Q&A: Cyber vs Physical Deck, Pro vs DIY


Updated from a 2011. Please check out our conversation on just exactly this topic in the “21st Century Tarot” episode of  Menage A Tarot podcast available on iTunes, Stitcher, TuneIn, and on www.menageatarot.com

Q. Are those do it yourself online computer generated tarot readings valid? Is it better to get a reading from a professional or do them for yourself?

A. There are lots of different opinions out there when it comes to computerized readings. I’ve been playing around with them since the days of “CyberTarot” on windows 3.1. As I see it, it depends less on the computer part and depends on what you mean by “valid”.

If by “valid” you mean “accurate predictions”, then the answer is no. The computer readings can’t read minds, tell what is in someone else’s heart, or predict what others will choose or what will happen any better than a human reader can.

When you get right down to it, both a Tarot deck and a computer are both sophisticated tools…just specializing in very different jobs. The important thing a Tarot reading isn’t the little pieces of cardboard with the pretty pictures, or the number randomizing subroutine and .jpg image…the important thing is the spirit of the person looking at them. Whether that person is you…or someone else looking on your behalf…tarot cards, palm lines, tea leaves, rune stones or what-have-you are all just a spring-board that helps us access the intuition within. That intuition, in turn, is guidance, not predictions. Long story short: Tarot cards, no matter whether they are paper or electronic, are just a way to help us access our own natural intuition and inner wisdom. Paper or electronic, the cards are about making better choices, and those choices in turn help us create a better future.

In that way of looking at things, then yes, electronic taroteadings are just as valid as if you drew physical cards for yourself.

When it comes to “DIY” vs a professional readings – I want everyone to buy readings from me so I can earn a living doing this…BUT the reality is both of those are fine, too. If you want to read for yourself, by all means yes, do that. If you don’t, then the professional community is happy to help. That’s why we do this, for the most part. It does take a bit of practice to get the hand of “interpreting” the images and information. I’ve always thought the psychic “gift” isn’t seeing the future, but being able to put the abstract and symbolic “language” of spirit and intuition into normal language that can be understood by a client.

It is a skill…like learning to change the oil in your car. I could get the tools I need and learn how to do an oil change, but I don’t want to. To me it is worth the money to have someone else do it better and more expertly than I can. So by the same token, even though I’ve been reading cards since the early 90s, I still get readings from a pro (or colleague) if I want another point of view (two heads are better than one as they say…see related post “Parallax“), or feel I’m too emotionally involved to be objective. Hiring a psychic for a reading is no different than hiring any other  professional for any service you can’t do as well for yourself.

For DIY vs pro, computer generated vs physical deck…it all calls for the same advice: follow your intuition. You don’t have to do it the same way every time, either. Some concerns might just need a quick app on the old smartphone, while others need the full-on ritual treatment.  There is no hard or fast right or wrong…choose the method of reading that is right for you and your individual question.

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