What first drew you to Tarot?
I was at 6th Form College in Scarborough when a series of shops opened up called ‘The Terrace Project’, one of which was a New Age/Esoteric bookshop. It became the go-to place for a few of us. They ran Tarot courses and sold cards. My first pack was the Morgan Greer, a great ’70s’ styled Tarot in the RWS family. We used to read for each other at parties and I was impressed by some direct ‘hits’. Over the years I experimented with various divinatory systems (and still do), but Tarot remained the first and, in my view, richest system for divination.
What is your favourite deck right now?
The answer to this question will change depending on the time of day you ask me! At the moment it is between two: the Salvador Dali Tarot – also in the RWS family (after all, who can resist an artist who said: “The only difference between myself and a mad man is that I am not mad.”), and the Visconti/Sforza a Tarot de Marseilles pack, which just looks like a ‘real’ Tarot should!
Tell us about a card that means something special to you.
In my younger days, I would have chosen The Magician, as I have a life-long interest in the subject of magic, but now I would choose The Hermit; although related they have very different orientations. One is more outward-facing and the other more inward. I think the latter appeals to my older self.
What is your favourite, or go-to spread?
Generally, I like small spreads. They are more focussed. I think that you can always turn over more cards if you need to, but to have too many cards to start with I think can muddy the waters with too much information to sift through. Most questions are straightforward and it is a case of ‘less is more’. For the same reason, although you have many levels of symbolism in the RWS pack — Astrology, Elemental, Kabbalistic, Numerology, Golden Dawn, colour schemes etc. — I find the image itself provides most of what I need for an interpretation without reaching for more complex levels of symbolism. So a one-, two-, or three-card spread for an RWS-type Tarot works for me. If I’m using TdM or playing cards then I would use a five-card adapted French Cross. That is a line of three which tells a story, one card above for the Tarot’s advice to follow, and one card below for the Tarot’s advice on what to avoid.
How do you think Tarot works best?
I think our lives run on stories and narratives, from what we tell ourselves in our inner narration to what we watch on TV and the things we tell each other. Even science runs on narratives about the world in which we live, so for me Tarot is about story-telling. It provides an alternative narrative source to our ‘default’ inner narratives and this is its great power.
Why did you decide to become a Free Reader for TABI?
In short, because I wanted live practice with questions from people I didn’t know. Giving readings for people I know is more difficult because I already know quite a bit of their stories to begin with. For strangers, I have nothing to go on and so, curiously, feel less bound by what I already know and more able to just read what it says on the cards.
What do you like best about giving Tarot readings?
Getting great feedback of course! I think most readers enjoy helping others with problems and life situations, and it is great when you get some feedback from the querent about how they were re-thinking a situation they were facing in the light of what the Tarot says.