My Least Favorite Tarot Questions : Or, on Magical Ethics & the Cult of Disempowerment

Magical Disempowerment Gurus Tarot Power Dynamics

There are two primary reasons one might be drawn to “magic”: a) disempowerment and b) efficiency.


Confusion, uncertainty, a conscious or not-so-conscious sense of victimization by superficial circumstances and a little errant emotion to fuel it all seems to generally be the recipe for motivating one to seek out intangible leverage in life via the magical path. This is another way of describing disempowerment, the ever-present shadow of self-realization.

I am a firm believer in the importance of aligning one’s thoughts, emotions, choices, and actions, and usually in order to do so, a bit of digging below the surface is absolutely required. But it is also quite common somewhere along the way that the focus shifts too much to the external. The majority of questions I am asked in divination are about other people, or at least used to be, before I started vetting clients.

I do think it is a valuable exercise to take responsibility for what occurs in one’s external reality as a reflection of what is showing up inside an individual to a point, so the questions aren’t entirely fruitless if the inquiry is redirected to self-work. But often seeded within the obsession of shifting the outer reality is the cynical hope for validation that what is outside IS the problem or needs a little bit of magical “help” so that one’s own desired perception of reality ultimately wins. And, because this perception was more correct all along, no individual work is required or, more often believed, possible, so what’s the sense in minding one’s own hopeless business?


This is the psychology of the disempowered, which is dangerously, albeit usually completely ignorantly, narcissistic and used, by the way, as an excuse to justify acts of black magic. Black magic involves workings placed upon others without permission that exert a persuasion, manipulation, and ultimately violation of free will. Sadly, most believe their intentions are good, for the best, or justified, in which case, let’s call that gray magic.

Bargaining with entities, demonic or not, for the purpose of “help” with this, that or the other, would also fall into this psychological category. Incidentally, let’s remember that bargaining is one of the classic stages of grief, so if you’re drawn to the practice, some internal work around loss may result in a faster track for your intended goals than bothering with the actions of others, etheric or mortal.


Self-work usually goes hand-in-hand with a bit of initial discomfort, as the popular path toward perceived comfort generally seeks to either momentarily numb and dull the senses or overstimulate them to the point of stupor. It’s ultimately a balancing act because being wide open and aware can certainly be overwhelming if one’s external circumstances and relationships are painful when viewed honestly and directly.

The act of digging, opening oneself up, is to allow an individual to see things plainly as they are (and likely will continue to be) and confront this picture. Then, an individual can take the necessary actions to refine and align the self with conditions that are more favorable and supportive to one’s choices. Or, opening up can confidently validate that indeed one’s path and circumstances are actually pretty good after all, so they ought to just carry on.

Working on oneself then could often bypass the need to even ask another about one’s external reality, though in practice, the two can harmoniously go hand in hand when done responsibly. We all have blind spots, and there’s value in discourse. Sometimes it helps to hear yourself say something to another to know how you really feel about it, but be mindful that opinions and truth are not definitively synonymous.


The average individual seeking out a reader is often hoping to be told what to do. They might feel disappointment if they walk away feeling like they didn’t discover anything new or, God forbid, be told that they have a choice.

Often, they are simply paying a stranger to validate wishes through narrative and mystical flattery. I wouldn’t go as far to presume that the majority of readers do this, but many of them certainly do.  


Readers, especially today, are often publicly reviewed and expected to be “accurate”. However, “accuracy” often boils down to a reader enthusiastically mentioning an arbitrary name or detail in a way that the client walks out the door obsessively searching for a way to bring such a detail into their reality, so that an enticing magic finds a way into their personal narrative to mask an otherwise boring existence.

This is not to say that all messages are rubbish, but there is generally an unhealthy co-dependency cultivated between practitioner and client. There is often also a need for a reading to be an entertaining performance, and this pressure contributes to the culture of misuse and misunderstanding of the subtle arts. It renders even well-meaning services disempowering for all involved, and ultimately, inefficient.


At some point, the illusory narrative self-destructs, any missteps are blamed on “karma”, and the cycle begins again. Yes, certainly, there are valuable lessons in these experiences and in the cartomancy-generated fake narratives, but a good reading, a true engagement with and ability to comprehend and organize the unique energy of an individual and the myriad of influences surrounding that individual, is a skill that requires a level of discipline most readers simply do not have.

There is a less bad sub-category of readers that engage in projection-based readings whereby there is such a strong resonance or empathy between both client and practitioner that the reader ends up spitting out advice more appropriately for themselves than the client, even though some good may come of it for all involved. Still, it’s not really ideal, and a lack of education regarding transference in the divinatory fields is a big part of its prevalence.


Reason (b) for getting involved in magic: efficiency. For clients committed to grounding, balance, putting continual work into maintaining the best, most enriching lives for themselves and who know that deeper understanding of self can often circumvent unnecessary or painful missteps along their path, for these folks, magical practices can be wonderfully efficient for connecting to the root and motivation for certain thoughts, feelings, choices, patterns.

In exposing these roots and addressing what comes up, a client can go forth with more awareness about why they are the way they are, why they choose what they do, why they feel what they feel or think what they think. They can more clearly identify what influences or relationships in their lives contribute to the degree of commitment to such thoughts, behaviors, and desires.


Are such influences harmonically resonant with the deeper parts of an individual, or are they based in more superficial social seduction or choices hardened by repetition and unconscious habit? If the attraction to such influences falls in the latter categories, one can guarantee that at some point the deeper voice of knowing is likely to burst and seek expression.

This inevitably can create messy situations, whereby everything built upon a foundation that denied deeper truths must come crashing down and be rebuilt again with a more aligned integration. Conversely, even more effort and energy must be exerted to suppress deeper truth so that the status quo can be maintained. And of course, for that latter category, the level of disempowerment becomes even more crystallized and often intertwined with a new narrative-identity of victimization. At this point, this individual is most vulnerable and likely to seek out either terrible advice from subjective familiars or a bad psychic and might be wedged even further into a stagnant and seemingly unfortunate rut.

Shit happens sometimes, but your life doesn’t have to be shit.


So, I suppose, the moral of the story is, avoid magic unless you’re willing to do the self-work that inevitably comes with it. Or, at the very least, please don’t ask me for a reading if you’re just fixating on other people and trying to persuade me to psychically spy for you.  

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.