‘Scopes Interview Series – Jessi, Psycho-Spiritual Guide
This post is part of a series of interviews of ‘Scopes contributors.
I can’t remember where I first ran into Jessi Huntenburg.
I do remember what struck me about her work and her voice. When a person loves the written word, it comes through in the words that they choose. There’s a weight to it. Her work has a heft that’s at least twofold. The meter and variety of her writing identify her as a writer through and through. The resonance of her messages identifies her as an intuitive. To read her work is to read something beautiful. It has the feeling of a song written for you.
And it doesn’t stop there. As tarot readers, we have no ethics board to hold us accountable. We have no rulebook that outlines how we need to equip ourselves to be ready to stand with, and for, our clients. For this reason, our services fall on a spectrum and the readers that take it upon themselves to learn about the human psyche, the inner landscape of the mind, and its challenges, these readers stand out. Jessi is among the ranks of those that invest in this knowledge.
Read on to learn more about this longtime ‘Scopes contributor.
Your readings have this amazing literary flair. What’s your creative process? What gets you in the writing zone?
Writing has been my constant companion since I was nine. I made the decision to be a writer and I’ve barely looked back since, but my creative process now is pretty much unrecognizable compared to what it was even five years ago.
I used to write like a mason lays bricks, each word and phrase consciously and meticulously arranged. At a certain point, I realized that I was barely writing anything, that at the end of a writing session I’d deleted more than I’d actually written. At the heart of this was the fear of my own inadequacy—what I wrote was never good enough, would never be good enough.
Tarot unlocked the fluid, natural writer in me. I suppose I just stopped thinking about what I was writing and let myself write. The cards led me to beautiful places and let me play around with language. And the purpose of the readings—providing guidance, insight, and inspiration for others—took my ego out of the process and let me be a vehicle for the words rather than their master or manipulator.
My process, strange as it may seem, is writing. I just write. I just let it come out and flow. But this new approach only works, I think, because I dedicated twenty plus years to the conscious craft of writing itself. If I wrote this way from the beginning, my writing never would have matured.
At the same time, they also have this uncanny intuitive precision. What’s your divinatory process? What gets you in the reading zone?
Before each reading, I meticulously arrange my reading space. I choose the cards intuitively or according to the season/energy. I select crystals to compliment the readings according to personal and traditional correspondence. I place a candle on my right and light it. I light sage or palo santo in the candle flame and bathe myself in the smoke. I breathe deeply and release all thoughts about my life and my experience. This way, I can channel messages rather than script them. This ritual alone gets me into the reading mindset.
I also tune into the frequency of the energies I’ve been feeling lately—uncertainty, lethargy, excitement, motivation, demotivation, etc. I’m no astrologer, but I do seem to pick up on the vibes of lunar astrology—often I’ll do a reading that speaks to the manifest energies of a certain moon without being fully aware of what those energies are. I also try and consciously connect with the energies of a specific sign (if I’m doing a tarotscope reading) or a specific individual (if I’m doing a client reading). I’ll visualize my client’s face in my mind, visualize them in the circumstances they describe in their query, try and put myself in their place and feel what it’s like to be them in the moment.
When did Jung ‘s work first make its way into your readings? What was that like?
I was introduced to Jung through my university studies, and his work has influenced my paradigm and thought processes ever since. I remember first hearing the collective unconscious described and thinking yes—this is always how I’ve perceived the inexplicable. Jung’s work built a bridge to the esoteric for me, made it possible for me to believe in magick again, and arguably made it possible for me to pick up a deck of cards in the first place.
I’ve always seen tarot as a collection of archetypes pulled from the collective unconscious, and as such, a map of the human experience macrocosmically as well as microcosmically. Each card is a doorway, an insight waiting to be realized and expressed. I don’t think I’d be able to take leaps of faith in my readings if I didn’t believe in the magick of the archetypes. Jung gives me the confidence to go out on a limb when I intuitively feel it’s the right thing to do.
What’s something you’ve learned since hanging your tarot reading biz shingle?
I’ve learned that I’m capable of a level of organization that I thought impossible. I can take risks even when I’m terrified (and that terror won’t stop me from helping my business evolve). I can build a website and be consistent on social media (I didn’t have a cell phone until I was twenty-two and I avoided Facebook like the plague). I can make mistakes and the business will survive despite those mistakes. I’ve learned that I have the power, strength, and resolve to persevere even when things get hard.
I’ve also learned that I can be triggered by negative feedback. Toxic comparison is definitely a thing. There are days when I’m exhausted of changing, evolving, and hustling—running a tarot biz isn’t for the faint of heart and isn’t for those who aren’t ready and willing to go to really uncomfortable psycho-spiritual places and work through them. I’ve learned that I have an ego demon that craves success and that that ego demon can lead me astray if I don’t keep it in check. I’ve learned that if I don’t keep myself accountable, no one will—the future of the business is up to me and me alone.
When did you start making tarot bags? What was that like?
I started making tarot bags when I was gifted a sewing machine for Christmas. It was shortly after I started the tarot biz and I figured, “I’m connected to a group of people who read tarot and need tarot bags, so why not make tarot bags?” I basically capitalized on an opportunity that presented itself.
Making tarot bags is completely different from crafting tarot readings. The work is repetitive and doesn’t require ingenuity or problem-solving. I find the process meditative, and it can be a good way to recover after a few days of really intense readings.
I saw a painting of yours that I thought was wild on IG. Do you still paint? Do you think you’ll make a tarot deck someday?
Visual art was always therapeutic for me—so much so that I stopped studying it when I was fourteen. I didn’t want to feel the need for it to be perfect, for it to be work. I wanted to keep it as something that I did to process and connect with the wild creative force.
I do still paint, and I’ve definitely considered making a deck. I’ve even drafted some ideas for an oracle deck, but I haven’t yet found the time or inclination to make it. I have so much respect for deck creators because it is a process. Like, holy shit. I tried, and it just wasn’t working. I feel like I need to get to a headspace where it’s okay for the deck to be what it is—I have way too many thoughts and unrealistic expectations at this point!
If you DID make a tarot deck, what would be its theme?
If I ever did make a tarot deck, I feel like it would play pretty heavily on themes of light and dark—I love the interplay of that dynamic. I’m a sucker for superhero movies and comics because I’m just delighted to watch the dynamic between hero and villain play out. But Batman—the hero finds his strength in the darkness. This is it. So I guess the theme would be “hero finds strength by facing the darkness,” because that’s a narrative I can get behind.
Thank you for your time, Jessi!
Check out Jessi’s bio below to learn more or read the ‘Scopes to see Jessi’s style for yourself.
Check out the rest of the ‘Scopes Interview Series to get to know more of the contributors!
Jessi Huntenburg is an allusive cardslinger and free-form witch meditating and divining in Philadelphia, PA. She approaches Tarot through the lens of a literary scholar and shadow worker, resulting in readings that are clear, balanced, and cut to the quick of the issue at hand. You can find a host of spiritual musings, tarot narratives, and reading options at her website, www.jessihuntenburg.com.