Talkin’ Tarot with Elliot Adam

by Theresa Reed on March 7, 2018

Talkin’ Tarot With is a monthly feature designed to introduce my readers to different tarot readers from our wonderfully diverse community!  Each month, I’ll be asking various tarot readers 3 questions about their tarot philosophy and style, plus pointing you to their websites and blogs so that you can learn more about them!  I like to hand pick tarot readers that I feel are talented and interesting.

Talkin' Tarot with Elliot Adam

Years ago, I heard rumors of a remarkably talented teen who was reading tarot at a local tea shop. Intrigued, I went to see for myself. As I walked through the clutter of teas and knick-knacks, a slight young man with long, floppy hair and a radiant smile peeked through the curtains of the back room. “I’m Elliot” he said. We sat down and he proceeded to give me a thorough and fabulous tarot reading. Since that time, he’s become a dear friend and a trusted tarot peer.

Elliot isn’t just a tarot reader – he’s also an accomplished oboist and currently plays with the Quad City Symphony Orchestra. (Fun fact: Elliot studied music in college with my son – they were in some of the same classes!) He recently earned his doctoral degree – but never stopped reading tarot for his loyal clientele. Juggling both academia and a busy tarot practice is feat that only the brave will attempt! Yet somehow Elliot makes it all look so easy. It’s been a joy watching him achieve his musical goals over the years – and it’s even better seeing him expand his tarot work to the online world.

If you’re looking for a bright, kind, and precise tarot reading, do check out Elliot. He’s a rising star in the industry and one to keep your eyes on.


Dr. Elliot Adam is a tarot specialist originally from the Metro-Milwaukee area. He currently operates the tarot website, providing readings for clients from all over the world. From 2000-2005, he owned Athena’s Oracle, a divination specialty shop, located in the heart of Milwaukee’s historic East-Side. For over twenty years, Elliot has performed thousands of readings. He is known for his empowering, clear, and remarkably accurate consultations. Aside from tarot, Elliot’s interests include ancient Greek language, religion, history, and classical music. In 2016, he earned his doctoral degree in classical oboe. He is also a professional oboist with the Quad City Symphony Orchestra.

You can find him at all these mighty fine social media hubs:





Check out Elliot’s answers to my questions below:


Q: What is your philosophy about tarot reading?

Elliot: For me, tarot is a profound tool for gaining clarity and perspective. It is a collection of mythic archetypes and symbols that have been in direct dialogue with our deepest instincts for thousands of years. I believe that each of us has access to an awareness that exists beyond the superficiality prized by the external world. Tarot is a vibrant collection of symbols that speak directly to one’s inner (and I would argue “best”) self. With skillful interpretation, a great tarot reader can illuminate hidden aspects of any given situation, which may not be apparent on the surface. The old saying “A picture is worth a thousand words,” encapsulates what an adept reader can communicate just by interpreting one card. These archetypes began when human beings started to write using pictures to describe their inner and outer experiences. Pictures were our first written words.

The thing that continues to astound me is how applicable and accurate tarot is. When I sit down with a new client, I often don’t know anything about them. When I lay the cards down in a spread and begin to interpret them, I still don’t know how they will end up relating to the client. I trust the symbols. And the symbols always come through for me. Each card is a piece of a person’s story, and the infinite number of combinations of cards ensure a wholly unique story for each client. I never ask my clients any questions until after my initial spread interpretation. I don’t want any extraneous information that does not appear in the spread to alter the narrative of what I am seeing. After the initial interpretation of the spread, I ask if the client has any questions on other specific matters they would like to delve into. Many times, their initial questions have already been answered while listening to the spread interpretation at the beginning of the session. I love later hearing how all the details of the reading apply to the specific concerns of each client. I’ve done thousands of readings for more than twenty years, and it never ceases to amaze me that they always seem to hit their mark.

The main thing I would like people to know about tarot readings, and tarot readers, is that many of us are professionals who take our craft seriously. Just because someone doesn’t understand tarot or how it works, does not mean it should be dismissed. I personally don’t identify myself as a “psychic” because it implies that I am a “mind reader.” I can’t account for what anyone else does or claims. What I do is very different from some of the “gypsy” stereotypes surrounding tarot. If people are looking for a guy with a turban complete with a dangling jewel on my head, then they are going to be disappointed! Instead, what I do is interpret the ancient images that have journeyed with humanity since we were painting them on cave walls. These potent archetypes engage in a powerful dialogue with one’s inner awareness. Readings can provide a wider perspective to people’s deepest questions, fears, concerns, issues, and dilemmas. “Knowing thyself,” and the various unconscious aspects of any given situation can encourage individuals to create a better future for themselves. My purpose is to empower my clients with wisdom, honesty, and understanding by engaging with their depth.

Q: How do you feel a client might get the most out of a reading with you?

Elliot: For a client to get the most out of a reading they should understand a few things. First, I am not a mind reader! I can amaze you with things I might say that pertain to your life, but it is not because I read your mind, or that my cards have “mystical powers” to see into your thoughts. The connections one makes between what I say, and their personal life experience is their interpretation. I am an oracle. An oracle reflects one’s situation back onto the questioner in a different light. These issues are reexamined and expounded upon, using the myths as our guide, so that the answers can emerge. It is the client that makes the best use of the stream of dialogue I narrate during a reading.

Also, I do not believe in a fated future, where each event is predestined, and that somehow, I have the power to see how everything will go. However, it is true that there is a predictive aspect to reading tarot. Much like a weather forecaster uses present information and known trends to predict how cloudy it will be next week, I use information from the past and present to predict a “likely” future. However, the future is not set in stone. We don’t dismiss all meteorologists each time the weather appears different than predicted (well I guess some of us do), and likewise we shouldn’t dismiss all predictive aspects of readings. The future is still unwritten, and mutably changes according to choices made in the present. The past is long gone, and the future hasn’t happened yet. That means the present is where your personal power can be found. When a client understands that the choices they make now can lead to a better future, they feel empowered and aware. Knowing this, there is a lot less to fear about the future. Although I can identify things that will likely happen, the client can choose a different future for that they would like to see by taking action.

If a client comes to a reading with an open mind and does not sit down with “fixed expectations” that I will validate something they are unhealthily attached to, or tell them what they want to hear, they will get a tremendous amount out of a session with me. I use the tarot’s symbols to awaken the potential of people. I never use the tarot to scare people or make them feel hopeless. There is always a way forward, even when we experience our darkest moments. This illuminated pathway is found in the present, and deep within (just as depicted on the Hermit card).

I also ask for clients to write out a few pressing questions before we sit down for a session. I won’t ask for the questions until after my initial spread interpretation. If I’ve done my job well, I will have at least touched on the questions before they are asked. The question portion of the reading is where the client can dig deeper into the situations or issues that have confounded them. Readings provide a safe, and detached lens for examining life events and concerns. Seeing your fears, worries, and challenges on the table through the cards provides distance and new perspective about how to approach them. The cards also communicate that you aren’t the first person to feel the way you do or experience your challenges. The archetypes depicted on the cards have been telling people’s similar stories for ages and have been guiding people back to a place of personal empowerment. The images on the cards can also provide information about which archetypes you will need to embody and learn from to overcome your challenges.

Q: What is your best piece of advice for an aspiring Tarot reader?

Elliot: I have a few bits of advice. First, try not to look at your client for clues through body language, or facial expressions, to confirm the accuracy of what you are saying while you are saying it. Some people like to throw you off. Clients often have an expectation that since they are paying money for your service, you need to wow them. And they are right, you do need to wow them! However, some clients will purposefully throw you off their trail to “test” your abilities (they obviously didn’t get the memo that you aren’t a mind reader). That is why, when a client sits down with me for a reading I hardly look at them at all. I look at the cards. I trust the narrative that the cards reveal. I read the cards like a book, sequentially, and fix my mind on reading the story spread out before me. Successful readers must have a solid grasp of what the cards mean to read them competently. If you can return to the meanings of the cards, and communicate them clearly, you will have successful readings. When I focus more on the symbolism in the cards, and less on the client’s face, I have successful readings 99% of the time.

Secondly, be confident with what you are saying. Be declarative. There is nothing more uncomfortable for a client than trying to reassure a floundering reader that they are doing well and are “right on.” Know your craft and speak it with confidence. Don’t look to your querent for validation. They are there to get information from you, not vice-versa. Also, some sessions are not always easy. Tarot reading can be very heavy psychological work. Readings can take an enormous toll emotionally if you don’t take good care of yourself through clear boundaries, and a healthy bit of detachment. Make sure your own mindset is clear enough to offer others advice. Many times, clients are coming to you when they have a problem, are confused, or a crisis is looming. You need to put aside your own life’s drama, assumptions, and fears when a client comes to you. Speak from your highest self. It is that Self they are coming to hear. If you are unable to help a client due to a mental illness or problem beyond your expertise, refer them to an appropriate professional. You don’t have “all the answers” even if the client has the expectation that you do. Be honest when people need more help than you can give.

A good tarot reader must be compassionate but also give practical advice. Never tell a client what they want to hear, just to make them happy for that session if you feel the truth is something else. You hold people’s hopes and trust, and you need to be honest with them. Strive for integrity in your readings. Never deliver bad or difficult news with insensitivity, and without a way forward. You aren’t there to scare people. Ever. If there is a challenge you are seeing, explain how the client’s strengths can be utilized to overcome the challenge. Your job is not just to identify pitfalls, but to offer hopeful advice for how to overcome these obstacles. Focus on practical steps that will help the client through their challenge. Kindle their courage and hopes. Embolden their spirit. Never lie to a client to placate them or appease an illusion they stubbornly hold. You will be of no use to the client, and you will end up adding to their troubles. Guess who they are going to be mad at when the delusion you both fed pops?

Finally, take pride in who you are. There are many in our society that like to mock readers or reduce us down to gimmicky “fortune tellers.” This has more to do with their own fear of what they don’t understand (and is often connected to what they fear is what is lurking within their depths). Tarot readers, oracles, seers, shamans and medicine people have been an integral part of human history. Oracles can bring healing to the heart, clarity to the mind, and can communicate pathways to great success. We can provide hope to those that have lost their way and offer ladders out of the deepest pits of depression. Humanity has always needed us. Some readers are better than others. Some tarot readers are amazing, and some are awful, but isn’t this is true of all professions? No matter how linear, or literal our society becomes there is always need for those who know how to communicate the depth that lies beneath the surface.

For all you aspiring tarot readers, keep hold of your integrity, honesty and wisdom. Follow the narrative of the cards spread in front of you. Trust your hunches. Let your Highest Self speak. Trust the symbols. Readers of cards, birds, clouds, and stars know that our Universe is always speaking to us through anything our awareness can perceive. Oracles can be found far into the past, thrive in the present, and will continue to be needed in the future.


I am delighted that Elliot made time to speak with me. You can learn more about him over at his site.



© Theresa Reed | The Tarot Lady 2018

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Check out all the fine tarot readers I interviewed for my Talkin’ Tarot With series.

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