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What Makes a Great Tarot Reader

What Makes a Great Tarot Reader?

Tarot Reader

Tarot Reader Uma Simon

I compare being a great tarot reader to being a great piano player. You can easily learn the keys, but the genius is in the special way that you play the piano. Similarly, almost anyone with a retentive mind can learn the very simplest meaning of the cards. However, being able to meld and fuse the disparate meanings into a coherent reading is special talent. That is usually reserved for the great tarot reader.

People speaking opinions to the tarot reader

As a tarot reader, many people who have just started to read the cards are eager to tell me how intuitive they are. Frankly, I don’t know why they feel a need to express that ability to me. This is for the simple reason that I am not at that time asking for their expertise. If I want to receive a reading from someone, I would of course hope they were indeed intuitive. Some of those same people are also quick to tell me that they are psychic.

Being psychic is not necessary for a tarot reader

Being psychic is not one of my foremost qualities and not necessary to be a great tarot reader. In my 40-year experience, I have met very few people who are truly psychic. I find many who pretend to be psychic, letting me know that they have a unique ability to tell me who is currently in spirit floating around me. These same people seem to also want to know key lottery numbers.

I call this informational knowledge; knowledge which when imparted to you rarely changes anything in your life other than adding a few unnecessary observations. There are very few actually accurate psychics. It is a quality that I would not want to have, because many of those people feel very burdened by that gift.

An intuitive tarot reader

I like to call myself an “intuitive.” That is much less frightening to people. They don’t have to be afraid that I will announce their imminent departure from earth or some sickness that might descend. If they ask me a medical question about themselves, I quickly advise them to consult with a physician. I am not a medical intuitive. In that regard, I might ask them to frame their question as, “What can I do to improve my health?”

My being intuitive relies upon your openness to have someone see you. My talent is providing a safe and loving space in which you can feel free to reveal some of your fears and anxieties. By virtue of my acceptance and detachment, many feel safe to open to their vulnerabilities. Behind their sensitive selves lies a great potential for many of them. I always say that the difference between your knowing and my knowing is that I don’t have the fear or shame that you have about a certain thing in your psyche. Once you feel free to reveal this, things that have remained hidden in the background can now be encouraged to announce themselves.

Tarot reader as best friend and confidante

A tarot reader is like your best friend, the person upon whom you can rely to hear all of the secrets you have stored within yourself. This includes wishes and desires to accomplish what you perhaps have long sat upon. It is uncanny to see how people can become quickly empowered when they reveal a secret long hidden. Suddenly, the tarot reader has opened the door and there is breath behind this door. Breath that is powerful enough to finally breathe life into a dream or aspiration long held.

What is a great tarot reader?

Now, asking myself why do I consider myself to be a great tarot reader:

  1. When I do a tarot reading, I have no judgment towards anyone for whom I am reading. If I feel that I cannot do this, I will let that person immediately know. I admit to being a human personality with some aversions. If I truly feel that way with someone, I will not read for him or her.
  2. Many times people are very serious about their particular flaw. I try to open up space around it, sometimes with humor, so that they can view it more comfortably and with greater compassion.
  3. I am trained as a gestalt therapist. A gestalt therapist is somebody who can look at many things within a human personality and reconcile them into a whole. What that means is that some of the cards might say what appears to be contradictory to the other cards. But a gestaltist can integrate disparate elements into a complete reading that feels harmonious and accurate. This is for the simple reason that many times in our lives we can become quite complex and unruly in our personalities, one side perhaps predominating.
  4. I don’t give advice that I have not taken myself in the past. Similar to an alcoholic taking advice from someone never touching the addictive substance in question, there is something special when I can advise somebody on something I have conquered in my own life. That gives hope to the querent.
  5. I have done some regrettable things in my past, and have forgiven myself. So when you tell me about something you have done, short of murder, I trust I will be able to hold your pain. Holding pain means a great deal to a tarot reader. You are holding a space for someone to let go of their pain. It’s as if they can drop it in this spaciousness you have created and let go. When that happens, it is a spiritual occurrence. For some it means you have released something habitual in your life that occluded your life in some manner. Some might call that a release of karma.

Basically, my true motive in life, aside from trying to make a living, is to relieve suffering. If I can do this with you, I am truly blessed in that moment.

Uma Simon is a great tarot reader who resides at Kashi Ashram in Sebastian, Florida as their resident intuitive. Uma gives classes and provides great intuitional counseling to all those who seek to remove obstacles in their lives. If you wish to contact her, you can reach her at umasimon at


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Nisargadatta Maharaj: Personal Experience

What was the teaching of Nisargadatta Maharaj?

Nisargadatta Maharaj

Nisargadatta Maharaj

Many years ago I was a friend with a woman whom I greatly admired for her simplicity and generosity. It was a very difficult time for me and I was having trouble with my own spiritual work. In her infinite kindness, despite my negativity, she would counter it with telling me I was not the “doer.” She told me that her own teacher, with whom she was recently studying, was Nisargadatta Maharaj.  My or anyone not being the doer was a simplistic way of saying that our egos are not what is in charge of our destiny, even though we think they are. How we think so is truly the biggest illusion of all times; it arises out of our attachment to identification of self. She went on to explain to me that the problem was my mind and the identification of my self with the mind.

I had no real understanding of what she was talking about. Even though I loved being in her presence, I eventually searched for someone who could either, in retrospect, join me in my negativity or offer me a way out in words or philosophies I understood. I regret now that I was not advanced enough to truly appreciate who she was and the teaching she offered.

Similarities of Ramana Maharishi and Nisargatta Maharaj

The closest I came to understanding the teachings of Nisargadatta occurred when my own guru teacher gave me a picture of the saint Ramana Maharshi. I remember my old friend telling me that Ramana Maharshi and Nisargadatta were very similar in that Ramana Maharshi would tell his disciples to chant, Who am I? The understanding of that mantra is that by chanting Who am I? the cloaks of our personalities and our attachments slowly separate and dissolve from the ego and we are left in the presence of the soul.

Quotations from Nisargadatta Maharaj

Similarly, Nisargadatta Maharaj was introduced to his guru Siddharameshwar Maharaj who told him, “You are not what you take yourself to be,” and gave him the mantra “I am” which he immediately began to recite. As he recounted later:

“My Guru ordered me to attend to the sense of I am, and to give attention to nothing else. I just obeyed. I did not follow any particular course of breathing, or meditation, or study of scriptures. Whatever happened, I would turn away my attention from it and remain with the sense ‘I am’. It may look too simple, even crude. My only reason for doing it was that my Guru told me so. Yet it worked.”

What I now understand of Nisargadatta Maharaj

Now in my new incarnation of spiritual understanding, I have since come to understand a piece of what my friend spoke. Quoting from Nisargadatta Maharaja,  this is the basis of what he taught:

“The life force (prana) and the mind are operating of their own accord, but the mind will tempt you to believe that it is “you. Therefore, understand always that you are the timeless space less witness.”

“And even if the mind tells you that you are the one who is acting, don’t believe the mind. The mind, body, which is functioning, has come upon your original essence, but you are not that essence.”

I particularly love this quote from a disciple of his stating:

“For Maharaj, our only “problem” (an imagined one!) is a case of mistaken identity: we presume to be an individual, and, originally and fundamentally, we are not an individual, we are intrinsically always and only the Absolute.”

The problem with identification with ego

Having furthered my studies of Ramana Maharshi since receiving the picture from my teacher, I gave a small workshop regarding his work and focused a lot on what Nisargadatta Maharaj speaks of: a case of mistaken identity. As mothers, fathers, children, aunts, uncles, etc., we are often caught in a web of mistaken identity. When asked to make choices on behalf of any of our loved ones, we get caught in our attachments and sometimes make wrong choices. We sometimes do not understand that people have their own karma and dharma and no matter how much we may wish for them, it is not up to us to interfere.

Particularly as a parent, I can see how that would be a difficult practice when dealing with your child. Parents often see themselves as inseparable from their children. To their detriment they might even force their children to follow in paths they have walked themselves.

What we forget is that we all want happiness and yet we pursue paths that bring us nothing but unhappiness. Yet the “I” with whom we identify continues to believe that we are doing the right thing. Unfortunately, it is not until we awaken from our misery through mishap or tragic occurrence. Then we realize that we have lived in a dream that was created way before we were even born. It is a dream that continues to be pursued even though it leads to unhappiness. It is one that has been wrought for thousands of years.

You are lucky indeed if you meet someone who awakens you from your dream. You are also fortunate if awareness through misery suddenly awakens you to your true path.

Quoting from Nisargadatta Maharaj about his own Guru

Ending with this wonderful quote from Nisargadatta speaking of himself and his own Guru:

“…Go back to that state of pure being, where the ‘I am’ is still in its purity before it got contaminated with ‘I am this’ or ‘I am that.’ Your burden is of false self-identifications—abandon them all.” My guru told me, “Trust me, I tell you: you are Divine. Take it as the absolute truth. Your joy is divine; your suffering is divine too. All comes from God. Remember it always. You are God, your will alone is done.”

“I did believe him and soon realized how wonderfully true and accurate were his words. I did not condition my mind by thinking, “I am God, I am wonderful, and I am beyond.” I simply followed his instruction, which was to focus the mind on pure being, “I am,” and stay in it. I used to sit for hours together, with nothing but the “I am” in my mind and soon the peace and joy and deep all-embracing love became my normal state. In it all disappeared—myself, my guru, the life I lived, the world around me. Only peace remained, and unfathomable silence.”

My friend’s name was Kali Ganga.  I now extend my love and appreciation for who she was and what she still teaches me.

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The Best Tarot Deck

Our expert tarot reader considers Rider Waite the best tarot deck

Rider Waite Tarot Deck

Rider Waite Tarot Deck

Some of you may recognize me as one who has been in the tarot field for many years, almost 40. During that time I have found a tarot card deck which I consider my best tarot deck. I am sure that I am walking into a minefield when I say that I know what the best tarot deck is. All I can say is I admit it is a very personal choice. And my Queen of Wands as she is painted is probably not the Queen of Wands one might prefer. Thank goodness there is such a myriad of decks claiming to be the best tarot deck that we can truly choose a deck that speaks to our particular preference.

Many best tarot decks to be considered

I admit that at first I way overwhelmed by the many tarot decks there were and the ones claiming to be the best tarot deck. I soon found out it was a truly personal preference. While initially I was overcome by the different choices, it really didn’t take me long enough to find the one I was best suited for. I think it all has to do with whom you consider yourself to be,the talents you offer, and the spiritual place from which you make your choice.

A group that calls itself the Tarot Association Facebook brought together what they considered to be the Top 5 best tarot decks. My personal choice of best tarot deck will for me always be the A.E. Waite deck Waite by A. E. Waite & Pamela Colman-Smith (US Games) – produced in different editions, such as Commemorative, Radiant and Original. The nice thing about these decks is there are a myriad of sizes from the very tiniest to a large deck that is almost difficult to wield.

The history of the A.E. Waite tarot deck

Before telling you why I consider the A.E. Waite deck to be my best tarot deck let me tell you some of its history. I have to admit that while I admire many of the tarot decks around for beauty and description, the A.E. Waite deck has a historical and occult lineage to which I resonate. I must also tell you that most of the best tarot decks use the A.E. Waite tarot deck as a template to draw upon.  It is the one deck almost all tarot decks base their pictures with regards to meanings, placement of cards, colors, shapes, etc.

Arthur Edward Waite was born in 1957 and died in 1942. Commonly known as A. E. Waite,he was an American-born British poet and scholarly mystic who wrote extensively on occult and esoteric matters, and was the co-creator of the Rider-Waite Tarot deck. As his biographer described him, “Waite’s name has survived because he was the first to attempt a systematic study of the history of western occultism—viewed as a spiritual tradition rather than as aspects of porto-science or as the pathology of religion.”

Personal history of A.E. Waite

Waite is a prolific author and many of his works are well received in academic circles. He wrote occult texts on subjects including divination, esotericism, Rosicrucianism, freemasonry, and ceremonial magic, Cabbalism and alchemy. He also translated and reissued several important mystical and alchemical works.

A.E. Waite deck is also noteworthy because of the contribution of Golden Dawn Member, Pamela Coleman Smith, for her illustrations. It is also of note that A.E. Waite is the first author to create a complete tarot deck that is not just limited to the Major Arcana.

Personal choice of Best Tarot Deck

Allowing for the fact that this is a very personal choice as to the best tarot deck, allow me to share as a tarot reader who has read for 40 years what I consider its strengths:

  1. The cards are truly drawn. This means that they express in true form the event that is occurring. There also doesn’t seem to have a preponderance of religious or occult symbols that might obscure the real meaning of the cards. You do not lose yourself in symbolism.
  2. What you see is what you get. If the guy looks like he is getting stabbed, that’s’ what is happening. I am referring to a card that shows a man lying on the ground with a lot of swords in his back. Many readers would prefer to interpret it more pleasantly. In this regards, I have also found that many cards like the palest of colors, thinking that this is more spiritual. The A.E. deck uses very common colors that seem to fit with the figure that wears it.
  3. These cards contain all the best and worst experiences available to a human’s life with no attempt to distract by beautiful artistic means.
  4. These cards appear to be very simple to me. A number of tarot decks appear very out of the ordinary and extremely powerful just on their face. I prefer a deck that is simple and understandable with non-confusing messages to represent events.
  5. There is a clear delineation of what is a good and bad card. Some decks portray more uncomfortable cards more pleasurably. I don’t like that. When I say “good” and “bad,” I admit that some of the cards seem scarier than others. But getting the Devil card, a truly frightening card, is a way to express to my querent something unfavorable they might not receive from me personally. It gives me an opportunity to bring something up for resolution. Of course, one knows that one can resolve any of these cards if one chooses to be aware. Even though a picture might appear scary or frightening, it is but a moment of truth. If the querent can accept it and come out of denial, they have a true opportunity to change their destiny.
  6. The symbolism is quite simple also. There are not too many ornate symbols that would mask the meaning of the cards. In fact, they enhance them.

Choosing your own personal best tarot deck

Some of these things I speak of might not be as important when choosing the best tarot deck for you. My recommendation is have fun choosing the best tarot deck for you.The best tarot deck is the one you choose. Trust you will see what accommodates your spiritual needs and know you have found the best tarot deck.

Uma Simon has long been considered one of the best tarot readers for her insight, wisdom, sense of humor and true tarot skill. She resides at Kashi Ashram as their Resident Intuitive and you can contact her at You can also read about her at

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