Heather Nichols is an astrologer, tarot card reader, crystal healer, shamanic healer, and owner of Stones and Stuff – a store featuring stones and minerals in downtown Portland, Maine. I sat down with Heather to talk about her passion for cards, stones, and getting down and dirty with your intuition. Herewith are the highlights of our conversation.
What got you into astrology?
I remember being little and it resonating with me. I think I picked up an astrology book at 15 years old and just read about my sign and I was like, “Oh, this is amazing.” I was raised Catholic, but I always resonated with this other thing where I had more power over it then it had over me. What got me into it was part rebelling and part realizing that this resonates with me. And as the years grew on I had more positive experiences with it.
How do you become trained to do astrology?
I have very little training; it was definitely more self-taught for me. I have a really hard time sitting in the same place for too long. It needs to be open. Whatever I get I need to make my own anyway. But yeah, I’ve had trainings. I like to go and get trainings from somebody else and just feel it inside me to learn and then do something with it. So, I’ve had most of that kind of training when I’m curious about something. But I’ve also had a couple astrology classes - Kabballah classes here and there. I more just like to hang out with people and play magic. The more humorous you make it the more easy it is to learn. Otherwise, it becomes academic instead of about spirit. I would say that my training has given me the least, but it has made me the strongest because it's granted me perspective.
How do you teach someone how to do a tarot card reading?
How I do it – and I don’t know if this has been working because I haven’t gotten consistent feedback – but I just start throwing the cards on the table and having people give me words. I’ll slam a card on the table and I’ll have everyone go in a circle and I’ll have people say three different words – the first word they think of when they see the card. And then I have them start reading for each other right away, because how I look at it when you have to turn on like that you can connect to the intuition.
But, I feel like some people are very hesitant because their minds are getting in the way. But yeah, there's definitely a book meaning; these symbols have been used for years; they’re valid, but it’s also about what you’re going to let go through you. Are you going to trust that connection to just open your mouth and speak with what you’re seeing, whether you know it or not? I think that’s really what it’s about.
You’ve been focusing on ritual lately in your work. Tell me more about that.
Ritual and magic create the most transformation. The way I see it is we recognize all these things except for our spirit. We deal with things on a psychological level, we deal with things on a mental level, but then there’s this whole other level that’s kind of getting lost. And in order to honor that level you want to bring in a ceremony – nature, just something fun. So I get women together . . . where we do magic to honor the shit in ourselves and what we’ve done to come through and what we’ve gotten through so far and what we continue to go through and what we can do to continue to transform. Like, you can be abused as a child, but that doesn’t have to be your story for the rest of your life about why you’re in fear of this. And if you can transform it by removing it from your cellular structure and reprogram yourself, that is going to give you the most – not only immediate help – but it’s really what’s going to help you transform.
Usually when I get people together I focus on nature, the person that’s in the spotlight, and the self, your own self. That way, you’re giving and serving, you're thanking the earth, and you’re doing something for somebody else and for yourself.
How did you get into crystals?
I actually walked into this store when I was 18 years old and bought a crystal. The store was in a different location, but when I walked in I said, “I hope to own a store like this one day, only I’m going to read cards and do astrology.” And that’s exactly what happened. I think that thought was so free and random at the time that there was no fear in it. That’s why randomness is so amazing.
What’s your favorite crystal?
Labradorite because it’s all about transformation. It’s the stone I’ve been using the longest.
How does this – astrology, running a store, crystals – guide your personal life?
It’s all one big fat thing. It’s the same.
How is your philosophy different than others?
With this kind of stuff, people [create] too many rules. That’s not what it’s about. You can make whatever’s going to work for you up. People tend to hesitate with that, but when you do it a few times you can come up with something to transform because it’s your body, it’s your mind, and you’re going to do what you want with it. So just like you can tell yourself to eat that donut, you can tell yourself not to. And you’re constantly in control or in charge if you want to be. And it doesn’t have to be somebody else’s format. And while that can help, it’s what you bring after you get the formula is where it lies. And I think that rules, specifics, and detail and focusing on the same story or the same shit is what contracts, but you can also expand by not limiting it to those recycled thoughts.
[The craziest thing about astrology is that] a lot of times I get people saying, ‘I thought this would never happen and it did.’ It’s people who don’t believe it that things unfold.
Want a reading with Heather? Visit her website or drop in at her store on 556 Congress St., in Portland, Maine.