Read an Excerpt
1 Taking the Leap
Trust that still small voice that says, “This might work and I’ll try it.”
In this chapter, you’ll assess the strengths and challenges of a professional tarot reader and examine attitudes and beliefs about money.
Abundance is an outlook: you learn how to draw the energy of money to you for success. As a professional reader, you will examine the culture of money and the value you place on your services. You will also explore the myth of competition and learn how to carve out a niche market that expresses the one-and-only you. Let’s begin with a scary proposition.
A Scary Proposition
People tend to get tarot readings at a time of indecision or personal crisis. They are vulnerable to suggestions and are looking for advice.
Knowledge is power. As professional readers, we have the power to influence our clients because people in need tend to hang on to every word we say. This is a scary proposition for a lot of us because it carries awesome responsibility. Two things can happen: we either charge headfirst into a situation we are not prepared for and it blows up in our face, or we doubt our own abilities and never take the leap of faith needed to become a professional reader.
Here are some of the most common beliefs that hold us back from success as professional readers.
I’m not . . .
good enough, talented enough, smart enough, etc.
[fill in the blank].
I can’t . . .
charge money for reading the cards.
make a living as a tarot reader.
[fill in the blank].
I don’t know . . .
where to start.
how to find clients.
[fill in the blank].
I must . . .
have all the answers.
be able to tell the client what to do.
take responsibility for my client’s problems.
[fill in the blank].
Professional Tarot explores these self-limiting beliefs in depth.
Why Do You Want to Be a Professional Tarot Reader?
It is important to be clear about your motives and intentions before you read the tarot cards for another person.Why do you want to be a pro? Stop and really think about this.Make an entry in your journal.
To get you started, the following are some possible reasons for becom-
ing a professional tarot reader. Bear in mind that this is not an allinclusive list.
I want to become a professional tarot card reader in order to
• help the client gain greater insight and objectivity about a situation;
• help the client discover new solutions to old problems;
• empower the client to face changes with courage;
• educate the client about the value of tarot as a tool for spiritual growth and awareness;
• make money;
• gain personal satisfaction in helping others;
• increase intuitive skills and knowledge;
• enhance personal growth and increase self-esteem;
• make a reputation for myself, have increased popularity, and gain well-deserved attention;
• become an authority in the field;
• be more fully alive and engaged in a magical life;
• [insert your own reasons here].
Oil and Water
I have volunteered for various causes throughout my life. Everyone is happy to have my free services, time, and skills. Several years ago, after two years of volunteer work, I very much wanted to become a paid employee for a certain organization. As soon as I mentioned money,
everything changed.My qualifications were immediately in question. I
found this puzzling because I was asking to be paid for the job I had done for two years as a volunteer. I learned there is a big difference between doing something for free and charging for those same services.
No tarot book can equal the experience of doing actual readings.
Reading free for friends is a great way to practice and fine-tune your skills. Friends are patient with the learning process and tolerant of shortcomings.
Reading for relatives and friends who want you to succeed creates a positive atmosphere. You have an added edge during a reading because you already know something about them. Without charging money, a reading has no strings attached and can be all in fun.
But at some point, you may feel you are skilled enough to charge something. For paid readings, you may be starting with people you know, friends, or coworkers. The old saying goes that friends and money don’t mix, especially if you have been doing free readings for them.Asking for money from a friend can be awkward.
Charging a fee encourages you to fine-tune your skills to increase competency. Slapdash methods of mediocrity are okay when your readings are free. You work harder at a reading when people are paying you for it. As a L’Oréal commercial might phrase it, you charge money for your readings because “you’re worth it.”
Only you can decide if you will charge money when reading for friends.Money has destroyed more than one relationship, and just like oil and water, friends and money mix with difficulty.My advice is once you do start charging for tarot readings, it’s not a good idea to revert back to free sessions; it may feel like charity to your friends and it comes across as condescension on your part.
You will also have friends who expect freebies because you are
“buddies.” If you find yourself in this situation, please fast-forward to the section called “Are You Funny About Money?” later in this chapter.
It explores beliefs and attitudes that get in the way of prosperity.
You will find most people do not like to be rescued because it does not honor their ability to help themselves. If you’re starting out and doing a reading for a friend, suggest that your friend do something for you in return, even if it’s just buying you a cappuccino. I have found that people get less out of a free reading because they value the advice less. The old adage stands trueyou get what you pay for.
The methods of increasing your confidence while reading the tarot can be summarized in one word: practice! Back in the dinosaur era when I started reading the tarot cards, potential seekers were almost extinct, or at least on the endangered species list. I was forced to invent creative ways to practice and increase my confidence. I had imaginary clients: I’d do a layout and give a reading while pretending someone was actually sitting at the table with me. (You may want to close your drapes while you sit at a table talking to yourself . . .)
I looked at pictures of friends or family members while I read for them in their absence. I heard of people in the news and did readings for them at my imaginary consultation table. I called friends and asked if I could do a reading, then I taped it and mailed it to them.
Record your readings, real or imagined. You can learn a lot by listening to how you sound to others. It’s another way to develop the narrative so necessary in reading the tarot.
Every day I carried a different tarot card in my pocket and tried to see if it fit any situation in my life, or I observed if anyone I encountered during the day was the essence of the card. I looked at the card on my breaks and lunch hour or standing in line. The opportunities to practice are limited only by your imagination.
Over the years, I have discovered that people are open to direction and help in life because none of us can completely figure it out. Read for anyone and everyone who will let you because this develops your style, allows you to improve your presentation, and confirms your readiness to charge money. You will be surprised at how receptive most people are to the novelty of it. Take your books with you. Tell them you are learning. If you get stuck, open your books. As long as you are honest about the process of learning and don’t charge money with your books open, people won’t mind. After all, you are discussing a topic of interestthem.
There’s That Word Again
At the risk of sounding like a CD stuck on track one, practice makes a perfectly competent tarot reader. The following suggestions will get you started on your path to becoming a professional reader:
• Have your own reading done by an established professional.Note the narrative and how the cards relate to one another. Decide what you liked and disliked about the style and presentation.
• Work with only one or two layouts at first until the positions are firmly in your mind. You might want to choose one general and one specific layout that “ring true” to you. Any layout from any source can be used if you feel “right” about it.
• Keep it simple. Count the number of major arcana cards in a spread and note the minor arcana suits. This will tell you a lot about the general “theme” of a reading without interpreting individual cards. Stating the “theme” is a great way to open a narrative.
• Keep reference books within reach. Begin memorizing “catch phrases” for each of the cards. For instance, my catch phrase for the Hermit is “going within.”Having a one- or two-word phrase to fall back on is handy when you find yourself having brain cramps or drawing a complete blank. Sometimes, just saying the memorized catch phrase is all you need to get the information flowing.
• If you are stuck on a card’s meaning, begin by describing the card. For example, the World is in the “future” position of your spread and you can’t for the life of you remember what it means.
Look at the card and describe it something like this: “Your body language is open and you look happy, almost as though you were floating or dancing. You are embracing the world. It’s in the
‘future’ position, so the trend shows an open and happy time for you.” This description is very close to the meaning of the World and will start the narrative flowing so you can discern the card’s significance for the seeker.
• Speak out loud and record every reading. As you listen to yourself on tape, try to visualize the layout and see the cards in their positions.
• If you are doing a make-believe reading or taping a reading for an absent friend, imagine what the client would ask about the cards. (See chapter 5.)
• Answer all questions with as much honesty as you can. By being truthful and saying what the seeker needs to know (as opposed to what the seeker wants to know), you will never have a false frame of reference and never get caught in that tangled web we weave when first we practice to deceive.
• Summarize a reading in three minutes or less. Practice closure and firmly saying time is up. Ending a reading is often more difficult than starting one.
• Avoid the temptation to appear all-knowing, because none of us knows it all. Anyway, do you really want to take responsibility for someone else’s life?
• Begin contemplating the type of atmosphere you want for your readings. Soothing? Healing? Mysterious? Spiritual? Businesslike?
Therapeutic? Sacred? Entertaining? Will you use incense,
candles, or have crystals on your reading table?
• One of the best ways to develop skill as a reader is to open your life to intuition.Memorizing traditional definitions of the cards keeps you out of fantasy and wishful thinking; traditional meanings are a great safety net when you draw a complete blank. But the magic of tarot lies in combining traditional meanings with intuitive skill so you can customize a reading to the individual. This is accomplished only when you trust your voice of inner knowing.
• Many wonderful books are written about developing psychic ability. My favorites are in appendix C. For me, however, it’s a short book: Ask for guidance from the Highest Source in the most understandable form possible for the good of all, expect to receive it, then stand out of the way and accept the first thought
that comes into your head. That’s it. Learning to absolutely trust the first thought that pops into your head is the hardest part.
Blending logic, common sense, sound communication skills, and intuition is tricky. It takesyou guessed itpractice.
Become a Lifelong Learner
If you want to be a good tarot reader, you need to know more than the meaning of the cards; you need to know about life. The more you know,
the better your ability to interpret the cards in a way that is relevant to the client. Just studying the tarot isn’t enough. You may have an encyclopedic knowledge of the tarot, but if you don’t understand people and how to reach them, you won’t be an effective professional reader.
For example, in a reading you might say the Four of Cups means depression or feeling like an opportunity has been missed and you rush right past this to the next position. If you know about counseling techniques, you could stop and ask,“Have you been feeling depressed lately?” Drawing the client into a narrative of his or her own reading yields far more useful information about the cards’ meanings than breezily placing yourself in the position of the all-knowing, mysterious
When I read for others, I draw my clients into talking about themselves by asking questions. It’s their reading, not mine. I know this method is not for everyone, but consider the following example:When you go to a doctor, do you say,“Hey, Doc, I’ve been having symptoms.
Why don’t you divine what they are for me?”Nope, you give the good doctor as much personal information as you can, enabling the physician to give intelligent advice in return. It also holds true for a tarot reading. The more information you garner from your client, the more meaningful and helpful the reading will be.
The insight and skills needed to translate the tarot cards are similar to counseling techniques. Knowledge of psychology and counseling is indispensable when reading the cards for others. As obvious as this sounds, in order for a reading to be useful to your client, it has to make sense to that person. People want practical advice about their problems. If you go “cosmic” with your interpretations, you run the risk of confusing rather than helping, and just how useful is that?
I’m not suggesting you go back to college and get another degree,
but you will be better prepared to offer responsible advice if you go to a library or bookstore on a regular basis. Read books about counseling and psychology, take a course, and attend workshops. Listen to successful radio advice shows. The advisor has the responsibility to keep the caller on track and offer closure in a respectful, but timely, fashion.
Listen to how the “experts” handle questions that are outside their areas of expertise. Any educational experience that teaches how to give sound advice can teach you a lot about giving such advice during a professional tarot session.
The Myths of Owning Your Own Business
The benefits of owning your own business are obvious: you’re in charge,
you can set your own schedule and choose your own coworkers, and it’s exciting to take a risk. Understand that you are contemplating a major life change that requires courage.
The drawbacks of being in business for yourself may be less obvious:
no paid benefits, no sick time, no guaranteed income, playing all the roles from president to janitor and every job in between. Before we go one step further, let’s clear up some misunderstandings about the glories of owning your own business.1
• Myth 1: You’re the boss. You are also the janitor, receptionist,
financial advisor, accountant, bookkeeper, secretary, publicist,
and marketing expert. As sole proprietor with a staff of one, the appropriate question becomes, “The boss of what?”
• Myth 2: You’ll make lots of money right away. It takes time to build your loyal clientele; becoming a prosperous tarot reader doesn’t happen overnight. Don’t quit your day job while you prepare,
advertise, and network.
• Myth 3: You can avoid office politics.Well, there are certainly no politics in my own office for one, but anytime you do business consultations or read at a retail store or psychic fair, you risk bumping into internal turmoil, sometimes in a most uncomfortable way.You never know when you’re going to tap into someone else’s personal issues.
• Myth 4: You’ll work fewer hours. This is the biggest myth of all.
Making a tarot consultation service grow takes a huge commitment of time and energy.When your earnings are in direct proportion to your output, you feel compelled to stay at it.
• Myth 5: You won’t have to take orders. Certainly no one will be standing over you telling you how to read the cards. But, for the amount of time you are dealing with a client, each one of them is your boss because they are hiring you, specifying the type of reading they want, paying you, and evaluating your performance.
Your clients can make or break your success as a professional reader by word-of-mouth comments.
• Myth 6: You can watch the kids while you work. If you want to run a serious business, you have to arrange the same kind of childcare or babysitting you would if you worked for an employer. No one can pay attention to a baby and a client at the same time.
• Myth 7 (for night owls only): You can sleep late.When I quit my job as a registered nurse with its ghastly starting time of 7 A.M., I
had visions of throwing my alarm clock away. Harsh reality descended upon me quickly: the world still operated on a nineto-
five schedule. People who phone at 9 A.M. and get only your voice mail are frequently hard to reach the rest of the day. Even though I am perky at 10 P.M., it is still a tough time to return business calls. I am free to work at any hour, but if I want to interact with the rest of the world, I have to be functional in the morning.