The Tarot Certification Quandary
For almost as long as I have been a professional tarot reader there has been an ongoing (sometimes heated) conversation in the tarot community about tarot certification.
Professional tarot readers like me appreciate the opportunity to work toward comprehensive educational and professional goals. We appreciate the credibility that certification can give us.
The problem is finding certifying organizations that are themselves credible.
Some of the problems I have seen over the years include organizations that grant certification for political reasons rather than merit, and well-intentioned examiners granting certification to candidates who clearly don't deserve it because the examiners feel badly about declining the request.
Another area of concern is the fee structure for many certifying organizations where the candidate pays to be examined and certified at each level. This creates an incentive for the organization to grant the certification whether or not the certification is merited.
One of the things that makes tarot so special is exactly the thing that makes certification so difficult. Each reader has his or her take on the cards. Each reader has his or her own style. There is a question about what is really being certified. Is it knowledge of the cards? Is it psychic ability? Is it the candidate's ability to give a passable reading?
Beyond providing credibility for deserving readers and vetting quality readers for the public does certification have another purpose? Could certification help us preserve our traditions and our roots even as we are exploring new ways to use, design and understand tarot?
There are so many tarot traditions, and tarot is quickly evolving. Most certified readers cannot demonstrate competence in every tarot tradition. Therefore, should certification be more specific than just tarot? Should we certify in Waite tradition and Crowley tradition separately, for instance?
Many designers of unique decks offer special certification programs in working with their specific deck. These certifications are granted after participation in an intensive workshop.
In general, certifications for the successful completion of specific classes seem to make more sense than an overall fee-based certification program. The rubric for completion is verifiable and quantifiable, and the fee is paid to take the class, not to certify the candidate.
As I continue to expand my continuing education program for students I will begin offering examinations and certifications for specific premium classes. If other educational programs offered similar programs for their classes these education-specific endorsements might be helpful in qualifying candidates for more generalized tarot certification programs.
If there are to be valid certification programs the certifying agents must be above reproach. Certification must be granted on demonstrated merit alone. The certifying organization must be responsible for perfect recording-keeping, displaying the certification on a website and verifying certification by phone and email.
It is very likely that tarot organizations will choose to create certification and endorsement programs because many tarot readers desire it, and with good reason. My certification has been extremely helpful in helping me present myself as a legitimate business person at Chamber of Commerce meetings, meetings with town officials and when obtaining business licenses.
Tarot is evolving, technology is evolving and our community must evolve with it. We do have a responsibility to preserve our traditions, educate students and provide the public with access to quality services.
The question we must answer is whether or not tarot certification is a viable way to accomplish these worthy goals.