Friday, September 23, 2011

The Blog Has Moved!


All new content will be posted at, which is integrated into my site. My blog here will remain, but no new content will be posted.


Wednesday, September 21, 2011

A Taste of Tarot by Hilary and Lessons Learned

The beginning of a internet journey...
Guess what! My fully functional website launches this Friday! (so you better stop by then to find out what goodies and reading specials are happening!)

This website is the cumulation of nearly five months of work with my tarot mentor, Theresa Reed. It is something I am extremely proud of, and something I will continue to be proud of. Most of this work has been a cosmic kick in the pants, the crux of the message being to not hide my light under a bushel. This is somewhat terrifying to step into the limelight (much like that Fool above teetering on the precipice), but I acknowledge that it is something I need to do to help my business grow. If you have been "hiding" your talents in some way, take my advice: Stop. Stop it right now. You are worthy of so much more than you give yourself credit for.

Lessons learned (so far):

  1. If you are not happy in the job you're in, take the steps to change the situation. If you cannot change the situation, change your perspective. You may find the results liberating. 
  2. We make SO many excuses when we are afraid. My excuse was the tax man/IRS/blah-blah-blah/etc. were going to come get me if I even thought about making tarot my business. Guess what? It's an excuse. And if I do everything through the correct channels, my fear of the guvment (misspelling intended) is unfounded.
  3. Damn, a lot of us tarot readers have low self-esteem. Were we not loved enough as children? Where the hell did this low self-esteem epidemic come from? I know a lot of amazing readers (listen, peeps, these are published authors of tarot books) that suffer from low self-esteem. Surprising, right? We all have our issues. Doesn't make them real. Doesn't make what we think true. Pluck up and see above: you are worthy of so much more than you give yourself credit for.
  4. You gotta spend money to make money. Sadly, a truth to some degree. But if you keep up to date with your bookkeeping and use a spreadsheet... who knows what success you can accomplish! There are also plenty of ways to advertise for free or on the cheap. Applying a creative brain to it absolutely helps. And the phrase "I'm just not a business person" is... guess what? Yup. An excuse.
  5. There is a wormhole that is directly and inversely proportional to the amount of time you put into this. Surprisingly, as busy as I've been, time seems to warp and allow me to do everything I want to do! The mantra of work hard, play hard has been really working for me! Also, every social opportunity I turn into a "marketing" opportunity (in a non-skeezy way, of course). I run in some weird, strange, esoteric circles. Tarot is a subject that happens to come up a lot in social situations. And I say... "What a coincidence! I'm a tarot reader!" I'm letting it all hang out.
  6. A mentor is a wonderful thing. They push us SO much farther than we're willing to go ourselves. They tell us stuff about ourselves that we pooh-pooh or explain away. They make us do things that we're afraid to do. They allow us to grow and flourish under a watchful eye. They give us advice so we don't make costly mistakes. So, in case I haven't said it enough: Theresa, thank you. A million times thank you.
"Leap, and the net will appear."--John Burroughs

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

From Someone Who's Been Given Too Much Advice

What is it about a difficult situation that makes us look outside of ourselves for answers, thinking that an outsider's perspective/advice has more validity than what we are personally thinking and feeling? I'm not saying that another person's viewpoint doesn't have validity; but why is it that we so willingly give away our own power by accepting their opinion as above our own?

I've been reading blogs that I wrote a long time ago when I was on I wrote about the label of psychic and what a tarot reader should or shouldn't be. This was only a few short years ago. My perspective has completely changed from what I wrote:

"So, while I do still do tarot readings (but am avoiding it because I focus on present situations too much... so what if I'm accurate? No one goes to a tarot reader to hear about the present... they want to hear the future) I don't think I want to make the claim that I'm psychic. I'm starting not to like labels anymore."
to the following perspective:

There are many reasons why a person would go to a tarot reader. The future is not set in stone. We have many choices, and those choices affect a possible outcome. Tarot shows patterns. Here's the final outcome card: Is it the outcome you want? No? Then make a different choice and your path changes. And psychic is a label that I'm still not comfortable with if it separates me from anyone else. Everyone is psychic.

When I read Small Mediums at Large by Terri Iacuzzo, she wrote that she entered into relationships full knowing that they weren't right for her. It is psychic, but just about everyone has a feeling before a bad relationship before entering into it. They just "know" it's not right. I knew that about one or two exes that I've had in my life. I entered into those relationships knowing that in the long run we'd end up wounding one another and ultimately weren't compatible. I have a feeling that they knew it, too, and ignored those misgivings in the same way I did. It seems to be human nature to deny, deny, deny because we want things so badly to work out, and that we don't trust that side of ourselves that would try to save us from the experiential proof.

It was told to me once by one of my mother's friends (that is psychic) that it's a bad idea to read tarot for yourself. She described to me that all one would pull would be horribly terrible cards of doom and gloom. I laughed when she said this, because I had been trying to do a full reading for myself every morning at that time, and gave up after two weeks because every single day I would pull The Tower, The Devil, The Hanged Man, The Nine of Swords (what I consider the card of nightmares), etc. Since then, I have realized that I am entirely capable of reading for myself. It's not the advice that I'm lacking. I've got it in spades. Advice and objectivity are two different things, and I've been tooling along my whole life believing they are the same. They're not. It is absolutely valid to go to a reader for objectivity. It's even okay to go to a reader for advice. But what's not okay is people discounting their own advice column they've got in their gut (yes, I'm referring to intuition here, and yes, you have it). It's not okay to put everyone's opinion about the way to run your life above your own.

Take back the power. Take back your own Dear Abby.

How did you realize that some of the best advice given is some of your own? Leave your stories/opinions in the Comments section below.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Taking My Own Advice

Believe it or not, this tarot reader seldom took her own advice when her intuition piped up to serve her and not her clients. Sometimes both. That has changed.

I realized this after a particularly harrowing hangover, one of the worst I've ever had in my young adult life. As I was sick as a dog, cursing myself for all the fun I had, I realized that I had predicted it two days' earlier, and failed to acknowledge or take my own advice. Some of you might know this story if you are friends with me on facebook. If not, sit back and relax as I weave my sordid tale of vodka and debauchery (well, for me, anyway... I'm rather tame, all things considered).

I was scheduled to go to a wedding. I had taken a day off of work to go, and had posted my card of the day interpretations on both twitter and facebook before leaving (for more information on my card of the day procedure, see here). I thought nothing of it when I pulled Temperance (reversed). I looked at the card, said what I saw, and merrily off I went. I should have remembered what I said!

What I interpreted was: 

Card of the Day—Temperance (rev): Get back to balance today. Meditate, take a deep breath, do something creative... whatever you do to get back to you. Also easy on the drinking today, otherwise prepare for a WICKED hangover! ;)
Now, all things considered, my interpretation on the wicked hangover was almost a tacked-on afterthought. However, it was the afterthought that I should have payed attention to. Hell, the whole thing I should have payed better attention to. But in my hubris, I assumed that the interpretation was for everyone that was reading it and not for me.

Sordid details of too much alcohol, being the life of the party (in a bad way), and a two day hangover that even my boyfriend had never seen before later... I know better than to assume I am "above" my own interpretations. In fact, I'll tell you a little nugget of knowledge I learned: the advice I give to my clients I also give to myself.

Yeah, really. And though it is true that it is the details that I don't retain (what the cards are, exactly what I say to the client during their reading, etc.) that deeper message still remains retained. If I say, in essence, to someone that they are scared to love and they should love more deeply... hell, I'm storing that message myself. Who's to say that the cards aren't trying to teach me a lesson, too? When I say to someone to "follow their bliss"... well, wouldn't it make me rather hypocritical to not do the same?

Image: Ambro /

Stories of "do as I say, not as I do" (and the lessons learned) to share? Leave them in the Comments section below!

Friday, September 2, 2011

The Post-Conference Rundown, Part II

The first card I pulled from the "cauldron" at SF BATS. A definite reminder to "go with the flow."
The final class on Saturday afternoon I decided to attend was Ellen Lorenzi-Prince’s “Discover Your Tarot Genius” where Ellen took us through both the ancient and modern concepts of genius by giving us exercises with our decks, pulling cards and speaking from our “genius” (spirit) self, and then giving another person a reading, speaking from that “genius” self. I think my genius self likes to speak to me by playing songs in my head that spark my intuition as I pull cards. Those songs usually correspond to any reading I’m doing, so no matter how strange or “off-point” they might seem, I always acknowledge the source and pass on the message (and usually am greeted with "How'd you know that?").

On Saturday evening was the “Bats in the Belfry” cocktail hour/mixer, where it seemed everyone but me was dressed up to the nines. I used my “carry-on only” excuse to beg off from dressing up, but after seeing all the fabulous outfits, I did feel a twinge of guilt, which was soon remedied by Merlot and good conversation.

After the mixer, I was invited up to Jude Alexander’s room to play The Tarot Game, her creation. And by “play”, I mean howl laughing with fellow tarot readers. We were the “rowdy” group of players, where tarot and pole dancing combined, and where we created a song while looking for a specific card in a deck.


Sunday morning the conference reconvened with a performance by Nancy Antenucci, Rhonda Lund, and Dan Pelletier. Nancy co-wrote the short vignette to demonstrate facets of reading psychically. This performance directly led me to buy her book Psychic Tarot. I had been hearing such wonderful things about it previously, but had been on the fence about purchasing it. My doubts were swept aside with the performance. I will enjoy her book, and Nancy is lovely!

There was only two classes to squeeze in before the panel in the afternoon on the tarot (where it’s been, where it’s going) so I hustled off to the first class of the last day. Let me quickly explain: There was a choice of three to four classes during each 50-minute class period, and it was extremely difficult to decide which classes to attend. However, on the second day, I had no doubts as to where I was going. I had to give my props to my tarot homegirls.

The first class was Courtney Weber’s “The Tarot of the Boroughs”. Now, you all may remember my review of this deck (if not, see here). This class was all about the deck’s creation. Moreover, it was about what it truly takes to create a tarot deck, and by the way... if you want to learn tarot, the best way is to create a deck. Why? Because if you create a deck, you live the tarot. I cannot say enough good things about this deck.

After a lunch break, the second class was Theresa Reed’s “From Prophet to Profit-- Transition from Tarot Hobbyist to Tarot Pro”. I am a very lucky girl to have Theresa as my tarot mentor, and everyone that attended this class was given a huge amount of information to take their talents to the next, and marketable, level. Even with me working with Theresa for the past four months, I still left this class with information I did not previously have, such as her 3-Step Process for success as a tarot reader.

Finally was the panel with some of the esteemed presenters from the conference. The crux of it is that tarot has come a long way, and the future of tarot is technology. There is no need to feel alone if you are a reader. Your tarot tribe is a mouse-click away. And if you need a reader, there are many ways to get a reading without having to be geographically local. Through technology, discussions on tarot continue to happen, and conferences such as the one I just attended get planned and get coverage.

Ask me in-depth questions about the conference by posting them in the Comments section below! 

Thursday, September 1, 2011

The Post-Conference Rundown, Part I

You know the saying “I left my heart in San Francisco”? Well, I think I left my brain there. The two-day madness of the Bay Area Tarot Symposium (BATS) + my flight back being cancelled the night I arrived left me feeling lost and confused most of the weekend (or at least it seems that way). I’ll let you know when my brain catches up with my body.

I attended wonderful classes at BATS this weekend. On Saturday morning, I ended up attending only a portion of Thalassa’s class “The Shadow Dance and the Crawl Space of the Soul,” due to having to rush upstairs to our hotel room to make arrangements for our trip home. For what I was present for, it was just what I needed, including a reminder of “If this is shadow, then what is throwing off the light?”

Next was Mary K. Greer’s class “Working with Your Tarot Birth and Year Cards.” I hate math, but working through this class was very necessary. Birth and year cards are extremely enlightening in giving you a head’s up with the year ahead of you, and clarity with what has come before in previous years. Mary’s book on this topic is Who Are You in the Tarot?, and if this interests you, you should definitely pick it up! 2012 is going to be a Strength year for me... whether I will need strength or I will have the strength is not certain yet!

After the lunch break, I high-tailed it over to Barbara Moore’s class “Giving a Voice to the Cards.” This was almost a backstage tour of making companion books corresponding to tarot decks, and sometimes even a Little White Book or two! Barbara is one of my favorite tarot people, as she is an extremely grounded and down-to-earth person. Her companion books are great and practical, and her writing seems to be effortless. I can’t wait to read the companion book for the Mystic Dreamer deck, and I eagerly await the arrival of Steampunk Tarot.

Next up was Corrine Kenner’s class “Tarot for Writers” (hmm, now why would THAT I appeal to me?). Corrine loves her handouts, and this class was no exception... all my notes were scribbled furiously on the handout she provided, using the Celtic Cross spread for both character creation, and again for plotting out a story based on the protagonist the group had just created!

Part II tomorrow!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Pre-Conference Madness and Pimpage

I will be furthering my tarot knowledge at the San Francisco Bay Area Tarot Symposium this weekend. People can feel free to keep requesting my tarot services via e-mail but I probably will not be returning e-mails until Monday at the earliest. Like it says on the hand-painted shingle on my door, "foresight is better than hindsight!" I also will not be doing my Card of the Day draw on twitter and facebook for Saturday and Sunday. Friday's Card of the Day will be extra-early for you East Coasters!

I haven’t packed yet and am firmly convinced I can manage with just a carry-on, considering I will be away for only three days. However, I will need to remember that am taking the same carry-on for the trip back, which means limiting my purchasing of new decks. Yes, I have a problem, and thy name is tarot. Considering I was just graced with the Cosmic Tarot (which I've been coveting for years) and the Mystic Dreamer Tarot as prezzies, it's much easier to be good on this trip.

I can't wait for this conference. Readers Studio was the most amazing experience, and I truly was not the same person walking out of it than I was walking in. I anticipate a similar occurrence with SF BATS. I can't wait to see what I learn, and then translate that into better readings for my clients. The continuation of tarot education is something I strive for... I will never stop learning, because there's simply more to learn about tarot than one could manage in several lifetimes of study!

Moving on to the PIMPAGE portion of the blog:
WEST COAST PEOPLE: Have you ever had Courtney Weber teach you tarot or read your tarot? Want to know the basics of circle-casting and why it’s done? Are you near Napa (or willing to get your ass there)? Read on. This blog is probably coming too late to those wanting to attend the tarot workshop, but I believe the circle-casting workshop is tomorrow, and Courtney is also available for readings as well. Check out the link for more details. Take advantage of Courtney's wisdom before us New Yorkers selfishly keep her for ourselves!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Right, Wrong, and Tarot: Evaluating Ethics

So, you heard about this tarot reader from a friend. “He/She’s amazing, so accurate, so helpful... you must make an appointment!” Okay, word of mouth praise is a good thing.

So you go to the tarot reader, and what you hear makes your skin crawl. She’s talking about people in your life like they’re snakes in the grass. Lots of talk about what’s going on in their lives... it might even be stuff that you didn’t know; their secrets coming to light.

If you came to me for a reading, I probably wouldn’t be talking too much about other people in your life. After all, we can’t control other people’s actions; we can only control our own. So I would be focused on you. What YOU can do to change your life for the better or handle other people/situations better.

So, who is the “right” tarot reader? Whoever it is that matches your own set of personal ethics. One reader friend of mine says this, tongue firmly in her cheek, “I read your Tarot behind your back.” Some readers don’t even do celebrity predictions. Some readers will not read for someone or on behalf of someone without permission. And some do. Whether it’s right or wrong is completely up to you. What vibes with your personal ethics?

How do you find out about a reader’s code of ethics? Most readers now will have a separate page on their site (if they have one) dealing specifically with ethics. If they don’t, check out their About page, and you should be able to get a good sense of what the reader will and won’t do. If that section doesn’t offer a clue, try looking at a Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) page if there is one. But don’t hunt too long. If ethics aren’t important to the reader, they won’t have any listed. But then you must ask the question... “Do I want to work with this person?” If ethics ARE important to them, they will be prominently displayed. You won’t have to look for the proverbial needle in the haystack to find them.

The crux of my ethics page (website coming late September!) will always be, “I will never share the details of your reading with anyone else.” Heck, I don’t even remember what I’ve said in a reading if the span of an hour goes by. The info isn’t for me to retain OR repeat. The info is solely for the client, to do with what they wish.

Image: Danilo Rizzuti /

What ethics do you look for in a reader? Where do you draw a line in the sand? Let’s discuss in the Comments section.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

If You Sprinkle When You Tinkle... Leaving Clients Better Than You Found Them

"If you sprinkle when you tinkle
please be neat and wipe the seat"
Variations on this “poem” include the second line being “please be a sweetie and wipe the seatie” instead, but you get the idea...

I saw this in a bathroom recently and I thought about tarot. Weird, right? I know. But most hours of the day I think about tarot, so it’s not so weird to me. Okay, so how did this simple little sign about other people’s urine make me think about tarot?

I’ve been doing a lot of work behind the scenes on my tarot business lately... stuff that y’all will get to see when my website launches at the end of September (and hopefully luuuuuv). It’s been “man behind the curtain” work, involving but not limited to a lot of meta stuff like motivation, how tarot works, how tarot works when I read, my style of reading, how I came to this work, my ethics, confidence issues, and where I’m heading. A lot of stuff that I really never thought about until I starting writing my web copy. And it was HARD. And now I’m coming out the other side of it, and I’m realizing it was hard but WORTH IT.

Back to the “poem”. I would like to make a version of this poem, and hang it about my tarot table (or wherever I choose to read). Why? Because this is a part of my personal ethics, and it boils down to this:
I want a person to leave a reading in the same condition (and hopefully better) than the start.

Sometimes a reading is heavy. A lot of shit comes up. Do I let the client just walk away after a reading, covered in that heaviness? Hell no. I clean them up. I buoy them up. I try to find the silver lining. Sometimes it’s really hard to find, but there is ALWAYS a course of action for the client to take, including inaction. There is always a choice to make, and that rests with the client. There is a song by the band Rush called Freewill... “You can choose a ready guide in some celestial voice. If you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice.” Either way, whatever they decide... It’s the client’s decision. And I want that decision to come from them, and from a position of empowerment.

Image courtesy of

What personal ethics do you have that come from an unlikely source? Feel free to describe in the Comments section... I would love to hear them!

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Mercury Retrograde: The Down and Dirty (from a few people that know)

Have you had a day from hell today? A day where everyone has misunderstood you, had car trouble, trouble with traffic and people driving like maniacs, and/or computer malfunctions? No, you're not going crazy. It's just Mercury Retrograde.

I'm no astrologer. My talent lies with tarot, so I will let astrologers deal with explaining the fun of when a planet like Mercury goes retrograde.

Here's a post from George Courtney regarding Mercury Retrograde: Back to the Future Mercury! Keep in mind that this was originally written for the Mercury Retrograde that happened at the end of March, but most of what George says here applies to a Mercury Retrograde in general.

Maria Shaw notes in her article Mercury Retrograde: What Is It Good For? what things CAN be accomplished during this time period. Mercury Rx is not a good time to start projects, but it IS a good time for finishing the unfinished ones. Have a knitting project that's been sitting? Time to finish it! Upset with your job? Don't start a new one during this time period, but DO revise your resume. I loved this part of her article:
"Think of any word that has an 're' in front of it. That’s what Mercury Retrograde is good just about anything."
So, let's bring it back to tarot now (after all, this is a tarot blog). What do the cards have to say about this Mercury Retrograde that lasts until August 26th?

Ace of Swords: Know that this is simply a fleeting moment in time. There is definitely a lot of righteous indignation going around. Do not be a part of that majority. That big sword in the Ace of Swords can cut both ways, and both you and your target will be injured in the process. Don't use words as a weapon right now.

Ace of Coins: Ground yourself. Seek solace in nature. There is so much prosperity around, but it is the potential of prosperity... it is not ripe for the picking yet. Let it wait; let it mature.

4 of Wands (rev): A call to move creative forces inward. The four wands in this card form a point of light that seems to be shining inside of yourself. It's almost a form of the Hermit card, but lighter. Introspection is needed. Lay low.

Very interesting that two Aces comes up in this reading. I personally like to think of the Aces as the potential of the suit they correspond to, not unlike the concept of "potential energy" vs. "kinetic energy". 

So, lay low, people. Tie up loose ends of projects that you began before Mercury went retrograde. Double-check all travel plans. Pad any plans you make with additional time, just in case. Be crystal clear in your communications, both written and verbal. Keep your eyes wide open while driving. And this Mercury Retrograde period too shall pass...

Has your Merc. Rx period started off with a bang? Let's chat about it in the Comments section!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Ask a Tarot Reader—Card of the Day?

Question: What do you do when all these different tarot readers that you follow pull different cards? Is there a way to use all of them as a guide for your day?

This situation is not dissimilar to using a certain newspaper to check your horoscope. Thanks to the magic of twitter, facebook, and other social-media-centered sites, you can start off your morning by checking what your favorite tarot reader's card of the day is.

What is a card of the day? How is it determined? A card of the day (to me) is the Advice card for the day. A quick little “head’s up” for what might be occurring in your day. How I determine the card of the day: I shuffle the cards and as I’m shuffling, I ask, “What do I and everyone who reads my interpretation need to know for today?” When I think I have shuffled enough, I stop and pull from the top of the deck. Sometimes I’ll fan the cards and pull a card randomly. And other times (rarely) I will flip over the stack of cards to the bottom card of the deck (which is termed the “deep card”). My method of choosing always depends on what my intuition is telling me to do at that moment, but the card of the day is always pulled randomly. Well, as random as tarot (seldom) is.

I will use today as an example. Today’s card of the day for me was the Tower reversed. Here’s what I posted to twitter:

The Tower (rev): You are not seeing the true situation right now; you are unwilling to see it b/c it will destroy what you think you know.

Short, sweet (as sweet as the Tower can be), and to the point. After all, on twitter, you’ve only got 140 characters to get the message out.

Extended interpretation posted to facebook:

Card of the Day—The Tower (rev): You are not seeing the true situation right now; you are unwilling to see it because it will destroy what you think you know. Someone has built their reputation on lies but people don't know it... yet. A shake-up will happen, but now's not the time.

The base message is still there, but more words equals a way to get that message out, using more angles. After all, there are many sides to a story; so too are there many sides to one tarot card.

Okay, let’s get back to the real question at hand, now that you know what a card of the day is and my process of selecting a card. I’m going to throw a wrench in the works here when I say…

…all card of the day pulls and interpretations are valid.

You could approach the situation in a few ways:

a)    If you choose to only follow one reader’s card of the day pulls, I would suggest doing a little journaling about it before making the choice. Follow several readers on twitter, facebook, wherever they leave their card of the day. Keep a log of each reader’s card of the day and interpretations. Then at the end of the day, journal about your day, and retro-fit. What card do you think best described what occurred during that day? Do this over several days so you have enough information to work with. This exercise is not just about card of the day accuracy; it is also about style. Some readers are gentle with their message, some are no-nonsense, and some are in-between. Keep in mind both accuracy and delivery when you choose.
b)    Here’s where the second part of the question comes into play: what if you simply don’t want to choose? Is there a way to integrate all these cards of the day as a guide for the day? I would say so. There’s never just one situation going on in someone’s life. We’re all juggling many different issues in the air at any given time. Who’s to say the card of the day applies to only the most pressing situation? Multiple cards of the day might mean multiple questions are being answered, just by different readers. Try this: Before reading a card of the day, ask a question that you want answering, aloud or in your mind. Then read that person’s card of the day for the answer. Ask a different question. Read the next person’s card of the day. For as many readers you follow in the social media universe, that’s the amount of questions you can ask their cards of the day!
c)    If you want to apply the multiple cards of the day to your day, here’s a variation on the question game (see b): Instead of asking different questions of the different cards of the day, create a spread. Draw it out, or use playing cards as placeholders. Lay it out however you like. Assign a positional meaning to each card, such as Relationships, Advice, You (in your current position), Hopes/Fears, Message from Higher Self, etc. Now assign a reader’s card of the day to its own position, by the reader’s name alone. Now unveil what the cards of the day actually are and their interpretations. How does each card “fit” into its position? How are the cards talking to one another in the layout? Are any of the cards similar in either the card itself or its interpretation? What positions do the similar cards/interpretations land in? Take notice; these might be areas in your life where you need to pay special attention to on this day.

Do you pay attention to card of the day interpretations? Do you follow just one card of the day, or multiples? How do you integrate the multiple cards and interpretations into one day’s worth of advice? Let’s chat about it in the Comments section.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

The Tools That Help, The Tools That Hinder

Is the tool above helpful?
I never wear a watch when I do readings. Call it superstition. Call it what you will. But check my wrists the next time I’m reading for you, and they will be void of timepieces. Why?

I think it might stem from my wrist feeling incredibly heavy with the weight of time when I’m doing readings. I don’t want to feel constrained by time when I give a reading. It takes me completely out of the reading. I also don’t want to indulge into giving in to the urge to look at my watch if I am reading for a difficult client (few and far between, but, hey, it happens).

So, I find wearing a watch to be a tool that hinders. It stops me from doing readings to my best ability. Tools that assist a reader and tools that limit a reader I find to be an individual thing. Over time, you come to realize what works and what doesn’t.

What I think helps a reading:
  • A candle in a color applicable to the reading.
    • Actually, I carved a candle that I only burn during tarot readings. It is purple and anointed with specific oils for the purposes of divination, grounding, and goddesses associated with divination (Brid and Oya). It also is covered in silver glitter. I bet Martha Stewart would be either surprised and/or amused to know that her glitter brand was used for this purpose! I used a “7-Day Pullout” candle for this.
    • There’s plenty of books out there about magical correspondences of colors. Do a Google search with the search terms “candle color correspondences” and you’ll find a wealth of information and recommendations of books to read on the subject. When at a loss in choosing, I suggest burning a white candle, since white is an all-purpose color. Also, use your own gut for this. If you get a peaceful calm feeling from burning a black candle, even if the correspondence isn’t “correct” according to a book, do what you feel. Burn that candle!
    • If you already know what issue a client is coming to the reading for, burn a candle with the corresponding color for the situation. Or burn a candle to combat the situation, such as burning a light blue candle for peace if the particular situation is full of conflict.
    • Always use common sense when burning candles. Keep water close by. Use a candle snuffer when possible.
  • Crystals/gemstones.
    • I usually keep the stones with whatever deck I’m using the most at the time. I store my cards in a bag, so the stones lay right next to the cards in the bag. I favor clear quartz (all-purpose, energy boost), amethyst (intuition, focus), rose quartz (love, friendship), tiger’s eye (luck), and any clear light blue stone (communication).
    • Plenty of books out there about gemstones, too. The Crystal Bible by Judy Hall is a good, comprehensive resource book on the topic.
What I think hinders a reading:
  • Caffeine.
    • Caffeine causes me to become ungrounded. It is very hard for me to read when I’m not grounded. I feel fuzzy, out of it, and not present for the client. Gauge this for yourself. Me, it’s a personal choice to try to avoid coffee before I read for someone.
  • Alcohol.
    • I’ll further specify. I think one glass of wine while doing a reading is fine, especially if you’re feeling uptight/nervous about reading at an event. Sip slowly and thoughtfully. Don’t chug.
      I had a glass of white wine while reading at the Tarot of the Boroughs launch party, and I was fully present for my clients, and not wrapped up in my own confidence issues and anxieties. In this case, it helped. But keep it to a minimum. It’s unlikely that someone will be drawn to a reader that’s smashed out of their gourd. Use common sense. There are some readers that will disagree with me on this point, and prefer to avoid alcohol completely when reading the cards. Do what you feel is ethical. Remember to keep your client’s highest good in mind.
    • Additionally, avoid reading for someone that’s had too much to drink. Reschedule with them if you can. It will be very hard for their reading to be beneficial if they’re not mentally present for the reading, and they won’t retain any information you give them.
Do you need every item? Nope! After all, some of this paraphernalia can get pretty unwieldy. Take everything I said above and either take it to heart, or chuck it out the window. Use whatever tools you want, but always keep ever mindful of the “why” behind them. Be wary of those tools becoming a crutch. In summation, all you really need is your cards and yourself.

What tools do you use in your tarot practice? Do they hinder or help? Why? Let’s chat about it in the Comments section!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Choosing the Right Reader for You

There’s one thing I am learning in abundance lately. There are A LOT of talented tarot readers out there. I surf the Internet and I have a whole bunch of stuff to read from readers across the country (if not the world). Ten years from now, the growth of tarot readers will explode exponentially as new people discover the power of tarot for themselves.

My hope is that every client I read for feels the spark of their own intuition igniting, and they pick up their own deck of tarot cards. After all, sometimes your neighborhood friendly tarot reader isn’t available to give you a reading… what do you do then: hold your head in your hands and cry? Wait to make a crucial decision based on someone else’s wisdom and card-reading instead of your own? Most of the time we have all the answers we need right inside ourselves.

Even if you never pick up your own deck of tarot cards, there still might be an interest to get a reading. How do you choose the reader that’s right for you?

Go into choosing a reader with these questions in mind:

  1. What is the purpose of my reading?
    If you want to be entertained, go for the more theatrical types. If you need a question answered that is emotionally charged, find someone that is down-to-earth and grounded, but able to deliver the message with sensitivity.
  2. Which of your friends gives you good advice? What are they like?
    You might be best served thinking about the kind of people you hang out with, and choose qualities in those that give the best advice. Then look for those qualities in a tarot reader. After all, tarot readers usually serve the same role as your friends: we can be sounding boards for your ideas, but the use of tarot cards adds an extra dimension to that advice.
  3. Opposites sometimes attract… what are the qualities of someone that is a polar opposite of you? Sometimes it is very hard to get an objective opinion; it’s even harder with someone that thinks in the same way as you. Consider hiring a tarot reader that is a complete opposite of you to read for you. You’d be surprised at how much insight into a situation you’ll receive from a person who thinks in a completely different way. Add tarot to that, and you might have the best reading ever!

What other questions do you ask yourself when looking for a tarot reader? Post them in the Comments section!

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Writing with the Tarot

Recommended Reading for a Writer with a Weakness for Tarot

The other day I had a lovely conversation with someone about art, writing, and the tarot. This girl was a writer that wanted to write more and was getting stuck. She also was new to tarot, and had no idea where to start with the cards. So I told her to combine the two. Her face absolutely lit up and she said she would try it. (If you're reading this, I hope it worked for you!) 

There is much to be learned from the whole "meanings of the individual cards" thing. But sometimes, you have to let those images speak to you in their own way, and that has very little to do with accepted meanings. It's a private conversation of imagery between you and the cards. Keywords looked up in a little book tend to gum up the works if used for spurring the writing muses (but hey, if you're a wordy person, don't let me stop you). Let the card be a pretty picture. Let a story come out of it. Let your words describe what you are seeing. Let the words flow.

The cards lend themselves to writers very well, because through tarot cards we can see the story of our lives. Who's to say we can't see a story of a fictional life through them as well? We've got the beginning (The Fool), we've got the picking up of the pace (The Chariot), we've got the problem (Lovers, Devil, Hierophant; love story, boundaries and expectations, problem with authority), total destruction and climax or reversal of fortune (The Tower, The Wheel), and the resolution (Sun, Moon, World, etc). And by the by, even nonfiction writing can benefit from a shuffle and one-card pull.

I just did a shuffle and pull keeping writing in mind and got Death. You can use the imagery on the card (mine is very skull and scythe, Death as a mounted knight in shadows type) or you can use the interpreted meaning of the card (endings, letting go, loss, transformation, fear of unknown) to use this card to spark writing.

The writing/tarot combo is not new. In fact, there are quite a number of books on the subject.

Some Recommended Reading:

Tarot Diva by Sasha Graham

Tarot Journaling by Corrine Kenner

Tarot Tells the Tale by James Ricklef

On Writing by Stephen King

How do you use tarot to spur you to writing glory? Share your thoughts in the Comments section!

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Be the Reader You Are (and Don't Stress About What You're Not)

This sign stands outside of Mirabai, a New Age bookstore in Woodstock, New York.

I have to think of it this way. I read tarot before him. I read tarot for him. And I read tarot after him.

My ex was a tarot reader. He was quite good at it. He was not my first boyfriend to read tarot, but there was something about his readings that were so scarily accurate that I was in awe.

Consequently, when it was mutually realized we were both readers, we agreed to exchange readings. He read for me. And when it came time for me to read for him . . .

. . . I was reduced to tears. Absolute mental breakdown-worthy tears.

I don’t know why I thought after he read for me that I was suddenly incapable of doing a reading for him. I don’t remember panicking while he was shuffling the cards. I don’t remember panicking when I took the cards back from him and started to lay them out. It was when I was done with laying out the cards that it kicked in. The thought: “Oh crap, now it’s really my turn.”

And I started to cry. That first reading was horrible. I don’t think my first reading for a stranger was as bad as that reading. Oh, I’m sure I was accurate. It was the feeling that went along with it, the “I can’t read as eloquently as he just did.” That first reading I did for my ex he walked me through, point by point, card by card, and at the end prompted me with, “What does it all mean altogether?” The reading was like pulling teeth or taffy, the information exchange like molasses with sharp shards in it.

I don’t blame my ex in any of this. I blame myself. He was an intimidating guy, and his tarot-reading was no exception. But I let myself be intimidated by another reader. Therefore, the fault lays with me.

A few years after this, I started reading professionally. During one of these “out of the tarot closet” readings, I read for an acquaintance who admitted after the reading was finished that she was a tarot reader, too. I thanked her profusely for telling me after the reading and not before, since my nerves would have been shot “reading for a reader.” After that, I silently told myself that reading for readers was “too hard” and vowed to avoid it when possible . . .

. . . and then two months ago I was at Readers Studio, surrounded by fellow readers. Not reading for another reader at a tarot conference is impossible. It is a part of the learning process. You take classes at the conference and then you immediately apply them to help absorb that new information. Compounded by that were threats from people to read for “heap big tarot readers” (see The Tarot Apprentice Speaks for said threats), furthering amalgamating my already paralyzing fear of reading for readers. At Readers Studio, you are reading for readers right from the get-go with the Foundation Reading. Theresa Reed (who just happened to be sitting next to me at the start . . . coincidence? Absolutely not!) and I paired up. I wanted to tell her about my fear of reading for readers, but just from the look on her face I could tell it was a bad idea. Theresa could see right through me, look at my fears, and know what I didn’t realize until after Readers Studio: all of this “I can’t do this” self-flagellation was and is bullshit.

In short, you cannot be another reader. You can try, but it simply won’t work. Readings that should come easily will suddenly be nightmarish and hard if you so much as attempt to read like someone else. The tarot senses the bullshit and those cards that you have come to know as your friends transform into monsters from under the bed.

I’m not an eloquent reader. Much of the time when reading I curse, am pretty blunt, and rarely tint the world rosy when that’s not what I’m seeing. I try not to beat around the bush and frequently dive right into the core reason as to why you’re coming for a reading. I use words such as “asskickery” to describe the suit of Swords.

I’m not particularly slick like my ex was when reading, but I have my own style, and that’s okay. You have your own style that makes your readings special. Don’t let your specialness be overshadowed by your own fears. Be your own person. Be your own reader.