Spirit Readings

By Allan Ritchie


I think that if we all have been using Tarot for any length of time the we have done a spirit reading or two.  We may imagine that with a draw of the cards we imagine that we can make contact with an intelligence that is not as physically bound as we are.  As the wheel of the year turns toward the darker half, we feel a draw to the primordial understanding that even in our western, technological, rational world there is an underside to our existence that stirs beyond our limited senses. 

Many who believe in spirits or ghost, if you will, do so based on a powerful personal experience. I was a sheltered youth and while I had a fascination with the things that go bump in the night I never actually heard things go bump in the night.  Until I did.  At one of my first jobs, fresh off high school graduation and before moving on to college I worked at a local, well known restaurant.  It  was there that I first knowingly shared a room with a ghost. It was a prickly feeling of uneasy awareness.  I was watched and it was a presence in the corner of the room with which I dared not make eye contact. Before that I had not believed in spirits but from that moment on I had a change of heart. 

I fall back on one of the pillar dictums in my tarot craft.  Tarot is a tool.  A tool that can be used to  facilitate understanding.  There is a wisdom that comes through the use of the cards that seems other worldly.  Therefore I dare ask can tarot be a tool to communicate with spirits? To be pointed can we hear from the dead? The holiday of Samhain is around the corner and the time may be ripe for us to ask and consider these questions.  

The question if Tarot can be a tool of mediumship is one that investigates where the information comes from in the tarot reading.  I want to look at the idea of spirit readings from a bit of a different perspective by examining another type of reading. For many third-party readings are taboo. Why we don't do Third-Party readings?  Do I believe that the person has to be present to do a reading about them?  If so then all my e-mail readings would be useless.  Do I have to have the consent of a person to make a tarot reading "work?"  This gets us into odd territory about the way that the universe works. I know that volition on the part of the client is important, but I do not think it is necessarily essential.  I think that there is a chance that with the tarot we can oracularly eavesdrop on people.  Then if I can potentially know the thoughts and intentions of a non-present stranger through the cards then it is a difficult next step that the cards could speak to the thoughts or intentions of people who are no longer living?

For me the idea of Spirit readings quickly brings me it an impasse because they are hard to verify.  This idea of the ability to verify a reading is an important one.  The profession of tarot reading is questioned by the public because we claim to have information that is derived from a questionable source.  I do e-mail readings weekly where I send them out and never hear back from the client. I send out readings and trust that the client is able to verify if the reading fits their situation.  When we pick up a deck and act as channel for the dead then there is a lost avenue for verification.  For some this is not as important as it is for others.  Verification is an issue that is important . 

I know that I have done a version of the reading "What does my Spirit Guide want me to know?"  When I do this reading I am placing my own beliefs on hold.  I then allow the client's belief that the cards can tell them what their spirit guides want them to know. Here I see my role as more translator.  It is as if I have been charged to read a message that they have received. There is an ethical question here about the uniformity of belief but that is for another day. Performing a tarot reading is always a leap of faith and there are times when I take the temporary leap with my clients. This ability to temporary suspend my own belief and share a mutual faith comes from a place where I have learned to trust the universal truth found in Tarot.

Where does the information come from?  Is it intuition, inspiration, or imagination?  If it is intuition then it comes from my own self/soul/spirit recognizing truth.  If it is inspiration then it is a knowledge that is coming from outside of myself through the cards, this is another sense of divination where we gain information from an independent source.  If it is Imagination then it is coming from my own own fanciful mind that creates stories.

If we then can believe in inspiration then could we conceive of a way that the spirits can influence the arraignment of shuffled cards to create a meaningful outcome within the idea of a spread or reading? No, by far, is the easier answer.  Yes, is a more complicated answer.  No, buys us an easy out because if there is no meaningful arraignment of cards then it is all imagination and while we may be able to be comforting to a client who comes to ask for a spirit reading we are not accurate.  If we think "Yes" then we are falling back on the faith that each spread, card toss or daily draw is meaningfully arraigned and this defies the rational mind.  We can look at theories of synchronicity or the universal consciousness.  

We are left still each of us to our own convictions to answer the question if the tarot can be used to perform spirit readings and then we must trudge on to the much more tricky question of should tarot be used in spirit communication.  There is an ethical consideration to the welfare of the client that comes to us with a desire to communicate with the departed.  We must seriously give thought to what we think is in the best interest of the client.  What would it profit them to hold out hope that we can speak with the departed and the benefit of such communication.  I put forth that we are obligated to not only be comfort but we must be accurate with our readings.  While it is fun to play around on our own with the thought that we can communicate with the departed it is another thing to bring the client into our experimentation.  Therefore in conclusion I encourage trying it out and see what happens but adjure you to be mindful that we are doing what is best for the wellbeing of the clients who come to us for help.

All submissions remain the property of their respective authors. All images are used with permission. Tarot Refletions is published by the American Tarot Association - 2015  Questions? Comments? Contact us at ATAsTarotReflections@gmail.com