The Good, The Bad, and The Sketchy
As the years have gone by, I’ve watched Tarot wax and wane in popularity, only to surge back each time, with more fans than ever.
No doubt about it: since I started reading the cards back in the dark ages, Tarot is much more acceptable. And available.
Where once there were only three or four types of decks that took substantial effort to hunt down, now with just the click of a mouse, anyone can choose from thousands of decks, to suit any age, budget, taste, or point of view. Tarot creation has enjoyed a Renaissance not seen since.. um.. the Renaissance!
And the heavy woo factor around it has calmed considerably, too, as more and more “regular” people are discovering that it is a reliable, easily understood tool they can use themselves, for insight and guidance.
At the same time, the numbers of people who now call themselves professional Tarot readers has grown exponentially, too.
Used to be, there weren’t so many of us. Oh, sure, there were always the kinds of places like that one near Myrtle Beach on Highway 17 with the neon “Palm Readings and Tarot” sign in the window, a busted refrigerator in the back yard, and the orange Trans-Am up on blocks, right?
Not exactly in the same category as most of the readers I know, who are serious, sincere, skillful professionals.
[By the way — lest you think such sketchy practitioners have gone the way of the rotary telephone, think again.
I regularly get clients who have paid hundreds, even thousands of dollars to have curses, bad juju, or the “hooks and cords” of some otherworldly tormentor removed. What has actually been extracted from them is their money and peace of mind.]
Not counting such shenanigans, there are now untold thousands of part-time and full-time Tarot readers.
Our local metaphysical store is constantly being approached by would-be new readers. The “Body-Mind-Spirit Expo” that comes to town twice a year features Tarot readers lined up by the dozens.
But which ones are the real deal? How can you know who’s good, who’s – meh, and who is – hide your wallet and run? What is one of the most important ingredients that makes for a truly skilled, excellent reader?
Most bona fide readers these days have a code of ethics, and they are savvy, sophisticated business owners and entrepreneurs (more about that another time).
But the big component I have noticed that separates the very best readers from con artists and even the so-so, well-meaning wannabes, is a strong commitment to honing one’s skills.
Teachers, doctors, interior designers, engineers, architects, medical professionals, social workers, massage therapists — many professions encourage and even require their workers to get continuing education. Sidestepping the whole controversy of whether there should be Tarot certification or not, I do believe that we should each be passionately committed to the ongoing study and practice of our discipline.
I can see how it might be tempting to become complacent. Many of us are already working very hard — taking care of families and in some cases holding down more than one job.
Besides — except for maybe the dullest of the dull, each time most readers pick up the cards, we learn something. And let’s face it — Tarot is not rocket science. Many people manage to skate by on a repertoire of basic meanings and key concepts.
But to make the extra effort (and sometimes fork over serious cash!) to learn and grow is what tells me someone is a true professional.
The really good readers I know make it a high priority to take workshops, go to Tarot gatherings large and small, read and study ravenously, and exchange information and tips with colleagues. Most of all, they love to listen and learn.
In fact, the better the reader, the more they are willing to be in “beginner’s mind;” receptive, open, and recognizing that there is always more they don’t know. This is probably true of many disciplines, but it certainly is in Tarot.
So, to my WINGS subscribers who sometimes get readings: have you ever asked your reader the last book about their discipline they read? Or the last workshop or class they took? How do they keep their skills sharp? Do they take measures to continue to develop their knowledge? What systems do they have in place to share and learn from their peers? Or do they?
And for those of you who read the cards for clients, friends, or even family, I challenge you: What kinds of Tarot topics do you wish you knew more about? Have you studied adjunct material that supports your work — like improving communication skills, examining ethical boundaries and standards, counseling skills for non-professionals, motivational training, or life transitions? What are your favorite ways to deepen your Tarot knowledge?
And when was the last time you invested time and resources to hone your skills with the cards?
I would love to hear your thoughts about this and if there is space, I will include some of your comments in my next issue.