Writer and tarotist James Bulls posted a provocative piece on the 10 questions every tarot reader must answer. Check out the post here. I thought I’d answer them for myself, so here we go.
Question 1 | Were you mentored, or were you self-taught?
I consider myself mentored, even though technically speaking I am self-taught. Technically speaking, I learned tarot by teaching myself after the instructions I read from books. Lots and lots of books. So you would say I’m self-taught. However, at every turn, I felt guided, mentored.
For instance, I felt guided to certain authors and certain specific titles came to me through synchronistic presentations just when I needed insights and learning related to what that specific title had to offer. In other words, I’ve always felt mentored by some unseen spirit force near me, watching over me, concerned and caring.
When I was confused, lost, or at a stalemate with my education, interesting enough, I’d encounter a tarot reader, elder, a mentor, someone who would have just the guidance I needed to direct me back on my educational path. At every critical turn, there was an elder who reached out and guided me when I needed that guidance to ensure I steered constructively on my path of learning.
One example of that is when I was young and wasn’t connecting with the RWS and almost thought to give up on the RWS entirely, I felt led to a certain convention. There I met a tarot reader who was also a teacher, and she offered just the counsel I needed to reexamine the RWS. Through her guidance, her quick mentorship, I was able to get back into engaged independent study. Without that quick mentorship, I’m not so sure I would have. That’s what I mean by being mentored.
Even after writing Holistic Tarot and doing thousands of public readings, I find I still possess such embarrassingly minimal experience with tarot and there is more to learn than I currently know. As soon as I think I’m confident about having narrowed that gap, I discover another deep cavern of possible knowledge I know nothing about. For a while, I said to myself I didn’t really need to learn about the Kabbalah, mostly because I was secretly intimidated by it. But as soon as I acknowledged that to myself–that it wasn’t because “I didn’t need” the Kabbalah, but it was because I was secretly intimidated (well, not so secret now) by it, wow– seriously– elders and mentors started popping out of the woodwork and guiding my educational journey on that front. It’s really quite remarkable. Little seeds were planted. A nod in that direction here, a helpful pointer there, a couple of quick references and choice advice offered that caused huge paradigm shifts– so really, am I self-taught or am I being mentored? It’s hard to say.
There are countless more memorable examples of tarot mentorship I received at just the right time that, without that mentorship, I could have very easily been led astray, or remained in my stalemate. However, these mentors never held my hand. They only nodded, pointed, or gave sage counsel. The actual path I journeyed on, the physical toil of acquiring knowledge was rooted in self-taught ethos.
Question 2 | Are you a psychic or a Tarot reader?
If I had to choose between those two titles, then tarot reader. I’m a tarot reader. For me, there is a lot of socialized and cultural baggage associated with the term “psychic” that I’d rather not deal with. “Tarot reader” is a factual description. You can’t dispute that I’m a tarot reader. I read the tarot cards and therefore I am a tarot reader.
Now, what I mean by “read” can be quite loaded, and that loaded meaning is a trove of fascinating inquiries hidden in plain sight.
Question 3 | Are your predictions accurate, and is accuracy important to you?
Accuracy is important to me, of course, but insightfulness is even more important. As for whether my predictions– or forecasts– are accurate, I insist on this: the cards are always right. However, I as the interpreter am prone to error.
Question 4 | Is there anything you can’t predict in a reading?
I don’t predict anything. I can forecast anything.
However, in my professional practice, there are things I won’t forecast for your money. That’s because something about my own moral code makes me feel icky about taking your money in exchange for such forecasts, so I won’t.
Like, if you ask me “Am I pregnant, yes or no? And if yes, is it a boy or girl?” I will never accept money and do such a reading for you in a professional tarot context. Like, ever. However, if you’re my BFF and we’re in my kitchen chatting, omg, I totally will do it just for shits.
Question 5 | Do you use only Tarot, or are you multi-disciplinary?
I’m multi-disciplinary. I also work with each tarot deck within its own system or how that deck, according to my relationship with that deck, seems to want to be worked with. Certain decks lend quite well with an inter-disciplinary working with, say, the I Ching, or horary astrology.
Question 6 | Is the message in the cards, or in your head?
Both. The message is in the cards, period. However, if you’re unable to read the divination on your own or have chosen not to read for yourself and are asking me to read on your behalf, then that message in the cards synthesizes with what’s going on in my head and you’re receiving the product of that synthesis.
That’s why the careful selection of a reader is important. When you choose me as your reader, you’re counting on me to “get it right” and give the most accurate translation possible of the divinatory message coded in the cards. You have to presume and know and account for the “head” part when choosing any tarot reader, psychic or otherwise, diviner, fortune-teller, priest, or whatever, and it’s on your own due diligence to choose a reader whose “head” part is most resonant with your own “head” part. It’s that incredible resonance that produces the best possible divinatory experience, for all parties involved.
Question 7 | Are you a priest or a fortune-teller?
Yikes. None of the above? If I had to choose between those two titles, then priest, but I certainly do not run around identifying myself as a priest (priestess). If anything, I might identify as a metaphysician, simply because it’s factual and descriptive of me–a dedicated practitioner of various metaphysical arts. I would tell you I’ve devoted much of my life’s work to studying metaphysics and if you’d like, I’m happy to employ what I’ve learned over the decades to perform a divination for you. (See “Book a Reading” page.)
Question 8 | Are you a fixer or a looker?
I look for fixes. I’m like someone who knows how to read maps with some decency. I’ll look at all the lines and notations. You’ll tell me where you want to get to. I’ll point out the best routes. But I’m not a chauffeur. I don’t actually drive you to where you want to go.
Question 9 | Do you read for free or for a fee?
Both. I offer a schedule of paid reading services. I also offer free randomized readings that you can enter to be a part of. By the nature of who I am and who I am connected with, I find myself doing lots of free readings for friends and family, and even complete strangers, like, all the freakin’ time.
Question 10 | Is there anything you won’t predict in a reading?
In my professional practice, I most definitely have brightline boundaries. I won’t accept a fee for readings on pregnancies, will he stay or will he leave, does he love me, lottery numbers, stock market predictions, or any other inquiry that is colored predominantly by a fortune-telling flavor.
In my personal practice, this is kind of funny. Sshh, but I’ve attempted to use tarot, astrology, and the I Ching before for predicting the outcome of sports events, stocks, gender of babies, will he stay or will he leave, does he love me, lottery numbers, am I pregnant, political elections, and every kitsch in between. My accuracy record? Meh. Exactly in line with chance and probability. Sometimes I’m spot on. Sometimes I’m way off base.
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How would you answer these ten questions, dear tarot reader? Post or vlog about it and be sure to link me in the comments below! I will definitely check yours out and hey, who knows, maybe even be mentored by your insights, wisdom, and thoughts.
7 thoughts on “My Responses to the 10 Questions Every Tarot Reader Must Answer”
Oh my gosh, I’m so flattered that you linked to me on your blog *blushes* Thanks for tackling these questions – your answers are so engaging. I can appreciate why you handle the pregnancy / boy or girl / stay or go questions the way you do. I get a LOT of the “will he stay or go” and the “when will he or she come back to me” types of questions, and I always try to get the client to see something bigger than what is arguably the least helpful question that can be asked of the Tarot: Yes or No?, or A or B? Sometimes I’m successful in getting people to look beyond yes/no, and then, sometimes I’m not. *shrugs* I guess that’s all to say that educating clients about the best way to use Tarot is a big part of the reader’s job.
I took the suggestion and answered these as well. http://starcattarot.blogspot.com/2016/07/10-questions-every-tarot-reader-must_27.html
Thanks for all you do to help promote and encourage the Tarot community!
Fascinating as usual Benebell! I started reading Tarot nearly 50 years ago .. the days of Eden Gray books only! I had no mentor and I tried so hard to follow her guidelines but invariably found I was doing my own thing – particularly as it didn’t seem quite right to ask ‘my seeker’ to just wait a moment while I consulted the book! But I was happily surprised to find that ‘my way’ was working really well so when I had a life change, I set up a real Tarot practice in the mid-80s by which time there were some fabulous books which I read slavishly but seldom remembered except for Rachel Pollack’s 78 Degrees of Wisdom which definitely lifted my reading to a better level.
Now I’m coming back to Tarot after a long break (which has done me a lot of good!) … and I’ve felt the need to simplify – having had a good look at books and decks .. I only have 2 books at hand – 78 Degrees and your Holistic Tarot (I’ve literally discarded all the others) and I maintain they’re all that’s needed .. and I use Waite Smith decks only .. the client is free to choose if they wish or I will select one ‘on a whim’.
I’m so thankful for your blog Benebell .. effectively you’re my mentor now .. so often I find you’ve written on an aspect that’s exactly right – very often days before I knew I needed it!
Thank you for all that you do .. you’re GREAT! L x
The one thing I won’t address is adultery questions. The anguish may be real, but if someone is coming to me to find out if their married lover will leave his spouse, they already know the answer.
Hi Benebell, I loved your responses and they inspired me to do my own writing as a Tarot Reader. Thank you for the post!
While the post is a year old, I got inspired to try to answer these for myself! http://www.littlefangtarot.com/blog/10-questions-ask-reader/
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