Tarot Readings: The New Age Therapy

February 5, 2014

Have you ever gotten a tarot reading?

In Seattle alone, I can think of four separate storefronts that offer tarot readings. On top of that, there are usually plenty of colorful business cards posted on bulletin boards in local coffee shops. It’s a business that has a decent clientele, which to some, is probably surprising.

When I talk to people about tarot readings, it’s usually met with some level of suspicion or condescension. “I would never pay someone to do that, haha!” “I don’t believe in that stuff. It’s a scam to make money.” “I don’t know, I’d never pay for it…but my friends and I have done tarot readings with each other for fun.”

I’ve been going to tarot readers for years. It started out in Lake Worth, FL. A coffee shop I went to called Mother Earth had a regular crowd of quirky people. Open mic nights were fun, filled with locals, and the place felt homey. A friend of mine introduced me to another coffee shop regular, Cleo.

Turns out, Cleo happened to be the infamous “Miss Cleo.” The Miss Cleo, familiar to anyone who’s watched late night TV in the 90’s.  Miss Cleo’s career had consisted of phone call tarot readings, working for the Psychic Reader’s Network in the late 90’s and early 2000’s. She got into legal trouble when the company was charged with fraudulent activity, and Miss Cleo’s claim that she was from Jamaica was proved false.

So naturally, I was incredibly skeptical. Miss Cleo was a perfect example of for-profit, fraudulent mysticism in American culture. There was no way I would consider purchasing a reading from her. And anyways, I assumed she was retired.

Tarot Reading: The New Age Therapy?

But in spite of all my reservations, I found myself charmed by Cleo’s goofy attitude toward life. She was sweet, genuinely compassionate, and hilarious. When my friend told me I should have a reading done by Miss Cleo, I gave in, out of curiosity.

At the end of the reading, my opinion of Cleo was completely changed. I’d assumed that she was lying about her psychic ability. But the reading was eerily accurate. She knew things about me that she never could have. She described my mother, right down to her hairstyle. She knew that my mother had struggled with an eating disorder, and even told me stories about her, which were later confirmed by family members. She knew that I was originally not from Florida, and that I’d grown up overseas. In retrospect, her predictions were also spot on. She told me I would move across the country, and that money problems would suddenly, out of nowhere, disappear. She even knew that I wouldn’t be going to school the upcoming fall, which was the only plan I was truly set on.

Later on, I became fascinated with tarot. I bought a pack and used it with friends. I have since purchased countless of readings all over the world. Some have been accurate, some haven’t – it’s a business based on faith in something unseen, and there are bound to be some phonies.

I have also become a tarot reader myself. I offer tarot readings in the Seattle area, meeting up at a coffeeshop for tea and some card flipping. I was insecure at first, offering readings only to people I was close with and prefacing every reading with, “I’m not sure if this is going to work this time.” In the last year, I’ve become confident in my abilities to use the cards in a positive way to garner information that is helpful for the person I’m reading for. I also learned that my great aunt was a tarot reader – something I had no knowledge of when I started reading. Maybe it runs in the family?

Now: Let’s debunk some myths!


What exactly is happening during a tarot reading?

Every reader is different. The way they set up their space is different, the way they flip cards is different…the things they’ll tell you will probably be different. Every reader has a different way of understand how they’re getting the information they’re telling you.

Many readers claim to be communicating with “spirit guides,” unseen people who are offering advice and wisdom from some mystery realm. Others, including Miss Cleo, claim to be communicating with previously-alive people.

As a reader myself, I can’t tell you I know exactly how it is I can know the things I know. I feel, essentially, like the act of reading is connecting my personal energy with the energy of the person I’m reading for, and the energy of the cards. I use the basic meanings of the cards, as well as imagery that flashes through my mind during the reading to understand what the message is. I would be inclined to tell you that the imagery and intuitive feelings I have about the reading are messages from the outside energy with the cards, probably the ‘spirit guides’ idea that other readers claim.

Some readers will give you a list of things that will happen in the future. I rarely predict things that will happen in the future. The readings I do are based on your current situation, and the messages I receive are messages of support and encouragement. Generally, I feel like a therapist – the cards bring up problems or situations that are on your mind, things you probably don’t want to talk about. Then, I give you the advice that I’m receiving from my readings. I feel like a mystical psychologist!

Why do people go to tarot readers? Is there a bad or good reason to see a tarot reader?

Many people go to find some sense of direction when they’re lost about a decision to make, or when a time of uncertainty is in front of them. Essentially, a reading seems to be a way for people to find a sense of control and understanding of their current situation.

The only bad reason to see a tarot reader is if you want a direct answer of what is definitely going to happen in your life. The future is fluid, and based on your own choices. Nothing is certain.

Tarot readings, whether you believe that they are legitimate or not, are fun. They’re a great way for you to talk about and analyze your current situation in life. I personally see a tarot reader a few times a year – it’s a great addition to my goofy little life!

Also by Abbie: Green Winter in Ireland – and Vegan-Friendly Hospitality

Vegan in Croatia – Sunset, Sea, Gardens, and Avjar

Related: Using Feng Shui for Happiness and Health

Photo: mShades via Flickr/Peaceful Dumpling

Abbie Zulock is a writer based out of Seattle, WA, currently traveling throughout Europe, working on organic farms and exploring vegan delicacies around the continent. Abbie is also an experienced professional tarot card reader and when she's not writing or traveling the globe, she can be found hanging out with her black lab, Jackson!


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