Tales from a Teaching Witch: Black Unicorn Tarot Workshops

sex magic 101

Sex Magic 101 Workshop at Catland Books

In the past few months, life as a tarot reader, community witch and magic teacher has been so amazing to me. I’ve had the opportunity to read countless tarot spreads through my business Black Unicorn Tarot, in shop at Catland Books in Brooklyn, NY and at several events including retreats, festivals, conferences and restaurants. There is no way to describe what is it like to sit across from a client whose ears are tuned to listening to what the universe has been calling forth from them. It is an honor to step into my gift to communicate that message so people can move forward with their lives and do their work.

One of my favorite additions to reading tarot through the business is unveiling a new line of workshops on sex, magic and self love. Last week, I thought a Sex Magic 101 workshop at Catland Books where I demonstrated to a standing room only audience that sex is a sacred act that can incorporate magic for a greater understanding of our bodies and each other. I believe sex can be used as a healing tool but it is so often used as a tool for destruction that we forget how the act of sharing ourselves can enlighten us.

Here are just a few of the things I touch on in this workshop:

  • Building a sex ritual alter with divination tools (such as candles, herbs and stones)
  • Mindful masterbation
  • Creating spells and intentions before sex
  • Using magic to create safe space for a body that has experienced sexual trauma
  • Sustaining on going aftercare following sex sessions through spiritual means 

This upcoming year I am hoping to add two new workshops: Queer Magic 101 and Kink & Spirituality. I am also looking forward to designing workshops to the specific needs of my clients and my community so please do not hesitate to reach out to me if there is a workshop that you would like to see from me in the future.

If you are interested in bringing a Black Unicorn Tarot workshop to your event, shop or to an intimate group/party, please email me at ayoung536@gmail.com. 


The Universe is a Badass Bitch I am Willing to Follow


Not only is she bitchin, she is breathtaking. 

The universe is fascinating and terrifying in the ways that she delivers her gifts. When we receive what we asked of her, we often realize we had no idea of the responsibility we have to fulfill the awarded path. When we don’t receive what we asked for, we loss trust that the universe can give us what we want. But whether we like it or not, she is always offering us what we need.

When I called for the universe to give me a safe home and received it, I felt a shower of blessings. I had exactly what I wanted but was still unaware of just how much I needed it. I needed the momentous change so I could grow up and begin relying on myself. I discovered something even harder leaving my ex, paying rent, finding a job and filing for divorce: that under the gift I was given lied the incredibly hard work of being responsible to myself.

The universe has no time for me to be a control freak. It has always been my attempt to manipulate the results and know the outcome so I encounter no surprises. This is not how life works. I’ve had to learn to hold everything in my hands and permit it to move at its own delicate motion. 

Here’s a concrete example:

When I first moved, I hadn’t worked in two years and knew if I was going to survive I would need to find a job immediately. So I went back to my old nonprofit gig, one that I absolutely hated for reasons I don’t even want to get into in this short post. Three months in, I was already declaring “fuck it” and ready to leave without a new paycheck opportunity presenting itself. When I talked to my great-godmother, my Santeria guide who channels the Orisha, I was told I don’t have blessings to leave.

I actually wanted to blame the spirits who I have learned to trust with my life for allowing me to be miserable.

Then I started my tarot business and was hired to read cards at Catland Books. This meant that I had to stop working at my job one day a week to work the store. I quickly realized what the universe was doing. She was pushing me very slowly into self employment without putting me in direr financially strain.

As I build my own freelance writing and tarot work, the hours at my job are shrinking. Instead of performing poorly and showing up late to work everyday out of spite, I absorbed the message and remembered the comfort of my paycheck. As much as I want to walk out, I’m not ready. Something in me has shifted from resistance to tolerance that I know I simply have to show up for. The place may still be a shit show but after three days of work, I know I can fully focus on my spiritual calling. This makes it much easier to show up to an office to do my job and remember it won’t be forever.

The universe never needs us to understand what she is giving us. She calls us into acceptance that she is watching over us everyday and that some pain and discomfort is actually an experience we have to embrace to learn and grow. This may sound super airy fairy but real mama talk, shit happens that we can’t predict and we don’t have any choice but to go with it. I’d like to consider that we even have the capacity to keep on keeping on knowing something greater then ourselves is guiding us if you choose to acknowledge it.

It is no coincidence that she is bringing me clients who mirror my life precisely. The readings, the cards, what I see and hear is all about and for my clients. But I gain a better understanding of my ability, I strengthen my connection with my spirits and I offer myself open eyes to the way I am walking in this life when I guide my clients to see what  they had not once considered.

Right now in this moment, I have exactly what I need.

If I had not jumped into this huge life change and embraced what a needed, I would have never discovered who I am truly becoming. A handsome/beautiful genderqueer embracing new pronouns (they/them/their). A conveyer of light with the ability to offer it to others. A Black female bodied entrepreneur. A two years and four month sober individual who no longer chooses to slowly disappear. A person willing and able to adult everyday. A fierce woman who welcomed new love into their life when they were seconds away from giving up on it. A warrior on a journey to self love and self care. A spiritual energy submitting to an ability to embrace my gifts and offer them to the people who are calling for it.

I am resilient as fuck.

My mother told me that when I was 6 weeks old, she left me to go back to work and I never cried. I never cried when I went to sleep away camp or went on trips with a friend or spent long weekends with my dad. She asserts that I have always been strong and ready to step into whole new worlds without fear. If I ever had fear, I just entered an unfamiliar place afraid.

I am here and I crack myself open everyday to allow myself to be lead by what the universe has to offer.

An Offering of Light in the Cards


A past, present, future and earthly influence reading with a New Orleans Vodoo tarot deck

I was given my first tarot deck in college, a tradition set of cards with 22 major arcana card and four suits – wands, cups, pentacles, swords. This deck was used for my first reading. I was a confused, uncertain third year student looking for some sort of answer to where I was and where I was going. The reader was a Queer person of color which made me feel safe and comfortable. They welcomed me into their college apartment and set up a space for me to receive what the reading had to reveal. They decided on a past, present and future spread.

Here were the results – Past: The Star, Present: The Tower, Future: The High Priestess

This reading has more significant meaning to me now then it did back then. At the time, I was in the center of The Tower surrounded my own chaos of depression and drug use. In the past, I had been The Star, an innocent, celestial child with hope that college would offer me a new life. I didn’t know then that in the future I would begin to understand that I walk in the deep, spiritual presence of the High Priestess as someone who conjures healing for themselves and for others.

Soon after I received my first deck, I started reading my own cards and in the last few years, I’ve been reading others. When people come to me for a reading, they either have a question, want help with the answer to a problem or just bring themselves and see what the cards have to tell them. I select simple spreads for those new to readings and more complicated ones for those with more experience with readings, especially for folks who have had readings from me before. I also pick the spread based on what the person is coming to me for.

When I do a reading, I go on my instinct and allow the images of the cards to show me what the universe is trying to communicate to the person I am reading. I own a few decks – a voodoo deck, a Hello Kitty Deck, a Santeria deck – and pick out the deck I feel is best for the reading. Some readings are simply me tell the reader what I see. Others are conversations where the reader gives me information to create a larger narrative.

I love this work. I love helping someone see a situation differently so they can begin their own healing. I love to assist in creating a bridge between where they are and where they aspire to be. I love sharing the skill of reading tarot with my friends and loved ones and now I am ready to offer my readers to the community.

Here are my prices:

Half hour readings: $37      

Full hour reading: $50

Any additional card: $6

Healing Crystals: $3

Parties: $27 per person for a maximum of 10 people

Workshops on tarot readings, crystals and spirituality: $250 for 90 minutes

For those in crisis without funds, pay with white flowers and one white votive candle. 

I ask for payment via cash, venmo or paypal prior to you reading. Readings can take place at your residence, depending on the cost of transportation, or in my home in Brooklyn. I also offer readings over the phone.    

Tips gladly accepted! 

I’ll be giving scheduling priority to people of color, Queer identified folk, gender non-conforming and Trans folk.  

If you would like to schedule a reading or want more information email me at ayoung536@gmail.com with the subject “Tarot Reading.” You can also find and message me on Facebook or follow my Instagram @blackunicornrise. 



My reading from Ashley was everything I didn’t know I needed. During my half hour reading, Ashley struck a perfect balance between showing kindness and compassion while also being honest and straight forward. They did not just parrot back what I wanted to hear but instead gave me insight into how to tackle the obstacles I am currently facing. There was palpable connection and insight. Since my reading, I have begun soul searching in a way I have been wanting to do for years. Ashley’s reading showed me where to start. I don’t know what Ashley is charging for readings now but whatever the cost, it’s a bargain because they the real deal.


Ashley has been such a wonderful help to me, when it comes to accessing spiritual guidance. Their tarot readings have always offered me much needed insight into  many situations in my life and spiritual journey. They have such a strong interpretation of the cards and their meaning, and have always been so loving and comforting in how they deliver the cards’ messages. They also were able to contact my grandmother for me, who is someone who continues to be a very important person in my life, despite her passing. It was one of the most beautiful things I’ve experienced, to be able to hear Ashley describe my grandmother’s spirit and the light in which she was surrounded.

– Karuna

I was struggling with a serious romantic fork in the road. Ashley was awesome enough to offer me a reading to give me some clarity. And along with their interpretation and advice, it really helped to bring the situation into perspective, and I realized what it was I was actually looking for. They ended up helping me to choose the path, and person, that was right for me

– Casidi

This is more than a reading.
It’s a conversation with a interpreter of the cards and a seer of the spirits. This was very different from previous readings I received. There was no timer and I wasn’t sitting in silence for someone to talk at me. With every card they pulled I was given a thorough explanation and I was given a moment to reflect on how the cards reflected my life and were related to my journey. They listened to me with a respect for my journey and their full undivided attention and made me feel safe to talk about my life and the concerns I had. Every word I told them allowed for a clearer interpretation of the cards and their meaning to my life. I was also told everything I needed to know and nothing I couldn’t handle, which was really nice. They were also as clear as they possibly could be, there were no vague riddles to solve, simply the answer to my question. As someone who has been duped before by fakes in the past, it is a truly healing experience to be in the presence of a reader, interpreter, and spiritous who is not only serious but responsible about this craft and called to this work. I recommend Ashley to anyone who is in need of a reading or spiritual work and who is willing to do the work that the universe asks of them.

– Dani



Discovering the Divine Humility of Language: A Weekend Workshop with the Divine Center of Queer Renewal



This weekend I had of the pleasure of attending a spiritual writing retreat hosted by the Divine Center of Queer Renewal. I needed a little break from the city feeling the downs after coming back from my trip to California, so I signed up, packed the car, secured my dog in the passenger’s seat and headed upstate. Board Advisor, Padre Tony Amato, edited the first draft of my novel The Liberation of The Black Unicorn and I had never met him face to face. When I arrived, I was greeted by him at the front door at Executive Director Susan Corso’s home (so appropriately named Cupcake Manor) and the magic of the weekend began.

The retreat brought my such calm, creativity and spiritual grounding. I consider writing a spiritual act but I am only just beginning to write about my connection to my ancestors, my practice and the divine. The weekend was an opportunity for me to explore how I communicate my understanding of an inner light that challenges, heals and grows. The workshops led by both Tony and Susan guided me through two new chapters in my first draft and their encouragement helped me see myself as a lifelong novelist. Over cupcakes, home cooked meals, intentions and writing exercises, we opened ourselves up to share the progress of writing ourselves into spiritual growth.

I would recommend this workshop to anyone who is beginning to experience themselves as a vessel for the diverse meaning to spirituality and for those who are looking to bring that experience into their writing.

Here is one of the pieces I wrote based on a quotation prompt:

                                                  The Appointment

           We are on a journey to keep an appointment with who we are.
                                               – Gene Roddenberry

She was always on time, if not early. It was because her mother brought her to every appointment late. The attendance office even had a pre-signed notepad for her daily tardiness so she was not suspended from school.

Maybe she truly thought if she were late again, she would be suspended from life.

She woke early to decide what to wear. First the yellow dress she wore to graduation, then the pink pants suit she wore to her first double butch wedding, then finally the purple lace maxi dress, the one her grandmother gifted her that she always hated but on her passing, had learned to love.

It was a 10am appointment at an office downtown and the day was hot with a temperamental breeze. Her bag was a comfortable heavy on the train, always with a journal and pens, a book and cosmetics, candy and stones, always filled to the brim. She walked the half mile to the office, having never been before, and hoped she knew where it was. She had always given herself plenty of time to get lost and she always needed it because she was always getting lost.

But she found it.

It was an old brownstone with a tree in a tiny yard beyond the front gate. The stairs were lined with plants, some blooming, some dead and the welcome mat read, ‘You were always already home.’ She had forgotten which office and which floor but the door was already open. Still she wondered where to go. Something kept her feet moving down the hall to the back of the house to the office glass door shining warm with light. That door was open too and she cautiously entered.

“Oh child,” a woman said before she could open her mouth, “I’m not ready for you yet. My flowers are the only ones I’m up for this early in the morning.”

The woman was tall and glowing with wild grey hair and a Kente patterned gown. She was the kind of women who looked as if she were born one without an age or beginning or end. And she was singing out for the flowers to grow, singing a song she made up that morning just like every morning.

“I’m sorry. I thought we had an appointment at 10.”

“What appointment? If you woke up to see me, you came here on your own without that funny grown folks calendar time and you’re here now. And I’m sure both you and I will be thankful after I finish with the flowers. Now sit.”

She looked around as she took her place in a sofa chair. The bookshelves were floor to ceiling, paintings of trees and landscapes, statues of the same female figure in different poses over and over.

“It’s beautiful. Do you live here?”

“I live where ever I am. Now you’ll have to be quiet or the flowers won’t hear me.”

She sat mouth-less while the woman tilted her metal water can and hummed to her petunias. The woman swayed on steady feet, as if she were courting them to grow, asking them to stretch as wide as they could until they decided it was as far as they could go. When the women sat down across from her in the matching sofa chair, she placed her can beside herself, pressed out her gown on her lap and looked in the eyes of the women before her.

“What brings you to me?”

“Someone sent me.”

“Who sent you?”

“I can’t remember now. Someone gave me your card and told me I should come.”

“Oh child, I don’t have a card. I’m a story no one writes down. Are you sure you’ve come to the right woman?”

“I think so. Yes, I think I have.”

“Well then it doesn’t matter who sent you if you knew this was exactly where you needed to be. Now enough of the how, let’s get to the why. Why are you here?”

“I wasn’t sure what to do next. I’m trying to get a job and I’m not sure where to move and my relationship is ending and I think I’m just afraid to decide because I don’t want to be alone.”  

“No child. Why are you here?”


“Right now.”

“Because someone sent me.”

“No, no, now we are back to where we began. If you don’t remember who sent you, then no one sent you. You came because you were called to. So why are you here?”

“I don’t know.”

“Let me ask it in a different way. What do you love?”

She sat quietly for a moment, as if she had to think twice.

“I love to write.”

“And what is given to you when you write?”

“Escape. Peace. Freedom.”

“And what do you learn about yourself when you write?”

“That I’m more alive than I’ve remembered or at times knew.”

“And I can tell you there is more. That your words are your ministry. That you open something divine in the humility of language. That you heal others who’ve forgotten they could heal when you give it away.”

“I do?”

“I’m nothing wise. They’ve been telling you this all along. You just came with the open door of your ears and gave me the blessing of allowing me in.”

“So my purpose?”

“No child. Purpose is about doing. This is about being.”

She sat for a moment slowing the machine of her listening to take it in past her throat and heart down to her gut into her feet. The women knew what she was watching and when she felt it reach her souls, she spoke.

“Now do you understand what I’m asking?”

“I think so.”

“Why are you here?”

“To write.”

“So write and all the answers will come when you do.”

The women stood and went to the window. She grabbed the figure of a women standing tall, pulled down candles from her shelves and began to light them. This was always the way she started her day. By then, the women thought she had left but noticed her still sitting in the chair.

“Oh, you’re still here.”

“Yes, I didn’t know we were through.”   

“Of course we are. The day has only begun and I promise you, you have somewhere to be.”

She rose and began to say ‘thank you’ when the women interrupted.

“Don’t thank me. Thank why you came.”

She bowed her head as she said it inside and walked out the door.  


At retreat, I asked Oya to guide me to write with the presence of my ancestors and to bring truth to everything I create. Blessings.