Welcome to a new series of posts dedicated to sharing our knowledge and experience of Tarot where I will interview another reader. The aim is to share Tarot reading tips, favorite decks and personal views.
We start today with Australian reader Anu Saskia who is based in Perth and has been reading for herself and others for more than 5 years. I asked her about her favorite cards, most common questions and what Tarot cliches annoy her the most.
Louise (Tarot Parlor): How long have you been reading Tarot for?
Anu Saskia: I discovered Tarot in 2011, so it’s been five years now. I read pretty much daily. I’ve done approximately thousand readings for other people and possibly a double for myself.
T.P: How did you discover Tarot?
A S: By coincidence, or fate, depending on one’s viewpoint! I went through a divorce in 2011. I was desperate for solace and guidance, so I ordered a free astrology reading online. It came with a complementary Tarot reading. The cards I got were so accurate that I just stared at them in awe and shock. This prompted me to read everything I could online about these specific cards, learn more about Tarot in general, and start practising readings. Over and over again, the cards made sense, so I stuck with it and learned more.
T.P: What’s your favorite deck & why?
A S: I like Shadowscapes, Joie de Vivre and Paulina Tarot for their artwork, but my most trusted workhorse is Rider Waite Smith. The somewhat stoic pictures deliver clear and crisp messages I seem to connect with the most – maybe because it’s the deck I learned to read with. However, I like switching between decks and even mixing decks, because diverse artwork triggers different intuitive grasp about what’s the message.
Tarot is very much geared towards positive guidance. To me it looks that cards prompt us to be better versions of ourselves and treat others with respect and kindness
T.P: What is your favorite card?
A S: I have plenty, and it also depends on the question! In general I really like to see the Sun – joy of life, happiness, clarity; 9 Pentacles – feeling content, free and independent, enjoying one’s resources; 10 Cups and 10 Pentacles – enjoying emotional bliss and material security; Queen of Wands – feeling creative, passionate, enthusiastic, inspired and inspiring; Magician – feeling skilled and able to manifest one’s intentions; and 8 Wands – fast-paced action, communication, positive news. I tend to like the Wands suit in general – I’m an Aries, a fire sign – but I’ve learned that the best possible card does depend on the question and one’s mindset / attitude towards it.
What is the cliche about Tarot that annoys you the most?
A S: That it’s either a hoax or something evil. I understand that for a today’s non-religious, scientifically geared mindset it’s difficult to believe that pieces of paper could bear any messages, other than what’s imagined or superimposed on them by our own hopes, fears and wishful thinking. But I personally like to approach “paranormal” topics without prior assumptions either way. I don’t have an explanation how Tarot works, other than the reader piecing together intuitive information prompted by the pictures, but it can still be a very useful self-exploration and self-development tool; and a tool for organising one’s mind about the needed direction. Also, it’s frustrating that some people believe it’s witchcraft or satanic. No it’s not. It’s about interpreting symbols in the same way than interpreting dreams. Would anyone label discussing dreams or trying to understand their intuitive message as evil?
T.P: What do you think is the best use for Tarot? (prediction? guidance? self-help?)
A S: This really depends on everyone’s belief system. Tarot works very well as a self-discovery and self-development tool, and this is the area people find the easiest to accept. After all, if each one of us can decipher our own dreams and know what fears or hopes they point to, why couldn’t we understand pictures on paper on the same way? But I personally believe Tarot also has predictive powers – I’ve experienced it too many times to brush it off as a coincidence – and Tarot is very much geared towards positive guidance. To me it looks that cards prompt us to be better versions of ourselves and treat others with respect and kindness. I guess it can be in the eye of the beholder, but for me, cards show us how to be more authentic, self-confident, kind and overall better human beings.
T.P: If you read professionally, what questions come up more often?
A S: Romantic relationships and career are the top areas to ask about. Both men and women around the world are anxious to know whether they’ll find someone, will a new relationship take off, or will they overcome a current rough patch in their relationship. Many ask about reconciling with an ex. Another major area is career direction: what to do or where to head to from a point of unemployment or excruciatingly unfulfilling job.
In general, a Tarot reader gets a mixed bag of all sorts: will my cat come home, how will this legal proceeding go, should I contact a childhood friend, will this argument be reconciled, will my finances improve soon? More often than not questions veer towards: will my situation change for better due to someone else taking action, or the universe changing it? I do my best to give an honest, non-judgemental and helpful advice based on the cards, but I always remind people that life is not about sitting and waiting someone else to deliver: it’s very much about us making decisions, setting intentions, taking action.
T.P: What’s the strangest or most difficult question someone has asked you in a reading?
A S: Can you locate a specific book I’ve lost? The cards gave advice that didn’t mean much to me but when I relayed it to the sitter, she found the book, based on the advice. All questions about finding things are tricky, because cards are symbolic, not literal, and they work better when discussing mental, emotional or spiritual aspects of life instead of the material plane.
People don’t tend to ask strange things; most often it’s about daily life and decisions, similar you’d ask from a friend for advice and perspective.
For non-religious people, spiritual questions such as “what advice my spirit guide/guardian angel has for me?” could be strange, but I think they are part of who we are: social, physical, emotional but also spiritual beings.
T.P: Do you read Tarot for yourself? If yes, any advice, tips or warnings?
A S: Yes I do, I don’t think I could have learned in any other way. For a year, I kept a daily log of all of my readings to compare what cards I got and what they meant and whether the message was accurate. My main advice is: keep record. Otherwise you’ll never know how the cards matched. It also reduces the temptation to ask the same question over and over again, if you have the first one recorded and can refer back to it to ponder more.
The main obstacle with reading for oneself is – in my experience – the tendency to either sugarcoat or get excessively negative. It’s very difficult to stay objective, when the outcome means a lot to you. I sometimes ask career questions from other professional readers, because I’m emotionally too invested in the outcome and can’t/won’t see it clearly.
T.P: What is your goal as a Tarot reader?
A S: My goal is to learn to be even more intuitive, to see the message as it is with the help of my inner eye. My speciality is conciseness: I like drawing only 1-3 cards instead of long spreads, unless the cards have specific positions. Less is more works very well for me, as I like to study each card carefully and fish out everything one card has to say. As a professional reader, my goal is to be a sought-after, trusted and recognised reader and earn at least one third of my income via Tarot in one way or another within the next five years.
T.P: One thing you should never do in a Tarot session?
A S: As a reader, don’t try to please but don’t steamroll, either. Some sitters won’t accept negative news, but don’t force it. If the message is not favourable, deliver it in an emphatic manner, but don’t sugar coat either. I believe it’s better to be honest and lose a customer, than only tell what someone wants to hear and be labelled as a hoax afterwards. This goes without saying but never, ever take advantage of a sitter in any way.
Tarot readers don’t have similar set of rules like doctors or priests, but it’s up to us to show the same respect.
As a sitter, don’t be biased. You might have a view about what the answer should be, but it doesn’t make it a fact. An outsider like a Tarot reader can pick something you didn’t realise or want to admit. Try to explore the message as open-mindedly as possible to see if any of it rings true. Also, don’t ask about the same question over and over again: the more cards are drawn the more confusing the message becomes. Shopping around will just cost you money but it won’t guarantee a better answer/future. Instead, think how you can actively improve your situation by taking action.
T.P: What would you say to someone who wants to start reading Tarot? Do you have a deck recommendation for a newbie?
A S: I find the Rider Waite Smith deck the most useful because the archetypal pictures are easy to understand, and most Tarot tutorials are written for RWS cards or its variants – which the majority of available decks are. Just try it, play around, look at the pictures, really think what the image could mean. How does the person feel in it? What is happening? What objects or concepts are in the picture? What does it tell you regarding the question you asked?
There are plenty of handy tutorials online. I recommend looking up card meanings one by one (as they come up in your readings) from at least 3-4 different sources to start building a mental database. It’s slow but it’s rewarding, like learning a new language – which reveals invisible aspects of life.
Anu Saskia is an Australian Tarot reader and the blogger behind Tarot for Change. You can also find her on Instagram @ tarotsaskia
Are you an active Tarot Reader too? If you’d like to chat with me about reading Tarot and get interviewed for Tarot Parlor don’t hesitate to get in touch!