Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Divination and Children - Ethical Considerations and Warnings

Unconventional as it may be, popularization of the Tarot in occult and mainstream media has resulted in an increased interest in divination and Tarot reading as entertainment. When it comes to hosting a party for children however there are some ethical and practical considerations to keep in mind. First and foremost, consider the age and developmental level of guests at your event. Very young children (lower grade school) may have little understanding of and attention span for the broader benefits of a Tarot reading, even if done solely as entertainment.  Be clear when speaking to a prospective Tarot Reader about what your expectations are and the audience the reader will be addressing.

It would be awkward for a serious Tarot reader to arrive at a party with 7 year old children who are expecting a “Madam Fortuneteller” show for fun only to try find that time is dragging tortuously as the reader attempts to explain the virtues of having drawn the Queen of Swords to a child in a serious fashion.  If a child requests a “Tarot Reader” (or “fortune teller” or the like) as entertainment for a party, discuss with the child what their vision of this entertainer will be and explore whether they are really seeking a replication of a scene in a favorite movie (and maybe stick to a movie theme) or if they are hoping for information from the subconscious. 

While it is important not to underestimate the intelligence of children, it is also vital to consider the true purposes of both the party and the art of divination. If the two are difficult to reconcile for the event you are planning, perhaps it is best to consider a variation on the theme.  It is, in general, also much more cost efficient to have someone dress up “fortune-teller” style strictly for show and entertainment purposes than it is to hire someone who is a serious Tarot reader with a skill to offer when the crowd is seeking more image than substance.  

You should always be cautious about the ramifications of hosting a party for youth with the entertainment provided by a Tarot reader. On the one hand it is delighting to know that the general public is releasing its collective fears of the Tarot and arts of divination and embracing these practices more openly. On the other hand, Tarot is still considered by many to be dangerous, intimidating, or blasphemous. If you do not espouse these views, it can be difficult to imagine that there are those who do hold Tarot as evil or harmful, but these are the beliefs of some people today and to introduce this art as entertainment for the child of someone who has strong opinions against such arts is asking for interpersonal - and possibly legal - trouble. If you have decided that the youth in attendance at your event will be able to appreciate Tarot readings - for entertainment or not - it is important to make very clear to their parents what your plans are. Some Tarot readers will even insist that each child’s parent signs a written consent form clearly stating their permission for the child to have a reading. 

Assuming that the children in attendance are of an age to enjoy a Tarot reading, and their parents are in agreement with this entertainment, one must next consider the purpose of readings for children. There is a philosophy among some readers that even with permission from parents the line between “self exploration” through Tarot and “fortune telling” should not be crossed with children. In these cases Tarot can still provide a fun and enjoyable way to stimulate exploration of the child’s strengths, dreams and obstacles they are overcoming without the framework being set that “you WILL go to dental school…” or “you WILL someday live in a house on a farm with 4 cats…” etc.  While it can be said that all people to some degree are impressionable and can be influenced to act or not act based on a Tarot reading, with children this is much more the case. Therefore some readers feel it is their ethical obligation to not use Tarot to tell children specific outcomes so as not to imprint narrow possibilities that would then discourage the child from important parts of their development. An example of what readers of this mindset may do in a reading, rather, would be to sit with the child and explore the symbols on the cards selected and describe the meanings of these symbols in terms of what they mean for the child’s present life, and discuss what that could mean in terms of the child’s growth or future goals, but in an open ended way. Dazzling the audience with “I told you so” fortune telling is not the goal here; but make no mistake, open ended readings remain a fun and exciting method of reading for kids. 

Other readers may choose to read for children and adults in the same manner, but it is worthwhile to inquire when a reader is contacted for the event to gain an understanding of their philosophy when it comes to reading for children. It is also wise to explain to the audience what will take place in the reading.  It is important to remind the children - and their parents - that readings are legally considered as “entertainment” and that some of the pictures may look happy, some cards may look sad or scary, but the images are symbols that tell a story much like if one was watching a show on TV or looking at a picture. The symbols hold meaning for the individual but do not bestow “bad” or “good” things upon them.

Older children may crave more concise direction in a reading; there has been an increase in requests for Tarot readings at graduation and Sweet 16 parties, and other events for teens and young adults. It can be easy to overlook the innocence in youths who are older and closer to their adulthood, however it remains important to keep in mind that until a certain age, children are considered minors and remain impressionable.  Thus, respectfully communicating with their parents about divination at the event is still advised. It is also possible for older youth to gain more from an engaging Tarot reading: one that can raise questions and help them to express themselves or explore issues presented in the reading.  The same reading does not need to be “future telling” or involve forecasting the future as this can limit the goals and expectations of a young person who is still trying to figure out what direction he or she wants to take in any given situation.   Tarot readings can be very beneficial however, as a tool to reflect on potentials, opportunities, skills, obstacles, and the various issues in the present that the individual can then act or reflect upon too.

Article by: Angela Kaufman.  Angela is a Priestess for the Dragon Warriors of Isis Coven in Upstate, New York, and the co-author of Wicca: What's the Real Deal?  She is a professional tarot reader.  For more information about Wicca: What's the Real Deal? visit

No comments:

Post a Comment