When you imagine a tarot reader, what do you see? Perhaps an old woman at a fairground, cloaked in black, with a veil over her face and laying out cards with terrifying images on them?
The last thing you’d imagine is a busy career woman running a huge team of people in a London publishing house.
But that’s where Neshla Avey was working when she felt a calling to embrace her psychic abilities make a full-time business out of them.
She left the stuffy world of medical journals behind – where she dared tell no one of her tarot reading and healing for fear of being ridiculed.
And the 56-year-old, from Locks Heath, now has a thriving business and is in demand for tarot readings, healing and her new online tarot training.
Here Neshla, a mum of two, explains. ‘At first my family thought I was crazy’ laughs Neshla, ‘but they’re quite proud of me now.
‘I worked in a very academic environment with scientific people, it was very high-pressured.
‘So I felt I couldn’t tell my colleagues until I left – and they were shocked.
‘But I’ve always had these abilities.
‘As a child I was quite psychic and used to pick up on things. I was one of four children but I was a little bit different to them. I was much more sensitive.
‘I could astral travel. I would leave my body and go off somewhere. I remember visiting places in my dreams.
‘But I was told not to be silly, that I had an overactive imagination.’
Her psychic abilities were just something Neshla became used to.
She says: ‘I knew when someone was going to call. I knew when people were not telling the truth because I felt their energy change.
‘But I felt I had to suppress my abilities and I found it difficult to fit in at school.’
It was not until Neshla was on maternity leave, 30 years ago, that she started playing with tarot cards.
She immediately felt an energy and started reading them for family and friends.
‘My friends loved it and kept coming back for more’, she says. ‘I could pick things up about them that I didn’t even know.’
Neshla is also a clairvoyant and admits she can see and hear people in her head, making her able to know what to say.
She says: ‘I don’t see ghosts, I feel them. My psychic abilities don’t scare me because they have always been there. It opens up your intuition. It is like reading energy through symbols that appear on the cards.’
Neshla says she simply knows when someone is about to tell her big news – from guessing friends are pregnant to knowing who is at the other end of the telephone before they speak.
And, more than once, she’s been ticked off by family and friends for ruining surprises –because she’s already sensed what’s about to happen.
But she says her main motivation is to help people and wants to dispel the myths around Tarot and psychicism.
Neshla says: ‘People with problems come to me because they want reassurance.
‘They have some big life decisions to make. I never tell them what to do, it’s up to their free will. And I will only see people every six months.’
Neshla is a healer and uses the Rahani method to channel energy in the body to make people feel more balanced, grounded and less stressed.
‘Tarot has a bad name because in the old days it was connected to the occult. The church condemned it because of that.
‘People are scared of it. My cards are bright and cheerful and not frightening at all. It’s just a tool to open up intuition.’
Neshla says she has actually helped people withdraw from antidepressants through Rahani healing.
‘I don’t tell them to come off them, they have healing and the doctor reduces the dosage’ she says.
Since going full-time Neshla has taught tarot to more than 100 people and healing to 350.
Her husband Simon and two children fully support and are extremely proud of her.
‘I still meet people who think I’m weird but at the end of the day this is who I am and I feel much happier than where I was before.
‘Rather than making money for a big corporation I’m helping people. People have said I’ve changed their lives.
‘It’s much more fulfilling than working in a big business, and wonderful to have that feedback.’
An easy guide to learning how to read tarot cards
As well as holding a regular Mind, Body and Spirit Fair in Warsash, Neshla runs an online course to teach people how to read tarot cards.
The curious can sign up to the video course on her website and order a pack of easy-to-understand tarot cards.
Neshla says she wasn’t born with a special gift – anyone can tune into their psychic abilities.
‘We all have it within us, it’s just that some people are more aware of it than others,’ says Neshla.
‘If you want to develop it you can. Tarot is a way of opening up your intuition.
‘By doing that it helps people develop psychic skills.
‘I really believe we all have it.’
Each pack has 78 cards and are created so that the learner can understand all the symbols.
For instance, chariots signify movement, as do horse and carts.
A fool means new beginnings.
Neshla adds: ‘People are scared of tarot but my cards are bright and cheerful and not frightening at all.
‘It’s just a tool to open up intuition.’
Tarot is believed to have originated in 15th century Italy.
To find out more or to sign up to the online course, please visit neshlaavey.com