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The Ethics of Tarot Reading

By October 17, 2012 August 3rd, 2020

“So, what actually IS an ‘ethical Tarot reader’?” I had just handed over my business card with “Brigit – Professional and Ethical Tarot Reader” on it to someone I had just met.

“Someone who actually cares about the well-being of their client.”

“You mean there are Tarot readers who don’t care about their clients?”

Sadly there are. Sadly there are a handful of people and organisations that prey on unsuspecting individuals who are simply searching for help. People and organisations that say they know when you’re going to die or how you can win the lottery or who will remove an evil curse… if only you’ll hand over $200.

What’s also really sad is that these scammers damage the reputations of the many professional and ethical Tarot readers out there, who are well-meaning individuals who want to make a difference in people’s lives.

So, how do you make sure you are an ethical Tarot reader? What exactly are the ethics of Tarot reading?

What is an Ethical Tarot Reader?

I define an ethical Tarot reader as someone who:

  • Cares for the well-being of their client
  • Has clear personal boundaries – e.g. what topics will/won’t be answered
  • Has structures in place to ensure ethics are a core part of their service (e.g. a code of ethics and a confidentiality statement)

Similarly, the American Tarot Association define ethical Tarot readers as:

People who help others better hear their own inner guides. They empower clients to think through their options and come to decisions on their own… [They] encourage clients to seek the licensed professional help of doctors, counsellors, accountants, and lawyers – especially in cases where the client's concern goes beyond the expertise of the reader. They do not use the cards to identify “curses” or “bad energy” and then charge a fee to remove these ‘curses’ or ‘bad energy’.

How to Be an Ethical Tarot Reader

So what does it take to be an ethical Tarot reader? Here are my 8 ethical Tarot reading guidelines.

Stick to Your Expertise

Chances are, you’re not a medical specialist, a legal eagle or a financial advisor (if you are, more power to you!). So, please don’t give medical, legal or financial advice.

You are an amazing Tarot reader so stick to reading the Tarot cards.

If the Tarot reading is medical, legal or financial in nature, then refer your client to the appropriate professional.

In fact, in some countries and states, it is actually illegal to provide medical, financial or legal advice when you are not suitably qualified to do so. So save yourself an expensive court case and don’t even go there.

Maintain Strict Client Confidentiality

As a Tarot reader, you are privy to some very sensitive and private information that your clients share with you on the assumption of strict confidentiality. It is essential that, as an ethical Tarot reader, you treat their information with the respect it deserves.

This means…

  • NEVER sharing any detail of a client’s reading without their express permission. Not to your partner, friends or family. And not to your client’s partner, friends or family.
  • Storing client information securely.
  • Using client information ONLY for the purpose of the Tarot reading, unless permission has been provided otherwise.

While confidentiality is often implied, I recommend having a Privacy and Confidentiality Statement for your Tarot business to give your clients confidence that confidentiality is paramount. It doesn’t need to be fancy, just a simple statement to cover the key points above.

There are some exceptions to client confidentiality, however. This includes situations where the client intends to harm themselves or others, or where the client has committed a significant crime such as murder or rape. Under these circumstances, you are obliged to report them to the relevant authorities. I hope, though, you are never placed in this position.

Be Honest and Tell the Truth… with Compassion

Tell your client what you see in the Tarot cards – don’t hide negative messages or disappointing news. Be open and honest with the messages that you receive.

But also be careful of “telling it like it is”. Treat your client with compassion, sensitivity and respect. Being brutally honest with no care for the client’s feelings can be just as unethical as holding back information or sugar-coating a Tarot reading.

Ensure your client leaves the Tarot reading with a clear picture of the current state of events and a path forward to achieve the outcome they truly desire. Empowerment is key.

Leave Your Judgements and Opinions at the Door

On the surface, it may seem easy to be non-judgemental, but trust me, sometimes it is really difficult! For example, your client tells you about a secret affair with a married man with young kids, and you can’t help but feel for the wife and the children involved. Or, you watch as your client goes through messy break-up after messy break-up and you seriously question why he is putting himself through this every time.

As an ethical Tarot reader, it is important to remain as impartial and non-judgemental as possible. Your client is trusting you with their personal information, and whether or not you agree with what they are doing, you need to offer impartial advice and guidance.

Leave your personal opinions and judgements at the door, and go into your Tarot reading with objectivity.

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Encourage Clients to Use Their Own Inner Guidance

There are going to be some clients who keep knocking at your door wanting more and more Tarot readings no matter how often you read for them. It would be easy to see this as ‘easy money’ and a recurring revenue stream. But don’t.

Question the client who wants multiple readings on the same topic or who keeps returning day in and day out.

Tarot readings are great for gaining insight on a difficult situation. However, there comes a point when one really needs to go within for the answer rather than constantly seeking other people’s opinions on what to do.

As an ethical Tarot reader, you can give your client confidence that they already know what it is they need to do – they simply need to trust their intuition. Sure, you are there as a guide and a helping hand, but at the end of the day, it is up to the client to determine their future path.

Don’t Up-Sell Dodgy Products or Services

Don’t provide a Tarot reading with the requirement to buy a dodgy add-on product such as a spell to clear negative energy or remove a ‘curse’.

Sadly there are still psychic scammers out there who scare or coerce individuals into making more and more purchases of what are essentially dodgy or fake products or services.

Of course, if you are a talented Witch or spell-crafter, work your magic, but do it in a way that is professional and that is not going to scare your client into doing what you have suggested.

Don’t Tell Your Client What to Do

Sometimes, a client will come to you wanting you to provide a specific answer. Should I quit my job? Should I leave my husband? What career path should I take?

This can put you in a difficult position. On the one hand, you want to provide a specific answer to their specific question. But on the other hand, you do not want to take away their free will and their personal power to choose.

The last thing you want is for your client to come back to you months or years later saying, “I did what you told me, and it failed miserably.” Your role is not to tell your client what to do, but to coach, to counsel and to guide. Remind your client that they always maintain free will and the responsibility of choosing their own path.

Have a Code of Ethics

This is probably the most important of them all. Have a code of ethics.

To become a Certified Professional Tarot Reader (CPTR) with the Tarot Certification Board, you must prepare a code of ethics. And to be a member of the American Tarot Association, you must abide by their code.

This is to protect your clients, you as a Tarot reader, and the Tarot community as a whole.

As part of the code of ethics, you might include your position on:

  • Reading for minors or young people
  • Reading for third parties
  • What topics you will and won’t read on
  • How you will treat your clients
  • What you will do with client information
  • Free will and empowering the client

The American Tarot Association’s Code of Ethics is:

I will serve the best interests of my clients, conducting my professional activities without causing or intending to cause harm.

I will treat all my clients with equal respect, regardless of their origin, race, religion, gender, age, or sexual preference.

I will represent honestly my Tarot qualifications, including educational credentials, levels of certification and experience.

I will keep confidential the names of clients and all information shared or discussed during readings, unless otherwise requested by the client or required by a court of law.

I will recommend clients consult a licensed professional for advice of a legal, financial, medical, or psychological nature that I am not qualified to provide.  If trained in one of these areas, I will clearly differentiate between the tarot reading and any professional advice additionally provided.

I will respect my clients' right to refuse or terminate their reading at any time, regardless of prior consent.

I recognize that all ATA members have the same rights and obligations, and I will always respect and honour my co-members.

If you want to be a truly ethical Tarot reader, the Biddy Tarot Certification Program is perfect for you. I’ll show you how to become a true Tarot professional by defining your own Tarot reading ethics and establishing personal boundaries that honour both the needs of you and your clients.  Click here to learn more about the Biddy Tarot Certification Program, or join the waitlist.

Learn More About The Biddy Tarot Certification Program


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