By Sara Parker, Monadnock Ledger staff

Monadnock LedgerAmelia Shea took John F. Kennedy’s words to heart when he said, “Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.” When Kennedy was shot in 1963, it was not only a national tragedy but also a personal tragedy for her family.

Her father served on Jacqueline Kennedy’s committee to redecorate the White House and the two families were often in touch.

“The thing was, the Kennedys didn’t just talk about patriotism. One of JFK’s brothers volunteered as a pilot for a dangerous mission in WW II, from which they didn’t expect anyone to return and he didn’t,”said Shea.

“John F. Kennedy and his brother Robert Kennedy were both killed in the process of serving in leadership positions in government. Martin Luther King and Malcolm X were killed at that time also. And they all seemed to be standing up for something very important in American life.”

In addition to being influenced by the idealism, grace and cultural life brought to this country by the Kennedys, Shea was taught by her parents from an early age to pursue her interests wholeheartedly.

Shea described her parents as New York intellectuals who taught her to challenge things intellectually. Growing up on Long Island, she enjoyed a spirited childhood.

“I had a typical racy Long Island upbringing. The Great Gatsby was the story of my youth,” said Shea.

Later, her parents moved to New York City’s upper East Side. They were the neighborhood’s only Catholic family at the time.” I was raised by Catholics and educated by Quakers,” said Shea, who attended boarding schools from the time she was in the eighth grade.

Although she did not see her parents much after she left boarding school, she did spend summers with them at a family home on Lake Winnipesaukee. She went to Chatham College in Pennsylvania, the same college that Rachel Carson, author of “Silent Spring” attended .

At Chatham she was influenced by a curriculum and surroundings that focused on spirituality, nature, feminism and art. The combination of idealism, spirit and determination she cultivated when she was young has stayed with Shea throughout her life. A strong environmental and political activist, she has worked both in her personal and professional endeavors to try to create a more peaceful and environmentally friendly world.

Shea co-organized and promoted a medical relief benefit for Kosovo and helped start the weekly Peterborough Peace Vigil in 1999 which meets in front of the Town House every Saturday from noon to 1 p.m. She has served as a board member of the New England Coalition on Nuclear Pollution and on the board of Earthlands in Petersham, Mass. She is also a member of the Green Party.

Today she works as the advertising representative for a quarterly environmental journal -Green Living Journal – which publishes practical advice and information about how to live a more sustainable life style.

In addition to her environmental work, she has studied the art of tarot card reading for more than thirty years and is in the process of finalizing production on her self-published book, “The Tale of the Comet, a Love Story.”

Shea was first introduced to Tarot cards when her sister did her senior thesis in college on magic in the late 1960s. At the time, Shea was living in Cambridge, Mass., with her brother, a who taught at Harvard.

After practicing reading tarot cards with her sister, Shea began giving readings to her friends. In between readings, she continued to study the tarot on her own, while working and raising three children. She also became interested in astrology, feminist spirituality, and the Rudolph Steiner philosophy of anthroposophy.

“I definitely have the chart of someone who could do astrology readings,” said Shea referring to her own astrological chart. In some ways I have been given abilities in that direction. But I have also studied it extensively.”

At the urging of friends, who said her tarot card readings were accurate and were referring clients to her, Shea began reading tarot cards professionally in 1990. In 1996, she began reading astrological charts.

The Tale of the CometShea said there are people in every culture who act as mediators and connect in some way on the different levels of consciousness or the spirit realm. “In all cultures there are those who live close to the earth who can read sticks, stones, animal bones or whatever form it may be,” she said. “In some cultures these people are called shamans. In the western world with the evolution of psychology, the tarot can be used to show activity taking place in different levels of consciousness.”

Her work reading astrological charts stemmed from her interest in Jungian psychology. She said reading someone’s astrological chart can give a highly accurate and individual look at the person’s life. “Astrology is the oldest form of psychology,” said Shea.

In addition to her tarot and astrology readings, Shea teaches classes on how to read tarot cards. Her classes run for six weeks and are an hour and a half each. She offers both beginner- and intermediate-level classes for those interested in learning more about the art of tarot card reading.

“I like teaching and I have some really interesting students,” she said. “They were excited to find out that there was a place they could go to discuss metaphysical things.”

Shea said she tries to teach her students that in addition to giving a glimpse into the possibility of a future, the images and cards can be used in a proactive way to help them create the lives they want.

Although she does not teach astrology, she knows many students who are also passionate about it. She said there are astrological associations all over the United States, but the closest one was in Belmont, Mass.

In addition to her activism work, day job as an advertising sales representative, giving tarot and astrological chart readings and teaching classes, Shea has written and self published a book. The life and death of her fiancè who died of brain cancer in 1998, and the network of support in the Peterborough community that helped her care for him, inspired her to write the book. She said the title was originally going to reference something with cooking because of the time the couple spent trying to make him well with natural recipes and ingredients that fight cancer. But because she is an astrologer and they first met on New Year’s Eve, Shea decided on the title, “The Tale of The Comet, A Love Story with Contemplations on Love, Death and Healing.”

The comet, said Shea, is a signal of something new and surprising about to start . But a comet does not stay. “Death is a common story. A love story with someone who dies is a common story. But the community aspect of the story is not common.”

(Originally published in the Monadnock Ledger. Reprinted with their permission.)