Major Tom's Authentic Tarot
Over the course of the last month I've come to realize that I've now lived most of my life with delusions that led me into cyclical behavior patterns where I consistently chose to make myself and those closest to me miserable. A sobering thought and I don't want to be that person any more or ever again. I'm using Bach Flower Remedies daily and reckon I have to continue with them daily for the rest of my life to manage my emotions. I'm keeping myself busy because one of my delusions was lazy/idle = good. I've started applying myself to the Hoodoo and Rootwork Correspondence Course that I'm determined to complete. I'm bringing a new attitude and vigor to my work with tarot clients and students. I'm determined to choose to be happy. I see this realization as a very positive thing and I want the world to know I will be forever grateful to Valentina Burton for helping me come to it and for tolerating the misery I gave her for as long as she did. Her name will be remembered in my story as the woman who was able to finally turn little Tommy Schick into a man.
What follows was actually mostly written in 2013 for a conference presentation and every word of it is true. Careful reading will reveal some of my cyclical behavior patterns. Major Tom Schick 9th July 2016:
Taking a practical, common sensical and irreverent approach to tarot, I try to inspire clients and students to take charge of their own lives. I was born in the holy city of San Antonio, Texas but in 2012 moved home after 20 years in England to Dallas, Texas where I live with my three beloved cats, three very lucky dogs, three doves, the fattest squirrels you’ve ever seen, and The Fortune Teller of Dallas, Valentina Burton.
When I was 10 years old my family went down to the bus station to pick up a cousin who was coming to visit. Dressed in torn, faded jeans and a dirty mackintosh Tarot approached me and offered me a piece of candy. My father took Tarot aside and told it off in no uncertain terms. I didn’t get any candy.
I didn’t really learn to read the cards until I started reading for drinks at titty bars surrounding the swamps of northern Louisiana in my early 20s. I was a lieutenant in the US Air Force at the time. In my teens, I attended a spiritualist Christian church where I learned psychometry and colour healing. I probably picked up some other stuff along the way and “what a long, strange trip it’s been”.
From 2002 I decided to make tarot my profession. I have given tarot workshops in Dallas, Las Vegas, London, Melbourne, New York and San Francisco. I edit and publish the Tarot Lovers’ Calendars – now in their 13th year. In 2005, The Association for Tarot Studies printed a limited edition Major Tom’s Tarot of Marseilles to commemorate the Melbourne International Tarot Conference. Schiffer Publishing subsequently published a second edition in 2007, which is still widely available.
I am a very private person. For the astrologically aware, I have 5 planets in the 4th House. There are very few people who have ever heard what I am about to tell you about myself.
My father, Major Thomas Edward Schick, (my given name is Thomas Andrew Schick) was a pilot in the US Air Force. At the height of his career he was one of the test pilot’s for the KC-135 aerial refueling tanker. He moved the family from California to Nebraska for the testing. I turned 3 in Nebraska before my sister turned one. I have a number of memories from this period, but one in particular stands out. I was potty trained. One day I was sitting on the toilet and I started hearing voices calling me by name – “Tommy”. There were a lot of voices, men and women, young and old. It terrified me. I told my mother who said, “Just ignore them and they’ll go away”. She was terrified too! Even at that early age, I knew that this was something I’d never be able to discuss with my mother while I was growing up.
Nonetheless, Mom’s advice proved correct. I could ignore the voices. As I grew, I discovered I could even just tell them to go away.
Fast forwarding the story. We only lived in Nebraska for six months.
We spent the early 60s in Northern California at the first operational base for the KC-135. Dad was travelling constantly. The KC-135 mission was incredible. Basically a Boeing 707 with fuel tanks instead of seats and an aerial refueling boom tacked on the tail. They were expected to fly to the arctic circle to refuel B-52s loaded with nukes heading for the Soviet Union and then ditch the aircraft in Alaska. The crew were expected parachute before ditching the plane and to survive until they could be picked up. But the B-52s were off to set off World War 3 so rescue was unlikely. My mother got so stressed out following the Cuban Missile Crisis she quit her job and quit driving. Then my father was diagnosed with diabetes and was grounded. Since he was no longer able to fly, the Air Force transferred him to a remote location in Korea. He wasn’t able to take the family. We remained in California.
During the last couple of years of this period the family was plagued by a ghost. I was the first to see it or rather hear it. My father’s flight boots had metal buckles. That ghost would put those boots on and walk up and down the hard wood floor hallway that connected all the bedrooms to the rest of the house. Every time it past my door, it would look in my room at me terrified under the covers and I swear it would throw back it’s head and laugh. I told my parents of course, with predictable results – ignore it and it’ll go away. But it was a bold ghost. The first time my parents noticed was during a family meal. The family dog, suddenly dropped to his belly and slunk out of the room! The clincher came when my sister and I were both away visiting grandparents. The ghost turned poltergeist and poured motor oil from the garage on the clean dishes on the drainer by the sink. Following that, my parents often saw the ghost and commented on it being there. The night terrors ceased by the time my father left for Korea. I didn’t see it, but I think my parents consulted a medium – who may have been my paternal grandmother - to find out about the ghost. They started talking about the ghost as an “Indian”.
Dad was back six months after he left for Korea and moved the family to my maternal grandmother’s house in Corpus Christi, Texas before returning to Korea. My mother was suffering depression and anxiety to the extent that she was struggling with the everyday tasks of a mother with young children. She needed the support. When he returned six months later, we moved to San Antonio.
Once in San Antonio, my father was assigned an office job so he was home every night. My parents began to explore alternative medicine, looking to cure my Dad’s diabetes. Instead of discovering a natural means to control diabetes, they discovered Edgar Cayce and the Association for Research and Enlightenment (ARE) and dove right in up to their necks. They were attending study groups two nights a week and hosting study groups two nights a week. They were also attending frequent weekend conferences. And of course they took my sister and I with them.
I remember attending a conference where Hugh Lynn Cayce addressed the youth group. The whole point of his lesson was to frighten us about astral projection. I was terrified. It took me until my 20s before I even tried to astral project.
It was through their ARE activities that my parents met Ray Standford, a young trance medium who channelled The Source much as Edgar Cayce had done. Ray also wrote books on UFOs under the name R. Richland Standford. Ray wanted to move from Corpus Christi to San Antonio and my parents decided to give him a leg up. They installed Ray in my bedroom and I moved to sleeping on the sofa bed in the family room. Ray gave group and individual readings laying flat on his back on my parents’ bed. These readings were recorded on reel to reel tape. Play back off some of the group readings when Ray was channelling The Source revealed angelic choir music that attendees did not hear at the time. I hear this myself and I know the tapes were not tampered.
Ray and I had a lot of fun for the six months he stayed with us, going swimming in rivers and searching the sky for UFOs. The first moon landing was that summer and Ray gave me photos of it for my birthday. I have to admit I was somewhat relieved when he married his first wife and moved out. (Although I had bags of sympathy for her) I got my room back.
My father was forcibly retired from the Air Force on medical grounds which meant his income dropped by half. After a couple of months looking he found a job with the Boy Scouts as an executive. In this job he took the family first to Galveston for a year and then on to Orange County, California. My mother suffered another bout of depression and anxiety while in Galveston.
Once settled in California my parents picked up their ARE connections again, but never to the extent they had in San Antonio. I do remember they sent my sister and I to an ARE youth conference for a week up in the mountains where we learned some interesting uses for guided meditation, I think it was more so they could get rid of us for a week.
Eventually they discovered a Spiritualist Church and the family started attending two nights a week. The church offered classes so I learned psychometry and colour healing. I was never interested in being a trance medium. First my sister, then my parents stopped attending but I carried on spending time in the church’s healing room practising my colour healing. I earned something of a reputation as a healer until an incident that frightened me to the core.
The practice behind colour healing is simple. You visualise yourself opening your crown chakra and draw light from the source, directing the light through your hands into the body of your client. You also visualise a feedback loop that provides information on where to direct the light and what colour light.
The healing room consisted of two rows of four chairs facing each other. Healers would stand behind these chairs. There were also four chairs against the wall where people could wait their turn. I usually stood behind the chair closest to the door. One night an older woman came in a sat in my chair. I noticed she held her hands together in front of her as she sat down. We didn’t speak and that wasn’t unusual. I started channelling light and the feedback told me she needed white and gold light in her hands. So I walked around to the front of the chair, squatted down and channelled light. The woman cried out in pain and I fell backwards. The other healers in the room crowded around the woman to make sure she was alright, and after some time she was able to convince them she was. I asked her what was wrong. She unwrapped her left hand and showed me. The skin was cut away from her finger all the way to the bone between the 2nd and 3rd knuckles of her middle finger. The bone was yellow and nasty looking. The cut edges of her skin were a dangerous red. I tried to convince her to go to the hospital, but she wouldn’t have it. I did see her again a few weeks later and the cut was healing albeit slowly. She showed me. There was a parchment thin layer of skin over the bone. I gradually drifted away from healing following this.
I graduated college with a BA in Art Education in January 1978. I spent a year looking for a teaching job while working as a teacher’s aide and substitute teacher. I ended up a year later working in a factory – silk screening circuit boards. Though well paid, better than a teacher’s salary, the job took its toll on my health what with all the chemicals involved and little in the way of safety. After nine months on the job I took a week off, signed up for the Air Force, went back and resigned. I signed up for art classes at a local junior college while I waited for my training date.
My first duty assignment was with the squadron testing the KC-10 – the new aerial refueling tanker based on a Douglas DC-10, which I found a bit ironic. My father even knew some of the test pilots. I only stayed with them for about three months because they didn’t really have a job for me. I was moved to a maintenance squadron where I was needed. I settled myself in a rented duplex in Shreveport.
After a year or so in Louisana, I decided to learn how to read tarot cards. I bought a Rider Waite Smith and a book “The Magick of Tarot” by Melita Denning and Osborne Phillips. It was part of their Llewellyn Practical Guide series. Unfortunately now out of print. I hated the writing style but loved the information! And together with a friend, who had his own deck and book, we learned to read the 22 trumps together. Starting out by reading for each other, we soon gained confidence to read for other people. But the focus of the book was not on reading the cards, the focus was on using the cards to make things happen. This revelation formed my interest in this use for tarot that remains with me to this day.
So of course we both tried spells, although my friend was more cautious than I. I won’t go into details but suffice to say I went through a quick learning curve that can be summed up with the clique, “Be careful what you wish for”.
It did however at least get me to start thinking about what I really wanted. I thought I wanted retirement at 20 years service to secure medical and an income for life. I thought I wanted to return to California to be near my family and friends. I rang my personnel officer at headquarters and negotiated a year in Korea for an assignment to Los Angeles AFS.
On my way to Korea I stopped at my parents’ house for a month. I spent time talking to my mother about tarot. She had taken the BOTA course and gave it to me together with a copy of the BOTA deck which I coloured according to the instructions given. It remains a treasured possession. It was also during this period that I notice that songs would suddenly pop into my head. Songs with messages that had a bearing on what I was experiencing. Spirit had found a way to communicate that I found acceptable.
With the new millennium I turned to my tarot cards. I started reading cards for myself asking some serious questions: Who am I? What can I do to be happy? Who do I serve? I began to consciously create the kind of life I wanted. I’d read Janina Renee’s “Tarot Spells” and Donald Michael Kraig’s “Magick and Tarot”, but really I made up spells for myself. I started working on a photographic tarot deck featuring friends and family that I specifically used for magic. I conjured myself a girlfriend I knew would be around for a few years. There’s no way I was going to get married again.
I had a computer and a dial up modem. I went on line to search for people to talk tarot. I found Aeclectic Tarot, which at the time was a small community of about 100 people.
Now, all this time I was reading the trumps – just the 22 cards. Once on Aeclectic, I quickly learned the other 56, although there might be 16 cards I still sometimes struggle with. Before I knew it I was a moderator for Using Tarot Cards and Tarot Deck Creation.
I was so involved with tarot, spending hours on the computer talking tarot, making a deck, deciding what I wanted with tarot that by 2002 I decided to turn professional. I put up a website – www.majortom.biz - .com and .co.uk were both taken and I liked the honesty of .biz. This is after all my business. I created the first edition of the Tarot Lovers’ Calendar, the 2003 edition. I put it together in November and did three small printings of 15. I think. I sold all of them and only have a copy myself, the first printing, through the kindness of one of my customers. I worked a number of psychic fairs. I worked in a shop until I had to get away from the offensive owner. I worked from two different hotels. I got a tent and went out every weekend to a fair, festival or event from March to October. I started teaching my Learn Tarot class.
In 2005, I went to the International Tarot Conference hosted by the Association for Tarot Studies in Melbourne, Australia and gave a three day workshop on tarot deck creation. That’s where I first met Mary Greer – she and I stayed a couple of nights with our hosts Jean-Michel David and his wife Pauline in their beautiful home before the conference started. I felt truly blest. I also met Dan Pellitier for the first time at the conference – he arrived late his airplane diverted. Then Jean-Michel did something wonderful – he had 50 copies of my deck – Major Tom’s Tarot of Marseilles printed to commemorate the conference.
That tarot conference in Melbourne represented a real transformation for me. I felt I’d arrived in a world where I could flourish. I continued with my efforts. I added another class based first on Mary Greer’s “21 Ways to Read a Tarot Card”, then with her classic “Tarot for Yourself”, the later being more popular.
In 2006, I did a lunch time presentation at the UK Tarot Conference in London where I met Mark McElroy and Juliet Sharman-Burke whom I was able to tell, “I think I’ve cloned the gene that makes people buy your deck”. I’d had so many students turn up with her Beginner’s Tarot. That was also the year I first heard of Reader’s Studio and conceived the idea of being a presenter here. I did a quick spell and forgot about it. I’ve only attended Reader’s Studio once before in 2009.
By 2010 my girlfriend and I had got fed up with each other and agreed to split. She was a red headed Aries and so was not without drama that took it’s toll. I found tarot an immense comfort but I lived a difficult year.
In 2011 I decided it was time I returned to the USA, but didn’t know where in the USA to go. I contacted Thalassa and offered to run a workshop at BATS. I booked an itinerary starting and finishing at London Gatwick: San Francisco, Las Vegas, San Antonio, and Charlotte. After BATS I added Dallas to the list. I fell in love with Valentina Burton at BATS.
2012 – I put my house up for sale in January. I moved to Dallas the 1st of August. I can honestly say I have everything I ever really wanted for myself. Anything I happen to think is missing is just stuff. I can manifest stuff. I am happy and I get to share it with Valentina. There is space and potential for my imagination. I’m starting to imagine some wonderful things.
Page last updated 9th July 2016