This is the first tarot blog hop I’ve ever participated in and now come to think of it, maybe the first blog hop, just ever, that I’ve been a part of. So yay to that. Let’s hope I do this right.
The topic at hand is, well, oh hey–me. Get to know me as a tarot blogger. Here we go.
My Tarot Story
I don’t have an interesting tarot story. I was into cartomancy as a kid, borrowing books on the subject from the public library and then tinkering with it at home, with a deck of playing cards. I got my first tarot deck in junior high and given (1) my previous play with cartomancy, (2) my love for pretty pictures, and (3) a predisposed interest for the esoteric, it was a no-brainer I’d be into tarot. In my college years I became more serious about my study of it. Then several years ago I thought it would be fun to go through the certification process through the Tarot Certification Board of America and then I thought it would be fun to write a book about it (*cough shameless self promotion cough* Holistic Tarot, North Atlantic Books *cough*) and so here we are now.
This is so cool. I stumbled across some fascinating home footage of a professional tarot reading done in Taipei, Taiwan. There are no subtitles, so for those who don’t understand Mandarin, I’m going to provide a recap. I found the reading session quite fascinating, mostly because it’s cool to see how other practitioners approach readings, especially from other cultures. (Well, for me, it’s the same culture in a way, since I’m Taiwanese, but you know what I mean.) The practitioner did this reading for 250 NT, which is about $8.00 USD. That is cheap! Holy cow!
He started by telling the seeker, who blogs as The Chindian Chronicles that she could ask four questions. Each tarot deck can answer four questions at a time, he tells her. (Interesting!) She chooses her Studies, her Family, her Health, and Love. He’s also using the RWS system, though not any reproduction of the RWS that I’m familiar with. Actually, from some of the screen shots, it looks like a version of the Universal Tarot (which closely follows RWS and is considered an RWS clone) by Roberto De Angelis. I love that there’s the dharma wheel on the backs.
I also think it’s cute how the girls are nervous about the reading, though I love that he reassures them and is really overall doing a great job at this. I’m going to do my best to translate the reading session, since I’m sure my practitioner friends are very interested. My Mandarin isn’t great, however, so my translations aren’t going to be perfect. Continue reading “Tarot Reading in Taiwan”→
I refer to the following tarot reading technique as The Eta Method. It’s not a spread exactly, but rather a process, a method for divinatory reading. “Eta” refers to revelation. It is believed that the decoded esoteric meaning of the Greek letter H (Eta) is that of revelation. Read more here. It fits with my understanding, my intentions, and the purpose of this reading procedure. Hence, The Eta Method.
In a nutshell, The Eta Method is this:
(1) selecting a signifier,
(2) performing a modern (and my personal) adaptation of the First Operation,
(3) reading and interpreting cards in certain positions in the First Operation,
(4) considering the degrees and thus numerology, and
(5) considering the elements.
The following explanation of the method may imply that it’s exhaustive, but I swear to you it is not. Granted, while it is not impossible to do it in 15 minutes, it will come across as rushed and I wouldn’t recommend it. However, it is absolutely doable within 30, so long as the practitioner limits the seeker’s questions and personal stories to the very end of the reading (because you know how that goes). The best practice for The Eta Method is for 1 hour sessions, but again, suitable for 20-30 minutes. It’s most definitely not like The Opening of the Key.
Let’s say you’re going to be planted somewhere for an extended period of time to do quick tarot readings. You could be at a corporate event or party– you and your tarot deck being the entertainment for the night; or you’re at a café doing readings for complete strangers for tips and practice; or you’re at a fundraiser doing readings for donations to your favorite non-profit. Whatever the case may be, you don’t have the time to do a full-length Celtic Cross for every jane and joe who walks by but a 1-card or a 3-card spread on the table isn’t going to look quite as impressive. Also, the range of questions you’re going to get in a very short time frame will run the whole gamut, so you still need something versatile.
Well I’ve got a technique you could try out.
To demonstrate I’ll be using my miniature Rider Waite, which I carry with me in my purse at all times, but I’m guessing you’ll be using a normal size deck for your reading event. In the baggy with my mini tarot deck are four gemstones.
At the top-north point above is a piece of polished and tumbled petrified wood; bottom-south is rose quartz; east is amethyst; and west is green moss agate: Wands-Fire; Cups-Water; Swords-Air; Pentacles-Earth, respectively. These four stones will anchor every reading. I’ll set them out right to left corresponding with IHVH and utilizing a technique derived from the First Operation of the Opening of the Key method.
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.
I am preaching to the choir when I write this to an audience of tarot practitioners: If your personal energy could be quantified like battery life, then reading tarot for others will drain it like streaming a movie on your smartphone over 4G connection. Reading tarot depletes me in a way I cannot fully convey. Sometimes I get the sense that non-tarot practitioners who request tarot readings from me don’t have any idea.
On its face, a tarot reading seems to be an effortless dealing of a deck of cards, and then blurting phrases based in some part on the card imagery. What could be so hard about that?
Tarot is a tool, a metaphysical one if you will, that connects two individuals’ energetic fields together for the duration of a reading. The nature of the relationship between practitioner and seeker is that of give and take, respectively. A practitioner feels his or her energy draining out and going into the cards to provide the reading that the seeker is receiving. Seekers often talk about readings being rejuvenating, cathartic, an enriching experience. They’re picking up on that channeling effect. In contrast, tarot readers talk about feeling exhausted, needing to recharge.
Very few tarot readers make enough cash from their readings to compensate for their time spent. That, though, we will chalk up to simple economics and just acknowledge that at least from a free market standpoint, that part is fair.
I draft business contracts for a living and almost every one of them contains an indemnification clause. Indemnification is often one of the main points of negotiation and contention between the parties. In the course of a commercial dealing, some poo always makes its way to the fan– costs of damage resulting from the initial transaction that weren’t accounted for in the contract price– and everybody needs to figure out who owes what to who and how much to compensate for the loss. That’s indemnification.
When I make reference to the unindemnified price of tarot readings, I’m talking about that energetic loss that tarot practitioners sustain but no one accounts for, or heck, even acknowledge. Some seekers can be borderline parasitic, though I believe never intentionally so. Most tarot practitioners are by nature empaths and so of course their first inclination will be to yield and give and feel.
As an empath with a law degree, when I first started my legal career, I felt every client’s problem and took home a briefcase of emotional baggage every night. I’d think about their issues in the shower, while brushing my teeth, before I fell asleep, the first thing when I woke up, while I made my coffee… Yet senior partners at the firm seemed to master such control. They compartmentalized. One might be tempted to say they were apathetic, that they were desensitized, or they did not care. That is not true at all. They cared and they cared deeply about their clients. But they have been at this a long time and they know that to truly be in a position to help as many as possible, they needed to take care of themselves first. Selfishness is a form of selflessness. They knew exactly when it was time to step away from a case, recharge themselves, and live their own lives for a change, instead of living for others, which is exactly what lawyers do, though they rarely get seen by that side of them.
Tarot practitioners must take a cue from these partners. Newbies rarely possess the prudence to know when they must step away and focus on themselves. They get caught up in the exhilaration of uplifting others–an admirable trait–but ironically (since we are tarot readers…) fail to foresee the pending crash. That is why burn-out is such a problem among startup tarot practitioners.
There is no indemnification for that spiritual energy drain that is part of the tarot reader’s work. Thus we are the ones who must keep ourselves in check. Always take time to recharge and learn to say “no.”