Making Tarot Welcome
It’s a fact that tarot isn’t welcome everywhere. I’ve learned that lesson the hard way a few times. However, my personal mantra, and the advice I give fellow tarotists, remains the same. Always assume support.
If someone doesn’t support your tarot work, they will let you know. Otherwise, why give people a reason to distrust it, or you?
I’ve heard tarotists begin their introduction with negative statements about tarot, as if they are trying to anticipate and preempt objections even before the objections come. That doesn’t usually work as well as assuming support, and forcing a few uninformed individuals to voice their lack of support, or remain silent. (I know that’s hard when those uniformed individuals happen to be your friends or family.)
Sometimes, those uninformed people are surprisingly good unintentional advocates for tarot. When the obviously undereducated person in the room is the one with the strongest negative opinion, well, that just speaks for itself, doesn’t it?
Yesterday, I had my first library summer speaking engagement. I’m on the speakers list for our local county library system. The program I offer is “An Evening with the Tarot.” Most libraries run a series of speakers in the summer. I’m happy to be a part of that. It’s an opportunity to promote the library, to promote tarot, and to promote my practice. I always meet some great people when I do these events.
Librarians are some of the most open-minded people on the planet, quite contrary to their prim reputation. The many librarians who have booked me to speak all voice the same concerns. They know there will be members of their community who don’t approve of tarot. At the same time, they know their few tarot books fly off the shelves.
The librarians fret that adults don’t often come to library programs. They hope maybe the people who borrow the tattered tarot books from the library might come out for an evening program about tarot.
Last night, at the Thonotosassa Branch Library, the folks that came out, some with tarot decks in hand, proved that theory true.
I had never been in Thonotosassa before. I am still not sure exactly how to say the name of this small Florida town. Although it’s a suburb of Tampa, you would never know there was a large city twenty minutes away.
Driving in to town, I saw the run-down mobile homes interspersed with Pentecostal churches. There were huge, hand-painted signs about the financial habits of Jesus (He saves). I could have been anywhere in the Bible Belt, or in a scene from a swamp-themed horror film.
When I got to the library, there were exactly two cars other than mine in the parking lot. This can’t bode well, I thought.
The librarian echoed my fears. She didn’t want me to be disappointed if no one showed up for my program. Apparently, to her dismay, the flyers advertising the program had only gone out a week ago. There were literally no patrons in the library at that moment.
The community room was decorated for the successful children’s events. My tarot display seemed a bit surreal set up next to the brightly colored games and toys.
One by one, folks drifted in to the community room, anxiously looking around, hoping they were in the right place. A few of them were carrying tarot decks.
For the next two hours, we had a wonderful time learning about tarot, talking about tarot and experimenting with tarot. The event was a resounding success.
Our small group was diverse. Our youngest was twelve years old; our oldest was closer to eighty than fifty. Everyone stayed engaged, and participated and interacted with each other.
The next time I drive through a small Southern town with hellfire-and-brimstone hand-painted billboards lining the main road, I’m going to remember what happened in Thonotosassa. Somewhere in between those ramshackle churches and trailer parks are people who love tarot, who are hungry to meet like minds and to learn.
I know it’s easier to be a tarot reader in Massachusetts than in Oklahoma. However, this is a reminder to all of us who find ourselves thinking “No one around here is interested in tarot.”
It’s true tarot isn’t welcome everywhere. However, every day, everywhere, tarotists are making strides to make tarot welcome in more places.
Events such as last night’s library program are encouraging signs that we’re moving in the right direction.