For the past month, I’ve been participating in a program called “Substack Grow.” The seven weeks of seminars are meant to equip me, and a hundred or so other authors, to understand the Substack platform, social media, and ideally the Internet as a whole. (I plan on keeping all this specialized knowledge to myself, by the way.) But in between bouts of world-conquering, the program is a nice way for Substack authors to hang out with each other and find new things to read.
I was excited to find that one of my fellow Substack Grow-bies was a professional Tarot Reader. I have always wanted to know more about Tarot. And I have always wanted to have a reading from a professional.
Thankfully, Miriam agreed to take a few of my questions…
First, let’s introduce you. Tell me your name, where you’re from, and how long you’ve been a Tarot reader.
Hello, my name is Miriam and I am in the Toronto area; I have been reading the Tarot for 16 to 17 years on and off. I left it for a while, as I was going through many personal struggles involving caregiver burnout. But after that ended, I got back into it, about four years ago.
Do you remember the first time you encountered Tarot? Was it through friends? What drew you to it?
Yes, I went to a psychic fair when I was 16, and that was the first time I encountered Tarot. I was fascinated. I felt there was a connection, and I even wanted to buy some books about it each time I went to a mall (there was no Amazon or online bookstores back then). But I was afraid of it until much later. Try ten years later. [laughs]
I’m curious to hear about your particular deck or decks of cards. Do they have a special meaning to you? Where did you get them? How long have you had them?
It is funny you ask because I have plenty of decks, but I made my own and I have used that deck since 2020, when they were created. It is a penguin deck and I love penguins. I hired an artist, and it was not a cheap job, but it was the best job because I have to say my connection to these cards is the best.
How did you go about learning the cards and their meanings? Is there a book you’d recommend, or did you have a teacher?
The way it works is, you do need to learn the meanings of all 78 cards in a deck, but you cannot get too hung up on them. Eventually, those meanings will become your own meanings through intuition. Sure, I studied the booklets that came with older tarot decks I bought that indicated the cards' meanings. The cards' meanings change a little, too, based on the overall reading and the surrounding cards.
For example, the Tower is about destruction and upheaval. It usually means removing the old to make room for the new. However, sometimes the Tower in a spread can indicate a revelation where it may be a shock but not necessarily destructive. It can also mean isolation in rare cases. You have to go with your intuition for that one. And I recommend Biddy Tarot as a good teaching site. She has the meanings in detail. I eventually hope to create classes on tarot, but I am unsure when I will because my schedule is too hectic.
Do you think that the power of a Tarot reading is in the cards themselves or in the gifts of the person doing the reading? Or, if it’s a combination of the two, what is the relative importance of each?
The cards are only messengers, and that is it. You can say the reader is also a messenger, but the reader is the one who intuitively picks up what the cards are telling them. The real gift is the intuition that the reader has; your intuition gets better and even more helpful as you practice using it and trust it.
Tarot is an old practice—at least 500 years old. Do you feel a connection to that lineage, and does your knowledge of the history of Tarot inform your readings?
I have to say I am the only reader in my family, and I am not aware of any ancestor with any tarot connections. But yes, there is a connection, and I feel like it was through past lives. Mysterious connections you have to something are usually a result of that, especially if you never were introduced to it as a young child. I immediately felt the connection when I was 16, as I mentioned, when I went to the psychic fair, but I was too scared to take the plunge to start studying it until a decade later.
It takes confidence to transition from just doing readings for yourself to doing readings for strangers. What led you to start reading cards for others?
I practiced for a long time with friends and others in practice Facebook groups, and once I felt I was ready, I decided it was time to start selling tarot readings. I am studying mediumship now, and I am in the same boat. I am not confident in offering mediumship readings yet, but joining different circles takes a lot of practice. Therefore, once I am confident enough, I will start offering services for mediumship readings.
What is a mediumship reading, and how is it different from what you're doing now?
Mediumship is when you are able to connect with spirits on the Other Side. I hope to do that for clients one day by delivering messages to them from their deceased loved ones, as well as others who were connected to them that passed. I cannot do that yet even though I am a psychic. Psychics can detect energies of the living whereas mediums can detect energies and receive messages from the deceased. All mediums are psychic but not every psychic is a medium.
What kind of a space do you use for your readings?
I use my home and office, as I only offer virtual readings from home. I always have. I was never comfortable with allowing strangers to come in-person, even long before Covid.
Can you describe the table where you do your readings?
Yes. I do readings at my altar, which has a deep violet cloth with zodiac signs on it. I also have various crystals surrounding it such as the black tourmaline which helps to ward off negativity, as well as the amethyst for extra protection, and there is also the citrine for abundance, and the rose quartz for love.
I imagine people come to you with all kinds of questions they’re hoping the cards will answer. What questions have you heard that stick with you?
I would say the majority of those who come to me ask about relationships or career. However, I had one client who is caring for their severely disabled adult child and they asked me if I could see in the cards if the child will pass before they will. I could not answer that question because it goes against my ethics. Unless I read for someone who has a loved one that is terminal and wants to know if they will have a peaceful passing, which is an exceptional situation, death is one of those things I will never touch. The client understood but I was taken aback.
Is there a particularly memorable reading you could describe?
I did a past life reading for a client and the court cards that showed up in the reading indicated the personalities of the individuals who were mostly involved in that individual’s past life. The surrounding cards also told the story well. I have done the least number of past life readings, which is why I would say this one was quite memorable.
Would you be willing to give a little more detail?
Sure. I cannot remember the entire reading, but what stood out the most was that this client was a working woman who provided for her family and their house had burned down. So therefore, the Queen of Pentacles was who she was—that is the working mother who is a provider. Then the position of an incident that was catastrophic was the Tower and the Four of Wands reversed, which I immediately saw as the burning house. It resonated right away with that client.
I read a little of your history on your Substack, and I was drawn to your idea of using Tarot for self-reflection. Was there a particular moment when you realized that your readings could be a kind of therapy?
I would say I discovered that on my own when I started using a daily pull for self-reflection and I was getting to know myself better that way. I also found that the cards helped me understand my needs and wants, and how I needed to set better boundaries. I can’t tell you exactly when, but it was something that I started doing during the height of the pandemic.
Would you be willing to do a short three-card reading for me now? If you’d like a question for the cards to answer, I’d like to ask about the near future for Juke. What will the next six months bring?
I did a past, present, future spread on what the next six months will bring for Juke. The past is how you were feeling as you were creating it, and the present is how you are feeling now and what you are doing with it, and the future (the next six months) is the last card.
The past card shows the Nine of Swords, which is the anxiety card. You were very anxious about creating this publication. You were likely thinking of every worst-case scenario in your mind about what could go wrong. It is normal to have jitters and feelings of doubt at first, but in your case it may have been more extreme than that. It may have been to the point where it kept you up at times. Even if it did not, it was on your mind a lot.
However, the present card is the Chariot, which is the card of determination, that you will make this successful no matter what obstacles are in your way. So you are now determined to make this work and make this a success. That is truly awesome. You are working very hard to make it a success.
The future card is the Empress, which is a lovely card. It is a card that represents creation, femininity, and fertility. That does not mean at all that you should gear this publication for women only—unless that is what you want to do, of course. The Empress is very nurturing, and as long as you keep nurturing Juke, it will be a fertile ground for success! The potential is there and it is great. And the Chariot will help make it happen as long as you keep up with the momentum.
You can learn more about Tarot from Miriam at her Substack:
We hope you’re enjoying Juke. Subscribe for free to receive new posts by email. To receive special member-only posts and benefits, please consider supporting our writers with a monthly or yearly paid subscription.
Tonya Morton is the publisher of Juke.
So--that was very cool. I dig the penguin deck. That is a truly singular Tarot deck. The part about the time when she was asked if the child would die before the parent was heart-stopping. And in its own way, so was your reading. If the Empress wins the day, I get kicked out.
oh what a fascinating piece! I have always been intriqued with Tarot reading. not that I have any experience with it, I do not.. but, maybe someday I will have a reading done to help me understand the pieces of my life. thanks so much for this, Tonya.