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Ethics of Tarot Reading

Yoav Ben-Dov | March 5, 2012


I don't believe in fixed precepts and strict rules. As Lao-Tzu would say, when laws and rules abound, humanity and empathy disappear. Still, reading Tarot cards is a serious matter. It can produce a "butterfly effect" changing people's course of life, as it intervenes at chaotic points where people may be confused, vulnerable and exposed. We should be aware of the power which is in our hands, and of the responsibility that comes with it.


In reading the cards we may want to bring forth our inner child - imaginative, creative, story-weaving. But in conducting the encounter with the querent, we should also act as responsible adults. For this I believe that we should constantly check and examine ourselves - how do we cope with this responsibility? What is our own ethical code in reading, and should we be satisfied with our present ways or should we strive to make them better, more pure and honest? I also believe that for a fair disclosure, Tarot readers should make explicit their own code of ethics, and present it to people who seek their advice and help in difficult situations.


It is in this spirit that I propose the following list of ethical rules. Not as rigid laws that I suggest to adopt to the letter, but as a point of departure for a process of self-examination for each reader by him- or her-self: how am I dealing with the serious responsibility that life has put in my hands? what are my own rules of ethics that I can feel at ease with, and can commit myself to apply in my Tarot readings?



"Even so, put in our heart that we see in each other the good qualities, and not the defaults" (R. Elimelech from Lijensk).




Suggested rules of ethics for Tarot readers



Everything that we say and do during the reading should only be intended for the querent's good and well-being.


We should express the maximum amount of integrity, openness and fair disclosure about our professional background and our considerations in reading the cards and conducting the encounter.


We must be sincere when we present our beliefs and understanding of what card reading is, and acknowledge that Tarot reading can be valuable also for people who see it from a different perspective.


We should not pretend to possess supernatural powers or magical capacities that put us above normal people. Even when something miraculous happens with the cards, it does not belong to us and we cannot produce it to order.


We bring ourselves to the reading, for better or worse. But we should try to be aware of our personal weaknesses, and make a conscious effort not to project our own problems and unresolved issues on the querent.


Even after many years of study and experience, we should continue to invest in our development as human beings and Tarot readers. For this we should undergo processes of self-awareness through personal therapy or group workshops, continue learning new methods and approaches, and broaden our knowledge about Tarot cards and other subjects that can enrich and advance us as readers.


It is permissible and correct to accept fair payment for the time and effort that we invest in the reading. But we should consider the economic situation of the querent, and adapt our fees to it. We should not allow a situation in which a person in distress is denied help because he cannot afford to pay our price.


We should never use the power of cards and our ability to steer the emotional dynamics of the encounter in order to abuse or exploit the querent - whether financially, sexually or any other exploitation.


When we detect anxiety in the querent's reactions we should try to calm it. We should never strengthen his anxieties so as to create a dependence on us, or to motivate him to come to us again.


The reader must keep secret all the information about the querent's personal life that was revealed during the reading. If we want to describe the reading to other people for learning or similar purposes, we should modify and blur the names, the details and the general background in a way that will not allow any identification. The querent can, of course, speak about the reading to whom and as he sees fit.


We should not give instructions on matters that require professional expertise, such as medical advice, legal or financial considerations, etc.


We should not venture to treat severe mental or emotional difficulties if we do not have the necessary tools to deal with them. If we encounter such a case, we should encourage the querent to seek professional help, like psychological or psychiatric treatment.

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