Myth of the fortuneteller

In my earlier post “Fortuneteller, it’s not a dirty word” I spoke about the negative attitudes the tarot community holds towards the words fortuneteller and fortunetelling. I explained why these words have lost favor in the community. To recap I talked about the desire to bring respectability to the profession. If you want to read that blog I recommend it highly. You can find it on the side bar under topics “Commentary”.

There are some readers who still use the word, and proudly. I call myself a tarot reader, it is simple. I use the title of fortuneteller occasionally when describing to people what I do who do not understand exactly what I do. Everyone knows what a fortuneteller is. There is however some who have a misconstrued idea of what a fortuneteller is. I am writing this blog because of these misconceptions or myths. I read a blog today about why a fellow tarot peer does not call themselves a fortuneteller. In their argument there are statements that I do not agree with and wish to provide my views and opinions.

Here are five statements about fortunetelling that I felt needed commenting.

  1. Fortunetelling is“telling a client what he or she already knows”. This is untrue. Fortunetelling by definition is the foretelling of future events. Telling a client what they already know (the present) is not fortunetelling (future). Telling certain things about a clients present is a part of a tarot reading for validation that a connection is made between the client and reader. However telling the present is not what fortunetelling is. Reading the present does not make you a fortuneteller.
  2. Fortunetelling is a “trick” to “wow” the client. Fortunetelling is not a trick. I do agree though that tarot readings are not to “wow” and put on a show for a client. If I do pick up on something “wow” thats nice, but not something I actively try to obtain. However the reading should provoke a “wow” of “wow that was a very insightful reading” or “wow that reading really helped me”.
  3. Fortunetelling “isn’t empowering”. This is a misconception that fortunetelling is not empowering because knowing the future removes free will. This is true if you believe in predestination, that the future is in stone. However many readers including myself believe the future is more fluid and changeable. With this view fortunetelling can empowering it depends on the client. If for example you are going through some problems in your life and the outcome card shows a positive outcome that is good. That is a cause for empowerment for the client to be motivated. There are those who may become lazy, thinking everything will be fine and get off track, again the future is fluid. Your actions creation your future.
  4. Fortunetelling can cause “psychic co-dependence”. True and untrue. Everyone is unique. We can’t jump to conclusions. Psychic co-dependence can be found in individuals with addictive personalities. These people will get addicted to many things, tarot is one. Someone who is co-dependent on tarot or psychics are known as “psychic junkies”. These people typically either have little control in their lives and or feel insecure about their future and choices. They feel they must get a reading to know what will happen. These people normally do not want advice, insight and introspection they only want to know the future. It is the responsibility of the reader to determine who they read for. I don’t read for psychic junkies. You can’t create a co-dependency if you don’t supply the drug.

The arguments provided in this blog I read are all hasty generalizations. Saying that fortunetellers and fortunetelling is this, this and that. You can’t make generalizations because everyone is unique. I also feel that the arguments are misplaced. Instead these arguments should be directed toward fake and fraudulent readers. Fake readers go for the “WOW” factor, they put on a show. They tell you what you know, this is cold reading. They tell you want you want to hear not what you need to hear. They want co-dependent clients to keep the money coming in.

The name fortuneteller only means someone who predicts the future, that is it. On its own the name is not bad, it is the actions of all of us as readers which determines what that term means. If fraudulent people run around calming to be fortunetellers then that bad PR. However if we uphold respectability and ethics we raise the term fortuneteller out of the murky awkward abyss we place it in. We define what fortunetelling telling, fortunetelling does not define us.




The recipient of Tarosophist of the Year 2011, Angelo Nasios is a rising voice in the tarot community. Angelo is known for his popular YouTube channel in which he produces educational tarot videos. Tarot: Unlocking the Arcana, Angelo’s first book will be released by Schiffer Publishing.

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