Tarot-views is my series of interviews with fellow Tarot readers, artists, authors, and enthusiasts. These people share my love of Tarot, and here I get to pick their brains and find out what makes their Tarot minds tick!
I first became aware of Brooklyn-based Tarot reader Bakara Wintner through the wonders of social media, stumbling across her Instagram while searching The Wild Unknown tag. Any Tarot reader in the past few years at least KNOWS of Kim Krans and her magical, modern Tarot deck. Bakara not only knows it, but found it to be a transformative catalyst that took her from a career in publishing to a self-employed full-time Tarot reader and healer in less than a year.
Inspired by her journey with Tarot and her spiritual connection to The Wild Unknown, I reached out to Bakara and she graciously agreed to be a part of the Tarot-views series.
First off, tell me a little about yourself! Where are you from, where are you now, and how did you get there?
Matt, I'm so thrilled to be a part of Tarot-view and thank you so much for thinking of me for this interview. I'm a Brooklyn resident and Chicago native. While I can parse out the logistics of how I got here -- I came to New York initially to pursue my dream to work in publishing -- so much of it still feels like a mystery. Tarot is the best thing that I never wanted to happen to me. I had no inclination, thought, or desire to be doing this work before I came across it, but it worked quickly in my life nonetheless. It was less than a year after receiving my first tarot deck that I quit my job to read full time. Now I can't imagine doing anything else.
You clearly have a strong connection to The Wild Unknown Tarot. What drew you to the deck? What about it speaks to you on such a deep level?
The Wild Unknown is the deck that turned me into a reader. It is also the first deck that found me. It was a spontaneous and accidental gift from a mentor. We were talking and she said "I just bought a tarot deck for someone as a gift, would you like to see it?" and I agreed, more to be polite than anything else. As soon as The Wild Unknown hit my hands I started weeping. I couldn't understand it at the time, especially because it had been so long since I last cried, and I rarely cried at all. I felt like, holding the cards, I was remembering something essential about myself. The tears were both relief at having remembered and grief at having forgotten. My mentor told me to keep them and it changed everything about my life pretty quickly. I started reading for people a couple months later.
There's so much about The Wild Unknown that I find profound - the sketchy drawing style that feels raw and primal and woodsy, the very thoughtful and intentional implementation of color, the sole use of animal and nature images. It all makes sense to me, and did before I ever picked up the guidebook or made an effort to study tarot. I can't say that of any other deck I've ever come across.
Not only are you a Tarot reader, but you’re a spiritual healer as well. What drew you to that practice? What’s your background and how do you incorporate that practice into your Tarot readings?
The additional healing work I do emerged on a as-needed basis. In a reading, a person gets so much information and there is a way that they can become flooded by it. Information can only go so far. It has to be integrated on a mind, body and spiritual level in order for it to make sense and be useful. The cards can come upon a place where a person is blocked - in a chakra, in an aspect of their life, in a old romantic relationship or family dynamic. This is where stone medicine, inner child rescue, Reiki, taking them up to communicate with one of their guides, or welcoming the energy of departed loved one into the reading can help with clearing stagnant energy. Tarot is my primary modality, as I believe my biggest gift is verbal communication, but these other healing arts have all found their way into readings.
I'm certified in Reiki as well as In-Depth Channeling through Delphi University - one of the world's leading healing schools dedicated to spiritual training, which I cannot recommend highly enough.
What is the Brooklyn Fools and what’s your involvement in the group?
The Brooklyn Fools is a six month long immersive journey, study, and training through the tarot's major arcana that I am running with my good friend and co-founder Jeph Norman Fox. Every week, we get together to submerge ourselves in the energy of one card through meditation, activities, altar building and discussion. Last night was The Empress gathering, so the altar was full of flowers, heart chakra stones, chocolates, cookies, pomegranates, photos of grandmothers, and different objects that symbolized nurturing and creativity. My intention as a facilitator is to foster a community of magical people as they step into their healership and gifts, using the tarot as a vehicle for this self-discovery. I cannot overstate how important community was and is to me as I found my way in this work. To be witnessed, to have others hold space and give support and not judge gave me the courage to take the risks I did in the face of a lot of fear and self-doubt. You don't have to be special or chosen or initiated at birth by your Shaman grandfather to do healing work. Each person is, at their core, intuitive and spiritually connected. For a long time I thought I was too -- what? Organized, type A, practical, controlling, non-magical to do this work. That is simply not true of anyone.
What are your favorite kind of readings to give? Do you utilize spreads or approach readings in a less structured manner?
I have to admit, I love skeptics. A surprising number of my clients will say something like "I've never gotten a reading before and I'm not sure I believe in it and I actually have no idea how I got here." I really love that. I want to bring this work to people who aren't fully conscious of the fact that they're looking for it. I think it is most effective to meet people where they are, in their skepticism or doubt or fear, and taking them from there, rather than floating ten feet above them waiting for them to catch up. I believe in this work wholeheartedly, so I feel excited rather than threatened when I come across people who don't. My reading style is grounded in practicality and implementation and I stay in conversation with the cards throughout, I do not use a fixed spread (tarot reader confession: I've never used a Celtic Cross spread). By the end, it looks like a multi-layered map . No two readings are alike in format or content. Sometimes the whole deck is on the table, sometimes only six cards get pulled. It depends entirely on the needs of the client and the topics that come up for them during their reading.
If someone is interested in a reading, how can they get a hold of you?