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The New Tarot Readers

This article was written by Rachel Pollack
posted under Tarot

Who are the next generation of Tarot readers, and who will welcome and guide them? Go to a Tarot conference, or a large workshop, and you will see a range of ages, up to the 50s and 60s, but you’ll rarely encounter people under 25. Look at the books about Tarot, from the beginners’ level to “special topics” and advanced esoteric ideas, and it’s clear that almost all of them, including the ones self-described as “for dummies” or “idiots,” expect their audiences to be grown up, out of college (certainly out of high school), with jobs or looking for work (maybe seeking their “true” work), often struggling with relationships, marriage, divorce, maybe following some alternative spiritual path.

Does this mean that no one ever gets interested in Tarot until they have launched themselves into adult life? The fact is, the opposite is true. Tarot cards—and other methods of divination—fascinate young adults. People in high school will sometimes get together in groups, or at parties, to experiment with Tarot. And, like anyone else, they look to instruction books to help guide them into this fascinating world of magical images. Unfortunately, they will quickly discover that almost all of the books available are written for a very different audience.

Seeker was written with the exact purpose of offering a true guide to young adults who find the Tarot thrilling and mysterious. I began with two principles. The first is that most people, but especially teens, want to enjoy themselves. They are attracted to Tarot because it’s exciting. They want to find magic, but they also want to enjoy the search. As we say several times in Seeker, the Tarot actually began its long life as a game, and it works best when we approach it with playful openness.

The second principle was just as simple. Young people are no less intelligent than older generations. They just have different concerns. It seems to me that many people think books for young adults should be simplified from how they might have been written for middle-aged people (I’ve seen one or two Tarot for Teens books that were clearly written this way). Or else they assume teens cannot hold any serious thoughts in their heads, and so they make sure the book stays frothy and frivolous. Such people clearly never read young adult novels. I do. Some of my favorite writers work in this genre (Francesca Lia Block, Phillip Pullman, Amelia Atwater-Rhodes, to name just a few), and I know how serious and daring they can be. So my approach to Seeker was never, “dumb it down—they’re just kids.” Instead, I tried to ask myself that all-important question, “who is this book for?”

Let me backtrack a moment. Nearly twenty-five years ago I wrote my first Tarot book, Seventy-Eight Degrees of Wisdom. Though I had written fiction for years, I had never attempted a non-fiction book. It seemed to me that I could not write it without asking myself that same question, “who is it for?” The answer I came up with was simple. The book would speak to people who might not know anything about metaphysics or symbolism but were intelligent, perceptive, and open to spiritual ideas. I am convinced that one of the main reasons for that book’s lasting popularity is my awareness of its audience.

Something of the same approach has gone into Seeker. When I asked myself who would read it, I came up with just what the title implies—someone seeking greater awareness, someone who approaches Tarot with fascination and excitement, but also a desire to really understand what it offers. She or he may have looked at various non-traditional spiritual practices. In particular, they may have explored Wicca, since Wiccans often use Tarot in their rituals. But I did not assume any previous knowledge of any kind. Instead, I tried to think of people who were curious, and playful, but who could also be very serious in their desire to understand themselves and the world around them.

Which brings me to another concern that I tried always to keep in mind. What kind of questions would young adults ask the cards? How would they actually use the Tarot? Where older readers might ask about marriage, sixteen-year-olds would more likely want to know about someone they’ve met in class, or how serious they want to get with someone they’re going out with. While older readers might ask the cards about jobs or career choices, young adults would likely want help with studying, or how to deal with the pressures of exams and college. Spend time with teens and you are likely to notice how intensely they approach life, how they ask questions about everything and challenge all the rules and assumptions. The Tarot can be a wonderful tool for such explorations. You just have to ask the right questions. In Seeker we have tried to do exactly that, ask the questions that young adults would likely bring to the cards.

And what of the fun part? This too was important to keep in mind, for young adults may be as serious and concerned about life’s questions as older generations, but they also have not taken on the mistaken idea that you cannot be playful if you want to do something important (unfortunately, they get enough of that view at school). So, throughout Seeker I did my best to describe the cards, and their uses, in ways that kept to that ancient spirit of a game—a game that could reveal truth, a game of life, but a game that ultimately brings us excitement and joy.

Rachel PollackRachel Pollack
Rachel  is considered one of the World’s foremost authorities on the modern interpretation of the Tarot. She is also a poet, an award-winning novelist, and a Tarot card and comic book artist. She has published 12 books on the Tarot, including 78...  Read more

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