Tarot Is My Most Authentic Boricua Practice — I'm Leaning Into It This Summer

This story is part of Como Celebramos, in which we're sharing how we're honoring our favorite summertime Sunday rituals.

Tarot is the only practice that helps me connect deeper with my roots. When I say roots, though, I don't mean it in the same way others might. My family weren't brujos. The exact opposite, actually. I grew up in Guaynabo, Puerto Rico, and attended a Catholic private school for 12 years. Tarot represents everything I treasure from Boricua culture — a genuine desire to connect and help the people closest to you.

I started reading tarot three years ago. It was after a visit to a psychic in Chicago, who made me a complete believer. Somehow, without knowing anything about me, she told me exactly what I needed to hear. I don't remember her name anymore, but she said there was a heaviness following me that I needed to start my spiritual healing journey in order to cleanse. Shortly after that, I stumbled upon my first tarot deck at a local Brooklyn crystals shop, and I started giving myself readings. I loved it. It gave me the space to see myself and my life from an outsider's perspective and allowed me to take control of my own journey. For the first time since my Catholic childhood, tarot made me believe in something beyond.

For the first time since my Catholic childhood, tarot made me believe in something beyond.

It's ironic, because I've always struggled in conversations. Maybe it's my autism, but there was always some sort of disconnect between me and other people. And I'm a total introvert. That said, I love being with my people. Nothing fills me with joy like being in the same room and sharing my energy with my close friends. And I'd been missing that ever since I moved to the United States after Hurricane Maria. So, when I moved to Brooklyn by myself in 2021, I was determined to get it back. I traveled back to Puerto Rico and to other states where my friends lived, but most of all, I made a serious effort to put myself out there. I was desperate for connection but still felt like there was something missing — and that something was tarot.

Shortly after I got that first deck, I started offering people readings for free so I could practice. Whether it was friends of friends (complete strangers to me) or old friends from Puerto Rico I hadn't talked to in years, I could see my readings made an impact, and it became a new way to connect.

One time, I met my friend's roommate at a beach hangout. I offered her a reading, not knowing anything about her or her situation, and during the reading, she started to cry. I was frantic, worrying I had said something wrong. She told me that her years-long relationship had just ended and left her feeling lost. It ended up being an incredibly emotional reading, but by the end, I think it gave her hope. It felt like I was fulfilling some sort of purpose.

Looking back, three years into this journey, I can see how much tarot has helped me grow — both within myself and with my closest friends. When I FaceTime Gabriela, one of my best friends from Puerto Rico, we talk for three hours straight. And we always end our session with a good tarot reading each — she'll do mine, and I'll do hers. It's brought a close friend from childhood back into my life and has given her the spiritual awakening she needed. Far from my Sundays spent in Catholic school, this has become a new kind of religion and routine for my weekends.

Whenever I read tarot to someone in my circle who I feel called to read for, chances are I'll need that message, too. Why? Because we're all connected. We're all in the same boat, suffering together — we're all en la brega.

We're all connected. We're all in the same boat, suffering together.

A couple of months ago, I decided I was going to grow my IRL community. I wanted that same feeling I got from my FaceTimes with my friends, but with new folks in NYC. I committed to improving my practice by going out more, doing tarot for myself at the park, and participating in tarot events. It's incredibly easy for me to stay in my bed, given my chronic pain and occasional social anxiety. So, this was something I was forcing myself to do because I knew it would help me heal.

I discovered the Boricua-designed brand Santos by Monica three years ago when I bought one of their bags with my first full-time-job paycheck. I ended up meeting Santos Gil, the designer, and got the opportunity to do tarot readings at this year's preview. So, on June 8, I did my first tarot event at Santos by Monica's store in the Lower East Side. It was an incredibly full-circle moment.

But I was also incredibly nervous. The most I've ever read in real life were two people in one day. So, I prepped. In case I forgot the meanings of the cards, I bought a special pink tarot deck with keywords on it. If I needed protection, I bought a black Obsidian bracelet (a crystal known to ward off negative energy). In case I needed cleansing, I brought my Florida water. I was afraid I was going to feel overwhelmed and do a bad job, but I willed myself to stop thinking negatively.

When the day actually came — and I sat myself down on the white couch by the front door, surrounded by my favorite designer's products and feeling the easy breeze of a sunny summer day — all I felt was calm confidence. I had this.

I was shocked by how easy the readings felt. And while it wasn't too busy in the shop, I felt blessed by that, too. The people I read to were Monica's own community and friends — which I felt immediately welcomed by. My readings were many of their firsts, too.

If I didn't have tarot, I would never have done that, and most of all, I never would have felt so comfortable and confident among so many people I admired. I know this is the very beginning. It feels natural to use tarot to build community — and not just any community, but the divinely feminine and Boricua community I've been yearning for ever since leaving Puerto Rico. It all feels interconnected, and the universe works in mysterious ways like that.

Sofía Viera is a queer nonbinary writer based in Brooklyn who was born and raised in Puerto Rico. Their work has appeared in PS, Refinery29 Somos, Remezcla, and LatinaMediaCo.