The Niggles: Hippocrates, Socrates, Cellphones and Hammers.

Benebel Wen recently discussed the ethics of health questions in Tarot readings. Like everything Benebel does, it was brilliantly detailed, meticulous and methodical. ( She makes some crucially important points, but on other points, I disagree and it’s been niggling at me. This post isn’t a pedantic point by point response. This is a different conclusion from different point of view. I leave it to you to decide which approach resonates with you.

I may not be the definitive authority on health questions in Tarot, but I do claim expertise. I have been reading Tarot for 25 years, reading professionally for over 15 years, hold a Bachelor of Science in Medical Science, have 14 years of clinical experience as a physician assistant in psychiatry and interventional cardiology plus a Ph.D. in Natural Health. I’ve been a Reiki master-practitioner for almost 20 years. I’ve been on the giving end of bad medical news and, thanks to a rare-ish genetic disorder, I was told that I had almost died from a stroke. I’ve given and received both mainstream and holistic medical care. I know Tarot and I know health care.

And I don’t take medical or pregnancy questions in Tarot sessions.

I didn’t make that choice based on some fancy pants “Tarot Ethics” or boilerplate liability disclaimer. I made that choice based on fundamental medical principle.

And Socrates.

And cellphones.

From the time of Hippocrates and before, healers have first and foremost sought to do no harm. Doing intuitive readings for a health question is not necessarily harmless. A doctor will weigh the risks of a medication, procedure or test versus the benefits of the action. Across the landscape of all of the Tarot readings being done, there is significant risk of harm by means of misinformation, creating false hope or delaying medical diagnosis and treatment. Yes, Tarot has emotional and spiritual benefits. It can even have some broad physical benefit by way of stress reduction. However, those benefits are not sufficient to outweigh the risks. None of us know how a client will react to what we say or what they might selectively hear and retain from a reading. If a client brings up the psychic/spiritual information to a mainstream doctor, it could impact the doctor-patient relationship. It’s a harsh reality. Doctors may take them less seriously or, worst case, write their symptoms off as psychosomatic. I know – I know. It shouldn’t be that way, but it often is. Regional culture may be a factor in the medical community’s openness to complimentary care and “psychics.” Our attempt to “empower” the client could backfire. I don’t take medical questions because the potential unintended consequences out weigh the potential benefits. The best way to do no harm is to do no medical Tarot.

Allopathy (mainstream scientific health care) in America treats the physical without the spiritual. Tarot readings for medical questions address the spiritual without the physical. It isn’t fully holistic. You don’t pound nails with a cell phone and you can’t make a phone call with a hammer. Some things work well together, others don’t. Using Tarot for a healthcare questions is a little like pounding nails with a cellphone. It might work, but it’s not your best option – by a lot. Not when there are so many good hammers out there. Understanding the spiritual genesis of illness can indeed help long term health and healing. “Magic,” “talismans” and “amulets” can indeed engage the mind-body connection and be a useful adjunct to mainstream health care. Still, Tarot/magic/psychic readings pale in comparison to Reiki, aromatherapy, Western herbalism, traditional Chinese medicine, ayervedic medicine and other truly holistic techniques. These disciplines consider mind AND body AND spirit all in one go, and they are arguably effective with or without complimentary allopathic care. Psychic work can not heal the body without complimentary physical care of some sort.

The video made one critically important point. I wholeheartedly agree and can not emphasize enough: Not everyone has physical or financial access to mainstream medical care. There are places in this nation hours away from the nearest obstetrician. My mother has to drive over 90 minutes on back country roads to the nearest MRI machine. Health care access should never be taken lightly or assumed in the name of “Tarot ethics.”

Benebel suggests re-framing the client’s medical question into a form that Tarot can handle and proceed. I would agree but ONLY if you are an experienced intuitive AND take the additional step of re-framing the clients expectations. Benebel mentions this, but I think it warrants more emphasis. To do the right thing for our client, it is necessary to be unambiguously clear that Tarot can not make specific predictions about lab results, end outcomes, etc. Continuing with a Tarot reading after re-framing the question, context and expectations serves some good purposes. It is kind, soothing and addresses the immediate, short-term emotional need. But we can do more. It is possible to borrow a page from mainstream health care with referrals.

If a heart patient needs a big toe bunion fixed, the cardiologist doesn’t do the foot surgery. The heart doctor sends the patient to the foot doctor for specialty care. There is nothing wrong with referring a Tarot client to a health professional who has skills that you do not have. Gathering information to share with clients, such as a phone number for a local free clinic, the health department, local holistic practitioners or even the new service is one strategy. Steering a client toward resources outside of a reading pays attention to their needs without any of the potential drawbacks.

Socrates is attributed with saying “Know Thyself.” Another reason I will not accept medical or pregnancy questions is that I know myself. We’ve met. Say something medical and boom! Intuition goes out the window and right into clinical mode we go. Not only is Tarot a poor tool for health questions, not every Tarot reader is cut out to deal with medical questions, re-framed or otherwise. In order to give my clients the best of my intuitive work, I choose to defer medical questions. Not everyone can be the second coming of Edgar Cayce. It isn’t a matter of “picking and choosing” the “easy questions.” Unless you have medical training or you are a practicing health-specific intuitive, then it would be better to err on the side of caution and stay away from reading for health questions altogether in my opinion.

You are not a bad or inadequate energy worker if you choose to refuse medical questions. Like Hippocrates, you are choosing to do no harm. You are not being egotistical or flaunting your “ethics” if you refuse medical questions. Knowing your limits and not crossing them is another way of doing no harm. Knowing yourself and the boundaries of your skill is the exact opposite of ego, especially if you go that step further and encourage the client to place their question into more skilled hands. Presuming to read every question, easy or hard, sounds egoistic to me.

As with everything, compassion is the ultimate measure. It seems less important whether you take medical questions or not and more important HOW you decline them if you choose to do so. In all these years, every time I get a medical question, I simply explain to the client the readings I do are not very good at helping health questions and, because of my clinical background, my intuition just doesn’t work well with medical concerns. If I have something else to offer, I will. Usuall y I say something the lines of “you might want to learn more about Reiki” or “so-and-so is in your area and is a wonderful herbalist, but something like that would need to be coordinated with your doctor” or some such thing like that. I’ve never had a client become angry or distressed over that sort of response. Yes, people in physical and emotional distress need our help. Yes, they need us to hold a compassionate healing space for them, but no, we should not always fill that space with a Tarot reading. I agree that we should never dismiss a medical question harshly or judgementally from a place of high and mighty “Tarot ethics.” Tarot clients do come to indeed us out of spiritual and emotional need. But in the case of medical questions, they don’t necessarily need us.

REpeat not RETROpeat

A few days ago, we looked at the question of why cards sometimes turn up repeatedly in readings, regardless of whether you are getting readings or giving them. As I was uploading the post, I could almost hear a chorus of “It’s Mercury Retrograde” coming from social media as a hot take explanation of why life lessons are hard to learn; why messages aren’t being heard well and why cards have repeating lately.

I disagree. Understanding and enacting an important life lesson often takes much longer than any given Mercury retrograde. It takes more than a Mercury year. It can take multiple Earth years. Any retrograde of any planet in any solar system is no more than a trick of forced perspective. It is the relative movement of a very close planet compared to very distant stars. It is a little like those photos where it looks like someone is holding up the leaning tower of Pisa or holding the setting sun in the palm of their hand. As the animation above shows us, shift your point of view, and POOF! no retrograde. Only normal cycles of planets – and of nature – remain.

I have seen, however, a connection between repeating Tarot cards and one particular planet’s orbit. It isn’t Mercury; It’s Earth. The Wheel card in particular speaks to these cycles. When the Wheel shows up, think about natural cycles that may be moving through your life. There is also a subtext of adaptation. We must move with the wheel of time and natural cycles, or be crushed beneath it. This is a good example of a difficult life lesson that takes time to learn, don’t you think?


Seasons of the year are an obvious natural cycle. Over time, I’ve seen several cards cluster around summer and winter. They seem to capture the essence of the season. I often see cards like the 9 of cups, the 4 of wands or the 3 of cups turn up frequently around the Winter holidays. It fits Those holidays are akin to the cards with celebrations, traditions, family foundations and social connections all at top of mind that time of year.

Summer cards are a bit more subtle.

We think of summer as an active time, and it is. Yet it needs balance. In the winter, we balance the seasonal cold with warm things: woolly clothes, fires in fireplaces, spices, warm drinks, candles, lights. Summer needs balanced with cool drinks, sitting in the shade, loose cool clothing, going barefoot. Again, there are cards that hint at this seasonal balance, with quiet introspective cards like the 4 of swords, 3 of wands, 5 of cups or The Hermit. Admittedly, I’ve seen this pattern emerge more as a reader than as an individual. It think of it as being part of the entrainment phnomenon we talked about last time. Cards may repeat in a party (or in a season) as a resonance with the time and place (or time of year.)

If a card keeps turning up time and again, yes, it is significance. Yes, that repetition in and of itself is a message.  If a card keeps repeating, it could be for multiple different reasons. As always, it is usltimately up to your feeling and your intuition to decide which reason best fits..or if it is something else entirely. It might be:

  • an important message or lesson you are misunderstanding, failing to hear, or failing to enact
  • a significator, a stand-in for you in the reading to show how Tarot and spiritual growth in general fits in with you as individual and with your self-image of the time.
  • a validation, a signal from spirit the card’s message is important, real, authentically for you
  • resonating with places you go …. parties and so on
  • resonating  with the season of the year


A Sentence Suspended In Time

This post is not going the way I thought it would. This is about the 10th re-write of something I’d hoped to post last Wednesday – or something like that. Even after all of these years, cool & fascinating stuff still happens with the cards. I’m not 100% comfortable with how self-referential this is turning out to be. At the same time, I feel pushed by intuition to share the stuff that has been going on inside my head, the hope being that it will show you a little bit about how valuable a daily Tarot practice and DIY Tarot can be. Then of course, I hope you will click over to the shop and buy PeaceTarot to learn how to tap into the coolness for yourself. So shameless self-promotion out of the way, let’s take a peek at Tarot, social media and a sentence suspended in time.

The daily cards from this week have been niggling at me for days. I originally started the series with the intent of connecting a very young-seeming audience on a new (to me) social media platform. The intent was to draw a simple daily card with a short stand alone message with the hope it would help whoever stumbled across it. As the week went on a pattern emerged. It was like a slowly unwinding message, a paragraph draped across an entire work week.

  • Justice (reversed): You have done / are doing something boneheaded. Just stop. Do better next time.
  • Three of Swords: Use your street smarts. Use what you know.
  • Five of Cups: Mistakes happen. It can’t rain all the time, but neither is it sunny all the time. Let it go, this will pass.
  • Six of Wands: Make peace with yourself and the rest falls into place.
  • King of Cups: Spiritual guidance may come in its own time and at its own pace, but it always, always comes when it is needed. Even when you don’t know that it is needed.

I’ve tried a half dozen times to write this post, but it just wasn’t coming together. When writing a post feels more like a sparring match the message is often as much for me as for the audience, usually more. When the message is detached, channeled for a client or for someone “out there” in cyberspace, it flows in a different way. When it is something I need to get my head around, then the niggling and wrangling begins.

Today’card, the King of Cups, is proof in action of its own message. Even though I’ve been wanting to knit the first three cards together for a while, it needed the King of Cups’ message to feel right, to be complete.  I didn’t know it was needed, but here it is after taking its own good sweet time to arrive.

This is how the slow motion message reads now; You are doing something bone-headed. Just stop. Use some street smarts. Letting it continue might lead to bigger regrets later. Let it go. Be at peace with yourself and the right opportunities will come. Let guidance and opportunity unfold with its own timing and trust the process of intuition.

I know, I know. I should – and do – trust the intuitive process. If I didn’t we wouldn’t be having this conversation.  We all need little reminders every now and then. Even though it is an absolutely normal, needed, everyday, commonplace practice, sometimes the marketing and promotion aspects of owning and running a business (especially an artistic, esoteric, service business like this one) make me a little uncomfortable. I know my shit. It feels a little wearisome and narcissistic to have to keep telling everyone that I know my shit and am good at what I do. But that’s another story. Back to the cards.

These particular cards are courtesy of my new Tik Toc account. I thought it might be a good way to reach a younger audience that wasn’t dialed into Instagram or Twitter. I push to Facebook and Tumblr, but don’t interact with them directly very often. I just enjoy IG and Twitter more. Logically speaking, social media is both a fun and low cost promotional resource. More promotion, more clients…and I need the cash flow as much as anyone else. So what is there to lose giving a new (to me) platform a try? Short format videos is a good way to flip a card, give a sentence, and then come here for a longer interpretation. Easy.

The mechanics of it are easy. The energy of it is not. When the first page of trending videos loaded, I wanted to click away as fast as possible. Not my crowd. Like I have always said about finding the right psychic or Tarot reader… just because there is a personality mis-match doesn’t mean the other person is doing anything wrong. But ego and the bank account over rode the street smarts. I thought the “young” demo there maybe “needed” something a little more spiritual to go with the sea of selfies and narcissism. So much for TaoCraft’s “fierce authenticity,” right? I really don’t think that crowd is a good match for personal growth and spirituality. I work next level. The energy every time I opened the app is that they are still operating at the Miss Cleo stage razzle dazzle predict-my-future-so-I-don’t-have-to-think-about-it-fix-me level of Tarot. Not my gig. Still, in the spirit of giving it a fair chance, did the cards every day except the holiday to see what would happen.

What happened was the cards give me a little reminder to be authentic, and trust my gut the energy on the website for the luvva….

(insert spirit guide eye rolling here)

So what have I learned from this little experience?

Tik Tok was not a good idea, but I did the right thing keeping post comments closed and protecting the blog/website from trolling. Web sites are sites. They are places in cyberspace that carry energy and intention just as much as any room in meatspace. It is a mistake to ignore that energy. It may not be a mistake to try, but it would be a mistake to continue to ignore the vibe. This is the time and place for fierce authenticity, remember? I fully realize that I am about the next level personal growth kind of Tarot readings. I am no longer willing to compromise quality in pursuit of quantity. I need clients, always. They will come in time, with process. Don’t forget to trust the processes of authenticity, just as you trust the processes of intuition that brought you to authenticity in the first place.

Even when you are crashing around mindlessly caught up in the nuts and bolts of life….like trying to run a successful service and artistic business…the right spirit message will eventually land in your lap. The trick is being willing to listen to it when it does.

All of that being said, see how the symbolism, words, images all lead to practical, usuable language? That is what I do for clients. I translate the cards into real world advice. In this case it isn’t about predicting how my business will do, or predicting if Tik Toc will be a good source of clients. In this case it is about personal growth advice: Get off Tik Tok and be true to yourself.

There is another layer of message here….it reminds me of the message I get time and time and time again in relationship readings. This too shows the wisdom of don’t chase, attract. Be a magnet, not a search and destroy mission.  Be happy here and now, and the rest will come. Be happy and the right people will come into your life. Like attracts like. I want clients that want my style of reading. So I have to be true to my style of reading. A prediction of how many clients I’ll get won’t do a thing for me. But by steering me away from Tik Tok, I can make new choices. I don’t know how many new clients I’ll get, but I’ll be a LOT happier along the way. I’ve chosen my path and built a better future, even if it is different from the original intention or expectation of getting more clients with the Tik Tok feed. See how that works? That is exactly what my readings for clients are like too….not predictions, but a translation of spirit into usable, practical advice-sentences. Not everyone is ready for that kind of thinking. Not everyone is ready to let go of old hurts, to heal and to grow. But for those who are, I’m hear to help….not over there posting on the selfie-palooza app.

Justice reversed, Three of Swords, Five of Cups, Six of Wands, King of Cups make sentences suspended in time; You are doing something boneheaded, so just stop. Use your street smarts. Let it go. Be at peace with your true self, and the rest will fall into place. Guidance will always come – whether you know you need it or not.





Bookshelf: Magick of Reiki


I love a good book and a cup of coffee (or Red Zinger tea as it was when I took the picture)

This past weekend I finished Magick of Reiki: Focused Energy for Healing, Ritual, and Spiritual Development by Christopher Penczak. It is a absolute must-read for Reiki practitioners in America, possibly everywhere else, too.

I originally picked up the book to learn more about the magick piece of it. Full disclosure, I began to study Reiki back in the late 1990s, and was attuned as a Master-practitioner in the Usui style in 2000. Reiki was the topic my Ph.D. thesis in 2011. Reiki is my jam, I use it all the time for myself and my family. For various reasons, it hasn’t been until lately that I’ve started to connect the dots between the Asian culture influences (Taoism, Zen, Meditation, Reiki) and the European cultural influences (Tarot, Magick, aromatherapy, crystals) within my overall energy work.

To put it in a food analogy, I was expecting to try a new dish, but instead got a big old bowl of really delicious and familiar comfort food.

My expectations were backwards. Rather than being a book about a Magickal practice that incorporates Reiki, this is a book about Reiki by a Reiki teacher that points out the ways that Reiki is similar to magick. Instead of a book nudging the limits of my magickal knowledge, I found a book that was, after all, right in my wheelhouse. Delightfully so.

Mr. Penczak’s description of Reiki is right on the mark in my experience. I respect the he way he approaches all the varied schools in Reiki. He deals insightfully and compassionately with some fairly hot button issues between them.

His attitudes toward a wide variety of topics within Reiki very much resonate with my own. His thoughts on extended symbols, individually given symbols, publishing symbols, Reiki guides, the use of intuition within Reiki practice and most of all the giant bugaboos about money and charging for lessons and treatments are all kind, wise and just exactly what the American Reiki landscape needs. For magick topics and learning, I plan to read his other books. Magick of Reiki may not be the best choice for beginner magick reading, but it is perfect for next-step Reiki reading.

This is a book for people who have had a taste of Reiki and are looking for a fuller, more empowered approach to their practice. I cannot recommend it highly enough for anyone who has had any sort of Reiki attunement or training. This is next step elevation of existing Reiki practice through review of the basics and an overview of important advanced concepts.

It seems to me that the best non-fiction writing gives some nugget, some bit of wisdom that transcends its literal topic. The same is true here. Whenever similar ideas come from sources separated in place, time or specialty, it gives that idea a real gravitas. One might shy away from calling anything ultimate ‘truth’ but similar ideas from dissimilar sources makes any notion important to my mind.

Mr. Penczak emphasizes following one’s own intuition and feeling in incorporating different Reiki practices into our own, both generally and session by session as needed. Joanna DeVoe describes herself as a “spiritual magpie” following the same self-direction for her spiritual practices writ large, magick or otherwise. Benebell Wen, in Holistic Tarot, connects the universal life energy (the ‘ki’ in Reiki, the “chi” in Tai Chi) to the ability to do Tarot readings at a distance. Scott Cunningham, in Wicca for the Solitary Practitioner, reminds us that “the feeling is the power.” Adam Savage, writing in Every Tool’s a Hammer hints at the same autonomy and independence of thought within the realm of creativity and making. Mr. Savage captures the core of it when he quotes Ralph Waldo Emerson “To believe your own thought, to believe that what is true for you in your private heart is true for all men – that is genius.”

Genius, as every superhero movies teaches us, can, however, go wrong. To believe your inner heart is genius. To to have an inkling that it can be useful to everyone is generous. To believe that the totality of your path is the one singular right way for everyone is arrogance.

That isn’t to say all singular traditions are arrogant or wrong. The wrongness comes in assuming that one specific tradition is the one true way for everyone be it within Reiki or Magick or making stuff. If there is a particular tradition or path that is right in its totality for you, by all means follow it. You must fo what you know to be right for you be that stick with a particular school or be that follow your inner heart.

There is common ground between the group and the individual.

Tradition is tradition. Method is method. Making your own way is a tradition and a method of its own. Magick of Reiki hints that using the best of what we know gleaned from all the varied schools of Reiki IS the tradition of Reiki just like Cunningham hints that the feeling of power IS the power within magickal practice. This notion seems at diametric odds to adherence to prescribed old ways. Think about trust. Trust runs deeply through both approaches. Trust is the tradition.

In order to follow one particular school of thought within Reiki (or anything else) it require trust of that tradition. It requires trust in the originators and the transmitters of the tradition. If you are on a more inner (read solitary) path, it requires a great deal of trust too….trust in your perceptions and in your ability to adapt as better information comes along. In practice, it is a yin-yang dynamic combination of both. If you follow a tradition, you have to trust your inner knowing to choose the right tradition out of the many that exist. It requires extroidinary trust in your inner heart to change traditions and personal practices if needs be. If you are solitary, you have to trust the outer sources of information that you in turn adopt and adapt.

Usui, Tibetan, Johrei, Karuna, Shamballa; whether you follow one tradition or draw from them all and more, trust is the tradition behind it all.

Other Bookshelf posts:

Sigil Witchery

How To Find Your Soulmate

This is an updated, combined version of my two-part post from 2009. Stay tuned for a more soulmate themed posts from the Tarotbytes archives.

The question of “how do I find my soulmate” (or some version of that) comes up in Tarot readings a LOT. I asked the question a LOT when I was younger and first started going to get psychic readings. Little did I know then that I would wind up doing this kind of work. After seeing the soulmate question from both sides, I have a few ideas that to offer. 


First, don’t worry about time. Love is one of those cosmic truths beyond time. Love has no need to respond to our time schedules or expectations because it exists beyond time. It is everywhere, always. The time and place for it to take a specific form is not something we control, cause or find.  “It happens in its own time” and “you can’t hurry love” are both very true. So don’t worry about WHEN. Once you take that “when” pressure off of yourself, and off of your unknown soulmate, then that creates more energetic space for the relationship to step into.

If the loneliness gets to be too much, and sometimes it does, remember that Love exists. It is an inseparable part of the cosmos. So are you.  Look up. You and your soulmate exist under the same sky. Love touches you even in the times when you least feel it.

Second, why not let your soulmate find you? The outward flowing, struggling quality of “finding” a soulmate is often counter-productive. If it is meant to be, it will happen naturally. Fighting the current, not ‘going with the flow’ only makes things harder. Think about a crowded amusement park. If you are constantly on the move, in among the crowd, what are the chances you will find that one person? What are the chances they can find you? Now, imagine standing on a bench and waving hello. What are the chances they will see you in the crowd now? If you are happy, relaxed, loving, compassionate, and being your genuine self, then you are more likely to attract your perfect mate to you.

Third, use the spiritual law of similars. “Birds of a feather flock together” is a thing. Soulmate energy seems to vibrate along the law of similars – like attracts like. Or as Ghandi said “Be the change you want to see in the world.” If you are going to attract people who are like you, what kind of soulmate do you want to draw into your life? One obsessed with being lonely, impatient, constantly seeking? Or do want a soulmate who is happy, and enjoying life just as it is right now? You do you…and enjoy every minute of it, and that sends a signal to the perfect match FOR you. That happiness is lighthouse, signaling to your soulmate. Nothing calls out to your perfect soulmate like being your genuine, happy self. Remember that other spiritual law: Confidence is sexy. Learning to feel comfortable in your own skin is an essential step.

Fourth, do things that you love to do. Going to bars or whatever with the sole purpose of “finding a soulmate” seldom works. Do something you love and that love, that light, will shine out to the people who love you for that thing you do. They say common interests are a good foundation for building a relationship. If you love, love, LOVE going to smoky bars and hanging out with drunk people, by all means that is the way to find a soulmate. If not, skip that idea and do whatever it is that you really do love. Do things that you really care about and things that feel like they feed your soul. You might find your perfect someone at that same spiritual buffet.

Feeling lonely, feeling like someone or something is missing from your life is difficult. Soulmates are deeply important, which is why they capture so much of our thoughts and emotional energy.  There are no glib or easy answers to finding love and acceptance. It comes in many forms. Love saturates the universe. Perhaps the key to finding out soulmate is finding love where ever it exists and, most of all, living the Love that exists within yourself.

Want more personalized guidance? Order Distance Tarot HERE


Q&A: How do you know if a psychic is ethical?

This is one of the very first posts I wrote for Modern Oracle / Tarotbytes blog way back on March 31, 2009. I’ve made a few edits today for spelling and grammar. Oops!

Q: There are a lot of crooks out there. How can you tell if a psychic is for real or not?

A; This question more complicated than you might think. “Real” could mean a lot of things, but in this case they were talking about ethics. They wanted to know how to tell if a psychic really wants to help people or just make a bunch of money.

Good question. One everybody should ask before they pick up a phone or get online or drive to a “psychic”

We are all in this business for one reason or another. It is fair, legal and right to pay for an artistic service like a psychic/Tarot reading. It is no different than buying a ticket to a concert, or buying a book, admission to a museum, paying a therapist or donating to a minister for performing a wedding ceremony. In all of these cases you are paying for all the same things that a Tarot session or a psychic reading gives: entertainment, inspiration, personal enrichment, personal growth, insight…you get the idea. You are compensating the reader for the time they spend with you plus their years of experience and learning. Fair price for a fair service is, ahem, fair for everyone – the same as any other artist or counselor.

The key word here is fair. Honesty is hard to gauge outright. The hard truth is that there are a lot of people who use spirituality to trick gullible people out of large sums of money. It isn’t just psychics. Some churches arguably do the same thing. (2019 me: hell, we put a corrupt con man in the white house…it definitely isn’t just psychics!)

These are some of the positive traits I believe a good psychic should have:

HONESTY: An ethical psychic will tell you what intuitive work can and can not do. No one person has all the answers for everything. I never take medical or pregnancy questions. You should handle those with a doctor. No one is “100% accurate”.  Phrases like “100% accurate” or “guaranteed results” always make me run, not walk, in the opposite direction. If it sounds to good to be true…it probably isn’t true. To guarantee results is to rob you of your freedom and free will. Even if it were possible, it would be wrong to do. An ethical psychic will give you a realistic idea of what to expect from a reading, and respect your choices about the information they give.

CLARITY: Does the psychic make the information understandable to you? Is the reading helpful? Can you USE it to make better decisions or make better sense out of your concerns? Psychic readings aren’t any good to anybody if they make no sense. This is why the next point is so important. If something isn’t clear to you or you don’t understand it, ask them to clarify.

WILLINGNESS TO ANSWER QUESTIONS: Sometimes it is hard to put the nonverbal images and impressions we receive into words. That is where the real skill of a psychic lies. We all have intuition and ‘psychic’ ability. The real “gift” is in being able to communicate the information in an understandable, helpful way. If you are in a reading, and you don’t understand what is being said, ask. If you are working with an e-mail reading…send a follow up question (but not a dozen – be fair to the reader) Someone who really wants to help will be willing rephrase and make an effort to make the reading understandable to you. Don’t take what a psychic says at face value just because it sounds fancy, esoteric or educated. Ask them to use plain language. If they won’t or become angry or offended, you may want to re-think if this is the best psychic for you.

OPENNESS ABOUT PRICES AND BUSINESS POLICIES: The reality is, whether the psychic approaches the readings as counseling, spiritual guidance, entertainment or what have you – it is still a business. Especially if that is their sole livelihood. Prices, policies about returns, scheduling, cancellations all should be as clear and up-front as with any other professional practice. By the same token, it is important for you to know and respect their guidelines and disclaimers as well.

PROFESSIONALISM AND COURTESY: In my opinion, Psychic and Tarot work is all about helping people. I give Tarot the same level of professionalism and ethics that I gave patients when I worked in mainstream medicine, and that I give my Natural Health clients now. More often than not, if someone seeks out a psychic reading it is because they have some very real problem. Often they are emotionally upset and more vulnerable than they usually are. Some psychics exploit that vulnerability, but the majority seek to help and heal it. An ethical psychic will not take advantage of a situation like that. A reading should never make you feel more vulnerable. If you feel intimidated, taken advantage of or belittled in any way, that should be a warning sign to you.

RESPECT FOR YOUR DECISIONS AND BELIEFS:  You should be the one to decide when, if ever, you go back for a reading. Getting too many readings in too short of a time can get confusing and ultimately do more harm than good. Intuitive readings shouldn’t ask that you believe certain things or not. Skepticism will not scare away or block “spirits” and lack of ‘believing” won’t keep you from getting a good reading. You should feel as if you are being treated with dignity and respect…not blamed if a reading doesn’t go well. 


If you don’t feel comfortable with a psychic it doesn’t automatically mean they are doing anything unethical or illegal. Just like doctors and ministers, we all have our own specialties, our own styles, and our own belief systems.

For example, some people love to go to dramatic, flamboyant psychics – it makes the reading more interesting and fun. Some people need the extra drama to ‘believe’ and let themselves be helped by the reading experience. Other people like a more practical style. My goal is to be the “no drama”, calm, reassuring type of psychic.

Different kinds of problems need different kinds of psychics. Some psychics work very well with medical concerns ( like the Carolyn Myss and Edgar Cayce, for example). The same is true with bereavement, or issues of life after death. Some are mediums and connect with crossed loved ones very easily, while it happens less often for others psychics.


This is a tricky one. Just because a psychic doesn’t share YOUR particular beliefs doesn’t mean they are unethical or criminal. (looking at you evangelicals) The key is if they have some sense of ethics. Usually the easiest way to see that is their business practices and disclaimers. If they have it together enough to write those, they have it together enough to treat you fairly.

(2019 me: In my practice, the guidelines go both ways. It keeps us all safe. When we both know what to expect, then giving you a good reading takes top priority. I expect my clients to treat me with the same respect I give them and reserve the right to terminate any session or appointment for inappropriate comments or behavior. If either of us need to cancel or reschedule, it isn’t a big deal, but we should give the other person notice…that sort of thing)

As for negative traits….

Here are some things about psychic readings that make me uncomfortable. I wouldn’t feel comfortable with a psychic that shows these things. Most of the ones I’ve met fortunately don’t.  It is your choice of course, but I suggest being on the lookout for:

  • claims of 100% accuracy
  • promises of a specific outcome: like “fixing your love life” or what have you
  • anger or agitation at questions
  • doesn’t let you take notes or make recordings of the reading for later reference
  • unclear pricing … free times, holding you online in a per-minute reading etc
  • demanding regular or “faithful” return visits or frequent readings
  • demanding that you believe certain things or the reading won’t “work”


Most of all, the best way to know if a particular psychic is a good match for you or not is to use your own intuition and street-smarts. If you feel like something is wrong, it is.

Ghost of Zombie Cat

First published 17 May 2015

“There is more in Heaven and Earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophies” – William Shakespeare

“Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic” Arthur C. Clarke

“I ain’t afraid of no ghost” – Ghostbusters

In the first Zombie Cat post we talked a little bit about the intersection of Tarot and science. Now lets shift gears yet again and add in the  spiritual, fringe, and frankly, “woo-woo” aspect of things. Tarot intersects all of those, too.

When I’m not looking at the world as a giant Taoist Taijitu (yin/yang symbol) I tend to see a lot of things in terms of a Venn diagram. That’s why I chose a triquetra as the main symbol in my old Modern Oracle logo. This “trinity knot” is essentially an excerpt of a three circle Venn diagram which in turn symbolizes much in my work…mind/body/spirit (for holistic health) or mother/maiden/crone (for the stages of life) or sea/sky/land (our connection with Nature) and many more such groups of three. I see Tarot as overlapping with self,  science and spirituality, again giving us that lovely triquetra shape.

So, back to Tarot and spirituality. Any good thesis defines its terms. In this case we have to define spirituality. I’ve noticed a tendency for people to use spirituality and religion almost interchangeably. They aren’t. As I see it, they are totally different, damn near opposite things. I define spirituality as internal and individual. Spirituality is how we as individuals engage with the wordless, intangible aspects of the universe and our existence within it. Religion, on the other hand, is external, codified, ritualized, other, outside of our individual self. Religion is how a collective of people over time has engaged with the wordless, intangible aspects of the universe and pronounced them to be. We express our spirituality in out external lives. Spirituality goes from the inside out. Religion structures our external lives as a way to instruct the internal. Religion is outside in. Tarot is intuition – it is inside to inside. It has everything to do with spirituality, nothing to do with religion.

Spirituality is unlimited. It is in this vast inner world where Tarot applies and finds its usefulness. Yes, the cards are external. But they don’t instruct our inner world from the outside in as a religious practice might. They are a mirror to reflect out inner world back to us and lens to help us understand what we see there. They reflect and shine light in the dark corners, allowing that inner world of spirituality to illuminate and expand, grow and thrive. 

The cards are nothing more than just pieces of paper. It is centuries of projected wisdom and symbolism written on the cards combined with the intuition and insight of the Tarot reader’s living modern mind that leads the way to enlightenment…not the pieces of paper alone. The cards are the Venn diagram intersection of mind and matter that lets us catch glimpses of the possibilities and probabilities afforded to us by the physical/quantum universe of which we are an intimate and inseparable part.

Tarot cards are our portal into the trinity of humanity, science and spirituality. They are a magnet that draws wisdom, guidance, insight and empowerment out of a melange of known, unknown, explicable, inexplicable, and the heart that seeks to know more.

There is more in heaven and earth than we have yet to dream and discover. There is more inside ourselves as well. There is more than just a dead or living cat in Schrodinger’s box. Woo-woo as they may seem, disappearing cats and zombie cats are part of the bigger multiverse of the human heart, mind, imagination and spirit.

Zombie Cat is in the house! Yes-or-No Tarot is now available to order on the home page. These 3 card Tarot readings answer any ONE yes-or-no question. Fun, lighthearted and tongue in what’s left of his cheek, Zombie Cat’s readings are 100% guaranteed to have words in them and a 50% chance of being dead wrong. Order HERE.

Zombie Cat

First published 27 April 2015

“People assume that time is a strict progression of cause to effect, but actually from a non-linear, non-subjective viewpoint – it’s more like a big ball of wibbly wobbly… time-y wimey… stuff.”

– Doctor Who in “Blink” episode, written by Steven Moffat.

There are two words that make me inwardly cringe when I read (or hear) them in a Tarot reading question: “Will” and “When”.

Predictions and time are knotty subjects in this work. Predictions are actually a scientific thing. A scientific prediction is, in essence, expert opinion about what should happen based on existing data and past results. For example, we can predict where in the sky Mars will be a year from now based on laws of gravity, planetary motion, existing observations and so on.  As I understand it, that is the kind of “prediction” that a law of physics or scientific principle has to be able to make in order for the principle to be considered valid within the scientific method.

Science spends so much time and energy bashing and demeaning “psychic predictions” when they are, in essence, the same as the scientific kind of predictions.  The psychic reader is an objective observer, knows human nature, and can see trends that the person involved may not see. A Tarot reader can predict where things are going in a relationship just like a scientist can predict where Mars is headed over the next year. The only real difference is psychic predictions are based on right-brain, non-linear logic and de facto  psychology instead of left-brain, linear logic and hard data.

And that is looking at it from a very superficial, everyday experience point of view. This is Isaac Newton kind of stuff. It’s like predicting that when an apple detaches from the tree, it will fall down. What if we go a little quantum about it?

Think Schrodinger’s Cat.

In theory, once the experiment is set up and started, the cat could come out of it alive or not. But why not both if you are into zombies? Or neither one if the cat suddenly ceased to exist? Disappearing / Zombie Cat could happen…it’s just extreme magnitudes of unlikely as I understand the BBC Horizon Series’ program “Parallel Universes” (hosted by Dr. Michio Kaku, based on his book “Parallel Worlds”)

When the moment of discovery is still in the future, the possibility and attendant probability exists for all outcomes. In the mysterious and undetermined future, all four conditions exist, even our unlikely disappearing / undead pet. Can you predict which way THAT is headed using nothing but your brain and handful of Tarot cards? If you “predict” the most likely of the potential outcomes (meaning the cat is still there and not  a zombie) is that psychic or science? If you predict Zombie Cat, is that quackery, or was the vision just dialed into a very different part of a far flung multiverse?

The Zombie Cat may well exist out there. We don’t know, because multiverses, as the video says, is unproven. No-cat and Zombie Cat might be out there, but they just don’t make the jump from possible to probable to IS. At least not in this world. All potentials exists until “the wave collapses” and the moment becomes NOW instead of future, and then slips instantly into the past. Now and Past are fully collapsed probability waves. They exist – ska-doosh! – done deal, nothing to predict. The future on the other hand, that’s a different animal still.

Now, just to make things really interesting, let’s introduce Zombie Cat to Alice the Vampire.

In the movie Twilight, the psychic vampire Alice could see the future, insofar as people have decided what they want to do. If someone changes their mind, or changes their action, then her vision changes. She can predict, but with uncertainty. Her predictions are predicated on the course people are on, not any one fixed outcome. Alice the vampire’s visions and Zombie Cat’s existence are a matter of probability, not “accurate prediction”. And so it is with Tarot and psychic readings.

Let’s say our cat has human-like intelligence and a choice rather than being a victim of circumstance as in the classic thought experiment. What if there was some choice the cat could make or some action it could take that would keep the gunpowder from going off. What if it could blow out the fuse? Now how do you make predictions under that set of conditions?

Imagine your psychic vision was of a dead cat? (a 50% probable outcome in the original experiment)  What if the cat heard you make that “psychic prediction” and blew out the fuse when it otherwise wouldn’t have? Was the prediction wrong? 

Let’s shift gears again to Zombie Cat, Alice Vampire and Tarot readings.

Will you get that job? I dunno. Did you apply for it? Update your resume? Schedule an interview? Check the classifieds for other options? (What has the cat done to keep the powder from exploding) Has the person doing the hiring made any decisions or taken any actions? (collapsed the probability wave)

On the other hand, a reading can give you advice that maybe can help you get that job: be flexible (4 of swords), emphasize your skills and experience (The Emperor) or show you’d be a caring team player (5 of coins). A good advice reading is like the psychic yelling at the cat in the thought experiment bunker to blow out the fuse to improve the chances that it won’t blow up.

When will you get married? I dunno. The future is just as wibbly-wobbly as the Doctor told us. But Tarot can give you ideas about how to bring love and happiness of all sorts of things into your life. Intuition can help you make the best possible choices along the way, not predict what lies at the end of the road.

If you do nothing, take no advice, make no choices, then your chances of getting the future you want moves closer to the chances of a Zombie Cat coming out of that experiment. But who knows? Meeting a friendly Tarot advising Zombie Cat might be a lot of fun.

Next time: The Ghost of Zombie Cat

Videos by Minute Physics, via creative commons permissions Please watch! I highly recommend them!
Inspired by “Test Tubes and Tarot Decks” episode of Menage A Tarot Podcast April 2015



2019 update: Zombie Cat is in the house! Get a three card Tarot reading that answers any ONE yes-or-no question. Tongue in what’s left of his cheek, these readings are lighthearted and fun with just a little bit of snark. Be Warned! Zombie Cat’s readings have 100% chance of containing words, but a 50% chance of being dead wrong.

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Q&A: Are Tarot Cards Demonic?

First Published 5-27-15 Updated 3-24-19


Q: Are Tarot cards demonic?

A: No.

Hell and demons are religious ideas, so religious people might give you a different answer. As I see it, religion and spirituality are totally different things (see Ghost of Zombie Cat post) . I believe that Tarot is a combination of science and spirituality with religion having no part in the process. No religion, no demons.

The scientific part has to do with resonance and vibration. Think of guitar strings. Pluck one string and it vibrates at a certain frequency and makes a certain note. Twang a different size string and you get a different note. If two separate strings are tuned to the same note, then you can play one string and the other vibrates too, making a similar sound along with the first one (resonance). Tarot cards are the guitar pick, not the note. The guitar string you choose and play sets the tone for Tarot experience you have and any resonant energies that come along with it. If you vibrate on the demon note, you have a bigger chance of resonating a “demonic” experience. If you vibrate at the “guidance” note then that’s what you’ll get.  The old adage of “you get out of it what you put into it” has a sort of literal truth here. Expect hellfire, and you might get it. Expect happy, and you might get that too.

To put it into spiritual terms, all you have to do for a demon-free reading is fill yourself with love and light, or ask for protection from some higher energy / protective power. I love J.K. Rowling’s image of a “patronus” in this context. Think about it…the shape of your inner light protects you. What shape would you want your inner light to take? A trembling mouse or a roaring tiger? Who would you want between you an the minions of evil? A clergyman or Ironman?

Here is a powerful image from Joy Star’s newsletter (used with permission.) Think of a house on a dark night. Imagine the house filled with cheery lights and a cozy fire in the fireplace. If you open the front  door what happens? Does the outer dark come rushing in and extinguish the light, or does the light pour out of the open door and illuminate the dark? This isn’t saying that the dark doesn’t exist. It doesn’t mean that houses can’t lose power or that disasters don’t happen to people who “think positive” all the time. This is the real world. Of course bad stuff happens. But good stuff happen too. If you fill yourself with light before opening the door then you can see what is hidden without the darkness coming in. Fear and superstition turns your lights out. When you are afraid or angry, then dark meets dark at the door.

The spirit world isn’t all sunshine and roses. Natural forces that are out of our league and there are negative energies from ill-intentioned people. You can protect yourself on spiritual level the same as you protect yourself on a physical level by putting on a raincoat during a storm or staying out of dangerous places alone at night. The most important protection is simple intention. Intent  is a very potent thing. Before you do any magick or spiritual or energy work, very clearly set your intent to only act in safety for and with the highest and best good. Plus don’t forget you are not the only person on Earth who resonates with energy and divination. Read, arm yourself with knowledge. Get advice, learn from other people’s experience in order to explore in safety. An excellent start is reading Psychic Protection by Ted Andrews.

You have probably heard of the ‘spiritual law’ that “Like attracts like.” If you are hopeful, you may attract something inspirational. If you are afraid, you may attract something frightening.

By the same token, if you are genuinely afraid of the cards, then don’t deny or minimize that. It is what it is. If your religious beliefs are in conflict with Tarot readings, then simply find your guidance another way. From my side of things, it is incredibly difficult to do a good reading for someone who is so conflicted about Tarot that they can barely hear what the session has to say anyway. Tarot is a great tool for learning, but it isn’t for everyone. If you are seriously worried that Tarot cards are demonic, “occult”  or that you’ll burn in hell for having a reading…then you need to find the right kind of guidance for you. Why put that kind of stress on yourself? For Tarot to be helpful, you have to let go of something. Either let go of the religious notions of demons and damnation, or let go of Tarot as a way for guidance. Either is fine. They just don’t mix, like oil and water.

Tarot cards aren’t demonic. It’s WAY worse than that. Tarot cards are reflective. Tarot cards aren’t evil, they are a mirror showing you life’s harsh realities. Choose fear, see fear. Choose love, see love. Choose courage and compassion and see something beautiful.

My reading style is calm, reasonable, no-drama and never occult or scary. I’ve done more first-time readings than I can count. If you would like a safe, no judgement, religion-free way to try a Tarot reading, a five-card email reading is a good choice. Very private, very convenient, very affordable. Order HERE


Originally published 5-27-2010

“Camera 1, Camera 2, Camera 1, Camera 2” ~ Wayne’s World 2

Ever play with that trick of eyesight? Close one eye, and hold up a pencil so it lines up with an object in the distance. Then switch eyes and the pencil seems to jump to one side. Things don’t line up the same way.

In astronomy, this is called parallax. In anatomy, this phenomenon where the brain combines two slightly different views from two slightly different viewpoint gives us depth perception…it allows us to see distance. Two eyes lets us live in three dimensions. It helps us to not walk into objects and learn our environment the literal hard way.

A similar idea is true in Tarot and psychic work. Getting a reading isn’t predicting the future…it is getting a second look, a separate viewpoint to combine with our own that lets us see with greater clarity and understanding. It helps us be a bit more perceptive, and not have to learn every lesson the hard way.

Two third-eyes are better than one, in other words.

Even those of us who do readings professionally will sometimes GET one to improve our understanding and fill in any blind spots. 

I like to think that when psychics read for themselves or consult a fellow psychic, it works like binocular vision. Two readings from two people gives two views that can be fused together into a higher quality, more useful vision.

Another example is the VLA, “very large array” of radio telescopes. It is made of 27 or so radio antennae all linked together to work together like one big dish, one configuration is over 20 miles across. Working together, the telescopes have capabilities magnetudes more than any individual telescope. If we combine our logic, know-how, and life experience to work together with oracle tools (tarot, runes, palm lines, what-have-you) and other intuitives, we can increase our understanding and spiritual growth by magnitudes.

If one eye is closed, then depth perception doesn’t work. If one telescope is down, the array doesn’t work as well. We each bring our part to a reading. The sitter (learner, seeker, client) has a part to play too. When we do a Tarot reading, we work together. I translate spirit, but it is up to you to understand and apply the message. We work together like the telescopes in the VLA or two eyes together to see farther. Working together, we see with more clarity. Together we are clairvoyant.