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Lavender Sedlock uses tarot as a healing module.

Lavender Sedlock uses tarot as a healing module.



Radi(magi)cal Healing

Lavender Sedlock ‘09 is gifted in the arts of massage therapy, reading tarot, and never, ever getting too comfortable.



“You should be doubting everything all the time and thinking that anything is possible because that’s where you find little windows to possibility.”

Lavender Sedlock ‘09 is covered in mermaid tattoos; mermaids are their ancestors, they tell me.  Lavender—who gender identifies as non-binary and uses “they/them/their” pronouns—believes that the work they do is possible because of the trauma endured by women who went before them, women who were forced to repress magical tendencies, tendencies Lavender can now fully embrace. “Magic allows you to think things are possible beyond what is decidedly possible. It allows you to open up parts of your life that have been locked, the deepest parts of yourself. It’s always fun to figure out how to inspire magic in people.”

In Lavender’s work, how the magic functions isn’t necessarily relevant, it’s the openness to it that matters. That kind of unwavering openness has been consistent throughout their life. At Chatham, Lavender was on the forefront of Chatham’s student-led sustainability initiatives, helping to organize the first greenhouse gas emissions report for the university and helping to build the first organic garden at Eden Hall. Chatham also offered a safe space for Lavender to expand their worldview: “It helped me understand racism, sexism, homophobia—these things that I was sheltered from. I’m really grateful for that.”

When they graduated from Chatham in 2009 with a degree in Environmental Studies, Lavender was hoping to save the planet from anywhere that wasn’t a desk. They headed to the Mojave Desert to do conservation work with the Student Conservation Association. In those long, hot days, as they used dead fauna to hide illegal paths from off-highway vehicles, Lavender planned their life: “Walking around the desert is weird for your psychology; I knew everything that was going to happen to me.”

Following the desert stint, they returned to Pittsburgh to do community work: running a free school, working in afterschool programs for Americorps, and serving nonprofits like Tree Pittsburgh. After a series of setbacks, Lavender found themselves living alone for the first time in a house that used to be filled with people. An abandoned deck of tarot cards led to a breakthrough: “I started reading tarot and it helped me a lot, it was the only thing that validated what I was going through,” says Lavender. Soon, they were reading tarot to help pay the bills, in local bars and at art festivals. They describe this as ‘jumping off,’ a period in which they prepared to do something ‘crazy,’ a.k.a. quit their day job.

“Tarot is a therapeutic tool. People ask me to tell them their future and I say that’s not really what this is for, it’s to help you get a sense of what’s going on in your life and empower you.”

A tarot spread of Lavender’s

A tarot spread of Lavender’s

Lavender did in fact quit their job to do tarot full time. They also sought mentorship within the healing community, which is how they met Sarah Bauer, a local massage therapist who inspired Lavender to pursue reiki and massage therapy school in Asheville, North Carolina.

Massage therapy helped turn Lavender’s healing work into a more accessible skillset, since “most people want massage, because that’s what they know.” They spent eight months in Asheville getting their massage license before being called back to Pittsburgh once more, believing “that my work is in Pittsburgh.”

Lavender now teaches pathology at the Pittsburgh School for Massage, where they mentor future healers and practitioners of body work. In Lavender’s private practice, clients often request a combination of reiki, tarot, and massage work. Lavender prefers this because it allows the most opportunity for growth and introspection. 

They pull cards in the shape of the Kabbalistic Tree of Life, a symbol from Jewish mysticism that represents each sphere of your life, body, and metaphysical influences. This ten card pull gives clients a “fractal” view of themselves: “Seeing yourself in this complex way gives you a visual representation of all the things that you’re going through.” Lavender also strives to be a gender-affirming caregiver, incorporating sensitivity and awareness of gender issues into their entire practice.

“The cool thing about using tarot, reiki, and working with my hands is the ability to read people so super well. I can feel their emotions with them. I can feel their pain with them. I can imagine what it’s like to be them. I can meet them where they are. I don’t need to push their buttons or make them uncomfortable or freak them out, unless they need that.”

This November, Lavender is heading to Hawaii to work closely with aspiring massage therapists and to better acquaint themselves with Hawaiian massage techniques like lomi lomi. “I never do well with getting comfortable. Whenever I get comfortable, I think well now I really need to dream. I need to dream big,” and so the jumping off begins.

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