Ethical Tarot: An introduction

If you live in DC, you should definitely check out the Capital Tarot Society. We meet once a month and one member presents on a topic and we discuss. Recently we had a presentation on professional ethics and tarot, by an amazing reader Emily over at Amplify Tarot. This sparked a rather heated debate about how to apply ethical principles to common questions in tarot. Whether you consider tarot a spiritual practice, a hobby, or a business, having a guiding set of ethics is important. Ethical principles guide us through difficult questions in our practice.

American Tarot Association, one of the leading tarot groups in the US, has an excellent code of ethics that it provides its members and the public. However, unlike other professions (like medicine, psychology nursing, law, finance, etc) these ethical codes do not carry penalties when they are violated. Having an ethical violation does not carry the same weight as in these more regulated professions. But that isn’t to say that ethical practice is unimportant. In my opinion, it is the opposite, it makes practicing ethical even more important.

In medicine and law, all of the ethical guidelines stem from ethical principles (in medicine: non-maleficence, beneficence, justice, autonomy; in law: confidentiality, avoiding conflicts of interests, duties to the client and courts, etc). When you are working through an ethical problem, you rely on these principles (and your profession’s guidelines and the law) to dictate how to successfully navigate it.

Every tarot reader should, at some point in their career, create a set of ethical principles. (Really, everyone should have guiding principles to navigate the “stickier” situations in life). What I intend with this series is to outline several ethical principles and how they can be related to tarot practices and talk about some of the different places those principles may be applied differently (such as for the professional reader and for the hobbyist).

The first in this series will come in the next blog post with regular updates to the conversation as we go along. Whether you read professionally, for friends and family, or for yourself, take some time and think about what type of reader you want to be and how to apply your ethical principles to your tarot practice.