The Tarot as a Tool of Personal Development
I don’t think it’s any secret that I was hesitant to come out of the tarot closet.
That’s because the Woo factor in conversations with others tends to be pretty high. In most social settings I don’t have the time to thoughtfully explain how I use the tarot; not to tell someone’s pre-destined future – but to empower them to live into a future they create. That is definitely NOT how most people see the tarot.
Dictionary after dictionary defines the tarot as a fortune-telling tool. Years of popular culture have reinforced the divination aspect of the cards and have colored the cards themselves and their readers as bad, even evil.
To be fair, today’s tarot came about during what most would consider an occult-friendly phase of history – the late 18 and early 1900s. So, like all good stereotypes, this one, too, has some basis in truth – even if that truth is often twisted. However, tarot cards are nothing more than pieces of cardstock with images printed on them. Their questionable nature has everything to do with intention and nothing whatsoever to do with the cards themselves.
An AK-47 in and of itself is not evil or dangerous. It is an inanimate object that takes on the energy of the owner. It’s not innately bad or negative. If the owner is a peace activist displaying the gun painted with flowers and peace signs in a locked case, the intention is far different from the person who purchases the gun to use it the way it was intended by the manufacturer.
Regardless of the purpose for which the tarot was intended, I – and many other readers – choose to be the peace activist in this story and use the tarot for positive ends.
Two big misperceptions about the tarot are one, that it’s a great tool for divination, and two, that only professional readers can work with the tarot effectively. I suspect the perpetration of those misconceptions had something to do with job security and creating an air of mystery that made reading the tarot seem like such an amazing practice and available to only a chosen few. But it simply isn’t true. You just need to be clear about your goals.
Divination – or fortune-telling is what the Tarot is known for – yet it’s a crappy tool for doing so. I won’t bore you with the free will speech again but recall it or look it up.
If you want an intuitive or psychic boost to your tarot reading, yes, a professional who has these skills is necessary and depending on the goal of the reading, often incredibly helpful. Otherwise, anyone who understands the cards, card meanings, and the ways the cards work together to tell us a story can do a tarot reading.
It boils down to this, anyone who makes the effort to learn the tarot deck can do a tarot reading and do it very effectively. Psychic and intuitive skills are not necessary. Yes, they can enrich a reading, but they are not necessary. In fact, the best use of the tarot is not having someone give you a reading and dictate upcoming events – but use a reading as a catalyst for conversation or personal exploration and introspection in a way that empowers you to move forward.
I’ve moved (mostly) past concerns about how others see me, but I haven’t moved past concerns about how the majority of people misunderstand and mislabel what I do for a living.
Types of Tarot Readings
I get three primary types of reading requests and I have three very different approaches each.
Those who are doing personal development work and want insight into themselves
The people already using the Tarot for personal development are looking for insight into their own blocks and challenges – and ways to work through them. I work with these people, using the tarot to help tap into their subconscious inner knowing to bring issues and revelations to the surface.
Those who want me to tell them how someone else is feeling or what they’re thinking
I refuse to energetically snoop on someone behind their back, so I work with the client to rework the question – which they’re usually happy to do once they think about it.
Those who want me to tell their fortune
The old fortune-telling or divination model implies no control over our futures or destinies. In some ways, it’s like religion. Instead of going to a religious leader for advice, the tarot reader steps in as an authority figure that disempowers us to address the situation independently and confidently. It’s no different from childhood. How will we learn to be independent thinkers who actively work to create the lives we want when we constantly look outside ourselves for answers and fail to see we can take control. Quantum physics tells us we DO have the power to move our lives in the direction we want them to go. We CAN manifest our future.
In my opinion, every tarot reading should include at least one or two cards that point the questioner in a direction that allows him/her to have some agency – to provide suggestions about how to actually improve a situation instead of simply hearing that their crappy situation is fated.
So I invite you (perhaps) to shift your perception of the tarot and its uses and take advantage of the guidance it can provide.