Before you seek that tarot certification.

Tarot certification is a topic that pushes a lot of buttons in the tarot community.  There are many conflicting viewpoints – all potentially valid  – on whether or not it is a necessity and both sides seem rather passionate in their opinions. My own personal belief is that it is difficult to truly certify someone’s ability to read tarot  and no piece of paper can guarantee that a reader is any good.

However, I am not writing this article to debate the pros and cons as Mike Hernandez did that job brilliantly on his blog post, “Tarot And Certification”.  My intention is to get you thinking about WHY you would want to get certified the first place as well as give you some really good points to consider when choosing a body to grant you that certification.

Contemplating your own perceived need for certification is the most important step you can take.   I recommend that you do not rush this process or take it lightly.  Self examination allows you to move into a decision with clarity and integrity.  Here are the issues you should meditate on:

1.  Is your need for certification based on a sense of insecurity about your abilities? Passing certification can give you a sense of “I can do this” and many readers find that this allows them to move forward with more confidence. That being said, if you struggle with self doubt,  this is a good indicator that you need more introspection about whether or not tarot reading is the right path for you.  I can tell you that this work is not easy by any stretch of the imagination and you need to be in a good, grounded place before you take the leap into making this into a career.  Other confidence boosting options would be continuing your tarot education with classes or mentoring from a teacher that you respect.  Continuous practice will develop your abilities and your faith in yourself more than any piece of paper or outside stamp of approval.

2. On the flip side, do you have the need to feel important or powerful? Are you attaching too much value to fancy titles such as “grand master”?  Do you like showing everyone that you are more knowledgeable than them?  Do you enjoy flaunting your “powers” and feel that a title allows you to be superior to your peers in the tarot community?  If any of these examples sound like you, it’s time to check yourself before you wreck yourself.  An egomaniacal tarot reader hell bent on power and prestige can do a lot of damage to clients. And consider this – does anyone ever really “master” tarot?  Seriously, get over yourself and the need to “stand out”.

3.  Is certification required in your state to operate as a tarot reader? There are different laws on the books for any kind of perceived “fortune telling” – in fact, some states outlaw it!  If it is mandatory to have some sort of license or certification, then this would absolutely be an important step to take.  Be sure to check your state’s laws and see what they require in order to get your papers together.  The last thing you need is the long arm of the law shutting down your tarot operation!

4.  Do you feel certification will make you more accepted by your peers? I’ll let you in on a little secret – most of us professional tarot readers are NOT certified.  You don’t need to get certification to “fit in”.   As long as you have something to contribute to the community, you will be welcomed with open arms.  Most tarot readers are a friendly lot and could care less about whether or not you are certified, a master, an author or whatever.  Just be yourself!

If you have reflected carefully on those questions and decided that certification is for you, then you need to do your research on the different certifying operations available so that you can make a choice that is most beneficial to your circumstances.  Once you have chosen a organization to certify you, here are the things you need to pay attention to so that your certification is authentic and not some bogus piece of paper by some slip shod outfit designed to take your dollars and feed your ego:

1.  Legitimate business structure. What kind of business are they?  Are they non-profit, LLC, sole proprietorship, or a corporation?  Are they legally recognized, meaning did they file all the proper papers?  Are they registered with the Better Business Bureau and if so, what is their record?   If they cared enough to do their business properly, then that is a good sign that they are SERIOUS and not someone who just threw up a shingle and declared themselves “certifiers” randomly.

2.  Financial transparency. Before I turn over my hard earned bucks to a certifying body, I like to know where my money is going.  Are their financial statements available to the general public?  What are their intentions for the money they receive?  A certifying organization that is not a non- profit corporation may not “have to” reveal its financial reports, but transparency would be a positive sign and an indicator that they are truly doing this as a service with regard for the community.  The danger of for profit certifying bodies is that it is easier for them to operate as “dream vultures”, preying on insecure tarot aspirants who feel the need for validation.

3.  Who is running the show? Are these people contributing to the tarot community in a positive way?  Or are they divisive?  Do they “lord power” over others?  Be very careful that you pick an organization that you are proud to be a member of.   If you cannot feel 100% good about the people who are granting you a title, then you need to step back and reconsider.  Accepting a title from people whose ethics and validity are in question smacks of greed and self importance.

4.  What is the lineage of the people who certify? The people who run the certification board should be able to clearly and easily inform the general public of where they got their own certifications.  Who gave them their title?  How long ago did they receive their certification?  What processes did they have to go through in order to achieve certification?  There should be no mystery or evasion to these simple questions. If they granted certification to themselves, this is a conflict of interest and a huge red flag.  Steer clear of any organization that cannot give a detailed and honest answer about their own origins.

5.  What is the process you will have to go through in order to get certified? They should also be able to clearly articulate what you’ll be expected to do.  What guidelines do they have established?  Do they recognize all forms of tarot reading (ex: therapeutic, intuitive, Golden Dawn, etc.) and what is the criteria to insure that all methods are recognized? Is their testing objective?  Is the cost reasonable or affordable for your circumstances?  Do the benefits offered feel like a sound value for the sticker price?  (Please do not go into debt for a plaque to hang on your wall!)

If you have taken the time to do the required quality introspection and research and still come to the conclusion that certification is the path you want or need to take, go for it!

All that said, let me share my personal take on this with you.  No certificate that you frame and hang on a wall can replace or compare to the tears in my client’s eyes when I hit the nail on the head in their reading, the word of mouth referrals that have sustained my business for 20 years or the numerous requests to study with me personally.  My validation comes from LIVING and DOING tarot, and the clients that benefit from the guidance the tarot can offer.



Here’s a handy-dandy list of questions to ask and things to do before you invest in tarot certification: A reality check checklist.

image courtesy of  taoxproductions

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