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Teen witch to tarot reader: how The Craft’s Rachel True found her calling

We catch up with the actress ahead of the launch of her first book True Heart Intuitive Tarot

Born and bred in the multi-cultural melting pot of New York, growing up Rachel True was blissfully unaware of her appearance. It was only when her parents moved upstate, when she was a teenager, that things began to change. “There was so much racism there, kids refused to sit or stand next to me because I was brown skinned. I remember thinking, ‘Oh, they think I’m not beautiful’. I’d never had to think about that before.” This feeling of being an outsider was compounded when she moved to Hollywood to make it as an actress. “Hollywood made it clear I was not the leading lady but her quirky best friend,” she says. In times of darkness, Rachel turned to spirituality to keep her grounded. She’d been fascinated with the occult since she was a little girl, often burying her nose in her father’s esoteric books, acquiring her first deck of tarot cards when she was just a teen. She was heavily into all things supernatural when a script came up for a film about four young witches, one of whom was always getting bullied by her racist classmates. After lining her pockets with crystals and manifesting the part, Rachel came home after the screen test to a huge basket from the studio on her doorstep laden with tarot cards and different witch-themed stuff, announcing she’d got the role of Rochelle in cult 1996 movie The Craft. 

Despite the film’s critical success, Rachel found Hollywood’s crippling diversity problem difficult to manage, often being excluded from roles and events because of the colour of her skin. Over the next decade or so, Rachel landed roles in cult programmes Half Baked and The Drew Carey Show, as well as movies including The Perfect Holiday and Sharknado, but her true passion lay in tarot. Now 50, Rachel works as an Intuitive Tarot Reader” at the House of Intuition in Los Angeles, where she spends her time readings cards for clients over the phone or in person. She is also working on her first book and taro set: True Heart Intuitive Tarot, which she describes as a part “tarot how to with a Jungian slant” and part “Hollywood memoir”. Launching next year, we caught up with Rachel to find out more about her journey with tarot.

Can you tell us about the first time you were drawn to the occult?
Rachel True: As a small child I was very drawn to two books in my father’s library: Beyond Good And Evil By Nietzsche & Man and His Symbols by Carl Jung. Those books contained images and concepts that opened many doors for me. The first time I saw a tarot deck, a Rider Waite-Smith deck, it seemed the pictures were speaking, asking me to reveal their story. I was eight years old. The idea that there were mysteries locked inside the images intrigued me, but I don’t think I understood the deepest discoveries would be about my own subconscious desires. In the end, I’m a Scorpio and love a mystery so tarot was a perfect fit.

How has your relationship with tarot evolved since then?  
Rachel True: I’ve practised tarot since my teens as a way to stay on my course. In a profession like acting this is a huge comfort. It’s easy to get wrapped up in your ego when you're an artist. To stay grounded when the world is smoke and mirrors is a challenge. Tarot for me is ever evolving – as I transform so does my dynamic with the cards, my understanding of meanings on a practical level have morphed. When I was younger I was very methodical about shuffling and cutting a certain way, I’m much looser now. They’ve been a tremendous tool in helping me open up my intuition, I can read people without the cards but still like to use them.

Can you explain a bit about what tarot is and what it does?
Rachel True: Tarot decks contain 78 cards, 22 of them are major Arcana’s, these cards represent bigger life shifts, and the rest are minor Arcana’s which cover the more day to day. The magic from tarot is not the cards, but in their ability, or rather the ability of the images on the cards to unlock bits of our subconscious. As Jung says, the best way to predict the future is to determine how the present evolved from the past. So for me, tarot is essential for uncovering how things ended up the way they are. Tarot can absolutely be used for divination, but really I use it as a ’shrink in a box’. Tarot is a language that once learned, helps people tap into their own intuition and higher self, that’s the real magic.

How did your experience working on The Craft impact your attitude towards spirituality?
Rachel True: Honestly, it didn’t at all. I was into these concepts way before The Craft. I’ve got notebooks of spreads and card interpretations from before the film…in some ways I think the tarot work I was doing in my downtime when not acting was what made the script find me.

What made you want to pursue tarot more seriously?
Rachel True: I’ve always taken tarot seriously but a few years ago I was cast in a biopic of Marie Laveau. She was a free black woman who brought a mixture of Voudou and Catholicism to New Orleans. I thought about what she would be doing if she was alive today, and utilizing her intuition via tarot cards made sense to me.

What's the story behind True Heart Tarot?
Rachel True: Recently I set up on Patreon, The True Heart Society for Wellness & Intuitive Advancement. I’m hoping this will become a community of like-minded people where they can come together and discuss all things tarot and healthy living. I do daily tarot card pulls with video card explanations as posts about ageing naturally. Eventually, I’ll be doing a live webinar tarot class on there.

What do you hope to achieve with it?
Rachel True: The goal is to help people tap into their own intuition which in turn clears away the negative voices and anxiety that plague so very many of us. When we’re seeing more objectively, it’s easier to make choices that move us forward. When we’re on our path and working in alignment with our higher self, for many of us, stress abates. I think tarot in tandem with traditional therapy is a knockout punch.

What’s the biggest misconception about tarot? Why might people find it inaccessible?
Rachel True: Quite often younger people tell me they’re interested in esoteric studies but their parents or church told them tarot cards are evil. Nothing could be further from the truth, they’re paper cards, in fact, the Rider Waite Smith deck contains many allegorical images directly related to bible stories. I’m hoping to reach that person who is intrigued but intimidated, the person who saw The Craft and thought, 'what if?' I want them to know that tarot and energy work works beautifully in tandem with religion, not against it.

How does reading other people's tarot cards impact you personally?
Rachel True: It keeps me on my path, out of my ego and has helped hone my intuition and psychic abilities. If you’re going to dig around someone else’s psyche and give them advice on how to proceed, your energy must be clean and your vibe high. Otherwise, you risk becoming a false guru type persona, which Hollywood is rife with.

What other areas of spirituality are you interested in?
Rachel True: I’m very interested in psychic connections, if we only use a tiny bit of our brains, maybe this ability is buried somewhere in the other 90%. Gut instinct comes from a feeling, a sensation, an intuition. Years ago at a Whole Foods, I heard a tiny whisper, a rustling of leaves really that whispered, ‘Don’t take the first samosa’. When I got home there was a bug in the samosa. I realized I need to start paying attention to the rustling leaves and falling rain in the back of my head.

What does the future hold for you?
Rachel True: Infinite possibilities. The book and tarot deck set I’m working on for Houghton Mifflin Harcourt is coming in 2020. This has been a lifelong dream of mine to design a deck as well as write a compendium of card interpretations that will help decipher and demystify tarot for the newer reader.