A few weeks ago I was scrolling down my Instagram and I came across Emily Clare’s post. To be honest, I was thrilled by the picture and it took me a few more seconds to actually read what it said: “Many Loves: A Polyamory Tarot Reading.”
Two thoughts crossed my mind at the time. The first one “Wow! How come I had never thought of this?” and the second “I really need this reader featured in my blog!” So… I’ve done my fair share of thinking about the topic, and also, I’m here to fulfill the second part and bring you all this wonderful reader who has a lot of really interesting ideas about areas that we should definitely put more attention towards.
Tarot & Polyamory – An Interview With Emily Clare.
Q. – Hello Emily! Thanks a bunch for agreeing to be interviewed for my blog. I am fascinated by your idea of creating a Tarot reading aimed to polyamorous partnerships. Honestly, it had never crossed my mind and it is definitely covering a need for many people!
The fact that I hadn’t even thought about it made me realize just how necessary it actually is, and I guess that many other readers will have this very same “AHÁ” moment when they come across it. So, what do you think is the biggest handicap you find in the Tarot Community regarding polyamory readings?
E. C. – I haven’t come across any handicaps, personally, but I also haven’t seen a lot of resources or tarot readers catering to polyamorous people. I think even for tarot readers who are really open-minded toward polyamory, it’s hard to find resources that get beyond the basics—maybe a spread that includes cards for two or more relationships. I have to admit that I have never personally found those relationship-diagnosis spreads useful in the context of monogamous or polyamorous relationships, and instead find more focused questions to be useful. I would love to see more tarot readers getting into the nitty-gritty of poly relationships.
Q. – We had a brief conversation on Instagram in which you told me about the reluctancy of people in polyamorous relationships towards seeking advice from a non-polyamorous reader. What do you think that can be done in order to make them feel safe when asking for advice? Or do you think it is a matter of just having experienced it in one’s own flesh?
E. C. – I don’t think that tarot readers need to be polyamorous to read cards about a polyamorous relationship. But I do think that in order to best serve their poly clients, non-poly readers should educate themselves about polyamory. And not only do the work of educating themselves, but talk about it openly to make sure that polyamorous people feel comfortable coming to them. Without that education, it can be easy to end up harming or dismissing people who come to them for guidance.
Education is important because there is bias against polyamory and open relationships in our culture. It’s hard to be out as a poly or non-monogamous person, so when things are going well, people tend to hide it. Polyamorous people might only seek advice from therapists, tarot readers, and other mentors when they are having challenges. Now, if I am a tarot reader who has never experienced a healthy polyamorous relationship and only knows about polyamory because clients come to me when they are having difficulties, I might just assume that the relationship type itself is the problem, since all of the information that I am getting about it is negative. It’s hard to fathom the positive when you have never experienced it personally and are only seeing the downsides of other people’s relationships.
And it’s true—sometimes it IS the right answer to tell people that it’s not a good time to open up their relationships or that they need to do a certain amount of work on themselves before opening a relationship or dating more people. That is, sometimes it’s the polyamorous element of the relationship that is the problem. But poly people seeking relationship advice need to hear that from someone who understands that polyamorous relationships often are healthy and fulfilling, too.
Q. – Do you think there’s a significant difference in the issues that poly-relationships face when compared to monogamous couples? If so, which?
E. C. – Yes and no. I do think that monogamous people and polyamorous people deal with the same types of relationship issues, but there is a difference in how these issues are conceptualized and what role they play in the relationship. All relationships have to deal with jealousy, fear of abandonment, and temptations to infidelity. In monogamous relationships, this complex of emotions is often seen as a problem that needs to be eliminated or the relationship will end. In polyamorous relationships, these feelings are seen as part of a larger process. It doesn’t mean that they’re present all the time, but they manifest more as normal, everyday emotions. Part of being polyamorous is accepting these emotions and working through them with your partner(s).
But it’s also worth saying that polyamorous relationships have challenges that have nothing to do with the fact that they are polyamorous. For instance, the first serious poly relationship that I had worked really well as a poly relationship. However, the relationship ended because my partner and I both had a lot of unacknowledged baggage. The problems with the relationship were only between us and had nothing to do with other partners. I hope that polyamorous people reach out to me for these kinds of issues, too.
Q. – Now, focusing on Tarot as a tool. Do you feel the need to modify or adapt the most traditional meanings of some of the cards? Is there a particular variation that comes to your mind? Is there something that you “miss” in a Tarot deck?
E. C. – I don’t feel the need to adapt any meanings of the cards for readings about poly relationships, but that may have to do with the way that I have always approached some of the cards. The two cards that are generally associated with monogamous, often heterosexual relationships are the Lovers and the 2 of Cups. I really see the Lovers as a card about choosing our basic values. Of course, that choice has a huge influence on the types of people we let into our life, but I don’t read it as a card about two people being in love. On the other hand, I see the 2 of Cups as a romance card, but just because romance is happening between two people doesn’t mean that there isn’t love or romance in other areas of their lives. The 2 of Cups can really be about falling deeply in love with anyone or anything, not just a single partner.
Cards like the 10 of Cups and 10 of Pentacles are often interpreted in the context of marriage between two people and a resulting family. However, polyamorous relationships can also have that energy abundance and fulfilment. I can honestly say that the most 10 of Cups moments I have had in my life have consisted of things like both of my partners cooking me dinner!
All in all, I see the cards as archetypes and energies, rather than literal things (for instance, the Chariot means that you’re going to get a new car; the King of Pentacles means you’re going to meet a rich person.) Lots of tarot readers give amazing readings with more literal interpretations of the cards, but my style is to see each card as an aspect of ourselves or our situations. Because of that, any card can be applied to any type of relationship.
Q. – I have done readings for monogamous couples with both parties present and they have been really wonderful experiences. How would you go about performing a reading for polyamorous partners with all parties present?
E. C. – Oh goodness—I’ve never gotten a request for this and somehow I think that it would be hard to schedule things for all partners to be present at the same time! It would be amazingly cute if, say, a triad (a relationship where all three people are partners with each other) came to me for a reading, but I don’t know if I would do much differently than I already do. Since all of the partners would be asking the question, I would be tapping into my intuition in the same way that I would read for one person.
Q. – What would be your advice for the Tarot Community in general in order to do inclusion right? Is there something you would like Tarot readers to be more aware of?
E. C. – To do inclusion right, I think that self-awareness and humility are necessary. Any tarot reader, healer, therapist, coach, or spiritual teacher should understand that just because they have attained a certain degree of insight into spiritual or psychological matters does not make them automatically fit to guide or lead others, nor does it mean that they no longer hold power, privilege, or unconscious bias. It’s really important to know what you don’t know.
Unfortunately, we have so many leaders, guides, and spiritual teachers who abuse their students and clients. I think people who seek tarot readings are a little more sheltered from that kind of abuse because they are entering into a transactional relationship with the tarot reader, rather than giving someone unlimited access to their life like we do with spiritual teachers. But nonetheless, I don’t ever want to have the experience of a client coming to me with a sincere question and getting a bunch of biased crap from me instead.
Even a psychic tarot reader who channels messages (which I am not) can still deliver those messages tainted by bias and limited understanding. I think it’s important for tarot readers to look at where they’re holding privilege, what biases they may have, and to be careful of not making assumptions about their clients.
Q. – Is there anything else you would like to say about polyamory and Tarot?
E. C. – Simply that I am so glad that you contacted me for this interview! I offered polyamory-specific tarot readings almost as an afterthought, but the response to that offering is really heartening. It’s great that people in the tarot community see the value in offering services for polyamorous people.
Are you ready to be one of this very promising lady first customers? You can visit emilyclare.com or follow her on her Instagram account @emilyclaretarot