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The Scarlet & Black

The Scarlet & Black

Mentalist Jonny Zavant returns to read Tarot

Levi Magill
Jonny Savant returned to Grinnell with his brand of tarot-based visual poetry.

On the afternoon of Monday, Feb. 19, a line of Grinnell College students formed outside of a classroom on the second floor of the Joe Rosenfield `25 Campus center (JRC), each vying for a chance to enter before 6 p.m. Inside the room sat a single man –– Jonny Zavant –– offering a brief tarot card reading for those who entered. 

Jonny Zavant, the stage name of North Carolina-based mentalist Jonathan Pritchard, performs small and large-scale events in corporate and college settings. The tarot-reading event on Feb. 19 marked Zavant’s second time at Grinnell, following a performance at the College’s Harris Center in August of 2023. Though his event in August was performed onstage for a crowd at the Harris Center, the individual scale of tarot readings meant that, this time around, Zavant’s focus was trained on a single student at a time. 

Speaking about the goals of his tarot-reading practice, Zavant said, “The card shows you an image, which tells you a story that you see yourself in. So it’s just a way of seeing yourself.” He explained the process as “visual poetry,” offering students a context in which they can move toward self-acceptance. “All I’m trying to do is be a mirror for them to understand what they already have going on,” he said.

After leaving Zavant’s session, some students expressed that they saw themselves in the tarot card they were shown, while others felt skeptical of the experience. “I didn’t expect it to be as helpful as it was,” said Dylan Chern `24, who drew a “judgment” card. “I went into it thinking it would be something fun, and it actually ended up being very helpful.”

Grinnellians grappled with mysticism and skepticism alike as Jonny Savant reads tarot. (Levi Magill)

“I was really scared initially because I thought they would, I don’t know, forecast my death or something, and that I’d go in and then come out doomed,” said Amy Kan `27, who drew a “strength” card. “But it was fine. I think I’m somewhat skeptical.” 

Regardless, students agreed that they would attend more tarot or psychic events in the future. “I’m really big into mysticism,” said Bohdin Bright `27. “I’m definitely a big fan of that and I’d like to see more of it.”

“I think this is fun and quirky, and clearly, there are a lot of people here,” said Kan. 

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About the Contributors
Nora Kohnhorst
Nora Kohnhorst, Staff Writer
Nora Kohnhorst is a third-year history major from Queens, NYC. This is her first semester as a staff writer, but it is her third semester at The S&B. She is a retired bread baker and active knitter. She also works at the Stew Makerspace in downtown Grinnell!
Levi Magill
Levi Magill, Visuals Editor
I am a third-year philosophy major from Chicago, but when I'm not reading philosophy I like to watch classic movies, skate around town with my camera, ride my motorcycle, or listen to old records.
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