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It's nearly a year ago to date. Attending a Lammas celebration, I go to a Tarot reader participating in the festival. She gives me a lot of wonderful advice about the new direction my life is moving towards, and the evolution I'm about to go through. She rightly tells me that in just six months, my entire outlook on life will be different.

She then speaks in extensive warnings about the man who will enter my life that I shouldn't trust with my heart, as he's just looking for a handout. She explains that I'll then meet a man I slowly grow closer to, and enter a more serious relationship with him.

I don't remember the exact details because at that point I had zoned out - when I wasn't exchanging glances with my long-time girlfriend of eight years, who was sitting on the chair right next to me.

As it happens, we did experience a period of growing much closer right around the timestamp this reader gave me. And some male friends were involved, but not in the way the reader said. It's not that this person was completely inaccurate in terms of my reading. She wasn't dead-on, but if you thought outside the box some of her advice was invaluable. But right away she'd made some assumptions about who I was and what I wanted out of life. And that was where she'd lost me.

It's not that this person was homophobic, or a bad person in any way. Really, any time we fail to be inclusive, we're a product of our environment. Ignoring the way our whole society focuses on one kind of person: how many decks that aren't made specifically for gay men feature a heterosexual Lovers card? How many genderqueer or trans people can you find in any Tarot deck? People over a certain weight? People who aren't white, which is thankfully becoming less of a problem, but I still see decks where there's not a single brown, black, or Asian face to be found.

Hell, you could even argue that the very construction of a Tarot deck - the quiet, intuitive High Priestess and the motherly Empress, the power-wielding Emperor and forceful Magician - is rooted in a certain set of gender roles. And Tarot came from the 15th century, so that's to be expected. But when do we challenge that, and what does it do to our preconceived ideas?

When you read for strangers, even if you're divining their lives, it's important to not assume the way those lives work. Even if we're not licensed therapists, a lot of us consider ourselves to be in service positions. That means we're meant to illuminate and empower the lives of our clients - and we can hardly do that when we don't realize a client is in a poly relationship, or asexual, or only feels female some of the time. It's not really our business to ask, but it's our job to know that these are possibilities - and that if we're operating in the web of life, sometimes there are strands we never even imagined we'd land on.

7/12/2012

Great post!
Many tarot readers would find it very beneficial to do a counselling course, where they would learn how to communicate their readings on a professional level.
Thank you for raising this issue. It really needs to be discussed more to raise standards.

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No problem, and really it happens to the best of us - I've been known to make assumptions too, and I'm the one who had it happen to me! We're really trained into a certain mindset from birth. I have MSW training and absolutely, there's such a big crossover with counseling that all professional readers should look into it.

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Hi Kim, I agree with Christiane - great post! I never assume anything about my clients - including their sexuality. Counselling training comes in handy... as does common sense!

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Thanks, Lisa! I wonder if it's also a generational thing, but like I said to Christiane, it's hard to unlearn even when you're queer yourself. Makes you wonder how else the majority influences us.

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7/13/2012

I am very upfront about the communities that I read for and tell people frankly that I don't make assumptions about who they sleep with.

I tell them I don't know if they choose opposite sex partners so I use alternating gender specifiers. I'm queer so hello.

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Awesome, Arwen! That's definitely how it should be, and a queer perspective definitely gets us there faster. Like I was saying above, though, it's a mistake any of us can make because it's sort of like unlearning years of one kind of perspective. I hope every reader handles things like you do!

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