Hello! I’m Melinda. Welcome to my witchy world of tarot and magick and beauty and writing. It all fits together very naturally for me, but I know it can seem a bit complicated, so let me explain. We’ve got to start way back in time.
My home life growing up was … not awesome. Money and resources were in short supply while chaos and fear seemed to continually pile up in massive surplus. My parents split when I was two and I lived with my mother. As I grew up, she could be extremely affectionate one minute and in a screaming rage the next. There were drugs, there was trauma, and there was some pretty serious mental health stuff. The love I had was not consistent or stable. I didn’t feel safe emotionally, spiritually, or physically. But I didn’t know that then, I just knew shit was crazy and all I had to do was survive until I could get out.
We also didn’t really have any money. Growing up, I benefited from a laundry list of need-based federal and state social programs that kept me fed and housed and educated with access to good health care. I excelled in school and it became a sanctuary for me. I found stability in school. Did you know that in school they tell you what to do to get an A and then you do it and you get an A? This was a revelation for me. A system of expectations and rewards with an unmoving goal post. But as I got older and weirder and queerer, my school life got less and less awesome as well. I spent a lot of time alone.
One day when I was wandering alone around the mall bookstore, I came across the metaphysical section. I sat down and poured over the books. A whole world opened up to me, a world that was mine, that no one could invade or take from me. I left with a tarot deck, a book on tarot, and a book on witchcraft and my life changed forever (Looking back, I am not totally sure whether I paid for these and if I didn’t, I am very sorry, Barnes & Noble. Thank you for your service to a lonely little witch and for carrying my books and tarot decks today).
Now, all this time leading up to discovering tarot and magick, I had another personal obsession – beauty. My babysitting money funneled directly into the drug store cash register to buy face wash, masks, and of course the universally beloved apricot scrub. I loved using these special potions on my skin. It made me feel like a person worthy of care and attention. Even if I couldn’t internalize that truth completely at the time, I could use my face as a stand-in to receive the gentle, steady love my heart craved. The drug store products obsession graduated into an obsession with the perfume section of the department store where I would smell until I could smell no more, covering myself in the different moods and personas the fragrances carried. (The original Jean Paul Gaultier became my signature scent.)
I got out at 15 to live in the dorms at Minnesota’s state-wide arts magnet high school, moved into an apartment at 16, stayed in Minneapolis for a year or so, then a tiny stint in Chicago, followed by a very long stint in Seattle, and finally my current home of Los Angeles. I worked a bunch of crazy jobs (remind me to tell you sometime about working for a travel company that only did package catholic pilgrimage tours), developed a very unhealthy self-medicating substance abuse habit followed by a very healthy therapy and psychiatry habit, went to college somewhere in there, got married, got divorced, got married again, and when I finally settled into the real me that had been hiding out under the depression and the cPTSD, I found my two guardian angels were still here with me – magick and beauty.
Once I got to LA, I started reading tarot and writing about tarot and magick professionally and I’d been at it for a few years when a dear friend of mine (my boss from my days on the sales floor at Betsey Johnson, another noteworthy job) called and asked if I had ever wanted to make my own fragrance. An opportunity to design my own mood and persona to my personal magickal specifications? Um … YES PLEASE!
So we did it. I had to pick one thing to create our signature fragrance around and luckily, I already had a symbol I created to hold the intention of all my work, my personal sigil. It combines the staff of the Hierophant from tarot and the alchemical symbol for elemental Fire, an energetic formula designed to open you up to the teachings of the Divine Universe so you can trust your gut and access your magickal power. All I had to do was match these magickal properties to fragrance notes. Easy peasy. I’d been doing that for spells for decades.
MLH Fragrance Oil I and MLH Energy Setting Spray laid the foundation of Melinda Lee Holm Beauty. Their central notes of Frankincese (Divine connection), Palo Santo (cleansing energy and elevating vibes), and Ginger (activation of elemental Fire) married beautifully in a complex fragrance to rival all my old department store favorites. AND they worked in rituals. I loved it, and it turned out a lot of other people did too. As response to our first products grew, we began to think about what else we could make, what other ways we could integrate magick into the rituals of daily life. For me, this consisted mostly of me looking at what I do every day to care for my face, body, and home, and finding what I wanted that I couldn’t get anywhere else. And as you can imagine, for someone obsessed with beauty and magick since childhood, these wants were very specific.
I wanted a body oil that smelled amazing and wasn’t greasy (Universal Dry Oil), a face oil that made my skin thrive and glow even in the extremely dry climate I live in (Transformative Face Oil), a mask that softened and pulled impurities out of my skin without making it sting (Detoxifying Cleansing Mask).
We branched out into other tarot archetypes, finding magickal ingredients to infuse products with High Priestess and elemental Water energy, inspiring people to have strong emotional boundaries and care for themselves as they would a holy temple (Fragrance Oil II, with jasmine, labdanum, and clary sage). This seemed like an excellent energy for cleansing, so we developed more skincare in this magickal profile (Skin Plumping Replenishing Serum and Skin Balancing Cleansing Milk).
My deeply held belief that all words are magick words led us to create a lip potion around cinnamon, a magickal activator used in spells (Magician’s Lip Potion) in colors inspired by the power I felt working at Betsey Johnson in the late 90s.
Currently, we are working on our third magickal concoction, combining Empress energy (abundance, nurturing, growth) with elemental Earth (grounding, stability). I just finished my second tarot deck, Tarot of Tales, set for release in Spring 2023, and am working on a full length book on tarot, out later in 2023. That book will be my fifth publication. My first, Elemental Power Tarot, came out in October 2020. It turns out that if you keep at something long enough, you’re likely to develop your own point of view, and if you’re both lucky and and really good at stringing words together, sometimes a publisher emails you out of the blue asking a question that is beautifully familiar: Have you ever wanted to make your own tarot deck? Yes. YES, CICO Books, I absolutely have please and thank you.
So, here I am. An author/professional witch/tarot reader/beauty brand creator. This life I am living seems impossible. I never could have even dreamed anything like it all those years ago, wandering alone in bookstores and drug store beauty aisles. Sometimes we grow up to be exactly the person we needed when we were struggling. Caring for myself emotionally, spiritually, and physically with tarot, magick, and beauty continues to be what makes my success possible and I am overjoyed to be able to pass on these tools to you.
Melinda Lee Holm is the author of Elemental Power Tarot and Your Magickal Year, both published by CICO Books, co-author of Divine Your Dinner, and creator of Melinda Lee Holm Beauty. She has been featured in Vogue, InStyle, WWD, Condé Nast Traveler, and the Hollywood Reporter. She lives in Los Angeles, USA.
excerpts from Divine Your Dinner (Clarkson Potter 2021)
Tarot decks have been around since at least the mid-fifteenth century when wealthy families in southern Europe had fancy decks of cards hand-painted for fun and status. While these decks were originally made for card games, we now know them as a tool for divination—for gaining insight into situations through magickal means.
Tarot decks are made up of seventy-eight cards, fifty-six of which are organized by suits, similar to modern playing card decks. The playing card suits of hearts, clubs, spades, and diamonds correspond to tarot suits of Cups, Wands, Swords, and Coins, respectively. These suited cards are collectively referred to as the Minor Arcana. The other twenty-two cards have no suit, but they do have formal names and numbers. These cards are called the Major Arcana. All tarot decks conform to this structure.
There is a growing movement of readers and mystics using tarot and divination for spiritual growth, personal empowerment, and even therapy! Instead of predicting a set outcome, these readers open up possibilities by unveiling larger truths, hidden gems, and pitfalls in the cosmic field.
excerpts from Your Magickal Year (CICO Books, 2022)
The practice of magick is as old as civilization and just as diverse. When you say “bless you” after someone sneezes, you are practicing a form of magick, reciting an incantation meant to keep that person safe from harm. Wear a special piece of jewelry to feel powerful for a big meeting? That’s a talisman. And the special soup you make when someone is sick is a kind of potion.
There is nothing inherently scary or dangerous about practicing magick. Just like most things in life, it’s all in the attitude. Approach magick with the intention of deepening understanding and encouraging empowerment of yourself and others, focus on your own work, and leave others to theirs. Magick is an expression of your personal relationship with yourself, your guides, the Earth, elements, universe, and all that is divine. Treat it with reverence and love.