Reading Tarot & Tarot Philosophy
Who remembers when they started officially reading tarot? Anyone? Well, if you’re like me, you don’t actually remember when you considered yourself a tarot reader. The question of who deserves to be called a tarot reader is an interesting one. We all expect a variety of different things from a tarot reader, why then would a label be easy to use? Some tarot readers are psychic. Some tarot readers don’t believe in predicting the future. Others never read the tarot for other people. All of these things factor into how long you’ve been reading tarot, and when you call yourself a reader. Let’s talk about it, and try not to get lost along the way.
In case you were wondering, here’s today’s question:
How long have you been reading the Tarot?
While I want to answer this question with a simple time frame, it’s not that easy. Reading the tarot is an entirely different concept than just simply learning tarot. Do I even consider myself a tarot reader right now? I don’t know. I’ve certainly never read tarot professionally for anyone before, though I’d like to in the future. Because of this, I’m more likely to call myself an aspiring tarot reader. There’s just so much I don’t know, and I know I don’t know it! To call myself a tarot reader would seem to take away from the leaders of the community that I admire greatly. That’s not what I want, and yet, I do need to communicate how long I’ve been trying to learn tarot.
The first thing I attempt to communicate, is that I’ve been learning tarot. This seems like splitting hairs, but hear me out. When I say I’m learning tarot, it takes away the misconception that I’m an expert. Learning tarot also indicates there’s tons of room for progress to be made. If I say though, that I’ve been learning tarot for over ten years now, well, people still tend to get the wrong idea. Clearly, telling people I’m learning tarot isn’t the only answer. There has to be something more vital to the conversation. For me, articulating these vital components tends to clear things up, if people are willing to listen. Thankfully, most are.
Clarifying how I’ve learned tarot helps others gauge my progress in respect to their own. When I first started to learn tarot, I attempted to memorize card meanings. This simply wasn’t getting me very far. After some flailing about for a few years in this state, I just incorporated tarot into my practice of witchcraft at the time. Tarot cards were my tools of spell work, and as such, I learned a very different interpretation of them. Justice became Athena, and The Emperor became her father, Zeus. What I didn’t expect was I still learned tarot this way. Suddenly, when I went to utilize tarot more traditionally, I understood the connection between The Emperor and Justice already.
Another tricky thing to articulate is how I approach learning tarot formally now. Once I made the jump to studying tarot, I incorporated it into my occult practice. When I viewed tarot as a tool that communicated “old” concepts, the cards seemed filled with wonder to me. Not only that, but a growing background in the Kabbalah helped me keep my thoughts organized. Suddenly, I began to see The Magician as more than the distant Mercury, or Hermes. To me, Mercury became a teacher, a force of inspiration and directed willpower. Learning tarot this way isn’t for everyone, but for me, it seemed to make everything come alive.
However, the one thing I struggle to articulate now is how all this comes together. For me, there’s no possible way to share my mental trail of thought. How I started learning tarot, and how I learned tarot symbolism, remains a jumbled mess. To me, these things clearly flow into each other. To others however, I may ramble a bit too much. That’s okay, unfortunately, as I have very little option otherwise. All this is important to understanding how I personally view my journey with tarot. It’s so important to me to not put myself out as an expert. I’m just one person documenting their journey with tarot to help others not feel so alone. That’s all I am. Me.
So, to answer the question a bit more formally, I’ve been an aspiring tarot reader for roughly six months now. This, for me, continues to look a bit like a student studying before finals. There’s books everywhere, binders being filled, and tons of reports being written, but it’s all toward a focused goal. I’ve been interested and studying tarot for roughly ten years. Getting to the point where I feel focused in my journey though, took me that long. Finding out how I personally view tarot, what I personally bring to the tarot table, and where my journey with tarot might take me has been a long project in and of itself. I think many people don’t highlight this enough, becoming a tarot reader takes an immense amount of time.
Simply reading cards for other people does not a tarot reader make. I believe there needs to be a method to the madness. I’m not going to say such and such a method is the only method either. There just needs to be an articulated approach to reading tarot for another person. Now, when it comes to reading tarot for yourself, I also think having an approach helps. I’m not going to judge anyone else’s standard for reading tarot just for them though. This is the one area where I’m extremely undefined, even to myself. I have been a tarot reader for just myself for over ten years, but some readings were definitely better than others. When it comes to reading tarot for other people though, I’m a bit uncomfortable labeling myself as a professional tarot reader.
Does this mean you can’t read tarot for others as an aspiring reader though? Not at all. I do try to gain practice reading tarot for others. Right now, I mainly volunteer readings online, specifically in forums designed around tarot study. It’s not perfect. There are tons of issues, but that’s what learning is about. I’ve been roughly doing that for about two years. It’s been slow for me personally, and I do need to work on building tarot confidence up. My journey with Holistic Tarot and a free course by Biddy Tarot did help give a surge to my tarot confidence recently. When I’m ready to “go professional” I’m sure it’ll be a rewarding experience. However, I’ll still continue to learn tarot until I no longer can. Tarot is just that complex for me personally.
To close, I suppose this post really has been a bit of a ramble. The label of tarot reader though is just so complex, and often, difficult to articulate. I’ve always been uncomfortable giving others an impression I don’t mean to. My journey with tarot, for a long time at least, never had anything to do with becoming a tarot reader for others. Tarot was personal, and it still remains a highly personalized focus. Helping others discover areas for personal growth would be wonderful, but right now, I need to practice doing that. This means learning where I fit as a tarot reader, and how to best articulate that role to others. If this takes a few years, I’ll be happy, because I’m expecting it to take a whole lot longer than that. But to all those tarot readers, in whatever form, just keep promoting tarot and sharing your wonderful journey.