10 Questions Every Tarot Reader Should Answer

by Marianne in , ,


Well, it's been a little while, hasn't it? I took an unofficial break from blogging for most of this month, so if you've been wondering what's become of me, I apologise! Perhaps I'll write about what's been occupying me (or, even better, my terrible, chronic procrastination) at a later date. For now, though, let's ease back into it with a little tarot talk!

Oh - before we kick off, a bit of exciting news! The Small Spells Tarot, by the inimitable Rachel Howe, is now in stock! You can pick up your copy here. Expect to see more of this unique deck in weeks to come. 

A reading from the archive, featuring The Starchild Tarot

Dana of Lavender Moon first brought this questionnaire to my attention a couple of months ago, and I've been wanting to tackle it ever since. There are so many kinds of readers in the world, especially now that tarot's popularity is growing so quickly, so it's more important than ever for us readers to speak up about what who we are and what we do with the cards. If you've been wondering whether I'm the reader for you, I hope my answers to these questions illuminate that for you!

1. Were you mentored or self-taught?

A little of both. For the first year or so that I read cards, I worked on my own, reading as much as I could online and in books (which make great mentors!), and reading for myself and friends so I could make my own associations with the cards. I reached a point where I felt like I needed more support in my learning, so I took Biddy Tarot's Tarot Circle Live course, which I have to credit with helping me recognise that I could trust what I was seeing in the cards. I don't think that course exists anymore, which is a shame because it helped me build so much confidence in myself as a reader. I later went on to do Tarot Foundations 1 and 2 with Brigit, and although I was already reading professionally at that point, those classes really helped me to cement my grasp on the fundamentals.

Over the years I've done a few other classes and collected a reasonably sized library of books and decks, but I think the magic lies in synthesising what one learns from mentors and books with what one discerns from one's own experiments with the cards. By which I mean, do a class by all means, but don't forget to also play with the cards for the sake of your own curiosity. You don't need permission to read. Your own experience and inquiry can teach you so much!

2. Are you a psychic or a tarot reader?

I most definitely fall into the latter category. I'm certainly intuitive, but psychic? That describes an entirely different field to the one that I operate in. My true skill lies in being a reader of signs and symbols and stories, a skill that has been honed as much in my academic background as it has in my tarot study. When I read cards, I do open myself up to intuitive hunches, but what I'm working with is the story that's on the table in front of me, not in information I receive from anywhere else. Perhaps the lady doth protest too much, but I think reading well is an equally magical skill!

3. Are your predictions accurate, and is accuracy important to you? 

There are two things I want to bring up in answer to this question. Firstly, my style of reading is not predictive, although it is oracular. By which I mean there is a magical process at work when I am discerning meaning about your life from the cards I've drawn, but my focus in comprehending that meaning is rooted in the present rather than the future. In my own life I've found it's far more useful to look at what's going on right now than it is to worry about what might happen later. So, my readings will necessarily be focused on the information you need and the action you can take in the present, rather than hard and fast predictions about what's coming down the pipe. 

Because I don't make predictions, accuracy is not important to me; however, resonance is. It's always my goal to create a reading that strikes a chord in the querent, that presents a version of the story that harmonises with who the querent is and what they know to be true. That's not to say that my readings will always give you what you want to hear (if only tarot worked that way!), but I hope that a reading with me will offer something that feels true to you, even if it is surprising or challenging.

4. Is there anything you can't predict in a reading?

Since I don't read for predictions, I guess the answer to this is technically everything! While I don't wish to pass judgement on those who offer or those who seek predictions, it's my personal belief that the best thing we can do for our wellbeing is learn how to be comfortable with uncertainty (and hey, it's not like I have that all figured out or anything, when I reach enlightenment I'll be sure to let y'all know). When I read cards for a client or friend or myself, it's my aim to help the querent open up to what's happening right now, in the present. We often lose sight of the present because we're so fixated on trying to pin down the future, but the present is where the magic happens! The present is where we have agency. It's where we can begin to create the future, whether we get the outcome we desire or not. 

5. Do you use only tarot or are you multidisciplinary?

Tarot is pretty much always my drug of choice! I will occasionally throw in an oracle card or two, but generally my readings are entirely tarot-based. You could say that tarot in itself is multidisciplinary, since its structure and history incorporate numerology, hermetic philosophy, magical practice, astrology, kabbalah, and so on, but I only draw on these systems as they relate to the cards on the table. I do have a dream of one day becoming more knowledgeable about astrology, but I haven't found the right time to pursue that - yet!

6. Is the message in the cards or in your head?

This is an interesting question, and I've been chewing over it for a couple of days now. My answer may change, subject to further rumination, but I think where I stand now is to say, both. We need both story (cards) and storyteller (mind) equally to make sense of a tarot reading. I tend to see the cards as the tools we use to excavate the message from the mind. They help to illuminate and elucidate messages that we can't access or understand on our own, even if those messages do ultimately come from within us. 

7. Are you a priest or a fortune teller?

I don't identify with either of these monikers, really, but if I had to choose, I suppose I would be a priest. Although it can have purely worldly applications, tarot is a spiritual activity for me, and a reading with me is a kind of ritual pause, an opportunity to step out of the flow of everyday life and take a look around. I approach the cards like a ritual and an opportunity to connect with my community, which I think could both be considered priestly activities!

8. Are you a fixer or a looker?

A little of both! Part of the value of a tarot reading is the chance to pause and take a look around. It's also always my goal to make sure that the querent retains their sense of agency - I might offer some advice, but the decision about whether and how to apply it should always stay in the querent's hands, so in that sense I'm a looker. What you do with the information I offer is always going to be entirely up to you!

But, then again, there's not so much point taking a look at what's going on if you're not able to do anything with what you see! I don't think it's enough to take a look, and then send the querent on their merry way. A tarot reading is a great opportunity to strategise and make an action plan, so why not take that opportunity? Whether I'm reading for myself or someone else, I always include cards for suggested courses of action or advice.

9. Do you read for free or for a fee?

One on one, I read for a fee, from big, detailed readings at the more expensive end of the spectrum, to short and speedy readings if you're on a budget. You can find all my personalised, paid offerings here. I also offer a free daily reading for my community, the Weather Report, which you can find on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, or Tumblr, depending on your fancy!

10. Is there anything you won't predict in a reading?

I've already covered my feelings about predictions in question four, but it's important to add that there are some topics I don't feel comfortable reading on - for example, medical and health questions, legal and financial matters, and anything that might infringe the privacy of a third party (which is to say, if you want to know whether your ex is coming back, it's my advice to save your money and go ask them!). 

As ever, I welcome any questions about my tarot work - leave me a comment or drop me a line if your curiosity is getting the better of you! And hey, if you've got a pressing problem or a tricky dilemma and you want some cards thrown, you can book a reading with me here


Checking In: Reader Development Spread

by Marianne in , ,


Put the jug on, friends, and settle in. It's time for a tarot reading!

A little over a year ago, I posted a reading with the Reader Development Spread, designed by the exceedingly wonderful Sarah Dawn of The Tarot Parlor. I'm a firm believer that, no matter how experienced, a tarot reader is a student of the discipline for life. There's always so much more to learn, and one's style as a reader is ever-evolving. 

This time last year, I was nearly six months into running Two Sides Tarot, and was experiencing a period of rapid growth as a reader and as a business owner - what a learning curve! The insights that this spread gave me back then really helped me to put my work in context, and to think about where the potential was for further growth as a reader. A year on feels like a good time to check in again and see how much my practice has grown, and where it might lead me next! 

Using the Centennial Edition of the Pamela Colman Smith Deck, here's what I came up with.

1. My strengths as a tarot reader - Ace of Pentacles

My strengths as a reader lie in the solid foundation that underpins my work. I'm pleased to see the Ace of Pents here, because I think it speaks to the many hours of courses, study, and reading (both books and cards!) that I've put in over the years, which in turn, I bring to every new reading I take on. 

Being an Ace, this card also reflects what I mentioned above - that being a tarot reader means being a perpetual student. As with any Ace, there is a suggestion here of beginning, the first step in a journey. My strengths lie in being ready to take a new approach, in starting afresh with the cards whenever I pick them up, and in being open to going in new directions with my reading and learning style. 

Finally, my strengths as a reader lie in an insistence on practicality. Pentacles are the suit of the grounded and the worldly, after all! It has always been my belief that, although tarot is an esoteric practice, it must have practical applications. There's no point in doing a tarot reading if it isn't going to offer tangible insight that can be applied to real world situations. I'm glad to see that this philosophy is still serving me well! 

2. My weaknesses or areas that need improvement - Four of Cups

I must admit, at first I didn't know what to make of this one, the irony of which is not lost upon me since the Four of Cups is all about not being able to see the thing that's right in front of your face! There was obviously a piece of my tarot puzzle that I just wasn't seeing. Perhaps this is a new skill, a system I haven't yet learned, or a way of using my existing reading skills that hasn't yet dawned on me. There is an offering available, but I haven't yet taken it up and that delay is working against me. 

When in doubt, I refer back to my own best practices, and for this card that means I would urge my client to take some time out and reflect, to turn within and see if they can uncover the nature of the blockage they're facing. I took my own advice and did some quiet contemplation with the card image, and believe it or not, a burst of intuition popped right into my head. The key lies in the image itself. When you examine it closely, that suspended Cup has much to teach about where I need to strengthen my skills.

It may come as a surprise, but I'm not much of a visual learner. My recall and comprehension is much better with text on a page than it is with images, and I have noticed a tendency in myself to defer to my verbal/linguistic understanding of a card over, say, examining the imagery in detail in the moment and letting that speak for itself. Playing with language is one of my favourite pastimes, and sometimes that may overshadow other ways of representing meaning. Of course, tarot is a visual art form, and engaging with the artwork on a card is an essential part of what I do, but this is definitely something I want to expand in my practice. I've witnessed readers I admire delving into the imagery on a single card, and drawing out minute symbols, pictures and patterns that lend themselves to such original and complex readings, based almost solely on visual cues. There is myriad visual information on every card, both obvious and subtle, just waiting to be mined for understanding. This is something I want to improve on and integrate more deeply into my practice.

3. How to develop my skills as a reader - XV The Devil

Well, this is a juicy one! The Devil is inviting me to come face to face with my own demons in order to grow my tarot skills. What fun! It should come as no surprise that even your trusted tarot reader has their own lifetime of baggage to unpack, and I think for all readers, being attentive to our own personal growth can only be helpful for our work with our tarot clients. 

My tarot skills will continue to develop as I engage fully with my personal, spiritual, and emotional journey in this lifetime. The Devil does represent certain things in my own life that I am working through over time, and I'm happy to know that this personal work has positive implications for my tarot practice. I'll just have to keep at it!

4. How to deal with blocks in my development or readings - Knight of Swords

Could there be a more effective enemy of blockages than the Knight of Swords? This card asks me to use momentum, focus, and clear intent to overcome any obstacles I might be facing in my practice. The Knight of Swords has eyes on the prize at all times, and he never allows fear, anxiety, or any other emotional trepidation to stop him in his tracks. 

I am being called to maintain steady focus on my goals as a reader, and to allow my core motivation - my passion for tarot - to continue to fuel me, even when I might want to shy away from difficulties. It's an emboldening card to see here, and I'm happy to have the Knight of Swords on my team. I hope his courage is contagious!

5. What to avoid or what will block my growth - Two of Pentacles

Interestingly, the Two of Pentacles appeared in the previous position, How to Deal with Blocks, in my reading last year. Last year, the Two of Pents was helpful, but this year, not so much! Last year, this card cautioned me to hone my focus, to be mindful of taking on too much at once. This year, it seems this card's insistence on prioritising could limit my development as a reader.

This ties in quite nicely with the Ace of Pentacles and the Four of Cups. The focused, solid foundation of my practice is already there, so what I should be thinking about now is the beginner's mind aspect of the Ace - always be ready to try something new, even if it means a bit of a juggling act. Instead of worrying about prioritising in my tarot study and practice, I should take a more expansive approach. Follow whims, take on disparate systems, ideas, and methods. Working more deeply with images a la the Four of Cups, as well as exploring the theory, is only going to enhance my work as a reader. It's ok for me to have multiple balls in the air right now! 

6. The lesson I am learning at this stage in my tarot practice - I The Magician

For me, The Magician is always about preparedness. The Magician's table is heavy with materials, holding the symbols that represent all four suits of the tarot. In her right hand, a wand stretches to the heavens, and her left hand points down to the worldly realm below. She has all the elements at her disposal and the power of heaven and earth on hand, which is just as well, because she is right at the beginning of the Fool's Journey, and who knows what is to come? I'm not sure that I have achieved quite Magician levels of readiness, but it is great to know that I might be in the midst of acquiring some of this badassery!

Interestingly, there is a parallel between the Ace (one) of Pentacles, and I The Magician, the first numbered card of the Major Arcana (given that The Fool is usually zero, or sometimes twenty-two). One seems to be my lucky number in this reading, and suggests that I am embarking upon a new phase of my tarot journey. The Magician says that I am learning to marshal my powers and skills in readiness for this new adventure, whatever it might be. Bring it on, I say!

7. The outcome of my work with tarot and my development as a reader - Seven of Pentacles Reversed

Subtle workings! The Seven of Pentacles reversed is a curious card to find in this position, but one I think has a lot to say for itself. Upright, this card is about standing back and evaluating one's progress, and seeing how far one has come from the start (from the Ace of Pentacles, in fact). Reversed, my intuition is that this progress is not so obvious. It can't be easily measured, represented on a chart, quantified or counted.

The expansive approach this spread is urging me to take might lead me in many different directions, into disparate disciplines and methods. Focusing too much on set pathways or particular results, such as the step-by-step road to completion represented by the Seven of Pentacles, would be missing the point. I'm going off-map here! Outcomes will be intangible, ephemeral, subtle, possibly even difficult to show or communicate.

In one sense, I would have preferred to see a more structured, victorious card here, maybe the Six of Wands, or Ten of Pentacles! That certainly would have been a more comfortable direction to take. However, the reversed Seven of Pentacles really reinforces the message of this spread - I have the opportunity now to undertake a new phase of my tarot practice, a journey into uncharted territory. My hunch is that this new phase requires less of an earthy, methodical approach, and more of a watery, whimsical one. The Ace of Pentacles might be my existing, earthy strengths, but the Four of Cups is an invitation to dive in and swim somewhere new. Things might get weird, but I think I'm ready!

If you have a tarot practice on any kind, I highly recommend trying out this spread from time to time, and if you do, I'd love to hear your thoughts in the comments! If this isn't your bag, do you use any kind of tools - tarot-related or otherwise - to reflect on the development of your tarot practice? 


Checking In On My Tarot Skills

by Marianne in , ,


As a professional tarot reader, I am always looking to expand and update my reading skills. I voraciously devour books, blogs, articles and courses to increase and improve my tarot skills and experience. Sometimes, though, getting to basics is the best way, and when it comes to basics, there's nothing better than sitting down and letting your cards tell you what's what. 

A friend recently directed me to the wonderful Reader Development Spread over at The Tarot Parlor (such a great tarot resource, I highly recommend you subscribe!). With Sarah's kind permission, today I am throwing a Reader Development Spread for myself, to see where I'm at, where my strengths lie, and what I can do to make sure I am always offering my beautiful clients (that's you!) the very best tarot experience. Using David Palladini's Aquarian Tarot, here's what I came up with.

 Aquarian Tarot by David Palladini  ©  US Games 1970.

1. My strengths as a tarot reader - Judgement Reversed

Judgement reversed suggests that my strengths lie in an ability to peer under the surface of situations. If Judgement is about being loudly called, then Judgement reversed points to the more muted callings we receive in life, messages that may be so quiet as to pass unnoticed when we need them most. Naturally, we seek out external guidance when we don't feel a solution is obvious to us, and I always strive to use a tarot reading to unearth the solutions that are hidden to our conscious minds. Using symbols and reflection to make previously unavailable connections is the aspect of the tarot process that is most interesting to me, so I'm happy to see that I've got that working well for me! 

Additionally, this card suggests that the type of reading that best suits my tarot style is the spiritual path reading. Turning inward and working on personal and spiritual development is definitely my forte, and Judgement Reversed suggests that my readings are particularly strong in this area. 

2. My weaknesses or areas that need improvement - Five of Rods

Naturally, when I see this card appear, conflict comes to mind, and I think I speak for all of us readers when I say that we all deal with inner conflicts and self-doubt from time to time. There are so many ways, right and wrong, to read cards, situations, and spreads, it's easy to question your own intuition and perspective. A little questioning is what drives us to improve, but too much and we run the risk of being unable to be sure of anything! At this stage in my development as a reader, I no longer feel like that doubt is crippling, but it does creep in from time to time. This card reminds that I always need to be mindful of getting drawn onto that mental hamster wheel and running myself in circles!

The Five of Rods is also about competition and playfulness, and it may also relate to Two Sides Tarot finding its niche in the industry. My professional tarot business is six months young, and part of my professional journey is finding where my voice fits in with or stands out from the other tarot offerings out there. This is something I work on every day, and I'm excited to see where it leads me and my business. 

3. How to develop my skills as a reader - Two of Pentacles

I had to chuckle a little when I saw this one come up. When working on my professional development, my tendency is to try to do everything. I'll often have a course on the go, and be reading two or three different tarot books and working with four or five different decks at a time. It seems that approach really isn't serving me right now! The Two of Pentacles stresses the importance of prioritising and honing your focus, and that is something I clearly need to work on. It's virtually impossible to give all of these different sources the deep attention they deserve, so I am going to schedule my reading time a little better, and really dig deeply into what I'm working on before moving onto the next thing. Reminders to slow down and focus are always welcome!

4. How to deal with blocks in my development or readings - Page of Swords Reversed

I think the Page of Swords Reversed and the Two of Pentacles share a similar lesson. Planning without action and action without planning are equally problematic. Rather than trying to bulldoze through difficulties and frustrations, the Page of Swords Reversed suggests that perhaps a more considered approach would be best. If I am tending to try to think my way out of problems and blockages without success, slowing things down and actually making a plan will help me to get over the line. Take a breath. Calm that hamster wheel we saw in the Five of Rods, and get both feet on the ground before taking the next step. Sounds good! 

5. What to avoid or what will block my growth - Queen of Pentacles

My old pal the Queen of Pentacles! It's hard to see a card I like so much appear as something to avoid, but it's a good lesson that all cards have positive and negative teachings. The Queen of Pentacles says that when it comes to my continuing growth as a reader, I need to be mindful of being too materialistic. It's very important to me to offer practical advice to my clients in every reading, but the Queen reminds that the practical is but one side of the story. Being mindful to include spiritual exploration in my readings will make my approach deeper and more holistic. 

In terms of my personal study and development, I do certainly find it challenging sometimes to separate my spiritual practice from the day-to-day development and running of my business, so I hear this loud and clear! After the crazy astro energy of April, this month I'm trying to focus a little more on my personal routines and self-care, and the Queen is a great reminder that my tarot practice is so much deeper than checking web stats and making marketing plans (although they are important, too!).

6. The lesson I am learning at this stage in my tarot practice - The Lovers

This card suggests that right now, I'm working on pulling it all together. Ain't that the truth! As we saw in the Two of Pentacles, there is a lot out there to integrate into a journey of lifelong learning, and it's easy to be overwhelmed. The Lovers speaks of the importance of making connections, marrying up disparate ideas, and finding unity and wholeness in my own unique approach to tarot. I'm pleased to hear that I'm in the midst of this lesson, as I certainly feel I am ever developing this in my work.

The Lovers also sets my heart aflutter, because tarot really is my true love! This card suggests that I am learning what it I most value, and discovering that spending my days reading tarot is a purposeful and meaningful way for me to live. The Lovers speaks of a choice that leads to deep satisfaction and purpose, and choosing to tread this path has certainly brought that into my life. This card resonates so strongly, and I can happily verify that I awake each morning feeling blessed and excited to continue my tarot journey! 

7. The outcome of my work with tarot and my development as a reader - Ten of Rods Reversed

Ultimately, it seems the goal of my work is to lighten the load. It is my firm belief that tarot can help us to ease our passage through this world, and I hope that my readings help my clients find that sense of ease, particularly when the circumstances they are experiencing feel anything but easy. I can only be pleased to see that the goal I am growing towards is to help my fellow humans to shoulder their burdens with greater understanding, ease, and joy. What greater service could I hope to offer you?

I'd love to see what results other readers get from this spread, so if you give it a try, do share! If you read tarot, do you use the cards, or any other methods, to check in with your progress as a reader?