Blind Wisdom

By Vernice Shostal

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Until he became blind, tarot card and tree of life reader Bill Moore spent most of his life working with troubled children and youth.


“It taught me a lot,” says the father of four on losing his sight. “It taught me how to listen.”


Born in England, Bill came to Canada with his soldier father and war bride mother when he was six weeks old. They settled in Southern Ontario where his dad worked at General Motors and his mom worked in the mall.


Caring for his little brother in his early years, Bill grew up with a strong desire to work with children and, as a young man, found his first job in childcare with a Private Agency Group Home.


“It was easier in the late ‘60s to get jobs than it is now,” he says. “I just walked into a treatment centre for disturbed children and got a job. And within a year, I was senior staff in the centre.” 


The job was satisfying, however, a growing interest in finance and planning took Bill to Ottawa, where he “lucked into an interesting job with the Treasury Board.” He began with balancing the federal budget.


“In those days, with no computer, you sat with the 500-page budget and the adding machine and you added every calculation in the whole budget twice.”


Bilingual and back in Toronto, his next career experience was managing the French Canadian clientele for a company of energy consultants. Eventually, he was drawn back to childcare work.


When his oldest son turned three, Bill had second thoughts about raising a child in Toronto and decided to find cleaner air for his family. It was Bill’s intention to move to Vancouver Island.


“I was planning to live in Courtenay; we stopped in Nelson for a shower and never [left], which is what happens in Nelson. It grabs you or it doesn’t.”


In all, Bill spent 28 years in Nelson and the Slocan Valley with a two-year break when, looking to continue his work with children and youth, he attended Simon Fraser University to get a teaching certificate. 


Back in Nelson, he didn’t get the teaching job he wanted because “there was a waiting list as long as your leg.” Undaunted, Bill started an independent junior high school for troubled children.

“The kids who came there were wild and wooly,” says Bill. “They had never fit anywhere else.” There, they had a wonderful time.

Although Bill had been diagnosed with glaucoma, which he describes as a quiet disease, he didn’t expect the intra-ocular hemorrhage that hit him in 2000 when he started to go blind. At about the same time, for various reasons, the school for troubled children closed. Suddenly blind and without a livelihood, Bill says, “It took me a while to catch my breath and figure out what I was doing.” But a circle of friends closed in around him and started the “Bill” project. They encouraged Bill to pursue his long-time hobby and talent for tarot card reading.


With a great-grandmother who was a medium and great-grandfather, a composer, Bill says his family tradition was “Mad Irish people who were all about religion, music, the supernatural and whisky.” He doesn’t think being psychic is hereditary. “We all have it, but it tends to flourish in a culture that supports it. It’s not in your DNA, but it’s in your environment.” 


Bill first started dabbling in tarot cards in the ’60s and ’70s, reading for friends and for fun. At the same time, he became convinced that in order to do a better job at tarot card reading, there was another level he had to study: The Kabbala, a kind of Jewish esoteric mysticism.


The opportunity came in the ‘80s when he had more time on his hands. Studying the Kabbala, Bill says, “It just ate me up and rewrote my understanding of the tarot, and rewrote my understanding of a lot of other stuff as well.”  

Bill admits he doesn’t know everything about the Jewish tradition.


“You can study forever and know a little bit,” he says. “I scratched a little hole in one little room and that’s where the tree of life was.”


A diagram of the 3,000-year-old mystical concept that Bill maintains is in the heart of the Kabbala, and which helps him understand the tarot, hangs on his wall. 


For Bill, working with tarot cards is an analytical process. The outcome is twofold. “When you throw the cards, the energy of the whole universe is expressed in those cards because they’re part of the whole thing. Whatever energetic pattern is moving through the whole thing is moving into every single part of it in the microcosm. The order and the number of the cards reflect something about that moment in time while the various kinds of layouts allow you to look for certain kinds of information. Every card means something. A very strong mental process is going on.”

The cards Bill uses are a simple design, which he can still recognize, although he has begun to work without them, closing his eyes and watching the cards fall onto the table.


Blindness has taught Bill to read voices. In a person’s voice, he says, “You hear everything. You hear what they had for lunch. You hear their childhood. You know, a voice is an amazing thing.”


He recalls a story about Helen Keller who put her fingers on the bark of a young tree and through her fingers, heard a robin singing. “It inspired me for sure, so it’s kind of like that with voice. If you really listen, everything is there.”


For more information about Bill Moore, e-mail or call 250-592-2258. 

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