As a young girl, Monika Chawla, now 45, wanted to become a dancer. She did manage to master the art and opened a dancing school, Mridang, and made her mark in wedding choreography. Tragically, however, she developed health problems and two surgeries later, she wasn’t fit any more to do what she loved best.
Having nothing to bank upon, Chawla turned her attention to tarot card reading, which basically involves interpreting the beautiful illustrations on a special deck of cards and predicting the future of people who come to you for ‘readings’. As cards give ‘solutions’ to a problem, many readers consider themselves to be healers too.
Learning the art was no mean task as there were no training centres or certified gurus to teach Chawla. “I went to learn card reading at a professional’s place in south Delhi. It was not a very nice experience. Luckily, after that I got to know about a tarot master, an Australian gypsy by the name of Gesenia Hanks, who was at that time staying in Greater Noida,” she says.
Convincing tarot master Hanks to take her as a pupil, too, proved to be somewhat difficult. Hanks gave her the Rider-Waite (the classic tarot deck) cards to place under her pillow for a few nights and “I was asked to chronicle all my dreams for three nights. After interpreting the dreams she was finally convinced. It is popularly said in the profession that the cards should accept you rather than you deciding to become a tarot card reader,” says Chawla.
You do not require any special qualification to become a tarot card reader. What matters is how well you vibe with your cards and how clearly you can interpret the messages from the 78 cards in a deck. This passion has led several qualified professionals to quit their jobs and take up tarot card reading fulltime. Dishaa, a Chandigarh-based reader, is a management graduate. It was her burning desire to explore the mystical world of card reading that made her quit her bank job. Similarly, the world of the occult had Seema Midha, an MSc in psychology from Banasthali University, Jaipur, hooked. “It helps if you have studied psychology,” says Midha.
Chawla, who belongs to a family of doctors, is an English honours graduate and a trained bharatanatyam dancer while another tarot master Jyoti Mishra is a postgraduate in psychology from Gorakhpur University. “I have also learnt hypnotherapy and Reiki and use all my knowledge (psychology, Reiki and hypnotherapy) to fix my clients’ problems,” says Mishra, who practises in Chankyapuri.
Where readings are concerned Chawla says she has to be prepared to handle a myriad queries. “You handle questions from CEOs who have suffered losses in the market, or a young girl who doesn’t know who to choose as a boyfriend from among her four male friends. Sometimes some stories can send chills down your spine,” she says.
Midha, like other tarot masters, too, gets clients ranging from businessmen, salaried people and housewives to young professionals, politicians and even TV and film personalities. “We all face some problems or the other. I didn’t know those people (read politicians) could be so insecure,” she says.
Such diversity in the mysteries she unravels makes her work exciting. “Even after ten years of reading the cards, work never gets repetitive. Each case is different; their problems are specific and need special attention. It never gets monotonous,” she adds.
Chawla always tries to be truthful whenever she reads the cards. “Before I start reading them, I tell my client that they’re not going to hear what they want to hear. My cards are sacred. If I predict some distressing story, I always purify the cards with my prayers,” she says.
What’s it about?
Tarot card readers are professionals who use the mystical cards of tarot to predict the future of clients. They are not astrologers, who use sun signs and horoscopes. A tarot pack comes with 78 cards, which are used for divination, which is an attempt to gain insight into a question or situation. It’s about holistic healing that includes divination, mirroring, therapy and counselling. It includes the knowledge of chakra, symbology, astrology, numerology, a bit of occult and Reiki
9 am: Clean the tarot card area where I attend to clients and worship my cards.
10 am: Meditate with cards.
11 am: Attend to clients. Normally one client takes one hour
2 pm: Some reading on tarot related subjects, occult, psychology and others
4 pm: Resume work
7 pm: Call it a day
You earn anywhere between Rs 5,000 to Rs one lakh or even more, depending on how popular you are. The more popular ones in a city such as Delhi charge Rs 1100 to Rs 1500 for a one-hour session, and others around Rs 250-500 for one sitting. Some celebrity Tarot masters charge about Rs 5000 for a half-hour session
. Intitutive nature
. Knowledge of psychology is an added advantage
. Good communication skills as you have to interpret the cards for the clients and convey the message clearly to them
. Good counselling skills; as the clients may have serious problems and might need some consoling
How do i get there?
You have to learn Tarot card reading from a professional. There are no institutes or academies to go to. You can also learn from books and DVDs/ CDs available at any good book store
Institutes & urls
. Shipra Bhardwaj 0120-66363045
B- 22, Sector 49, Noida
. Dr Seema Midha, Janak Puri, New Delhi www.seemamidha.com.
. Monika Chawla, B-3, Vasant Kunj, New Delhi
. Nirmala Jain, S-87, Panchsheel Park
. Tarot Skool, Lajpat Nagar, Delhi
Pros & Cons
The profession is exciting and never gets monotonous as each individual comes with his or her unique story and issues.
Money is good if you are experienced and have made your name in the field.
It’s not easy to gain expertise as there are very few good tarot masters who will teach you. Even if they agree to teach you, they do it only for a week or so.
It’s sometimes difficult to deal with clients who come up with silly queries
Tarot readers are counsellors too
From actors to politicians, Seema Midha reads cards for everyone. She talks to us about the challenges facing the
You have earned a name in Delhi and Mumbai where your tarot reading skills are concerned. Who did you learn the art from?
I learnt tarot card reading from three different professionals. The first was from a professional in Mumbai followed by another short training by the mother of my husband’s colleague. At both the places, I couldn’t learn properly. Finally, an Australian lady, Amanda, explained to me the concepts after which I became a master.
Most of the famous readers are women. What do you think is the reason for this?
I think women are more sensitive and they make good counsellors.
So you mean counselling is part of card reading?
Yes, it is. People come to you when they are in distress. Some have family problems, some are monetarily affected while others face office-related problems.
You have to find out what the problem is, tell him/her the reality (of the situation) with some workable solutions. At the same time, you have to share your wisdom and experience to make them feel better. That helps build long-term relationships.
You have been in this profession for more than 10 years now. Have things changed for the better, especially for budding readers?
Earlier, there was no one you could learn the art from. There were hardly any books, DVDs and professionals were also quite few in number. To fix the problem, I released my first DVD in 2005.
Now, things have changed dramatically. There are plenty of books, DVDs and practicing professionals from who you can learn the art. In Delhi alone there would be more than 3,000 tarot card readers, as per my estimate.
This profession is still evolving. How reliable are the practising professionals from whom you can learn the tricks of the trade?
I think learning from a professional gives you the benefit of practical exposure, which you can’t get when you learn from books or DVDs. I normally take phone calls of clients in front of students and discuss the ‘cases’ with my students, without naming my client, of course. Tarot card (reading) is all about practical experience where every case is different; each person throws you a new challenge.
Do you read your own cards?
I read them every day. I can’t take any decision without them. Recently my daughter got admission in IIT Bombay, and I had known it beforehand.
Seema Midha Interviewed by Vimal Chander Joshi