SPIRIT OF THE SWEETGRASS: A talk with Casey Leigh

IMG_4634There is a rhythm to a reading from Casey Leigh. She is methodical and thoughtful in what she brings into the space of her reading work. I recommend the experience very much.

Casey read for me one beautiful afternoon and it brought me to a heightened awareness, it woke me up to the day and to the steps ahead. The colors were a little brighter and my hearing was a little sharper. Her readings are clear and generous. I left her company with the good sense to keep myself open for what was comming and set myself free from what was going behind. 

Casey Leigh lives in New Orleans she is a former Tarot Reader for Marie Laveau’s House of Voodoo and continues to accept private clients locally. 

Get to know Casey Leigh a little in this great talk I was lucky enough to share with her:

MICHELLE: So, you are a kid. Do you live in the city? Country? Is there religion? Give usalchemwedoldpic some basics on where you were and where you were coming from when you had the first experience that you would now consider to be part of your abilities? What was that experience?

CASEY: i grew up in a small rural town in alberta, a french catholic town, went to catholic school all my life because that was the only school. but my family wasn’t french or catholic so I guess I was destined to be a freak from the beginning!

I didn’t grow up going to church or with any kind of spiritual practice but my mom has always nurtured my interest in the realm of Spirit. i grew up in the prairies of alberta and was always very drawn to the indigenous traditions there. she would take me to see the drummers and dancers. she had some friends who were Cree elders and when I was six they took me out to pick sweetgrass and taught me to pray to the four directions, and to the spirit of the sweetgrass. that had a deep impact on my psyche, and was a stark contrast to my catholic school education. also my grandmother is very psychic and she works with the cards. I was the only grandchild to show interest in them and she bought me my first deck when i was 13.

MICHELLE: Talk about the four directions a bit. Do you call to them in prayer?

CASEY: the four directions, or six really, and the elements that correspond are definitely a big part of how i pray. calling on the directions creates that sacred space, the container to do the work in.

MICHELLE: And Sweetgrass? Tell us about this a little. What is your relationship with Sweetgrass like?

colorwheelCASEY: It grows where i come from but not where i live now. and it’s not part of the tradition or heritage that i personally come from. but when i participate in ceremony in indigenous spaces sweetgrass is a medicine that is used and the smell of it is so evocative and grounding to me. besides the work it is doing as a medicine in ceremony, holding it in my hands feels like a connection to my prairie roots, which feel a little far away out here in the swamps.

MICHELLE: What deck did your grandmother give you? Was there significance in the number 13?

CASEY: i don’t remember what it was called, it was an art deck and i used it for awhile but i have always been kind of a rigid traditionalist when it comes to the cards and i really wanted to get my hands on the rider-waite. that was before i heard of the thoth deck! but she gave it to me wrapped in silk with a moonstone. i still keep my cards wrapped in silk. i think there probably is a significance to me being 13 but not sure what that is except it’s such a magickal number! and it was right around when i started bleeding, which feels more significant.

MICHELLE: That’s beautiful. I know you are a fan of the Thoth Deck. Those are my usual cards. Let’s talk about this deck for a minute. What do you find so valuable about it at this juncture in time?

CASEY: i think that deck is timeless! it’s like a book that is different every time you open it. It never fails to blow my mind. it feels like a living entity that changes with the times, and that’s real magick.

MICHELLE: I agree with that. Frieda Harris made such beautiful use of geometry in the


THOTH DECK / The Fool / Artwork by: Freida Harris

artwork that I always feel like it’s good for me to look at the cards. I feel like they are always talking– living like you say. I read with multiple decks and the Thoth is always the one I keep in my hands. It is the deck that does the ‘whispering’ to me. That’s how I think of it. What is a card you strongly identify with? What does it mean to you? How does it fit into your life as a story?

CASEY: That definitely changes all the time! I feel like The Star is one that continually comes up with me, and feels like an old friend in a reading. right now the hanged man is the one that won’t leave me alone. that’s probably because i’m stubborn, and am currently butting my head against some wall i can’t see yet!

MICHELLE: How did you come to take clients and read cards professionally? Talk about sitting at the table and doing the readings.

CASEY: haha well, i never would have gotten there of my own volition, so i think Spirit had a hand in my current profession.

i have a tattoo that is a line from the ‘charge of the goddess’ and i was in a hot tub a long time ago and this person was staring at me, which was sort of creeping me out, but then he asked me about my tattoo and he knew the ‘charge of the goddess’ so we started talking about witchy things and then he just looked past me for a second and asked ‘do you read cards’, which caught me off guard, and i said yes, and he said ‘do you want a job?’ and i said no but he told me if i changed my mind i should go talk to him, because he was the head reader at a shop in the French Quarter, Marie Laveau’s House of Voodoo, and he’d give me a job.

to make a long story shorter, i was working at a coffee shop in the marigny for 5$ an hour and a friend convinced me that i should go try it out because at least it would make a good story. 9 years later i’m still doing it, although thankfully at my kitchen table and not in a shop on bourbon street. i am a homebody and i like the peace and quiet of my own house, and the ability to choose who i let into my space. I think working at the shop in the quarter taught me about having boundaries like no other experience in my life. It was an intensive education! and it taught me about how to be a reader. but sitting at my own table, in my own space allows me to let go in a way that i never could working there. i also worked at the Island of Salvation Botanica for a while, but i really like working on my own time, in my own space.


THOTH DECK / Lust / Artwork by: Frieda Harris

MICHELLE: What is ‘charge of the goddess’?

CASEY: The charge of the goddess is arguably either the channeled words of the goddess or a composed/inspired poem, credited to doreen valiente. it’s a liturgical piece used as invocation in a lot of modern traditions of witchcraft. i used to have it memorised! i had a dream once where i saw one of the lines as a tattoo on my body so of course i immediately went and did that. 

MICHELLE: Talk about the experience of reading. Do you see? Hear? This is a tough one to describe, I know, but I always learn when other readers and psychics talk about their impressions and how the work of it looks/sounds.

CASEY: i think at this point i’m using the cards more as a crutch, but they’re like old friends, and just shuffling them takes me to the place where i can listen. and they’re so beautiful! i hear most of what i say to people.. i call them my little birdies. and i see things too, but i would say i’m more clairaudient. i’m still learning to get out of the way. shuffling the cards also helps me circumvent my internal censor, that voice that tries to talk you out of believing what you’re hearing

MICHELLE: Ahhh! Shuffling. I understand this completely. It’s an act that balances my mind, I think. I think shuffling cards is a great way to come down from stressful or traumatic interactions.

So, let’s get technically speaking here. How do you perceive the court cards– especially in terms of gender? It’s an important topic of the times and I’ll be asking all of us something along these lines. How do you bring the court into your readings?

CASEY: i think the court cards are a great example of how the deck works as a living magickal book. the court cards each hold two of the elements (except for the four that have only one!) and so gender is fluid in the cards, just like it is in the world. personality shows up as a balance of elements rather than something out of a constructed binary.

when i pull court cards for a person i look at the elements represented and see how that plays into their personality and how they perceive and move through the world. i feel like the court cards are a great representation of how we can all hold both the feminine and the masculine, in different balance. i guess when court cards show up in a reading i see it one of three ways – representing the core personality of the person i’m reading for, their state of being at that particular moment in time, or an important person acting in their life. whenever i teach classes on the cards, the court cards are always the most perplexing. to explain, and to understand!

MICHELLE: I know. That’s why I’m asking. Ha-ha. I love what you are teaching here. What about the Hierarchy aspect, the kings and queens? How do you read the ‘system’, so to speak, how does it pertain to our psyche? Or not?

CASEY: That’s a tough one.. the idea of hierarchy is diametrically opposed to my politics


Book of Keys / Ace of Swords / Artwork by Michelle Embree

and my own psyche! i might just stubbornly refuse to acknowledge it in the cards too. I see the difference between the different court positions more as division of function and strengths. just briefly, the knights seem to be ones to set things in motion but maybe aren’t the ones to see something through all the way. queens don’t necessarily have the idea but they hold the container to get the work done. princes are the doers and princesses see things through to the end. that’s just an example, or more like piece of how i see them.

MICHELLE: What card gives you the hardest read? For me, it’s that four of cups. I have my standards for reading it at this point, but it pauses me every time I see it. What card gives you a hard time?

CASEY: For a long time the devil was the hardest one for me. I don’t like to see any of the cards as entirely good or bad, and i struggled with seeing the shining side of the devil for such a long time.

MICHELLE: The World. Final card in the Major Arcana. As a stand alone story, what does it mean to you?

CASEY: well in the thoth deck it’s called the universe, because crowley always has to make things bigger than they were! i see that card as being the hinge-point between an ending and a beginning. like the space between two breaths – the archetypal pause between dissolution and creation. in a person’s life, it usually feels like crossing a major threshold, like making a choice at the crossroads and moving into a new phase.

MICHELLE: Beautiful. Very beautiful interpretations. Thank you for taking time to talk to me today.

Get a reading with Casey Leigh: 504-813-0148


Casey Leigh // Photo By Sarah Danzinger



About michelleembree

www.michelleembree.com michelleembree1@gmail.com
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1 Response to SPIRIT OF THE SWEETGRASS: A talk with Casey Leigh

  1. bud hill says:

    Awesome interview my dear friend and 1608 is my address !!

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