The inexperienced tarot reader and the damage done

I remember opening up my first tarot deck. Oh, that feeling of anticipation as I ripped off the cellophane wrapping, teased open the lid, and carefully pulled the cards out of the box! As I spread them out in front of me, I couldn’t wait to get to work!

My first readings were clumsy, which was to be expected. But after a while, I started to get the hang of it. What helped: lots of practice on real humans. That also meant making mistakes along the way and learning from those. 

I wasn’t in a hurry to turn my hobby into a career. In fact, I had no interest in being a tarot pro. Frankly, I didn’t even think such a thing existed. But after ten years of steady practice, it did indeed become my job – I’ve been reading professionally ever since. (Psst…I’ve been a pro for thirty years but actively learning about tarot for forty!)

During the time when I was developing my skills, I delivered a few readings that weren’t helpful. In fact, they caused harm. No matter how well-meaning I was, the delivery was either clunky, too blunt, or fatalistic with zero helpful advice. But I was young and this was my amateur hour. These readings taught me a lot about the subtle nuances in the cards as well as how to show up with empathy, practicality, and professionalism. The ten years I spent honing my skills had me well-prepared to enter the work with some serious tarot chops – and people skills.

That being said, I still made mistakes from time to time, especially early in my career. Each time, I went back to the drawing board and kept learning. That’s what pros do.

Over the years, every so often I would have someone sit at my tarot table with a horror story from another reader. Like the schizophrenic man who was told by a tarot reader to stop taking his meds. Or the woman who went on a gambling spree with “winning numbers,” only to lose big time. These readings often came from inexperienced tarot readers who went pro way too soon.

In situations like these, I was left to clean up the mess. 

Some of these inexperienced readers meant well, too. But good intentions are not enough when you’re getting paid to deliver a helpful tarot reading. People are putting their trust in you – and if you don’t have skill or compassion, you can do some serious damage. 

Usually, this happens because newbie readers are in a hurry to monetize their passion. They might have taken a six-week course and are convinced it’s “fun” and “easy money.” Or maybe they delivered a few decent readings and assume they have a “gift,” and should go pro. They haven’t stopped to consider some of the serious situations that might show up at their tarot table – and no six-week course will prepare you for that. 

You need time and plenty of practice. 

While that may sound disheartening to some, this is meant to be practical advice. After all, would you hire someone to replace the engine on your car just because they changed the oil on their vehicle a few times? Nope. You’d want a seasoned pro who knows what they are doing. 

A good tarot reader should know the cards inside and out without relying on the little white book. They should also be able to deliver information in a helpful, sensitive manner. They should know how to listen to the querent and offer sound guidance. This doesn’t happen right out of the tarot box. Only with time and continuous practice do those parts start to come together.

Look, I’ve been at this game for a long time and I still take classes. I read every book I can get my hands on and I follow readers I admire such as Mary K Greer, Rachel Pollack, or Ruth Ann and Wald Amberstone so I can keep growing. I never want to be so arrogant as to think I can’t learn anything new. 

I take my craft seriously. People are counting on me to know what I’m doing. I would hope any tarot reader or astrologer I visit has this same level of dedication to their work.

If you want to be a professional tarot reader, please don’t be in a hurry to make this your career. Keep taking classes, including business courses. Find a mentor or two you trust and continue to learn with them. Practice often on yourself and others. Learn about people skills – and how to counsel folks through challenging situations. Get readings from pros and watch what they do. Lather, rinse, repeat, for the rest of your life.

Then, do your work, and may you harm none.



© Theresa Reed | The Tarot Lady 2022

Here’s a Tarot Bytes episode you might enjoy: When Should I Go Pro?

image from stock photography

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