Which one of these statements do you agree with?
Women are bad drivers.
Teenagers are lazy.
Tarot card readers are con artists.
Wide sweeping statements feel so definitive that it is easy to believe them. Black and white thinking feels so much more comfortable than grey. It feels good to pronounce a belief about a whole group of people believing that our judgement is right. Stereotyping is based out of a need to categorize, condemn, and ultimately feel better than the people we may be talking about.
Have I personally watched every single woman drive, and do I have the certifications necessary to make that kind of judgement call? While some teens might be slow in the motivation department, there are many examples of the opposite. However, I hear the third statement regularly and without question that it is indeed, true: “Tarot readers are all con artists.”
Rational, objective, science-minded folks eat up the social consensus regarding tarot. Logical and fair-minded people regularly denounce a whole field without ever having visited a reader. What is the first premise in scientific inquiry? Observation. Have these people suddenly forgotten the very foundation of their beliefs in the rush to denounce what they might not know anything about?
How can this be? How is it that while we are quick to denounce stereotypes we are able to make the exception with tarot readers? It is, I suspect, due to tarot’s public image coupled with an incorrect assumption promulgated by popular culture and the co-opting of tarot by people with questionable ethics. Tarot is not the problem. Shitty people using tarot are the problem.
Google up any image of a tarot reader in the movies or TV shows and more often than not we are treated to a mysterious, dark-haired woman. This woman is of indeterminate background (an inelegent nod to the idea that ‘they are foreign’) is sitting in a darkly lit room, ready to receive a questioner. She pronounces the fate of said character for good or ill. This fate is unalterable and our tarot reader has the ability to see into that future that is already written out for us.
A search for the words ‘tarot reader’ also reveals con artists who use tarot to prey upon the innocent. One need not look far to read stories about a certain actress in a fake Jamaican accent imploring you to call now. Not far behind her are so-called tarot readers who were jailed after husting tens of thousands of dollars from the wealthy or the desperate.
Finally, the bias towards tarot are often from people who question the very nature of tarot and what it does. They believe that tarot does not work, and anyone who believes in it is either gullible or a con artist (see that “all, never, or always” thinking here)?
But the thing is is that the underlying assumptions about how tarot works are inaccurate. That assumption was unquestionably formed by some real bad actors (pun intended). So how can we form a truly informed opinion if we are working off of assumptions that are patently false or misunderstood?
We can’t. It is easy to assume that our underlying beliefs that form the basis of our opinions are accurate. But that it is not scientific inquiry. Rather, that is bias. Bias is often the byproduct of a closed mind who frankly stopped thinking the moment their irrational criticism began to rear it’s head. It is this bias that hounds professional, honest, and earnest readers. In short, we are a field green-lighted for condemnation. This condemnation is largely based on a complete fantasy regarding what we do and how we do it.
Have people completely given up on the banking system because of the Great Recession? Are lawyers ran out of town with crowds of people holding pitchforks? Of course not. Because we know that while there are some unscrupulous bankers and lawyers, we also know that not all of them are. And while someone might not understand how tarot works, that lack of understanding does not mean that tarot readers are selling snake oil.
Tarot is having a moment. Tarot is being normalised by a generation of people who are willing to dive into the mystery of personal truths. More than ever, there are professionals in this field who take the work of reading very seriously and treat their craft with the professionalism it deserves.
Tarot is not going anywhere, and just like massage and acupuncture and herbalism, it is moving towards a stable norm. While tarot has a PR problem now, I see the shift on the horizon. I look forward to the day where I can say I am a professional reader without cringing or avoiding the question because I don’t want to deal with some people’s bias. I cannot wait to be open and comfortable with this passion of mine and my work in the way it deserves.
A very basic Fen Shui 101
For the last few months I have been studying Feng Shui for both my office and my home, what I have learned is that in Feng Shui, the main concept is that qi- that invisible powerful all-pervading force- needs to flow in a certain way through our dwellings for harmonious lives. When the qi is stagnant, or rushed- when there is too much yang or yin energy in areas of our dwellings- the effect is negative.
In addition to the flow of qi, each room and home is divided up in areas of influence in your life based on the Lo Shu Magic Square. Using the Ba Gua (the Octogonal compass, if you will) a Feng Shui Master can determine which areas of your dwelling need Feng Shui cures. For example, if your love life is a challenge we would look at the relationship area of your home. Perhaps that area is where your dark dirty closet is and the qi is stagnant. Once determining that the closet may be affecting your relationship qi, we would apply a “cure” to get the qi moving in that area which will also affect your life.
Meet the Ba Gua:
The Chinese have traditionally put South at the top...
Each area has one of the Chinese five elements that can be affected by other elements in that area. Elements can either enhance, be neutral towards or exhaust one another. For example, the relationship area is presided by Earth. So things that “destroy” earth- wood as an example in this cosmology- should not be placed in this area as a cure.
Number 1 resides in the North and is influenced by the element of water. This area is also known as the Journey or career area. It is more than just career though, it is an area where we are working a career that is deeply meaningful to us and fills us with purpose.
Throughout this blog, I will be posting pictures of my own reading room to show the principals:
My actual reading desk is in this quadrant and this is the area I spend the most time. Above my desk I have a water lilies batik hanging, promoting the qi flow of water in this area, but I could also use something as simple as Ace of Cups.
For me, the Aces represent the most pure form of that energy so I use them as the first option wherever appropriate. It would not be good to put an earth card here- like a pentacle- because pentacles are earth and earth exhausts water.
Number 2 resides in the South West area and is influenced by Earth and relationships. In my office, I have plants (non woody) and I also have things like the open hands and my rose quartz to facilitate qi flow in this area. A wonderful card you can place here is the 10 of Pentacles: grounded happy families protected. You can also put pairs of things here to represent couples.
Number 3 in the east is influenced by wood (wood is considered an element in Chinese cosmology) and ancestors and family. Water nurtures wood so you could put the
10 of Cups here. The Empress and Emperor could work as the ultimate Mater/Pater familias. This area acknowledges the work our ancestors did and continue to do to influence our wisdom and success in all things. This is very different from the western paradigm of independence.
In this area, I have a large plant activating wood qi as well as a big picture of the Buddha to represent people from the past who influence me. You could also put a pic of your grandparents here. Personally I am using the World card from the Dreaming Way, when I asked the artist why he chose an old man for the world card he said, "It is the scene of an old man who has seen the world and is now content with it and himself." It is like a grandpa card to me.
Number 4 is in the South East and is also represented by wood (different Feng Shui schools also call it wind). This is the area of wealth. Wood is considered neutral by earth so it is ok to have earthy things in here. Here I have a nice big thriving plant as well as a small fountain that runs, water also nourishes wood and a small water fountain is an especially powerful Cure for the flow of money coming to you. In this area I place the Ace of Pentacles.
Number 5 is at the very center of the all the other quadrants it is moving yin and yang that all the others spin around, in Feng Shui this is not an area that usually needs a Cure. It is an earth area, also.
Number 6 is in the northwest and is influenced by metal and is the area of helpful people and travel. In my office I have a banner that speaks to being of a helpful nature and if you need to travel more or need to cultivate qi in a way that helpful mentors and support folks come out to help you can certainly activate this area by placing something metal here, a compass perhaps?
To me, metal corresponds to the suit of Swords, so I think I might just place the whole Swords Court here to represent people who can help. This area is also how you are of service so the Ace of Swords could be fitting here, too. I also put the Magician, his help is always a gift. As you see, you can hide them behind things, and according to Feng Shui principals, they still work.
Number 7 is in the West and is cultivated by the area of Creativity and Children (as you see I is directly across from the ancestor area showing a clear linear link to the whom before and after. Fire and earth are both ok to use in this area so I have my terracotta candle holder of a Momma elephant and her baby. I also have a large metal mirror to activate the qi in this area.
From a Tarot perspective I would place 6 of Cups and the Empress. Fire is said to “exhaust” metal so I would not place any Wands related cards in this area, even though they often mean creativity, perhaps the Magician could go here, too. The cards are under my elephant. Not needing to be visually displayed to work.
Number 8 is in the North East and is influenced by Wood and Knowledge. This can also include contemplation and the study of spiritual subjects. Because my door is here there is not much I can do in this area but I do have a picture of the Hermit above the door to activate the energy here.
I would say that I would consider the use of a Major Arcana as elemental-neutral, they can be used anywhere. So if you are stumped with the minors and the right elements use a Major! The area also has a big wooden door, so that inadvertently is activating the qi here.
Finally, number 9 is in the South and has to do with fame and illumination. This area is for building a reputation for yourself but it also can mean the light that shines within you that spark, becomes brighter so that all can see it. I did not get into colors too much in this post, but placing something red here enhances this area.
I have a red pillow and a string of fiery butterflies so that their wings can fan the flames here. In terms of Tarot 7 of Wands/ Ace of Wands/ 8 of Wands would do very well here. Something I did not get into is that if an area is becoming too intense, you can use the destructive element to tone it down a bit. For example, if you were Kanye West and felt the fame too intensely, you could put a Cup card here, a little bit of water, to tone it down.
So there you have it! How to use Tarot as a Feng Shui cure beyond the traditional ones of mirrors, chimes, crystals, and flutes. The idea of Feng Shui is to not make your home look like it just came out of a Buddhist temple, but rather to use the underlying principals with your own cultural influences and contexts.
Disclaimer: Since I have only been studying a few months I am in no way near an expert and I am sure my advice here has some very obvious gaps, however I believe using Tarot applied as a Cure in areas for maximum beneficial flow to qi can only enhance and balance our lives.
There are no hard and fast rules here, only associations that make sense and have meaning to you. Have fun Feng Shuiing!
It is not an easy thing to be a Tarot reader, in fact, if one is not called to do it, it hardly seems worth it sometimes.
Tarot readers often have a history of reading at the fringes of society, often working under the table or without true business practices, it is not uncommon to find a reader reading from her kitchen table with cash payment taken only.
So while Tarot and Tarot readers often have a reputation of working at the fringes of society, society by and large actively blocks readers who aim to professionalize the field. In my years of working and creating a professional business that is legal in every way, here are the particular challenges I and other readers have encountered:
Banks will drop us once they find out we read Tarot. I had a bank that I was using online and that bank decided to drop me for no other reason except that I read Tarot. When I asked why, I was told that my company was in violation of their terms of service. Their terms of service had tarot card readers snuggled in right between mail order bride companies and narcotics sales businesses. (!!!) When I tried to push back, explaining that what I do is like life coaching using the archetypal nature of Tarot, I was ignored, discounted, and basically treated like a third class citizen.
Some insurance companies will drop us if they find out we read Tarot. A colleague of mine was unceremoniously dumped as a “psychic company” when in fact the word psychic appeared nowhere on her website, only Tarot. This insurance company will cover life coaches (also completely unregulated and requiring no formal education) and yoga teachers, but not Tarot readers. Not all Tarot readers are psychic or claim to be, but it doesn’t matter to society- there are no attempts at making any distinctions or educating themselves on the many differences of Tarot and the Psychic field on the whole.
Some festival and event coordinators will not allow us to read at their events (while allowing face painters, art vendors and other small business folk) due to their own personal agenda, religious beliefs, and things like, “We had a bad reader 15 years ago so no readers now.” or “You are only here to capitalize on these poor unsuspecting people.” I have had craft vendors deny me but allow other service providers, I have been told regularly that “We don't allow that kind of thing, here.”
The professionals leave because of the ongoing discrimination they face as well as the vulnerable position they are in because no one will cover them, leaving a nice big void for the bad guys to fill. How does this make any kind of sense?
There are bad readers and con artists who use Tarot as an avenue to rip people off. But when us honest readers who pay taxes, buy insurance, and professionalize ourselves are met with roadblocks at every turn, it reinforces the tarot reader under the table scheme, because no other framework is allowed for us. If the prevailing idea is that Tarot readers are a joke or a con at best, and if readers who do attempt to professionalize are blocked at every turn; then that actually creates the conditions that people complain about in the first place. The professionals leave because of the ongoing discrimination they face as well as the vulnerable position they are in because no one will cover them, leaving a nice big void for the bad guys to fill. How does this make any kind of sense?
Because of the rampant discrimination many readers feel, they often use an alias or do not put a picture of themselves online because they are afraid of the reprisals they may get from society, day jobs, family and friends. If our best most honest readers are still hiding in the Tarot closet out of fear of discrimination and retaliation, then again, that only reinforces the erroneous concept that Tarot can only be a profession at the fringe of society. Discrimination against readers is so difficult that many do not find it worth it. I know many amazingly gifted readers who never take the plunge to actually read as a professional because they are scared. So who is the bully here, readers so unfairly maligned, or cultural ignorance?
Interestingly, I am more authentic, more honest to myself and to others than I have ever been, far more authentic than in any job I have ever held. The sad irony is that society now views me with the most suspicion. Some days I get exhausted having to prove myself and the Tarot over and over again. What a miraculous dream it would be to just do this work with the benefit of the doubt. Understandably because of the con artists many come with a bad experience, but if we are not allowed to professionalize, how can we possibly compete against the bad guy?
So at this point, you might be wondering, “Well, Jenna, why DO you do it then, if it is such a pain in the tuchus?” That is a fair question, a question that I sometimes have to ask myself, especially after a door has been slammed in my face, especially when I am called a “bottom feeder” from a detractor, especially when friends of family say, “If Jenna has an advanced degree and speaks several languages… why is she doing this?”
We do it because to ignore this ignores a fundamental piece of ourselves.
I read Tarot because I have seen how a good reading can fundamentally change someone’s life for the better as nothing else can. I read Tarot because it is a CHOICE that I choose from many options available, not because I have no other choice or options. I read Tarot because I love it and it has value, worth and I get to (lucky lucky me) help people with their lives, I can see everyday that what I do has value for others. Being self-employed as a Tarot reader means I answer to no one except to my clients, I am living my life by my rules and in my way. Reading Tarot means I don’t wear panty hose or dress suits or play political office games (though I do miss having office mates).
Reading Tarot means that I am using all of my native strengths and talents and it is truly me at my best, helping others intuitively is something that I have done my whole life. The call to read Tarot became so loud that I could ignore it no longer and like an artist, like a person who has a calling-everything about who I am fell into place once I took the plunge to go full time. I stopped fighting myself and embraced something near to the core of my meaning and purpose. If reading Tarot wasn’t such an intrinsic part of me, why the hell would I even bother to deal with such unfair bias? Why would anyone (besides the con men) bother when the social cost is so heavy to do so? We do it because it is a part of who we are and what we are called to do. We do it because to ignore this is to ignore a fundamental piece of ourselves.
Being the Queen of Wands type that I am, I also have an agenda. I do not play at being small very well, nor am I the type to be comfortable or happy reading at the fringe. My overarching goal is this: that as a professional reader who also business coaches other Tarot readers; that will I help create a tipping point of professionalism, support, nurturance and honesty- the amount of amazing readers will be so open and so professional-that the culture-at-large will have no choice but to check it’s own stereotype about us. I aim to see Tarot reading being seen in the same light that people now see massage therapy within one generation. I aim to change it all.
Back in the 1970s people saw massage therapy as a fringe business, too. Something hippy folk went to or at the very worst, a veneer for sexual services. When I speak to my massage therapy friends I hear these early stories and I also see how different it is now, there is no longer any stigma attached to get a massage, it is seen as a helpful therapeutic service. I want Tarot to be seen in the same light. I want future Tarot readers to be able to provide a therapeutic service without the stigma of deceit, tricks, or manipulation labeled against them.
So I use my real name. I use my real picture, I am completely legal in every way, even when doors have been slammed shut to prevent me from professionalizing my service, I soldier on. When people ask me what I do, I tell them. I have absolutely nothing to be ashamed of. I am extremely proud of the work I do for others and I work very hard at creating a business of value and worth to my clients. My existence serves as education against a long unfair stereotype about who Tarot readers are. I and many others are blazing a path, and I do not come alone. We are the professional face of Tarot. The face that will not allow anyone to put us away, to shut us up or ridicule us. We are here to stay.
As a Tarot client, student, or Tarot lay-person, you can help, too. Do not hide in the shadows about your craft or interest or that you get readings, square those shoulders and calmly step out into the light with us. Educate others about Tarot, engage when you hear misinformation, bring yourself authentically and push back when others attempt to quiet you. We stand shoulder to shoulder and we will change this, within our lifetimes it is possible and the world will be better for it. Join us.
We are the professional face of Tarot. The face that will not allow anyone to put us away, to shut us up or ridicule us. We are here to stay.
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