Creatively Collaborative Tarot Readings

Reading tarot cards for a living is something that continues to inspire me and help me learn more about life. Since I first started reading professionally in 2002, and then went full-time in 2003, I have sat across the tarot table from well over 10,000 people, in private one-on-one sessions. Over the years I have also appeared at various events, ranging from large corporate functions where I do short readings in spaces where there is rarely much privacy and often a queue of people waiting, to more intimate readings at smaller birthday and wedding-related gatherings.

I have found myself in some interesting places during the course of these events: perched in a swinging cane chair, atop a floating platform on Sydney Harbour, on a houseboat, under a tomato-laden A-frame trellis, and in the Non-Fiction section of Ashfield library!

Through all these experiences, the set-up for how I work has been much the same: one-on-one readings, where I look at the various aspects of the querent’s life. Every now and then there will be a request to work with the tarot within a different framework, which, depending on the request, I usually do, as it pushes me to see how tarot can creatively connect to people in multiple ways.

In 2016 I was fortunate enough to be a part of two events that required me to work in a different way, that I enjoyed very much.

Both of these events involved me doing a collective reading for a group of individuals who worked together in a creative/performative capacity. They were all wanting to explore their relationship as a group and where to go forth from here. 

The first event took place in July 2016, when I was invited by the performance group 110% Collective to be part of their installation at Firstdraft.

With all the interesting venues I have found myself reading at over the years, this was my first time in this kind of setup: a quiet gallery space, with an attentive audience. In this space I did a group reading for the three members of 110%, Beth Dillon, Kieran Bryant and Lachlan Herd, followed by shorter readings for audience members, all done with everyone sitting around listening intently to what I was saying to each person.

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Photo credit: Anna May Kirk

Sitting in front of a tent-like structure while having people sit in front of me was rather sobering, and I felt honoured to have been trusted enough by these people, who previously didn’t know me, to do readings for them in a public setup. It was the first time I had had a room full of people listening to other people’s readings, and while I wasn’t entirely sure if everyone in the room knew each other in some way, there was certainly a beautifully friendly and respectful vibe in the space.

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Photo credit: Anna May Kirk

Beth, Kieran and Lachlan had asked me to do a reading for the progress of their 3-part performance and video installation project named ‘A Summit Wouldn’t Do Without You’. They introduced the background of their work to me prior to the event, saying that the project explores the physical and symbolic geographies of mountains, in particular, the significance of mountains in Western philosophies of motivation, achievement and success. My involvement was requested, to help them visualise their shared mountain aspirations and the spiritual significance of their journey together.

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Photo credit: Anna May Kirk

The group reading went for about 45 minutes, where we looked at the project itself, likely outcomes, what they were each bringing to this piece of work, and their future as a collective. We used The Wild Unknown Tarot by Kim Krans, and it was a poignant moment when the Three of Pentacles appeared, seeing that in this particular deck the image is a mountain (see the middle card in the above photo)!

I enjoyed witnessing the kind and respectful way in which the trio responded to each other, and each other’s cards. Challenges that presented themselves were understood as things to observe but not necessarily get stuck in. By perceiving aspects that could potentially create an edginess in their continuum, there arose the opportunity to have more understanding of how they could avoid any potential setbacks. Their collaboration is very inspiring!

After the reading for 110% I did shorter readings for audience members who were interested in participating. I lost count of how many readings I did, but everyone was lovely! Sometimes the audience would laugh at something funny I had said, and I’d be a bit startled, as I’d forgotten there were people listening while focussing on the person sitting in front of me.

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 The second reading session took place in my own tarot office, when Gary Grim and Tain, organisers and promoters of Deaf to All But Metal came to visit for a reading to feature on their podcast. Deaf to All but Metal is a club night featuring the many different subgenres of heavy metal music, usually on a monthly basis (their next gig is on the public holiday on January 26).

I was a bit unsure when Gary first contacted me, and not because of the heavy metal! (Although this genre is not top of my list of favourite music to listen to, I would prefer to listen to metal than, say, new age music – the early years of my tarot career were done in shops where it was customary to have the ethereal angelic and/or dolphin sounds of new age music blaring in my and my client’s ears as the reading took place. I have been scarred, and can no longer stomach it! What a joy it is for me to now do readings sans nonconsensual music, just the low whirr of King St traffic,  and the buzz of my fan in the summer.)

No, my uncertainty came from wondering if this was going to be yet another version of that tired old trope: Does it really work? Are psychics really psychic? Let’s have a reading with three of them and see (because three readers will surely give us a clear idea about ALL readers everywhere in the world, right?!), and then write up a superficial, mildly (or overtly!) condescending article. So already been done! Please journalists can’t you create a more meaningful story around the tarot than the tedious, cynical attempt to debunk it?! Sigh…..

However, Gary and Tain’s intention was not at all to take down the tarot, their meeting with me was for a podcast episode about existentialism, self-doubt, uncertainty and decision-making. Any debunking involved would be to address the myths and misconceptions that folks can have about psychic tarot work. He assured me that they weren’t wanting to ‘test’ my process, but rather genuinely seeking advice and guidance. It also helped of course that I have known Gary for some years, and so knew him to be sincere.

When Gary and Tain arrived at my tarot office, I made them tea (tea was also the commencing feature of the reading with the 110% reading. Tea and tarot really do go very well together), and then we started the interview. They asked questions about how long I had been working with the tarot, when I first discovered I was psychic, and anything else that I wanted to share about tarot for the listeners.

Then I did a group reading for them about their work together, then a solo reading for each of them. You can listen to the interview and readings here. I come in at 14.18 minutes and go for about 40 minutes until 54.45 mins.

Throughout the group reading there are many laughs, references to black cats, “aha” moments, and some “well, that’s accurate”, moments. Later in this podcast Gary & Tain go to a deserted crossroads in the Inner West to try and emulate an old ritual involving the horned one himself! Thankfully no where near my office. 🙂 Sound intense? It need not be – if you have the time, by all means listen to the whole podcast and not just my segment, because these guys are funny and have interesting things to say!

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Me, Gary Grim & Tain in my tarot office in Newtown. The card I am holding is The Magician from Tarot of the Cat People by Karen Kuykendall. This photo was taken on auto-timer: before it flashed I asked, “Are we smiling? What kind of pose?”. The answer came, “No smiling, it’s for a death metal podcast”. 😀

What I really enjoyed about doing the readings for both the 110% Collective and the Deaf to All But Metal crew, is how they were all sincere in their desire to grow together creatively and respectfully in their collaborative work. Of course, all things will change as time moves on, but being able to honour our current work and connections and all the possibilities that are born out of these moments, in invaluable.

I hope you have enjoyed reading this piece about these two wonderful tarot adventures I had last year. I am in the mood for more adventures of this type! If you or anyone else you know are a part of a team and are looking to gain some insight into the collaborative work you do together, and what you individually bring to the greater whole, please contact me! All my contact details (email is probably best for this one) are on my ‘Contact & Book a Tarot Reading‘ page.

To find out more about how I work go to  sarahthepsychic.com/about/ and sarahthepsychic.com/faq/

Connect with me on Facebook

Follow me on Instagram: @sarahthepsychic 

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