Tarot cards have been used as a means of telling fortunes and the future since the late 1700s, but before that, they were simply playing cards dating back to the 14th century. That’s just one of many factoids on tarot that Rebecca Schoenecker has collected and plans to share in her presentation at the Forest Park Public Library. 

The library has invited Schoenecker to give her “Meet the Tarot” presentation on Sept. 26 in the Austin Room. It’s a talk she’s given at a variety of venues, including the Skokie Public Library.

She has been studying the tarot and using it for divination for about seven years. While working as an academic advisor at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Schoenecker felt something was missing in her life. She decided it was time for a new artistic endeavor and recalled her interest in the metaphysical when she was younger. Combining her academic background and her master’s degree in fine arts, she began researching the tarot.

“I decided [the best way] to learn about the tarot, and also as an interesting way to reflect on my own life, would be to create my own tarot deck,” she said.

A tarot deck comprises four suits of 14 cards each, known as “the lesser arcana,” and a fifth set of 22 trump cards called “the major arcana.” Schoenecker said she spent the next year designing images for all 78 cards using important moments and objects from her life.

“I got to connect with these universal archetypes on a very personal level, and I found it was very healing for me,” Schoenecker said.

She printed a single copy of her personalized deck and began doing readings for people as a hobby. She said she got hooked, and soon reading for others became far more than a simple hobby.

Her full-time business, Laughing Eye Weeping Eye, opened in 2011 and since then Schoenecker has done thousands of readings and created a second tarot deck. She’s also devoted time to holding educational events on the tarot in Chicago and surrounding areas.

She likes having an opportunity to help people see preconceived notions they might have about tarot cards and other spiritual tools.

“There has been a resurrection of interest in tarot and in pre-Christian concepts, so I’m finding that people are more open-minded to it now,” she said. 

Schoenecker said her hour-long presentation gives a history lesson on the tarot, her personal journey and what she does as a full-time tarot reader, and also allows attendees the opportunity to do a simple reading themselves.

“I really love that I’ve had the opportunity to do presentations like this because I think I’ve been able to reach an audience that might not otherwise feel comfortable learning more about it,” she said. “A library is a place of community and knowledge. I really like being in a place that feels accessible to people.”

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