Lumping every professional tarot reader into a single category is not helpful. If you’re seeking out the services of a professional tarot reader, think about what kind of professional you’re looking for. Based on my experiences and observations, here are the different types I’ve seen:
When you think of the traditional practice of tarot reading, you’ll think of the Psychic, the Intuitive, the Empathic, or even the Holistic Reader (the Holistic may be straddling the line between Traditional and Modern–more on that later).
Each one brings a specific style and approach to the practice.
Psychic Tarot Reader. I don’t know what “psychic” means so I’m going to go fast and loose with the term. Some are self-proclaimed psychics and some have been called psychic so often by their clients that they end up reluctantly accepting the term in their title. The Psychic Tarot Reader is someone who, independent of the tarot cards, possesses the ability to see the forking paths we take, past, present, and future. They are able to, with remarkable accuracy, gauge people’s paths into the future and so, in that specific sense, seem to have the ability to see the future. In the alternative, they might be one who has a knack for communicating with other-worldly (so-called supernatural) spirits. Physiologically from birth, these readers have a particular gift, though that gift can be trained and improved (or suppressed). Now, put a deck of tarot cards in their hands and something magical, well, psychic, happens. My only concern with Psychic Tarot Readers is they make up about 1% of tarot readers, if even that, and so from the standpoint of a lay person, differentiating between a legitimate Psychic Tarot Reader and a charlatan is not easy.
Intuitive Tarot Reader. The Intuitive Tarot Reader is also someone who possesses a remarkable gift, though it is a bit different from being psychic. The Intuitive Tarot Reader has this uncanny ability to pinpoint the truth. From somewhere hardly rational, they can help you separate fact from fiction in absolutely the most rational sense. Intuitive Readers are like Swords: they cut away at all the irrelevant underbrush and help clear the path for you toward understanding.
Empathic Tarot Reader. If the Intuitive is someone who can make a beeline for the truth in any situation, the Empathic Tarot Reader is someone who feels exactly what you feel, who can sense energies in an environment and extract accurate emotional data from those energies. Since emotions are our truths, what the Empathic and the Intuitive do aren’t terribly different. They get to the same destination through different means. Empathic Readers are like the Cups (or Chalices). Empathics are incredible spiritual counselors. (That, however, should be distinguished from licensed counselors.) Empathics feel what you feel and because of that, understand you in a way no one else seems to understand you. That mutual sense of understanding can be cathartic and validating and just what was needed to help you move onward.
Holistic Tarot Reader. The Holistic Tarot Reader incorporates other practices with tarot to provide, well, a holistic experience. They’ll bring in numerology and astrology and runes and after the tarot reading, maybe draw an oracle card, or consult the I Ching. They have a sense of what incense can stimulate what, what gemstones and crystals amplify what energies, and generally draw from an expansive body of learned knowledge to integrate with the reading. In terms of how they read cards, they consider the context of the tarot signs and symbols, the esoteric knowledge that such imagery reference, and apply metaphors and archetypes to help you understand the fuller context of your situation. Intuitive and Empathic Readers may also be Holistic with their practice, but not all Holistic Tarot Readers are Intuitive or Empathic.
NOTE: Very few professional tarot readers fit neatly into just one of those categories. Each one will be a combination of the above, though they may be predominantly Intuitive or predominantly Empathic. Psychic Readers tend to be both. However, not all Intuitive and Empathic Readers are Psychic. Hope that makes sense. Also, very few tarot readers are one trick ponies, and so most of them are going to be Holistic to some degree.
Though we live in modern times, most tarot readers today still follow a traditional practice, as set forth above. Yet a few new types have cropped up in the last decade or so.
Holistic Tarot Reader. See above under Traditional. While Holistic Tarot Readers have probably been around since the early ages of tarot reading, a more defined approach with holism in mind did not come about until recently, so I include them in both listings, Traditional and Modern. The modern Holistic Reader may incorporate reiki, for example, or feng shui, or they’ll talk to you about chakras during your tarot reading. Your sessions with them might get heavily influenced by transpersonal psychology.
The Tarot Counselor. This professional is a licensed counselor, social worker, or therapist. The law says this person can get paid for counseling services because said person has received the proper institutionalized education necessary. In addition, the Tarot Counselor is a skilled tarot reader and integrates tarot into his or her counseling work. I don’t know if maybe it’s just the group I hang around or what, but from my vantage point, this type of tarot reader is growing steadily in numbers. The psychoanalytical aspect of tarot reading is becoming more popularly recognized today and looking less and less occult. If you’re looking for a counselor or therapist, consider one who uses tarot.
The Tarot Life Coach. It’s my understanding that life coaches do not need to be licensed or certified, but certainly correct me if I am wrong. Anyone can start a business service as a Life Coach with no required education, training, licensing, or certification (kind of like tarot readers). In a nutshell, Life Coaches help you identify your goals and then help you formulate a strategic plan to accomplish those goals. Then, they’re supposed to be there for you every step of the way to motivate you. Again, the incredible power and utility of tarot is recognized by modern professionals and many Life Coaches work with it to help their clients.
The Tarot Interpreter. The Tarot Interpreter sees tarot as a book, a prophetic text or simply, a tool that reflects that which is in the unconscious into the conscious plane so that such information can become of use. Book or tool, someone with specialized knowledge and a wealth of experience with the cards can read tarot in an optimally precise way. Like one of those TI-85 calculators– any dope can pick one up and use it, but without that specialized knowledge and training, good luck doing anything interesting with one! The Tarot Interpreter works as a translator. You approach the tarot directly, in effect, and then the Tarot Interpreter translates the language (the signs and symbols) of tarot to one you might better understand.
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Tarot professionals will develop their own style of reading and that style is typically a hybrid of some of the above types. I’d say I’m a Holistic Tarot Reader and Tarot Interpreter mix. While it would be nice to see tarot professionals offering key information about their reading styles so that you can discern what type of reader they are, that might not happen. My recommendation is to review the above to figure out what type of tarot reader you’re looking for, and then find one with a reading approach that reflects that type.
11 thoughts on “The Different Types of Tarot Readers”
I really like these classifications, Benebell. I also appreciate that you’ve acknowledged that many readers will be a mixture of these types. Saving this post to share with my own audience at some point.
Thank you, Graham! And for sure, the most important point I hope that I have made clear is that hardly any reader is just one of those types. We’re all a fun and unique mix of several, though many of us may tend to be more dominant in one over another.
I like the definitions you have for the types of tarot readers. I would however like to offer for your consideration a thought on psychic tarot readers. I have developed psychic abilities and I believe that my tarot study has been the catalyst for these abilities. In many of my readings, I feel in my heart and gut that there are certain people I read for that I receive information regarding their future. One of the important things is that these people are attuned to me and I with them. Not all my readings are like this but the more I do readings, the stronger the connection with the Seeker especially if they are confident in you as a reader. I have made predictions and have been able to help people with breakthroughs in readings. I have been given a gift, I believe, and am working on my psychic abilities. I love that you have really broke down the essence of Tarot readings and applaud this post. I think that you may be surprised at your own psychic abilities as a reader and more and more people that are truly good readers should acknowledge their own psychic awareness. Love your blog!
Hi, very interesting post.
I’d really like to translate it in italian, of course I need your permission. I could post it in my italian-tarot-related blog, and add a link to your blog, or if you want, send translation to you so that you can add it into your site. 🙂
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Hi Gaia, Yes of course go ahead and translate it into Italian! How wonderful!
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its very interseting post. i enjoyed a lot.
I wish it was easier to search for a reader based on this sort of classification! For example, I’m more in the market for somebody who is more Interpreter and/or Life Coach, not a Psychic. Any tips for finding somebody with these criteria? (online or in-person)
“The tarot card reader’s ability to unravel the mysteries of the cards is like witnessing a magician conjuring secrets from the realm of the unknown. With each turn of the card, they navigate the labyrinth of symbols and archetypes, illuminating pathways hidden beneath the surface of consciousness. Like an interpreter of the cosmic language, they dance between intuition and ancient wisdom, offering glimpses into the tapestry of fate and destiny. In their hands, the tarot becomes a powerful tool, unlocking the door to self-discovery and providing guidance in the ever-unfolding journey of life. With a gentle touch and a knowing gaze, the tarot card reader unveils a story that whispers of the past, speaks to the present, and hints at the possibilities of the future. They are the weavers of tales, the translators of whispers from the universe, and the guides who illuminate the path ahead.”