I once belonged to a group of tarot readers, an online forum where readers could share ideas and insights about the world of tarot. This group has thousands of members worldwide and it seems to be a great place for networking with fellow readers. However, the past few days I encountered something very disturbing, which caused me to voluntarily leave the group. Someone had posted a question out of concern for one of their friends. The friend had called a tarot-by-phone service, and was charged $200 for the reading. There was concern that this friend had been scammed. To my astonishment, I began to see posts from people stating how much they charged for readings, both in person and over the phone. Some of them charged $100, $200, even $300 or more for readings. When I suggested that those prices might be unethical, they became quite defensive. One by one, more people chimed in, and it became quickly apparent how widespread this has become. Some had the audacity to ask “How is this unethical”? They were actually defending their right to charge hundreds of dollars for their readings. Unbelievable. I realized this was not a group I wanted any part of. To not see this as unethical, they are either extremely greedy or arrogant beyond belief. After all, they must feel that their abilities are so amazing they can charge such ridiculous prices. Perhaps it would be better if I skipped paying rent this month, or go without food, just so I can pay for one of their incredible readings. I’m being sarcastic, of course, but this is the impression one gets.
These practitioners are preying on those who are vulnerable and easily-manipulated. Some view themselves as celebrities, and because of their perceived status and “years of experience” they feel justified charging high prices. They believe they can charge so much because of who they are, and the reading has become more about them and less about you. The unfortunate thing is, as long as people are gullible enough to pay these prices, readers will continue to charge them. I really think there should be some kind of government regulation that controls how much people charge for readings. Laws vary from state-to-state, but in some places, it is illegal to market yourself as a “fortune teller” and you are required to tell your clients that your readings are “for entertainment purposes only”. Not that anyone really believes that.
I don’t consider myself an expert tarot reader, but I would certainly never call myself one, no matter how much experience I had. I charge a small flat fee for all readings and I do not place a time limit on them. I think that’s only fair. I’m more concerned about helping the person who has come for the reading than I am about how much money they’re paying me. It’s not about the money. Tarot is a service that I offer to help people, I do not seek to make a living from it. I don’t do readings for free, but I purposely keep my prices low so the average person can afford them. I saw one tarot reader at a beach resort who was charging different prices for ½ deck readings and ¼ deck readings or readings just from the Major Arcana. Not even a whole deck. You can’t tell me that this is ethical in any way.
No tarot reader is worth 300 dollars. How “good” or accurate they are is completely irrelevant. Do not be taken advantage of. You can find other tarot readers who charge much less, and they can be just as good, maybe even better than the one who wants you to pay them 200-300 dollars. Whatever happened to “payment in kind”, “whatever you can afford” or “exchange of services”? I’m not entirely convinced that tarot reading should be someone’s sole source of income. Even the full-time witches that I know offer a wide variety of services, not just one specific skill, and they don’t charge triple-digits for them. Tarot readers should be accessible to everyone, not just those who have a few extra hundred dollars to throw around. The average person can’t afford 200+ dollars for a reading. For most people, that is just not a reality. I’m also a little leery of the dollar-per-minute readers, simply because I would have to keep one eye on the clock to make sure I don’t go over what I’m able to pay. I rarely go to others for tarot readings anymore, as I can read for myself. I’ve used the same deck for years and I have a strong connection to it. When I do readings for others, some people would be shocked out of their minds to know I only charge $20 for readings. How dare I do such a thing.