There is undoubtedly a change in the air come September. The harvest season historically has always demanded Autumn to be a time for a great shift in life, and modern energy seemingly still follows suit as the days become cooler and shorter.
In the astrological world, September is also a noteworthy month of the year; most years, the full moon in September is also the harvest moon, which signifies the start of the fall season in astronomy because its closest to the September equinox. With that being said, we think there is no better time than now to learn a little about the mystical and enchanting world of tarot. Prepare to be awed as Feelings Witch and Tarot Card Reader Carly Boyce shares her magnificent insight.
How did you get into Tarot?
CB: I made an appointment to have my cards read for the first time through a Facebook post. Someone I knew had posted that a friend of theirs was coming to Toronto and would be reading cards while she was here. This friend, Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha, is genius babe, writer and artist who I had seen perform and thought was super cool. I wanted to support her work, and I wanted to sit across the table from her, so I made an appointment.
I knew nothing about tarot at the time, and I didn’t really believe in it. The appointment wasn’t until a few months away when I made it, and incidentally, the week before we met some really big stuff went down in my family. It turned out that I desperately needed new ways to approach thinking about things, and guidance from someone I trusted and respected. That day, I learned something I still believe about tarot, which is that tarot is not a belief system, but rather a tool that can be used by people with various belief systems. As a tool, I found it practical, useful, and connective. I got myself a deck the next week and have been working with it ever since.
How did you learn to become a reader?
CB: I started reading professionally after several years of working contract to contract in the community sector, which honestly left me feeling pretty burnt out. I started joking to my friends that I was going to leave the non-profit world (where I work professionally) and start reading cards for a living. My community did not treat this as a joke, but rather as a serious offer that people wanted me to pursue. It felt like magic — folks offered to draw my logo, make me a website. At first, I did a bunch of free readings in exchange for feedback and testimonials before launching and although I have several other jobs/hustles, tarot is a major part of my work in the world. For me, tarot reading is not about telling the future, it’s about understanding the present. I use tarot to connect with intuition (both my own and the people I am reading for) to make sense of what I might already know. It helps me figure out how to *use* information I have, rather than giving me new information.
Tell us about the process of learning to read tarot cards.
There are 78 cards in a deck, so learning them all, learning them well, and learning about their relationships to one another, to the stories of our ancestors and to moments in our lives takes TIME. When people are just starting out with tarot, I tend to recommend they shuffle and draw a single card every day (or most days; you don’t have to be perfect) for a year, and think about a question. It could be something like, “How does this card relate to my day?”, or, “How does this card relate to my life right now?”. Most decks come with a little book that shares a bit of information about each card, so at first, my practice was to look at the card itself and see if I connected with the imagery or tone of it. Then, I would read the card description that came with my deck. You could also look at descriptions of that same card in other books, or online. If you’re into journaling, you could use the card as a journaling prompt.
A next step could be learning tarot spreads. I started with three-card spreads, where you assign each card an intention as you pull them. Some examples are: Head, Heart, Hands; Past, Present, Future; Do, Think, Avoid; Desire, Motivation, Hesitation. This helps you learn how to think about cards in relation to each other instead of in isolation. There are a million tarot spreads out there, and you can definitely invent your own.
What’s it like to be a modern-day reader:
My lineage is through queer and trans politicized healers, so I don’t know a lot about classical tarot practices. Since I started using tarot, I have been surprised by the connection I feel to my deck and the information it gives me or allows me to tap into in myself. People who come to me for readings have all kinds of different relationships to tarot itself, as well as magic, spirituality and religion. I think tarot is a tool that can be used by folks with many different belief systems.
How did you choose your deck?
I look for decks that feel familiar to me in terms of imagery; ones that depict people and situations that resemble the people and situations in my life and community. For me, this means I look for a diverse representation of bodies in terms of size, ability, race, gender, and sexuality. If these are also things you are looking for, Asali Earthwork has compiled a list of diverse decks. The Collective Tarot feels like my home deck, but I also use Slow Holler, Slutist Tarot, and Next World quite a bit.
All about the readings:
I read for friends and strangers alike. It’s all about your comfort level. If you are thinking about getting your first tarot reading, it can be helpful to choose an intention or question for the reading. I don’t find tarot especially helpful for very specific or yes/no questions, such as “is he the one?” or, “should i take this job?”. Tarot is more useful to reflect on an area of your life, like “what’s going on with my family right now?”, or “what should I be focusing on creatively?”.
I usually read in my office at home, where I have quite a bit of control over how the space feels and what happens in it. When I’m reading at events, I tend to bring along a little mobile altar, usually a crystal, a candle, and a cloth to spread on the table. This is about focusing my attention.
For more on her tarot readings, visit her website at www.tinylantern.net
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