I’ve been reading tarot cards since I was a teenager. I’ve loved then since I was a kid and found a deck my mom had wrapped in a silk scarf and tucked into a box in her sock drawer. As a very visual person the idea that I could tell someone’s life story with these pictures and images was amazing to me. When I was a teenager I got my first deck ever – The Mythic Tarot – and set myself down with my deck and the book and went to town.
Though the book it came with was larger than any other companion book I’ve received since with any deck, and not white, this book became more precious than gold to me. With it’s help I conducted my first full reading – about a jerk who’d just broken my heart right in two- and right away my readings were insightful, truthful and it was almost spooky how I could pick out the perfect card just by asking a question.Every deck I got after that point came with a book, a little white book, and every time I did a reading I would read my results out of that book and my heart would beat so hard it shook the house.
I had all of these dreams in my head of being a professional reader in a cool urban space decked out in scarves and tapestries with more candles lit than could ever be safe or allowed in a business. I knew that once I learned the cards by hear and didn’t need that little white book that came with the deck I could make this dream a reality. It was like riding a bike, and the LWB was my training wheels and I wasn’t going to need it forever.
It’s more than ten years later and I just completed an online reading that I do every week and I was still using that little white book (though now it’s The Only book on Tarot You’ll Ever Need by Skye Alexander, which I HIGHLY recommend) to write out the results in the notes app of my phone while I sit in my messy bedroom decked out with dirty laundry and glow in the dark stars from the dollar store. Decidedly less magickal, I admit.
Every week I do this free reading online and I receive tons of praise. My readings are just as insightful, just as truthful, and it’s still a little spooky how I just know which cards to pull out of my magician’s fan of cards. When it comes time to read those cars though – I blank. I look at these cards, these cards I know like the back of my hand, with images I look at almost every day and I reach for my Little White Book and I write out the best little blurb about that card. And then the shame sets in.
It’s like a horrible secret.
I mean, I never said I DON’T read out of the book, right?
I don’t mention it. I also don’t really read professionally. Not in the way I want, or the way I should. Last year my boss at the metaphysical store I worked at heard me give a reading to a co-worker, just for fun. She didn’t see me do it, though. If she had she would have seen that little white book, that looks even more used than the cards, firmly glued to my hands. She told me I was really good and that she wanted me to read in the store, you know, for money. In her back room which was decked out in scarves and tapestries and candles. I should have jumped, instead I started sweating. I sheepishly admitted my secret and watched her face fall. She told me that if I could study hard and not need the book to let her know, and she’d take my skills for a test drive. I never got the chance. She found a reader about 2 weeks later.
I’d missed my chance.
I kept trying. I read my LWB over and over, cover to cover, trying to memorize the meanings for each card. I made tarot flash cards, I practiced every day. I even signed up for a free online course and studied my brains out. I still needed the book. It broke my heart. Other questions about my reading skills have brought my LWB secret out and I’ve turned down more gigs, more money, more opportunities to read for other people.
A few months ago a psychic practically scolded me for relying so heavily on tarot cards and for letting them squash my gift. Gift? I didn’t even know I had one. I had been parading around firmly believing that I was decidedly non-magical. She laughed at me. She told me that my confidence, and my cards, were getting in my way. She said she saw me as a professional reader one day, out of my home or apartment or a cute little cozy professional space. That I wouldn’t need to advertise, wouldn’t need a flashing neon sign of a crystal ball (though oh my god, if you see one for sale I’d love it!) that it would just be me doing what should come naturally. Maybe I’d break the cards out if I wanted to, but it wouldn’t be necessary. My room full of candles and gorgeous flammable fabrics came to mind and I could almost smell the incense I’d burn too much of. I cried. Literally. I also had a crazy headache after and felt like I would throw up, she had cracked my head wide open.
On her instruction I locked my tarot cards up and put them away. I was determined to shake this innate power loose. I lit candles, I meditated, I tried. On a trip to Salem that was, conveniently, a month later I went into it thinking THIS WOULD BE IT. You Turn Me On, I’m a Radio, Salem, let’s get this magic flowing right in. I was sure some where with as much weirdness and magic as Salem would flip a switch. It didn’t. It’s been a rough 6 months.
Then last night, it happened. I did a tarot reading for another person, I charged money, and I rocked it. I had the book there, and I didn’t reach for it. I didn’t need it. You know what I DID need? Context. Within the context of her life her story, the stuff on the cards just fit. I didn’t need to know everything that card meant on it’s own, I just needed to know what it meant to her. Stuff was pouring out of my mouth, and I knew that what I was saying was true the moment I said it out loud. It felt no different than my readings with the book, and afterwards? I had a mega headache and felt like I was going to throw up, once the excitement wore off. (Now I’m hoping I can get over THAT with practice. It almost ruined taco night!)
The training wheels are officially off!
Does that mean I’ll be throwing all of my precious LWBs into the trash and having myself a bonfire? Absolutely not. Not only would the book nerd inside me cry forever, but I feel like I would be doing myself a great disservice. All of those books say similar, but slightly different things. They show you what the artist thought of their subject matter and made the images make more sense. Those books still tell a story. This morning my online reading for a group over 2000 had no context, so I reached for the book to give me all the possible scenarios in a general way. I needed that. And if I do a reading and I really need that book, I won’t be ashamed to reach for it. I’m sure somewhere there is a police officer
who still reads someone their miranda rights off of a card in their pocket, doctors that read off your chart (or check Web MD!), teachers who have lecture notes,and drivers who use a GPS or a map. They do this because they want to be sure. They want to do their best, and they accept that they are not infallible. No longer how long you’ve done something, it’s possible to forget a fact or mispronounce and infectious disease or take a wrong turn. It’s possible to still need the training wheels sometimes. Don’t be afraid or ashamed of this, and don’t let your LWB shame keep you from reading those cards. Trust your instincts and pay attention to context, but if you’re stumped reach for your little white book and let that card speak for itself.