Setting Boundaries in the Tarot Relationship

Tarot readers have a really interesting job. Even the ones that don’t get paid sit in this odd in-between of mystique and counselor, entertainer and wise advice giver. We hear client’s problems, their worries, their dreams. We develop relationships with them and can even find ourselves invested in the outcome – wondering if everything will turn out alright for them and if they are doing ok days and weeks after a reading. 
Sadly, this position that we are in can put us in a precarious place in the minds of some clients. We start to become, in their minds, a friend, a therapist, or someone responsible for their happiness. This is not only unhealthy but can be down right dangerous for some readers who have attracted a client who isn’t quite stable. 
How do we deal with this?

I come at this question with experience. I have had to learn the hard way to set boundaries with clients.
I have had clients that have, due to my lack of boundaries, skewed the client/reader relationship and thought of me as more of a friend that they just so happen to pay for advice. These clients pestered me via phone calls and email asking for readings at all hours of the day, repeatedly for weeks, and even got to the point where they expected my advice and aid (on everything) for free or at a “friendly” discount. The situation became extremely uncomfortable, not only for me but also for Damon who had to deal with these people as well.

Setting Boundaries

The creation of professional boundaries not only help protect readers from needy or unstable clients but also protects clients from overly curious or prying readers. (I mean, what cleint wants to run into a reader at the super market and get bombarded with questions about their marital problems in front of their kids or strangers in the produce section?) 

In the end, I had to cut them off. I told them I would no longer be reading for them, that our professional relationship was becoming a struggle for me. I dealt with tears, name calling, and more. I’m sure these clients have nothing kind to say about me now, and partially I am responsible for what happened because I didn’t set healthy, professional boundaries.  Sure, cutting off clients is somewhat drastic, especially for tarot readers who make a living off their craft. I want to say first I don’t think cutting off an annoying or strange client should be your first step at all! This was simply something I had to do in order to regain control of that part of my life. Since then, I have changed a number of ways in how I handle clients. 

Clear Company Policies

Be clear on when and where you will provide discounts, refunds, and, if you do bill or invoice a client, how long you will wait for a payment. 
Sadly, even with clear policies, you might still run into those clients that will push for a “friendly discount.” Each person must figure out what is comfortable for them in how to deal with these matters just as each situation will depend on your relationship with that customer. 
Another matter regarding policies is a Privacy Policy that keeps the client safe. 

Set Office Hours

By making it clear what days and what hours of the day you are available to clients, you can prevent them from contacting you during personal hours when you are with family, friends, kids, sleeping, appointments, etc. 

Create Privacy Barriers

This too will vary from business to business. For some this might mean having a business only e-mail (highly recommended anyways due to the professional look), a post office box rather than giving out your home address, or having a phone number you give to clients only. By not giving out personal information to clients, you create a barrier between the two of you that keeps you safe. 

Keep your Personal Life & your Business Life separate. 

(Oseaana has a great video about this on her Business Alchemy series on YouTube). 
Putting out there when you’re having a bad day or even a bad week gives the message that you are a mess and that will draw in people who are attracted to chaos and messes, not people who want clarity and calm via your spiritual practice. 
This doesn’t mean that you can’t write your personal story or blog posts about how you’ve overcome difficulties. It simply means don’t complain about the issue in the moment and then plaster that complaint all over your business social media. If you’re gonna share your life issues, share them in a way that you’re showing how your practice helped you overcome your problems. 

Be Both Professional AND Compassionate

In businesses where the services are of a spiritual and emotional nature, whether its tarot reading, reiki healing, or life coaching, creating boundaries can be very difficult when it comes to emotional attachments between professional and client. 
In one direction, the professional can become too involved in the client’s life, problems, and worries. Taking these matters to heart can cause stress and unnecessary worry for the professional and cause them to either go over a client’s boundary by being nosy or pressing matters or allow clients to cross boundaries and take advantage of the professional’s sympathies. 
In the other direction, the client can come across as cold, unfeeling, and hard. Clients want to be able to connect with those they hire for their spiritual services and if they cannot connect, they won’t return. 
Finding the balance takes practice and can be difficult to find with some clients. In the end, we can fall back to our boundaries and policies to help us when we find ourselves lost in our sympathies for a client.

Be Wary of Who You Have in Your Support System

Everyone needs a support system. People who encourage you, who you can go to for advice, who  you can bounce ideas off of and just outright be yourself first and your business second with. 
Make sure the people in your support system are trustworthy. This will change from person to person whether your support system is your mom, your husband, your best friend since high school, your business coach, or your reverend or high priestess. Be careful who you show your weaknesses and your ideas to. Don’t leave chinks in the armor for someone who is unhealthy and who does not have your best interest at heart. 

Mercury – The Trickster God of Commerce & Tarot

Foot-feather’d Mercury appear’d sublime 
  Beyond the tall tree-tops; and in less time 
  Than shoots the slanted hail-storm, down he dropt 
  Towards the ground; but rested not, nor stopt 
  One moment from his home; only the sward 
  He with his wand light touch’d, and heavenward 
  Swifter than sight was gone.


Mercury is known as the trickster and thief god of commerce and business. He is the swift messenger of the gods who rules over communication. With this in mind, he’s a handy deity to have on your side if you’re a professional tarot reader or business person in general. 
Other professions and areas that Mercury rules over include:

Alchemy and Science
Writing and Books
Tarot and Runes
Knowledge and Learning
Codes and secrets
Foreign exchange and politics
Athletics including foot races and boxing
Inventor of weights and balances
Protector of messengers, especially at war
Fertility and masturbation
Sacrifices and Priesthood
Sleep, deep dreams and Astral Projection

Mercury’s connection with the tarot is through his being the keeper of divine secrets (usually Zeus’s promiscuity) and his association to the invention of writing. This connection is more strongly seen in his Egyptian aspect of Thoth.

If Mercury Were a Tarot Reader…

I picture him as a tall, lanky fellow with long black hair tied back away from his face, a goatee, thick eyebrows and piercing blue eyes. He’d have an earring in one ear, not just a tiny hoop but something dangly and flashy. He prides himself in how he dresses though some would say he looks tacky with his leather, silk, bright colors, and too much bling. He’s also that type that won’t let the 60’s go, loves wide collars unbuttoned to show his chest, wears his symbol on a thick chain around his neck, and will seem fresh when he asks what your sign is – but he’s far too clever to use it just as a pick up line.  Mercury flirts with men and women alike and will flit through relationships like people slide through revolving doors (and is far too charming to leave anyone in tears; every ex-lover believes it was their decision to move on). He loves the modern age with its freedom of sexuality and open, mass communication. He’s known to have all the new technological gadgets and every app for tarot and astrology, even if he can calculate what house he’s with ease. Even though he is very lucky at buying new toys and tarot decks, he is also a bit flippant with them and will toss them aside as soon as the next thing shows up.

Mercury is known to cut the deck as he sees fit – stacking the cards so that he can control the story about to be told to the client. This doesn’t mean he can’t read the tarot traditionally, of course. He knows the cards intimately; the layouts, the numbers, the astrology, and the people. He could read the cards in his sleep and may have done so from time to time while resting from a night of debauchery with his friends Bacchus and Apollo. 
He’s as slippery as the snakes on his Cadeceus but one would be a fool to not head the snakes words at the tarot table.

At the tarot table, he makes his clients question whether they sat down to have their cards read or to watch card tricks. He knows every way to shuffle and is one of the best card mechanics in the biz. He talks fast as he moved the deck from one hand to the other so that the cards look like their flying. By the time the deck is cut, the clients are mesmerized by the movement of the shuffle and the glint of his cuff links.

Mercury’s Metaphysical Correspondence Chart

  • Other Deity Associations: Hermes, Thoth, Wodin
  • Epithets: Hermes Trismegistus (Thrice Great Hermes), Diaktoros (the courier), Angelos (messenger), Logios (writer and knower of intelligent design), Agoraios (Of the Market Place), Dolios (crafty one), Eriounios (Luck-Bringer), Hermeneutes (Interpreter), Takhus (Swift), Poneomenos (Busy One).
  • Archangel: Raphael aka Israfil
  • Planetary Name in Hebrew: KVKB
  • Celestial Title: Messenger of the Gods
  • Symbols: Caduceus aka Kerykion, 8-pointed star, and the planetary/alchemical symbol of mercury
  • Tarot Card: The Magician (1)
  • Metal: Quicksilver and Aluminum
  • Day: Wednesday, the 4th of the month (as that was the only date given for when he was born) and the 25th of May
  • Hours of the Day Ruled: 1st and 8th hours of the day, 3rd and 10th hours of the night
  • Zodiac Signs: Gemini and Virgo
  • Numbers: 1, 4, 8, and 13
  • Gemstones: Agate, Opal, Yellow Topaz, Serpentine
  • Colors: Yellow and Orange
  • Hermetic Colors: Sky Blue and Gold
  • Musical Note: E
  • Trees: Almond, Ash, Aspen, Bottle Brush, Hazel, Larch, Mulberry, Rowan, Silver Birch and Juniper. 
  • Herbs: Carrot, Celery, Caraway, Cinquefoil, Dill, Fennel, Fenugreek, Fern, Lavender, Marjoram, Mandrake, Maidenhair Fern, Lilly of the Valley, and Vervain. Krokos (Crocus) – An Arkadian boy who was loved by Hermes. When the god accidentally killed him playing discus, he transformed the boy into a crocus flower.
  • Incense: Frankincense, camphor, malabathrumcock, and myrrh 
  • Animals: Ibis, Dove, Tortoise, Hare, Rams, and Monkeys
  • Anatomy Governed: Brain, Nervous System, Left Arm, and Respiratory System
  • Votives and Offerings: currency, especially foreign currency.

Tarot Poetry: An Interview with Marjorie Jensen

Arcana: The Tarot Poetry Anthology is a diverse collection of 78 poems, including original verse and new translations by contemporary writers and Tarot readers. The book can be pre-ordered through the publisher, Minor Arcana Press.
Tarot poetry began in Renaissance Italy with artists like Teofilo Folengo. Many famous poets–including T.S. Eliot, W.B. Yeats, and Marge Piercy–have used Tarot in their work since. Our era is now blessed with our own poetic creations as those featured in Arcana. Editor Marjorie Jensen has brought many of these amazing poets together from an international community including Rachel Pollack, Tanya Joyce, Cecilia Llompart, and Sierra Nelson.

PictureMarjorie Jensen is an educator, writer, and Tarot reader. Since completing her Master’s degree, she has taught (Tarot) poetry and prose workshops at U.C. Berkeley and has edited several literary publications, such as 580 Split. Her published articles include “Structuring Sonnets and Tarot Spreads” in Tarosophist International as well as “Cards are Told” in Unwinnable Weekly. She is also a contributor to Spiral Nature.
See more of her writing and featured Arcana authors on Tarot Poetry WordPress.

I see that you are both a tarot reader and a lover of books as well as an editor. What got you into tarot? Would you mind sharing with us your favorite tarot deck? 
My mom reads Tarot and gifted me my first deck—the Aquarian Tarot—when I was about fourteen. My paternal grandmother read intuitively with playing cards, so I guess you could say my love of reading cards runs on both sides of the family! Currently, my favorite decks are the Paulina Tarot, the Wizards Tarot, and the Rider-Waite-Smith.

What initially inspired the Arcana Tarot Poetry anthology? 
When I started writing my unrhymed sonnet sequence based on the Major Arcana, I wanted to read an anthology of Tarot poetry. I like research, and I found a number of books and poems by individual poets, but no one had created a volume of Tarot poems that brought together multiple authors. So I decided to make the book I wanted to read.

Minor Arcana Press calls Arcana a “muse: enchanting, inspiring, and empowering.” What are some ways that the tarot has inspired and empowered you? 
I love writing with the Tarot and using it in writing workshops. Collecting Tarot is like collecting art (but generally on a much smaller and cheaper scale), and I find art to be a wonderful muse. Also, I feel that the Tarot enriches my spiritual practice—my private rituals as well as the spiritual connections I make when reading for others. 

Arcana is described as “groundbreaking” in its uniting poetry and tarot. Before this project, you published articles like “Structuring Sonnets and Tarot Spreads” in Tarosophist International. Do you foresee a trend of combining tarot with poetry, art, and literature in the future? 
There are some deep connections between Tarot, art, and poetry, going back to renaissance Italy, and what we are able to do now with the internet allows niche communities—like Tarot poets—to come together and be seen. One of the things I enjoyed with this project was seeing how writing from people who spend more time in Tarot circles harmonized with writing from people who spend more time in poetry circles. Both poets and Tarotists give readings, but now a little more light is being shed on how similar those readings can be. And I think this light will continue to grow.   

When this book first came into view to the public it was being crowdfunded through Indiegogo. Why did you and Minor Arcana Press choose to use crowdfunding for the project initially?
Indiegogo did not make its crowdfunded goal, how did this effect printing and publishing the book?

Minor Arcana Press is a small non-profit with a limited budget, so we thought that crowdfunding would be a good way to help cover printing costs and other costs of making the book. Not making the Indiegogo goal means we will be publishing fewer copies of the book. Later this year we will also be putting out an e-book edition so more copies can enter the world, but we will have a very limited press run of paperback editions. Also, not making the goal inspired amazing generosity—for instance, Mary K. Greer offered to waive her fee for the introduction. Gifts like hers made it possible for us to still put out a small press run of physical copies.

What was it like working with authors and artists like Rachel Pollack (one of the poetry authors), Siolo Thompson (who did the interior art and front cover) and Mary K. Greer (who did the intro to the book)?
In addition to Mary’s generosity, and both her and Rachel have been wonderfully supportive. They have also been very accessible and welcoming. Anne Bean, Minor Arcana Press’ layout designer, worked more closely with Siolo than I did (I believe they knew each other before this project because they are both based in Seattle). I feel very blessed to have so many talented women involved in this project—I have been inspired by their words and images.

Some of our readers are both tarot enthusiasts and writers. As an editor, what advice can you give them if they are interested in writing for a project like this in the future? 
Be yourself. After reading hundreds of submissions, I think the best poems draw on personal experience/experimentation/style. The worst seemed to regurgitate all the clichés about Tarot. Utilize the Tarot to find your distinct voice.

Minor Arcana Press is having a launch party for Arcana on August 26th. Will you be there? What can readers expect at this online shindig? 
I will be there! The launch party will be held at Hugo House in Seattle—I’ve never been to Seattle before. There will be Tarot readings as well as poetry readings, and I hope we will be able to post some pictures/videos online. I’m planning on having similar events in other locations, especially Oakland (where I live). 

Will there be more like this anthology in the future for us to look forward to?
I really enjoyed making this book, and would be interested in creating another anthology in a couple years. In the meantime, I plan to finish and publish my Major Arcana sonnets (which are nearly complete!). And I have some fiction that my muses are demanding I work on after that, so my next anthology might end up being a multi-genre collection with drama, fiction, and essays as well as poetry.