Tarot! Get your tarot!

Hi guys. As some of you, but not most of you, know – I read tarot. Not because I’m a creepy “let me tell you your future, child… oh yes, a tall, handsome man approaches…” – type (Jesus, at least I hope so), but because I have found that tarot is good for predicting the present. As opposed to the future.

The rules are simple:

I do most of my readings via essay form in e-mail nowadays.

Readings are also available via Skype. Sometimes, they can be harder to schedule, due to time differences (I’m in Moscow), but I’ve had some success with North American and UK people recently, so it can be done. Sometimes, an adorable infant will coo in the background, adding to your general reading experience.

Prices range from $30 to $100 per reading, depending on your preferences and how we decide to approach your question.

Different spreads suit different lines of inquiry.

No, I’m not going to try to convince you to get the most expensive reading possible. Only if you prefer to go in really deep will I offer the 21-card spread, which takes a while to complete but is usually worth it.

I accept PayPal.

I try to get a good sense of why you’re approaching me for a reading first, so some back-and-forth banter via e-mail is usually required to proceed.

I can be slow (work, play, baby, husband) – in part because I try to give the best reading possible, and need my wits about me for that.

Very rarely, I will reject a possible customer, but only if they’re being super-weird and/or rude. Like, “So I think this stuff is bullshit and a waste of time, but how about you impress me?” Sorry, I have roughly two billion better things I could be doing.

Unfortunately, time constraints and financial constraints mean that I cannot offer readings for free at this time – or even on a barter basis. I hope that will change eventually.

I have this hope that tarot reading among expats will catch on in Moscow. Probably because I think that tarot is good for your emotional health, and expats tend to lack it. I even have my eyes on a cozy future space where to occasionally gather – but all of that is in the distant future.

I don’t really think that tarot is magic in that whole supernatural woo-woo sense. If you’re into the supernatural woo-woo stuff – that’s perfectly cool. But I closely tie tarot to a type of therapy that can occur via interpreting symbols. NO, it has NOTHING to do with traditional therapy. But it can help people have fun and relax.

I think I’ve said it all – if you’re interested, please leave a comment here indicating this. Please include your real e-mail address. I will be in touch with more information, including a rough price list.

213 comments for “Tarot! Get your tarot!

  1. Jubilance
    June 10, 2012 at 12:26 pm

    I’m very interested in a reading. I’ve left my real email address. Thanks.

  2. June 10, 2012 at 12:37 pm

    I’m interested. alikichappleATgmailDOTcom

  3. raspberry
    June 10, 2012 at 12:48 pm

    This doesn’t really seem appropriate.

  4. June 10, 2012 at 1:36 pm

    But where will I find someone to tell me when a tall handsome man is approaching????

  5. Dominique
    June 10, 2012 at 1:53 pm

    So can we all advertise our services now? I’m a translator and my website is dominiquemillette.com. Thank you!

  6. Mza
    June 10, 2012 at 1:55 pm

    So Feministe is now promoting woo rubbish? Because we’re women and women like woo stuff because we’re, like, in-tune with nature and spirituality? What’s next, an astrology guide? Oooh, maybe someone will offer to sell birth charts!

  7. June 10, 2012 at 1:55 pm

    I asked Jill if it would be cool to advertise my tarot readings, and she said yes. It’s been hard to get the word out about my this work that I do, especially since I’ve lost touch with many of the people I used to work with in the States – hence I came here to look for help with reaching folk who might be interested.

    Fat Steve – there is always the foolproof approach. Camp out at one of those ridiculous places such as Abercrombie & Fitch, and you won’t *need* me to tell you that a tall, handsome (and probably Aryan) man is approaching.

  8. AMM
    June 10, 2012 at 2:00 pm

    @3:

    This doesn’t really seem appropriate.

    If this were a feminist blog, or a progressive politics blog, or something, it arguably wouldn’t be. But this is Jill & Co’s blog (sort of like Shakespeare’s Sister is Melissa’s blog), and whatever they choose to allow to be posted is by definition appropriate.

    I _would_ like to lobby for more pictures of cute kittens, however.

  9. Partial Human
    June 10, 2012 at 2:03 pm

    If only there was a site where people could advertise their services.

    Some kind of list, perhaps?

    Until that glorious day…

  10. PrettyAmiable
    June 10, 2012 at 2:05 pm

    Natalia, I’m not really interested, but good luck! Definitely see therapeutic value in interpreting symbols as they pertain to your life. Kind of like a starting point for a conversation you didn’t really know you needed to have.

  11. June 10, 2012 at 2:08 pm

    That’s fair enough, Partial Human, but the truth is – someone like me is in no position to advertise on Craigslist. I’ve tried it before, but then you’re stuck sifting through the creeps most of the time, and I have a full-time job and a small child. Like a lot of small-time tarot readers, I need to work with people I can actually trust to behave themselves. Unfortunately, I have lost that in the last few years, hence my appeal on Feministe.

    Mza, if you read the post, you’ll notice that I don’t think of tarot as anything “woo.” I don’t think there’s anything supernatural about it.

  12. Partial Human
    June 10, 2012 at 2:10 pm

    AMM:

    You are here: Home / About

    About

    Feministe is one of the oldest feminist blogs online designed by and run by women from the ground up.

    Wow. My English must be getting rusty. I thought “feminist blog” meant “feminist blog”

  13. Kristen J.
    June 10, 2012 at 2:17 pm

    Natalia did a reading for me some months ago. It was pretty awesome when I was trying to work my way through a tough decision.

    I’m not a big believer in mystical woo…but I think looking at things from a wholly new perspective can give you insight into what you are really thinking and feeling. I certainly had that experience with Natalia’s reading which was tremendously helpful in addition to being thoughtful and kind.

  14. Becca
    June 10, 2012 at 2:18 pm

    If it’s not supernatural, then what is it?

  15. June 10, 2012 at 2:20 pm

    I’ve been staring at this post, trying to see what the punch line was for a while. Then I realized it was all in earnest.

    I’d much rather this website promoted services of translators like one of the earlier commenters in the thread than something like this. Who can be expected to take seriously a supposedly feminist website that promotes reading of tea-leaves and card tricks?

  16. June 10, 2012 at 2:28 pm

    Becca, tarot uses symbols. Symbols can jig a person’s memory and subconscious, helping them arrive at a solution to a problem.

    I’ll give you an example: a few years ago, a woman came to me and said, “my house is fucking haunted. I know it. What do I do?” I worked with her, and we discovered that due to a combination of stress and poor self-care, she was basically so physically exhausted that she was seeing things. This was someone in a pretty high-powered job, and she had no time to stop and think about what she was doing to her body. Nothing supernatural about it.

  17. Echo Zen
    June 10, 2012 at 2:32 pm

    Feministe isn’t Feministing — sometimes bloggers post stuff that actually has to do with their personal/professional lives. That said, this blog post would have been better with pictures of cats, or Clinton texting Ryan Gosling.

  18. June 10, 2012 at 2:37 pm

    The best I can do at present is Morticia. But she’s worth it:

    http://nataliaantonova.files.wordpress.com/2012/03/morticia.gif

  19. draconismoi
    June 10, 2012 at 2:39 pm

    Good luck, Natalia, I read tarot too…..but only for friends. Like you, because of the creeps. And because I need to weed out the people who take it a little too seriously.

    I’m curious, what deck do you use? There are so many different options out now – including ones that nix the traditional gender lines.

    As for all the comments going on and on about how inappropriate this is. Feministe is, in my experience, an eclectic blog with posts on tons of random subjects (such as Gosling and cats). If you are not interested in Tarot, why did you even read the post?

  20. June 10, 2012 at 2:50 pm

    I don’t really think that tarot is magic in that whole supernatural woo-woo sense. If you’re into the supernatural woo-woo stuff – that’s perfectly cool. But I closely tie tarot to a type of therapy that can occur via interpreting symbols. NO, it has NOTHING to do with traditional therapy. But it can help people have fun and relax.

    For real. Unfortunately, a lot of people are reading the first word of the article title and nothing else.

    I read up a lot on tarot when I was a teen. Years later I had a reading. It ended up being fun (very nice placement of the Fortune card, ha ha) but not useful – I was headed towards some really amazing stuff at the time (which I knew already) and not exactly consumed by questions that needed answering.

    But when I am working through something, I spend a lot of time trying to think about other stuff and pursuing random thoughts and interests while my real concern percolates beneath the surface. Inevitably the power of synthesis kicks in and I find myself arriving at a solution from a totally unexpected direction. Much more effective than ruminating and going in circles.

    There’s actually some academic research and writing on how creativity operates which suggests such strategies are very effective. No woo about it.

  21. June 10, 2012 at 2:51 pm

    Curious as to what deck you use, by the way!

  22. June 10, 2012 at 2:58 pm

    I don’t know much about it, but I’ve heard there are pretty big cultural differences between the United States and Russia when it comes to acceptance of certain non-scientific modalities, and that they are taken much more seriously in the former USSR.

  23. June 10, 2012 at 3:00 pm

    Right now, I use a deck I bought in Kiev. It uses Norse art, which is appropriate, because Vikings had a hand in establishing Kiev (well, that’s mostly myth, but who knows, really, the history of that city is very convoluted). It’s a bit graphic, some of it, but not in a freaky way.

  24. Witched Out
    June 10, 2012 at 3:00 pm

    You know, I’ve been studying and reading astrology and Tarot for about fifteen years, and whenever I do readings for people they’re always like, “You’re so good at this! Why don’t you advertise it more?” and some of the responses here are why I don’t.

    I find it incredibly disingenuous to suggest, even sarcastically, that we should be interested in “woo” because we’re women. Like there are no men who are interested in the occult? Come on. Like Natalia explained already, it’s about symbols. Symbols are fascinating. There’s nothing supernatural about it. If anything, it’s another set of jargon for most of what you already learned in Psychology 101.

    Understanding astrology and Tarot and whatever else doesn’t make you less intelligent, or more credulous, or less scientific. It’s one more thing you happen to know about. Are there people who might be overly reliant on these things, at the expense of their own better judgment? Sure. But that’s true of any discipline, and in my experience with astrology and Tarot, those people are the vast exception rather than the rule, and I would certainly not put someone like Natalia, who’s described her approach here, in that category. My opinion is that it’s far more unintellectual to start bashing something as “woo” just because you don’t actually know anything about it. Imagine if people did that with advanced concepts in physics.

  25. June 10, 2012 at 3:06 pm

    “Understanding tarot”? Tarot is a deck of cards that supposedly have meanings attached to them. People randomly draw cards and then make things up about how the meaning of those cards applies to their life, sometimes (even more oddly) with the help of a stranger who charges them money to do so.

    If it’s not random, and the meanings are not made up….then yes, it is magical woo you’re talking about.

  26. Chataya
    June 10, 2012 at 3:44 pm

    For $15, I’ll explain your problems to you using the Bible* Code^.

    *ImagineFX magazines
    ^Darts, mostly.

  27. June 10, 2012 at 3:44 pm

    Not quite. Tarot uses symbols – laid out in a pattern. The symbols will be random, but at least one of them will have an effect on the person who is having a reading done. One of them, at least, will be appropriate or relatable. When that effect takes place, something usually clicks – the person starts thinking about their dilemma/question in a different way, because they’re approaching it from a new angle. And then the rest of the symbols can begin to make sense – and a narrative starts to build.

    Tarot is one of many ways of getting in touch with your own irrational side. This can be very helpful for people whose lives are high-stress, who always have to be very focused, who have a hard time relaxing, etc. Most of the people I’ve worked with through the years have been those kinds of people – they’re climbing corporate ladders, running businesses, and they have no established way of reaching their inner weirdo and just *turning off* for a while, so they like tarot.

  28. PrettyAmiable
    June 10, 2012 at 3:46 pm

    “then make things up about how the meaning of those [symbols, events, etc] applies to their life, sometimes (even more oddly) with the help of a stranger who charges them money to do so.”

    Oh, like my therapy sessions? The only difference between what Natalia is doing and what my psychologist does is the presence of cards. Magical woo. God, you’re close-minded.

    Is it Asshole Day on Feministe today?

  29. Kyra
    June 10, 2012 at 3:46 pm

    I’ve been studying Tarot off and on for a few years, and I’ve often thought that they would have great use as a tool for directed brainstorming rather than any sort of psychic knowledge trick—not to show the reader or the questioner the answers, but to get the questioner to think about and realize the answers.

    The meanings of the cards get filtered through the understanding of the situation, as the various meanings of a card are considered, and there is where the magic is—not in producing knowledge, but in unlocking it. The different symbols, meanings, stories behind the cards, the questions they inspire you to ask . . . it’s like a language of pictures, a memory game of the right questions and the right answers, to paint a map of a person’s internal and external circumstances, so that a now-informed person can choose the best course of action.

  30. June 10, 2012 at 3:52 pm

    Oh, like my therapy sessions? The only difference between what Natalia is doing and what my psychologist does is the presence of cards. Magical woo.

    If you really think that, stop seeing your psychologist. He/she did not get a PhD to have his/her skills compared to New Age nonsense. Might as well save your money and his/her dignity.

  31. Kyra
    June 10, 2012 at 3:54 pm

    I would think, incidentally, that the only thing truly off-topic and wrong for a feminist blog (that is, a blog which is feminist) to post would be asserted misogynistic content.

  32. PrettyAmiable
    June 10, 2012 at 3:55 pm

    Because an internet commenter said so!

    Have you EVER been to a psychologist? I’m guessing not, because it’s pretty obvious that you have absolutely no idea how therapy works. Seriously, one of you is a fucking idiot, and it’s not the psychologist.

  33. Treebeard
    June 10, 2012 at 3:56 pm

    I have always thought of Tarot as made-up woo. I see this post is arguing it can be something else, used to understand the present, not predict the future. Hmm. I can almost believe that one could use something like Tarot as a form of psychotherapy, using the cards as an excuse to talk and open up and read their expressions, to bring what the client subconsciously thinks to the forefront, or something. Or even just have it be a light fun experience talking about your life to someone, to help you relax. But how on earth can you do any of that by email?

    Anyway, I agree that this doesn’t seem appropriate. I didn’t sign up for this RSS feed to read someone’s personal blog with ads, I signed up because it was supposed to be a feminist blog. Its right there in the name. One thing I’ve always liked about Feministe (as opposed to Feministing) is that they let people have arguments and controversy in the comments; so I hope they’ll leave up the comments by people who object to this post, and consider their points of view. Obviously Jill can decide to do whatever she wants, but I hope she at least thinks about these points before deciding. At the very least, if you’re going to post this kind of thing you should be open to people coming along to say its bunk. And if you seriously want to advertise, you should have something in there about your pricing. You say its not magic and you’ll be slow getting back to people and you accept paypal – but usually when I see no prices, that makes me assume the prices are very expensive. So overall even if I believed in this kind of thing, it sounds like a pretty bad deal.

    Also, not from the OP, but I really object to the idea that understanding Tarot is at all comparable to understanding advanced physics.

  34. June 10, 2012 at 3:58 pm

    I might be interested in a reading. kaitmauro [at] gmail [dot] com

    [Tweaked to deter spambots. -C]

  35. Treebeard
    June 10, 2012 at 3:59 pm

    Just to add to my previous post (which is in mod at the moment): I see that there is pricing info up top, I missed that at first. But still, paying anything for someone who will be slow getting back to me with an email about Tarot cards sounds like a bad deal. All the parts about it that sound remotely useful or interesting have to do with being there in person and looking at the cards and talking to a person. I’m honestly curious how you can do any of this by email and get anything out of it.

  36. Treebeard
    June 10, 2012 at 4:03 pm

    (I missed the pricing info at first because of the comment at the bottom that says you’ll send a price list. Sorry about that bit of confusion.)

    But seriously, I’m having a hard time understanding why this post is there and what we’re supposed to get out of it. What do you do exactly? You email someone something saying “i spread out the cards and they indicate ___” ? Then how is that not asserting that the cards (or you) have supernatural powers? On the other hand, if its supposed to be a non-supernatural form of “therapy” then what is the point of the cards? How is it doable by email? I really don’t get it at all. I’m kind of curious but also extremely skeptical that there are good answers to any of this.

  37. June 10, 2012 at 4:12 pm

    How can you attack tarot when there are PLUTOCRATS AND HEREDITARY ROYALTY IN ENGLAND WEARING EXPENSIVE HATS!!!!!!!!!!!! Problematic.

  38. Lizzie
    June 10, 2012 at 4:13 pm

    Seconding raspberry, Dominique Mza, Partial Human etc – I thought this site existed to promote social justice. What is the goal here? Why on this site? Why connect feminism to this? Draping this in the language of psychology and claiming that tarot is simply a Rorschach test doesn’t make it science. As young as such sciences are, eg CBT, antidepressives, etc the difference is that they use the scientific method, where a hypothesis is made and tested in repeated experiments. And there’s rules about who gets to be a shrink or a brain surgeon; tarot is wholly unregulated. I realize no claims of supernatural ability were made (which is good because those can cross into felony territory), but “the symbols will be random”? “Predict the present”? Really? To quote Mitchell and Webb, “Nutrisse! I love it! It SOUNDS like nutrition, but it doesn’t promise anything!”

    As it’s described in the post, tarot is paying a nonprofessional for counseling. At best, a waste of cash; talk to a friend! At worst, very risky. It’s nice that the woman with the ghost delusion got over it, but it was pure luck. A neighbor with a similar paranoia, who also turned away from the professionals, wasn’t so lucky – instead, he tried to kill his family to “free” them. Doctors got involved then, but too late – he had a lucid moment under treatment during which he killed himself to protect his family. Someone laying out cash to save them from ghosts needs a medical doctor, not a witch doctor – a person trained to discern harmless kooks playing at monsters under the bed from dangerous people who listen when the monster tells them to hurt someone. And maybe they couldn’t heal him, but they could have spared his wife and two children from being driven into a wall at 60mph.

    But, what has annoyed people I think is not even the above; I think it is that we come here for social justice, we got something unrelated that made us very uncomfortable, and we feel like we’ve been sold a bill of goods. If this site is to become an online renfair stall, that’s Jill’s prerogative – her space, her rules – and of course I will quietly head off elsewhere (albeit kinda sad tbh). However, please clarify so that nobody is misled. Thank you.

  39. June 10, 2012 at 4:20 pm

    If I’m doing it my e-mail, the answer is simple enough: A tarot spread is a narrative – it’s an essay, and a story, wrapped in one. I talk to my client about what they’re interested in, then do the spread, then write out the narrative based on how I interpret it. Then I answer any questions they might have.

    As for addressing “the supernatural” – see my comments above. Perhaps you’ll find them useful, perhaps not, but I’ve been doing this for about twelve years now, both in lean times and not, and have yet to see it as “magical.”

  40. Treebeard
    June 10, 2012 at 4:23 pm

    As it’s described in the post, tarot is paying a nonprofessional for counseling. At best, a waste of cash; talk to a friend! At worst, very risky.

    And there are lots of ways its risky. Besides the possibility that you really do need to talk to a doctor, there’s also the fact that there’s no real confidentiality with a nonprofessional. They can do whatever they want with the information you give them, and even if they don’t want to mess with you, they could be forced to reveal things in a court of law since there is no legal right to confidentiality. You’re trusting a stranger on the internet with your most personal information. Be careful.

  41. June 10, 2012 at 4:25 pm

    What is the goal here? Why on this site? Why connect feminism to this?

    See my comments to Partial Human. I am out of touch with most of the people I used to work with, and advertising on Craiglist had previously resulted in lots and lots of creeps coming my way.

    I like the Feministe community, and am a frequent commenter and guest blogger here – and offering it my services makes sense. Most of the people here aren’t liable to sexually harass me should I get in contact with them (although who knows? Life is full of surprises!).

    I don’t pretend to be a magician or a therapist. But like a lot of people, I have found tarot useful. That’s really all there is to it.

  42. Treebeard
    June 10, 2012 at 4:25 pm

    If I’m doing it my e-mail, the answer is simple enough: A tarot spread is a narrative – it’s an essay, and a story, wrapped in one. I talk to my client about what they’re interested in, then do the spread, then write out the narrative based on how I interpret it. Then I answer any questions they might have.

    That doesn’t really answer my question about how this can possibly be both useful and non-supernatural. You spread out cards and random and then write a “narrative” based on the cards. What do you mean by narrative? How can this be useful to the client if the cards don’t have any magic powers? I can buy a random “narrative” at the bookstore, its called a novel. It doesn’t mean it has anything to do with MY life. How do the tarot cards give you information *about a specific person*? Care to share an example narrative? Do they sound like horoscopes? Those are usually so vague that they can apply to anyone.

  43. Kyra
    June 10, 2012 at 4:27 pm

    I see PrettyAmiable complimenting both her therapist and the concept of Tarot cards by comparing them under the category of “things that work,” and I see Rillion declaring it an insult to the therapist because of the comparison, based on Rillion’s analysis of the worth of Tarot readings, which in no way informed PrettyAmiable’s comparison.

    I’m pretty sure logic doesn’t work that way.

    If PrettyAmiable is happy with her therapist, there’s no reason at all to quit seeing hir, regardless of whether PrettyAmiable thinks Tarot readings also work. I can prefer my Mustang to someone else’s Land Rover based on the details without depending on an assertion that Land Rovers don’t work; PrettyAmiable can prefer a therapist to Tarot (or vice versa, or both) while believing both function.

  44. Treebeard
    June 10, 2012 at 4:27 pm

    I am out of touch with most of the people I used to work with, and advertising on Craiglist had previously resulted in lots and lots of creeps coming my way.

    I don’t think anyone’s asking why you would want to advertise, I think they’re asking why Jill would let you advertise here.

  45. Chataya
    June 10, 2012 at 4:32 pm

    And there are lots of ways its risky. Besides the possibility that you really do need to talk to a doctor, there’s also the fact that there’s no real confidentiality with a nonprofessional. They can do whatever they want with the information you give them, and even if they don’t want to mess with you, they could be forced to reveal things in a court of law since there is no legal right to confidentiality. You’re trusting a stranger on the internet with your most personal information. Be careful.

    Snark aside, I really cannot emphasize this enough. A licensed medical professional is bound by law to keep your information confidential, with few exceptions. Anyone else who claims to offer you advice or help with a situation can do really unpleasant things with that information, and may even be liable to answer for their advice in a court of law.

  46. pheenobarbidoll
    June 10, 2012 at 4:32 pm

    I think they’re asking why Jill would let you advertise here.

    Best guess? It’s her blog and she felt like it.

    Good enough IMO

  47. Treebeard
    June 10, 2012 at 4:35 pm

    But when I am working through something, I spend a lot of time trying to think about other stuff and pursuing random thoughts and interests while my real concern percolates beneath the surface. Inevitably the power of synthesis kicks in and I find myself arriving at a solution from a totally unexpected direction. Much more effective than ruminating and going in circles.

    There’s actually some academic research and writing on how creativity operates which suggests such strategies are very effective. No woo about it.

    I think these strategies of thinking about things in different ways can be helpful for some people. Its true that our brains aren’t always as rational as we want to think, and there is a lot of interesting research about insight and that kind of thing from a legitimate neuroscience point of view.

    What I don’t get is how, if you’re viewing Tarot as a strategy for helping your brain think through things and not as magic, it can possibly be helpful to have a stranger spread out tarot cards for you thousands of miles away and then email you about it. Surely if we’re looking at it this way, the right way to do it is to spread out the cards yourself and see what the symbols trigger in your brain? And then it *might* be helpful for certain types of people working out personal problems and decisions. But it won’t give you any special outside information. Its just like making a list of pros and cons. Why would you want to pay a stranger for a less effective version of that?

  48. Treebeard
    June 10, 2012 at 4:39 pm

    Snark aside, I really cannot emphasize this enough. A licensed medical professional is bound by law to keep your information confidential, with few exceptions. Anyone else who claims to offer you advice or help with a situation can do really unpleasant things with that information, and may even be liable to answer for their advice in a court of law.

    And on the other hand if you choose not to tell them any personal information, then how can their advice be helpful? They don’t know anything about the situation you need help with! Unless its magic. I know the OP says its not magic, but I don’t understand how it can be helpful if its not. So I feel like the claim is that it is magic but we’re just going to avoid saying that out loud.

  49. June 10, 2012 at 4:42 pm

    Treebeard, you should read more of my comments above. Tarot uses symbols. It’s one of the many ways for people to get in touch with their irrational side. In the twelve years that I’ve been doing it, it’s people who are very much not “woo”-like, who have found it most useful. Probably because they lead very structured lives.

  50. June 10, 2012 at 4:56 pm

    What I don’t get is how, if you’re viewing Tarot as a strategy for helping your brain think through things and not as magic, it can possibly be helpful to have a stranger spread out tarot cards for you thousands of miles away and then email you about it. Surely if we’re looking at it this way, the right way to do it is to spread out the cards yourself and see what the symbols trigger in your brain? And then it *might* be helpful for certain types of people working out personal problems and decisions. But it won’t give you any special outside information. Its just like making a list of pros and cons. Why would you want to pay a stranger for a less effective version of that?

    I can’t answer that because I wouldn’t. I would take a reading for free from a friend for fun, but I’m not interested in paying for it. It’s not that important, meaningful, or useful to me. But I’m not the world – my comment was just about re-emphasizing that people don’t always do Tarot for woo and that there are other ways of looking at it. It should be said though that doing a tarot spread isn’t something you can pick up quickly on your own – it takes time and practice to learn to do it well, to know the cards, and to help shape them into possible narratives. (As for the email part, I don’t see what problem you have with that – I conduct business and relationships via textual media all the time. Some people don’t like it, some of us prefer it.) What people would be paying for is for someone else to do it for them, which is what people do all the time – pay someone else to do something they don’t have the time or inclination themselves.

    Treebeard, you’ve made a lot of comments on this thread warning people to be careful. I think that’s great. People should be careful. (In fact, I want to warn some people who’ve posted their email addresses here in an unadulterated form that they’ve opened themselves up to junkmail from bots that scrape email addresses off of websites – obscure the “@”s and other obvious signs, people!) But at a certain point you have to let it go and let people figure stuff out for themselves. Some people will be interested in Natalia’s services and will chose to pay for them. They might chose to because tarot means something special to them, because other forms of support and insight are problematic to them, or because they like Natalia and want to work with her. Other people won’t bother. It’s not the end of the world.

  51. Lal
    June 10, 2012 at 4:57 pm

    Gonna go ahead and delurk here – as one of the many people who have enjoyed Nat’s readings through the years. Nope, they’re not therapy (I know this, cause I’ve been to therapy – and no, not all of us who have been to therapy are helpless and unable to tell the difference, talk about patronizing bullshit!). Nope, they are not magic.

    It’s fun and insightful to have another person put a spin on whatever is going on in your personal life. Because they have an outside view. Tarot really IS a way to the irrational, especially for a high-stress person. I happen to be pretty high-stress.

    Now to address some of the other comments here…. Well, fuck, this is just an example of how Feministe is not a sound community. A woman comes here specifically because she is having trouble finding clients who don’t send her pictures of their dicks, and you are telling her to GTFO. “Social justice” my ass. You don’t have to like tarot, but not being a raging asshole will also take you a long way.

  52. Treebeard
    June 10, 2012 at 4:57 pm

    @49 – I’m honestly curious what you mean when you say things like tarot uses symbols. Ok, what does that mean? Why are these symbols helpful? Specifically how can they be helpful when filtered through a stranger thousands of miles away whose interpretations are written down in text?

    How can they help someone get in touch with their irrational side when they aren’t even there to see the cards? How is this different than reading a horoscope in the newspaper and seeing which parts resonate with me?

    I’m clearly skeptical on the subject but I’m also honestly curious and I’m frustrated that your answers just keep saying things like it uses symbols. I’m asking very specific questions about how those symbols can be useful when the person who needs to “get in touch with their irrational side” is not there to see them. I’m taking you at your word that you don’t view this as magic, and I’m trying to find out what’s left over if its not magic. I’ve never heard of someone offering a service quite like this (Tarot at a distance claimed not to be magic) and I’m really curious how you explain its usefulness. If you aren’t interested in saying anything more detailed than “its symbols” then I’ll give up and stop posting. But if you want to give more details and examples about how this is supposed to work, I’d be curious to read about it. Its always interesting to find out about how other people think, even if I completely disagree with it.

  53. Chataya
    June 10, 2012 at 4:58 pm

    I know the OP says its not magic, but I don’t understand how it can be helpful if its not. So I feel like the claim is that it is magic but we’re just going to avoid saying that out loud.

    Basically, each card has a set of meanings and symbols associated with it, from the specific to the generic. For example, the Fool supposedly represents infinite possibilities and new beginnings, which can be either positive or negative. In my experience with Tarot readers, they usually just toss out generic meanings at you until you respond to one, then they know which direction to go in with the rest of the reading.

    It’s a mixture of cold reading techniques that some stage magicians use and some confirmation bias on the part of the person getting the reading. How this works over email, I have no idea.

  54. Treebeard
    June 10, 2012 at 5:00 pm

    Oh, and I have definitely been reading your comments above. My questions still stand.

    For example, I read this part:

    The symbols will be random, but at least one of them will have an effect on the person who is having a reading done. One of them, at least, will be appropriate or relatable. When that effect takes place, something usually clicks – the person starts thinking about their dilemma/question in a different way, because they’re approaching it from a new angle.

    That jives with the idea that this is a vague sort of therapy to help someone get in touch with their inner thoughts. But how does that work when they’re not there to see the cards? And why do they need you for that at all? Why not just read a set of random horoscopes or buy a book on Tarot, if its all about their own thoughts? And you also specifically mentioned helping people “relax” – how does that happen by email?

  55. Treebeard
    June 10, 2012 at 5:04 pm

    Treebeard, you’ve made a lot of comments on this thread warning people to be careful.

    I think I have 2 comments warning about being careful, one of which is a reply to someone else warning the same thing. The rest of my comments about about generally taking a skeptical approach to unbelievable claims, curiosity about why someone would believe these claims, and wondering why this blog is suddenly advertising services like this. But don’t worry, I’m gonna take off and do other things with my day now – I probably have been posting a bit much, but this is the kind of thing that I find oddly interesting.

  56. Lal
    June 10, 2012 at 5:05 pm

    Treebeard, or you can just use that little-known search engine, Google. There is a wealth of info on tarot out there: some of it is crap, I admit, but some of is helpful.

    I’ve had my cards read on e-mail and Skype, and found them to be worth it. Specifically with regard to the state of my marriage, because I was having a very hard time thinking about it in a coherent way at the time. A lot of people who are interested in a tarot reading will do so because they need an outsider to take a look at a dilemma and offer a different perspective. Sometimes you prefer that they not be your therapist or your friend. A tarot reading is a colorful experience and it does jig memory in unexpected ways. Different tarot readers use different approaches, Nat is a writer, a good one, and uses language to great effect.

  57. Marksman2010
    June 10, 2012 at 5:08 pm

    Best guess? It’s her blog and she felt like it.

    Good enough IMO

    +1

    Given the amount of assholes who frequent this site, Jill surely warned Natalia what type of response she’d receive if her post went up.

    Some of you act like snot-nose brats. It’s not like you don’t have freedom of choice. If you don’t like the tunes, then change the fucking station.

  58. RVW
    June 10, 2012 at 5:08 pm

    Natalia explicitly said she doesn’t believe there is a supernatural component to what she does and she said that it’s not meant to replace professional therapy. So I don’t see the problem. Tarot decks don’t have some mystical taint that makes them woo in every single context anymore than Pier Paolo Pasolini’s “The Gospel According to St. Matthew” is Christian apologia just because the content is taken almost exclusively from the Bible.

    I don’t know much about it, but I’ve heard there are pretty big cultural differences between the United States and Russia when it comes to acceptance of certain non-scientific modalities, and that they are taken much more seriously in the former USSR.

    I don’t recognize the USA you’ve described. Not even remotely. We’re talking about a country where 46 percent of college graduates think human beings were created in their present form within the last 10,000 years (source). That’s definitely not a country where non-scientific modalities go to die.

  59. EG
    June 10, 2012 at 5:14 pm

    That doesn’t really answer my question about how this can possibly be both useful and non-supernatural. You spread out cards and random and then write a “narrative” based on the cards. What do you mean by narrative? How can this be useful to the client if the cards don’t have any magic powers?

    The same way any other narrative art works. I read those narratives of which you speak–novels, or stories, and often, if I am successful in choosing the kind of narrative based on my knowledge of the writer, the genre, the kinds of symbols in play, that narrative speaks to me in a pretty profound way about issues and concerns I have. I’ve read Natalia’s posts and comments, and if I were going to do tarot, I’d feel good that her symbols and narratives would speak to me. Just like any given story by Angela Carter or the most recent Lydia Chin mystery novel by S. J. Rozan speaks to me. That’s not supernatural woo. It’s art. It uses symbols with cultural resonance put together by somebody with skill and experience doing so. That’s how art works.

  60. June 10, 2012 at 5:17 pm

    Why not just read a set of random horoscopes or buy a book on Tarot, if its all about their own thoughts?

    Exactly. There are guides that describe what the Tarot cards mean, which is how people who “read Tarot” for others learned to do it in the first place. If it’s really useful, presumably it would be just as useful to look up a guide.

    I said that a person who sees a psychologist should quit seeing that person if they think it’s just as helpful as getting a Tarot reading because quite frankly they could save a lot of money paying some stranger $30-100 to look at some cards for them as compared to paying someone who has gone to graduate school for years to give them clinical care. One would think it’d be even cheaper still to do it yourself. If the cards themselves have no special powers, and the person reading them need not have any special powers, then it would be just as good.

  61. RVW
    June 10, 2012 at 5:17 pm

    Natalia explicitly said she doesn’t believe there is a supernatural component to what she does…So I don’t see the problem

    Ugh…that was lazily written. I don’t feel like parsing through my intended meaning at the moment, except to say that I didn’t mean to imply that I expect this to be a non-religious blog.

  62. EG
    June 10, 2012 at 5:17 pm

    I don’t see the problem. Tarot decks don’t have some mystical taint that makes them woo in every single context

    Seriously. I mean, here I thought Italo Calvino’s The Castle of Crossed Destinies was a narrative built around tarot cards. I guess it’s just woo, though.

    Unless you believe in the supernatural, a tarot deck is a bunch of artistic symbols to work with. That’s no more woo than any other group of symbols that are significant to Western thought.

  63. EG
    June 10, 2012 at 5:19 pm

    Exactly. There are guides that describe what the Tarot cards mean, which is how people who “read Tarot” for others learned to do it in the first place. If it’s really useful, presumably it would be just as useful to look up a guide.

    Sure. If there were no artistry involved and if the cards themselves actually contained meaning–but that would be supernatural. I’d go to a professional for the same reason I read actual, you know, novelists, rather than crappy self-published fan-fiction. Or, actually, for a better analogy, I would go to a professional because even though I can and do write published fiction, when I want to be moved, I read a different writer’s work.

  64. Elle
    June 10, 2012 at 5:23 pm

    I think tarot’s fun, and nothing else. If you see meaning in the cards, that’s probably because something’s been on your mind and you needed to find a meaning somewhere.

    I do have to ask – if the purpose of this ad is as innocuous as claimed, and you really see such a benefit in tarot, why not encourage people to buy their own decks? I’ve heard some people say you shouldn’t mess with tarot because of the “forces at work” or whatever – but if you don’t think it’s supernatural in any way, why not write an article about how you’ve built a business around it and why you think it’s beneficial, rather than selling services?

  65. gratuitous_violet
    June 10, 2012 at 5:24 pm

    Seriously, Jill, how dare you run the kind of blog you want to run!

    I’m a big screaming atheist and I like Tarot cards. I don’t think they’re supernatural, or have any way of predicting the future, but many cultures have ways of sorting through the self through symbology, sometimes in varying degrees of awful, and I think it’s interesting. (Even though Tarot’s confirmed history as a divination device is sketchy, I think it’s always cool to see strands of Western mysticism pop up that aren’t Christian or some half-assed version of an Eastern religion.)

  66. June 10, 2012 at 5:24 pm

    I don’t recognize the USA you’ve described. Not even remotely. We’re talking about a country where 46 percent of college graduates think human beings were created in their present form within the last 10,000 years (source). That’s definitely not a country where non-scientific modalities go to die.

    I was making a relative statement, not saying that both countries are at two opposite sides of an extreme, and certainly not saying that the United States is free of non-scientific modalities.

  67. SophiaBlue
    June 10, 2012 at 5:27 pm

    Best guess? It’s her blog and she felt like it.

    Sure, obviously Jill can put whatever she wants on her blog. But at the same time, the people in the comments should be able to talk about the problems we have with any content that gets put up. I mean, if Feministe hosted an article that promoted homeopathic drugs, I hope people would question it and not just shrug their shoulders and say Jill can do what she wants.

  68. Witched Out
    June 10, 2012 at 5:44 pm

    It’s true that anyone could pick up a guide and learn how to read Tarot cards. It would be amazing if more people did that. But the truth is, most people don’t, in large part because of the perception that it’s all made-up woo. It does take time and patience to learn all of the heuristics for what each card means, and how they do connect. It’s a lot like learning another language, which is not easy for everyone. And if you are just learning Tarot, it can be hard to read for yourself right away while you’re still trying to keep track of the symbols and patterns. It might behoove you to pay a more experienced and reputable reader to approach your situation with new eyes. (I certainly did while I was learning- in fact, even to this day, another extremely experienced Tarot reader friend and I will still do readings for each other when we’re in real jams and lack objectivity.) In addition to being therapeutic and helpful, it could also be part of your learning curve.

    Also, who’s to say that Tarot and socially sanctioned therapy are mutually exclusive? I know people who have been to years of therapy but only made significant progress after one really canny Tarot reading. I know therapists who are also astrologers! It can happen.

  69. Echo Zen
    June 10, 2012 at 5:46 pm

    If Feministe posted an article extolling homeopathic drugs, it would likely be tagged with “Entertainment” and “Fun”… just like this blog post. :-p

  70. Treebeard
    June 10, 2012 at 5:47 pm

    Treebeard, or you can just use that little-known search engine, Google.

    Have you googled it? Googling gives pretty much what I thought – it usually involves a claim of supernatural power or intuition, but is really just a cold reading thing (which to me can be fun the same way going to a magic show is fun). Fine, that’s standard woo. But this post is trying to sell me a tarot reading and is specifically claiming that its not supernatural and that it works at a distance. I don’t think its unreasonable to ask how it works. If you’re advertising a service and can’t or don’t want to answer details about how it works, then you’re either dealing with technological trade secretes or you’re back in the realm of woo. And like I said, that’s pretty standard. I was just surprised to see a post here on this blog advertising this service with a claim that its not woo. I feel like that entitles me to ask about it. But at this point I’m pretty much done (except for responding to people who are specifically talking to me).

  71. June 10, 2012 at 5:49 pm

    I don’t recognize the USA you’ve described. Not even remotely. We’re talking about a country where 46 percent of college graduates think human beings were created in their present form within the last 10,000 years (source). That’s definitely not a country where non-scientific modalities go to die.

    To elaborate — a friend of mine was talking about problems with her Russian stepmom, apparently into all kinds of “woo” that she found very exasperating. A Russian expat chimed in, talking about how in post-Soviet Russia there is deep suspicion toward “established” modalities like psychiatry, and in that cultural context it is more acceptable to seek help from more “mystical” modalities. I brought it up hoping that someone familiar with both Russian and American culture could offer some insight. It’s an interesting idea to me, and I wonder if there’s anthropological support for it.

    Nowhere in my brief statement did I come anywhere close to describing a USA that I’ve been said to have described. Just asking how two cultures might compare to one another, not making absolute statements about either.

  72. Emily
    June 10, 2012 at 6:00 pm

    Tarot, stripped of all the “woo”, is a system designed to encourage lateral thinking, analyze problems, and encourage someone to step outside of their headspace when trying to work out solutions. It is, in essence, a more complex version of Eno and Schmidt’s “Oblique Strategies” artist tool.

    The cards have a rigidly ordered symbolic structure which allows for easy creation of narrative. And a lot of the time, that’s all a reading is, helping someone create a narrative out of symbols that speaks to the present circumstances in a way they hadn’t considered before. It helps you break a problem or situation down into its parts – often parts you hadn’t considered because you’re neck deep in it – and come up with new responses or solutions.

    Why not do it yourself? Well, you can but sometimes talking to another person is good and quite frankly, it takes a certain amount of discipline to learn to do it for yourself without staying mired in your own issues. It’s like meditating, nothing woo or supernatural about it. It’s a tool for looking at a situation or problem from a different prospective.

    It was a bit odd to see an ad pop on here, though.

  73. June 10, 2012 at 6:07 pm

    I don’t really think that tarot is magic in that whole supernatural woo-woo sense. If you’re into the supernatural woo-woo stuff – that’s perfectly cool. But I closely tie tarot to a type of therapy that can occur via interpreting symbols. NO, it has NOTHING to do with traditional therapy. But it can help people have fun and relax.

    So…why not save yourself a hundred bucks and look at some artwork for free?

  74. AMM
    June 10, 2012 at 6:12 pm

    @12:

    [“About” page for Feministe]
    Feministe is one of the oldest feminist blogs online designed by and run by women from the ground up.

    Wow. My English must be getting rusty. I thought “feminist blog” meant “feminist blog”

    Depends upon what you mean by “feminist blog.” When I hear the term “an X blog,” I expect to find a blog/site whose primary focus is discussion of topic X, e.g., a knitting blog has as its primary focus knitting. By that definition, Feministe is IMHO not a “feminist blog,” and calling it one doesn’t make it one.

    This is, of course, Jill & Co’s blog, not mine, and they are free to use whatever definition they want. But if they call it a feminist blog, they should not be surprised that people looking for deep, serious feminist discussion drop by and then get disappointed at what they find.

  75. June 10, 2012 at 6:34 pm

    This is, of course, Jill & Co’s blog, not mine, and they are free to use whatever definition they want. But if they call it a feminist blog, they should not be surprised that people looking for deep, serious feminist discussion drop by and then get disappointed at what they find.

    You are welcome to read any of the other posts on this blog. The vast majority of them are deep, serious feminist discussion.

    We put up posts that we think will be interesting to the Feministe community. We realize that no single post is going to be interesting to everyone. That’s ok! Clearly this is of interest to many folks here, and Natalia is a regular member of our community. Hence the post.

  76. Echo Zen
    June 10, 2012 at 6:44 pm

    I hope, then, that you’re not disappointed when Jill posts pictures of kittens and pandas!

  77. Kristen J.
    June 10, 2012 at 6:44 pm

    I’m shocked and surprise. Who would have thought a shitstorm would errupt over someone not toeing the appropriate line? *GASP*

    I’m clearly skeptical on the subject but I’m also honestly curious and I’m frustrated that your answers just keep saying things like it uses symbols. I’m asking very specific questions about how those symbols can be useful when the person who needs to “get in touch with their irrational side” is not there to see them.

    As one of those highly structured people that found Natalia’s reading helpful, I will try to explain. I had a very specific question that I was conflicted and anxious about. Natalia put together a reading by explaining the symbols she saw and what she believed they might mean for me. These symbols helped me make connections between the events in my life and my anxiety. Because of that I was able to identify what was creating anxiety, deal with it, and make an effective decision without all of the internal angst.

    When I was in therapy my therapist used to do something that for me worked in a similar way with guided visualization and hypnosis. Mr. Kristen can do the same by writing things randomly on a big white board. A good friend of mine insists that meditation does the same thing.

    Mr. Kristen’s white board isn’t mystical. Hypnosis isn’t mystical. (Most people agree that) Meditation isn’t mystical. Its simply a different way to allow your brain to work by exploring the world from a different perspective.

  78. igglanova
    June 10, 2012 at 7:19 pm

    Some of you act like snot-nose brats. It’s not like you don’t have freedom of choice. If you don’t like the tunes, then change the fucking station.

    This is an incredibly tone-deaf response, given that plenty of readers will do exactly as you suggest and disengage from a blog that drifts too far in a direction they dislike. When people voice complaints in the comments section they are at least giving a heads up that they find some of the content alienating, and other similar content might give them cause to jump ship. And it is not ex-readers who will suffer from that decision.

    Whatever Jill does with this information is, of course, her business, and we don’t have a right to demand anything from her or this blog. But, so far, nobody has demanded anything. They have voiced discomfort and asked questions. That is entirely reasonable conduct and nowhere near that of ‘snot-nosed brats.’ (Seriously, do you even realize how much of a condescending asshole you sound like when you say something like that?) If anything, it is much more considerate than the alternative, which would be for us to silently disappear and leave everyone else wondering why there was a loss of readership.

  79. PrettyAmiable
    June 10, 2012 at 7:25 pm

    I said that a person who sees a psychologist should quit seeing that person if they think it’s just as helpful as getting a Tarot reading because quite frankly they could save a lot of money paying some stranger $30-100 to look at some cards for them as compared to paying someone who has gone to graduate school for years to give them clinical care.

    $25 per session, so no. Cheaper to go to my shrink who has been seeing me and is familiar with my crazy, thanks. My health insurance is awesome. And unless Natalia specializes in PTSD-Tarot readings, I can’t imagine it’d be helpful. In fact, see above where I wished her luck.

  80. Echo Zen
    June 10, 2012 at 7:28 pm

    Natalia’s written almost two dozen articles for Feministe, from what I know. The last time she wrote anything that tangentialised even slightly away from feminism was in 2009, when she blogged about geopolitics. By now she’s entitled to the occasional post about carrots, tarots, whatever — it’s just sad that this post has gotten more comments than anything else she’s written.

  81. Bagelsan
    June 10, 2012 at 7:33 pm

    If Feministe posted an article extolling homeopathic drugs, it would likely be tagged with “Entertainment” and “Fun”… just like this blog post. :-p

    I would hope it would be tagged with “dangerous” and “bullshit” and “shameless profiteering”…

  82. Bagelsan
    June 10, 2012 at 7:43 pm

    “Oh, like my therapy sessions? The only difference between what Natalia is doing and what my psychologist does is the presence of cards. Magical woo.”

    If you really think that, stop seeing your psychologist. He/she did not get a PhD to have his/her skills compared to New Age nonsense. Might as well save your money and his/her dignity.

    Word.

  83. PrettyAmiable
    June 10, 2012 at 7:58 pm

    Bagelsan, have you been to a shrink? What did you do with them?

  84. June 10, 2012 at 8:28 pm

    As one of those highly structured people that found Natalia’s reading helpful, I will try to explain. I had a very specific question that I was conflicted and anxious about. Natalia put together a reading by explaining the symbols she saw and what she believed they might mean for me. These symbols helped me make connections between the events in my life and my anxiety. Because of that I was able to identify what was creating anxiety, deal with it, and make an effective decision without all of the internal angst.

    When I was in therapy my therapist used to do something that for me worked in a similar way with guided visualization and hypnosis. Mr. Kristen can do the same by writing things randomly on a big white board. A good friend of mine insists that meditation does the same thing.

    Mr. Kristen’s white board isn’t mystical. Hypnosis isn’t mystical. (Most people agree that) Meditation isn’t mystical. Its simply a different way to allow your brain to work by exploring the world from a different perspective.

    @Kristen

    I’ve read a few articles lately on the therapeutic nature of role playing games. Would you say that this is a similar process? As someone with no experience of either tarot or role playing games, I could be totally wrong about this, but I thought I could see some similarities.

  85. Alexandra
    June 10, 2012 at 8:30 pm

    I read tarot casually. I’m also an atheist and a biology student, and I have VERY STRONG FEELINGS about how much I hate homeopathy and other “complementary and alternative medicines”. I square these two things by saying that I read tarot because I find the symbols and the imagery beautiful and provocative, and because I think ritualised meditation is a useful way of monitoring one’s mental health.

    And I also would not pay for a long-distance tarot reading.

    IME, the value of tarot as a meditation tool is that it promotes free association and helps get your mind out of a rut – things that can be very useful if you’re dealing with the narrow-mindedness that chronic anxiety and depression can cause. However, tarot is only useful to me in as much as I am reading FOR MYSELF, or at the very least with someone else in the room, so that I am ACTIVELY looking at the cards, as they are revealed. Having someone thousands of miles away do a reading without me present to look at the cards would defeat the process of free association, after all.

    Also, having once (out of curiosity) paid for a tarot reading by an obvious fraud, I would never pay for it again. I will read for friends or family, or get a reading done by friends. I would not charge, and I will not charge someone myself.

    As re: this blog as a platform for advertisement, is the problem people are having that something is being advertised, or that the service/product being advertised is inappropriate? Presumably no one would mind if Natalia were advertising a book about feminism or social justice (or even a novel or other un-related but suitably “serious” topic).

    I don’t find reading tarot unfeminist or necessarily superstitious and woo-woo (any more than going to mass or going to a sweat lodge would be), but I do find charging for a long-distance tarot reading a fairly suspect thing to do.

  86. RVW
    June 10, 2012 at 8:33 pm

    Anna,

    I understood what you were saying. The intended (and tangential) point of my comment is actually not even remotely apparent, and I see how it reads exactly like I meant to debate you on a point you didn’t make. Such was not intentional. My writing sometimes leaves much to be desired. This is one of those times.

    I apologize for putting words into your mouth. Kudos for calling it out, but I’m sorry I forced you to do so.

  87. Alexandra
    June 10, 2012 at 8:39 pm

    As far as the comparison between psychology and tarot goes —

    I’ve seen a helluva lot of different mental health practitioners, from school counselors to LCSWs to Psychologists of the PsyD and PhD variety to Psychiatrists. Some “therapies” are woo, plain and simple. Some of these therapies – biofeedback etc – do get discredited over time, but some continue. A lot of psychodynamic therapies have VERY little evidence of being more useful than just talking to a perceptive and empathetic person.

    There are more “scientific” therapies. Behavioral stuff – CBT, DBT and so on – tend to have been studied in a more scientific way (you know, falsifiable hypotheses etc), and are based on science rather than the personal epiphanies of Freud (or Jung or Maslow or Rogers or…). That said, the consensus among practitioners of all varieties seems to be that the most important things for successful therapy are therapeutic alliance and the willingness and determination of the patient to change, not necessarily in that order.

    AND YET, I don’t think tarot is appropriate substitution for therapy (and if necessary medication) for psychiatric illness. Because tarot practitioners don’t have ANY formal training, any guidelines about confidentiality or duty to report or anything like that.

  88. human
    June 10, 2012 at 8:48 pm

    This sounds interesting! I’d be interested in an email with more info :-)

  89. June 10, 2012 at 8:50 pm

    The vast majority of them are deep, serious feminist discussion.

    Or HATTES!

  90. June 10, 2012 at 9:06 pm

    “This is feminist, this isn’t feminist, blah blah blah…”

  91. Treebeard
    June 10, 2012 at 9:11 pm

    “This is feminist, this isn’t feminist, blah blah blah…”

    Personally, I don’t care if a post is not specifically about feminism. I don’t mind the posts about hats and kittens. But I do find it very annoying to have an ad for a potentially sketchy service sprung on me in a space where I wasn’t expecting any ads.

    The owners of this blog can do whatever they want, but their readers also have a right to point out that it can come off badly. I’d be curious to know why THIS service rated its own post – personal friendship? Or is it the start of a series? I bet there are lots of other community members who’d love to advertise random junk here.

    I don’t think that being feminists means we can’t talk about other things, but I also don’t think it means we give up the right to critically analyze advertising targeted at us!

  92. June 10, 2012 at 9:43 pm

    I square these two things by saying that I read tarot because I find the symbols and the imagery beautiful and provocative, and because I think ritualised meditation is a useful way of monitoring one’s mental health.

    Yep, pretty much. I don’t really pray anymore, haven’t for a long time, but I still find Vedic chanting extremely soothing and good for my anxiety. (My best guess is that, aside from childhood associations with calm, the vibration helps ease my throat, where I keep a lot of tension, keeping my mind on the complex syllables stops my brain from whirring at 203kmph, and the breath control required keeps me from hyperventilating my way into further anxiousness.)

  93. June 10, 2012 at 9:45 pm

    anxiousness

    The fuck? I meant anxiety. Forgive the brainfail.

  94. librarygoose
    June 10, 2012 at 10:03 pm

    I have a tarot deck, and I am another “screaming atheist”. Sometimes it helps to talk about a problem or decision with another person, and the deck really just helps form and guide the thought process and conversation. Going through the steps with someone I knew in even the most tangential way would feel more comfortable than wandering into a stranger’s house. If I had the money I’d sign up, Natalia, but good luck with the most unfeminist thing ever! (today).

  95. Bagelsan
    June 10, 2012 at 11:23 pm

    Bagelsan, have you been to a shrink? What did you do with them?

    CBT has been my fav, personally.

  96. Lal
    June 10, 2012 at 11:30 pm

    I adore how there’s even an entertaining pingback by a self-loathing former Ukrainian immigrant, calling the readers of this blog “pseudofeminists” and calling Nat a criminal, because she deigned to advertise her readings here. Nat’s an immigrant like you, ignorant dumbass, she just lives and works and Moscow. She’s a fucking American. Who’s been a longer and more prominent part of this community (if I can call it that, and I’m sorry, this is the main reason why I never comment: too many of the readers here are card-carrying assholes) than you have.

    Seriously, the nerve of a long-standing contributor here to say “here’s this thing I do, I think it’s cool, those of you interested, let me know.” This ad runs some ads by people who have never set foot on this site (from what I can tell), but a post advertising the services of a prominent community member? Sorry, honey, we have “serious” things to do instead. Some of you people are just sad and unpleasant. I personally think there should be more of this on the site, you know, women helping women in a time of a major recession, what a radical fucking thought.

    “It’s hard for me to attract clients who don’t sexually harass me.” “Well that’s your fucking problem!” That’s what I got from you people. Snot-nosed brats doesn’t begin to cover it. You’re hypocrites.

    I once got a better job placement because of friends on a feminist listserv. At times of need, it helps to turn to your community. Except that Feministe isn’t that, right?

  97. Kristen J.
    June 10, 2012 at 11:35 pm

    Would you say that this is a similar process? As someone with no experience of either tarot or role playing games, I could be totally wrong about this, but I thought I could see some similarities.

    Eh, I don’t experience RPGs that way, but others might. I find it more like starring at the ocean, or looking at puffy clouds, or minesweeper (ha!).

  98. June 11, 2012 at 12:07 am

    Just a note:

    I think we should be distinguishing between “therapy” (clinical practice) and “therapy” (support and counselling) here, it seems. Therapeutic techniques/frameworks such as cognitive-behavioural or psychodynamic therapy are in a different league than general counselling services which people may access for assistance and guidance with stressful but otherwise relatively easily coped-with issues, like figuring out if you want to quit your job, working out bumps in a relationship, adjusting to a new city, etc. No one is (or should be) suggesting that tarot readings are an adequate therapeutic replacement for addressing PTSD, depression, bipolar, or any other type of complex mental disorder or trauma.

  99. June 11, 2012 at 12:52 am

    I think RPG’s can be VERY helpful for people whose minds work a certain way. They can be like stepping sideways into an altered reality. Letting your mind shift focus can have a beneficial effect, because underneath that, your brain is still working on whatever dilemma you’ve got in front of you. Think about it this way: some people recommend stepping away from a math problem for a while and concentrating on something else. While you’re doing that, your brain is still grappling with the math problem.

    I’m not surprised by the fact that some people are sketched out by tarot, but am surprised by some of the implicit and explicit accusations here against me. Especially since I have been a guest-blogger here since 2008, and comment here frequently as well. I am a member of this community (Lal may be right about it being more like a “community” – but I hope not), and have no interest in defrauding said community.

    I can’t over-analyze Jill’s decision to let me post this for you guys. Perhaps she did this because she’s a Bad and/or Stupid Person. Or maybe she thought that this would be of interest to some of you here (both the readings and the conversation surrounding such practices), and has known me and trusted me for long enough to where she realizes that it’s not my aim to fuck the readers here over.

    I tend not to read tarot for money at times of prosperity – those are the times I do it for free. But when times are tough, it has helped me pay the bills in a given month. I’m a journalist, a playwright, and a frequent commentator on all things Eastern Europe (especially since I live over here now), and in addition to deputy-editing and deputy-chiefing at The Moscow News, I frequently write for The Guardian and RIA Novosti, which is sweet. I write fiction, but more as a hobby now, and have recently started on my first nonfiction book, co-authored with a Putin expert – the subject will be Russian women today. I have a pretty exciting career – but excitement hasn’t translated into any kind of financial comfort, so I take on more and more work, sometimes at the expense of sleep and health, but whatever. It’s an old story.

    I have a lot of offers of freelance work, but am currently limited in what I can do – mostly because we have an infant. So tarot has been a fun and fulfilling way of making sure the bills get paid in a given month over the years. I’m good at it – and so I feel as though I’m giving something, and getting something in return. Other than that, there is no big mystery. I do tend to charge more than an average reader that advertises on the “tarot is magic” sites – but people say it’s worth it. Plus, once again, tarot is not magic, that’s what I believe.

    I have to say I am pretty offended by Clarissa’s accusations. I already deal with a lot of prejudice because I have a Russian name. That’s why, as I said, advertising my tarot readings elsewhere has been so tricky. Lal is right – people have assumed that someone with a name like “Natalia” would be more interested in stripping on a webcam for them instead, or doing other types of sex-work, and have gotten pretty pissed off when the answer was “no.” Having then to deal with a lot of angry, nasty messages, including rape threats (ugh), was not awesome.

    I’m not really sure that it’s appropriate to respond to a post like this with am, “Aha! Well, it’s [insert group here]! They will steal your money! They are cunning!”

    Other than that, the metaphoric “tarot booth on the side of the road” door is always open. And when I’m hopefully in a better place financially, I will start offering free readings again.

  100. June 11, 2012 at 1:07 am

    I’m not really sure that it’s appropriate to respond to a post like this with am, “Aha! Well, it’s [insert group here]! They will steal your money! They are cunning!”

    This. I was pretty taken aback by Clarissa’s post. I’ll be the first to admit I’ve written angry things about my own country of origin, but that seemed rather over the line and personal. Whatever she thinks of tarot (and my own jury’s out on its benefits, I don’t have much exposure to it), it seemed a little weird to get that angry and immediately make it about….Russians.

  101. Echo Zen
    June 11, 2012 at 3:08 am

    …people have assumed that someone with a name like “Natalia” would be more interested in stripping on a webcam for them instead, or doing other types of sex-work, and have gotten pretty pissed off when the answer was “no.”

    Why on earth would anyone message a known journalist / tarot reader with demands to strip?! Do they seriously think the answer would be “yes”? Wait, stupid question — that’s like asking if men think asinine pickup lines really work in real life.

  102. June 11, 2012 at 5:09 am

    Why on earth would anyone message a known journalist / tarot reader with demands to strip?! Do they seriously think the answer would be “yes”? Wait, stupid question — that’s like asking if men think asinine pickup lines really work in real life.

    In the case of previous creeps, I don’t think they made this connection at all. But in the case of another one, who very recently contacted me with exactly such a proposal – I think he was trolling me specifically because he realized I’m a journalist and writer. It’s a humiliation tactic. “Well, if you’re THAT desperate for cash, lovely, how about you do X Y and Z.”

  103. EG
    June 11, 2012 at 6:32 am

    I am a member of this community (Lal may be right about it being more like a “community” – but I hope not), and have no interest in defrauding said community.

    I don’t know, I think that’s what a community is. If you look at actual communities, like physical ones, geographic ones, they’re not defined by everybody being kind and not jerks. They’re about a group of people who share a given set of circumstances, and they’re often rife with conflicts and long-standing enmities and suchlike. I’m not sure why communities of interest would be much different. It’s like when people say some group is a family. Loud, vicious fights and longstanding problems make it all the more realistic.

  104. PrettyAmiable
    June 11, 2012 at 6:35 am

    CBT has been my fav, personally.

    Specifically. This is completely fucking meaningless, since no one suggested Tarot is just like x-approach to psychology.

  105. PrettyAmiable
    June 11, 2012 at 6:36 am

    Some of you people are just sad and unpleasant. I personally think there should be more of this on the site, you know, women helping women in a time of a major recession, what a radical fucking thought.

    “It’s hard for me to attract clients who don’t sexually harass me.” “Well that’s your fucking problem!” That’s what I got from you people. Snot-nosed brats doesn’t begin to cover it. You’re hypocrites.

    I know I’m totally part of this sometimes, but this. Right now, this.

  106. June 11, 2012 at 6:41 am

    1. I think everybody should be free to pursue any kind of woo they feel comfortable with. I am not above admitting to have a strange kind of weakness to the idea of this
    2. However, this is so easily exploitable for con artistry. I am getting professional psychological help (CBT) and the person helping me is using professional methods, backed by learning and experience. Not saying that the offer here is offered in bad faith. However, a red flag went up when she told us she treated someone who believed she was being haunted. That is someone who needs professional help of some kind, not a (in the best possible reading of this stutation:) well meaning person with a pack of cards.
    3. There is a serious contradiction between “I talk to them and its a kind of brainstorming” and offering a narrative based on card reading alone via email. EMAIL. The subsequent explanation have done nothing to change this serious contradiction. The “lateral thinking” explanation earlier is sound, but the question is always, where does the information come from. Someone interacting with a customer will work with that customer, with hir intuitions and reactions. Cards, in these circumstances, can work like some kinds of therapy. The clue is interaction. However, and here we go into red flag territory again, the email therapy is based, according to what the offer says, on the cards.

    As to this:

    in large part because of the perception that it’s all made-up woo. It does take time and patience to learn all of the heuristics for what each card means, and how they do connect.

    So cards “mean” something in and of themselves and they “do connect” in and of themselves? Pray tell how this isn’t pretty much the definition of woo.

    Again, I get the communicative therapeutic aspect, and everyone has a right to their woo, but the ad for something designed to sidestep critical thinking is odd, and the defense of it by the person making the offer is also odd.

    Also, calling someone criticizing her countrymen “self-loathing” is a stupid cheap shot. I’m speaking as a German who believes his culture’s instincts strongly tend towards racism and antisemitism.

    That said, I do like the person offering the deal, and I like her blog, but there are too many red flags here for me.

  107. June 11, 2012 at 7:01 am

    I wouldn’t call me doing a reading for someone who says that her house is “haunted” as a kind of “treatment.” I mean, what? Why are you putting words in my mouth?

    Lots of different people come your way if you read cards, just as it is with any service – whether free or paid for. Of course, there are risks involved. People who I have misgivings about, for whatever reason, I send on their way. But assuming that someone who believes that their place must be “haunted” is automatically dangerously unstable is not only wrong but creepy in itself.

    Not everyone who thinks they’re experiencing some kind of strange phenomena “needs professional help” – the fuck? As I mentioned, I was dealing with someone very career-driven and stressed out, people in that position can push themselves to their physical limits. Now, because the property in question had some unpleasant history attached to it as well – this probably influenced the woman in question. I understand she later went on to sell it (before the big property crash, so good for her, I guess). I suppose you’ll ask me, “But how do you KNOW?! How do you KNOW she didn’t need a doctor right away?” You don’t know – you just judge for yourself as to whether or not you two can work together. And you are very clear about what you can offer help with, and with what you cannot. Assuming two adults are involved – they can shoulder that kind of responsibility.

    Tarot is fun, but as someone who has gone to therapy herself, as well as taken antidepressants during a time of severe pain and anxiety, I don’t confuse the two.

    As for e-mail – I’m not really sure what’s so confusing about it. I find out about what my client wants to talk about, and we agree on a spread. I then do the spread, look at it, think about it, and type up an essay or story based on what I see, keeping in mind the specific dilemma involved. Sometimes, more questions are needed, so we talk some more. It’s not “e-mail therapy,” I wouldn’t refer to it like that, it’s more like story-telling. If anything, some people are better at it than at regular conversation over a pack of cards, because of the specifics involved.

  108. June 11, 2012 at 7:27 am

    I wouldn’t call me doing a reading for someone who says that her house is “haunted” as a kind of “treatment.” I mean, what? Why are you putting words in my mouth?

    I’ll give you an example: a few years ago, a woman came to me and said, “my house is fucking haunted. I know it. What do I do?” I worked with her, and we discovered that due to a combination of stress and poor self-care, she was basically so physically exhausted that she was seeing things.

    You are right, I called it a treatment. (Quick pointer: the difference between quoting and not quoting is the quotation marks or lack thereof). You just described one. You talked to her, and “worked with” her and, with her, “discovered” the reasons behind her issues. There is a lot of therapy that works this way. Of course, this one doesn’t have any professional background, but clearly, if “two adults are involved”, who needs professional expertise, right? As someone said, someone’s gotta stand up to the experts, right? “you just judge for yourself”, after all. And if you think it’s right to receive between 30 and 100 bucks for a therapy, no, wait, “a reading”, well, then that’s clearly more than enough. [/sarcasm] What you did is you gambled on you (the person with no professional scientific background) being right about this person, with a whole life at stake. And you charged for it.

  109. Lal
    June 11, 2012 at 7:29 am

    EG, I see your point and I agree, except for one big BUT. Trust. Communities are built on it. I read this site regularly, and what is so difficult about being moved to comment or participate here is that trust here often fails. In fact, it hardly exists at all. Look at the astonishing lack of trust half the regulars exhibit toward the owner of the blog, Jill F. Argument, strife, reconciliation, acknowledgment – all communities must go through that regularly. But a lack of goodwill means that something is missing. Goodwill is like glue, it holds everything else together.

    Shigekuni, spare me the sanctimony. If you put up a thoughtful post about racism in your culture, you have every right. If you make an attempt at character assassination, based on nothing but “this person comes from group X and reads tarot for money,” then yeah, I’m gonna call you self-loathing. Please observe Clarissa’s nauseating attempt to ingratiate herself with the North American readers of her blog. “See? I’m not like her! I’m not a criminal Russian like her!” is what the woman is saying. It is pathetic.

  110. Treebeard
    June 11, 2012 at 7:36 am

    “It’s hard for me to attract clients who don’t sexually harass me.” “Well that’s your fucking problem!” That’s what I got from you people. Snot-nosed brats doesn’t begin to cover it. You’re hypocrites.

    (I’m assuming you’re referring to most of the posts above questioning that this service sounds sketchy. If you’re referring to something more specific, then maybe ignore the rest of this.)

    Just because its a woman offering her services doesn’t mean we don’t have a right to question a service being sold to us. Are you seriously saying that asking critical questions about a traditionally woo-based service is just like sexual harassment? If a woman posted here that she was offering her alternative homeopathic tea that cures disease, are we obligated to be cool with that just because she’s a woman or she’s posted here before? I don’t see most people here harassing Natalia or attacking her personally – we are questioning the validity of the specific service she decided to advertise directly to us. Posting ads is one thing, but if we’re not allowed to critically discuss what’s being advertised and how its being advertised to us, that’s quite another.

    Also, let’s get this straight – calling everyone “snot nosed brats” is cool, but pointing out that there are logical flaws in how this service could work is like harassment?

    This ad runs some ads by people who have never set foot on this site (from what I can tell), but a post advertising the services of a prominent community member?

    Does this site run other ads as their own post? I don’t recall any examples of that. If you mean the shameless self promotion sundays posts, well, then at least we know what we’re getting into when we go read the comments (and I think most of them are links to blog posts, not paid services).

    And I agree also that a community is not necessarily a place where everyone agrees all the time. In my opinion, the blogs that have tried to go that way of never having a critical comment have gotten very boring.

    I’d also like to point out that just because someone says their service is not woo-based doesn’t mean that’s true. The people selling those rubber bracelets at the mall that are supposed to help with your balance will insist that its all about “ions” and other scientific-sounding things, but that doesn’t make it true.

    If someone says their service is not woo-based, then it should be perfectly legitimate and not snot-nosed at all to ask about how it works. Personally, I’m not very satisfied with the answers I’ve gotten, but if others are, that’s fine. What I take issue with is being called un-feminist or hypocritical for critically asking about and discussing this service. If being on this feminist blog means I’m supposed to unquestioningly support anything any woman does, then I’m out.

  111. June 11, 2012 at 7:38 am

    To add: I have issues with depression, suicidal impulses and self harm, and I have repeatedly been steered away from psychoanalysis and some other forms of therapy because these may make my problems worse. It’s why I chose a CBT therapist. So even some kinds of professional, learned, experienced kinds of consultations can be harmful, but what you are offering, to people who are actively, strongly looking for help, is just a bit of “fun”? Tbh, It seems dangerous from where I stand. Not in all or most cases, but at least sometimes.

  112. Lal
    June 11, 2012 at 7:42 am

    OT: Is anyone else having problems with this site today? It has suddenly become virtually unavailable on the phone…? Anyone else get error messages?

    Anyway, just to address this,

    What you did is you gambled on you (the person with no professional scientific background) being right about this person, with a whole life at stake. And you charged for it.

    Oh, damn. Hahahaaaaaa. Now you’re basically implying that we must all take our problems to medical professionals all the time? Because we’re too stupid to decide for ourselves when we need medical intervention as opposed to a tarot reading? Because, OH NO, there are risks involved?

    Don’t try to throw up this dichotomy between people who enjoy tarot and people who go to therapy. I happen to be one of those people. Don’t project your issues onto me.

  113. Lal
    June 11, 2012 at 7:49 am

    Treebeard……. WTF?

    Nat mentioned several times that one of the problems of traditional advertising for her is the problem of sexual harassment. I remember speaking about it to her last year, I’m sorry that it seems that it has also happened recently. It’s a common occurrence for women online, and especially common for women who are deemed automatically sexually available – Russian women, Thai women. It’s a problem. This is why she deigned to advertise her services here, on a feminist blog.

    I mean, how many times do you need it spelled out for you?

    Also, Shigekuni, yes, of course, Nat “treated” the woman who thought her house was haunted. Not only with the tarot, I hear she used snake oil and a blood sacrifice. That’s how it always works with us crazy people who pay con-artists for readings. We’re so pathetic and desperate, boo hoo. Seriously, YOU are desperate to see something that isn’t there. Stop projecting, just stop.

  114. June 11, 2012 at 7:54 am

    Now you’re basically implying that we must all take our problems to medical professionals all the time? Because we’re too stupid to decide for ourselves when we need medical intervention as opposed to a tarot reading?

    No, this is not at all about people seeking out these services.

    This is about people offering them. This is about people gambling on other people’s mental health and charging for that. Which is what i said in the bit you quoted.

    Kindly point out to me where I made it about people seeking out the services? I’d prefer a quote. It’s so much more helpful than accusation of “implying” something. Especially when you quote me saying something else.

    Also, to this:

    medical professionals

    Also, psychology/psychotherapy is not necessarily medical, but maybe that varies from country to country. In this country, the medical branch is psychiatry, the behavioral branch is psychology, and psychotherapy may involve either. It’s strictly regulated, I gather. But, again, maybe it’s a German thing. Personally, I try to stay away from the medical branch as much as possible.

  115. June 11, 2012 at 7:57 am

    That’s how it always works with us crazy people who pay con-artists for readings. We’re so pathetic and desperate, boo hoo.

    To quote from my own post:

    I think everybody should be free to pursue any kind of woo they feel comfortable with. I am not above admitting to have a strange kind of weakness to the idea of this

  116. DollHeart
    June 11, 2012 at 8:00 am

    Ugh. Because we wimminz are so in touch with the earth and the spiritual world and can see people’s auras depending on what time of the month it is.

    This is why men don’t take women seriously. File under ‘Stupid Things Girls Like’, along with star signs, clairvoyants, romantic comedies and chocolate.

    • June 11, 2012 at 8:39 am

      Ugh. Because we wimminz are so in touch with the earth and the spiritual world and can see people’s auras depending on what time of the month it is.

      This is why men don’t take women seriously. File under ‘Stupid Things Girls Like’, along with star signs, clairvoyants, romantic comedies and chocolate.

      …Says someone named “DollHeart.”

  117. Treebeard
    June 11, 2012 at 8:04 am

    Nat mentioned several times that one of the problems of traditional advertising for her is the problem of sexual harassment.

    I should hope it goes without saying that its not ok to sexually harass her. Guys sending her those emails are creeps. But that is a completely separate issue from whether a long distance tarot reading has legitimate validity, whether its ok to question that, whether it makes us “brats” if we don’t believe in it, whether Tarot is comparable to advanced physics (as claimed by one comment), etc.

  118. Lal
    June 11, 2012 at 8:05 am

    If you’re gonna imply that the person providing the service is a dangerous con-artist, then you don’t need to call their clients pathetic dupes. You have already done so! And you have repeatedly said that the woman who decided her house was “haunted” must have been seriously mentally ill…. which, I’ll agree with Nat, that’s creepy as hell. Armchair diagnosis much?

    There are a lot of sketchy “psychic” types out there, which is why I like Nat’s way of using tarot. I suppose you think that she should nobly give up on her hobby, or perhaps nobly do it for free, cause it’s not as if she is providing a valuable service (or it’s not as if she’s another person with bills to pay).

  119. June 11, 2012 at 8:17 am

    And you have repeatedly said that the woman who decided her house was “haunted” must have been seriously mentally ill…. which, I’ll agree with Nat, that’s creepy as hell. Armchair diagnosis much?

    You are right. I have no way of knowing whether someone needs actual professional help or whether talking to some random person with a random set of cards is totes enough, but guess what, Natalia has no way of knowing either, nor do you. She and I both applied unprofessional judgment to a situation. But in my case, nothing depended on it. Nobody’s mental health was endangered by my silly call of judgment. And I don’t think you need to be “seriously mentally ill” to profit from professional help.

  120. Charlotte
    June 11, 2012 at 8:33 am

    WOW there are some haters up in here.

    Anyway, I’m interested. charlotte (dot) roork (at) gmail (dot) com. I think your approach is pretty cool — working with symbols has been something my previous therapists have steered away from, although I’ve always found it helpful. (Really hope the OP is still reading these comments through the flame war.)

  121. Lal
    June 11, 2012 at 8:34 am

    And if Nat were impersonating a therapist, you would have a point….. Seriously, people turn to all sorts of methods when going through a hard time or faced with an unexpected problem.

    Treebeard, for crissakes, I was responding to people basically telling Nat to “GTFO” – even though she has legitimate reasons to be here, and legitimate concerns about whom she advertises to. I think what you’re doing is called moving goal-posts. It’s obnoxious. No one is threatening your right to question tarot or anything else. For most of my life, i thought of it as “that one weird thing that my sister is into.” But found out it has its uses.

  122. June 11, 2012 at 8:38 am

    I avoided reading this post for a bit (because, surprise suprise, we have the CHOICE not to read posts that don’t necessarily appeal to us.. how about that??) but eventually decided to anyway and here are my thoughts, in no particular order:

    – Count me among atheists who have found tarot readings useful in sorting out thoughts and problems that require brainstorming. Some people do give a woo spin to the whole thing, true, but ’tis not always the case.

    – I’m not entirely (okay, at all) comfortable being advertised to through posts. I get irate when people use the comment threads to promote their blogs, projects etc. and it bothers me more through posts, regardless of what the advertisement is for. I get advertised to enough on any given day. That said, it’s not my blog. I can skip posts that don’t appeal to me. I do think it may have been more suitable for the Sunday post.

    – Has it occurred to anyone that one of the outcomes of a tarot reading might be the decision to seek more professional therapeutic help? Unless Natalia is actively telling people “Oh no, you don’t need a real therapist, this will help you just fine” even when it becomes obvious that perhaps their problems are out of her league, then I don’t see why one has to cancel the other out.

    All that said, Natalia, I wish you luck in your endeavour.

  123. June 11, 2012 at 8:46 am

    This is why men don’t take women seriously. File under ‘Stupid Things Girls Like’, along with star signs, clairvoyants, romantic comedies and chocolate.

    Have you considered that these things are taken less seriously *because* predominantly women like them? Feminism!

  124. RVW
    June 11, 2012 at 8:48 am

    Ugh. Because we wimminz are so in touch with the earth and the spiritual world and can see people’s auras depending on what time of the month it is.

    This is why men don’t take women seriously. File under ‘Stupid Things Girls Like’, along with star signs, clairvoyants, romantic comedies and chocolate.

    Maybe they don’t take women seriously regardless of what women do?

    I’m a dude, and an atheist. I read so called “new atheist” blogs on a regular basis, and I get annoyed when people describe atheists like Richard Dawkins as “militant”. I spend a great deal of my time thinking about rationality, secularism, science and pseudo-science, naturalism, etc. I was literally in the middle of listening to the most recent Skeptic’s Guide to the Universe upload when I wrote my first response to this post. So I fit the profile of someone who is likely to have a knee jerk negative reaction to this post, and yet I’m still not in the least bit tempted to write women off as stupid or irrational after reading it (or the supportive comments). Even if I were tempted to do so, the onus is on me to not be a misogynistic ass. The onus isn’t on women to tip toe around any misogynistic tendencies men might have lurking inside of them.

  125. June 11, 2012 at 8:49 am

    I tend to recommend therapy for everyone – friends, colleagues, folks who hit me up for a tarot reading, people I get into arguments with on the bus, etc. I am a therapy fan – and have been spreading the gospel since coming to Russia, where there is more of a stigma associated with it.

  126. Treebeard
    June 11, 2012 at 9:09 am

    Treebeard, for crissakes, I was responding to people basically telling Nat to “GTFO” – even though she has legitimate reasons to be here, and legitimate concerns about whom she advertises to. I think what you’re doing is called moving goal-posts. It’s obnoxious. No one is threatening your right to question tarot or anything else.

    I specifically said that the way your posts read to me, I was assuming they were referring to all the posts questioning the legitimacy of this service, and that if they were not, then to disregard. So I don’t think that rates a “crissakes”, that rates a “yes actually I didn’t mean those posts” and then I would say “ok, nevermind”. Your defensiveness against me even when I specifically covered that contingency in my post is confusing.

  127. Witched Out
    June 11, 2012 at 9:10 am

    The skepticism is unsurprising, but the level of obtuseness displayed by some commentators is astounding. First of all, you’re talking as if we’re saying Tarot is equivalent to or a substitute for cognitive behavioral therapy. WE’RE NOT SAYING THAT IT IS. That is absolutely moving the goal posts. As someone said above, Tarot readings can often be an entré to therapy. In fact, a lot of the readers I know (myself including) can tell when something is out of our jurisdiction and consider it our prerogative to suggest to clients that they seek professional therapy when they have the same questions every time they see you. It is possible to do this work and hold yourself to ethical standards. Natalia has been pretty transparent as to what her ethical standards are, which is why that blog post about her is even more ridiculous.

    As for the people who cannot possibly wrap their heads around how this could work by e-mail- you guys read Savage Love, right? Dear Prudence? Do you think that they’re personally meeting with every letter they publicly answer? Of course they’re not. Tarot and astrology readings by e-mail are exactly like that. The only difference is that with an online reading, the person answering your question has a set of tools they’re using to guide their answer. They can say to you, “This is my approach, and here is a symbol or concept that supports it.” I don’t really see what is so inherently threatening about that. Or do you think that people who write to advice columnists are all mentally unstable too?

  128. June 11, 2012 at 9:12 am

    This is why men don’t take women seriously. File under ‘Stupid Things Girls Like’, along with star signs, clairvoyants, romantic comedies and chocolate.

    Except…men like stupid things too and women tend to take men seriously, so with your permission, I’d like to respectfully disagree that tarot SET UP THE PATRIARCHY OOGA BOOGA.

  129. June 11, 2012 at 9:23 am

    To those people questioning whether or not this belongs here, I should point out that every Sunday this blog has a ‘Shameless Self Promotion’ thread. This post is at worst, that. Each person here has the opportunity to self-promote in that thread, so why begrudge one of the mods that ability to start their own thread on a Sunday to self-promote?

    I have no interest in tarot, no belief in tarot, won’t be emailing Natalia, and will probably never get a tarot reading in my life. However, having this thread appear on Feministe doesn’t detract from my enjoyment of this blog. In fact, if everyone who objects to tarot would join in a discussion rather than flee, well…a debate about the merits of spiritualiry is always interesting to me, despite my being a rigid agnostic.

  130. Meropi
    June 11, 2012 at 9:25 am

    And you have repeatedly said that the woman who decided her house was “haunted” must have been seriously mentally ill…. which, I’ll agree with Nat, that’s creepy as hell. Armchair diagnosis much?

    No, he didn’t say that. He said that there is reasonable evidence to believe that a tarot reading might not have solved this person’s distressing problem, because as a tarot reader you must admit that a narrative of symbols and some brainstormed ideas and associations might be just that and nothing more. Taking someone’s money in a situation like this is a moral gamble.
    I don’t think that me or Shigekuni or any of the other people expressing their doubts in this thread have anything against offering tarot services to people who know what to expect from them – that is a narrative of symbols they can associate events in their life with. But if you’re faced with taking money from someone who could be in a vulnerable position, actually looking for a genuine solution for something that’s bothering them, what do you do? Take their money and hope for the best? Do you give their money back if it doesn’t work?
    Is it unreasonable to admit that these kind of services are known to attract people who ignore the advice of taking the woo with a grain of salt? People whose judgment is affected not by mental illness but by a culturally rooted deep sense of superstition. On a side note, where I live (Romania), there’s been an intense discussion about passing laws that regulate witchcraft services because so many people take them seriously and are willing to spend huge amounts of money on them. This is persistent in Romanian culture and I’d single it out as a cultural trait and not particularly a mental health problem. While some people who sold their houses in order to foot the bill for a ritual might actually be mentally ill, the regular superstitious person seeking out a witch is not. Is it not important to recognize that there are people offering this kind of services who actually profit as much as possible from their clients? I’m not saying Natalia is one of them but it’s a valid question to ask where she draws the line when charging for this kind of services and picking her clients.
    When writing that

    You don’t know – you just judge for yourself as to whether or not you two can work together.

    it sounds like she’s somehow hoping to get lucky with results.

  131. June 11, 2012 at 9:55 am

    If someone came to me terrified and trembling, I wouldn’t agree to do their tarot, no. That’s the short answer.

  132. Gretchen
    June 11, 2012 at 9:57 am

    Thank you Andie and Lal, my head was about to explode with the willing obtuseness of some of these comments!

    Can we stop with the woo-woo accusations? Natalia and a number of commenters (many coming from the screaming atheist end of the anti woo-woo spectrum) have said that DEPENDING on the tarot reader, tarot CAN be approached in a non-woo-woo fashion, and CAN be done online.

    What we have learned from Natalia and some commenters on this thread is that:
    a) Tarot can be approached in a non-woo-woo way.
    b) People have found personalised – including Natalia’s – readings very helpful.
    c) Internet tarot (without a visible spread) also works for some people.

    Can people stop trying to convince others that they didn’t experience what they experienced? That they don’t do what they say they do? And that if they found tarot beneficial they are either wrong or closet woo-woo believers/practitioners??

    Don’t delegitimise something that people have found useful – and said so!- in their lives JUST because you don’t understand it. Either a) read up about it on your own time or b) shut the hell up about it.

    Finally, Natalia never ever anywhere stated at all that her tarot readings are a replacement for people seeking psychological/psychiatric care or intervention.

    If you are suffering from stress, facing big life decisions, generally confused about the direction of your life, want an outside perspective, want to reframe your own internal monologue narrative, just fucking curious… WHATEVER, tarot can be helpful and fun for some people. Natalia can do it. That’s it. She is not saying that if you are suffering from/facing Big Serious Shit, she can *fix you* way better than a trained psychiatric/psychology professional.

  133. Jamie
    June 11, 2012 at 10:22 am

    Someone should invent a roulette game about what might cause a shitstorm on feminist blogs.

  134. miga
    June 11, 2012 at 10:53 am

    @ Pretty Amiable: Your sessions are $25??? Are you in NYC? I had to haggle mine down to 50 bucks because i’m a broke-ass-post-grad-on-the-edge (of a mental breakdown). This is including insurance. Since we’re reccomending things, does anyone know about cheap therapy options in NYC?

    On topic: I find tarot to be therapudic as free-writing or doodling or going onto comment sections in blogs is theraputic. It’s guided meditation, which is a process people charge for all the time.

    And I have nothing against people advertising their services on a feminist blog- it was just odd to see it pop up here. Perhaps if there was a separate tag for advertisements that would solve peoples’ disgruntled-ness?

  135. EG
    June 11, 2012 at 10:54 am

    So cards “mean” something in and of themselves and they “do connect” in and of themselves? Pray tell how this isn’t pretty much the definition of woo.

    Because it’s the definition of cultural and artistic symbols? How else do you think artists make meaning if not by working with symbols that invoke various meanings and associations and playing with the connections among those meanings and associations? This is how narrative art works. And art is meaningful and helpful to a whole lot of people. I’ve had a couple tarot readings, and it’s not my preferred art form, but you know what? Neither is opera. That doesn’t mean that people who create opera and other people who find meaning and solace and help in it are into woo.

    I see what you’re saying, Lal. I’m not sure that I agree that communities of all kinds are built on trust and goodwill (that’s not code for disagreement; I genuinely mean that I’m not sure and will have to think about it), but I do respect the position.

  136. EG
    June 11, 2012 at 10:58 am

    Someone should invent a roulette game about what might cause a shitstorm on feminist blogs.

    Except the answer is “everything,” so everybody would win all the time, and the house would go broke.

  137. Bagelsan
    June 11, 2012 at 10:58 am

    “CBT has been my fav, personally.”

    Specifically. This is completely fucking meaningless, since no one suggested Tarot is just like x-approach to psychology.

    I was responding to a specific question. Read the damn thread. And yes, people have been comparing actual therapy to tarot card readings and saying they are virtually the same. That’s just plain ridiculous as fuck, and dangerous to boot.

    Like oh, hey, this quote from you:

    Oh, like my therapy sessions? The only difference between what Natalia is doing and what my psychologist does is the presence of cards.

    It’s almost like you’re bullshitting.

  138. Partial Human
    June 11, 2012 at 11:49 am

    trust here often fails. In fact, it hardly exists at all. Look at the astonishing lack of trust half the regulars exhibit toward the owner of the blog, Jill F.

    You do realise that there are multiple reasons for that, don’t you? Or are you just assuming it’s just some sort of “mean girls” thing?

    Maybe if you haven’t been around long, or maybe you don’t read feminist sites and blogs by marginalised people. I don’t know. It’s all out there though, and I’m talking about things that happened long before the Hugo Schwyzer debacle.

  139. librarygoose
    June 11, 2012 at 12:13 pm

    So cards “mean” something in and of themselves and they “do connect” in and of themselves? Pray tell how this isn’t pretty much the definition of woo.

    Replace “cards” with “letters”. They’re symbols that interact in different ways. Or numbers, “So two added to another two is a four? But when you put a two with a three it’s some five now? WTF kind of made up shit is this?”

    Also, my mom believes her house is haunted. Not in a “get an exorcist” kinda way. But she believes in ghosts and thinks her house has some. But she also thinks there’s a god, so she likes made up shit. Some people believe in ghosts.

  140. samanthab
    June 11, 2012 at 12:15 pm

    I’m not going to do tarot myself, but I find it interesting when commenters trot out the whole psychiatry is some sort of rational and precise profession. I *am* “mentally unstable- (thanks for putting it that way, committed progressives!) And if you actually do follow studies on mental illness, the US has shown to be less effective in its treatment of mental illness than countries who use witch doctors. What I’ve read has pointed to the marginalization of the mentally ill and the failure to integrate them into community as the cause of the failure of the American medical model. People’s brains function around emotion. “Rational” people can deny this if they like, but then they’re denying science and self-refuting their own argument.

    If Natalia has a strong feel for how to guide people through their own emotions, then that’s a great service. People need to integrate their irrational selves with their rational selves in order to stay relatively happy. I’m not sure that the specifics of how they do so matter all that much.

  141. seisy
    June 11, 2012 at 12:44 pm

    Sounds nifty. Good luck!

    I don’t really get the rage here, though. People spend money as they will, and there’s nothing predatory here. If someone finds tarot interesting or useful….well, then it’s probably money well spent for them. Plus at the very least, it’s supporting a feminist blogger. That’s not such a bad thing, either.

    As to being off topic or whatever, I personally like the occasional random post. It gives me a mental break from the heartache, despair, and frustration that usually accompanies spending time in feminist spaces.

  142. PrettyAmiable
    June 11, 2012 at 1:20 pm

    I was responding to a specific question.

    With a vague as shit answer. Which is what I was calling you out on. But no one ever said you had mastered reading comprehension.

    Oh, hey, did you miss this tidbit?

    Definitely see therapeutic value in interpreting symbols as they pertain to your life. Kind of like a starting point for a conversation you didn’t really know you needed to have.

    Because that’s what I do in my sessions. Talk about events and things that affect me, and free associate my way to helpful insights. But it’s cool – it’s not like you’re reading the thread. You’re just on MORAL OUTRAGE (TM) mode. Like in the other thread, where you’re being a jerk to people who you’re marginalizing and ignoring their life experiences. Color me shocked (SHOCKED) that you’re being close-minded about other people’s lives.

  143. Bagelsan
    June 11, 2012 at 1:23 pm

    With a vague as shit answer.

    CBT is vague as shit? Did you not wiki it, or something? Do you know what it is?

  144. Bagelsan
    June 11, 2012 at 1:24 pm

    Okay, how about EMDR? Specific enough for you? It’s an odd duck but sometimes helpful. Do I get crazy cred yet? :D

  145. Bagelsan
    June 11, 2012 at 1:26 pm

    Because that’s what I do in my sessions. Talk about events and things that affect me, and free associate my way to helpful insights.

    …Sooo, are you saying that is or isn’t different from tarot? Because it sounds like playing 52 card pickup with tarot would achieve a similar effect. :p

  146. SophiaBlue
    June 11, 2012 at 1:36 pm

    When I first read the word “tarot” in the title here my eyebrow immediately went up, because I associate tarot with new agey supernatural claims. This might have colored my perception of the rest of the article, which is unfair since Natalia specifically stated her tarot readings had no supernatural element.

    But then we get this from the OP:

    But I closely tie tarot to a type of therapy that can occur via interpreting symbols. NO, it has NOTHING to do with traditional therapy.

    and alarm bells go off again for me. Because while people are right that it was never presented as an alternative to traditional therapy, it was presented as a kind of therapy, and given that I think it’s fair to ask questions about the process that goes on in these readings.

    Reading this comment thread has helped clarify things for me, and I can see how this could be fun and useful for some people. But I don’t think most people questioning this (with the exception of Clarissa, seriously why are we bringing ethnicity into this) meant to attack Natalia, nor do I think they were wrong, or “snot-nosed brats” for being skeptical.

  147. Anon#2
    June 11, 2012 at 1:41 pm

    …Says someone named “DollHeart.”

    …WELL. I, for one, am totally sold on your empathy and ability to do a neutral, meaningful reading for me without any extra judgement piled on. Good show.

  148. Lauren
    June 11, 2012 at 1:56 pm

    This thread is hilarious.

  149. Lauren
    June 11, 2012 at 1:59 pm

    Anyway, I’m glad this was brought up, so we can finally decide as a group whether lady bloggers are allowed to have thoughts and opinions without asking permission first, and whether social justice is advanced by asking for consensus on every topic.

    Also, social justice is very serious. No time for fun or silliness.

  150. Lauren
    June 11, 2012 at 2:03 pm

    WELL. I, for one, am totally sold on your empathy and ability to do a neutral, meaningful reading for me without any extra judgement piled on. Good show.

    You don’t see the funny in someone who calls herself “Dollheart” criticizing lady things like… dolls and hearts? Come the fuck on now.

  151. PrettyAmiable
    June 11, 2012 at 3:31 pm

    “What do you do?”
    “Stuff.”
    “More specifically?”
    “GOD DIDN’T YOU EVEN WIKIPEDIA STUFF??”

    And, color me unimpressed. All I hear is “wahhh, people see value in things I don’t see value in, so I can’t bring myself to play like a grown up. It’s almost like the world doesn’t revolve around me, and that’s just ridiculous.”

  152. Bagelsan
    June 11, 2012 at 3:40 pm

    PrettyAmiable, I’m serious, do you know what CBT and EMDR are?

  153. Alexandra
    June 11, 2012 at 4:11 pm

    I don’t think it’s as simple as saying, “I am not doing tarot in a woo-woo way, therefore there’s no problem with what I’m doing.” For a few reasons:

    1) Tarot IS historically a method of divination, and it’s how most people are familiar with tarot — I think the most iconic representation of tarot is probably from the opera Carmen, where Carmen sees her death foretold in the cards. Additionally, Tarot is associated not only with divination, but also with a kind of Eastern European/Gypsy exoticism. If you go into a psychic shop to get a reading done, there will be crystals on the walls and incense burning and soothing New Age music. If you read up on tarot readings online, people will talk about wrapping your cards in silk, always “resetting” the deck to the correct order so that the ‘energy’ of the cards can reset, etc etc etc. There are still plenty of people who take Tarot dead seriously, and then probably an intermediate swath of people who treat Tarot rather like they might treat the bloody mary game — sure, they don’t REALLY believe mary’s going to appear in the mirror… but you never know!

    2) Because of this, I am leery of doing a Tarot reading for anyone who is inclined to take it too seriously. I remember vividly doing a spread for myself when I was upset and confused, and the Devil card popped up in an important location. This made me nearly hysterical, because I took it as yet another sign that my life was a mess and would never get better. Tarot symbols are potent, not only because the imagery is striking, but because the symbols are ancient and there’s a lot of cultural mystique surrounding the symbols. This is what makes Tarot fun when you’re in the right frame of mind, but … well, people are suggestible.

    3) Some people who read Tarot are frauds, or at least are deceptive. When I was sixteen, well before it even occurred to me to buy my first deck (and before I started getting readings at parties from friends) I stopped into a psychic shop on the way home from school and got a reading. I recall it was expensive, and that the woman doing the reading was using classic ‘cold reading’ techniques on me. Being an Angry Atheist ™ I knew a bit about said techniques and played right back at her, and ended up with her giving me predictions about the future which were obviously implausible at the time. The point is, she represented herself as someone who could Tell The Future with Tarot, and she charged a lot of money.

    4) This whole Tarot/therapy comparison troubles me. Frankly, in my unfortunately long experiences with psychotherapy, I have found that better therapy comes from people with more extensive and more scientific training. I’d like to say that “therapy” is often thought of in multiple ways — some people offer therapy that is essentially just offering a person a shoulder to cry on and giving common sense advice. That’s fine, but if you want to overcome a specific problem (rather than just vent) you need a treatment plan, and you need to be doing things in a systematic way. Even the broadest insight-based therapies usually have some sort of directionality to them. Tarot is much more akin to a kind of guided meditation, but I just cannot see how you can “meditate” when you’re not even in the same room as cards or reader.

  154. Tony
    June 11, 2012 at 4:14 pm

    Well I wish I had just purchased a Tarot reading instead of spending thousands of dollars, wasting countless hours on CBT in my youth. It couldn’t have been less effective. The typical session consisted of 1/2 talking about politics (since my therapist found out I was interested in it it seems she wanted to convert me to the GOP) and 1/2 regurgitating exercises from an $8 paperback (David Burns’ “Feeling Good”). Basically if you’ve read the book, you could’ve been a CBT therapist.

    “I feel like a bad student.”

    “Why is that?”

    “Well, I got a D.”

    “That’s all-or-nothing thinking! D means you got 60% right!”

    “You’re right. I’m bad in some ways and good in other ways.”

    “You’ll feel better in no time. You’re keeping with your SSRIs, right?”

    Well okay that is an obvious caricaturization, but CBT didn’t leave me with a good taste, overall. Your experience may vary.

  155. Alexandra
    June 11, 2012 at 4:38 pm

    Skill of therapist =/= validity of method, though.

    Also, therapists who just want to talk about what’s interesting to them should be… IDK, flogged with a wet noodle or something. I used to see a woman who, after I adopted a dog, wanted to talk about nothing except dogs.

  156. Bagelsan
    June 11, 2012 at 4:42 pm

    Skill of therapist =/= validity of method, though.

    Word.

  157. Tony
    June 11, 2012 at 4:50 pm

    Well, sure. I believe that, statistically speaking, the more experience and scientific training a person has, the more likely they’ll be successful with you (the more expensive they are, also), even though my therapist had over 20 years of experience. But let’s not pretend that just because a method has certain official stamps of approval that it’s not a risk. CBT makes greater claims of efficacy than Natalia is making here, and as a proportion to the claims made and the monetary cost of CBT therapy, I’m not convinced that it’s more effective or less of a risk.

  158. June 11, 2012 at 4:57 pm

    Skill of therapist =/= validity of method, though.

    Also, therapists who just want to talk about what’s interesting to them should be… IDK, flogged with a wet noodle or something. I used to see a woman who, after I adopted a dog, wanted to talk about nothing except dogs.

    Yes, but most comparative studies have found that relationship with one’s therapist (which is based on both their specific skill sets in working with people as well as their general personality and attitude match to the client) is far more important than the specific treatment method used in determining successful outcomes. In which raises the question about the validity of *any* method in a general sense. The success of therapy is predicated on the best possible match between a lot of different elements, foremost among them the client and the therapist themselves.

    “Professionals” don’t necessarily offer quality services if their training (regardless of treatment modality) and interpersonal skills are lacking. The last time I sought support I ended up with someone with a generic set of “listening and question asking” skills who had no idea how to work with a client who already possessed a great deal of self-insight, didn’t need to be taught how to “open up and express themselves” (which was clearly her usual experience), and was gay. Yes, I had to explain my sexual orientation to my counsellor because she didn’t “get it”. That was fun and exciting, let me tell you.

    My number one advice to people (as someone who spends a lot of time around but is not herself a clinician) is to shop around, if you can. It’s true that therapy takes time and work to see results and usually involves some elements of personal change and pushing of one’s comfort level, but if you sense there’s a bad fit at the outset (e.g., poor communication, uncomfortable dynamic, different priorities, and no real interest on either part in reconciling these differences or finding a productive compromise) and you have the option to try another practitioner, consider it. Counsellors and therapists are (typically) trained not to take a client leaving them personally (though it’s the bad ones you need to be watching out for!) and may even be able to recommend someone whose style would be a better fit for you and your current concerns. It’s less stressful in the long run then to try forcing a bad match up. Therapy is fundamentally a type of relationship and it’s a much better deal if you can find the right person to have that relationship with.

  159. Amy
    June 11, 2012 at 5:36 pm

    Charging for a tarot reading is taking advantage of vulnerable people. No if or buts about it. You want a tarot reading, get yourself a pack of normal playing cards and a free website that will interpret the meanings for you.

  160. Abee
    June 11, 2012 at 5:42 pm

    Well then! FWIW, I read Tarot also and enjoy it very much, and I think I’d really enjoy getting a reading from someone else for once.

    Natalia – I am interested. do I need to actually post my email in the comment or do you have access to it as a, like, moderator or something (sorry, I’m not savvy with these interwebs)?

  161. Donna L
    June 11, 2012 at 6:27 pm

    Yes, I had to explain my sexual orientation to my counsellor because she didn’t “get it”. That was fun and exciting, let me tell you.

    I can imagine. How frustrating. My son finds that it makes a big difference to have a therapist who *is* gay, and not only “gets” it, and “gets” the challenges of being gay in this heterocentric and heterosexist world, but is trained in “gay affirming” therapy.

    In my limited experience, it’s much harder (even in New York City) to find a therapist who “gets” transness (and the effects of growing up trans/having a trans history) in any meaningful way, and understands that there are issues beyond coming to terms with being trans, and dealing with transition. The last “trans-friendly” therapist I saw for any length of time was a very nice, bright, highly-qualified therapist, but after a while I became rather unspeakably bored with having to explain everything, and with discussing insights I had previously come up with on my own. I couldn’t take it anymore.

  162. Chiara
    June 11, 2012 at 6:36 pm

    I’ve been wondering this for a while because I often read American people talking about their therapists very often. Is it like a common thing in America for average working/middle class people to have therapists? Because I often see people talking about going to see there therapists here and stuff. I wonder if that’s a culture difference or if it’s because a lot of people on here are more upper-middle (100% no offense intended there).

    Here in Wales I don’t know anyone with a therapist in that sense, although I do know a few people who had to go see social workers because of family issues and things but I don’t think that’s the same thing…

  163. June 11, 2012 at 6:42 pm

    The last “trans-friendly” therapist I saw for any length of time was a very nice, bright, highly-qualified therapist, but after a while I became rather unspeakably bored with having to explain everything, and with discussing insights I had previously come up with on my own.

    D: That’s really sad, Donna. I had the same experience on a muuuuuuuch smaller scale while trying to talk my counselor out of stereotypical “South Asian Problems” and towards seeing my actual situation, and had to stop talking about some of my issues because I found that I was explaining to her rather than asking her advice. I can’t even imagine how frustrating it must have been for you to give someone Being Trans 101 on top of everything.

  164. PrettyAmiable
    June 11, 2012 at 6:49 pm

    Sorry, Bagelsan. I’m not playing “bad faith” theater with you. If you weren’t being so fucking dishonest, you’d admit that there are portions of your therapy that are rooted in similar benefits you would get from what Natalia is describing above. Unfortunately, you know. You’re horrible.

  165. Alexandra
    June 11, 2012 at 7:27 pm

    I actually don’t disagree with any of what you’ve said, Jadey. Psychology is such an imperfect science, and there are so damn many types of therapies and so damn many schools that produce therapists and psychologists and social workers and and and that even as a fairly well-educated consumer (by trial and error!) I still find therapist-shopping incredibly difficult.

    Let alone finding a psychiatrist, good lord.

    (also, did I miss something, PrettyAmiable? why is bagelsan a horrible person?)

  166. Abee
    June 11, 2012 at 8:05 pm

    The last “trans-friendly” therapist I saw for any length of time was a very nice, bright, highly-qualified therapist, but after a while I became rather unspeakably bored with having to explain everything, and with discussing insights I had previously come up with on my own.

    At therapy last week, I happened to bring up one of my good friends who is trans, and I spent the rest of the session answering questions about his genitalia. My face: :|

  167. Bagelsan
    June 11, 2012 at 8:09 pm

    (also, did I miss something, PrettyAmiable? why is bagelsan a horrible person?)

    God knows. I’ve been trying to answer her question, but I guess she’s actually not very amiable. :p

  168. PrettyAmiable
    June 11, 2012 at 8:20 pm

    There’s that intellectual honesty that I’ve come to expect from you! No, y’all are right. Bagelsan’s so cool.

  169. EG
    June 11, 2012 at 8:32 pm

    Is it like a common thing in America for average working/middle class people to have therapists? Because I often see people talking about going to see there therapists here and stuff. I wonder if that’s a culture difference or if it’s because a lot of people on here are more upper-middle

    Yes, and yes, in my opinion. It’s not at all uncommon for middle-class people in major urban centers in the US to see therapists; there’s much less of a taboo on seeking help for mental/emotional health concerns in such settings. When I lived in London, the fact that I saw a therapist seemed to make me wildly unusual. On the other hand, yep, I bet there are a lot more middle- and upper-middle-class people on here as well.

  170. June 11, 2012 at 8:37 pm

    I’ve been wondering this for a while because I often read American people talking about their therapists very often. Is it like a common thing in America for average working/middle class people to have therapists? Because I often see people talking about going to see there therapists here and stuff. I wonder if that’s a culture difference or if it’s because a lot of people on here are more upper-middle (100% no offense intended there).

    Here in Wales I don’t know anyone with a therapist in that sense, although I do know a few people who had to go see social workers because of family issues and things but I don’t think that’s the same thing…

    For the record, I’m Canadian. :)

    In my case, I’m pretty sure the counsellor I saw probably had a bachelor’s of social work or some kind of counselling diploma. As far as I could tell, she did not have the kind of clinical training that goes along with a psychology PhD or an MD with a psychiatric specialization nor would she have commanded that kind of rate (I accessed her as part of my mother’s health coverage). “Therapist” or “counsellor” aren’t protected terms – anyone with any kind of training can call themselves that, so the nature of the experience (and the amount they charge) vary considerably. It probably is part class and part culture that people in many areas of Canada and the US (at least) are more likely to visit someone for this kind of help. There’s a changing idea around what counselling is and who uses it, so it’s hard to pin down. Some people go to their clergy for the same kind of support – it’s the source rather than the need for guidance that’s changing.

  171. Treebeard
    June 11, 2012 at 8:44 pm

    Is it like a common thing in America for average working/middle class people to have therapists?

    For one thing, college students in the US usually have access to some sort of counseling or therapy for free. (At least, every 4 year college I’ve ever heard of had something like that. Not sure about community colleges?)

  172. Bagelsan
    June 11, 2012 at 8:46 pm

    There’s that intellectual honesty that I’ve come to expect from you!

    “I’m not sure that word means what you think it means.”

  173. Nix
    June 11, 2012 at 9:50 pm

    I haz a curious. Email is sulky.mcbroodsalot at the gmail.

  174. PrettyAmiable
    June 11, 2012 at 10:44 pm

    Oh, are you using a super-special dictionary that only you have ever read? Cute. No one is impressed by your bullshit.

  175. Mxe354
    June 11, 2012 at 11:13 pm

    My brother did a tarot card reading for me once. I thought it was really helpful. People ought to at least try it out.

  176. Callisto
    June 11, 2012 at 11:25 pm

    My question — where do you go to study the tarot? Is there such a place, or is it from books etc.? If so, where?

  177. Bagelsan
    June 11, 2012 at 11:42 pm

    Oh, are you using a super-special dictionary that only you have ever read?

    Movie quotes; I do not think you recognize them.

  178. Mxe354
    June 11, 2012 at 11:44 pm

    My question — where do you go to study the tarot? Is there such a place, or is it from books etc.? If so, where?

    My brother started by getting to know a trustworthy psychic.

  179. June 12, 2012 at 12:17 am

    Movie quotes; I do not think you recognize them.

    Try accurate quoting, Bagelsan. It’s “You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.”

  180. igglanova
    June 12, 2012 at 1:19 am

    When you’ve resorted to scoring points based on who can quote a movie more accurately, it’s clear that you’ve run out of argument. It’s embarrassing.

    And I don’t know wtf your personal beef is with Bagelsan, but she hasn’t said anything intellectually dishonest in this thread. When you make shit up about other posters, it helps when the entire rest of the world can’t read what actually happened.

  181. DonnaL
    June 12, 2012 at 1:29 am

    I think it may be time for bagelsan and pretty amiable to take their exchanges of insults someplace else. Or perhaps just stop them entirely. I get by now what they think of each other.

  182. Lisa A.
    June 12, 2012 at 1:34 am

    Callisto @177

    I read tarot for myself in a non-woo way, like Natalia. I taught myself through books, though that was before the internet existed and today you could easily learn through websites and practice reading alone, IMO. (There is one book I can’t live without though: Seventy-Eight Degrees of Wisdom by Rachel Pollack.)

    Aeclectic Tarot is a good place to start. It’s a huge site with a ton of info. There are some people there who do use the cards for divination, but certainly not all.

    http://www.aeclectic.net/tarot/

    Hope that helps.

  183. umami
    June 12, 2012 at 5:11 am

    So much to cringe about in this thread, but the reverence shown towards “professionals” is what’s particularly getting to me.

    Speaking as somone who was severely depressed for many years, and who talked to professional counsellor after professional doctor after professional psychiatrist after professional counsellor to absolutely zero effect… there are many people on this thread that I wish would just STFU.

    Especially because the intervention/treatment that helped me first start to function again had nothing whatsoever to do with the mental health industry. And what continues to help me function is that I’m lucky enough to have friends who are intuitive and insightful and can help me work through anything that’s going on for me. I’m able to do the same for my friends. I have solid, powerful friendships that are based around that kind of interaction, but many people don’t have that kind of friend and many people wouldn’t really enjoy that kind of friendship.

    For those people, paying an amateur Tarot reader, or “life coach” or whoever, who actually has intrapersonal intelligence and perceptiveness, to facilitate them working through something that’s on their mind, could be a much better bet then paying a counsellor, who might have the qualifications but lack the qualities to actually be effective at helping them. Especially if it’s a one -off problem.

    But even if it’s severe and ongoing and even if it’s an actual mental health issue, as in my case, I still found the help and intervention of talented amateurs infinitely more effective than the help and intervention of trained professionals, and the YOU DON’T HAVE A CERTIFICATE stuff is really starting to get to me for that reason.

  184. samanthab
    June 12, 2012 at 7:01 am

    I think one thing I see missing from the therapy v. tarot discussion (although I have much less experience with therapists and much more with psychiatrists) is that the authority dynamic is actually an obstacle in many ways. When you set up one figure as having the “accurate” and “scientifically valid” answers to your problems, there’s an element of disempowerment of the individual seeking therapy that’s very much a hindrance to progress. I tend to think that the arbitrariness of tarot is probably really helpful to analysis.

    I don’t think I’d interchange one with the other, by any means, but the idea that a therapist is infinitely more valid because there’s an authority system behind the therapist is…pretty authoritarian. And not terribly progressive.

  185. PrettyAmiable
    June 12, 2012 at 7:30 am

    If you really think that, stop seeing your psychologist. He/she did not get a PhD to have his/her skills compared to New Age nonsense. Might as well save your money and his/her dignity.

    This is bullshit and offensive. It’s shitty for the sake of being shitty.

    Word.

    Is an endorsement of something that is bullshit and shitty, with absolutely no fucking support.

    Bagelsan, have you been to a shrink? What did you do with them?

    Here’s me politely trying to tease out why someone would endorse something shitty. Note that spouting “CBT!” is not helpful as it doesn’t actually support any of the assholery. So I stayed polite. I asked, “specifically,” to which I got a series of “omgz, you don’t even know what CBT is, can’t you wikipedia??” instead of discussing that there might, in fact, be something in common with the therapeutic value in what Natalie describes. Or maybe there genuinely isn’t. But bullshit opining about wikipedia and pretending I don’t have google skills when your only contribution to this thread is snotty bullshit instead of engaging in any meaningful way because omg you might be wrong? Intellectually dishonest. And frankly, after watching a separate 500-comment thread descend into Bagelsan telling fat people and poor people that their experiences totally aren’t their experiences and zie knows better? I’m not surprised.

    When you’ve resorted to scoring points based on who can quote a movie more accurately, it’s clear that you’ve run out of argument. It’s embarrassing.

    I assume this shit wasn’t directed at me, since I definitely didn’t do this. If it was, I suggest you reread the second half of your comment.

    I think it may be time for bagelsan and pretty amiable to take their exchanges of insults someplace else. Or perhaps just stop them entirely. I get by now what they think of each other.

    Whether or not I defend my thoughts and self against some jerk on the internet who called my dignity into question is not for your entertainment. You are not my target audience. Do you defend yourself for the sake of other internet commenters?

  186. Lauren
    June 12, 2012 at 7:42 am

    And I don’t know wtf your personal beef is with Bagelsan, but she hasn’t said anything intellectually dishonest in this thread. When you make shit up about other posters, it helps when the entire rest of the world can’t read what actually happened.

    Jesus H. Seriously. A quarter of this thread is Pretty Amiable demanding that Bagelsan show us her papers. It’s okay to disagree on the internet.

  187. June 12, 2012 at 8:08 am

    When you’ve resorted to scoring points based on who can quote a movie more accurately, it’s clear that you’ve run out of argument. It’s embarrassing.

    Huh? That wasn’t PrettyAmiable, that was me, trying to clarify wtf Bagelsan did there. o_O I haven’t actually participated in that conversation aside from that one comment, so I’m not even sure where you’re getting that I HAVE an argument at all. I really, really don’t.

  188. Donna L
    June 12, 2012 at 9:29 am

    Do you defend yourself for the sake of other internet commenters?

    Actually, yes, that’s exactly what I do, especially when an argument is about trans issues. The whole point is to try to influence people who might be reading what I write. I would never engage with “jerk[s] on the Internet” in a private conversation. And when an argument degenerates into an exchange of insults that does nothing whatsoever to influence anyone (except possibly to make them think “a plague on both their houses”), I usually know it’s time to stop.

  189. Lawyer_again
    June 12, 2012 at 11:45 am

    Tarot is, at worst, a mixture of horrible con artistry and serious woo.

    Tarot is, AT BEST, a form of therapy and/or an aid to reflection. Those can be really helpful….

    But even at best it is a field with no formal training; no formal regulation; no supervision; no legal protection with respect to confidentiality and the like; no liability if you get bad advice; no fee controls; and absolutely no way of distinguishing between utter bullshit and good work, other than your gut.

    And do you think everyone’s gut is sound? Um….. no. Because if that was true, the charlatans and con artists wouldn’t be here.

    Tarot is one of those things where there is a lot of bad stuff that goes on, with a few diamonds in the rough. Any honest and skilled practitioners are drowning in a sea of scammers. And even the honest ones don’t get training.

    Perhaps Natalia is one of the good ones. She certainly seems nice and smart.

    But is that enough? I don’t think so. Because even though she’s nice and smart, that’s all we know. Perhaps she is insufficiently skilled and/or insufficiently aware of her limitations. Perhaps she is unusually non-objective and doesn’t realize it. We don’t know; maybe she doesn’t know either.

    And that’s the problem with Tarot: Even the presumed-good people are so risky that it makes little sense to use them.

  190. Alexandra
    June 12, 2012 at 12:42 pm

    Is an endorsement of something that is bullshit and shitty, with absolutely no fucking support.

    Uh, excuse me? What is so “bullshit and shitty” about saying that the skill of a therapist is not equivalent to the validity of the style of therapy the therapist is trying to practice?

  191. roro80
    June 12, 2012 at 5:20 pm

    Well! What a mighty, er, interesting comment thread this is!

    I’m an overly-analytic math nerd engineer atheist, so “rationality” is not really something I’m lacking. In fact, insisting that absolutely everything had to be rational and well-thought-out in a linear way kept me super stressed out and grumpy for many years. It caused health problems and a great deal of depression. I began reading tarot for myself and others on a suggestion from a therapist, in fact. Like Natalia said earlier in the thread, it gets your mind working in different ways, pulls you out of your head, and helps to connect with your irrational side. Even for those readers who read tarot with some divination aim, which Nat doesn’t, it’s not as though they’re selling a bogus cure to cancer. It can be a little woo-ish, but it’s no burning bush and raising from the dead after 3 days and afterlife filled with harps and shit, and we’re all pretty accustomed to thinking that people can believe in those things without screaming about ZOMG PROFESSIONAL THERAPIST RIGHT NOW.

    I do think my favorite (“favorite”) comment on this thread is that reading tarot is why men don’t take women seriously. I mean, wow. I understand the whole witches = moon = 13 periods per year = scary sexual power = cats = evil?, but jeez. Even then it’s a stretch. Of course, we’re meant to take men seriously although dudes pray to Jeebus when their favorite football team has a big game, but hey, yeah, a little symbol reading must be what’s keeping down woman-kind. Of course, I understand the sentiment. I recall in engineering school women made up about 10% of most classrooms, and I would dread when one of the few other women in class would ask what I deemed a “stupid” question, thinking they’d make the rest of us look bad, like we didn’t belong there. My shift in perspective on that one came when I started paying close attention to all the stupid questions guys were asking, which I had previously just considered normal inquiry. Expecting women to always be perfectly in-tune with what men consider “serious” is just as sexist as thinking women have no place doing things that men do.

  192. tinfoil hattie
    June 12, 2012 at 9:19 pm

    I don’t think anyone’s asking why you would want to advertise, I think they’re asking why Jill would let you advertise here.

    Because it’s her blog?

    And you don’t have to ask for a reading. You can even skip over the post!

  193. tinfoil hattie
    June 12, 2012 at 9:35 pm

    File under ‘Stupid Things Girls Like’, along with star signs, clairvoyants, romantic comedies and chocolate.

    Get a grip, woman! “Chocolate” is not “stupid”!

  194. EG
    June 12, 2012 at 10:23 pm

    But even at best it is a field with no formal training; no formal regulation; no supervision; no legal protection with respect to confidentiality and the like; no liability if you get bad advice; no fee controls; and absolutely no way of distinguishing between utter bullshit and good work, other than your gut.

    …so what? No, seriously, so what? Provided you can afford the price and are aware of what you’re getting, and if you couldn’t afford the price, why would you do it, and Natalia’s been absolutely upfront about what you’d be getting, what, precisely are you risking? That you’ll get a reading that means little or nothing to you? That Natalia, for unscrupulous reasons of her own, will blackmail you over what is probably an utterly banal dilemma (no cutting on anyone; just that most people’s dilemmas, when seen from the outside, are not that gripping)? That you’ll get bad advice? Which you are then perfectly free not to take, knowing as you do that Natalia does not claim any supernatural authority?

    What is so risky that we should be worrying about licensing and supervision and liability?

    I mean, I just got back from seeing Prometheus. It was literally laughable. Where is the supervision over movie-making? Where is the liability? I lost hours of my life to a ridiculous narrative that made no sense and espoused anti-rationality!

  195. Ellie
    June 13, 2012 at 9:12 am

    I have no criticism of the author, or of her services… but I do think it’s bad blogging to push something so unrelated to the rest of the site in this space. Whether or not it’s feminist, or ‘real’, or ‘woo’, or whatever, I don’t really care… but I agree it doesn’t belong here. I know it’s not my decision to make, but it is bad blogging form.

    Just because the author has had trouble reaching an audience doesn’t mean this is an appropriate forum.

  196. Ledasmom
    June 13, 2012 at 1:55 pm

    Get a grip, woman! “Chocolate” is not “stupid”!

    Chocolate not stupid? Then why won’t it do my taxes for me?

  197. Bagelsan
    June 13, 2012 at 2:39 pm

    Chocolate not stupid? Then why won’t it do my taxes for me?

    It did my taxes all wrong. Apparently buying more chocolate is not a work expense. :(

  198. paulie
    June 13, 2012 at 4:56 pm

    Well it would seem this is not a skeptical feminist website…

  199. EG
    June 13, 2012 at 5:11 pm

    Well it would seem this is not a skeptical feminist website…

    Based on the number of people, including the tarot reader, making supernatural claims for tarot reading, which is zero? How do you figure?

  200. roro80
    June 13, 2012 at 7:03 pm

    Well it would seem this is not a skeptical feminist website…

    Wait a second, feminists aren’t a monolith who all believe exactly the same thing and do the exact same things and find all the exact same things worthwhile?????? Oh. My. GOD .

  201. tinfoil hattie
    June 13, 2012 at 7:35 pm

    Apparently buying more chocolate is not a work expense.

    It is if you lump it in with “office supplies,” bagelsan. At least, I would argue with the tax authorities that it is NECESSARY for my office to function!

  202. June 13, 2012 at 7:38 pm

    Wait a second, feminists aren’t a monolith

    What are you talking about? Of course we are! It says so right up there on the URL. Feministe.us/Borg!!! See? Jeepers, your reading comprehension!

  203. Kristen J.
    June 13, 2012 at 7:43 pm

    It is if you lump it in with “office supplies,” bagelsan. At least, I would argue with the tax authorities that it is NECESSARY for my office to function!

    Yes. Like paper clips. You wouldn’t ask me to work without paper clips would you?

  204. Ledasmom
    June 14, 2012 at 12:09 pm

    My new business idea: Office supplies, made of chocolate.

  205. paulie
    June 15, 2012 at 9:40 pm

    Well sure if you want to pay for BS that doesn’t work and is not at all based in science then by all means, feel free to pay for someone to indulge in their hobby.

    Is Homeopathy going to be advertised next? Don’t want to miss out on other woo. I wonder if my chakra’s can be aligned through skype…

  206. Li
    June 15, 2012 at 10:47 pm

    Well sure if you want to pay for BS that doesn’t work and is not at all based in science then by all means, feel free to pay for someone to indulge in their hobby.

    Is Homeopathy going to be advertised next? Don’t want to miss out on other woo. I wonder if my chakra’s can be aligned through skype…

    It’s almost as if you didn’t even read the thread.

  207. June 15, 2012 at 10:52 pm

    Well sure if you want to pay for BS that doesn’t work and is not at all based in science then by all means, feel free to pay for someone to indulge in their hobby.

    Is Homeopathy going to be advertised next? Don’t want to miss out on other woo. I wonder if my chakra’s can be aligned through skype…

    I am both fervently agnostic and do not believe in the so-called super-natural (at all.) I previously posted that I had no belief or interest in tarot but I am not at all offended by the OP. I don’t feel like I should have to keep saying that, but there you go. I suspect many of the people defending the OP have no interest in tarot (in general, or in this specific offer.)

    However, I would like therefore to put forth the following points.

    – Surely the fact that the OP has provoked a 200+ comment discussion means it was a post of some merit.

    – Looking at it from a purely scientific angle, the comparison with homeopathy is an extremely poor one. Natalia explicitly states that tarot is not, in her opinion, “magic in that whole supernatural woo-woo sense.” and compares her approach to tarot to “a type of therapy that can occur via interpreting symbols.” So, the proper analogy would be someone offering homeopathic medicine, while stipulating that the only way it will work is down to the placebo effect.

    -Also, homeopathic pills must work to provide any benefit, whereas people who get a tarot reading are at the very least getting the benefit of someone’s time. And a story. Much like professional wrestling, it’s ludicrous to complain that it’s fake if someone finds that particular form of entertainment edifying.

  208. June 16, 2012 at 12:07 pm

    Also, homeopathic pills must work to provide any benefit

    Whuh?

  209. June 16, 2012 at 12:42 pm

    Whuh?

    I meant that you don’t get anything out of taking the pills in and of themselves, whereas having a tarot reading could be enjoyable for someone who is getting no use out of it whatsoever.

  210. June 16, 2012 at 3:00 pm

    Ah. Okay. Got it.

  211. RVW
    June 16, 2012 at 6:20 pm

    Well it would seem this is not a skeptical feminist website…

    How about next time you engage specific claims by specific posters? It’s true, Feministe is not a “skeptical” feminist website in the sense that (for example) Skepchick.org is. That is no great insight. It takes a quick read of Feministe’s “about” page to figure that out. What you should know if you’ve been here a while is that there are scientists, skeptics, and other assorted anti-woo people who comment or lurk here. Hell, there are even some popular screaming atheist anti-woo types who have done guest posts here.

    It seems very likely to me that you (paulie) are trying to poison the well for newbies. The regulars (hopefully) know better than to fall for it, which is why you decided to talk right over everyone else here (even in your follow up). Your strategy is to come in with an inflammatory statement and hope that someone bites with a heated response. Then, if someone isn’t following the conversation very well, it looks as if there are “irrational emotion driven woo advocates” on one side vs. “calm, collected skeptical anti-woo bad-asses” on another. The strategy is designed to take the popular and (false) idea that “rationality” means (among other things) “an unending grip on ones’ emotions” and use it to dissuade new readers with an interest in skepticism from returning.

    Your motivation isn’t “skepticism” (at least not if you have a sophisticated understanding of what “skepticism” means), or else you would have 1) acknowledged that the wording of the original post is at least ambiguous and asked for more information from Natalia and 2) not talked over the heads of the numerous commenters that wrote in before you. Honestly, I’m having a hard time thinking of a reason for your comment that doesn’t boil down to you having an axe to grind with feminists and/or women in general.

    For the record, I don’t care about tarot. I have no sacred cow being poked at here. Unless I take a pedantic view of language, I don’t see how the original post makes any claim for tarot greater than “some people find tarot relaxing or fun [i.e. “good for emotional health”].” That claim is demonstrably true.

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