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brid's closet-bernadette Montana

A movie shot at the store!

brid's closet-me and Isaac

Isaac Bonewitz and Bernadette

brid's closet-Liron and me

Me and Liron-drumming class @ Brid's Closet!

me and the girls

Me and the girls!

My Bio

I thought about doing this page for a while now. Was it egotistical, or informational. Should I put this up and why.

Anyone can put stuff up on the web and start certain facts. Can any of this be proven? How can anyone surfing around, find the right store, teacher, and reader?

Is there one way? I really don't think so, but, in regards to myself, I will put up honest and accurate information about me and what I do. Please feel free to call me, write to me, or do a google on me, in order to give you the information that you need in order to make a decision about me or the store "Brid's Closet".

From the beginning!

I was born and raised in Spanish Harlem in NYC. The eldest of 4 girls. I have a wonderful half brother who lives in CA. My mom and dad still live in the same apt I was raised in since I was 5.Raised very strict Roman Catholic. My dad is Native American, spanish and Italian (his family is from Puerto Rico). Mom is Mostly Sicilian and part Irish. I'm a mutt!

I became interested in spirituality when I was little and very "Mary" orientated. When I graduated from High School, I began to study other world religions and stumbled across Native American Sprituality. This really hit home, because at this same time, I was doing research into my own background. I started to go to events and seek out others of like mind. While studying, I came across the Wiccan religion, and it all kind of came together for me. I had a grandmother who read the tarot, an aunt who was very "superstitious", my mom was was very intuative with her dreams, italian customs etc!

Being I was living in the city, it was easy to find stores that were metaphysical (the village area) and books that allowed me to study. I went to alot of ceremonies that were put on by Enchantments, in Central Park. It was then, when I took up the study of the tarot. In all this time, I got married and had 3 magnificent sons!

I moved to Orange County NY, and sought out pagans in this area. It was then, I found Rozaliza's store in Sugar Loaf NY. I was "outer court" with this group. Here is were I found other people with whom I wound being in a coven with. We were an eclectic group, with Alexandrian/Gardenarian/Thelemic tendencies. We were together for a few years. I became interested in natural healing, got my NASM certification, and started working as a "special needs" personal trainer. While at this gym, I met my High Priestess, who trained me in the Alexandrian Tradition of Wicca. This is how I was degreed as a 3rd degree High Priestess. At the same time, I started reading the tarot at various shops and healings centers. Windows to the Sky healing Center in Chester NY (tarot and wicca), Sugar Loaf Inn (tarot), Sunshine Studio (wicca and tarot), and The Owl and the Serpent (wicca and tarot).

I started to rent space from The Owl and the Serpent, calling my business Brid's Closet, because I literally rented a space the size of a closet. I sold homemade jewelry and bath items, while still reading the tarot.

We moved both businesses to Newburgh (the landlord sold the building we were in), and set up shop. The building we were in was promoted to be the beginnings of a new kind of shopping mall. This did not happen, and we were told that we had to move again (all the other businesses had to leave as well). My business partner decided not to continue with The owl and the Serpent anymore, so she left the business to help her new husband with his chiropractic practice. I wound up selling my car, buying her stock and wound up moving the entire business to Cornwall, were we are now!

We also started The Newburgh and Cornwall Witchess Meetup, started a little internet radio show, became a Rev. in the United Life Church (I can perform Legal Marraiges) put on various festivals and events in Orange County and continue to study and practice Wicca, the tarot and Native American spirituality. I also teach at various festivals (Starwood festival '07), and became a Pipe Carriers (under Wind Daughter) in the Sun Bear Tradition.

brid's closet-chandra and aj

Chandra's and AJ's handfasting

There has been articles published in local paper's all over Orange County about us! There will be more to come!

Bernadette Montana

Articles and Press

The Good, The Bad and The Tarot Reader
Author: Brid's Closet [a WitchVox Sponsor]
Posted on The Witches Voice: June 29th. 2008
Times Viewed: 22,247

I've been asked a lot of things lately and the ethics of tarot has been a popular one. People are very interested in the art of the Tarot, having a reading done, and, of course, wanting to read the cards for others.

“What make a good tarot reader?” “Is it “fortune” telling?”

“Can I predict the future?” Can I possibly see the love of my life in the cards?”

All these are all very popular questions and are all very valid. In my opinion, information is better than assumption!

To me, a good Tarot reader speaks from the heart. When the particular cards are drawn and laid out in a certain fashion or in a specific spread, something happens, something is jarred from my memory that invokes a reaction to the detailed symbols in the cards. It may be a color, the artwork, the imagery or archetypes.

Each tarot deck is very unique and different. This is why buying a deck with artwork that appeals to you is very important. It's common for a reader to go through many decks before he/she finds the ONE deck that really resonates with him/her. I must have over 40 decks but use only 2 or three routinely.

According to the famous psychologist Carl Jung, archetypes are innate universal psychic dispositions that form the substrate from which the basic themes of human life emerge. Being universal and innate, their influence can be detected in the form of myths, symbols, rituals and instincts of human beings.

Archetypes are components of the collective unconscious and serve to organize, direct and inform human thought and behavior. Some of these archetypes are represented in The Major Arcana in most tarot decks. Jung himself used “The Tarot De Marseilles''.

These symbols, colors and forms influence the reader. These archetypes register in the mind and help the reader decide just what each of these cards mean. Learning to read the cards, from an intuitive sense, would have a deeper and more profound meaning both to the reader and the person being read for.

Many beginners have a difficult time learning how to read the tarot because most people start out by reading the little booklet that comes with a particular deck, or they wind up buying many ‘tarot books’. They try to read them, then realize that no two books agree on just HOW to read or just what the each individual card means.

Is it fortune telling? To me, a resounding no! I see the tarot as a wonderful tool to help others make decisions.

Am I a “psychologist?” Nope! Although, I do have an approach that is psychological in nature since I have studied many of Carl Jung's works.

The tarot reader should use the time doing a reading to help sort out an issue and to discuss just what is going on in that person's life. I do make sure that I tell the people; that I am reading for-just what I do and what my take is on the tarot.

Now comes the issue that concerns myself and many others in the tarot community: Those individuals that offer hope to people by promising to tell fortunes, promising take a curse off or who promise to cast a love spell for an exorbitant amount of money.

Such a reader tells needy people that what he/she sees in the cards is set in stone and only he/she, the tarot reader, can help alleviate the situation and thus is justified in asking for outlandish fees that can really cause difficulty for people.

I hear about such awful readers from some of the people that come into my store. It can really be a serious problem for those seeking advice. One story comes to mind.

I was speaking to a customer who seemed very nervous talking to me about the tarot. She told me a story that was quite upsetting. This person had a reading with a reader who told her that her husband was having an illicit affair with three women at the same time. Then the seeker was told that she needed a “special” spell in order to stop these affairs and the only one (What a ‘lucky’ coincidence!) who could perform this spell was this “magically powerful reader/WITCH!”

Is the tarot supposed to be about hurting others or is it about helping others? Is it supposed to be about a power trip?

What happened to “What goes around, comes around” or, for Wiccans or Pagans (like me), “The law of three”?

What can be done? These individuals are causing harm to others, and are really hurting the reputations of others who are actually ethical.

My own particular ethics are to never tell anyone what they MUST do and to never tell someone that, for an added fee, this problem can be solved. I do help others to come up with some ideas on how to deal with a situation and to try and help clarify a problem.

There is no problem in charging a fee for your time, but I feel the real work is up to the person who needs the help.

Be the best you can be; read from the heart and not from the wallet. Study the tarot, try to understand it, make a living but not at the expense of others.

Bernadette Montana
Brid's Closet
Location: Cornwall, New York

brid's closet-gold bar

What Does It Mean To Be A Pagan In Today's World?
the witches voice
Author: Brid's Closet [a WitchVox Sponsor]
Posteded by The Witches Voice: May 7th. 2007
Times Viewed: 26,434

What does it mean to be a Pagan in today’s world?

I was sitting by my desk, thinking about topics for classes at my store. Many topics come to mind, but nothing seemed to “jump” out at me. I brought up this subject to a good friend of mine (who is not pagan), and she brought up this topic.

What does it mean to be Pagan? A “card carrying” PAGAN?

Many people are still very quiet about their choices in life, even to how they practice their religion or their form of spirituality. Many friends of mine are still in the “closet” about being a Pagan or being Wiccan. That is their choice, but not mine. I have the wonderful opportunity to be open about whatever it is that I do because I own my own business.

My sons also have choice as far as to what they believe. My oldest was degreed by me, because that was his choice, and I am proud of him because of that. My middle son considers himself to be agnostic (like his dad), but still is always looking. My youngest is still not sure as of yet. He takes in a lot, asks a lot of questions and is processing what he receives. They are fine young men, all of whom I am fiercely protective and proud of.

Some keywords that come into my mind are “love, strength, happiness, comfort, inner confidence empowerment, and honor”. Being a Pagan has helped to see that I have the ability to make a change in my own life, whether it is on a magical level or a mundane one.

A lot of people come into my store asking very similar questions, but what I do most of the time is to explain what I am not:

I am not a Satanist (the term “Satan” doesn’t exist in the pagan world.)
I don’t work or believe in the devil.

I don’t walk around in black clothes all the time (though it is fun sometimes!)

I don’t sacrifice animals…or use them in any rituals (my dog does like to run in and out of circle sometimes!)

I don’t bash other Pagan traditions.

I am not evil, nor is my spirituality evil.

I don’t run round naked, except in the privacy of my own room (maybe!)

I don’t have sex with others in ritual.

I don’t insult or blast other religions. People have done that for far too long in history to Pagans. I won’t do that to others!

Nope…don’t do the orgy thingy either!

What I do….hmmm...

I do honor Mother Earth. I see the earth as a living and breathing organism.

I do believe that all animals have a soul, and should be treated and loved as we expect to be loved ourselves.

I do try to live as “chemical free” as possible. This means that no chemicals or bug killers are applied to my lawn. 2 of my animals eat the grass on my lawn if the weather permits. No bleached flour, raw sugar, recycled paper. A friend of mine raises organically raised chickens, so I have organic eggs!

I keep as many trees as possible on the land that I am blessed to live on. Trees block the sun and keep your home cooler!

I do honor other people’s religions and their chosen paths.

I go love the Goddess and the God, as I would honor my own parents.
I try to use cosmetic products that are cruelty free.

I do try to grow my own herbs and vegetables when possible.

I recycle my paper, bottles, plastic and cans.

I do a full moon ritual once a month and celebrate the 8 holidays in the wheel of the year.

I guess I could just go on and on!

Once, a person came in and asked me why I was insulting myself by using the words “HEATHEN”, “PAGAN”, and “WITCH” to describe myself! In his teachings, he was taught that these words were an insult. He was shocked that I was proud of these terms!

The word “PAGAN” actually means “country dweller” or “civilian” or “peasant”.
1: Definition: Refers to any of the pre-Christian, (usually) polytheistic religions, or those who practice them. Wicca is one Pagan religion, as is Asatru, Santeria, Voodoo, or Shamanism.

The term “HEATHEN” is old English for Germanic paganism.
2: Definition: Among non-Pagans, the term 'heathen' just means anyone who is non-Christian. But Pagans use the term to refer specifically to those who follow a Norse or Germanic path.

A WITCH was known as a “wise” person, an herbalist, a midwife or a medicine person. (I’m an Alexandrian Witch!)
3: Definition: A witch is someone who practices witchcraft (either male or female), regardless of their religious standing. Not necessarily the same thing as a Wiccan (someone who follows the religion of Wicca)

These are words that I have come to embrace and be proud of. These words open up conversation and dialog, so that others will learn, understand and appreciate. Sometimes people appreciate the information that is given, other times, they don’t.

As a Pagan, I’ve raised 3 fantastic sons, have a “metaphysical” store that I share with my best friend, counsel people, rehabilitate birds, rescued a dog, a chinchilla and a bunny (who think they own my home!), teach classes, train special needs people (personal training) and in love with the most remarkable man.

What does it mean to be a “PAGAN”?

It means being a mom, a lover, a caregiver, councilor, herbalist, a cook, storeowner, and a woman dealing with today’s modern world who practices a very old way of worship.

Bernadette Montana is a very eclectic 3rd degree Alexandrian Priestess, a pipe carrier in the Sun Bear Native American Tribe, professional Tarot reader, a mom to 3 sons, one dog, 2 parrots, a bunny and a chinchilla and owns a metaphysical store named Brid’s Closet in Orange County, New York.

Thanks to Terri Paajanen who posted the definitions of Pagan, Heathen, and Witch on the About website!

brid's closet-gold bar

Bernadette Montana

Bernadette has over 20 years in teaching and practicing Wicca, the Tarot and Native American practices. She is a 3rd degree priestess in the Alexandrian tradition, a tribal member and pipe carrier of the Sun Bear tribe (an all nations tribe), and a tribal member of the Baramaya tribe (Taino bloodline). Currently a 3rd degree Reiki practitioner, Bernadette has given classes in the Tarot, and in Wicca, in shops all over Orange County NY. These shops include: "The Sugar Loaf Inn", "Windows to the Sky", "Sunshine Studios" and others. She currently owns her own "metaphysical" shop in Newburgh, NY called "Brid's Closet".

An Intuitive Approach to the Tarot

Class 1: I will be bringing a few decks with me, it is recommended that students bring their own deck.

What dues "intuitive tarot"? This class will help the student to develop their own intuitive sense, so that the tarot can be used without having to refer to that little booklet that how comes with! The tarot teaches you how to tap into your subconcious-your past experiences and even your past lives! This class will touch on archetypes or symbols and how to interpet them in a reading. This will be a very interactive class in which the student will learn how to take care of their decks and how to do a beginning spread.
Class 2:

It's recommended that the student take class 1. In this class, we will touch on the different types of cards and spreads that are out there. how to pick a deck from the hundreds of decks out there! Working with reversals, how to develop a spread for yourself and how to set up a "sacred" space for readings using crystals, incense etc. We will be learning how to read for one another, so we will be pairing off into groups. A pen and a pad is recommended for both classes.

I also had the pleasure to do handfastigns at both of these festivals!!