Updated: Jan 15
Every so often I see or hear about something going in the Tarot community that makes me roll my eyes so hard the resulting noise could shatter glass. Today is one of those days.
The standardisation and certification of Tarot reading has been an on and off hot topic for the last couple of years at least. There are of course some very well reputed organisations who offer training in Tarot such as The Tarot School and TABI, but in times when literally anyone with a laptop and a Tarot deck can set themselves up as an expert tarot teacher, who can you trust?
I've recently seen courses that claim to not only 'certify' new readers but to certify them to 'master' level in classes they claim can be completed in short time frames. These courses have less depth and breadth than an average Tarot book you could buy for £20 on Amazon. Others are very over priced with the certifier seemingly more interested in the hard sell than anyone else.
A Tarot Master is a rare beast. These are, to my mind, people who have contributed greatly to the Tarot Community over the years of their experience and teaching. It is an earned and special title, not to be handed out to anyone who wants it.
Rachel Pollack, Mary K. Greer, Caitlin and John Matthews, Christiana Gaudet, Benebell Wen, these are some of the names that I would associate with the 'Tarot Master' rank, not someone who has taught themselves Tarot for 4/5 years only and has some quite serious delusions of grandeur going on.
I can speak from experience here. I've seen it first hand and removed myself from the company of these folk as soon as it became apparent just how bad things were and I got up the confidence to do so. I was new to the community myself when I met them and a more than a little too trusting.
I am starting to digress, as I often do when I get a bug in my bonnet. I am passionate about Tarot and it's community. I want to protect those new to the journey from the charlatans and narcissists who will take their money and in time, when the poor teaching shows through, break their spirits.
Tarot courses can of course be very enjoyable and valuable to your development as a reader. Take them until your hearts content. I ask though that you do your research first and know who you are working with.
Personally, before I took any course claiming to certify me, let alone as a master, I would want to know the answer to these questions.
*Who certified them?
Someone training people to the level of certified master in a subject should be certified at that level themselves. Who was their teacher? Can you see their credentials? If this info is not readily available on their website, ask.
If they are only certified by their own group rather than an impartial outside party, that would ring alarm bells for me. If they avoid the question or admit to not being certified at all, that would also trigger my bullshit antenna.
If they also claim to have experience such as in other education fields, they should have the creds to back that up too.
*What is their reputation in the community?
I suggest looking for a teacher who is well spoken of by previous students and peers alike. Also, ask your self things like have you heard of them? What previous work have they done? Do they speak or lecture at conferences, have they had books published, been on TV?
You can't realistically be at the level to be endowing certified master status on students without having made quite a name for yourself in the community.
*Do they offer a full academic prospectus to view before you make a purchase?
No? Alarm bells! *ding*. A great example of a site with a clear and upfront prospectus/syllabus is Tarot Therapy with Steve Hounsome.
After you've asked these questions and hopefully got satisfactory answers, the last thing to consider is your gut feeling. Do you feel excited to work with this person/group of teachers or uneasy? Go with the feels as well as the facts.
There's a lot more I could say on this subject, but I'm trying to keep a teensy bit of class about it all. Be careful out there guys and girls, there be sharks in the water.
I wish you all the best on your Tarot explorations,