Tarot or Psychic Scams: Why Tarot Practice Should Be Regulated

The above video is old, uploaded several years back, but I came across it yesterday and the news is certainly relevant to this day: alleged psychics who use tarot and other arts to scam people of money. This news broadcast is about scams near my neck of the woods, the Bay Area in California.

When driving downtown, you do see many glass window neon sign “psychic” fortune-telling shops like the ones depicted in the broadcast. People like the alleged psychic tarot reader interviewed in the broadcast cause me to shudder with disgust.

In every professional field, there are the scam artists, the cons, the good-for-nothing bottom-feeding scum of the profession that will rob you of your money and not provide any quality services in return. Lawyers (we definitely get a bad rep for that), doctors even, plastic surgeons especially, accountants, every profession. However, such professionals are still taken quite seriously by the public at large because of overall strict regulation and licensure requirements. At the end of the day, as long as you the consumer do your due diligence, the likelihood of getting scammed by one of these professionals can be diminished greatly. In tarot reading, not so much, because there are no regulatory or licensing requirements, no schooling minimums you’re expected to meet before you can hang out a neon sign and call yourself a Tarot Reader.

To start, I cannot believe the scam-artist Tarot Reader in the broadcast declared that he was 99.99% accurate. Who does that? Ethical lawyers, no matter how skilled or experienced, would never tell you that you are 99.99% likely to win (or lose). They may say you have a strong, compelling case, but then will always follow that up with a caveat: prepare a contingency for the ever fickle winds of change. The strongest cases can fall apart at the eleventh hour, and the weakest cases with no rational chance of victory can prevail. Tarot readers could do well to give such advice to their clients, especially since such a philosophy couldn’t apply more pertinently to an art like tarot reading.

Next, according to the broadcast, the decoy asked about her husband’s colon cancer. Per the American Tarot Association’s guidelines, there are two red flags right there. First, do not do readings to diagnose a health condition. You can read about how one might go about coping with what’s happening, but do not diagnose. Second, do not read for third parties. The practitioner can rephrase the question for the decoy and have her ask about her role in supporting her husband right now, but she shouldn’t be asking on behalf of the husband, not unless he’s present and consenting.

Then, as a tarot practitioner who also uses the Rider-Waite-Smith system, the next part interested me greatly. I will say that chances are the producers, who probably don’t know much about tarot, reenacted the tarot reading being referenced just for cool footage, but if it is based on the actual reading the scam-artist Tarot Reader gave to the decoy, it will make any RWS reader scratch his or her head.

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Are You Psychic? The Sum of Intuition and Ego


As children my younger sister would say she was psychic and tell me about her psychic experiences. I recall, for better or worse, vehemently discouraging such a line of thought. I would tell her that she is not a psychic and if she continued to say she was, then she was a liar. Dismayed, she eventually stopped announcing that she was a psychic to us sisters and maybe even stopped letting herself acknowledge so-called “psychic” experiences when she had them. In retrospect I regret my harsh and ignorant stance, but at the time (and I was a tween myself) I believed it was for her own good: she couldn’t run around in public telling people she was psychic. How would people take her intellect seriously if she did?

Now I have always been convinced that my sister may have had strong intuitive abilities for what may be beyond the five physical senses, not unlike the way all the women from my maternal line are drawn to the preternatural. My grandmother, my mother, my first cousins descending from my grandmother, and my sisters all display a heightened awareness of the logically inexplicable. But psychic?

I saw it this way: when you are a voracious reader, at some point you will want to give it a try and become a writer yourself. Likewise, if you’re fascinated by metaphysics and occult phenomenon, at some point you will want to be part of it, and maybe even convince yourself that you’re psychic. Not too different from how I try to convince myself that I’m a writer even though I have yet to publish a damn thing.

Sure, I am convinced that intuition is real. Intuition is the perception of a truth, occurring incident, circumstance, or event independent of any logical reasoning, actual knowledge, experience, or cognitive deductive process. It is synchronicity. It is a prickling of what is about to happen before it happens. It is the sensation of energies that you can’t physically see, hear, smell, touch, or taste, a sensation for when those energies are in balance and when they are out of balance, and the enigmatic knowing of how you might be able to balance it if you were to try.

Being intuitive is like being detail-oriented, or organized, or calculating differential equations. Not everybody is detail-oriented, organized, or able to do math, but anybody can be with enough effort. It is just a skill, albeit a remarkably empowering one when we use it. It might also be a trait. Some seem naturally disposed to it and others need to really work to acquire the skill. I guess somehow those who seem naturally disposed to being intuitive have come to be referred to as psychic.

My question is: where on the continuum of intuitive ability must one be for that person to qualify as “psychic”?

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Synchronicity: A Personal Story


Within the family this is old news but I never got around to talking about it. A while back, the Hubby went to Peru and we missed each other terribly. To pass the time at home by myself, I got into painting. I hesitate to post photos because they’re not great paintings. They’re just amateur hobbyist paintings. Like George Bush but actually his paintings weren’t half bad. Anyway I digress.

One weekend I painted what you see above. For fun, I took a picture of the painting and e-mailed it to the Hubby. However, the day I e-mailed it he wasn’t somewhere accessible to the Internet, so he didn’t see it until the day after.

While I was painting that painting, he was on a hike through Machu Picchu. On the hike, he and his friend saw a barebacked fellow with a very conspicuous tattoo of a nude woman rolled up in a fetal position, hair forward in her face, with angel wings and sword, and appearing up on tip toes. It was memorable because jokingly, the friend pointed at the tattoo and said to my Hubby, “Your wife would be ecstatic if you came home with a tat like that.” The two laughed it off and continued on their hike.

The next day when he had access to Internet, he saw my e-mail sent from the night before with the image attachment of my painting. He showed it to the friend he was with, the one who pointed out the tattoo. “Holy shit,” he said, “that’s exactly what we saw the other day.”


It was confirmed again when Hubby’s friend visited our house. He saw the painting and remarked about the peculiarity of the coincidence. It was unexplainable how they could be seeing an image as a giant tattoo on someone’s back in Peru while I painted it on a canvas in California. It was a synchronicity, a coincidence that I don’t know how to rationalize and yet feel ever so compelled to come up with a reasonable explanation. My want for an explanation is even tempting me to indulge in irrational, fanciful ideas.

The painting is now hung up on our bedroom wall, but Hubby doesn’t like it. “It’s weird,” he says about it. “Can’t you paint mountains and lakes like normal people?”

When I finished I titled the painting Galatians 3.19.

Why, then, was the law given at all? It was added because of transgressions until the Seed to whom the promise referred had come. The law was given through angels and entrusted to a mediator.

The painting is my critique of law and dissent. If the law was ordained by angels to prevent humans from indulging in their strong propensities for evil, then how and why is it that the same law can oppress righteous and moral dissenters? In the painting, the man hung (reminiscent of The Hanged Man from the tarot) is innocent. However, what’s unclear is whether he has been hung for dissent against the authorities in power or whether he has allowed himself to be hung as a sacrifice for a greater good. And is he in fact the “Seed to whom the promise referred”? If yes, what is the irony that he manifests on earth as a dissenter and the authorities in power use the same law ordained by the angels to silence him?

It was intentional to me that the angels’ objectives in the painting are unclear. The angel at the bottom, the one Hubby and his friend saw as a tattoo on someone’s back, is holding a rope taut, but is it to protect the hanged man and keep him from falling or is she the one who strung him up for the hanging?

The angel with the two swords is my rendition of Justice. Justice as it is administered to humans is not blindfolded, but rather blind. There are no scales for balancing. There are two swords to keep the dissenters in check and justice as it is applied to humanity is just the balance of those two swords. Justice is not free to be fair and impartial about the law. She is bound by that law and thus Justice can only be as incorruptible or fair as the actual laws, which are neither incorruptible nor fair because by its design, innocents become collateral damage.

Funnier yet to me is while Hubby was in Peru, a riot broke up, one he was in the middle of. He even got tear-gassed. The whole thing still spooks me out.

Minchiate Cards for Divination: My Review


It is said that like tarot, the origins of the minchiate are not verifiable, but was probably a card game played in the late medieval period. The version I have at home is a reproduction of the Etruria deck from 18th century Florence. Like tarot, the imagery on the cards and scope of the depictions seem extraordinarily well suited for spiritual, metaphysical, or divination work and in many ways, the minchiate even more so than tarot.

There are 97 cards in total, consisting of trumps like tarot, 22 with the addition of 4 cards representing the theological virtues, 4 cards representing the elements, and 12 cards representing the zodiac signs. That’s 41 trumps and 56 numbered cards, with the numbered cards similar to tarot: 4 suits, Ace through Ten, and then 4 court cards.

The photograph below shows the unnumbered Madman (corresponding with tarot’s The Fool) and Keys I, II, III, IIII (IV), and V. Key I is the Performer, which corresponds with tarot’s The Magician. Keys II, III, and IIII (IV) in the minchiate are the Grand Duke, the Western Emperor, and the Eastern Emperor, which some say correspond with tarot’s Empress, Emperor, and Hierophant respectively. Key V is Love, corresponding with tarot’s Key VI, The Lovers.

The numbering of the keys in the Minchiate is significantly different from the tarot. For example, in minchiate the Temperance card is Key VI while in tarot it is Key XIV. There is no Hermit card per se, but there is Father Time, which is said to correspond with the Hermit. Most notably, the final card of the Trumps is not The World as in tarot, but rather the Trumpets, corresponding with the tarot Judgement card.


After the minchiate Key XV The Tower, there are the four theological virtues: Key XVI, Hope; Key XVII, Prudence; Key XVIII, Faith, and Key XIX, Charity. See below.


Although there is no direct correspondent in minchiate to the tarot High Priestess card, some speculate that the Faith card corresponds with the High Priestess. For me, in the Etruria deck, the illustrations are confusing. The picture on the first card above calls to mind Faith for me, but it’s the Hope card. The second card (left to right) reminds me of vanity for some reason, rather than a virtue, and yet it’s Prudence. The third card shows a woman, likely from the laboring class, looking at or reading something. It only somewhat fits my conception of Faith. The last card, Charity– either you know the meaning or you don’t. Little about the card’s imagery strikes me as denoting charity. But hey, this is all just me.


Following the four theological virtues are the four classical elements in the following order: Fire, Water, Earth, and Air. (Compare that to the order of the elements per the contemporary majority view in tarot practice: Fire, Water, Air, and Earth.) When the Fire card appears in a reading, it suggests the relevance of innovation, passion, ambition, and leadership. The Water card denotes alliances, intuition, and compassion. The Earth card, stability, conservatism, conviction, and resourcefulness. Air, idealism, intellectualism, communication, and also ambition, though the Fire-based ambition usually relates to progress while the Air-based ambition relates to conquest.


In the minchiate there are also cards for the 12 signs of the zodiac. Pictured above in the numerical order they appear in the trumps:

Top Row (L to R): Libra, Virgo, Scorpio, Aries, Capricorn, Sagittarius

Bottom Row (L to R): Cancer, Pisces, Aquarius, Leo, Taurus, Gemini

After the Trumps, the 56 numbered cards in the minchiate are similar to the tarot. There are four suits and their correspondences are as follows: Wands for work or career; Chalices (Cups) for emotions and relationships; Pentacles for money matters; and Swords for the abstract and philosophical. Among the court cards, Knaves (or Pages) denote education and learning; Knights about courage, action, and choice; Queens about a relationship; and Kings about decision-making and authority. Note further that the minchiate correspondents to the Pages are specifically 2 Knaves for the active suits (Fire and Air) and 2 Maids for the passive suits (Water and Earth).

Continue reading “Minchiate Cards for Divination: My Review”