Reading Tarot with Katy Kirby

By Amy Garlesky

Photography by Sam Ahern

Last week, Austin-based artist Katy Kirby announced her awaited debut album Cool Dry Place, out this February via Keeled Scales. Long before the world got to hear its fantastic lead-off single “Traffic!” Katy was on a winter tour and passing through Washington, DC, for a local Valentine’s Day show. A bit before her set, the two of us sat down at a local restaurant over dumplings to read her tarot. During our conversation, we touched not only upon her previous work, but also what led to her first full-length record and the importance of community in her artistic process. Check out our reading below.

Discography: Past, Present & Future

Slumber: So we’re going to do past work, current work, and then future, and we’ll see where it goes from there. Was your last tarot reading inaccurate, do you think?

Katy Kirby: No… it didn’t feel inaccurate as much as I think the person who was doing it was drunk at the time, so I was just sort of like, okay, like I accept this; this is fine, but I don’t remember it.

Past Work: Nine of Cups

Slumber: Okay. So, when we’re looking at past work, I think it’s really interesting that all three cards are a majority yellow. [Definitely] paying attention to color here. To me, Nine of Cups gives a sense of fulfillment that can be slightly indulgent. It’s not a happiness that comes as a result of having all these obstacles coming against you and overcoming them; there’s not this sort of like resilience factor there. No, it’s this joyous, enjoyable sort of feeling.

Current Work: Page of Pentacles

And so I think that’s interesting going into, current work where—so, in tarot, there are the different face cards—there’s the Page, Knight, Queen, King, and Ace I guess you could call one too.  But the Page is the youngest of face cards.

When you’re doing tarot and talking about pentacles, which are typically material abundance, that sort of thing, the page is where that journey sort of sets out, and he grows from there. He goes through the Knight, the Queen into the King, and the king of pentacles is the most mature version of the pentacle card. So, he’s a few steps [away] from there.

The Page is a card that talks about creating, but in a very new sort of sense. He’s looking back at the past with this pure sense of happiness and excitement, and it’s just like bringing new things into the world in a very open-minded young way.

Future Work: Strength

And when we’re looking at the future, the Strength card [has] a confidence to it; maybe taming the things that didn’t work out, [the] feeling of coming out on top, this sort of controlled energy. Like on the picture, there is the woman taming the tiger—so I guess I see it as like, this very young, joyous energy coming into this new place of creating, where you’re setting out on something a little bit more extensive. And, I see it [all] coming into the future as being something that you would have a good sense of control and peace over.

Katy: Yeah!

Slumber: When we’re looking at the World card, and why I kept it… the World is all about karmic cycles. So, when you get the World card, typically it means that you’re going to go through a full cycle. There’s going to be this sort of completion. And that’s what I get in having this be the overall theme. This is all a process that will lead to the completion of whatever this current phase is [for you]. I don’t know if you have any sort of reflection on that.

Katy: I super do! I really do. Like I felt like this last year has been really productive, and I’ve been writing a lot. And this year, I’ll be putting out an album for the first time, like with a label, and I do think that I feel like I’m setting sail. I was worried about this.  I sometimes doubt my ability to like, you know… I can whenever I can be creative enough, in small doses, but I always doubt my ability to sustain it for a long time.

Slumber: Yeah, I mean, like the Page has this sort of learning energy. He’s taken up the pentacle, he’s ready to take the next steps and finally grow into the King of Pentacles. This says to me that you’re starting to ground yourself and coming into this new album, and ultimately, it seeming work out with a lot more confidence.

Katy: That’s so great! Thank you so much.

Katy Herself: Currently, Her Aspirations & Advice

Current Situation: Ace of Cups, Page of Wands & The Star

Slumber: For where you stand now, we’ve got the Ace of Cups. Aces are all about new energy and new creation. There are four suits in the tarot—there are cups, wands, pentacles, and swords. So, cups are emotion. [The Ace of Cups] signifies a new rush of creativity or feelings.

When I’m looking at where you are now too, like the Star and the Page of Wands, I think it is really great because the Page of Wands is all about passion. And the Page is again like that younger person, who has finally gotten their hand on one of the sticks and is starting to plant it into the ground which represents, the first grounding of a passion or a creative project.

I think it kind of goes along with the Page of Pentacles that we got last time, which is like this first step in growing into something a little bit more established.  The Star is kind of like the card of hope; it’s the card of following what the universe gives, you know? So I think that it’s really lovely in the sense that, like, we have this sort of newness of emotion and creativity and this passion, and it’s all coming from following the Star, following what the universe presents. It’s this sort of openness and ability to start like grounding that into an established thing.

Aspirations: The Lovers & Six of Swords

And what you aspire to? The Lovers, yes—so this could be about a relationship or something like that, but sometimes it’s about a choice. When I get it with the Six of Swords, I want to say that it’s about some sort of choice as the Six of Swords is about moving into calmer waters—it’s about starting some sort of transition or some sort of next step turning your back and moving forward.

And when I see the Lovers, I mean you can speak more to it if it means something having to do with a personal relationship, but when it comes with the Six of Swords, I want to say that it’s some sort of choice, or you’re aspiring to make some decisions that are ultimately leading you into something new or something that’s calmer, different, new. I think this is kind of setting you up for the beginning of this new phase that you need to make decisions about how to get there.

Future Advice: Three of Swords & Nine of Wands

Slumber: So the Three of Swords it’s not about murder. Typically, if I get the Three of Swords sometimes, it can be a breakup or bad news, but for me, I’m kind of wondering if it’s just like putting an end to something. Why I said that this is also about completion is that the Ten of Pentacles—which is going over this entire reading—is this feeling of abundance, this feeling of completion. Like you’ve brought something into the world, you [now] have this abundance, you have this material thing, whether that may be putting out a record or whatever it might be in your life, but it’s a sense of completion. When I look at other versions of the card, it’ll have like, children like looking at a treasure chest full of money, and their parents have walked away as they [achieved everything] by themselves.

The Nine of Wands is like that last step; it’s like that last step to get to the final completion of your cycle. [In the card], he’s holding on to [his sticks], and he’s going to bring them through [to a new cycle], but it’s right at the end [before he reaches the Ten]. So when this is showing how to get to this place that you aspire to… it’s these choices and putting an end to something and pushing yourself until the completion of whatever [this cycle] is.

Katy: Oh, I do. I do have to make a lot of decisions. I have to make a lot of decisions coming up about who I’m going to work with and who I’m going to continue to make things with. I do have to make a lot of those decisions.

Slumber: Yeah, and you’re going to get into calmer waters to complete that cycle. I’m really glad that that resonated with you.

Katy: It did!

Final Spread: Katy & Her Gifts

Slumber: Ok so, the last one is completely up to you.

Sam: It’s a choose your own therapy.

Slumber: Ok, I do know a good one about your gifts that’s really interesting. Would you want to do that?

Katy: Yeah I’d love that.

Slumber: Do you want this next one off the record?

Katy: No, on the record for sure.

Slumber: Everybody needs to know what your gifts are.

Katy: Yeah man.

In Relation to Your Gifts: Six of Pentacles

Slumber: So, you in relation to your gifts. The Six of Pentacles is all about generosity. Like, it tells me that you are pretty good at sharing your gifts.

Katy: Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Slumber: Like basically, in terms of sharing what you can with other people. That doesn’t seem to be a huge issue for you.

Gifts You Are Aware Of: Page of Pentacles, Two of Wands, & Three of Wands

Interestingly, we have the Page of Pentacles again. So, again, the Page of Pentacles is about being able to start grounding yourself in some sort of project and starting that manifestation process. I don’t know if it’s a gift you’re aware of because we already got that card earlier but, there’s a patience factor here of just being able to start that process, whatever that might be.

The Two of Wands—typically what I’ve thought of when I’ve gotten this, so wands, again, are about passion. I like the photos on here because it shows two people with the two wands, and they’re kind of sharing the world, and it’s this [ability] to give and take and [have] support in your creative endeavors. It’s the ability to set out on new things, and with the Three of Wands, the ability to share it as well, which I think was really nice again with the already existing theme of generosity.


Gifts You’re Not Aware Of: Strength

Slumber: We also got the Strength card again for gifts that you’re not aware of. I really like the Strength card because she takes control—and she does it in such a calm way. It shows confidence with also a sense of coolness and maturity, and the ability to handle situations and handle non-ideal situations, ideas, partners, relationships, friends, whatever it is.

It’s really nice because that’s also where your head is, right? Like, you know, as we talked about in the last reading, you know that you are this person that right now that has started this next project and is starting to grow and starting to expand in that way. And… it’s saying that those parts already within you. You already have that calmness and control over anxieties or worries or situations or people, whatever it might be, like, it’s not something that necessarily has to be in the future. So what is obstructing all of this again, is this old karmic cycle that you’re dealing with.

How to Share Your Gifts: Judgment

For how to share your gifts or how to bring out the best of these is this sort of like transformation. So, Judgment and some illustrations will have like, literal coffins with like ghosts coming out of them.

Katy: Oh, god.

Slumber: Yeah, it’s this sort of like a higher call for transformation, like this new phase. I see it as though what’s going to happen next is when you finish out this cycle… those decisions to move into calmer waters or to move into this next cycle is going to be transformative. It’s also asking for you to be open to that transformation.

Katy: Yeah.

Slumber: It’s going to take a lot to move past this and this sort of like, internal personal sort of rebirth, in a sense. Right, that’s how some of the illustrations make it. I don’t know if that-

Katy K: No, that’s great! How could it not?

Slumber: With what, after what we’ve already talked about?

Katy: Yeah. I also really like, I like this, and it made me think a lot about how supportive having a little artistic community feels. And how badly we want things to work out for each other, you know? I hope that makes sense.

Slumber: Yeah. Right, like you’re also the Page of Wands from that last reading, and so being able to plant these like new creativity you are able to do that with other people who are doing the same thing.

Katy: That’s awesome – that was so wonderful, man.

Slumber: Yeah, I’m glad we got to do this.

Katy: Yeah, me too! That was awesome.

Stream “Traffic!” the first single from Katy’s upcoming debut ‘Cold Dry Place’ out 2/19 via Keeled Scales: