I’ve been thinking about this concept a lot lately, this idea that as a tarot card reader, I’m a channel for information that the client needs to hear. When I receive positive feedback, with enthusiastic comments like, “You are a very gifted reader, you have a special gift” etc., while I feel pleased and happy that the client was satisfied with the reading and found it helpful and useful, I always feel strange about accepting this idea of having a “gift.”
Mistaken Concept of Tarot Reader as a “Chosen One”
Truly, I believe with my heart that anyone who has a passion for the divinatory arts can learn how to employ them with skill and compassion. Of course, like learning a language, it’s not going to happen overnight! But at the same time, there’s nothing in this world that endows “chosen” people with a “special gift” for being able to interpret the tarot, read an astrological birth chart, or complete an I Ching reading, to mention only a few well-known divinatory methods. While I don’t deny that some people are more naturally talented at expressing or interpreting these instruments, and some people are naturally intuitive which definitely makes it easier for them to use these methods, it’s really no different than how some people are more naturally talented at playing the piano or understanding complicated mathematical equations. It doesn’t mean that the skill is reserved to a precious few. Not everyone is going to become Beethoven, but everyone could learn how to read sheet music and play it if they were so inclined. I think this is really important for people to understand, because in my opinion it’s dangerous territory when clients start thinking their tarot reader is endowed with a special power that they themselves don’t and couldn’t ever possess. It’s equally dangerous for a tarot reader to somehow get an ego boost from comments like “You’re so gifted,” etc., because the gift that they’re giving their clients is the gift of self-knowledge, and hopefully the ability to make choices in their life in a conscious and constructive way. The tarot reader shouldn’t be getting an ego boost from the service they’re providing, because pure-hearted intention is extremely important in this work.
Why Being a Channel is Key
All of that leads me to my idea and belief that a good tarot reader is simply a channel, and we can compare that to the work of an actual channeler I know, who facilitates a monthly meditation group that I participate in. This channeler, Paola Pierpaoli, who I discuss further in my page about those who have influenced my work and my professional beliefs and values, is a channeler (meaning a person who can communicate with non-physical entities) whose work deals primarily in teaching people how to actively collaborate in their lives with their guardian angel and spirit guides. This might sound odd to many people, and recognizing this, she always mentions in her books something along the lines of telling people that this doesn’t mean that she’s a “psychic” who speaks in weird voices while holding creepy seances where objects move. It couldn’t be further from the reality. Now, whether you “believe” the ability to channel non-physical entities is possible or not is not important here. What is important to understand is the concept of being a channel, being an instrument through which messages are simply brought into the physical world in a way, or from a place, that the client isn’t able to access, but that in theory anyone can have access to, with proper study, training and practice. Certainly those who consult metaphysical practitioners do so because they find value in the practice, but regardless of who “believes” or not, a channel is something through which information is simply transmitted, like a TV channel or a radio. The radio itself doesn’t add anything, it simply transmits the program that it’s receiving through a non-visible format.
Just as I firmly assert that tarot is a skill that anyone can learn, develop, and continually improve, Paola insists and will always affirm that anyone can develop the ability and skill to become a channel for communicating with what she refers to in her latest book as the invisible world. She also makes clear that her purpose is not to have her clients become dependent on her abilities as a channeler, but rather to empower them to become their own channel, so that they can directly contact the energies that can assist them in living a more conscious life.
The Rational Mind and Different Communication Channels
Becoming an actual channeler is not easy for the average person in today’s society, for many reasons. The primary reason for this in my view is that our present world places an excessive emphasis and value on rational thought and scientific proof, and overly negates the value of unseen phenomena and information gathered from scientifically unproven (and unprovable) sources. This obviously isn’t the case worldwide, and wasn’t even always the case in the Western world as a whole (witness Native American cultures prior to European colonization), but it is the case as it stands in the mainstream Western world today.
Not only am I product of Western world socialization and enculturation, I am also naturally a very rational and logical minded person, so intuition and “letting go” intuitively aren’t skills that came naturally to me. Despite this, I’ve always been very attracted to divinatory arts and intuitive practices, so I’ve studied a wide range of them both theoretically and experientially. Through this I’ve proven to myself that training and practice can open and increase natural intuitive abilities. However, my own personal experience has shown me that tarot at this point seems to be the tool that I connect to in a way that’s more meaningful than many other tools I’ve studied. I believe this is because tarot has the ability to instantly overcome the rational mind, because the physical practice of shuffling the cards instantly removes any rational tendency to want to control the process, and then being presented with images clearly and objectively visible to the naked eye instantly puts physical “proof” in front of the reader that he or she can then delineate. This for me is something that comes much more naturally and comfortably than the actual practice of channeling, which requires subtle energy work to identify various vibrational energies that come through in meditative states, and the ability to open oneself to receiving messages in various internal-only formats (as in, only the person who is channeling can “see” or “hear” the message, and the entire process itself is silent) from non-physical realms. Once again, both possible, but some people resonate better with one method over another, just like any other skill or practice in life.
Empowerment is the Goal
Whether you are a metaphysical practitioner or a client of a metaphysical practitioner, I think this concept of being a channel is an important one to keep in mind. Empowerment should always be the goal. For practitioners, it’s apparent that not every client is going to want to devote the time or energy or interest into learning how to “do it themselves,” which isn’t a bad thing, because that in and of itself is what allows us to perform our service. The concept is the same in any service profession: people use professional tax preparers because they don’t have the time, interest, desire, or resources to devote to completing their own taxes, just as the homeowner calls the plumber because they either don’t want to or can’t devote resources to learning how to do it themselves. In these cases however it doesn’t mean that Person A is equipped with a special innate “gift” that allows them to properly fix a toilet while Person B wasn’t given this same special gift at birth or whenever; it just means that Person A decided to study how to do it, practiced, and learned, and then went on to perform it as a paid service for customers. They don’t add their own personal feelings about the toilet or its functioning or usage to the repair service they perform, they simply fix it and then leave it to the client to use!
I think it’s a good practice to always communicate information with the intention of letting it pass through you without adding anything or taking anything away, and to use your knowledge to assist the client in obtaining their own meaning from it. The reader shouldn’t be viewed or promoted as the only and absolute gateway to “hidden” knowledge that only the reader can provide, because this creates a dishonest shroud of mystery that renders it it no more valuable than a mechanical witch hovering over a crystal ball trapped inside a machine at the county fair. Taking the view of being an instrument for providing information ensures that the practice doesn’t degenerate into something that is only self-serving.