5 Simple Steps to Read Tarot with Confidence

The Ethics of Tarot Reading

By October 17, 2012Tarotpreneurs

“So, what actually IS an ‘ethical Tarot reader’?” I had just handed over my business card with “Brigit – Professional and Ethical Tarot Reader” on it to someone I had just met.

“Someone who actually cares about the well-being of their client.”

“You mean there are Tarot readers who don’t care about their clients?”

Yuh. Sadly there are. Sadly there are a handful of people and organisations that prey on unsuspecting individuals who are simply searching for help. People and organisations that say they know when you’re going to die or how you can win the lottery or who will remove an evil curse… if only you’ll hand over $200.

What’s also really sad is that these scammers damage the reputations of the many professional and ethical Tarot readers out there, who are well-meaning individuals who want to make a difference in people’s lives.

So, how do you make sure you are an ethical Tarot reader? What exactly are the ethics of Tarot reading?

What is an Ethical Tarot Reader?

I define an ethical Tarot reader as someone who:

  • Cares for the well-being of their client
  • Has clear personal boundaries – e.g. what topics will/won’t be answered
  • Has structures in place to ensure ethics are a core part of their service (e.g. a code of ethics and a confidentiality statement)

Similarly, the American Tarot Association define ethical Tarot readers as:

People who help others better hear their own inner guides. They empower clients to think through their options and come to decisions on their own… [They] encourage clients to seek the licensed professional help of doctors, counsellors, accountants, and lawyers – especially in cases where the client’s concern goes beyond the expertise of the reader. They do not use the cards to identify “curses” or “bad energy” and then charge a fee to remove these ‘curses’ or ‘bad energy’.

How to Be an Ethical Tarot Reader

So what does it take to be an ethical Tarot reader? Here are my 8 ethical Tarot reading guidelines.

Stick to Your Expertise

Chances are, you’re not a medical specialist, a legal eagle or a financial advisor (if you are, more power to you!). So, please don’t give medical, legal or financial advice.

You are an amazing Tarot reader so stick to reading the Tarot cards.

If the Tarot reading is medical, legal or financial in nature, then refer your client to the appropriate professional.

In fact, in some countries and states, it is actually illegal to provide medical, financial or legal advice when you are not suitably qualified to do so. So save yourself an expensive court case and don’t even go there.

Maintain Strict Client Confidentiality

As a Tarot reader, you are privy to some very sensitive and private information that your clients share with you on the assumption of strict confidentiality. It is essential that, as an ethical Tarot reader, you treat their information with the respect it deserves.

This means…

  • NEVER sharing any detail of a client’s reading without their express permission. Not to your partner, friends or family. And not to your client’s partner, friends or family.
  • Storing client information securely.
  • Using client information ONLY for the purpose of the Tarot reading, unless permission has been provided otherwise.

While confidentiality is often implied, I recommend having a Privacy and Confidentiality Statement for your Tarot business to give your clients confidence that confidentiality is paramount. It doesn’t need to be fancy, just a simple statement to cover the key points above.

There are some exceptions to client confidentiality, however. This includes situations where the client intends to harm themselves or others, or where the client has committed a significant crime such as murder or rape. Under these circumstances, you are obliged to report them to the relevant authorities. I hope, though, you are never placed in this position.

Be Honest and Tell the Truth… with Compassion

Tell your client what you see in the Tarot cards – don’t hide negative messages or disappointing news. Be open and honest with the messages that you receive.

But also be careful of “telling it like it is”. Treat your client with compassion, sensitivity and respect. Being brutally honest with no care for the client’s feelings can be just as unethical as holding back information or sugar-coating a Tarot reading.

Ensure your client leaves the Tarot reading with a clear picture of the current state of events and a path forward to achieve the outcome they truly desire. Empowerment is key.

Leave Your Judgements and Opinions at the Door

On the surface, it may seem easy to be non-judgemental, but trust me, sometimes it is bloody difficult! For example, your client tells you about a secret affair with a married man with young kids, and you can’t help but feel for the wife and the children involved. Or, you watch as your client goes through messy break-up after messy break-up and you seriously question why he is putting himself through this every time.

As an ethical Tarot reader, it is important to remain as impartial and non-judgemental as possible. Your client is trusting you with their personal information, and whether or not you agree with what they are doing, you need to offer impartial advice and guidance.

Leave your personal opinions and judgements at the door, and go into your Tarot reading with objectivity.

Encourage Clients to Use Their Own Inner Guidance

There are going to be some clients who keep knocking at your door wanting more and more Tarot readings no matter how often you read for them. It would be easy to see this as ‘easy money’ and a recurring revenue stream. But don’t.

Question the client who wants multiple readings on the same topic or who keeps returning day in and day out.

Tarot readings are great for gaining insight on a difficult situation. However, there comes a point when one really needs to go within for the answer rather than constantly seeking other people’s opinions on what to do.

As an ethical Tarot reader, you can give your client confidence that they already know what it is they need to do – they simply need to trust their intuition. Sure, you are there as a guide and a helping hand, but at the end of the day, it is up to the client to determine their future path.

Don’t Up-Sell Dodgy Products or Services

Don’t provide a Tarot reading with the requirement to buy a dodgy add-on product such as a spell to clear negative energy or remove a ‘curse’.

Sadly there are still psychic scammers out there who scare or coerce individuals into making more and more purchases of what are essentially dodgy or fake products or services.

Of course, if you are a talented Witch or spell-crafter, work your magic, but do it in a way that is professional and that is not going to scare your client into doing what you have suggested.

Don’t Tell Your Client What to Do

Sometimes, a client will come to you wanting you to provide a specific answer. Should I quit my job? Should I leave my husband? What career path should I take?

This can put you in a difficult position. On the one hand, you want to provide a specific answer to their specific question. But on the other hand, you do not want to take away their free will and their personal power to choose.

The last thing you want is for your client to come back to you months or years later saying, “I did what you told me, and it failed miserably.” Your role is not to tell your client what to do, but to coach, to counsel and to guide. Remind your client that they always maintain free will and the responsibility of choosing their own path.

Have a Code of Ethics

This is probably the most important of them all. Have a code of ethics.

To become a Certified Professional Tarot Reader (CPTR) with the Tarot Certification Board, you must prepare a code of ethics. And to be a member of the American Tarot Association, you must abide by their code.

This is to protect your clients, you as a Tarot reader, and the Tarot community as a whole.

As part of the code of ethics, you might include your position on:

  • Reading for minors or young people
  • Reading for third parties
  • What topics you will and won’t read on
  • How you will treat your clients
  • What you will do with client information
  • Free will and empowering the client

The American Tarot Association’s Code of Ethics is:

I will serve the best interests of my clients, conducting my professional activities without causing or intending to cause harm.

I will treat all my clients with equal respect, regardless of their origin, race, religion, gender, age, or sexual preference.

I will represent honestly my Tarot qualifications, including educational credentials, levels of certification and experience.

I will keep confidential the names of clients and all information shared or discussed during readings, unless otherwise requested by the client or required by a court of law.

I will recommend clients consult a licensed professional for advice of a legal, financial, medical, or psychological nature that I am not qualified to provide.  If trained in one of these areas, I will clearly differentiate between the tarot reading and any professional advice additionally provided.

I will respect my clients’ right to refuse or terminate their reading at any time, regardless of prior consent.

I recognize that all ATA members have the same rights and obligations, and I will always respect and honour my co-members.

If you want to be a truly ethical Tarot reader, join me in my 90-minute Tarot Masterclass. I’ll show you how to become a true Tarot professional by defining your own Tarot reading ethics and establishing personal boundaries that honour both the needs of you and your clients.  Learn more about the Masterclass webinar by clicking here:

BTN-TarotEthicsWhat do you do to ensure you maintain the ethics of Tarot reading? What makes you an ethical Tarot reader? Share your comments below.

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  • Leona says:

    I always maintain to the client that they have a choice to go in what ever direction they wish to go in. That either way, they are taking a risk. Risks are very scary especially if you are not usually a risk taker. I tell them to sit down and write out the pros for, and the pros against. Then ask themselves to lay down & meditate & imagine themselves in each situation. Using their senses & feeling each situation. If there is any fear in what is unfolding, then its their choice to decide not to go ahead, or to decide to push through the fear & see the out come. From their they should be able to make a conscious decision, whether it be the right one, or the wrong one. Either way it is their choice. They can always change direction & start again. But make sure their is a goal to aim for & they have planned out how they are going to get there. I mention there’s maybe going to be some dissappointments along the way, maybe not. They have to keep a positive attitude. If there is, its just another hurdle for them to pick themselves up again and replan and keep aiming for their goal in a different direction.

  • neena kalia says:

    totally agree fortune telling has become fortune is not good .One should always use spirituality to help others and not take advantage of the fact that god has choosen us for helping people of their dificulties.And if we keep this in mind and do our job we will be paid by god for our good deeds which is bigger than any lottery in this world

    • Brigit says:

      Agree! Although, I do think it’s important that as professional Tarot readers, we receive payment for our services. God/the Universe will bring us the right clients, but I think I would struggle with not charging for readings given I have invested many years and lots of energy into building these skills. Of course, it’s all about setting a FAIR price and one that does not take advantage of our clients.

  • Christine says:

    Yes,another great post. Whenever The querent said :”I want to ask about health,” I said” sorry,i can’t help should ask the doctor” querent:”I want to ask about my fortune. I said” Sorry I can’t help you” I said that with a smile and explain what tarot reading really is. Then up to them to decide. 🙂 christine.

  • Christine says:

    Yes,another great post. I also likes Leana’s method of writing down the pros and cons and meditate on the options. I see us as lightworkers.querent should be informed of what tarot reading is about. Whenever a new querent said :”I want to ask about health,” I said” sorry,i can’t help should ask the doctor” querent:”I want to ask about my fortune. I said” Sorry I can’t help you” I said that with a smile and explain what tarot reading really is. Then its up to them to decide. 🙂 christine.

    • Brigit says:

      Christine, that’s a great idea to provide an overview of what the Tarot can and can’t do. Many clients just don’t realise that we can’t read on health, the lottery, death, etc. It’s good to be compassionate and to try to shift them into how to use the Tarot to help them.

  • Marianne Quintinio says:

    Another boundary that I would like to add is politics. I just remembered the webinar session that I attended with miss Bridgit and instantly remembered some people were asking, “Who’s going to be the next president of the U.S.?”, or “”Who’s going to win in the senatorial election?”. Personally, I would prefer it if political issues such as these stay out of Tarot questions. They are very sensitive issues and can add more fuel to the fire. Not only do these came from a wide range of subjective perspectives, these topics can hurt as much as gossiping (which also spreads like wildfire).

    I also realized that Tarot scammers are not the only source of corrupting the beauty and art of Tarot reading; questions like, “How can you bring back the dead?” and “Can you contact the spirit world?” also immoralized this branch of divination. The departed souls of this world have rights to be in peace, hence, the “Rest In Peace” phrase on their tombstones (sounds silly of me to re-emphasize, but, why would anyone want to go through all the trouble?)

    Likewise, I agree with the above posts and comments. ATA is only justified to create its own Code of Ethics to minimize Tarot scammers and Tarot fradulence.

    More power to Biddy and to Biddy Tarot!


    Marianne Q.

    • Brigit says:

      Well put! It’s important to set your own personal boundaries about what you feel comfortable reading on, and what you don’t.

      And yes, there are many different ideas of what Tarot is all about. I think, often, people are just misguided, so as ethical readers, we can provide more information about how we personally use the Tarot cards.

  • Daniel says:

    really interesting article!
    I have my own code of ethics and boundaries and I am sure they are different for every person. But I never considered about letting people work out / decide what to do themselves. Something I will put into my tarot learning now. I just do readings for friends but if it looks like there is a clear answer to their question, I say it. Instead phrase answers where they still make the decision, I shouldn’t be making the decisions for them. Just giving insight and suggestions. interesting article and something to add to my study 🙂

    • Brigit says:

      Hi Daniel,
      Thanks for sharing. I think if you do see an answer very clearly, say it, but also say that this is just one opinion or one piece of information available to the client/your friend. At the end of the day, it is the client who is making the choice, based on all the information available to them, and part of that will be your reading.
      Hope that helps!

  • rebecca watson says:

    great article! as both a tarot reader and a hoodoo practitioner, ethics are paramount to my practice. it really burns my butt when i hear of yet another person being scammed by a reader for hundreds of dollars for a fake ‘curse removal’ etc… clients know i practice magick, yet upon doing a reading i find that 90% of them don’t need magickal help, they just need a reading and possible spiritual/psychic cleansing-cleansing which can be done by themselves at home for free! as tarot readers we often walk a fine line ethically, and i’m glad to see there is so much being done to educate the public about the wonderful art of tarot as a dignified and professional practice.

    • Brigit says:

      Rebecca, you work in a very interesting space! Magick can be so powerful as a compliment to a Tarot reading. I think it’s great you provide suggestions for free, rather than compelling your clients to make an additional purchase. Good on you!

  • Courtney says:

    One thing I have learned doing Tarot for others is that people have different tolerances to information. For some, I find they can be quite shaken by the experience. So I have learned to ask if they would like more information on something. Some people actually say “no, not right now”. If they are getting shaken up I try to pick up on that and ask them if they would like to continue.

    I’ve talked to a couple of people who have had their cards read by people who actually were likely psychic and told them WAY too much and so will never do tarot again.

    • Brigit says:

      Courtney, that’s some very good advice. Thanks for sharing. There will be different points with different people where it becomes information overload or they’re just not ready to process what might be difficult information.

  • Clare says:

    Hi Brigit, I love your advice for giving tarot readings via email. I have been thinking about starting to do readings via email as my health is hindering me from giving them in person, I can’t talk for too long before I have difficulty breathing and speaking. I was wondering how you ethically deal with the payment process? I want people to feel secure, and know they are going to get what they pay for, but I also don’t want to get taken advantage of. No idea how to go about the technical aspect of this and you seem to be the right woman to ask 🙂

    Any advice would be much appreciated!

    Many thanks and blessings to you, in anticipation,

    Clare Markwick

  • Julie McSorley says:

    Hello from Maine!
    As an ethical reader I will not do “parties” or large gatherings. When someone asks me to come to a gathering to do readings I set boundaries, no alcohol, private space for each reading. I ask that people sit with their reading and not expect immediate clarity, but I do encourage questions. I am always clear that I do not have answers about the lottery or when they will die. I have a very clear statement that I will not harbor criminal information given to me or questions pertaining to such matters.
    I love reading and I am honest and clear with my limits.

    • Brigit says:

      It’s great that you are very clear with your boundaries. Of course, your boundaries won’t be other readers’ boundaries, but that’s OK! What’s important is that you know what you’re comfortable with (and what you’re not) and you clearly communicate that.

  • Connie says:

    I have always told my clients that the reading is only as good as the information and that when you learn new information that the reading will change. I will also not do third party readings as without their consent it is wrong. I try to keep my readings in a way to show them obstacles that are coming in to view and let them decide which way to go. If i see money coming I do not say where from as they will know where to expect it from. Health is a big issue for me as I see things come up but I usually just state to watch for illness or accident rather then what will happen.

  • Linda Ursin says:

    In addition to a lengthy ToS page, I don’t tell them what to do, and I tell them not to base important decisions on Tarot alone. I do publish readings in an anonymized format on the blog, in my podcast and radio show, but this is something my clients are aware of and consent to.

  • An excellent piece of writing on ethical tarot reading. I regularly turn private clients away when they wish to have a follow up reading, without leaving enough time and space for things to unfold. I advise a minimum of three months minimum between readings. As I explain to my clients, I would love to earn the money but it is too soon and although there are always more questions one could ask, it is important to be careful not to become dependent on the cards.

  • zelphia200 says:


    There was some SUPER helpful information above. Thanks everyone for sharing!

    On one topic, I could use some more clarity on 3rd party readings.
    I know this is an old thread, not sure if this post will revive it, but it seems to me there is some gray area between not doing 3rd party reading and not sharing any 3rd party information, and on the other hand, warning your client that someone else’s actions (i.e. the 3rd party) could massively impact them.

    I’m trying to find out where that line is. For example.If a client asks “Will you let me know if my sister in law’s spending too much money?” (okay that seems clearly not something you want to share as it is 3rd party and frankly none of the client’s business), and a client asking “Is my business partner embezzling from our company?” Technically that is a 3rd party, but his actions are potentially devastating to the client if the client’s suspicions are correct.

    I’d love to get some feedback/help/advice.


    • Brigit says:

      You make a very good point! I would say that in this example, the potential embezzlement is something that directly affects you. I don’t see the harm!

  • zelphia200 says:

    After I posted this, I came across Alison Wilkie’s guest blog on 3rd party readings and it was so helpful in clearing this up for me.

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