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BTP121: From Ad Exec to Tarot Reader with Melanie O’Rourke

melanie orourke

Have you ever dreamed of leaving your office job behind to start a career in something that truly resonates with you…especially if that thing is something that doesn’t resonate with a lot of the world?  I’ve 100% been there and so has my guest Melanie O’Rourke. In this episode, we talk about her incredible transition from working as an Ad Exec to running her successful and fulfilling career as a Reiki master, Tarot reader, and holistic counselor.   

In this episode, you’ll learn about:  

  • The beautiful process of ‘co-creating’ with your clients 
  • Mel’s incredible journey from ad-exec to living her dream 
  • Ways to combine your existing skills with your Tarot business 
  • Turning your interest in hobbies into a successful and fulfilling practice 
  • A reading with a tough client that turned out to a transformative experience, for both people



You’re listening to the Biddy Tarot Podcast, and this is Episode 121: From Ad Exec to Tarot Reader with Melanie O’Rourke.  

Welcome to the Biddy Tarot Podcast, where you'll learn how to connect more deeply with your intuition and live an empowered and enlightened life with the Tarot cards as your guide. 

Listen as Brigit and her guests share their very best tips and strategies to help you read Tarot with confidence. Now, here is your host, Brigit Esselmont. 


BRIGIT: Hello, and welcome to the Biddy Tarot Podcast. I have a really neat episode for you today. I’m chatting with one of our certified Biddy Tarot Readers, Mel, who has gone from a career as an ad executive to now stepping into a beautiful new inspirational career as a Tarot reader, energy healer and just all out holistic counsellor. I think you’re going to really enjoy this conversation with Mel. 

Mel has discovered how to integrate many different aspects into her practice. She uses Tarot, Reiki, and even things like Feng Shui and energy healing. What she does, is she uses all of these different modalities to create a really integrated experience for her clients. As you’ll hear in the interview today, she describes it as this co-creation that happens with the client. 

I am all for co-creation. I think it’s a really powerful way to connect in with clients. Instead of it being about you as the reader, it’s more about them as the client, and helping them to access their inner self and their inner wisdom. 

Mel talks a little bit about her journey from being that ad executive and then starting to find Tarot and bringing it into her life. She’ll share some neat client stories, even one with a woman who was a complete sceptic. Mel was completely freaking out going, “I don’t know if I’m adding any value here,” only to be completely surprised within half an hour of the session.  

I’ll let Mel tell a little more about that story. Without further ado, I want to welcome Mel. 

Oh, just before I do, let me just say, you can see all of the show notes over at, and you’ll also get the links to Mel’s website, which is All right, let’s do it. Let me welcome Mel. 


BRIGIT: Welcome, Mel, to the Biddy Tarot Podcast. It’s an absolute pleasure to have you here. How are you doing today?  

MELANIE: I’m doing really well. Thanks for having me.  

BRIGIT: We were just connecting before, and we realized that we literally lived a few streets away, which is pretty cool.  

MELANIE: It’s definitely a small world.  

BRIGIT: That’s for sure. Mel, you were part of our Certification Program. Today, I just want to talk a little bit about where you’ve come from and what’s led you to where you are now, and what you see for your future. Tell me a little bit about how you got into Tarot in the first place.  

MELANIE: Mine has been a bit of a long journey to get to Tarot Reading. Over about 20 years ago, I started to get interested when I lived in [inaudible [0:03:41]. I actually was working in an advertising job. It was high pressure, and I started to get adrenal fatigue. It made me just sit back and think, “There’s got to be more to this.” 

I started to research alternative ways of healing and also self-soothing, or another way to goal-plan, or just something like that, that resonated a little bit more with me. I started then, to seek different ways of helping myself stay on track. Over the years, a friend of a friend talked about a Tarot reader, and I was like, “Oh, that’s really interesting—maybe I’ll do that.”  

As soon as I saw someone, I was like, “Yes, I need to learn this.” I liked the way it gave me guidance, but it was my own intuition. It just made sense to me rather than any other kind of modality. It also opened up a whole new world of looking at all sorts of different approaches.  

BRIGIT: I’m curious, because we share a similar journey in that we were finding Tarot at the same time. We were working in corporate. I don’t know what your corporate experience was like, but mine was one where it wasn’t really the ‘done’ thing, reading Tarot cards and people would think you’re a little bit ‘cray-cray’. How did that fit in with you? Were you worried about it? Did you not talk about it? How did that integrate?   

MELANIE: That’s an interesting question. Actually, I kept it very private. It was more to my closest friends. They didn’t really understand it. It was just kind of the thing that Mel did. It just became my interest and my hobbies, whereas everyone else’s hobbies were sport or socializing. I would stay at home on weekends, and I would get into meditation and reading, look about what things I can do, study Tarot, mysticism, spirituality. It was very much a deep dive from years and years ago. It was private. It was very private. 

It’s not like I had two identities. I had my work persona, and I had my personal persona. They were very different, so I did actually keep it quite separate. I liked that, especially in the world of advertising. Everybody knows your business. Everyone works together. Everyone spends weekends together, parties together. It’s the way that culture works, whereas, I had this little separate persona of mine that was all mine. Do you know what I mean?  

BRIGIT: Yes, that’s a really neat way of looking at it, actually. I think it feeds into this whole concept I have about work. So often we turn up to our day job and it’s like we just drop who we are, and we put on this whole other suit, literally and metaphorically. We walk in there and we’re someone else. I think when you’re buying into that and participating in that, yes, it feels good to have this secret part of yourself that you don’t have to necessarily share at work. 

I don’t know about you, but I got to a point I was like, “This is feeling really out of integrity with me.” 

If I’m going to live a life that’s in full alignment and fully authentic, I felt like I needed to bring those two parts of myself together again. For me, personally, that’s when I was inspired to leave the corporate world and really pursue this full-time. I’m curious if you’ve had that thought too, or something completely different. 

MELANIE: No, it was very similar, actually. It started to become like a gut feeling, or something inside of me that just wasn’t fulfilled. I would look around me and I would be in conversations with people talking about their careers, and how they want to ensue – the next five years would include this in their life, and this kind of thing. I was really quiet because I would be like, “Hey, that doesn’t feel right to me. I don’t want that kind of career.” I was in that world and I was like, “What is it? Something’s just not feeling right.” I was never, I don’t know if ‘fulfilled’ is the right word, but I was never aligned. It was always a matter of, “This is what I do now to survive, but there’s something else for me.” That was when I really started to part-time study and read books, because it would nurture me. I would be then feeling like, “Hey, it’s OK because you won’t be doing this forever.” That was soothing to me, to have this other little life. Even though it hadn’t come to fruition or manifested into the career change at that point, it was that feeling inside going, “It’s OK, you’ll get—“ 

BRIGIT: I’m so glad we’re having this conversation. I’m sure many people would be able to relate to this if they’re working in a day job but feel like they’re being called to something else. You can either get really anxious about that and go, “Well, I should be doing else right now, why am I doing this corporate job?” But actually, there’s kind of a little place of peace in between where you can say, “Yes, I probably will be doing something different in the next few years, but right now this is actually serving me exactly the way it is.” You know, we’re exactly where we need to be at every single point in time in our whole life.  

MELANIE: I think back then, of the feelings and the things that I had to now, I wasn’t quite ready back then anyway. I needed to learn some more life skills. I needed to have a bit more experience about myself and other people, to be able to understand and do what I do now. When I look back in hindsight it’s like, “Well, that’s why it didn’t happen then.” During that period, I was like, “Oh, please! Just get me out of there, please!”  

BRIGIT: Now, are you working solely in energy/Tarot work, or do you also have a day job? 

MELANIE: I still have a day job. I work part-time as a producer. I will still be doing that on a small scale, hopefully not for too much longer. It’s a lot smaller agency. It’s a lot less stress. They know I’ve just started this business, and they’re very much supporting and helping me go forward with it. I am in the perfect job and the perfect place. I’m very lucky because they’re all entrepreneurs and have their own businesses. It’s a group of people with the same kind of goals. They all have a business, or they work part-time, or they have other interests. It’s a collaboration of people that do that. I still have my day job, and I still need money for my mortgage, but it’s definitely there on the way to where I’m going.  

BRIGIT: I think it’s a great way of making that transition, is to do some kind of part-time work. And great, if it’s work that you can feel really passionate about at the same time as building a business. It gives you that consistent income, so you’re not like, “Oh, I’m starting my business. Oh, my gosh! Where am I going to find the money?” Then you do crazy things that aren’t really in alignment. I think having that part-time work and then pursuing a growing, more of the inspirational side of the business, is a great way to go.  

MELANIE: Yes, and I think, as you say, when you don’t have to worry about the money necessarily, you have a job that covers the bills and whatever, your energy is a little different. I feel like you are able to grow a business slowly because you don’t have to worry about those things. You don’t have to be always in the energy of panic or need, or whatever that is, because you’ve got that covered. When you can sit back and just start building a foundation, I think.   

BRIGIT: Yes, absolutely. Now, you’ve created The Velvet Chair, which I think is such a beautiful business name. Tell me a little bit about The Velvet Chair. What do you do within this context of your business?  

MELANIE: The Velvet Chair’s personality came from the other interests that I have. It’s a little bit burlesque, if you like. It’s a little bit boudoir. I wanted to create something that wasn’t just a Tarot business but was going to encompass my personality, and to also give back in a different way. It just became an extension of me, really. When people see the website they’re like, “Oh, that’s so you!” 

I’ve always had velvet furniture, and I’ve always had this kind of aesthetic in the way that I dress, in the way that my apartment looks. I just wanted to be another extension of that. I wanted people to feel really comfortable, but also, when they came into my space, that they were in a different world. That they could let go of everything that is in their life and walk into this space, like when you walk into a movie theatre, or a themed party, or something like that. You walk into my space and you just let go of your life because you’re in a little different world.  

BRIGIT: I think of it in terms of, almost like shutting down the conscious mind so you can then open up your subconscious, or your intuition. In some ways, moving a customer or a client into a space that is very different from their everyday world, facilitates that process of, “This is a different experience to what I’m used to, and therefore I can access something that’s different as well.” if that makes sense.  

MELANIE: Absolutely, and it’s exactly what my clients say to me. After they leave, they’re like, “Wow! I’ve just had such a different experience.” I think, because the environment supports that. That’s how I wanted to frame The Velvet Chair, as something just a little bit different. When you come in, I feel like we can go a little deeper, and it’s more intuitive-based. If it’s the Tarot, I read the Tarot. If I feel like there’s some energy work that needs to happen, we’ll do some Reiki. There’s a lot of different modalities. Once we’re in that space and we talk about what the client wants and what the client needs, then creatively we work out together what the best practice is that day.  

BRIGIT: Yes, you’re someone who’s got so many different modalities and talents and skills. I love that you’re able to bring all of these together into this integrated experience. Tell me, how does that work? You’ve obviously got Tarot, you’ve got Reiki. Is this something you’ve accumulated over time, or do you go a little bit nuts and learn everything at once? What happens?  

MELANIE: I’ve accumulated a lot of different things over time. In 2008, I finished the Holistic Counseling Course. I really loved that because that taught a little bit of Art Therapy, Sandplay as well as [inaudible [0:15:56] Psychology. I got to experience a lot of modalities within that course. I think that really gave me the idea that once I start practicing, that I could have more than one modality too, and that it really is all coming from the same family. When I finished that course in 2008, I still really hadn’t tapped on what I wanted to offer as an experience. I went, “OK, you’ve done that course now, but you’re not ready. It’s not really feeling right.” 

Then I thought I would do Kinesiology. When I did that, I found it more chiropractic and based on sports medicine—the course I did anyway. “Yes, that’s not right either, I don’t really want to play with people’s limbs. That’s not really my thing.” So then, I kept reading books and things like that. 

It wasn’t until 2016 that I was like, “OK, now it’s time.” It’s interesting because the adrenal fatigue came back, so I had to rest in bed for a while. I think, once you shut down, these things come up. I was just doing a bit of research on the internet and I was thinking, “You know, I don’t really want to do another four-year course of something.” Nothing was really appealing to me. 

I researched this woman, Gala Darling, and she came up. She had just started what she calls The Self Love Coven. I didn’t have a lot of energy at that time and I thought, “You know, this just sounds like a bit fun. This just sounds like learning, but in a fun way. Not an academic way, or a way where I have to go to a course and study part-time, which is the old way of doing things, for me. 

So, I was like, “This is on the internet, I can do it my own time. This sounds like fun.” I did her course, and of course, you were a part of that, in the Tarot. It was fantastic for me. It just opened my whole world back up, and then I realized, “Hey! This is it! This is the type of thing I want to be doing.” It was just like a light bulb went on, whereas, 10 to 15 years before, it hadn’t felt right. 

Now I was like, “Oh! This is your thing! This is where your personality will come out. This aligns with you.” The penny just dropped, and I thought, “What would I like to focus on out of all those modalities of The Coven?” and I joined up to your course. It just became, “Yes, this is my thing.” There was no question. There was no doubt in my mind where I used to have doubt. It was like, “Oh, no, I’m doing this and now, I’m starting my business.” It all came in a big rush. 

I bought 20 to 25 books. I’ve had to calm down now and say: (a) stop buying books, and (b) do one at a time. Because I had opened something up and accessed what I really wanted, I just was hungry for everything. I was like, ‘this modality, that modality’. I really started to work out what I wanted to do, but more so, how I wanted to be with clients. I think it did start with the counseling course, because it was all person-centered. That’s my thing. I like to talk to people, get to know them, and then co-create. Ask them what they want, what type of modality are they interested in, what feels comfortable to them. 

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Some people don’t like Reiki. They don’t like laying down and having your hands on them. Other people are really drawn to the Tarot cards. I’ve got a few friends that were like, “Not really, I don’t really understand the Tarot.” I think when I started out they were indulging me, as friends, just coming along out of curiosity. I had one woman say, a friend of mine, she was like, “Wow! I just didn’t realize how much you could get out of the Tarot, even if you don’t want to become a reader.” 

She said, “It was just amazing to me. I felt like I had clarified a lot of things that were on my mind, just by working with you with the Tarot.” 

I was like, “That’s it! That’s what I want to do.” 

That’s the kind of feedback I really enjoy. It’s like, what did we get out of it? It’s not about me, but did you learn something? Then, for weeks or months onwards, things come up and I get text messages like, “You know when we talked about that?” and “This is happening.” 

I feel like for me, Tarot and the way I read, is more of a life coaching style. I don’t future predict. I have sessions that I co-create. They go on for an hour, and we just work through. Sometimes I get the person to tell me what they think the card reads. It’s really funny, because it’s so different to how I would interpret, or how I would read a card. It’s because it’s about them. Your session goes so much deeper and we both get so much out of it. I go, “Wow! I didn’t even see that.” I feel like that’s hit the nail on the head, for me.  

BRIGIT: I find personally, reading in that way, it’s less about you as the reader and your performance, and it becomes more about the client, which to me, feels like it’s the perfect energy. It should be about the client and what’s right for them. What I love about this co-creation style is, it’s helping that client access their own inner wisdom so that they’re not relying on like, “Oh great one! Tarot reader, tell me my future.” It’s more about what’s actually in here, “Oh! Actually, I know everything I need to know. This is good.” 

MELANIE: Absolutely, and I think for me, when it came to things like counseling, people go and see a counsellor and it’s about the counsellor treating you. That whole methodology, I never agreed with. Person-centered is so much better the way to go, because really, it’s about their own therapy. It’s about what they want from their life. It just becomes all about the person. And if you can add a little bit of creativity in there, even better. The different modalities come in. 

Usually, it starts with Tarot and then someone will say, “I’m a bit interested in tapping.” They never normally know anything about it, so I explain it. Then I explain what purpose we could use the tapping, or the Reiki, or the spell work. I just let that person say, “Yes, that will really work for me.” or, “That’s not my thing.” I’m married into what they’re working with at the time, what those needs are, or what they want to get out of coming to see me for. That’s how I choose the modality. It’s a bit of intuition, of suggesting something that I think that’s what they may need, and also, just having that discussion and saying, “These are all options for you.” Some people just like the Tarot. They get a lot out of Tarot sessions, and I get, “That’s your thing, that’s what we’ll do together.”  

BRIGIT: I’m going to put you on the spot here, what would you say is one of your proudest moments as a reader?  

MELANIE: Interesting enough, one of my proudest moments was when I first started. I was doing free readings. So far, it’s been referral only. I had a colleague bring a friend of hers. She came in, she sat down and she crossed her arms. The shield was right up. I was probably only on my third or fourth client. I was a little, not terrified, but I was a little bit like, “Oh, my God! This is not going to be good. How am I going to get through the next hour or half an hour?” 

I started laying out the cards, and I’d say, “This is what it means. What do you see? Or how does this fit with you?” and she would give me nothing. It was just grunts or one-word answers. 

I’m like, “Oh, my God! This is going to be a disaster.” 

It was probably my shortest Tarot session. I got through it, and I feel a little disappointed that I have disappointed her, and that she was going to leave with nothing that she came for. For me, it was a great learning lesson. 

Before she left I went, “You know what, have you got another half an hour? I’d like to do a little bit of Reiki on you.” 

She was like, “Yes, sure, no worries.” 

I put her on the bed, and by the time I went through the first couple of chakras, I got to her heart chakra and she just broke. Not broke—she started crying. 

I stopped the Reiki, and I’m like, “Are you OK?” 

She was like, “Yes, yes. Please keep going.” 

She was crying through the session, but after the session she was like, “During the Tarot you had said something to me, or something came up that I couldn’t really communicate or articulate how I was feeling, and I didn’t really want to do that. You’ve released something in me that’s been with me for years. I thought that feeling would never go away.” 

From the initial first 10 minutes of “Oh, God! This is going to be a disaster,” or “I’m going to disappoint,” or “No one’s going to get anything out of this one,” to when she left an hour later, her face had changed, her whole energy had changed. It was the proudest moment. I thought, “Wow! I could actually do this.”  

BRIGIT: Love it! I’ve got chills. My eyes are tearing up. That’s so awesome, I love it. As readers we think, “Oh, crap! Am I having any impact here? This is going nowhere. The client’s giving me nothing.” 

Meanwhile, there’s all this transformation going on behind their front. We’ve got to be really careful of not trying to judge a situation and think, “Oh, my gosh! I’m not doing a very good job here.” Because, we don’t know whether that seed is going to drop, then and there in the reading, if it’s going to drop when they leave that room, if it’s going to drop in a year’s time. Often it does, and we don’t necessarily always see that. 

We’ve got to remember, as readers, that we are nearly always having an impact, even if it’s not then and there. Good on you for having the courage to stick with it, and hold that space, and follow through with it. Look at what you cracked open in a really positive way. It’s awesome! 

MELANIE: Yes, she was very complimentary and very beaming. It was great. It taught me a lot. That’s what I want. I want people to leave the session and really get something out of it. Have a positive experience, however they experience it. Not everyone will experience it the same. I’ve got to, as you say, not doubt myself, and just be present, stop thinking about it. Just be present. It happens how it happens.  

BRIGIT: You’re obviously, one of our certified Biddy Tarot Readers. I’d love to just hear what was your experience with the certification program like, and how has that supported you to get to where you are now with your Tarot practice and energy healing practice.  

MELANIE: The Certification Program was great for me. The biggest reason was because I had a full-time job and I longer wanted to go and study out of the home. Doing it at my own pace, but also having a deadline, was really good for me. With my corporate background, I’m trained to work with deadlines, but I really just loved having the freedom to watch the videos. If I wanted to repeat the video because of that section that I wanted to deep dive, or write my own notes, I just had that freedom. If I had missed a week, then I could catch up. I found that so useful. If I was on top of it that week, I could listen to podcasts or I could go into the community. It was really helpful. 

The free readings, as part of the course, was great. It just pushed me to go, “OK, you’re learning the theory, you’ve studied before.” It actually forces you into practice, but in a more comfortable way.” It’s not forcing you to practice with clients face-to-face while you’re still studying. It just worked for me. It was a way where I could build up my confidence, but also, integrate what I was studying in the present moment. That accelerated my learning so much, especially with having a full-time job as well, and a life. I couldn’t sit there all week and just learn along the way. 

I think the combination really helped me balance how I was studying. Also, my own life, and what was happening at the time and the stresses of my life, I could achieve the course. I really felt more confident at the end of that course than I had in other courses, just purely because of the way it’s set up. And of course, I was ready. I was like, “This is it! This is what I’m doing!” Giving free readings, I felt like I could read. I was like, “Yes, I can do this.”  

Receiving feedback as well really helps, from the free Tarot readings. Because it’s over the net, they have no filter. They’re just going to tell you what they think. That was good. I needed to hear it. I needed to get me confidence, but also, just keep learning. This is how people are going to receive. The way I communicate changed because I had to write it. Instead of speaking face-to-face, I had to actually write my responses. My storytelling became quite good. It’s like writing a book. Your storytelling and writing ability expands. I think we forget when we’re face-to-face talking, that we shorten our words, and that the conversation is stop-start. But writing with a purpose, storytelling becomes a big part of it. I love storytelling.  

BRIGIT: Yes, with your work, absolutely! Storytelling is so important in Tarot, I think. That’s what brings it all together in a really powerful way. So, Mel, what’s coming up next for you? What does the next six to 12 months look like for you, and for The Velvet Chair?  

MELANIE: The next six to 12 months is pretty much just building a business, building a client base, and attracting clients that will mirror me in some way. They want the kind of reading of the kind of experience that I will provide, they’re open, spiritually. Also, the life coaching style of the way I do things. I’m hoping to build a business with that client base. Hopefully by referral, people will start to know my name and The Velvet Chair, and what that feels like, and what that experience is. That’s really my plan for the year. Excitingly though, I booked a trip to the States, in May. There’s a woman called Lindsay Mack.  

BRIGIT: Yes, we’ve had her on the podcast. She’s awesome!   

MELANIE: I started listening to her Tarotscopes on The Numinous. I just fell in love with the way that she expresses the Tarot, and I thought, “You know, I’d really love to do that.” How it happened is, I was looking that day, the retreat went up, it sold out in, I think, 48 hours. I’m booked to go in May. I’m really excited about it. It’s a retreat in the Sierra Hot Springs, just out of San Francisco, and it’s for Tarot readers.  

BRIGIT: Beautiful.   

MELANIE: I’m a little bit scared too, because now I’m like, “Here you go!” It’s going to be deep, and it’s going to be intense. I feel like this year, I’m ready for that. That’s very exciting.  

BRIGIT: Fabulous! It’s going to be a very good year. That’s awesome! So, tell me Mel, where can people find out more about you?   

MELANIE: I’ve got a website. It’s I also have an Instagram called @thevelvetchairofelwood, and I have a Facebook group. I’m socially connected, if you like.  

BRIGIT: Good! We’ll make sure that we post those links on the Biddy Tarot website as well. Now, obviously, you’re doing readings in Melbourne, Australia. Are you also doing them online?   

MELANIE: I haven’t yet, but I am definitely open to doing it online. Via Skype would be great, I’d love to see the person I’m talking to. So, if I do start to venture online, definitely a Skype, or some kind of video conferencing, but absolutely available for people outside Melbourne.  

BRIGIT: If you’ve heard Mel speaking and you’re like, “Yes! I want more of this,” you can also have a Skype call. You don’t have to be in Melbourne. Mel is here and ready to go. Mel, it’s been an absolute pleasure to chat today and to hear more about your journey. I’m super excited about where you are right now and where you’re heading. I think it’s just going to keep exploding and expanding in beautiful ways. Thank you for everything that you’re doing. Thank you for being here today, and I wish you heaps and heaps of success.  

MELANIE: Thank you! Thank you so much for having me today, but also, as part of the course. That’s a brilliant course, so thank you so much.  

BRIGIT: My pleasure, awesome! All right, thank you. So, there you have it. I hope you enjoyed that conversation with Mel O’Rourke and I. Loved hearing her stories, and I really resonated with her journey. We share so many similarities. From that corporate world through to integrating the more spiritual self with a professional self, and then finally, bringing those two together to create this amazing business. 

I really want to say a massive congratulations to Mel. I think she’s done an amazing job. From taking part in our Biddy Tarot Certification Program and then being able to channel everything that she’s been learning in that experience, into her work. As you’ve heard today, she’s done an amazing job of that. 

Remember, you can find out more about Mel at If you’re in Melbourne or near Elwood, awesome! You can go and experience her beautiful space. Otherwise, reach out to her, because she is also available for online readings. Alright, that is it for today. If you are inspired to become a Certified Biddy Tarot Reader yourself, and to experience our Biddy Tarot Certification Program, which includes training, as well as the free readings experiences, plus certification at the end, make sure you check it out at Have an awesome week. I will connect in with you again next time. Bye for now! 


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