This year has been one for the history books, and college students are not excluded from its hardships. With families struggling in the economic downturn, many students have been forced to support their own educations in an unforgiving job market. Many internships, which are typically in-person, were canceled. And with the nationwide resurgence of the Black Lives Matter movement, many young college progressives have been torn between joining the fight for justice and keeping their vulnerable family members safe from COVID-19.
But it is often in the face of seemingly insurmountable challenges that the most creative ideas emerge. And that is exactly how Sabrina Surgil ’21 rose to the occasion. Surgil is a History and French double major, aspiring law student, and invested member of Britomartis student theater, Burlesque and the Vassar Refugee Solidarity organization. As of this summer, she is also a proud business owner.
Surgil’s relationship with Tarot—an ancient practice which seeks guidance through card reading—began a few years back when a Vassar friend gifted her a deck of Tarot cards. She quickly grew to love the art, and practiced reading often with her peers and loved ones. When asked what drew her to Tarot, Surgil said it was the logic and intuition embedded in the spiritual elements. “I believe Tarot is a tool of perspective,” she said. “Tarot readings aren’t meant to bring major epiphanies or realizations. Usually, they’ll tell you what you already know about yourself and your life (but may be avoiding for one reason or another).”
Until recently, Surgil’s affinity for Tarot reading was merely a fun hobby. But when her family was struck by pandemic-related financial troubles and the BLM movement reached her home city of Pittsburgh, she was spurred into action. Surgil explained that Pittsburgh has a history of racism, segregation and police brutality. She referenced the murder of Pittsburgher Antwon Rose, a 17-year-old Black student who was shot by a white officer while fleeing a traffic stop in summer 2018. The officer was acquitted soon after. “I couldn’t actually protest in person because I live with my elderly grandmother and had to be extra careful about the pandemic, so I really wanted a way to support racial justice causes from home,” said Surgil. With a dash of ingenuity, she was able to help out remotely.
The Sun, The Star, and The Moon Tarot Readings, Surgil’s Etsy business, offers live one-on-one appointments and personal video recordings. The site currently features nine different Tarot styles tailored to love, life, healing, past lives and more, as well as dozens of glowing reviews from satisfied customers (all 5/5 stars). Many of her ecstatic clientele spare no words when praising her thoroughness, insight, compassion and eagerness to educate inexperienced users.
However, Surgil is most proud of her philanthropy toward racial justice organizations. Surgil donates at least 25 percent of all proceeds to Pittsburgh’s mutual aid organizations, bail funds and at-risk individuals. She explained, “As a low income student, I could rarely donate to causes in the past, so I’m proud of being able to redistribute money now, but also to spread awareness for specific organizations in my hometown in the process.” One of her most recent donations went to the Bukit Bail Fund, an abolitionist fund in Pittsburgh fighting to free protesters from the Allegheny County Jail. Surgil’s advocacy work can be found on her Instagram (@thesunstarmoontarot) and Tiktok (@sabkaye), along with her Etsy account (thesunstarmoontarot).
Since a New York Times feature this summer accelerated her business’ momentum, Surgil plans on furthering her social media presence, expanding her business and continuing to give back to her community. She intends to add to The Sun, The Star, and The Moon’s Tarot-reading variety and offer party readings once in-person business becomes safe again.
In the meantime, Surgil leaves Vassar students with this bit of advice for those considering online business during this socially distanced time: “If there’s something you’ve been wanting to do or try, my advice is to just put yourself and your product ‘out there’ into the social media-verse and see what happens!”