The Dangers of Deck Collecting

I recently bought a deck of tarot cards. What’s so unusual about that? Well, the deck I bought, The Jean Noblet Tarot de Marseille is the same as two other decks I have. It’s my “working deck,” the deck I use for all my readings. I bought my third copy so I would have a second backup should anything happen to the first then the second copies. It’s like being a craftsman and having a favorite tool. My cards are my tools, and I want to make sure I always have them available when I read for someone. A number of years ago, I discovered that this particular deck resonated with me, and I’ve used it exclusively ever since.

Tarot Decks

There are many decks of tarot cards available, and more are created all the time. There’s always a market for them because there is always someone who has to purchase the latest creation. Some people have many decks in their collection. Some of the images in these decks are wonderful, so I can understand loving the art on the cards and so wanting to collect them as beautiful objects. However, I believe that some people use the purchase of new decks almost as a substitute for learning to read the cards properly. I can certainly relate to wanting to find tarot cards that “speak to you,” but I fear that some people will never settle on one deck, but will constantly flit from one to another, looking for that mythical “perfect deck.” It’s a bit like someone who keeps buying new guitars, but who will never get beyond noodling a bit on them and learning to play properly.

If you want to collect decks of tarot cards because of the beautiful art, that’s great! But if you want to read the cards, my best advice is to pick a deck and stick with it until you get proficient with it. The “magic” is in you, not the cards.

Time For a Tarot Reading?

watch imageSometimes when I’m looking for ideas or inspiration for a new blog post or business direction, I’ll turn to social media to see what’s being said about tarot. It can be time-consuming and sometimes frustrating, but occasionally a gem will appear. Doing such a search on Twitter a little while back, I found a post from someone who said she thought she was going to go get a tarot reading the following week because “it felt like it was about time.” I’ve been on Twitter a long time and I’m guessing she was probably bombarded very soon after with messages from tarot readers offering to do her reading. I was not one of them. I just felt like reaching out to her and saying that I would hope any decent reader would likely tell her that she’s wasting her time and energy getting readings under those circumstances and to go out and make her own destiny!

In my experience, treating tarot like a game to play when you’re bored, rather than using it as a tool when you have important decisions to make, usually results in frivolous answers… which will probably bore you even more. Don’t get me wrong – you’re not going to somehow wear out the tarot deck by getting readings like this, but you could become disillusioned with tarot, which would be a great shame. That’s one reason I’m not keen on reading tarot at parties or similar events. At a lot of parties, the presence of a tarot reader is quite exciting, and many people will want a reading. The trouble is that a lot of those people won’t really know what questions to ask because they’re not at a stage in their lives where they need to make a big decision (which is, in my opinion, the best time to get a reading).

When someone is first learning tarot, it’s common to want to do many readings. The temptation to read for oneself, for all one’s friends, for celebrities or even for fictional characters (it happens!) is huge. And in itself, it’s not a terrible thing. But some people take it to extremes, especially when reading for themselves, and a dependency on tarot can be the result; a situation where someone can’t make their own decisions without asking tarot, almost like asking permission to do the smallest things. And that’s not a good thing.

Thankfully, and largely because of the way I present my reading style, most of the people who come to me for readings do so when they have big life-decisions to make. It probably costs me clients, but I don’t regret taking my approach at all. Come to me for a reading when you’re ready, not when I’m ready.

 

(Image courtesy of Aleksa D at FreeDigitalPhotos.net)

The Death Card – Will I Die?

One night, I stayed up all night playing poker with Tarot cards. I got a full house and four people died. – Steven Wright

I love Steven Wright, but I always cringe just a little when someone repeats his joke on Twitter – and it happens a lot! It plays into the hands (excuse the pun) of those who are a little afraid of tarot cards. As I have been known to say: There’s nothing magic about tarot cards; they are simply paper, paste, and some pretty pictures in ink. The magic is in our heads.

La Mort - DeathA little while back, a potential client was enquiring about a reading, and made a bit of a joke about avoiding the “Death” card, because (and I’m paraphrasing here) while he knew that having the “Death” card come up in a reading didn’t always actually mean death, presumably it could mean death, right?

The way that my readings work is to give you information to empower you. My aim is always to enable you to write your own story. This means that really the only way that the card we call “Death” would represent physical death is if you were engaged in risky behavior that might lead to your demise if you didn’t do something about it. I would assume you’d want to know about that! The truth is that this card, depending on the context, can have many meanings. Sometimes it means making a “clean sweep” and discarding something from the past and moving on into the future. Sometimes it can mean divesting yourself of toxic “friends.” Just the other day, I had “Death” come up at the conclusion of a reading about a relationship; knowing that it would worry the client, I pointed out that in this context, my interpretation was that if something did not change, the likely result would be that the relationship would end. I was delighted when my client got back to me and said they had already done something about it, and the situation was much better.

So, my recommendation would be to stop seeing the “Death” card as a “bad card” and maybe start seeing it as a wake-up call or a card of opportunity.

Questions, Questions… and the BIG Question!

Having returned from a vacation at the beginning of last month feeling refreshed and enthusiastic to get back into the swing of doing more readings, I decided a challenge was in order. On both my Facebook tarot page and on my personal Facebook timeline, I asked friends, clients and potential clients the following:

Is there anything you’d like to know about tarot, about the way I read tarot, or anything like that? Do you have any reservations or even fears about tarot? Don’t be afraid of asking “stupid” questions. I don’t want you to be embarrassed about asking me anything, but if you don’t feel comfortable about sharing it here, please feel free to send me a private message instead.

Question Mark ImageI didn’t know what to expect, really. My main goal was to find out whether there was anyone out there who was wondering whether they should ask me for a reading, but was hesitating for some reason.

Little did I know that an old school friend was going to try to turn the challenge around, by asking the following question:

Go on then: “how does it work?”

To be quite honest, I don’t think he expected me to give a serious answer. But I think he (and anyone else reading the post) deserved one. This is how I responded:

My “flip” answer: Very well! 😉

I think that if you ask 20 different tarot card readers this question, you’ll get at least 10 different answers. I can only tell you how I *believe* it works. At least this is how I reason to myself it works, because it fits into my belief system:

I believe that when you communicate with someone, your subconscious automatically collects a whole bunch of information from that person’s subconscious. But that information is often very difficult for most of us to access in any meaningful way.

Here’s where tarot cards come in. To me, the images on the cards act as a focusing tool. They prompt me to access certain elements from all the information my subconscious has collected, that are relevant to the question a client has asked me.

It’s a little more complex than that, because I not only look at an image on an individual card, but also what I see as interactions between images on different cards, but I’m sure you get the idea.

I personally do not claim to be psychic and I don’t believe there to be anything “magical” about the cards, although the results often make it seem that way. Beyond that, these days I try not to think too much about how it all works, because that distracts from the readings themselves. Which work “Very well!” 🙂

What matters the most to me is getting meaningful advice for the people who come to me for readings. It really doesn’t matter whether or not they agree with me about how tarot works, as long as they find what I reveal to them to be helpful. Having said that, and as I brought the subject up here, I would love to hear back from you on this subject. How do you believe tarot works?

A Bit of Decorating, and A Forthcoming Freebie

I wanted to give the site a little personal touch, so, prompted by the WordPress “Zero to Hero” series, I created the header image you’ll see at the top of each page. Simple and straightforward, in keeping with my tarot philosophy, the background is adapted from the pattern on the back of my tarot deck of choice, the Jean Noblet Tarot de Marseille. Let me know what you think in the comments section.

Header screenshot

I’m starting to write a little e-book that I’m planning to offer for free in exchange for signing up for my e-mail newsletter. It’s designed to simply show how tarot can be an powerful tool to change your life for the better and to help you get the most out of a tarot reading. In addition to offering it to new subscribers, I will share it with those who are already on the e-mail list, as my way of saying thank you for being my list pioneers.

 

Why I Am Blogging

Because I want to be completely transparent to you, my audience, I’m going to share a few of my goals and motives for writing this blog part of my website.

Of course, I want to raise awareness of my new venture, Tarot Readings by Graham and attract people who might want to use my services. I am doing this as a business, not a hobby, even though I love helping people with tarot. I’m hoping to build this business so I can contribute financially towards my family. But there are other things I want to do here.

ManifestoI want to demystify tarot. I think I can best do that by describing a little bit about how I work. I believe tarot to be something that is completely natural, not supernatural. You don’t have to be psychic to read tarot. I certainly make no claims about any psychic abilities. I’m hoping that by revealing some of my process, my audience will see that it makes sense, logically.

Tarot readers are not all weirdos, witches or new-agey. I’m just a regular guy, who happens to have learned a way to help people choose the right paths in their lives. I’m hoping that I demonstrate that in my posts here.

As someone who believes that tarot can help anyone, I want to talk about the things that tarot readings are good for, what they’re not good for, and how to ask the right questions. I believe that knowing the best path to take can be enormously empowering.

If you have a desire to learn how to read tarot, I hope I can share some hints and tips about doing so. I am planning to write a slim volume about learning my approach, and to offer mentoring while you’re learning.

Along the way, I will share posts about books, websites and other resources and stories about tarot. I may write about some other related topics, such as readings using other methods.

I will write about the business of tarot reading and I welcome other tarot readers, whether professional or amateur, to follow the blog too.

And that really is what I have in mind right now. If there’s something you’d like to see in this blog, or a question you’d like to ask me, please post a comment.

My Tarot Story

As promised in an earlier post, I thought I would share a bit about my background in tarot.

Like many people, I became curious about tarot, along with other esoteric stuff, in my teens. I think I found my first deck in a junk shop back in the 1980s. It came with a very slim booklet listing so-called “meanings” of what are called the “Major Arcana,” the picture or trump cards. I did quite a few readings for friends and family, writing the results in a journal. I actually still have the journal, and it’s quite interesting reading it now.

I remember buying a book about the famous tarot deck created by A.E. Waite, often known as the “Rider-Waite” deck. I bought the Rider-Waite deck a little later. Like many people interested in tarot, I bought several different decks as well. My problem was always that I had difficulty memorizing someone else’s predefined “meanings” for the cards. That restricted me to consulting the books when I did readings. Those “meanings” didn’t always make sense to me when I looked at the images on the cards themselves, either. My frustration eventually led to me gradually drifting away from tarot.

Looking at the Marseilles TarotFast forward to 2007. I once again became interested in tarot, after digging out my old cards and books. This time, however, I found a tarot website with an online discussion forum. I started from scratch, trying to learn the card meanings again. Again, I had problems. Fortunately, I stumbled across a little e-book that had been recently written by Enrique Enriquez called Looking at the Marseilles Tarot. It talked about how memorizing someone else’s “meanings” could be counter-productive; its central theme was using the images on the cards themselves and the relationships between them. That was the key that would unlock the mysteries of the tarot for me. I found the language a bit academic and difficult to understand at times, but I knew that I had found what I was looking for, so I contacted Enrique to ask him for a little help. What followed was a wonderful journey of discovery. He taught me, bit by bit, how he read tarot. More than that, he encouraged me to adapt his methods to develop my own reading style.

What emerged was my “no-nonsense” approach to reading tarot cards. In a very short space of time, I was doing readings for others; readings that were getting a great reaction. I also discovered that I could give effective readings via e-mail. Soon, I set up a website to offer my services. At the time, I was also working as a teacher. As I was not using tarot as my sole means of support, I had a “pay what you will” policy that worked well at the time. A couple of years ago, however, I was laid-off from my job, and since then I’ve been a full-time stay-at-home Dad. I also took a hiatus from tarot reading.

My daughter is now quite independent, and so I recently started looking for my next challenge. I also felt it was about time to contribute financially to the family again. Finding the Fiverr platform was the final piece in the puzzle. And so, Tarot Readings by Graham was born.

Do you read tarot? Have you ever tried? Whether or not you’ve been successful, please share your tarot story in the comments section below.