The Hit List - A tale about certificationMany years ago, I took up the practice of yoga. Achy hips and breathing issues steered me in that direction. Yoga brought relief at long last. I fell in love and began a regular practice that has sustained me for decades.

About fifteen years ago, I decided to start teaching yoga. We had an unused space in our building after a tenant moved out – and I thought that rather than rent that space out to another person who wouldn’t love it well, a mini yoga studio would be a better fit.

So off I went in search of a yoga teacher training program. There weren’t many in the area at that time but I did manage to find one. It was close to home and the owners seemed nice enough. I plunked down my credit card and signed up. At the time, it was a financial stretch for me but I didn’t see any other options.

The program was decent and seemed thorough. I passed with flying colors and was happy to get my little certificate.

You see, at the time, the owners really pushed this idea of certification as a way to prove you’re legit. They also insisted that it paved the way for registering with the Yoga Alliance, an organization that was supposedly for yoga teachers and consumers. By having your name on the Yoga Alliance, you could put RYT (Registered Yoga Teacher) next to your name, which alerted the public that you’ve been trained and approved. Of course, you had to pay a yearly fee for this privilege which felt a bit odd to me but I assumed I had to do it…so I did.

Shortly after, the owners asked me if I’d like to teach a few classes at their studio and help out with their teacher training program. I was flattered and, more importantly, I thought this would be a good way for me to get a clue as to how successful studios operated.

I soon became privy to things that made me raise an eyebrow.

Constant bashing of other studios as well as spying on them.  Plotting to fire an 8-month pregnant yoga teacher (I stopped them when I said it was unethical to fire someone for being pregnant). Bitching about students in the teacher training program – and passing inept ones because they didn’t want to get sued (a former student was suing them).

They wanted a monopoly on yoga teacher training in the area so they pushed for accreditation with the local educational board. Getting this to happen was quite a process and expensive as hell. Now anyone else who wanted to start a yoga teacher training program in the area would have to invest a ton of money with this board, which meant: a lot of studios would be priced out. Especially the mom ’n pop operations. This created a big burden for any teacher who wanted to start a program in Wisconsin. Bureaucracy and bullshit organizations have a way to dip in, take profits, and determine what your program should be…or not – or if you can even open your doors.

The final straw came when they handed me a contract as thick as a book. In that contract was troubling language that felt more like a slave contract complete with a non-compete agreement and mandatory uniforms with polo shirts. I refused to sign and said flat-out “this doesn’t inspire teamwork…this inspires a mutiny.” I walked out and never looked back.

They fired the pregnant yoga teacher right after I left.

I shouldn’t have been surprised. The owners came from a corporate background and their goal was to “make yoga mainstream” and watered down for the masses (they didn’t like chanting or incense or anything remotely spiritual in their studio). They wanted to make big bucks – even if that meant passing people who didn’t have any business teaching yoga.

A year or two went by and I found that they changed my listing on the Yoga Alliance website to their “style.” They wanted to ensure that their brand was getting plenty of play – but I wasn’t playing that game. I had always listed myself as a Hatha Yoga teacher because frankly, my teaching wasn’t anyone’s “style” – and my focus was on meditation. Needless to say, I was enraged that this happened without my knowledge so I contacted the Yoga Alliance. And can you guess how effective that big ole yoga organization was? Nothing more than a toothless tiger. They only changed my listing after a thorough bitch fest. They didn’t give a shit about my concerns with that studio either. Why? Because the yoga teacher training programs are lucrative and without them, Yoga Alliance is meaningless.

Shortly after that, I let my membership with them expire. Why be part of that when there was no point or benefit?

In reality, students never asked about my certification or if I was registered. They didn’t give a fig about any of that stuff. They just wanted a studio where they belonged. Most of my students have been with me the entire fifteen years I’ve been teaching yoga. I’ve operated happily for all this time without interference from the Yoga Alliance or any other organization. Which goes to show you that they can’t enforce jack shit.

Why am I telling you this story?

It circles back to the whole tarot certification thing again. This story illustrates some of the many problems with certification: you cannot be sure if the people who are behind it are authentic or shady, some of them will pass any old person which makes that paper pretty worthless, it’s expensive which leaves marginalized people who may be perfectly great teachers out of the equation, and it leads to useless bureaucracy with paper pushers who are doing nothing more than handing out titles and collecting money.

And let’s not even begin with the whole watering down of sacred arts into some sort of palatable milquetoast thing that the general public will be able to stomach because there is that. (Do I want a generic tarot template that pulls the personality of the reader out of it? NOPE.) We should always be wary of people with corporate backgrounds who try to create a corporate vibe in spiritual industries.

For those types, it’s all a money thing. Or a power trip. In some cases, both. It’s rarely for the good of the community.

I’d like to finish off this post with a quote from yoga teacher Vanda Scaravelli:

“BE CAREFUL, VERY CAREFUL about organisations. Yoga cannot be organised, must not be organised. Organisations kill work. Love is everywhere, in everything, is everything. But if you confine it, enclose it in a box or in a definite place, it disappears.”

Let’s keep that in mind for tarot too.

(PS that yoga studio closed but not before doing plenty of damage on the way out the door.)

Other stuff:

Rose McGowan is a badass.

Loving this: the art of the dinner party.

Alexandra Franzen is my favorite human. I love her latest post: The Internet Pledge.

In fashion: Tarot is trending and Dior predicted this months ago.

Benebell Wen wrote an excellent piece on Tarot Certification.

Happy to see my friends at The Boston Tea Room getting this sweet writeup: Where tarot cards and social justice intersect.

Favorite post of the week: When Spiritual Bypassing Meets Racism Meets Gaslighting.

Check out this nifty Create Your Own Oracle Journal from Healing Effects Tarot.

Alarming: a secretive cult where women are branded.

Art lovers take note: this app is like Shazam for art!

Loving this goodness from Siobhan Renee over at Little Red Tarot: How to sort the courts part 4: Honing power with the kings.

From Sanctuary: Spirits and Grieving at a Victorian Seance.

Meet Joyce Weisbecker, history’s first female video game designer.

Lisa Boswell has an excellent database of predictive tarot card meanings.

Haley Houseman writes about aura photography. Super lucky that I got to do this with her in April!

Cool read: Mortician Caitlin Doughty talks about traveling the world and exploring how different cultures deal with death.

I love Sade.

Great post from Jenna Matlin: Will he come back?

Must read: Opiod addiction and the most controversial bathroom in New York.

Nurses returning from Puerto Rico sound the alarm.

My daughter actually tried one of these Zombie Frappacinos.

Who knew? France has a college dedicated to kebab-making.

Don’t piss off librarians.

Apparently Lularoe is a pyramid scheme. (Psst I coulda told you that.)

‘Willing to Do Everything,’ Mothers Defend Sons Accused of Sexual Assault.

Interesting: The Medical Medium’s Opinion on the Origins of Thyroid Cancer.

Listen up: the 10 best podcasts of 2017.

Dr. Joycelyn Elders: Health Care Is a Human-Rights Issue. Yes ma’am!

Just picked up this cool bowl stabilizer.

I dig cute stationery supplies.

Did you get your copy of The Tarot Coloring Book yet? Hint: it makes a great Christmas gift!

I LOVE Zac Posen. He has a new cookbook! Cooking with Zac: Recipes From Rustic to Refined.

For those who want their Rider Waite Smith deck borderless.

Need: How to Cake It: A Cakebook.

Ooooh: Everything Is Combustible: Television, CBGB’s and Five Decades of Rock and Roll: The Memoirs of an Alchemical Guitarist by Richard Lloyd.


What I’m Grateful For:

Kitty snuggles

Being home

Time alone

Plenty of pens

Autumn air

New cutting boards


Soundtrack for 10/28/17:

Elvis Costello & The Attractions – (What’s So Funny ‘Bout) Peace, Love And Understanding <-One of my all time favorites. LOVE this song.


© Theresa Reed | The Tarot Lady 2017

images from stock photography and personal collection

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