Tarot FAQ

I was the same as you, didn’t know anything about tarot except the wizardry depicted in movies and such. Because of that I was actually slightly offended when I had not one but three separate people ask me in 2013 to read their tarot for them. I thought “well if I’m giving of these vibes that I’m a tarot reader, I should probably at least learn what it is I’m being asked to do.” Shortly thereafter a dance friend of mine was promoting the re-printing of a deck she created back in the late 70s. I had her teach me the basics with the deck she created and suddenly I realized I had it wrong and that it was a very well thought out and interesting system. I was hooked on the studying of it, and before long, more people asked me to read for them for fun (still wasn’t something I shared that I did)—haha, I still don’t know exactly what it means to give off a “tarot reader vibe“ but apparently I have it. Not long after, I happened to read for a couple people who were professional tarot readers themselves. It was just for fun at a friends party. They both insisted that I should be reading professionally. The director of the circus I performed for in DC/Baltimore as a contortionist hired me for a huge gig in which I read for >50 people over the course of an evening. Every single person thanked me for how helpful it was, and the rest is history! I leaned into it after that.

So as a scientist, I take a very pragmatic view of the cards. My take is that the tarot represent human experience in 78 cards, and if you're well-studied, each one has multiple aspects of the card that may be more or less relevant for a specific reading (that is, there are different ways you may interpret the same card depending on the question that was asked, or how they interact with the cards around them). That's not to say that a good reader is making things up or "picking and choosing" persay, but more that the cards represent complex ideas. So in the same way that I as a person really enjoy hiking, I am also a person who currently has a cast on (so hiking isn't relevant for me today). Each card has wisdom to share, so no matter what cards you draw, it will hopefully be helpful. The questions asked, the situation in the life of the querant and the skill of the tarot reader will determine what exact wisdom is there and how helpful it ends up being. So even though I believe that each card has widsom and it doesn't matter what cards are drawn, persay, there have been studies done (by physicists Jane English, PhD and Brian McCusker) that show that drawing cards from a deck of 78 blank cards (numbered but otherwise blank) will yield a statistically random collection of drawings. In contrast, drawings are not random (in that some cards are drawn more or less often than you would expect in a random drawing)for tarot cards. I have no idea what's up with that. As far as helping someone to become "in tune with their energy," I think some people might frame it that way. If that works for them, awesome! I don't disagree with that description but I think a way I am more comfortable stating it is that a tarot reading can be helpful as a means for self-reflection and intentionality in one's life.

The way I read tarot is less like looking into a crystal ball to tell the future the way popular culture paints it, and more like a framework to have a conversation about the life of the person in front of me. Nick calls it "folk therapy." So, to the extent that everyone is dealing with a certain phenomenon (ie pandemic/racial tension/ election, etc), that stress or passion will often show up. I'll give you an example. The Tower card represents intense change, often quite traumatic. If that card came up in a "normal" year, it might represent a divorce, a loss of a job, sickness, unexpected death, or something of the sort. This year, while it might represent those things, it might also represent the pandemic or how 2020 just feels really intense to a lot of us. Make sense? That's a really dramatic example though. There are 78 cards, and most of them aren't that dramatic. The tarot cards represent human experience, so most of the readings touch on the subtle (or sometimes less subtle) aspects of what we are experiencing in our lives.