Going ‘Pro’: Turning Personal Struggle into a Blessing with Kelsey Lynore

by Brigit on February 15, 2013 in Tarotpreneurs

I only ‘met’ Kelsey online a few weeks ago, but I was intrigued by her Tarot business, elegant website design and her talent for words.

Kelsey shares her story below of how she was able to turn a personal struggle into a true blessing by using the Tarot cards. She now shares this love for the Tarot with her clients, delivering professional Tarot readings at The Tarot Nook.

{Brigit} Tell me about your Tarot journey, from when you picked up your first deck of cards to now?

{Kelsey} I bought my first Tarot deck when I was 13 years old.  It was the Enchanted Tarot, a beautifully sweet deck that I recommend for the young, but with which I never really connected.  I think this failure was probably owing to the Tarot’s newness for me, as well as the fact that I never spoke about it with anyone.  At 15, I bought the Thoth and began reading for others.  I read every work that I could find by Aleister Crowley, Austin Osman Spare, Robert Anton Wilson, etc.  I was deeply interested in both Chaos Theory and Chaos Magick, and I still occasionally come across the odd sigil from that era.  It was a very rich time for me, both with the Tarot and with the production of art and writing.

When I started college, Tarot took a backseat.  I was 20 and while I still threw, I felt a certain degree of shame about it, as if it was some childish tick.  My studies were very focused on philosophy and art and I started using the William Blake Tarot, which was a lovely fit.  I went to a psychologist at 24 and requested Behaviour Modification techniques that I might quit the Tarot, en toto.  I thought it was a waste of time that hampered my productivity in art and writing.  Clearly, that didn’t work so well, and by the time I hit 27 I found myself in a very toxic work environment (see where over-productive, A-type behaviour gets you?) that stretched my relationship with my mother to the breaking point.  Tarot was the only thing holding me together.  I had no control.  I hated it.  At 30, I started using the Rider-Waite compulsively; I didn’t have faith in anything or anyone.  I only read for myself.  In retrospect, I realize that this was a very educational time for me, rivalling the Thoth era.  But it was incredibly painful.  The Hanged Man was in every reading.  I was internalized, stuck, and in need of a Tower-like event to get me out.  It came, and I’ve never looked back.

Since I went professional with The Tarot Nook, I use the Dali Universal.  I throw Tarot for others almost every day, so it’s very rare that I read for myself.  I don’t know how to see this except as a transmutation.  I exteriorized what had become a very understandable compulsion in light of my circumstance and offered it in service to others.  I benefit to the extent that my clients do, and I can’t imagine a better foundation for any business.

{Brigit} What did you do to prepare for yourself for becoming a professional Tarot reader?

{Kelsey} If preparation is conscious, then I did nothing whatsoever.  I never got certified and I never read for strangers until I decided to go pro.  With that said I did many readings for friends-of-friends and -relatives in my teens, and had some pretty decent word-of-mouth going for me back then.  Professional adults consulted me regularly.

Also, the careers I’ve had — caring for the Developmentally Disabled, teaching at the college level, and nannying – have made me pretty empathic and patient with the disenfranchised and/or anyone who genuinely wants or needs help.  I don’t frontload people or jump to knee-jerk judgments, I let them speak and I listen.  Doing so, in whatever career, always makes me immensely happy.

{Brigit} How did you know you were ready to become a professional Tarot reader?

{Kelsey} Like Sam and Joanna whom you interviewed before me, I didn’t.  Indeed, I didn’t even realize it could be a profession.  Growing up, I had always been called wise, and that old-hat, “old soul” had been placed on my head enough times that it frankly made me angry.  But from 20-32, I was an academic who got paid to go to school.

Before I quit academia, I was living in Paris and compulsively throwing Rider-Waite, as mentioned above.  I couldn’t sleep and spent too much time online where I came across some “psychic” chat rooms.  I was fascinated!  I was horrified!  I lurked, observed, and if someone seemed the least bit sane (which was only twice, but they do exist), asked for a freebie card.  Both “psychics” pulled cards, paused, and asked me: “Are you psychic?”  I answered honestly: I was well versed in Tarot and Astrology, but I was definitely NOT psychic.  They were nonplussed.  The first pulled further cards and told me: “Well, you’re powerful.  And whether it’s in this life or several, you’ve lived and died many, many times.  You’re old.”  The second pulled one more card and told me: “You’re giving way too much power away.  You need to stop.”

One year later, when I finally quit academia, all careers that I pursued over the 6 months that followed were inexplicable dead ends.  My education was a major liability unless I wanted to be an (ouf!) academic.  I couldn’t even get an entry-level job cleaning the outside of jets because that would be a “waste of my talents,” and believe me, I really wanted that job!  I then looked into working for that same “psychic” network.  I got my papers in order with them, started offering free readings to any and all via Skype just to verify that I was capable of it, found that I was, and also found that I couldn’t make the leap into the network.  Like Athena from the brow of Zeus, The Tarot Nook, as a concept, was born fast and fully formed in a matter of minutes.

{Brigit} What has been your biggest fear or challenge in taking this leap, and how did you overcome it?

{Kelsey} I am terrified that I might discover true believers on every side of me.  Coming from such a strong Thelemic background, I don’t believe in anything.  Instead, I prefer practice.  If I’m sure of anything, it’s that “knowing” and “believing” are one and the same species of Western psychosis.  To this end, Georges Bataille has this lovely quote in “The Accursed Share, vol. 2” that’s something to the effect of: “Even should History prove the usefulness of thought…” with the point being:  History has this wicked, little tendency of proving man wrong every time, even when he’s at his most brilliant and sincere.

Becoming a professional Tarot reader, I’m hyper-conscious of these true believers.  I have the nay-sayers who claim irrational superstition, which is to say I’m practicing a now-defunct and archaic science whereas their own is still very much in vogue and shall only be disproven at a later date when they don’t have to answer for it.  I have the brimstone crowd who say I’m a practicing witch whose flesh will burn for all eternity.  And then I have the psychic hotlines run by true, Romani-blood mediums who speak to gods, angels, aliens, and your dead Aunt Trudi’s Persian cat.  Fabulous!  Everyone’s got an opinion and each one is equally self-indulgent.

I overcame this largely because of the support of my clients.  For me, Tarot is a pragmatic practice that is one part technique (art/science/study) and one part communion with others.  I don’t know how or why it works, but my clients tell me that it makes them feel better, and I feel great doing it for them, and that’s more than sufficient for me.

{Brigit} How did you go about setting up your Tarot business?

{Kelsey} I spent one week giving free readings on Skype and then I took another week to construct my website.  I used a WordPress.com template but there were many challenges along the way.  I had to get creative to add the PayPal “Buy Now” buttons and rig the site with Google Analytics.  Then I set myself to advertising, which is how I met you, but has also included avenues such as: LinkedIn, Facebook, Google+, Gravatar, Adwords and others.  These methods have had varying success rates and challenges and I’m still experimenting.  This week, I’ll be filing my “Fictitious Business Name,” etc. well under the 40 day time limit here in California.  It’s a steep learning curve but it’s been a lot of fun, too.

{Brigit} Tell me about your Tarot business. What makes you special?

{Kelsey} The Tarot Nook is 100% online and, so far as I can tell, rather unique in the services offered.  All readings are done via live Skype and range from 10 to 50 minutes, at $1.00 per minute flat-rate.  Should a client be shy or ill, they may of course turn off their camera and even their microphone if they prefer to I.M.  However, they always have my presence, voice, and full attention as we do the reading together.  I show them each card and encourage them to interrupt me, ask questions, share their concerns, emote, and give feedback throughout the reading.  If it’s wrong, tell me.  If it’s right, ditto.  And I love the almost perfect mix of intimacy and distance that live Skype affords, as my quotidian space interfaces with that of the client.  The screen is like a window and my view differs with each client.  It’s wonderful!  And finally, for an extra $5.00 per reading, I offer an MP3 recording feature so that my clients can return to their Tarot reading and listen to it as they so wish.  All they need is Skype and a Dropbox account, both of which are free to set-up and use.

{Brigit} What’s your vision for the next 12 months for your Tarot business?

{Kelsey} Hahaha…  I want to go from the 7 of Pentacles to the 9 of Pentacles over the next 12 months.  My daily goals, though, are to be present, stable, and nurturing for my clients, and happy, free, and satisfied within (and for) myself.

{Brigit} What do you believe will be critical to your future success?

{Kelsey} Patience!  I am constantly having to counsel myself to take a step back and appreciate how much I’ve done in such a short time; this is exceedingly difficult for me.  I also schedule full days away from both Tarot and the computer so I don’t become fatigued.

{Brigit} What is your one piece of advice to aspiring Tarot readers who want to take the leap and become professional?

{Kelsey} Respect your clients, respect yourself, and respect the cards.  In Paris, when I was spending those odd nights lurking in “psychic” chat rooms, I saw a man give a demo wherein he pulled a card for each participant.  He knew the Tarot like the back of his hand, no question.  But when he pulled the 3of Swords for someone, he said: “Always remember that the mind and spirit are stronger than the heart.”  I thought: “Huh!  What an impressively accurate, little skirt!”  I had watched him pull mega-positive cards like the 10 of Cups, and he had no qualms giving every possible reading.  But he certainly didn’t do that with the 3 of Swords.

In my own business so far, I’ve pulled the 3of Swords once.  I, too, did a little jig (which is absolutely necessary to get a feel, by the way) first saying heart break, then misinterpretation, false information, gossip, and finally: love triangle.  It was only with that last interpretation that my client clicked in and a whole story flooded out of her.  That was positive.  That was good for her to express.  And she never would have done so if I had only ever told her: “The spirit is stronger than the heart.”

As Tarot readers, we most definitely have to be kind, tentative, compassionate, and delicate.  But we are being paid (well, I might add) to read the Tarot.  And if you consider the emotional and psychic gamut that is run by those modest 78 cards, I think you’ll find that they’re pretty thorough and equitably distributed.  Trust them.  Trust yourself.  And most importantly, trust your client and the task with which they have entrusted you.

{Brigit} Any other comments or learnings you want to share?

{Kelsey} Yes.  A)  Be flexible with your services and responsive to your clients.  I actually scrapped Email readings and initiated shorter Skype sessions by demand after the first two weeks.  That’s not a model for everyone, but for me and my clients, it was the way to go.

B)  Diversify when it comes to promotions and advertising.  Try everything but don’t overinvest.  Don’t ditch it either if it doesn’t work immediately.  Be patient and nimble.  Businesses can take quite some time to become established and healthy.  I’m regularly having to remind myself of this fact.  It can be difficult.

C)  Don’t ever judge your client by how they look; you know nothing of their circumstance, history, or loyalties.  If you know that from the start, you’ll be open enough to discover what they truly are.

D)  Don’t worry about being different than other Tarot readers.  What makes you unique is what makes you marketable and keeps your clients loyal.

And finally, E) Always keep a Tarot journal, regardless of whether it’s for personal use or professional use.  Cards have a way of revealing their meaning to you over time, and that meaning may have nothing to do with what any book says.  The same, of course, goes for yourself and your clients.

Want to ask Kelsey a question about her journey? Leave your question in the Comments section and she’ll get back to you! (NOT for request free readings!!)

About Kelsey Lynore

KelseyLynore1
Kelsey Lynore developed her interest in mysticism as a consequence of world travel as a child.  After 20 years of experience reading the Tarot, she launched her own business, The Tarot Nook.  Her philosophy of Tarot is less predictive than indicative, and she uses the Tarot as a tool of reflection and a narrative catalyst for her clients.  For more biographical information, you can visit her “about” page here.

Inspired? Start Your Own Journey to Becoming a Professional Tarot Reader

If you’re inspired by Kelsey’s story, I can help you create a sustainable and successful Tarot business. A business where you’re helping transform the lives of others and generating a serious income for yourself because your customers value what you do. Find out more about Tarot business coaching with me, including how you can receive a free 15 minute coaching session.

Or, if you want to build your confidence first and offer free Tarot readings in exchange for feedback, check out my Free Readings page and get in touch to add your profile.

{ 14 comments… read them below or add one }

Fiona February 15, 2013 at 8:40 pm

Thank you, Bridget, for being so open in promoting fellow tarot readers of all ilks. I really enjoyed this interview with Kelsey, and will definitely keep an eye on her blog.

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Kelsey Lynore February 16, 2013 at 7:56 am

I second that. Brigit, you’ve been amazingly generous. Thank you, thank you!

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Brigit February 18, 2013 at 3:47 pm

My pleasure! It’s wonderful to be able to share so many inspiring stories.

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kelly February 18, 2013 at 3:05 pm

Hi Kelsey,
Love the name of your website.
thanks for sharing. I enjoyed reading your advice about readings for customers and things you do such as taking a day off or away from computer. How did you feel doing your first phone reading…I only do readings via email…and haven’t gone to phone readings yet as I feel I’ll prob get too nervous and won’t do a good job hehe.

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Kelsey Lynore February 18, 2013 at 6:00 pm

Hi Kelly,

Thanks! I live in a tiny studio right on the beach, so it seemed appropriate. And it makes me really happy that some of my advice was useful to you.

In order to get yourself more comfortable with phone readings, I figure you have two options. Firstly, tell your friends you’re doing free readings only via phone for a time length of your choosing. You’ll have a limited audience this way and your regular customers won’t have to know you’re practicing/testing yourself. You’ll also stand to increase your clientele by word-or-mouth to include people who normally wouldn’t be inclined towards a Tarot reading. In my experience, they’re some of the best clients. ;)

Secondly, if you have a website, you can do a promotion: either 10 free readings via phone for brand new clients, or a discounted rate for a limited time. That, too, would most likely increase your business while simultaneously taking the pressure off you, so everybody wins.

There’s nothing wrong with nervousness, and most people are quite understanding if you simply tell them the truth and ask them to be a bit more patient with you. Also, for yourself, try a Tarot spread with an outcome of the Fool or some other card representing a desired psychic destination, asking the Tarot what steps you can take to build up your courage to make the leap. Hope that helps, and best of luck with the new format!

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Aasheesh Kumar February 19, 2013 at 3:10 am

Hi Kelsey,
It was a pleasure reading about your amazing journey.It almost seems you were destined for Tarot reading.I was really intrigued with only Skype reading mode.This is truly unique.
What made you quit academia ,and can you give some insight on how to choose a deck for reading ?
Regards,
Aasheesh

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Kelsey Lynore February 19, 2013 at 11:56 am

Hi Aasheesh,

Thanks! That makes me really happy. And yes, it does all seem a bit destined, so much so that the obstacles I encounter now are much more like fun puzzles than genuine obstructions. I’ve always felt a bit of this though, even going into academia — stuff just happens!

To this end, you’re right to pick up on the import of the medium. If Skype and Google Hangout weren’t in existence, I would never have started The Tarot Nook. There seemed to me to be a hole in the market as pertains to live online Tarot by a sole reader, and that gap beckoned and taunted. I couldn’t ignore it, it was too in my face.

I quit academia because I quickly/slowly (depends on your perspective) learned that in order to be a professor in the Humanities, you have to betray the very tenets that you profess. There’s a lot of talk about changing systems from within, but that line is only ever touted by people within those very systems (government, academia, multinational corporations, law enforcement, the legal and medical systems, etc.) I’m inclined to think that bargain-basement misery really does love company, and that a far more likely result is that the system changes you and perverts your ethics to such an extent that you’ve no love left. There have simply been too many compromises in the name of expediency and “the greater good.” The show “The Wire” dealt with this as its main theme, and more recently “Boss.”

That’s the general reason. As pertains to the specifics, I’ll say that I half expect a public scandal and/or civil suit surrounding my reasons for leaving (which pertains to structural problems that affect the entire community) before I die, and that I’m steeled for this because I know it will be a rough go. If that should happen, it will be public and probably pretty dark and dirty and painful. And if it doesn’t, well, I fought what I opposed and when it became clear that I could not win, I quit. I feel very proud of that. Bukowski actually sums up my views on the creature that is modern man, and the sort of bereft love that one can feel in the face of it, perfectly here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b5lMLj76Zi4. “The Crunch,” which Bukowski reads at the end of the clip, and “The Grand Inquisitor” section of “The Brothers Karamazov” leave very little to add. So, what then?

Finally, for choosing a deck for a reading, one obviously can’t go wrong with either the Thoth or the Rider-Waite, and I think it’s in the interest of every Tarot reader to be at least a little familiar with both. The Thoth is more difficult and the Rider-Waite is much more accessible, but where they differ is very intriguing because it puts fundamental commonalities in stark relief. If you’re choosing a deck outside of those, I’d counsel to wait for a call and not rush it unless you know. You’ll know! It’s better to wait for a deck that you really love than to choose one about which you feel tepid. I knew I wanted the Dali if I was going pro, and I also have the Alice in Wonderland deck, which I didn’t mention because it’s very much based on the Rider-Waite so I put it under the same heading. The images are very different though, and I’d counsel to always judge a deck by the primitive impact the images have on you. Hope that helps!

Warmly,
Kelsey

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Aasheesh Kumar February 19, 2013 at 3:00 pm

Thanks for the insights Kelsey.I think systems in general reward mediocrity ,and subservience.Rarely do they apprecate individualism and originality.And i agree with Bukowski that people do things as part of a routine.These have been failures of “Modern” educational systems world over.In fact no one wants to change the systemEveryone loves being a part of it and put on the artificial act.The love and feeling is just not there.
Yes i think the connection with deck is very important while coosing one.
Thanks for sharing your views.Wish you all the best.
Regards,
Aasheesh

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Kelsey Lynore February 20, 2013 at 2:38 am

Agreed, Aasheesh. The Rider-Waite Tarot, and decks which descend from it, reflect these power structures, I think, in all seven 5’s. They’re communal cards that forgo cooperation in favor of competition and rigid hierarchies. Each concerns the attempt at the mastery of pain through the repetition of a trauma. For me, they’re death drive cards — the saddest cards in the deck… All my best, Kelsey

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David Thompson February 20, 2013 at 8:57 pm

Hi Kelsey, I really enjoyed the interview with Brigit, it has given me inspiration to keep going with reading Tarot. I, like you have been told on numerous occasions by Tarot readers and psychics that they felt I had ‘something about me’ spiritually and that I should develop it. I went to a local spiritual church for physic development with some little success, however I felt that Tarot was the way forward for me as I like to work with colours, images and intuition. I bought my Rider-Waite cards ( which I love ) seven or eight years ago and started to learn. However I kept coming up against huge criticism from family members, even to the point that some of them are horrified that I should be in league with some kind of voodoo or devil-worship ! So , light under a bushel, cards packed away, brought out again, packed away, etc. It has been frustrating because I could not leave them alone, it’s as though they were calling to me. After reading your interview with Brigit I am resolved to carry on with my Tarot, I feel positive now that everything will work out. regards, David

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Kelsey Lynore February 20, 2013 at 10:37 pm

Oh wow, David! I’m so touched. I can’t imagine a more positive outcome from this interview, and thanks again to Brigit for inviting others (me) to participate in her blog. You know, it makes you wonder about witchcraft, doesn’t it? That you should be shamed out of your passion for Tarot, which hurts no one and stands to help so many, how is that not its own species of black magic? If such a thing exists, then everyone’s a practitioner to the extent that we all have an impact on the world around us. Those who are not so nice, almost never take responsibility for it. I think to really excel at Tarot, you have to be receptive to the other, making it a fundamentally humane and humanistic practice. I’m so happy that you have rediscovered your confidence and faith in yourself and will recommence with the Tarot! And I’m so honored that I could have anything to do with that. Don’t ever hide your light under a bush again. We need more light!
Warmest regards,
Kelsey

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Brigit February 21, 2013 at 1:49 pm

There’s nothing ‘voodoo’ about the cards! Just pieces of cardboard with pictures on them that trigger our intuitive minds to connect the dots and access the insight that is within all of us. It’s a pity that often the common perception of Tarot is so totally different to what it really is. But it’s also great to see more and more people making Tarot ‘normal’ and using it for personal development and to help others.

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Hector March 5, 2013 at 8:53 am

Hello Kelsey,

Your interview just pushes me more to study and develop my insight even further. I’m really inspired that you ultimately followed your dreams and now have your own business and what a beautiful website you have! I also like the fact that you have an honor system where you provide services and entrust them to pay you for it after you provide the readings. It shows a heart of trust and humility. I hope no one has taken advantage of that or at least not to many people. Take care be blessed!

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Kelsey Lynore March 5, 2013 at 9:05 am

Hi Hector,

That honor system has been nothing short of amazing. I have yet to have a client, since instituting it, that does not pay beforehand. Not one! And they pay before they even contact me. This includes completely new clients who have never spoken to me before. Since starting this business, I’ve been exceedingly blessed with fabulous clients, and I think the payment system is one of the reasons.

I’m sure that sooner or later, I’ll get a client that doesn’t pay. If that’s because they didn’t get what they needed from the reading, no worries. They need to seek another Tarot reader. But if it should be for other reasons, now I know and I’ll never have to deal with them again. It really encourages the only type of energy that I’m welcoming into my life and gets all relationships off on the right foot from the beginning. I love it!

I’m glad your inspired. Keep pushing!

Warmest regards,
Kelsey

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