There is a certain queasiness in tarot circles about use of the term “fortune-teller” to describe what we do, as if we’re contemplating the commission of a scurrilous or unclean act. The rational-sounding “psychological” approach to the tarot is usually trotted out to dispel any taint of moral impropriety that the mere mention of prognostication might arouse in more impressionable minds. In some US States it’s more pointed then that: there are “anti-fortune-telling” laws (a type of fraud-fighting statute) on the books that make it a criminal offense to set up shop as a diviner, necessitating the use of nondescript titles like “consultant.” Part of the sensitivity is due to the negative press that anything connected to fortune-telling frequently receives in both public and private forums, and the hardship this dim view creates for the sincere practitioner who is seeking potential customers. There is a whiff of scandal and deception about it that the more emotionally and socially vulnerable among us would rather avoid at all costs, and in many cases there is the risk of legal repercussions if we arrogate to ourselves the role of a professional service-provider (doctor, lawyer, CPA, therapist etc) and then misguide our clients to their downfall.
Although “Tarot Reader” is the customary handle that we accord ourselves on business cards and in marketing copy, I think I’m going to start giving myself alternate billing as an “Opportunity Spotter.” When we think about it, the goal of most readings is to provide our sitters with the necessary information to make the best of the circumstances shown in the cards. If it’s a favorable outlook, we want to point them toward optimum utilization of the benefit, and if it’s a less-fortunate projection we want to help them spot and skirt the pitfalls. I may dress up my own forecasts in dignified phrases like “situational awareness” and “developmental insight,” but in truth what I strive for is plain ol’ fortune-telling with a well-burnished veneer of astute and informed trend-spotting.
My main goal in the pursuit of esoteric practices has always been to “get under the skin” of objective reality and see what I can find there; it’s kind of like “exploratory surgery” on a subtle level with cerebral “lasers” emulating medical technology. If the choicer cuts I manage to carve from the beast happen to be of interest to other people, so much the better, but that’s not why I do it. In my own estimation, my style of occult inquiry is comprised of “half mad scientist and half mystic” because I bring a scientist’s literal pragmatism to the cause of a mystic’s imaginative and inquisitive deconstruction of the metaphysical Universe. I attempt this primarily for my own pleasure and to satisfy my curiosity but I don’t mind taking others along for the ride. A tarot reading is a great way to crawl inside one’s own head while at the same time gauging the external dimensions of one’s circumstances.