It's a room maybe 6 feet wide and not much longer, all the way in the back. Willow Edwards sits down at a small table holding a box of tissues. They're needed often, she says.
She pulls four cards. The Emperor card is first.
"This is all of those things we think of as masculine, aggression, assertion, but also brotherhood," Edwards says. "This feels to me very much like it's about tradition and older ideas. It shows up a lot in our politics. It's about that structure and being rooted in that."
This sounds about right. She displays another card depicting a scene of a patriarch being nagged, with fingers in his ears.
"The city is changing, the country is changing," Edwards says. "There is conflict between more liberal ideas and a more old guard state of mind."
The Aquarian Bookshop has been around for 30 years, offering new age items as varied as children's books about not eating animals and a surprising array of ornate daggers. Foot traffic seems light, but its loyal following sustains both a Carytown store and another in Charlottesville. But Halloween is high season for the curious window shoppers, and at least one reporter who wants to know the future of Richmond.
Tarot cards originated in the 15th century and have been adopted for various occult uses. Generally speaking, the characters on them illuminate various personal pathways. Edwards, a priestess and first-degree initiate of Blue Star Wicca, has been reading tarot for five years. She hasn't been asked to read on behalf of Richmond before.
A tarot intuitive, she helps put Richmond's current state of being in context first. It all seems accurate, but it comes with a caveat: Bias plays a role in reading, and Edwards cops to being a Northern-raised, liberal woman.
"It's always going to come through this filter," she says. "And for me, it's important to acknowledge that."
So, according to tarot, or this reader at least, Richmond has a patriarchy problem.
Where do we go from here? The stars.
Astrology can tell us what happened and what's going to happen, astrologer Susan Hughes says, based on the position of the planets and stars. Those positions change by the minute, so accuracy is important if you're reading for a person, or a city.
For Richmond, that makes a reading using the 18th-century founding date impossible, but Hughes pulls a few historical options and settles on noon, April 15, 1910, the exact time Richmond annexed Manchester.
"I think people often find Richmond kind of a stodgy city," Hughes says. "That's the influence of Saturn."
A lunar eclipse a few weeks ago means six months of "more from Richmond's patriarchal structure, and a bit of a repressive energy," Hughes says.
But that energy is about to be put in check.
"I would say the City of Richmond had better be very careful how it treats its women," she says, looking down at a circular chart with lines crossing throughout. "You can see a lot of feminine uprising."
She's referring to the position of Pluto and Uranus, which rule the unveiling of secrets and revolution, respectively. She attributes actions such as Occupy Wall Street, the Arab Spring and protests against the transvaginal ultrasound law back home to the way the stars have been aligned.
"These outer planets are triggering quite a bit of energy," Hughes says. "All of this has to do with a more feminine energy, which doesn't necessarily have to do with just women but a more compassionate nature."
"Other than that," she adds, "I don't see any doom and gloom for this city. I think it's going to be a very interesting time."