Professional Tarot by Christine Jette
Review by Kim Huggens
If you would like to purchase this book, click here.
I have been very pleased to see tarot books on the market recently that focus on specific, more advanced topics. It makes such a refreshing change from being told the same thing time and time again, and picking up a book that claims to be for advanced readers when, in fact, it only contains information for beginners. Whilst an advanced reader can often gain some new insight from such books, I feel they can benefit more from the books written specifically for them. Professional Tarot is one such book.
Aimed at tarot readers who may be considering pursuing reading tarot professionally as a career, those who may be thinking about teaching tarot to others, and professional tarot readers who would like to improve their business, this book provides all the information and guidance one needs to progress to that level. Its advice ranges from tips on how to keep a solid business to how to give the best service possible to your clients. At first, I was doubtful that this book could offer something for both established professionals as well as those considering the move, but by the time I finished reading it I was convinced that it had lived up to every claim it makes on its back cover.
Included in the book are chapters covering everything you could possibly think of relating to professional tarot. The chapter titles are a little confusing, but I'll tell you what they are briefly:
1: Taking the Leap. This is an excellent chapter aimed at those considering taking that first step into the world of professional tarot reading. I read it during a time when I was considering doing this myself, when the main obstacle for me was the stigma attached to the concept of 'money'. I didn't think I was good enough to charge money for a reading, I didn't know how much to charge, or how to cope with the very idea itself. This chapter examined attitudes such as this towards money, and reassured me that there was nothing to be worried about. It also helped me examine my own attitudes towards tarot reading, blew away all the myths about owning your own business, gave some excellent advice on gaining more practice with tarot with a view to professional reading, and finally used the tarot itself to help me examine my own reading style. (Are you a Teacher, Interpreter, Healer, Mystic, Alchemist or a mixture?) Even an established professional tarot reader would benefit from examining their attitudes and looking at what reading style they have.
2: Building Your Tarot Practice. The second chapter of the book is very much geared towards the practical side of things. It explores the subject of money (how much, market research, basis for charging, and how to charge) in much detail. It even gives small treasures of advice that seem so obvious when you are told them, but which you do not normally find in books such as these. One example is:
"Bounced checks happen to the best of us, but as the recipient, you have to deal with the hassles. Consider charging a fee of at least $10 to $25 for bounced checks to cover your bank's charges and time involved in settling the account. Be aware that the service charges can be contested if they aren't stated in your written policies." (p.33)
Before reading this book it would never have occurred to me to have a written policy at all, and I'm sure there are others out there who are just as business-blind as I am. Christine Jette has managed to get across the essentials to people like me in a way that is easy to understand, friendly, and compassionate. It's exactly what I needed. In this chapter, Jette also explores advertising, talking to clients about your fee, supply and demand, ways to test the waters when you are starting out, your 'company' name, and finally something very important: your own safety when reading for strangers. Jette states that she is familiar with community health nursing, and the safety procedures they go through when they have to go to a patient's home. She goes on to give the reader some of these tips, as well as tips for when the client is coming to the reader.
3: Global Tarot. This chapter explores professional tarot reading on the internet and via the phone. This is very refreshing, since the internet is an excellent resource and certainly one of the methods somebody may choose to use for their tarot reading business. Jette gives solid, useful, and, as always, down-to-earth advice on all aspects of web-tarot: advertising, designing the website, payment, client security, a bank's view of online payment, and costs of all this. Jette freely admits though that she is not an expert on internet tarot reading, so instead, she includes a wonderful and informative interview with Diane Wilkes of Tarot Passages. Diane gives the reader useful information about an internet code of ethics, how to make your website attractive, simple, and engaging, and maintaining a visitor base for your website.
Jette also gives advice on telephone etiquette, answer-machines, the possible advantages of voicemail, how to conduct a successful reading over the phone, and, most importantly I think, 'at-risk-callers' and 'sticky situations'. Jette advises the reader on the best course of action to take in each situation (from drunken callers, obscene callers, to callers threatening suicide,) and this section not only helped to prepare me for every eventuality, but made me feel a lot better, knowing that I was prepared. This advice also served to remind me of the obligations a professional tarot reader has to his/her clients.
4: The Business of Tarot. This is another very practical, business-orientated chapter, focusing on the legalities and practicalities of being self-employed. At first sight it seems to be dull and boring, but Jette explains everything in a way that keeps you engaged and helps you understand (even if you are clueless about business-matters, like me!) Chapter four covers such issues as what to keep in your office (if you have one), self-discipline if you work from home, and the policies and procedures you will follow for each reading (such as whether or not you will let others sit in on the client's reading). It also reminds the reader to find out what laws their own state or country has regarding certain practices, looking into zoning laws, building permits, and anything else that might arise as an obstacle later on. It is advice such as this which reminds me that this book could well save somebody a lot of time, money, and hassle. Finally, this chapter also looks at the mundane things we so often forget when we are caught up in our fantasy of being a professional tarot reader: bookkeeping, taxes, and keeping records.
5: Counseling Clients. This chapter is absolutely excellent, giving advice that can only be given by someone who has been there and done it. It focuses mainly on the client and his/her needs, and how we, as professional tarot readers, need to respond to them. Jette explores her own views of what should be done when we are faced with a client who is going through a crisis, and suggests how far we should go in trying to help the client. She also looks at methods of calming clients, communicating effectively with them, and urging them to seek help if need be. Finally, Jette touches upon an issue that I feel very close to: reading for teenagers. I am not yet out of my teens myself, and reading for teenagers has been something I've done for the last 10 years of my life. I also get sick and tired of hearing from tarot readers that teenagers and children should not be read for, because they are too young or wouldn't understand. In my opinion, teenagers, especia!lly those of today, need help and guidance as much as adults do, and tarot can give them that without the stigma attached to therapy, and without the 'old-fashionedness' teens so often perceive in their parents. I take my hat off to Jette for this much-needed section of the book, and only hope that the tarot readers of the future are as open-minded about this issue as she is.
6: Teaching - And Learning - Tarot. Moving away from the emphasis on professional tarot reading, Jette uses Chapter six to explore professional tarot teaching. This highly useful chapter looks at some possible structures of a tarot lesson, and reminds the reader of the little mundane details we often forget to think about: copyright laws, parking space, handouts, the goals of the class, etc. It also gives some excellent advice on how to make a good first impression to your class, and how to cope with the inevitable stomach butterflies and stage fright! To my surprise, Jette also gave excellent advice to the reader who may be looking for a tarot teacher, including the signs that the teacher they have is not the one they should have! Once again, this is a section that explores an issue that has had far too little attention paid to it in the tarot world recently.
The Epilogue of the book is no normal epilogue: it is as full of useful information as the chapters are, this time focusing on the reader him/herself: what are the signs of burnout? How do you cope with the stress of being a professional tarot reader? How do you maintain meaning in your tarot journey when you do it as a career? It also tells the reader that becoming a professional reader is bound to change them in some way. This epilogue was most useful for me, and I later found it to be very true: I did change a lot when I began reading professionally, but thanks to the advice in this book, I think (I hope!) I managed to avoid the pitfalls I may have fallen into otherwise.
The final section of the book is the Appendix, split into three separate Appendices. Appendix A gives a tarot reading Code of Ethics that may help the reader form their own. Appendix B gives sample structures and outlines of tarot courses, which is, again, not the 'only way' but merely a suggestion that the reader can use to get an idea of what a tarot course can be like. Appendix C is entitled 'The Resourceful Reader' and gives lists of useful books the reader may wish to take a look at, magazines focused on starting your own business, psychology and counseling web links, tarot websites and organizations, and more.
The usefulness of the Appendices sum up the book itself. Never before have I come across a tarot book that is so full of useful and practical guidance. It has saved me from what would otherwise have been a lot of hassle! Professional Tarot has something for everyone, and I would recommend it to anybody with an interest in teaching tarot, reading professionally, or who is already doing so and would like some new insight and advice into it. Christine Jette's writing style is extremely friendly and informal, yet she still manages to convey the importance of her advice, and the advice itself, in an easy-to-understand way. Anybody who is worried that they'll be confused by business jargon should forget that idea completely: there's no jargon here. Just down-to-earth, person-to-person advice from somebody who has been there and wants others to feel they too have the ability to take that next leap in their tarot journey, and go professional.
If you would like to purchase this book, click here.
You can read other reviews of this book here and here.
Kim Huggens is a 19 year-old Pagan Tarot reader, reading Philosophy at Cardiff University. She has been studying tarot since the age of nine, and runs talks and workshops on different aspects of the tarot. She is President of the Cardiff University Pagan Society, and runs an online tarot course at www.witchschool.com. She lives with her boyfriend in Cardiff, and currently has a tarot deck collection of over 150 decks.