Someone formulated a question regarding the ‘professional’, respectively ‘non-professional’ quality of a Tarot reader. It’s a pretty good question I guess.
Let’s start with what the vast majority believes and expressed in different forms: “Professional can find a market demand for the type of service offered”; “To me, “professional” means someone who makes their living off of what they are doing.”; “Anyone who lives off of readings / gets paid for readings – is technically a ‘professional’.” – and so on.
I would agree if it would be about hookers, hired assassins, or any other ‘shady’, respectively purely physical/material services. But we are talking about a ‘spiritual’ service which requires a higher degree of ‘spirituality’ – awareness, enlightenment, consciousness, call it as you please. It requires a different type of understanding not only of the things we can see, touch, smell or taste but also of the unseen (world). The Tarot readers community, generally speaking, became like the music scene: everybody is playing, nobody listening. Even worst, most of the performers know how to play. Before starting playing free-jazz or any other sort of free-form, improvised music, someone should be a very well prepared and trained musician with a consistent experience. Both theory and practice are equally important, actually crucial. However, just like in music, learning and training, being determined and persevering, it is not always enough. Somebody may become a good, qualified session musician, but never become a solo artist.
Another common mistake is confusing commercial success with effective value.
Sticking to the parallel with music, many great composers died in extreme poverty. Just to name one: Franz Schubert. But many poets and extremely valuable painters are also died in anonymity and coinless. Coming back to ‘magic’ and ‘spirituality’, John Dee, one of the greatest English mathematician, astronomer, astrologer, occult philosopher, cabalist and alchemist, died marginalised, forgotten and poor. Aleister Crowley pretty much had the same fate. I met a noble descendant old lady in Bucharest who was reading cards and made incredibly precise predictions, and she died starving. Not in the 19th century, but a couple of years ago.
On the other hand, success may not be mistaken for quality. Someone may be ‘professional’, but that is not a guarantee of quality services. Similarly, how much someone’s charge for the services is not an indicator of the quality of those services. Actually, from my experience and from what I have observed in the last couple of decades, many, if not the vast majority of the ‘famous’ clairvoyants, astrologers and fortune-tellers are fraud or they offer poor quality services. And before you start denying, yelling and protesting, yes, I know, you are the exception, and you are exceptional and extraordinary, you are an incredibly spiritual creature, I know, I know, and I praise you!
Convincing yourselves that you are ‘special’ doesn’t make you effectively ‘special’. Our brain always finds the best excuses for us not to think too much, not to work too hard – intellectually at least – and also generate a distorted, idealistic picture of us. If something ever goes wrong, definitively it is somebody else’s fault.
I think, to become ‘professional’ it takes a lot of effort and consistency. Moreover, very few people are capable of this kind of sacrifices and effort. Studying and learning, constantly developing it is mandatory. But there’s the catch! Memorizing mechanically will only get you to the level of mediocrity and not any further, no matter how much you will try.
Knowing is one thing, understanding is another.
Knowing is important, but it is not enough. American astronomer, Tom Van Flandern said: “Events in my life caused me to start questioning my goals and the correctness of everything I had learned. In matters of religion, medicine, biology, physics, and other ﬁelds, I came to discover that reality differed seriously from what I had been taught.” So, knowing the ‘what’ is not relevant if you do not understand the ‘why’. Discovering the ‘why’ sometimes will make you realise that the ‘what’ was wrong, misunderstood or misinterpreted.
The Tarot is an instrument of prediction and self-awareness. But only if you’re using it correctly – if you are aware. In order to do that, you have to understand how it works, what is the philosophical and structural foundation of it. Astrology, Numerology, Kabbalah and Alchemy are not different! People memorise things mechanically, but they do not understand the system and don’t know how it works. The Moon rules Cancer is absolutely irrelevant if you cannot tell why it rules the Cancer and you do not understand the nature of the Moon, what makes the Moon being the Moon and not any other type of energy. Well, you will be surprised, but the vast majority of the astrologers cannot get into this sort of ‘details’. And they cannot because this philosophical and structural ‘details’ regarding the basics of the system are not in any Astrology book or manual. And trust me, I have read thousands.
We all ‘know’ that Moon is feminine. But did you know that Sin, the Sumerian Moon-god was masculine, considered the “Father of Time”? Invoking ‘tradition’ and ‘thousands of years of observation’ not going to cut here, isn’t it?
Understanding the ‘why’ makes you ‘professional’. Only memorising the ‘whats’ mechanically, keeps you in the amateur league. No matter how ‘cool’ you think you are and eventually how much someone is willing to pay for your services. In my opinion, it is just a classic case of ‘blind leads the blinds’ – no offence!
There’s another way to classify the Tarot readers: certified and non-certified, respectively self-taught readers. I do not have a Tarot, or for that matter, any other ‘esoteric’ certification and I am a self-taught tarotolog and Tarot reader with expertise in a couple of other esoteric sciences such as Astrology, Numerology, Kabbalah and Alchemy. 25 years of intense study, extensive research and practice are my certifications.
Don’t get me wrong, being certified might be a good, useful and necessary thing. Certification enables you to provide legal services and pay your taxes in conformity with local laws. There are places where you definitively should have some sort of certification and there are places where those certifications are entirely worthless.
But certification is not a guarantee of quality services. Not in Tarot, not in any other field of services. And certification is not a confirmation of your knowledge and understanding of the Tarot – or any other – system.
Certification – in any field – became a commercial enterprise, a flourishing business. And generally, business is about generating profit, not about handing down esoteric knowledge.
That is why is so important to understand the difference between ‘esoteric’ and ‘exoteric’. The ‘esoteric’ is a strict and selective circle, not accessible for the masses, the ‘exoteric’ is the common, popular use of the same notion or instrument, in our specific case, the Tarot deck.
Individuals like Arthur Edgar Waite and Aleister Crowley contributed decisively to the popularisation of the Tarot deck, and in some extent, they exteriorized and inner, ‘esoteric’ knowledge to make it accessible for a broader audience. However, you should keep in mind that not all the ancient knowledge survived, is not entirely accessible and some of it was falsified, mystified, corrupted and misinterpreted.
It takes considerable individual effort and determination to put all the shattered pieces of the puzzle together.
I grow up in a communist regime, and we have been taught that we are all the same and equal. It is entirely false. We might be alike, but we are not the same. More importantly, we are on very different levels of awareness – enlightenment.
Awareness is not given quality, it must be achieved and requires ‘super-effort’. Just as evolution is not mandatory, but individual and optional.
The modern Western esotericism is only a twisted, incomplete and eclectic reinterpretation of different, lost or fragmented Eastern traditions.
Understanding instead learning mechanically is the key to evolve and develop. Repeating obsessively the ‘facts’ you have been fed, it does not really help your evolution and only serves those who want you kept at one certain level of knowledge and understanding which fits their, and not your, interests.
Let’s take the Evolution theory for instance. We have been taught that evolution and Darwin’s theory is a fact, it has been proved and scientifically confirmed. Well, it is not true.
I made several times references to Lloyd Pye’s “Everything You Know Is Wrong”, and I am not saying that he is absolutely right, but he made good a point. The proofs which support Darwin’s theory are always presented and popularised, the ones that contradict his theory are always ignored and eventually buried, while the scientist who has revealed them became a target and exposed to severe attacks and attempts to being discredited. The accent in most of these cases is switched from ‘facts’ to ‘person’. Our analyses turn to be emotionally corrupt, subjective, and not rational and objective.
Both religion and science want us to ‘believe’ and accept their ‘facts’ without asking any questions. Most folks do not get the difference between ‘thinking’ and ‘believing’, and generally, most of our decisions are results of emotional choices and not rational analyses.
Spirituality, by definition, is about intellect and objective – higher – understanding, not about subjective beliefs and personal emotions. Keep your emotions away!
Never believe what I tell you, but think about it.
Research and verify everything as many time as it is possible from several different sources – when it is possible.
This is one critical aspect, and here the ‘why’ becomes even more relevant than the ‘what’.
As A.E. Waite noticed in the introduction of his “Pictorial Key”, authors copied, in good fate ideas from one to another. It is quite generally valid regarding Tarot, Astrology, Numerology, Kabbalah, Alchemy and generally for anything especially ‘esoteric’ related subject. If the source were corrupted or inaccurate, but it was reconfirmed by several other scholars subsequently, it became ‘fact’. However, all these so-called facts are in most of the cases only ‘whats’, without a comprehensive explanation and understanding of ‘why’, all those ‘facts’ are irrelevant. You can hang on to them, you can defend ‘tradition’, but it does not make it right or correct and unquestionable.
In these circumstances, you have to understand the importance of a consolidated and reliable system.
The Tarot deck is an allegorical snapshot of the universe – respectively our solar system. Can’t understand the Tarot without knowing and understanding our solar system.
The Tarot is interconnected with other branches of esoteric sciences, build upon Astrology and Numerology. Not knowing and understanding the basics of these sciences, make it quite difficult to understand the Tarot.
Knowing the meaning of each Tarot card separately – out of context -, but not knowing and understanding the meaning and function of the entire Tarot deck, respectively the relationship between every single card, make the whole deck useless and meaningless.
If we admit, and we should, by reasonable evidence, that the Ptolemaic system, respectively the Golden Dawn system have at their foundation an erroneous understanding of the universe and our solar system, everything based upon these assumptions and suppositions, are sub consequently incorrect and erroneous. Like bad fruits from a bad tree.
Regarding the moral and so-called ethical guidelines, I am, at best, reserved.
As Gurdjieff explained it precisely, morals and ethics are false – artificial – values – or standards –, they are relative and constantly changeable.
What is moral today, may be immoral yesterday, what is moral here, may be immoral a couple of yards away and so on. There is no such thing as generally accepted morality. Jews, Christians and Muslims have quite different notions of morality. The Chinese morality differs from the British morality. It is no point in arguing about it.
The same goes for good and evil. From a human perspective, there is no permanent and unchangeable ‘good’ or ‘evil’. Sometimes what we considered ‘good’ yesterday, we consider it ‘evil’ today. I always considered this ‘dualistic’ division of things extremely harmful. People tend to divide everything according to what she or he ‘likes’ and what ‘dislikes’. But these things are sometimes changing from one minute to another.
I have explained the importance of asking the proper questions. For instance, if a client comes and asks ‘my husband is cheating on me?’, if you will tell her that he is not, she probably will go to the next reader till she gets the answer she is looking for. You will be considered a ‘poor’ reader and the one who will tell her back what she wanted to hear will be considered to delivered the answer ‘on point’. I observed this not in the last couple of weeks, but years. I lost clients because they do not like what I have told them or because they were scared of the things I saw and revealed about them. Friedrich Nietzsche noted: “Sometimes people do not want to hear the truth because they do not want their illusions destroyed.” It is not ‘sometimes’, but always.
But, a good Tarot reader will always be fair to her or his clients, even risking to losing them by telling the ‘truth’. ‘Truth’ is also a quite relative terminology, my truth, your truth and her or his truth differ. But what it is essential, is to be objective, detached – not emotionally involved, but spiritually (with your mind!).
And here we get back to understanding the Tarot system and how it works. The future is not ‘real’. Right at this moment the future is not already created and generated. The future is relative and fluid. Depends on a lot of different factors, some of them are external, like the planetary movement and other peoples’ decisions, others are internal, respectively depending exclusively on our desires, emotions, thoughts and actions. Unfortunately, most of the people are living their lives mechanically, exposed exclusively to the external influences and are not aware of the importance and impact of their actions.
A good Tarot reader will offer precisely this sort of predictions and guidance. There are always different available alternatives, and everybody can make her or his own decisions chose – generate one possible future – or outcome. Taking a turn to the left o to the right, in specific circumstances can make a huge difference. A good reader will spot exactly these type of alternatives, options and will provide them to her or his clients. It is only up to the client to choose wisely and make the proper choices. However, people like to avoid this sort of responsibilities. It is always much more comfortable to believe in ‘fate’, fatality, ‘god’ and generally to blame someone else for our ‘misfortune’.
(Excerpt from the book “The Unified Esoteric Tarot – General introduction and Guidebook” by Attila Blága. Full or partial use of this text for commercial or non-commercial distribution by any means whatsoever is strictly prohibited unless expressly authorised by the author.)