Tarot card readers are more than a spooky reputation


Photo courtesy of Pixabay.

Grace Schepis | @GraceSchepisCW, Staff Reporter

Negative stigmas against tarot card readings have left some people skeptical. But those that trust them have made significant changes to themselves and their lives.

Johnston Tisdale got into tarot card reading around 2016. Tisdale, who graduated from The University of Alabama in 2013 with a psychology degree, is an Alabama native who received her master’s in counseling from the University’s Birmingham campus in 2018 and has been a practicing counselor since. Tisdale believes that her counseling training improved her skills in reading tarot cards.

“I have always been interested in reading tarot cards,” Tisdale said. “I didn’t know if there was a specific thing that got me into it, but one day I just decided to learn about this.”

Not unlike many others who are unfamiliar with the practice of reading tarot cards, Tisdale was initially nervous to try her hand at it.

“I was afraid at first, but thought, ‘This isn’t scary. I’m going to learn,’” Tisdale said. 

Jennafer Bowman, a freshman majoring in public relations, took a more skeptical approach to tarot card readings one night in the dorms with her friends.

“At first I did it as a joke because I didn’t believe in that kind of stuff,” Bowman said. “We were sat in my friend’s dorm with the lights off. I went in thinking it would be a bunch of garbage that was made up just to sell the cards.”

This was until Bowman’s friend gave her her first reading.

“The first time she read my tarot cards, I freaked out a little bit,” she said. “It all made so much sense and connected to my life. It was scary accurate.”

For Tisdale, what started as a hobby turned into a side business that she runs on the e-commerce site Etsy. She offers her services in reading tarot cards to customers.

“My friends and family will get them sometimes, and I’ll type up their readings,” Tisdale said. “You get a spread of cards that offer career and life advice through open-ended questions.”

Just like some of Tisdale’s customers, some people have been introduced to readings by family members. For Phoebe Hamilton, a freshman majoring in human development, it was through her mom. 

“I get mine read about once a year by my mom, when I need direction, feel lost, or when I’m starting something new,” Hamilton said. 

Hamilton appreciates the general guidance that tarot cards can give.

“While it’s a really thoughtful and introspective process, it’s not about knowing anything exactly,” Hamilton said. “It’s about asking the questions you want the answer to and feeling the cards. There are many different ways to do it, but each card has a meaning, and it goes even deeper than that because it can be read differently based on what you wanted the answer to when you started.”

Although some customers have more specific questions they present to Tisdale to be answered, that is not a requirement for the reading.

 “I pull a card from the deck and interpret it generally,” Tisdale said. “Sometimes I have to explain the cards that have a bad reputation. I don’t believe that there are negative cards. Instead, I bring out the positive or neutral meanings.”

Tisdale’s service requires time and effort, and her prices are based on standards in the field. 

“The response to the Etsy page has been great,” Tisdale said. “I do it for fun. I’ve always given really accurate readings, and people wonder how I seem to know so much about their lives. It’s helpful for people to get advice and insight into things.”

With continued success, Tisdale looks to expand her business.

“I think the next level is more marketing,” Tisdale said. “I want to set aside more time for this. I do it for fun because I like it, but it could be a good source of income.”

While Tisdale believes there are certain traits that give you a head start into readings, anyone should try it out.

“There’s a knack for it,” Tisdale said. “It’s very similar to counseling. The goal is to help people come to a conclusion or give insight. I think I have a natural gift for counseling, and I learned skills to make something out of natural thing. Other people may have that gift or intuition, too.”

For those who are looking to get started in reading tarot cards, Tisdale tells them to look past the stigma of receiving your first set as a gift.

“There’s a belief that your first deck needs to be gifted to you, but I say don’t listen to that,” Tisdale said. “Get it for yourself and do whatever you want. There are guide books that come with cards and include the author or artists interpretations to each card.”

Tisdale’s advice to those who want to get into reading or have the cards read for themselves is to keep an open mind.

“We’re not future predictors,” Tisdale said. “Nothing in life is set that you can’t change. The cards tell you things you need to know in the moment, but you have full control. They don’t set you to anything. Things can always change, but they can say something you need to hear to make a change.”

As for Bowman, she trusted her first reading so much that it immediately began to alter her life choices.

“It helped me dodge a massive bullet with someone in my life who turned out to be a really bad person,” Bowman said. 

Hamilton has allowed these readings to guide her through various life challenges, including her involvement in relationships and attitude towards the University.

“The last time I got them read, the cards ended up saying that I hold on too tight in relationships, and in life I need to follow through with where I’m going to the end,” Hamilton said. “When I was homesick and sad, I decided to stay at Alabama, and ended up getting comfortable here.”

Tisdale thinks that this is something she will continue to practice for the rest of her life.

“I’m getting better,” Tisdale said. “There are a ton of cards whose meanings and interpretations can be memorized. I’m better at going with my gut and feeling comfortable with my readings.”