Today’s question comes from Ste. He writes:
I work as a counselor for LGBT communities, and I am currently starting my own business as a tarot reader specializing in reading for LGBT communities. I’m really interested to know which cards you feel resonate with people experiencing discrimination, and which cards are particularly relevant to people exploring their sexuality or gender identity?
This is a great question, Ste. It’s one that every reader needs to consider. Whether or not a reader makes a point of serving the LGBT community, it’s safe to say that every reader will read for LGBT people from time to time in their career.
As with all tarot reading, the way we interpret cards can change according to context and intuition. Which cards might be of particular significance to the LGBT community? Let’s start with the Court Cards, since these cards have assigned gender.
In my experience, tarot cares little about gender. Pages can show up as boys, women can show up as Kings. I consider all the Court Cards to be gender fluid in terms of the people they will portray. Nonetheless, Court Cards can be important indicators about relationships, and about identity.
I remember a reading I did for a young gay man who was a drag queen, and dated drag queens. In his Celtic Cross, every King was present, but no Queens. We talked about the lack of Queens from the perspective of his dating life. It turns out he had decided not to date a particular guy who performed in drag with him. He took the “no Queens” as an affirmation that he was right to end the relationship.
Later in the reading, I discovered that my client was unhappy that there were not many opportunities for him to perform. This gave another meaning to the absence of Queens. He wanted more opportunity to be a Queen.
Finally, we looked at the predominance of male cards. When all the Kings show up, it’s important to pay attention. We interpreted the Kings in two ways. First, as a young gay man with a talent for drag, he was figuring out his identity. The four Kings represented different facets of himself, and the different parts of his personality he was working to integrate.
Secondly, the four Kings told him that many men would be available to him, and assured his ability to date and find the right partner.
Court Cards figured prominently in another reading of interest to this topic. This was a phone reading who came to me by referral. When I started the reading, I was impressed to see the High Priestess in the significator position, and all four Queens surrounding the High Priestess. Why was so much femininity surrounding my female client?
There were other cards in the spread, but my attention was drawn only to the five female cards. Was my client a feminist? Was she studying the Feminine Divine? I had no idea, but only one sentence would come out of my mouth.
“I am not sure if this will make sense to you, but the most important message here is for you to honor and embrace your feminine nature. You need to explore what it means to you to be a woman, and to find the power in your womanhood.”
I was nervous. Not everyone can resonate with such a feminine-empowered statement. My client drew in a sharp breath. Her next sentence came out like one word.
“I am transgender. I was born a man, and I am now transitioning my gender. Next week I will transition at work. And, I’m a lesbian and my body in not gender-conforming, so I worry about finding a woman who will want me.”
Clearly, this client needed to be empowered as a woman, and as a woman who loves women. The cards did that for her. The cards told her that her feminine nature was real, and was enough.
What we learn from these examples is that there are specific cards that can denote gender within a reading. The High Priestess will always speak of femininity. The Queens can speak of yin energy, while the Kings are yang. When we see these cards, we may dealing with a situation where gender is important, such as with gender fluidity, same-gender preference, or gender transition.
Ste asked which cards might show discrimination, and which might show the process of exploring and questioning sexuality. In answering this, let’s remember that, in the course of a professional tarot practice, there will be many sexual and lifestyles issues that need to be discussed. These issues could include polyamory, swinging or fetish lifestyles, for example. There are also issues of sexual dysfunction, and differences in tastes within relationships.
While we must always refer to doctors and counselors when appropriate, sometimes the tarot reader is the first person to address a sensitive issue, because the reader is sometimes in the unique position to see it first, and say it first.
Sometimes clients haven’t yet figured out their orientation. We cannot tell a person who identifies as straight that they would be happier in a same-sex relationship if they aren’t ready to hear that, even if the cards are clear. Here all we can do is plant a seed. I have sometimes said very innocent-sounding things, with the intention that, at the right time, their meaning would be clear.
Issues that involve that kind of questioning and exploration can include the cards we always associate with questioning and internal conflict, such as the Two of Swords, the Five of Wands, the Seven of Swords, the Seven of Cups and the Two of Wands. These cards may appear in conjunction with multiple Court cards, or with Major Arcana cards that depict gender or sexuality, such as the High Priestess, the Empress, the Emperor, the Devil and the Star.
Let’s look further at those cards that can be interpreted around issues of sexuality in general.
We’ve already talked about the High Priestess as a card that honors femininity. The High Priestess reversed could indicate a host of sexual issues in both men and women. A related card, the Moon, can talk about sexual confusion.
The Ace of Wands is a phallic card. It can indicate sexual function and sexual attraction in all genders. Reversed, it may discuss what doesn’t attract someone. Sometimes, this is the first card that tells me someone isn’t attracted to members of the opposite sex, for instance.
The reversed Ace of Wands can also discuss impotence.
The Star can be a card of sexual attraction or sexual satisfaction. When reversed, there is a distinct lack of sexual satisfaction or attraction.
The Devil can deal with sexual addiction. Both the Devil and the Eight of Swords could reference a BDSM lifestyle.
There are particular idioms in the LGBT community that could easily show up in the cards. I’ve seen “lesbian bed death” in the Four of Swords, for instance. The Five of Wands reversed came up when the boy of his dreams turned out to be a bottom, when he’s a bottom, too.
When people are finally ready to come out to themselves and to others, it is sometimes the tarot reader who encourages them, and guides them. The Sun and the Fool remind us to own and honor who we are.
Discrimination against members of the LGBT community, whether from family, neighbors, or in the workplace, very often is revealed by the Hierophant. The Five of Pentacles is often present to describe the feeling of rejection and lost opportunity that comes from such discrimination. Likewise, the High Priestess reversed can indicate a sense of sexual shame, or the act of shaming. The Seven of Swords can indicate the distrust a homophobic person may exhibit.
In my experience, when the cards speak of dating, love, family, marriage, heartbreak, home and children, there is virtually no difference between the ways these energies are described for a heterosexual person versus a gay or transgendered person. Whom we love may differ, but what love looks like in the cards, and what love feels like, remains the same. The Four of Wands will indicate a marriage, or a life partnership, whether that is between a man and a woman, two men, two women, or even a poly pod.
Therefore, the cards that can predict or describe a relationship, cards such as the Ten of Cups, the Two of Cups and the Ace of Cups, represent shared love for all.
Tarot teaches us in many ways. That tarot can recognize and honor love the same way, regardless of the configuration, is a lesson for all of us.
For more insights, watch the video!