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Professional Tarot
Professional Tarot
The Business of Reading, Consulting & Teaching

By: Christine Jette
Imprint: Llewellyn
Specs: Trade Paperback | 9780738702179
English  |  240 pages | 6 x 9 x 1 IN
Pub Date: July 2003
Price: $20.95 US
In Stock? Available only within the United States
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1 Taking the Leap
Trust that still small voice that says, “This might work
and I’ll try it.”
—Diane Mariechild
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.
psychic.
[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.
fix everything.
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.
Read on.
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 true—you get what you pay for.
Increasing Confidence
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 interest—them.
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 takes—you guessed it—practice.
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
High Priestess.
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.


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