SPIRITUALIZED: NAHA ARMÁDY
By: Laura Bolt
Naha Armády has been a student of the esoteric sciences for over twenty years and specializes in Tarot, Theurgy, Hermetic Qabalah, Practical Alchemy, Astrology, and Crystal Healing. A lynchpin of the Los Angeles mystic mecca House of Intuition, Naha is an amazing teacher whose 22 Teachings classes encompass everything from psychic protection to developing intuition. I met with Naha at her airy LA abode, where we were surrounded by her impressive library of esoteric texts, record collections, and her two curious cats. As morning turned into afternoon, we talked about her occult education, the first time she did a professional reading, and why Tarot will never go out of style.
I was born here in Los Angeles and I grew up in Seattle. I’ve always been drawn to things that were on the fringe. As a teenager I had tarot cards. I think of that as my gateway into whatever is occult or esoteric, but I didn’t have anybody else around me that was into it— I don’t come from three generations of psychics or anything like that. I remember in high school, my favorite class was Comparative Religion. The teacher was Mrs. Fritz, and she was the one cool teacher in school that had a shaved head, which (at the time) was a crazy thing to me. In my twenties I was very much into music and the DJ scene, just partying like a rock star. Not what I would consider being on a spiritual path at all. But looking back, I can see valuable things I gained from that that lead me to being a teacher now— like being able to be up in front of a classroom and feel comfortable talking to people.
In 2004, I met my two master teachers, and they kind of saved my life because at that point in time, whether I knew it or not, I was sort of at a crossroads. I was bartending and wondering if I was going to keep going in this party scene. But these two teachers came into my life, instead. They hand-picked a group of five students and started training us in real magic— Qabalah, tarot, the real esoteric aspects and symbolism in astrology, alchemy, Native American spirituality, even taking us to sweat lodges. Of those people, it boiled down to a serious magickal working group where we were going to learn Golden Dawn ritual and Thelema magick. There’s a term called “sub rosa” and it means, “under a veil of secrecy.” So there was basically an oath at the time (that we all took) where we were going to be a sub rosa group and keep it totally private. We would go every Sunday from the middle of the afternoon until past midnight, studying. They would lecture, we would practice, everyone would do rituals.
Around 2008, I was in my 30s and over the party scene. I quit drinking, but I was still bartending and around it all the time. That’s when I realized if I was going to change my life, I needed to change my city. I moved to LA and didn’t have a plan. One of the biggest things that I try to teach people now is that if you take a leap of faith and you trust that there is something better out there for you, you don’t have to know exactly what it’s going to look like. I said one thing when I moved here: “I want to do something that is helpful for people in the world.” I saw by that time how being a bartender offered people a solution for the night and not a solution to actually improve their life. There is a similar thread between people who go to a bar and are looking for some kind of reprieve from the pain of their life and the people that go to a reader and are also looking for something. And LA is a very spiritual place. For everybody that thinks that LA is very materialistic or plastic, it has to have a counterbalance, and it does in the fact that it has this super, super deep history of spirituality. I think that if it has one, it has to have the other in extreme. Otherwise, the whole place would implode and fall into the ocean, right?
Three months after I moved here, I was on Craigslist looking for a job. My credit card bills were going up and I still didn’t really know what I was going to do. Then I saw an ad for House of Intuition. They weren’t open yet, but they put out a call and said, “We’re looking for readers, mediums, psychics, clairvoyants, people who can read runes, people who can do psychometry.” I wrote to these people and I said, “Let me tell you, I have a really strong background and all of these are things that I love, that I’ve been actually practicing with serious teachers for many, many years,” and then I wrote this long, long email about all of my background, but said, “But I’m not interested in being a professional tarot card reader. It’s not really my tradition to be doing it for a job, to take money for it. But I’d love to be a part of your company, work in your store, help you do the books, work your cash register, sweep the floors, wash the window, whatever you need.” They wrote me right back and they said, “Come tonight, bring your tarot cards.” I was like, “Okay.”All of these were steps where I wasn’t overthinking it. Looking back, I’m like, “Why didn’t I question any of this?”
I showed up at the house and they don’t even have electricity on yet. It’s just an empty building in the dark lit by candles. The minute Marlene (who is the owner) opened the door, it was instant recognition. You know when you meet someone and you’re like, “Oh, my long lost, you know, whoever you are.” I just instantly could tell that she was an amazing person. She and her partner Alex were there with their niece, Brianna. They said, “Okay, sit down. You’re going to do a reading for Bri.” I had my Thoth tarot deck, so I’m like, “Okay, did you guys read my email?” And they said, “Well, we read like the first four lines of it and then wrote you back.”
I had put my mind to the fact that I was going to work here. Even if they had told me that the job didn’t exist, I felt enough conviction that this was where I was supposed to be. Even the address of the place is 2237 and 22 is my favorite number. I just saw everything was a sign, you know? I said, “Let me help you.” I told them, “I feel like this place is going to be totally amazing.” I started as a volunteer and I hung out and helped them figure out what kind of inventory to order and get everything set up. We went to the Pasadena Rose Bowl and bought all the furniture back then and the place looked like a garage sale, you know? It was all hodgepodge. They brought crystals into the house and I helped them buy crystals, which was kind of a new thing to me at the time. Once the crystals came in, all of the sudden the energy in the shop changed and people started coming in and it was really busy. There weren’t a lot of people getting readings. Those early readers who worked there would sit all week and maybe get one or two readings. Most of them walked off the job. One day, a woman came in and wanted a reading and they looked at me and there was no reader on. They said, “Naha, this woman wants a reading. Can you do it?” In the moment, something switched inside of me and I didn’t even think twice. I was like, “Yeah, totally I can do it.” So that’s the day I became a professional tarot reader.
When you really get your logical mind out of the way and stop trying to control everything, really amazing cool things can happen. That’s what I really try to convey to my clients, because people don’t come and get readings or healings when their life is great. They come when their life is falling apart or they’re stressed or they’re worried or they’re facing an obstacle and they don’t know how to navigate it. You know, if I can convey, a sense of, “Look, the things that you’re worried about now, chances are, the things that you think you need that you’re losing are probably making space for something better to come in. This is going to be a blessing in disguise.” Most of the time, we can look back at the hardest part of our life and say that there was something good that came out of it or a way that our eyes were open more or we grew or we evolved or we even totally, completely changed our lives where we never would have if we weren’t forced to. I feel like with any kind of healer or reader, the more experience you have in that kind of thing, the more you can help people. The fact that I had sort of a sordid past and changed my life in that way gives me a better understanding for people who are not…the “my life’s totally clean yogi living” types. You have to have gone to the edge of the abyss and come back to be able to help somebody else back from it.In the first two years of House of Intuition, I got readings from every reader and I took classes with every single teacher that came through. I filled in all the cracks from what my other teachers had taught me and I learned how to take what was always just a personal thing for myself, like how to do personal magic, how to do readings for myself, how to heal myself, how to meditate. I learned how to do it for someone else, then how to teach it. The curriculum that I built is called “22 Teachings.” Students can come and they can study with me all year. There’s an eight-week tarot course, eight-week developing intuition, there’s a six-week crystal course. There are crystal grid ceremonies where people come and learn how to make a crystal grid. I also have an Oracle Circle for advanced magical training.
The cool thing is that these days, people feel ready to explore these things without the stigma that it’s carried for a long time. The “you’re just a dirty hippie,” stigma is kind of melting away. Especially now that tons of celebrities are talking about it. Even VOGUE wrote to us! I’m like, “Thank you, Kylie Jenner.” I do believe that there is a degree to which it’s a fad right now, which is why I try to educate people as much as possible, and now House of Intuition even offers online classes. As far as tarot goes, there’s something to be said for the fact that it does come and go in waves of popularity. But of all the different forms of divination is consistently is still a thing. We’re not all walking around with crystal balls. I mean, I have one, but…Tarot is never going to go out of style.
One question people ask me all the time is, “Isn’t it so draining? Doesn’t this take so much out of you?” Like if I have healings or readings all day long and people are upset and distraught and they cry and you help them work through stuff. This is part of psychic protection. It doesn’t drain me. It shouldn’t. Good work that is satisfying shouldn’t drain you. Sure, I get physically tired just like anybody naturally does if they’re on their feet all day. But the way I like to kind of explain it is like if you have a candle lit, you can light as many candles as you want off of one candle and it doesn’t make the original candle flame any smaller. I’ve made a commitment this year that I’m just going full throttle to try and help as many people as possible and teach as much as I can. So now it’s just a full blown magical circus of unreal miracles that I witness every single day. The more that you trust in spirit, the more that you’re going to see magic everywhere.
Photography by Kevin Pires.