Sarah Adler is a Baltimore resident involved in the practice of tarot and spiritual rituals. I first met Sarah at an event she was leading on tarot, moon cycles, and manifestation rituals. Since then, we have become friends, working on projects and events together, continuing both of our practices in the spiritual realm.
On a chilly January evening, we met at the local W.C. Harlan, Sarah’s favorite spot, to make images, sip on cocktails, and talk about tarot.
Why Baltimore? Have you always been in Baltimore?
Baltimore didn’t always feel like home. I grew up in a suburb about 20 minutes south of downtown and I spent a lot of time in the city – going to shows, shopping at Atomic Books, eating at Paper Moon and Golden West – but I was desperate to live in a bigger city. After high school, I moved to New York. I dove in head first. I was in school, going out all the time, working in the fashion industry – it was everything I said I wanted, but after five years, I realized I wasn’t cut out for such a fast paced lifestyle. From there, I spent a year working overseas, pursued by graduate degree in Chicago, but I was ultimately drawn back to Baltimore.
I love the DIY spirit here. There’s a real sense of community in Baltimore that I haven’t seen anywhere else. In other cities, it’s easy to feel like you’re too small to pursue your passions, to find your people or place. So it becomes easy to miss out on building communities and leadership opportunities.
The people of Baltimore, on the other hand, have remarkable uplifting energy. I’ve watched friends form bands, start businesses, form clubs, build entire networks upon the encouragement and support of their friends and the spirit of this city. That’s something I have seen nowhere else and it’s something I love being a part of.
When did you start reading tarot? What is your favorite thing about reading for others?
Tarot has been a major part of my life for the past two years. I bought my first deck more than a decade ago after getting my first reading. Like many of us, I had a very hard time in high school and I’ll never forget the way that tarot always made me feel seen – not just by another person but by the energy of the universe in whatever form. I sought out different readers at different stages in my life, in different cities, and I cherished and reveled in that connection to something outside myself.
After moving back to Baltimore, I was invited to the Bmore Tarot Club – hosted by the incredible Mary Shock. These group discussions and my readings with her sparked my confidence and I began offering readings to friends and from there, the network grew. I found that I could offer that same sense of being seen to others and it’s an honor I take very seriously.
For me, tarot isn’t about fortune telling but about looking at your journey from a new perspective. In times of high anxiety or hopelessness or confusion, a tarot reading offers a different vantage point – something you haven’t noticed, a word of advice, an affirmation, some guidance, or even a warning.
Being able to genuinely connect with my loved ones and strangers alike is such a gift. But more than anything I cherish the opportunity to make people feel seen.
We also know you create stunning wreaths. Tell us about that!
Crafting has always been a huge part of my life. Creative afternoons with my mom were my favorite activity growing up. She has an incredible eye for crafting and instilled that energy in me with all kinds of projects. We painted terra cotta pots and planted flowers, we built doll houses, we made jewelry, and she always framed my favorite doodles.
The wreaths are my latest – and likely favorite – endeavor. And they’re evolving.
One of my passions is preserving and honoring nature, even after death. My home is full of skulls and framed oddities and dried flowers from special occasions, including my wedding.
After hosting a wreathing afternoon with my moon circle, I started making more wreaths for myself using my wedding flowers. I shared a photo online and was delighted to receive interest in custom orders. The whole thing grew from there.
Now that the new year has begun, however, I will be marrying the floral element with my love of oddities in celebration of Spring and new life!
How would you define success in your life?
“Success” used to feel so much less tangible, like something eternally out of my reach. But, the older I get, the more and more I feel I’ve been “successful” all along.
I am more content than ever before. I share my life with a partner that I trust wholly, who supports and encourages and even understands me. I work to be a good and true friend, daughter, and member of my communities. I am able to support myself and be generous with my loved ones through fulfilling work.
It feels good – it does – to receive recognition and opportunities for my efforts but that part of “success” has become less important.
Most importantly, I like myself more than ever. I’ve learned to trust myself. And that – as cliché as it may be – feels a lot more like “success.”
What advice would you give to your younger self?
My younger self needed a lot of advice. I was very lost for a long time.
Mostly, I wish my younger self understood her value – as a friend, as a partner, and as a person. Instead, I accepted a lot of abuse as what I deserved and internalized that toxicity as my own shortcoming. I felt unworthy, like there was something wrong with me, that I wasn’t good enough for compassion or respect or kindness.
And I know I’m not alone in this – many of us are made to feel less than. We have to reconcile to pressure to be attractive but not unattainable, to be smart without being a know-it-all, to be powerful but not intimidating, to be assertive without being demanding, to be funny but not crass… it’s an impossible task!
Damned if you do, damned if you don’t. So, I spent a long time fighting my own instincts. And that is such a waste of time. I wish my younger self knew that.
Honorary mention: Someone who bullies other people hates themselves most of all.
Has being a woman affected your success or as a human being? If so, in what way have you dealt with this?
Absolutely. Women – all of us: cis, trans, non-binary – are all indoctrinated with a deep sense of inferiority. The white male patriarchy is very real and it lurks beneath the surface of every aspect of our lives. It’s so deeply rooted, in fact, that women enact these “values” on one another all the time. We’ve been programmed to police one another for everything from our career choices, the way we dress, even our emotional reactions.
Fortunately, many communities are finally talking about how this power structure hurts not only women but women of color, in particular. It will take generations, no doubt, but the dialogue is beginning and I can only hope that our society pushes itself to eliminate sexist and racist rhetoric from the way we talk about: sex, work, human rights, etc.
For me, personally, having the vocabulary to identify and name the power dynamics that were holding me back gave me the ability to see those imbalances for what they are: means of controlling the voices of women.
Once I was able to parse through that rhetoric, I’ve been able to eliminate toxic situations, relationships, and even thought processes. And when I do encounter one, I know how to confront it.
The more women are educated about their value, their rights, and the ways these are violated, the more these dynamics will be threaded out and exposed.
Sarah Adler is available for private tarot readings as well as events and group readings. She will be reading tarot at Alchemy of Art June 23rd 11-5pm. Contact Sarah on Instagram @sarahericadler or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
All images © Rachel King, 2018