Imagine that you live in a little town in Maine, and in that town there is a town common setup for the delight of the community every summer. This town common includes vendors, musicians, artists and other vibrant, colorful folk from around town. Perhaps you are a tarot reader and you think to yourself, “What a wonderful way to spend the summer, festival reading for those who want explore tarot!” Like the ethical, professional reader you are, you apply for a business license through the town to grant you sanctioned access just like all the other business owners who also live and enjoy the community.
What happens next is that the city ordinance review committee decides to attempt to reword the city ordinance to ban you from the opportunity to read tarot professionally at an open air situation that is open to so many others. Most likely, that review committee did not ask you about your work, did not ask to see your statement on ethics, and certainly did not get a reading with you. Treated as if you are almost a nonperson, or at the very least a person with no social backing, you are shut out because of one very misunderstood word: tarot.
This very situation is happening in Wiscasset, Maine, as their ordinance committee is seeking to ban out a local reader there from reading in the town common.
Ordinances like these are not uncommon, but they are on the wane. It is unfortunate that mainstream society has determined that con artists, who have co-opted the use of tarot for their heists; have become the defining voice of what tarot is in America. All this, despite thousands of ethical, knowledgeable, moral readers who have a true desire to serve others.
In fact, situations like Wiscasset happens all the time to professional readers who are denied every opportunity to actually professionalize their businesses: denied business licenses, bank accounts, merchant accounts, and insurance. Tarot readers face an extraordinary amount of discrimination that would be unheard of in almost any other service profession.
The sad irony is that in these bureaucratic attempts to control and silence tarot professionals only hastens to reinforce the very thing these communities are attempting to stave off. Con men who use tarot prefer to work in the shadows and below tables, they do not want governing agencies to notice them because that usually reveals their shell game. These unethical agencies usually go as minimally legal as possible to work without notice and once the heat turns up, they leave town. These type of “readers” would not be asking for a business license to busk at a local outdoor summer event, these readers look for and desire controlled environments to better influence their prey.
A reader who is true in her practice though, would apply for a business license, would want to use a town common to meet and greet her community, would be willing to read for others in an open and transparent way, and this committee, these communities, these businesses shut her out. And in the shutting out inadvertently contribute to the false notion that tarot readers are all snake oil salesmen. Because those are the only ones still operating and praying on your communities, they work in the shadows.
Personally, as a reader, I have had doors slam shut in my face the moment they heard the word “tarot”. That heavy noun in the world, that word that creates deep reactions and response. Some of the doors were so incredibly ridiculous; “Oh, well, we had a reader here 10 years ago and it did not go well so we will not have a reader again.” So, if we replace “reader” with “jewelry maker”, or “food vendor” we can easily see what a silly sentiment this is. What silly things professional readers have to deal with as we endeavour to the full time job of public education in addition to actually performing our jobs.
Dear Wiscasset, Maine: your community is not in danger; a professional tarot reader will not be “detrimental to the public health, safety or general welfare of the residents in the community.” Con Artists are detrimental to your residents, tarot is not. Please take 5 minutes to apprise yourself of the difference and rest easy that with your wise counsel that you are not perpetuating yet more discrimination. Discrimination that creates more problems than it seeks to alleviate.
If a thief uses a crowbar to enter homes and steal, will you then prohibit the use of crowbars in your town? That sounds silly, doesn’t it? But this is exactly what you are doing regarding tarot and tarot’s responsible professional readers.
Dear professional tarot readers: push back, ask questions, refute, fight, advocate for yourselves. No one else will suddenly accept us until we demand the same treatment as any other service professional and business owner. The time of meekly hiding when someone shouts, “no!”, those days are numbered. The louder (yet kind) and firm we are to assert that we be treated like everyone else, the quicker we can hasten the cultural shift around what tarot is and who gets to read it, who gets to enjoy it and to be able to do so without stigma.
Let us all move tarot out of the box.
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