S is for Shuffling #atozchallenge

 Chunk is my spirit guide today.

Chunk is my spirit guide today.

When I do a reading for clients, I ask them to shuffle until they feel finished. This lasts anywhere for a few seconds to 10 full minutes. The client meditated over the cards for a long, long, time and used her pendulum to choose which stack to read from. It was...thorough.  Other folks just rest their hands on the decks and tell me to go.

Anyway, the reason I ask my clients to shuffle the cards is because it's rhythmic and relaxing. A lot of folks are nervous before readings so it gives them something to do. After the first spread, I shuffle the cards myself. They usually play with the rocks that I bring (also for calming) while I finish the reading. 

S is also for sick, which I am. B is for Bronchitis. S is for Short post today. 

xo Lis

R is for Relax #atozchallenge

 This is for Ellie. xo

This is for Ellie. xo

My amazing friend, Byrne, sent me a note on Facebook this week after reading my book. (Did you guys know I wrote a book? I did. You can find it here. And here. And here.)

She said that she read that book and I aligned the Swords with Air and the Wands with Fire and SHE thought that Swords went with Fire and Wands went with Air and what the hell?

My answer is - you do you. Seriously. If that's how tarot cards make sense to you - do that thing. I think that the 9 of Pentacles is smug. Yeah, I said it! Smug! Most people see her as satisfied and earning a break. I think she's a jerk. It's honestly ok to disagree with me. I'm fine. 

I have made up spreads on the spot, and they work because I believe in them. I've decided I can use my Heart of Stars tarot without the Devil card, because Carrie Fisher signed it and I can't use it anymore, but I love the deck. So I decided I could use it anyway. And you know what? It works.

So relax, please. Realize that you're the engine behind the cards. They're just pretty pieces of paper without you. Remember who is in charge of the reading, take a deep breath, and do your thing.

xo Lis

Q is for Queer #atozchallenge

 Super Gay.

Super Gay.

When I first started doing readings professionally in the early 90's, I still had to do the Pronoun Game with some of my clients. "So this person that you love, they have feelings for you but they aren't able to....."  A few times, I would just stop in the middle of the reading and say, "Ok, can we just talk about this?" I was always very cautious, though, because coming out is personal, and some folks have been afraid for their lives for their ENTIRE lives, and you just don't out someone (even to themselves). You just don't.

As the decades have gone by, it's been more and more important to me to be a strong advocate for the queer community. I've done a lot of readings for folks who are transitioning, and who are struggling with family issues because of their sexuality, gender identity or gender expression. Tarot readers are able to see people - really see people. We can be a safe place for folks to explore feelings and experiences that are difficult to navigate alone. 

I think that we have a responsibility to our community to welcome those on the margins. Tarot readers are weirdos, after all, but we are weirdos with power. I encourage my fellow readers to use their power for good and to be a strong voice, advocate and ally to the Queer community. 

Here are a few ways we can do just that:

1. Use deck with queer imagery.

Asali has this great list of decks with Queer characters, as well as People of Color. 

2.  Have numbers for crisis hotlines at hand when you do readings:

  • http://www.thetrevorproject.org/  866-488-7386
  • https://www.translifeline.org/  US: (877) 565-8860 Canada: (877) 330-6366
  • http://www.glbthotline.org/talkline.html 1-800-246-7743
  • http://www.glbthotline.org/national-hotline.html  1-888-843-4564

3. Educate yourself.

If you are not comfortable with or familiar with the language associated with LGBTQ folks, do some research.  http://www.hrc.org/resources/glossary-of-terms

4. Study the cards through a new perspective.

Beth Maiden and crew from Little Red Tarot have a great series called Queering the Tarot. This series by Cassandra Snow looks at each card through a queer lens. 

5. Remember, your job is to LISTEN and give your clients a safe space to express themselves.

Just listen. Just be there. That means the world.


P is for the Prairie Tarot #atozchallenge

A long time ago, I got a copy of the Prairie Tarot from a boyfriend. I loved the deck, and then the boyfriend went away and I couldn't use it anymore. It had Ex all over it. So I gave it away. (To Ryan! Hi, Ryan!)

Then I dreamt about this deck. I saw my friend Ellen reading with it and got all kinds of jealous. The deck is beautiful, but that's not really the best part of it. I grew up in Kansas in the 70's. What this means is that I grew up watching Little House on the Prairie while clutching my Holly Hobbie doll. We drove past sunflower fields and beautiful prairie and I had a crush on Little Joe from Bonanza.

This is an American deck - the first I've seen. It speaks to the pioneer spirit and of folks who did NOT die of dysentery. There are a few people of color, mostly Native Americans, and the Lovers card could be a dude and a lady getting married, or two ladies getting married. Hard to tell. I dig it. 

All pictures below are part of the Prairie Tarot by Robin Ator. He's a hell of a guy. I know this because my dog ate one of my cards and he sent me another one for a few bucks. That's cool.

xo Lis

O is for Oath #atozchallenge

 It isn't hard to doooooooo....

It isn't hard to doooooooo....

A lot of the folks that read my writing are learning to read tarot. I would like for you guys to take an oath for me. We'll call it the LFT Ethical Reader Oath. You ready? 

I solemnly swear to use my books and tools until I am truly a competent reader. I will not call myself an expert until I honestly am. 

I swear to be honest with myself and my clients, even when the truth hurts us.  I will not take advantage of those looking for answers by telling them what they want to hear. 

I will learn my history, but look forward to those changing the way. I will realize that we all do better when we all do better. 

I swear I will treat my cards and person with respect, so that all of my readings ring with integrity.

I swear I will not be a dick to other readers, because gossip is stupid and says more about me than it does about others.

I swear I will charge for my readings - even if it's barter. Even if it's for a Coke or a dinner, because my time is valuable and I will treat it as such.

I promise, on my cards, that I will do my best to hold the metaphysical flashlight high for my clients and myself, so that we might see a little further down the road.

So mote it be. 


N is for Nervous #atozchallenge

 omg so anxious

omg so anxious

I'm a nervous kind of girl. When I was a new reader, I remember having a mild freakout before each reading. That my readings were going to suck, and none of them would be accurate, and the client was going to rise up out of their seat and point at me, shouting, "J'accuse! Shenanigans!" I swear to god, every time. I had to call my friend Kitten before my gigs to get talked out of my tree. It was ridiculous.

This lasted until like five years ago. I still get a little nervous, but not in the same, gut punch kind of way. I think that a little anxiety is good for you - it keeps you on your toes, and it makes sure that I remember to grab everything before I walk out of the door. 

Too much anxiety, though, can make you doubt yourself, and who needs that? Here are some things that I do to help me chill out before readings.

1. Put on your armor.  I make sure I have on my amethyst bracelet, my mala and my crystal earrings. These help keep me grounded.

2. Grab some rocks. I walk around the house and stuff my tarot gig bag full of whichever stones want to come with me. Labradorite is a favorite. So is citrine.

3. Shuffle the cards. Before your client arrives, shuffle your cards a bit. It's repetitive and calming and helps you relax. 

4. Prepare! Pack your gig bag the night before. Bring gum or mints, two or three decks, whichever rocks want to come, a notepad and a pen, business cards, the address of the gig, phone number of your contact, and money for parking just in case. 

5. Remember that you won't turn into dust. Honestly, you are allowed to screw up a reading. If you're off track, just ask the client to shuffle again and start over. It happens. This is the worst thing that could possibly happen. It'll be ok. 

Remember that you've been practicing for a reason, and that you're meant to read for that person for a reason! It's going to be fine. Just breathe.

xo Lis

M is for Magician #atozchallenge

This is from the Pagan Otherworlds tarot by Uusi. Yes. You should get it.

The Magician card in the tarot is about sass and competence. It's important to remember something about magicians. They practice a lot. Each trick that looks effortless took hours and hours to perfect. There is no magic without a hell of a lot of hustle. 

When the Magician shows up in a reading, it's your client's time to shine. Their hard work is going to pay off and they're going to be able to make all this look easy. 

Clues in the card to help you remember are that all of the magical tools are on the table but he's not using them. Sword, Wand, Pentacle and Cup are all within arm's reach, but he doesn't need them. He's got one arm pointing to the sky and one to the earth - he's the master of all. He's also got an infinity symbol somewhere on his person (usually above his head) showing that he's got infinite possibilities. 

Here are a few of my favorite Magician cards. Enjoy!

xo Lis

L is for Learning #atozchallenge

 Can't be a good tarot student without a dinosaur hat.

Can't be a good tarot student without a dinosaur hat.

I used my handy dandy tarot book for readings for a decade. Even for paid readings. Even for new clients. I told them that I was still learning and it was ok! I relied on it less and less, but the damned Two of Wands looks JUST LIKE the Three of Wands and it's helpful to grab the book and have a reminder sometimes. 

The two shelves pictured are only part of my tarot library. It's more of a tarot lending library, and Amanda and Potter and Ellen and Sarah Kate still have some of my books on loan. I read every book that comes with every deck that I get. I read every book recommended by fellow readers or written by my people. I have been reading cards since 1989, and I will never ever finish learning about them.

SO - here is a list of my favorite books and tarot sites. Enjoy!



Tarot Visions Podcast

Coffee and Tarot

xo! Lis






K is for Kitchen Table Tarot #atozchallenge

 Oh, hey there. I wrote a book. 

Oh, hey there. I wrote a book. 

I wrote this book! It's a bit surreal, actually, but it's out! I've gotten a lot of questions since it was published, so I thought I'd answer them for you. 

1. What inspired the book?

My friend, Suzanne, wanted me to teach her the cards. She lives in Canada, though, so it was tricky. I started a blog so I could teach her, and it got a following of sorts. Then, I turned it into a business, and then I turned my blog into a book. So it's all Suzanne's fault, really.

2. Who is this book for?

I wrote it initially for beginning tarot students, but have since found that readers of all experience levels dig it. I've been told that it's got some interesting perspectives on the cards that helps everyone. So that's cool. 

3. What is the publishing process like?

I was really lucky in that I only sent the manuscript to three folks. The first, a local publisher, ignored my email for seven months. A literary agent was very complimentary about my writing, but told me I wasn't famous enough to represent. Which was odd. The third, Llewellyn Publishing, turned me down at first. They gave me a few things that I could change to make it better, though, which was amazing. I fixed the things as soon as I could and then it was accepted for publication! That was so cool. I cried like crazy when I found out. There were a few months where nothing happened, and then the editing process began. I made some suggestions for the cover, and they came up with a great one. I got to know my editor SO well because it's a LONG process. It was honestly my least favorite part because I got sick to death of reading my own stuff. My editor, Lauryn, was AMAZING though, and made the process almost fun. (almost) After the bajillionth round of editing, the graphics were added and approved and then I was finished! 

4. What are you doing next?

I'm writing my second book, Elements, which is about a holistic approach to tarot readings that includes five specific readings for your home, mind, body, heart and soul. 

I'm also working on a tarot deck with the wonderful Cate Anevski! Tentatively titled The Tarot of the Forest Floor, it includes badass pictures like this.

 Four of Cups (sketch) from the Tarot of the Forest Floor - by Cate Anevski

Four of Cups (sketch) from the Tarot of the Forest Floor - by Cate Anevski

5. Where can we find it?

Locally, you can find it at Pathways, and I'll be doing a reading and signing there on June 10th! You can find it at Left Bank Books, as well! And thanks LBB for hosting my book release party!

Online you can get it from Llewellyn, Amazon.com, Barnes and Noble and Half Price Books. I'll also be doing book signings in Chicago at the American Library Association conference, and in Dallas at Barnes and Noble. Dates and times TBA.

Thanks to all of my friends and family for your support and love!  This has been the most fun.

xo! Lis

J is for Jaded #atozchallenge

I used to do readings for folks at the drop of a hat. I could use the money, or I wanted the practice, or I just wanted to play with my cards again. A few summers ago, though, I found myself dreading the readings. I was tired, I'd been sick, and my life had gotten really busy. I'd also found that I was the Tarot Monkey at parties. I always had a deck with me, of course, so whenever I'd go to a friend's house I would end up hearing, "Hey, Melissa reads tarot cards..." The rest of the party was me doing "Just one more reading." 

In short, I was burned out. I was starting to resent the cards that I adored. So, I decided to take a break. In May, I put down my cards and closed up my website. I didn't touch a deck of cards for three months. It was awesome. I didn't miss it and I filled the time with my family and friends, reading books and taking naps. It was fantastic.

After the three months, I hung my shingle out again and found that I was once again in LOVE with the cards. My readings were super accurate and energizing, and I loved reconnecting with my clients.

In order to keep this from happening again, I'm careful to schedule myself a few nights a week and at least one weekend a month as reading free. It gives me time to recharge my batteries and insures that I won't want to run from my cards again. 

The Point - don't be afraid to walk away from your cards if you need to. They'll be there when you come back. 

xo Lis