative southern family and I grew up in a Presbyterian church and for them they will not really ever understand what I do, and that is OK, I am not for everyone."
So given her background and unconventional career path, I asked her how she got here. "This has always been a part of my personal life, going back to when I was a kid I had some experiences that made me aware of the spiritual realm. I was always curious about this line of work, checking out library books on divination and tarot but I didn’t see it as a professional path for myself until recently. In college, I did get a degree in religious studies and even thought about going the PHD academic route. There’s a lot of stigma around it, a lot of people think it is absolutely crazy and it’s not for them. But the older I got, the more comfortable I got with it and I decided that I could get more authentic with myself and use what I had to get more authentic with myself and to help other people."  While she thought this might manifest itself in some sort of traditional talk therapy, it is clear that she felt pressed to pursue more specific spiritual practices, such as Reiki, Tarot and Meditation. 

How do you think being a mom/parent has affected or impacted your gifts positively or negatively?

Being a mom has opened my intuition in ways that I could not have foreseen. It forced me to be in the present, in a very real, tangible way. It threw me out of my mind and into my feelings, which was very new to me. I had to lower my bar significantly in a lot of areas of my life, which forced me to get really real, to face a lot of things that I had previously been able to face by thinking about the future or other distractions. All of this is essentially being present with and feeling into exactly what is, which is the basis for any mindfulness practice. A formal mindfulness meditation practice came about during this time, which really began the opening up of my intuition in a more consistent way as an adult. I would come to realize later that the feeling piece is really the key to any solid intuitive practice. I used to think it was all about what we see or think in the mind, which is not quite the case. I believe that everyone is intuitive. We all have the choice of leaning into our intuition or to developing it further.

For me, practicing Reiki is what really dialed up the intuitive (psychic) and mediumistic abilities, which, I didn’t necessarily understand at the time. So, when I would be in session, I would have impressions about the person’s past, present or future. I would use these impressions to guide where I would offer Reiki in the body. Sometimes guides or passed loved ones would come through. I needed to understand what was happening and how to gain a level of specificity that would actually be helpful to people. When you’re dealing with such sacred and intimate information, you don’t want to get it wrong. I began taking classes with Carol Cottrell, a psychic medium who has trained with some of the world’s most well-known and respected mediums. I am currently in a mentorship with her. I don’t think I have gifts, but an evolving skill set that is constantly being honed.

Karen offers In-Person Reiki, Intuitive Tarot and Combination Sessions (Reiki and Intuitive Tarot) normally at at Lotus Healing Center in Charleston and at  Still Soul Studio by request. Both Reiki, Tarot and Combination Sessions are also offered remotely, with as much (sometimes more) efficacy as In-Person Sessions. These are held via Zoom. 
TARROT: Tarrot is just one of many tools – technically a divination tool – something physical that you and the client can both touch that taps into your intuition. I call it intuitive tarot. I sit down with a client either in person or remotely and use it as a launching pad to do a reading. What we are doing right now impacts what is happening in the future. I like to focus my readings on guidance, clarity and things that are going on right now that will in turn focus on things that will happen in the future. I know what the traditional, clinical interpretations are of each of the cards and that is the starting point. But off of that, I also pick up on things I am seeing and feeling for that person which could be different and based on my intuition in that moment and getting different messages for each person. Anchoring point. 
REIKI: Reiki is a form of energy work that is used to balance and facilitate healing of all four bodies- the physical, mental, emotional and spiritual. The word Reiki means life-force energy. Similarly to acupuncture, Reiki works to restore the flow of energy through our meridians and chakras. 
Due to positive peer reviewed studies showing efficacy in stress reduction, blood pressure, chronic pain, anxiety, depression and adverse symptomology associated with chronic illness, Reiki has now been introduced as a therapeutic modality at major hospitals across the US, including MUSC. I am thrilled to be starting as a volunteer in this capacity this Spring, offering Reiki to palliative care patients.The experience of Reiki varies from person to person and session to session, but almost everyone experiences an immense feeling of peace, relaxation and ease.
It is not uncommon to experience physical sensations such as warmth or tingling. Some see colors and dream like images. As I offer Reiki to someone, I will get impressions. These impressions will inform me about what is coming up to be healed for that person and will inform how I proceed with the rest of the session.The experience of Reiki happens in an altered state. In that state, lots of extraordinary and unexpected things occur, that may not seem to make sense to our conscious minds. At the end of a session, I will explain what work was done in the session and the client and I will compare notes about our experiences- to validate what came up for us both, and discuss potential options moving forward.
 Can you share some sentiments on remaining calm and centered during this difficult time?
I’m very much feeling that this is a powerful opportunity for us personally, and as a collective to get really, really, real and cut out what no longer is working. No-holds barred, no more excuses, the time is now, let’s cut it out/shed the layers/speak authentically and with courage. A lot of us are literally locked in our houses right now with some drama that we have, up until now, been able to avoid with external distractions. Whether it’s family, finances, or something within us that we want to change, we are being given (forced 😉 ) a once in a lifetime opportunity to actually take a hard look at those things and decide that it’s time to bloom out of them. If billions of people can come together to decide to lock down in an effort to flatten the curve, I know we can all choose to take a deep look at our Shadows- the things are no longer working for us, that we want to change, that may not have been fitting for a while. I know we can look at them squarely. I know we can see them for what they are. I know that we can still love and accept ourselves despite what it is that we see. And I know that we can finally decide to cut them loose.
 Mention code CANDY for booking a session with Karen for 15% any service. Valid through 5/1/20.
Deirdre Zahl