Benebel Wen recently discussed the ethics of health questions in Tarot readings. Like everything Benebel does, it was brilliantly detailed, meticulous and methodical. (https://youtu.be/EQOwLiTn1Rg) 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.
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 211.org 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.