Beads N Botanicals is in their 13th year of operation. Owner, Catherine Novak has been reading tarot professionally for more than 20 years. She is trained as a medicinal herbalist in Traditional Chinese Medicine, Western Herbalism, and Cherokee Medicine. The store’s website emphasizes “Insight, Intuition, Integration & Illumination.” In January 2020, Beads N Botanicals was off to a strong start. They were offering more classes like a Beginner’s Tarot Series and they planned to attend several festivals.


Once those were canceled, Novak pivoted. She saw an uptick in sales of crystals, jewelry, and gemstones. Customers were interested in grab bags; they could specify certain products they preferred or tell the shop to mix it up. Novak said, “I noticed a lot of people went inward and were asking, ‘what is really important to me?’ They began to step outside of a more traditional spirituality and became more interested in a different way of looking at things and different ways of healing and working.”

For Novak, tarot symbolism has always clicked. “It's a really good way to get insight into what's going on in yourself and in your life. I always remind people — nothing is carved in stone. You shouldn't be making major life decisions based on a tarot reading, even though you may get insight into it. And you may say, based on that insight that you're going make a particular decision. It’s a wonderful tool to work with. When I read, it's not just a tarot card, it's also any intuition or guidance that I get at that time that I share with somebody. Now it's up to them what they do,” Novak said.

The Thoth Deck is Novak’s typical go-to tarot deck. Years ago, she got the deck for the artwork but over the years, she has developed a particular relationship with the deck. Now, if she uses the Thoth deck in a reading, she might interpret a card in a way that an experienced tarot student or reader might not recognize in that card because she and the cards have developed their own language over the years.

A headshot of a woman with short pink hair. She is wearing a blue and white tie-dyed sleeveless shirt, and has a pendant around her neck. Photo provided by Beads N Botanicals.Photo provided by Beads N Botanicals.

When asking Novak about the changes in the questions her clients ask since she first began, Novak responded, “I've evolved and grown and I think when that happens, you see your clients changing and evolving and growing. A lot of the time you attract the people that need you at that level. I think everybody's worried about love. I think a lot of times people are concerned about health, but primarily love and jobs and things like that. Regarding health questions, I don't give medical advice. I'm not a medical person, and I'm really clear about that with people.”

Novak has clients who don’t live in the C-U area: “I have a client who lives in Virginia, who I won't hear from her for a year and then she'll contact me via phone. And we'll sit down and do a reading. It could be a shorter or longer reading. She has contacted me about real estate deals, finding things that were stolen, and who's responsible. And I like working with her, largely because she's willing to kind of go with the flow on some things and understand that you don't always get a definite answer. A few years ago, she wanted to buy a house. And I was like, I know you really want this. But I'm thinking something. I don't know what's wrong here. I can't tell you that. But there's something wrong. This is not a good idea. Well, she calls me back a week later. And she said, ‘I got into place finally. And it was raining. And there were buckets all over the house.’ I couldn't have told her what it was. I just can't. But there was something wrong.”

Also, Novak warns that people need to find a reader who works for them, a reader with intentions of serving the client. “But what I'm going to say to somebody as a consumer going up for reading is we all have negative stuff that we deal with. We all have times when we're feeling down. And I get very sad when someone goes into a situation where somebody takes advantage of them because they're feeling vulnerable. And it's really hard when you're in that place to have good judgment,” Novak said.

Novak emphasized that Beads N Botanicals has always, for their entire existence, been a safe, welcoming place for all people. It’s also a place where beginners can ask questions. In accord with that mission, Novak has shifted her business to account for public health concerns.

Currently, Beads N Botanicals does not offer in-person classes. The store has added air filtration units and they allow eight people in the shop at a time. Novak isn’t offering past life regression at the moment because those sessions take a long time and doing them one-on-one limits the number of people who can use her services. Novak has offered readings over the phone for a long time and began to do that more once COVID hit. Additionally, Novak began providing readings over Zoom. She offers sessions on Tuesdays and requires 48 hours advanced notice. She recognizes that this prevents people who spontaneously decide to get a reading but she sees this as the best way to support the community and provide a safe place for all.

Beads N Botanicals
117 N Broadway Ave Unit # 1
Urbana
T (readings only) 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
W + F 12 to 5 p.m.
Th 12 to 6 p.m.
Sat 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Follow them on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/beadsnbotanicals

Schedule a reading over Zoom and check out their website for more information: https://beadsnbotanicals.com/

Top photo provided by Beads N Botanicals.