I have been a professional tarot reader for more than twenty years, but I have always resisted being called a “fortune-teller.”
To me, “fortune-teller” conjures the image of a fraud, a shyster, a creepy superstitious person, or a cheesy carnival act.
Other people have consistently called me a fortune-teller throughout my career, with neither ridicule nor malice.
“The fortune-teller’s here!” my handler confirms as I arrive at the swanky hotel to entertain at the corporate function.
Currently in the tarot community, stigma around the concept of “fortune-telling” exists. I love that we tarot for counseling, coaching, insight, introspection, perspective, manifesting and healing, and I see the efficacy of these more psychological and spiritual approaches to tarot.
For the layperson or the novice, the difference between fortune-telling and a more introspective approach to tarot might be summed up with this one concept. Fortune-telling involves predicting the future.
Future predictions aren’t the centerpiece of most of my readings, but I do make some predictions for each person. For me, that’s just part of giving a reading.
I think we are sometimes uncomfortable making future predictions for a few of reasons. First, not every future is predictable. Some things really are up to free will, chance and the grace of a Higher Power.
Second, some clients (and some readers) become obsessed, or even addicted. The very act of future prediction seems to contribute to a high state of anxiety in some people, rather than bringing clarity and insight as it does for most of us.
Finally, the idea that the future is set and unfolding without our assistance can encourage people not to be proactive on their own behalf.
My angst around fortune-telling was so great that it inspired the title of my first book, “Fortune Stellar.”
With the recent popularity of the Lenormand deck, the topic of fortune-telling is once again on my mind. Lenormand is a tool of fortune-telling and makes no bones about it. As I play with my Lenormand cards I feel a sense of freedom. It even feels a bit like healing. What is so wrong with predicting the future?
Sports forecasters do it. Economic advisors do it. Meteorologists do it.
Tarot readers do it too. Some of us are damn good at it.
In psychology, the term “fortune-telling” is used to describe the thinking error that causes us to not attempt something because we feel we already know what the outcome will be. Often I find myself encouraging my clients not to engage in this behavior, but of course I don’t call it “fortune-telling,” because that would just be confusing.
I still won’t refer to myself as a fortune-teller. Never will I suggest that waiting for a predicted future is better than proactively creating your own future. But, you know what? The miraculous thing is that cartomancy (divination with cards) gives us all sorts of valuable insight and information. If some of that’s “fortune-telling,” so be it.