On the front page of CaritasTarot.com, it welcomes you with a message: "You have found a sanctuary, dedicated to helping you find clarity and a way forward. Your journey begins when you formulate your question, and enlist your guides, angels and your own higher self in a dialogue that cuts through the confusion and lights the way. I am just the facilitator." That opening intrigued us, so we decided to find out more. The following is an interview with the artist who is behind the readings...
What first attracted you to Tarot and how long have you been doing Tarot readings?
I lived in Los Angeles nearly twenty years, and metaphysical pursuits are very commonplace there. A lot of artists come to LA for careers fraught with ups and downs, big breaks and bad actors (pun intended), so consulting with intuitives is a regular pastime. The legendary bookstore The Bhodi Tree was there in West Hollywood, and stepping inside you travelled to another world of esoteric bliss – you could hang out for hours sipping free herbal tea, reading anything you wanted in chairs tucked into the shelves, amid incense, idols and shrines, crystals, magical items and a floor to ceiling cabinet filled with all kinds of richly illustrated tarot decks. One day I took the plunge and purchased my first tarot deck, and around the same time I came across an wonderful oil painting of a gypsy at a Mexican flea market in a $2 bin. Written on the back was the name “Gitane” and Elaine Johnson (though she certainly bears a kinship with Elaine deKooning’s mid century work). Gitane inspired me to write poetry about passionate gypsies and work with my cards. Thus my gypsy soul and my life with tarot seem entwined forever in my mind. I have moved a lot, but Gitane always travels with me. Unfortunately, unlike the portrait of Dorian Grey, she does not age instead of me.
However, I really learned the techniques and practical side of reading from a very talented psychic who was also a best friend. One day after reading for me, he turned the cards around and said, “Now you do me.”
Like anyone would, I said, “What? You are joking, right?” It would be like Sir Laurence Olivier asking a stagehand to play his part.
Well, he wasn’t kidding. He wanted someone he trusted to read cards for him, and he trained me primarily with a lot of practice. I watched how he handled the cards when he got stuck or a particularly knotty question arose, and while I didn’t have the same dazzling psychic talent he had, I had a different skill. I was adept at somehow grabbing or “downloading” information out of the ethers in the moment, fed by an auto-logic drawn from an array of information relayed through the cards by their positions and little things adding to the moment like a color, a drawing detail or a feeling. This kind of Knowing I have come to learn is identified as claircognizance – one of the several “clairs” which include clairvoyance, clairaudience and clairsentience. I am thinking half-seriously about proposing a new category of “clair” called clairscribience, which describes a Knowing that comes while typing along quickly, which is actually what happens with me.
Everyone possesses some intuition, and I guess my buddy Daniel had picked up that with some spit and polish, I would do in a pinch when he sought readings outside of reading himself. I have been reading for others off and on since then for over twenty years.
How would you describe a Tarot reading experience to someone who hasn't had a reading before?
One thing that can be surprising is that you don’t need to be physically present to get a good reading. As long as you have given permission for a reading, the information field is open to the Reader and will work just as well on the phone, on zoom, and probably even on another planet!
An in-person tarot reading will involve some back and forth questions as the Reader analyzes a spread and makes sure they are locked on target, and they will speak plainly about what they are “getting” regarding your most personal issues. You’ll hear some things they could never possibly know, and be able to see how the cards they are laying down are forming their “read” on your situation. Readers don’t go into trances in my experience, and are often quite matter of fact about things.
The kind of reading I offer online is done within a day or two of sending me your question and bonus oracle choices. I pick a good time, and there is a threshold period of ritual in which I prepare the atmosphere of the room and protect the reading from unwanted information or entities. Sometimes if animals or insects show themselves in unusual ways right then, I’ll incorporate them into the reading. Certain bonus oracles give you information on crystals to work with, or extra messages from an angelic, animal or fae perspective.
You receive your written reading in your email, usually about three or more dense pages for two questions, and you’ll have a day or two to write back to me with anything you’d like to clarify, correct or look into in more detail, and I’ll be writing again a page or more in the Follow Up phase, which replaces the natural give and take that happens in an in person reading. I am very thorough and am not satisfied myself unless the Seeker feels their question has been addressed and there isn’t anything further to add. So an in-person reading is done all at once, while an online reading is done in two stages, follow up being very important, although occasionally everything gets fully answered in the first write up. I really appreciate after the Follow Up to hear one more time from you – a short note telling me how you feel about the reading so that I know our communion is complete.
What is the difference between going to a psychic and a tarot reading?
Psychics can be very specialized, I can recommend an incredible pet psychic that can communicate with animals, deceased or living, in a way that would fall far short of what any tarot reading could do. Psychics may be able to locate lost people, or see an event. But sometimes they can see things they don’t completely understand because they appear with little context. A Tarot reader will rarely get information that is not woven into a tissue of other information – a field array of data, when you really get down to it.
If you see a psychic, you may hear them describe the way people and things look in great detail – if you are looking for a house, a psychic may actually describe the best candidate to you – brick, two stories, on a cul de sac, near the sea. A tarot reader wouldn’t do that, but would be able to let you know the house was on the event horizon for you, steps to take to close the deal, reads on the people involved, a comparison of outcomes between two or more competing houses, and how it would ultimately work out for you. It would be more like reading a newspaper about your life rather than hearing it described as a movie.
When it’s all done, having a quality reading can have an interesting effect – people feel like what was simmering underneath the surface, hardly acknowledged or actually ignored – has come bubbling up and into their conscious awareness. Things will seem so clear when they hear them verbalized by an outside source. Almost everyone experiences a sense of relief if not ebullience, as problems untangle and the path forward opens up, the motivations of others can be seen, and the work needed to solve the challenge is better delineated. Many people feel a tangible relief from anxiety and even sleepless nights spent turning a question over and over, and I believe that is why tarot and astrology are more popular than ever in these incredibly stressful times.
Are there any tips for new users to help them get the most out of a reading? For example - are there questions that tend to get better results?
Absolutely. Since antiquity, it has been understood that formulating questions is key to consulting any oracle. You want to boil an issue down to its clear essence, and double questions that flip flop around can muddy the pond. Longwinded questions with a lot of background are really a no-no - a good reader will perform better with less information from you. Instead of “should” I do X, a better question is “What will be the result if I do X” and “What will be the result if I do XX” to get probable outcomes on different choices you face. One of the best questions if you are at a loss is simply, “What do I need to know?” and “What do I need to know about X?”
I’ll give an example of a flip-flop question - “Will doing X help keep me safe and protected, like I was when I was back in my old apartment?” The first part could be yes and the second no – you could do X to stay safe, but it wouldn’t be in the same manner as back at the old place. Also the question “Will I find my perfect love this year?” would be better without “my perfect” in it. The superlative might result in a No when actually a very important love affair is immanent – but perfect? Probably never. Another good tip can be to ask for a timeframe in a question – “Will X occur in the next six weeks?” or “by my birthday” or “by the end of the year” are ways to frame timing.
Your website lists several types of readings (The Rose Reading, Celtic Cross, Russian Gypsy, Madame LeNormond, etc.) - Do you have a personal favorite? If so, what makes it your favorite type?
The Celtic Cross is a go-to reading to anchor into a person’s story, past and present. The Roses offer a sense of how an issue will develop over a span of time - usually a year but it can be for any span designated, such as a 10 day trip. The LeNormond and Russian Gypsy readings are an entirely different style, which I like but which take more time to analyze, even an entire day and night, as the cards form relationships with one another in a spread that looks like a solid square wall. I think I love the Rose Readings the most as they are a spread I developed, and the rose is the symbol of the Divine Feminine spirit which pervades Caritas Tarot.
Your first blog post was on February 12th. Did you just recently start the business?
Yes. It all came down to being able to create a working website. I had tried many times and thought of hiring webmasters twice. But lately I’d been taking Intuition Development courses and doing a lot of readings, and one night, I just sat down and overnight I made the website I had been hoping for for years! I was quite shocked actually, and pleased. I had a soft opening a couple of days later which completed a full cycle of readings and the first free reading gifted in just over a week. And here we are!
It's interesting the way you use the readings to provide low cost and free readings to those experiencing financial trouble. Would you say people in that position might benefit from a Tarot reading the most?
Poverty Consciousness can be a mind trap, and if you are down, being able to receive something you can use gives you a signal that there is abundance out there that you are partaking in. That in combination with the reading’s content can be enough to turn around a mental state of lost hope in a dark hour. Everyone, rich, poor young or old can benefit from a session which explores what their personal guides wish to communicate to them regarding challenges, people in their life and pressing questions. I’ve answered questions on upcoming legal proceedings, spiritual questing, career changes, moving, finances, that annoying gal at work, travel and close family relationships.
Psychics and tarot readers are a part of society with gifts that are like a sacred trust given by the Creator to be used in the service of humanity. There should always be a way for people of all walks of life to access a proficient reader’s services, just like those of a religious official, a wise elder or a therapist. But a portion of the best readers fall into the trap of materialism, making their gift become so costly that they are out of reach to the average person. I see readings going for several hundreds of dollars for an hour these days – how is someone out of work because of lockdowns supposed to access that? I write about this on my blog (caritastarot.com/blog/) and caution people to side-step readers with sky-high “heavenly” prices
How does it make you feel to receive a donation for the fund from somebody online?
When I opened my site and people’s readings started to add up towards a free reading, I was excited to see it working in real time. A couple of people liked the idea so much they just gave straight into the Caritas Fund which really felt like an honor and a home run. Honestly, it felt like the Wheel of Fortune had been spun in Vegas and we had all come up winners, because when a group effort provides a gift for an individual, that individual has energy to go and uplift others. We are all truly interconnected, and one of the main reasons we are here on earth is to provide support and hope for one another in both small and large ways. Hope is a magical thing, a solvent of all woes, the last gift of Pandora’s Box, and it’s probably the most important thing we can share and pass along right now.
How important is "paying it forward" to your life?
Many practitioners give away some form of free readings to promote their work, often on a radio program or some kind of show. But the Caritas Tarot model of paying it forward weaves everyone who comes for a reading into the charitable act of giving, and the recipient of a free reading is also a link in the chain of giving, as they pledge some sort of charitable action within their means as well. This cycles the act of caring and giving into fields of action beyond the website. This kind of acknowledgement of our connectedness, our impact on each another, and the expression of our best impulses is a form of lightworking which stimulates compassion and helps infuse our world with human grace, working to balance some of the negativity at work on the planet today.
Visit CaritasTarot.com to get or donate a reading to someone less fortunate.