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.
Every so often, a tarot book comes a long that I devour. This was the case with Modern Tarot by Michelle Tea. Her snappy, fresh lingo caught my attention and held it. Not many tarot books do that these days. Most are a bit too dry for my tastes. That’s not the case with Tea’s book. Her personal anecdotes brought the cards to life. Rituals for each card gave me ideas on how to magically bond with the deck. All in all, this was a witty treat to read and a book that I think belongs on everyone tarot reader’s shelf.
Naturally, when I enjoy a book this much, I get super-curious about the author. It didn’t take much to dig up info on Michelle Tea – turns out, in addition to tarot skills, she’s a prolific author with books that run the gamut from memoir to fiction. One of her books, Valencia, is now an award-winning film. Much of her work explores feminism, queer culture, race and class. (I’ve got my eyes on Without a Net: The Female Experience of Growing Up Working Class next.)
She’s also chronicled her journey to motherhood for XO Jane in a series called Getting Pregnant with Michelle Tea. This experience inspired her to start Mutha Magazine, a smart, alternative parenting site. In this interview with Bitch Magazine, Tea says this about Mutha: “As somebody who has a really defined aesthetic, going into sites with a bunch of ladies who are trying to have kids who I otherwise would have nothing in common with—I go in there, get information, and leave. It’s not a place I would hang out. I know if I feel that way, there must be a million other women that feel this way. I think alternative experiences are finally being recognized—motherhood, parenting, and fertility shouldn’t be that foreign. I think there are a lot of women who get pregnant and have babies but they’re not part of this cultural traditional ideas of what it means to be a mom and they’re not interested in the media that’s already out there.” (For moms like me who did not fit the norm aesthetic, I would have killed for this site back in the day when my kiddos were little!)
In addition to all this goodness, she’s the creator of Sister Spit, an all-girl open mic spoken word tour as well as the founding editor of the Amethyst Editions series at Feminist Books. Michelle has also taught writing at various locales and cultural institutions including Mills College, California College of the Arts, as well as being the 23rd Zale Writer in Residence at Newcombe College at Tulane University.
Oh, and she’s got more coolness coming up soon: Witch City, a YouTube channel focusing on all things witchy. Against Memoir, an essay collection published by The Feminist Press Spring 2018. Castle on the River Vistula, the final installment of a mermaid-centric young adult fantasy series, McSweeneys Summer 2018.
After learning all of this, I was a bit gun-shy about asking her to talk about tarot with me. After all, someone that busy probably couldn’t find the time. But I was lucky – Michelle said yes and today I am excited to bring her here.
Michelle Tea is the author of eleven books of memoir, poetry and fiction, most recently Modern Tarot, which details her contemporary take on the cards, sprinkled with personal anecdotes and original spells designed to bring you closer to the tarot. She is the creator of the international Drag Queen Story Hour, wherein drag queens read progressive children’s literature to kids of all ages, as well as Mutha Magazine, an online parenting zine dedicated to the experiences of alternative parents. Tea is the founding editor of Amethyst Editions, a queer imprint at The Feminist Press.
I LOVE this interview with Michelle over at Well Damn Podcast.
Check out Michelle’s answers to my questions below:
Q: What is your philosophy about tarot reading?
Michelle: I love, respect and believe in tarot, and I don’t take it too seriously. By that I mean that it is not an all-powerful object – it’s a magical object that becomes enlivened by the energy of the reader and the querent, but in an of itself it is not any more infused with magic than any other object. I think this is important because people get spooked out by the cards, and they don’t need to. The magic that happens actually comes from us!
Q: How do you feel a client might get the most out of a reading with you?
Michelle: Well, most importantly they need to believe, or be open to believing, that tarot is real, and it works. If they are skeptics looking to have something proved to them, it won’t happen. Those negative vibes kill my intuition and makes it very difficult for me to make sense of the cards. Also, the more clear and specific a person’s questions are, the better I can apply my knowledge. That said, I can help folks who keep their business to themselves, but people who know what they want to know and are comfortable sharing about it get the strongest readings.
Q: What is your best piece of advice for an aspiring tarot reader?
Michelle: Read cards! Read for yourself, your friends, your family. That’s what I did. I even read for people who weren’t there – fake readings where I just practiced spreads and imagined what kind a story would be told by the placement of those particular cards. I find the cards easier to memorize when they’re in action, not working through a book (although that is also important).
So pumped that Michelle made time to talk tarot with me! Learn more about her at get her book over at her site.
© Theresa Reed | The Tarot Lady 2017
Photo credit: Jenn Rosenstein