What Tarot is and What it Isn’t

tarot-talkI’m doing some work on the blog and the site today and I realized that I’ve never written a post about what Tarot is and isn’t.  My view on Tarot has been shaped and informed by so many other fantastic Tarot readers to whom I am indebted for helping me as I made my way on my path to Tarot.  But here’s what I have come to believe about Tarot in my own experiences and practices.

What is Tarot? At its most basic Tarot is the use and interpretations of a deck of Tarot cards either on their own or laid out in predetermined patterns often called spreads.  A Tarot deck is a set of (usually) 78 cards consisting of 22 Major Arcana cards and 56 Minor Arcana divided up in 4 suits.  These suits are traditionally Cups, Wands, Swords, and Pentacles.  Although some decks call them slightly different things, like Staves, Staffs, or Rods for Wands, Coins or Discs for Pentacles, Chalices or Vessels for Cups, and Arrows, Feathers, or Knives for the Swords.

What Tarot Isn’t.  Tarot isn’t about devil worship.  It’s not about placing curses or removing them.  It’s not about spying on your next door neighbor or ex-lover.  When I read the cards for you I’m not going to be making dire predictions about how and when you’re going to die or the precise date and time you’ll meet the person who is your heart’s desire.  In fact, if someone says that if you buy a reading from them you’re guaranteed to meet your perfect mate within two weeks, you should run away.  That’s a scam.

How Does Tarot Work?  All readers will have a different answer to this question based on their own practices, educations, and reading styles.  So I’m just going to answer this for you based on what it does when I’m working with it.  When you get a reading from me I’m going to create some sacred space for you and pull cards to see what message is out there that’s meant for you.  I sometimes work with aspects of the goddess in my readings, sometimes I’ll ask for any spiritual energies that are working towards your highest good to feel free to reach out and influence the reading.  Important note: I am not, nor do I claim to be a medium of any kind.  I can’t channel the spirit of your grandmother and get her famous cobbler recipe for you (even if it was the most delicious you ever tasted).  I believe that by opening myself up safely and in that sacred protected space, it’s possible for benevolent guides to guide my intuition as I read for you.  If there is a message out there for you from a loved one who has passed on, can that come through in a reading?  Sure it can.  And it’s amazing when it happens, but I can’t (and won’t) promise what I can’t reliably give you.  I look at the imagery on the cards and let my intuition take over.  I’ll get impressions that inform how I read that particular card in that particular space and time and that’s what I share with you.

What can Tarot do for me?   I believe that Tarot cards can help us shift our understandings of situations and energies to help us better understand what’s happening our our lives.  I believe they can also help us process difficult things.  It’s like having an objective third party getting us to look at things with a fresh perspective.  This is why I like to help clients ask the best possible questions.  I completely understand what when you’re in a terrible situation you just want to know if it’s going to end, so the temptation is to just ask “Will I get out of this thing?”  But it’s going to be so much more helpful to ask “What can I do to better my situation?”  One of them is just a yes or no answer and the other gives you the tools to find your way out.

How do I get a reading?  If all of this sounds like it’s something fantastic and you’re reading to find out what messages are waiting for you, then you can book a reading with me.  

Re-imagining the Hierophant

tarot-talkThe Hierophant, the enthroned pope with his kneeling monks, dispensing Christian justice from on high, distant and unreachable, inscrutable and impassive, and the earthly representation of the Church’s heavenly authority.

The Hierophant is one of my least favorite Tarot cards.  I used to cringe whenever he hierophant rwswould show up in a reading.  I’m a witch and a queer woman and I’ve got lots of experience with people who call themselves Christian spewing hate in my direction and trying to write all kinds of laws to strip me of my basic human rights and take away all the protections and things like health insurance that I have to cover my wife.  So you can understand how a Pope like figure might make me feel uncomfortable when he’s supposed to represent authority and a venerable wise teacher.  The Hierophant is a symbol of authority and working within the rules of a system, he represents getting an education.  He represents the political systems that oppress and marginalize me and people like me.  My gut instinct is to chafe at his authority which has so often told me that I am lesser, that I’m bad, sinful, or that I’m going to hell.  To me he reads as Donald Trump, Fred Phelps, Steve Bannon and their ilk.  So how can I respect this guy’s authority?

It was during The Tarot Lady’s weekly Twitter Tarot Rap that someone shared this awesome insight that helped me break free of that confining interpretation.  I believe it was Hilary Haggerty who said it, but I’m not positive.  For me it was what I call a “Duh! Epiphany”.  Something that once you’ve heard it seems so obvious that you can’t believe you didn’t realize it before.  She said that Hierophant represents a positive authority figure.  The people who designed the RWS tarot were Christian, and to them the Hierophant represented what was good and true, to them that was the teachings of God.  And that I can understand.  When you get down to it, a lot of the things that Christianity teaches are positive things when you don’t decide to mis-apply them, things like loving your neighbors and helping the poor.

In order for me to read the Hierophant in a positive light I need to look past the robes hierophantand symbols that he wears and see what the ideals are.  The Hierophant is supposed to represent a trusted teacher.  Maybe that’s the herbalist who custom blended some tea for my cold this weekend (slippery elm bark, marshmallow root, and so much more amazing stuff), maybe it’s the knitting teacher who helped me fix the mistake in my lace shawl, or my yoga instructor who encourages us to be present and be where we are, maybe it’s the activist who helps rally us together to protest injustice and stand up for what is right and true.

I think the card on the left, the Hierophant from Elisabeth Alba’s Everyday Witch Tarot gets it pretty right.  She’s a teacher, not preaching wisdom from on high, but helping her students to work towards their highest good.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that the Hierophant is always a good teacher, he definitely can still represent negative authority.  But through realizing that he doesn’t have to be, I was able to move that card off my cringe list.  Hooray for expanded and nuanced understandings!

Tarot Talk: How to Ask Good Questions in a Tarot Reading

tarot-talk

So you’ve found the a reader who is a good fit for you.  Awesome!  Now how do you figure out what question you want to ask when you’re getting a reading?  Choosing the right question can be difficult.  So how do you figure out what to ask, and once you’ve decided on that how do you phrase the question?

First of all I’m going to spout that old adage that there are no stupid questions.  However, there are some kinds of questions that will get you more useful answers than others.  Some Tarot readers are happy to  work with yes/no questions and there are definitely spreads that offer to answer them, but I find that I get a much richer and more useful reading when I’ve crafted a more nuanced question.  For example: “Will I get a new job?”  The answer to that is pretty simple, yes or no.  Probably not the answer you were really hoping for.  It doesn’t give you any agency in your own future.  I’m sidelining the fact that I don’t read predictively so I don’t know that I could confidently predict something like that.

A better way to ask that question might be “What do I need to do to attract a new job?”  This puts the power back in your hands instead of just wishing out into the universe.  It’s always my goal for one of my tarot readings to empower you.  I want to give you the tools to achieve your goals.  Another way to ask that new job type question would be: “What things do I need to learn to improve my chances of finding the right job for me?”  Just like before, asking this question puts you in the driver’s seat.  It gives you homework to do as you search for employment.

Another thing to keep in mind is that the more open your question is, the more information you’ll be able to get back.  This is not to say you shouldn’t ask specific questions, but consider how you’re phrasing them.  Instead of asking “Will I find love?” you’d probably get more use out of the answer to “What energies do I need to cultivate in myself and my life to help me find my ideal mate?”  Or maybe “What issues do I still need to work through before I’m ready for a new relationship?”

If you’re working with a reader who is a good match for you they should be able to help craft the right kind of questions to ask so you can get the best information in your reading.  Feel free to ask them if you’re unsure about what to ask.  Another option if you’re planning on getting a reading is to ask for a sort of general check in.  Maybe you aren’t having a specific issue at the moment but just want some general insight into where your life is heading.  Those kinds of questions are absolutely okay to ask.  I wouldn’t want you to think that you shouldn’t ask for a reading if you don’t have a laser focused question.  I just want to ensure that if you do need something really specific that you’re asking the best possible question to get you your best possible answer.

And if you’d like to book a reading with me, feel free, I’d be honored to read for you.  head on over to my readings request page.

Tarot Talk: How to find the Right Tarot Reader for You

tarot-talkSo you’ve decided that you want to get a Tarot reading.  Awesome!  I admit that I’m a little bit biased, but I think Tarot can be a fantastic tool for helping to understand those difficult situations life can sometimes throw at us.  A good Tarot reading can be an empowering tool that helps you figure out what’s going on in your life and how to handle it when you’re feeling like you’re barely treading water.

But how do you find a good Tarot reader?  And how do you find the right reader for you?  Every reader has a different style and reads in a slightly different way.  Choosing the right reader is just as important as asking the right questions.  So where do you even start?

Start by visiting their website and doing a little bit of background reading.  OneIMG_0877 thing that I like to look for is a code of ethics (it could be called a statement of values or something along those lines).  Reading through that page can tell you a lot about a reader.  I always look for explicit LGBT inclusive language.  A note here to any other straight readers, if you’re welcoming to queer clients state that outright.  Inclusivity is not the default, so if you don’t say that you’re welcoming or say that you try to operate as a safe space we won’t know. If you want to be inclusive and supportive of queer folks (and other marginalized groups) then you need to say it.  And your actions need to reflect it, but that’s a whole other post.

Another thing that I look for in a reader is how they describe their style.  If you’re looking for a predictive Christian centered reading, I’m not the reader for you.  If you’re looking for a witchy intuitive reading, that’s more my bag and I might be a good match for you.  You want to feel comfortable with your reader.  If you feel weirded out or nervous you won’t get a good reading from them because the energy flow won’t be there.  The more engaged you can be in your reading the better it will be for you.

Another way to find a good reader is recommendations from people that you trust.  Bear in mind that what works for one person might not work for you, but positive reviews and recommendations are huge.

My last piece of advice on finding the right reader for you is to trust your gut.  If you’re corresponding with them and you get a feeling that something is ‘off’ trust that feeling.  If the reader is trying to up-sell you a bunch of other things (like spells and charms That You Must Have!!!) step away.  A good and ethical tarot reader won’t try to convince you that you need them or else, they’ll let the right clients find them.  Now, I’m not saying that if the reader you’re looking for advertises their services that they’re bad, that’s not at all the case.  What I’m saying is that if you have someone badgering you that you need to get a reading from them or bad things will happen or if you ask for a reading and they try to push other products onto you at the same time, that’s not a good sign.

If they promise you instant riches or fame if you work with them, use your common sense.  If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

In Summary, do your homework and background reading, find someone that aligns with your values and practices, trust your intuition, and don’t fall for scams.

And if you want to learn more about me and see if I’m the right reader for you you can view my About Me page, peruse my Code of Ethics, and if it feels right to you, consider Ordering a Reading.  I’d love to work with you to help you through whatever life has put in your path.