camelia elias marseille tarot

Tarot-coach, tarot life coach, dream-tarot coach, spirit coach angel tarot reader, pro-client tarot coach, action-oriented tarot coach, tarot counselor and coach, intuitive tarot-worker and coach, tarot-business coach and mentor, psychic tarot coach, spiritual tarot coach . . . ad nauseam.

Anything but the simple ‘tarot reader’. The list above was compiled through an ordinary google search and stats analytics that demonstrate how the ‘tarot coach’ now scores more than the ‘tarot reader.’

What’s happening?

Nothing is happening other than witnessing the sad development of popular terms turned clichés that we tag unto the venerable and old profession of reading tarot cards. I want to ask the folks who use the above string of a variety of coaching on their business cards, AND at the same time denounce the ‘tarot reader’ denomination in the name of some political correctness, what they are all afraid of. What’s up with this anxiety? Unless, of course, I forget the power of branding and trending that may be in focus.

Call me naïve, but I like to think of my function as a tarot reader as being about imparting a sense of discernment. Most people who come to me want me to speak from a position of authority. They want clarity on their own sense of place. I don’t see myself at all as participating in any coaching, pointing, and directing, and yelling and screaming the latest popular clichés, according to some rules that one learns in business school.

Now, let it be said that I’m fortunate enough to know folks who use the tarot for consultancy – heck, I use that word too – and who do very fine work that employs coaching techniques. Just think of James Wells or Andrew Kyle McGregor, two excellent tarot readers known to most of the Anglo-American tarot world. Generally speaking, I think that spiritual work combined with contemporary approaches to how to ‘handle life’ can be very useful, but what I find worrying is the renunciation of a term that has a long history, here the ‘reader’ in the ‘tarot reader,’ due to the suspicion that the reader in the ‘tarot reader’ does too much illegitimate predicting, or makes claims to thrones. Wrong.

Consequently, I often hear the folks using the coaching line exclusively defend this original and much more politically correct noun – they think – that the reason why they don’t want to call themselves ‘readers’ is because the word ‘reader’ presupposes a hierarchy. Say what? Have we all forgotten what the word coach means? A big black box, usually elevated above horses in servitude, and carrying a man, or on rare occasion a woman, with a whip in his hand dictating directions? Well guess what, methinks that if this image is the argument, then it kind of fails.


I don’t mean to be critical, because I really don’t give a damn what others chose to call their business, but if it’s about pointing to how language oppresses us, then let us, at least, be fair. Let me pose a general question to the potential readers of these lines, and who have dealings with the tarot one way or another:

Which card in the tarot pack do we associate the most with the act of looking at the cards, as that is exactly what we all do, look?

I’ll bet some 99 percent will reply: The Popess, or the High Priestess. Right, so there we have it. And what exactly does the Popess do in that card? She sits and reads. She doesn’t sit and coach, like the Charioteer. Nor does she sit and offer spiritual guidance, like the Pope. She doesn’t consult angels either, like Temperance. And she doesn’t offer financial advice, like the Empress.


Let’s try again.

The High Priestess is a Coach, but not a Reader?

The High Priestess is a Motivational speaker, but not a Reader?

The High Priestess is a Spiritual consultant, but not a Reader?


The famous image of Nietzsche, Paul Rée, and Lou Salome in a coach, with Lou holding the whip in her hand, comes to mind. The hierarchy, the hierarchy. The horror, the horror.


I’ve asked the cards themselves: what we should call ourselves, in this day and age of cartomantic competition, visibility, notoriety, popularity, leadership, strong leadership, no-nonsense, and god forbid, no superstition.

Three cards fell on the table:

The Pope, Justice, The Moon


There we have it. The cards ask us to look and consider the point: Spiritual coaching à la the Pope? Nope. Cut the crap and look at what’s needed. You need to discern between signs. Invisible signs. Signs of pain and terror. Signs that are not about making lists and models and fixing a life through sensible logistics and administration. There are other professionals for that.

As tarot readers, we are always dealing with many more signs than we can mobilize. We can drown in omens. And that’s the beauty of it, but we need to discern between them. Yet ultimately, that is what we do. We read signs, signs that resist our understanding. The Moon will not disclose its secrets just because we come along and stick in its face a coaching certificate.

What do we do with signs? We read them. We fail to read the streetlights? We’re dead meat. We read the Tower as bliss? Good luck to us. I see the card of the Moon in this last position as very apt, emphasizing the art of interpretation, following from practicing a sense of fairness and justice, the art of reading the image in its complexity and fascinating beauty.

I use the tarot to read it and to read with it. Hence, in the appropriate context, I always stick to the utterance: ‘I, THE TAROT READER.’ It’s more honest.


Note on the cards:

Jean Noblet Marseille Tarot (1650) as reconstructed by Jean-Claude Flornoy. The hand stenciled edition, 2001.


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21 thoughts on “THE COACH

  1. mopfeil says:

    As always, Camelia, very apt.
    Indeed, the term coach is, in my opinion, often used to describe a mindset of helping people with their life, without actually knowing or believing what you are doing. Alas for those who actually do proper coaching for people or businesse, as they are now often confused with all those who call themselves coaches. If you cannot get yourself to get a certificate in counselling or psychotherapy, call yourself a coach. If you do not want to commit yourself to reading cards, call yourself a coach.

    The pope gets his inspiration from above, the moon from within, justice discerns, as you say, what is needed.
    With Tarot cards, a coach co-aches with their client instead of reading the signs to them and let the coaching happen within. Thus I fully agree with you.
    Be a reader!

    1. Camelia Elias says:

      Excellent, Markus. You get the finesse, as always too, even when I sometimes get the boots to enter a territory that others defend dearly in names unbeknown to me. So we must all fulfil a function. Let us do it honorably.

      Of course, what I’m resisting is corporate language, and the self-interest that this language validates. This language only poses one question followed by inconsiderate action: ”What do people want right now? – Let me give it to them right now’. I don’t find much respect in this for where the giving is located, for where the giving springs for. Sigh. I do my part in unmaking the cruel cynicism that informs the language that has coins at its core.

  2. Walter Braun says:

    How very refreshing!
    I did some coaching training years ago but was put off when I saw the reality of the ‘profession’. The main technique: pushing. And 60 percent of your time earmarked for self-promotion. Because, so the justification, everyone can be a coach.
    If people pretend to have conversations with the dead or fly across the heavens with angels and then find some suckers who are wiling to part with their money for fairy tales, fine. But what galls me is the current American fallacy to attach ‘moral excellence’ to profit itself and to denounce everyone not willing to play this game.

    Using the Tarot as a psycho-spiritual tool can only make sense if we expect enhanced self-knowledge and, in due course, improved peace of mind. Any promises to influence the external material world (and to force Lady Luck) are misleading; and no pretence of having created a ‘positive mindset’ in the client will ever change that.

    1. Camelia Elias says:

      Indeed. As far as I’m concerned, I’m just tired of clichés. Their use in this context discloses a lack of commitment to anything. On the psychological level, of course, it’s pretty basic: if you can’t control you’re own life, you will make sure to find some victims who will let themselves be manipulated. I don’t find these power games interesting in the slightest.

      1. Walter Braun says:

        Jodorowsky describes this game too (footnote p 454) when he mentions two kinds of clients who come to a consultation but don’t actually want to change.
        One sort wants to be comforted (cared for, listened to and pampered) while avoiding any challenges to grow.
        The other group expects the therapist to take the responsibility – and if they perceive the Tarot reader as ‘pushy’ they complain about being bullied.
        That is why being an honest teacher, therapist, tarologist is so damn difficult ;=…))

      2. Camelia Elias says:

        Here’s how I see it. We all have a conscious. We have a choice to honor it or not. We all know the difference between good and bad conduct. We don’t need any moral philosophers to spell out for us what the damn difference is. So, in a way, it’s actually very simple. Either you are honest or you’re not. Not everything can be negotiated.

  3. Walter Braun says:

    However, Camelia, your dichotomy spells trouble: you either chew your way through one of the counselling professions or you leave the helping industry altogether (as I have done).
    Being honest comes with a price tag… (and, yes, I have given up on moral philosophies a while ago!)
    P.S. Have you ever come across Hans-Georg Moeller’s book “The Moral Fool”? Had a sobering impact on me.

    1. Camelia Elias says:

      Yes. Well, about belonging to a particular profession. Let me say this: All throughout my life I have resisted the idea. I’ve always acted from the margin, or from a position of questioning everything. The latter by definition will not render you popular. But it buys you a spot all your own. It’s a bit like living on a tightrope. It looks good and dangerous from the outside, but it’s uncomfortable if you tried it. Now, if you insist on inhabiting such a space, you can at least be sure of one thing: No one will envy you. No one will be interested in imitating you. People may talk about what you’re doing, but they will also leave you alone. I like this very much, as it is already quite something in the sense that it affords me just that possibility of serving others without having to compromise my goods in the name of ‘usefulness’ or ‘relevance’ or any of the other trendy words that sprout everywhere where you will also find some claims to knowledge or self-knowledge.

      What I’m trying to say is that since this is the case, I have never had to ‘leave’ a profession that deals with how transactions for self-help are negotiated or consecrated. I offer some folks advice on small scale, and only to the extent that I deem as being based on symmetrical relations. That is to say, we must be on the same page where the divinatory arts are concerned: You have a question, I answer it via the cards or the stars or whatever I may happen to use at the time according to the specific context. And that’s it. This doesn’t require belonging to clubs, bowing to the left and to the right, and making sure that I’m at the right place at the right time.

      I find a lot of freedom in what I’m doing here, perhaps indeed, being as foolish as anyone could imagine, but I rather like the fool in me, the one who always reminds me to simply relax. The world and its needs will always move contrary to how we expect it or anticipate. Hence, I conserve my energy that may go into calculating how I can align my values with those of the world, and use it instead for walking. I look up at the stars and see that they are not concerned with what I make of this whole business of living, and according to whose dictations. They shine on me. I smile at them, and we both get on with the program.

  4. Walter Braun says:

    How refreshing! What a balm to come across a like-minded soul… (I guess you do smile when The Hermit turns up)

  5. Fiona Benjamin says:

    I came upon your blog while doing a quick search on google for “Petite Etteilla” in hopes to find more information online about this beautiful deck. I have spent the last two days scouring over your posts and drinking in every bit of information you have shared with us and I have to admit, I am so happy that you embrace the title of tarot READER. It is a brutally honest representation of what we do, not an ounce of shame of that fact. Thank you and I look forward to your future posts.

  6. SD says:

    Mainstream divination, spirituality, and what not is all a mess. Words are thrown around all over. I consider people in this category a bunch of horny woo-woo people looking to fuck people over, intentionally or not. It’s so easy to get ‘certified’ as anything in this department it’s frightening.

    I had a psychotherapist once who I had no idea practiced tarot readings and somehow on my first session we ended up talking about cards. A couple months later she was saying things about crystals, auras, indigo children, angels, tarot, having me go to her farm and use my mind to control horses and that she could see my future lover standing behind me. She’s ‘certified’ for these things, I did a quick google search on her and I was amazed. Funny thing is whenever we did tarot readings she had to use the book. She would also half-ass explain her woo-woo to me clearly showing she doesn’t know what she’s talking about. She would tell me to get Bach Flower Remedies not knowing what’s in it (just brandy and water), and wouldn’t take a veterinarians advice that her horse needed to be put down so instead she hired a homeopath. This woman now calls herself an ‘intuitive healer’

    The point of me sharing that disaster is to say let them call themselves what they want. It helps us distinguish who’s serious and who’s not. The one’s who show self-entitlement are the ones to avoid.

      1. SD says:

        Agreed. In our sessions she’d often talk about her own problems. You can sense that insecurity in a snap.

        As for not explaining, I think in her position it’s required. You’re working under the title ‘psychotherapist’ and you’re introducing all sorts of mystique discretely to your clients. If it’s not the clients questioning her requiring answers on how Angels are guiding them when they came in to do cognitive behavior therapy someone in a higher position will question her.

        This is a woman who said to me that a schizophrenic didn’t need medication but rather they should embrace what they see because they aren’t schizophrenic just magical…

  7. A says:

    I don’t know how related this is to your post but it got the ball rolling in my head. I started to think how many ‘readers’ take advantage of tarot and other art forms as a way to make a profit. One well known woman in particular, she rhymes with Sterile Comfrey 😉 will charge you even if you ask a general question about her work. No I’m not talking about a tarot reading I’m talking about a general inquest about the work she does. Boggles my mind how people can feel so full of themselves to think they’re that important but hey to each their own.

    1. Camelia Elias says:

      It takes all sorts. I always advise folks to use their common sense. That, and than paying attention to people’s acts. If these acts are not aligned with what is claimed, then run. Save yourself the trouble with having to check on your blood pressure all the time. You can’t save them all, that’s what I say.

  8. Johnny says:

    Question everything- yes! Method is just method, fads and hype change with the times and feed peoples’ insecurities- no need to play that game! I have found that walking my own walk in life has not made my life easy, but it sure has made it authentic and meaningful.

    I have read your blog for the past few years, and just genuinely like it. You walk your walk and are genuinely cool!

    Thank you for your lovely work!

    John Alan

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