Interview with The Tarot Parlor founder Cameron Ayers

Cameron Ayers is the founder of The Tarot Parlor, a business offering Tarot services.  We talked to the Portland native recently about his beginnings with Tarot and what made him decide to turn his passion into a business.

You mentioned on your website that you had a religious upbringing and Tarot and divination in general was not encouraged. Our artist, Rosario Salerno, had a similar experience growing up. Do you think you would have been drawn to it when you were younger if it was not forbidden?
I have always had an affinity for cards. Something about the medium really works for me. As a kid I collected cards, both trading cards and playing cards. I had tons. I just loved looking at the images and the feel of the cards in my hands. I grew up in a conservative religious household where any type of magick or divination was considered “of the Devil” and a one-way ticket to eternal damnation, so strictly forbidden. That meant that tarot wasn’t an option back then and it actually took me years of religious de-conditioning before I felt comfortable picking up a deck, but if it had been allowed, I absolutely would have been drawn to tarot as a kid.

How did you originally become acquainted with Tarot?
I was vaguely aware of tarot for most of my life because I would see a neon signs for tarot readers on a street corner or notice a tarot reader at fairs and festivals, but since tarot wasn’t allowed in my house growing up, it wasn’t until 2011 that I actually started to familiarize myself with the system. I was living in a large communal queer house in California at the time and one of my house-mates had a couple tarot decks. It was the first time I had known anyone who used tarot. I was still a little nervous about engaging with tarot because of the conditioning I had received growing up, but my curiosity eventually overcame my fear and I asked my house-mate is I could look at some of their decks and I even got a reading from them. A couple months later my partner gifted me with my first deck, The Collective Tarot. I clicked with it immediately and I started devouring any resources I could find on learning tarot; books, blogs, You Tube videos, you name it. Six Months after that I started my blog, The Tarot Parlor, because I wanted to write about tarot as I learned, and share my experiences working with tarot. Then two years after I started the blog, I launched The Tarot Parlor, where I offer reading services.

What made you decide to start offering reading services?
I tend to approach life with an entrepreneurial eye, I have always been that way, ever since I was a kid. I started my first business when I was 8 or 9 years old, selling baked goods to neighbours, so I just tend to turn all my hobbies into businesses if I can. In terms of tarot, I realized that I really enjoyed doing readings for others and the people who I read for told me that my readings were super helpful, so it seemed natural that it should develop from a hobby into a business. I knew I was ready to make the jump when several of my friends, who read professionally themselves, assured me that my readings were professional caliber.

How did you make the transition from a passion to a business?
Because I have an entrepreneurial mind, I was already running my tarot blog like a business years before I actually started offering tarot services. I was already thinking about web presence and branding, doing networking, utilizing social media, building community, etc., so logistically there wasn’t actually much of a transition for me.

What is your relationship with Tarot, what does it mean to you? When do you use it the most in your life?
For me, tarot is first and foremost a tool. I use it most often for personal development and to help me plan and troubleshoot my life. So If I have a project that I want to tackle and I’m looking for guidance on how best to proceed I’ll pull a couple cards to see what steps I need to take next. If a situation is confusing or overwhelming me and I could benefit from some clarity or a fresh perspective, I’ll do a reading. If I’m going through a tough time I’ll use tarot to look at what lessons I can take from the experience and how I can grow from it. Stuff like that.

Also, since I’m a writer too, I like to use tarot to inspire my creative writing. Sometimes I’ll pull some cards to dig deeper into aspects of my character’s personality or their back-story. I also like to lay out a spread to explore potential plot arches for my story, or to see where certain plot points might lead. I actually did a series of blog posts last year about using tarot for writing.

Have you found a Tarot community in Portland?
I have found an amazing tarot community here in Portland. My friend Lisa Moon Cat (lisamooncat.com) runs the group Portland Tarot Learners. We have a monthly tarot meet-up and it always brings in an incredible group of people of all experience levels. We usually spend the first half of the meet-up talking about a tarot related topic and then we break off into groups and read for each other. It’s a lot of fun and it’s how I made most of my friends when I first moved here three years ago. Portland is also home of the Northwest Tarot Symposium (nwtarotsymposium.com) which is being held this year March 4th-6th. It’s really exciting having such a big event so close to home. There are also a lot of metaphysical shops and teachers in the area who offer classes on reading tarot and other metaphysical disciplines. All of these different resources makes Portland a really incredible place to read tarot and to find other folks who are interested in tarot.

Cameron wearing the Fool Tarot Card crew neck tee
Cameron wearing the Fool Tarot Card crew neck tee

Do you think the Tarot scene in Portland is different to other parts of the United States?
I would say so. Portland is a weird, quirky city where people are really open to alternative lifestyles. Folks here are also very much into community building and networking. Because of these things, it is the perfect environment for a tarot community to flourish.

Do you collect decks? If so what are your favourite?
I do have a bit of a collection, I think maybe 18 or 20 decks at this point. I have a couple favourites. Right now I’m using The Antiquarian Tarot the most. It’s an independently created deck by Maree Bento (divinemuses.net/tarot) who is a local reader here in Portland. I feature a lot of images of that deck on my website. I love it. I also love the Smith-Waite Centennial Edition Deck, The Collective Tarot, The Tarot Illuminati and The Deviant Moon Tarot.

Do you have a special relationship with any specific cards?
I have a special bond with The Hermit. As an introvert and a seeker, I identify with his archetype most strongly. For me he represents the value of solitude and walking a solitary path. Also, I see him as a symbol of living authentically and breaking from the mainstream. He’s gone off in search of his own truth, his own way of being. He trusts his inner light to guide him and allows that inner light to shine for whoever else might need a little illumination. I find his message very comforting and encouraging because often I feel that there is no room for me, the queer solitude loving introvert, in such a normative extroverted world. The Hermit reminds me that there is, and that following in his footsteps is a sacred path.

You can find Cameron at his website TheTarotParlor.com, on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

Interview with Matthew Philip Harris

Matthew Philip Harris is a Tarot reader based in Chicago. He is also a practitioner of Reiki and is a keen Astrology enthusiast. We talked to Matthew about his interest in Divination and his Tarot and Reiki business at MatthewPhilipHarris.com.

When did you become interested in Tarot?

My interest in “magic” and the occult stems from my childhood. I grew up obsessed with witches and wizards, and wanted nothing more than to find out I was a witch on my 16th birthday (it can still happen on your 30th birthday, right??).

When I was in my early twenties, my love for the mystical resurfaced a bit and I started getting my cards read seasonally with a friend of mine at a little New Age shop in my hometown. Once that experience waned, I pushed all of my “magic” aside and forgot about it. It wasn’t until a few years ago that it all started to resurface for me again, and as a way to help hone what I felt was a pretty strong intuition, I went out and bought for my first pack of Tarot cards and haven’t looked back since!

What does Tarot mean to you?

It’s such an amazing tool to help unearth all the feelings, emotions, and possibilities that lie within us. I approach Tarot in a way that helps empower whoever I read for in ways that they may not see or understand.

Fortune-telling is not my thing; instead, I like to use the cards to see where you’ve been, where you are, and where you may be headed according to current patterns and then help you continue on a path toward success or help you navigate through something difficult to become a happier, more fulfilled version of yourself. The future is in no way set in stone, and if the trajectory the cards point out is not one you’re comfortable on, we’ll take a look at what can be done to set it right!

Recently you’ve changed your business name from Ashes and Wine to your personal name, Matthew Philip Harris. Can you tell me a little about your desicion to do this?

When I started Ashes and Wine, I had an idea of where that brand would take me and what that business would look like. As it began to grow and evolve, I did as well, and eventually decided that if I was going to brand myself, I needed to do it in the most authentic way possible. I didn’t want to limit what I was able to do because I was known more for a brand name than my actual name. Changing things over not only lets people get to know me more, it also helps me find solace in offering as much as can to people to help them really get what they need out of my services.

What are some of your favourite decks?

The Fountain Tarot has become my true, go-to, favorite deck. It’s a beautiful, modern, subtle update to the traditional Rider-Waite-Smith and it speaks to me in ways no other deck has.

Aside from the original RWS, which is a close second, I’m a huge fan of independently produced and published decks. Serpentfire Tarot, Spiritspeak Tarot, and The Starchild Tarot are all favorites of mine because not only are they unique and beautiful, but their creators are amazingly kind and talented artists who pour their love of Tarot into their work; what more could you want from a deck?

When did you first become interested in the practice of Reiki?

I first became aware of the practice of Reiki through other Tarot readers I encountered online. I didn’t know too much about it when I decided to start studying it, but I found it fascinating, and I’m the kind of person who likes to learn as much as he can about something if I find it interesting (Saturn in Sagittarius in my Ninth House; if I’m going to learn to do something, I want to learn to do it right!). I found an amazing teacher here in Chicago and have since had my Level I and II attunements and am currently walking the Master path.

How is the Tarot scene in Chicago?

The Tarot scene here, from what I understand, is small but so amazing and supportive. I’ve had the change to meet or work with some awesome people, and there’s aways a sense of support and camaraderie. I have ideas of ways to help get us all together to help teach, support, and geek out on Tarot, so I’m hoping to get some of them off the ground and running soon!

Learn more about Matthew at MatthewPhilipHarris.com

Interview with Tarot, Oracle and Crystal Reader Heru Jerome

Heru Jerome is a Manhattan based Tarot, Oracle & Crystal reader with over 15 years experience working with the Tarot and the ancient laws of MAAT (Balance). He is a certified Kemetic Priest and Empath with the ability to deeply connect with his clients and get to the heart of matters. We talked to Heru Jerome about his early beginnings with spiritual energy, what Tarot means to him and which are some of his favourite Tarot decks.

When did you first become interested in tarot?

This is a great question. I was born with site, when I was 8 years old I was at a bus stop with my Grandmother on a very beautiful day and was looking into the clouds and saw the silhouette of a man. He actually was looking at both me and my grandmother and I could see him walking around. The thing is that even at that age I had a sense of energy and I didn’t get a bad vibration from this experience at all. However, it was as if time stood still and I felt connected to source (even if I did not understand it at the time). My Grandmother is Shinecock and grew up on the reservation in Long Island, when I told her what I saw she didn’t tell me I was crazy she told me it was okay. Well, to make a long story short when we got home about 45 minutes after that my Grandmother got a call that her brother died. We went out on the porch that evening and she let me know that I am very special and was put here for a very specific purpose. My family has always nurtured who I truly am. It is interesting to me, well as a Tarot Reader it shouldn’t be but still is, how the universe aligns itself and puts people along your path in your lifetime to help you realize your true energy and self.

My mother is amazing and always exposed me to different religions when I was growing up. We went to Mosques, Catholic Churches, Baptist Churches, Buddhist Temples, and Synagogues. She always instilled in me that it was me who would find the channels to let my spiritual energy flow. Back in the 90s I met one of my very close mentors Troy Harrison, who opened Afrakuts House of Kham Nu. The community at Afrakuts had me connected with all sorts of energies in NY, NJ and Brooklyn. The tri state was just so different back then, the energy was very special and at times I really miss it. This is the time where I met Baba Heru Ankh Ra Semahj Se Ptah as a young boy who would greatly influence me as I got older. He truly helps people find their true light having done so for Ben Vereen, Erykah Badu, and Wesley Snipes. Baba eventually mentored me for 5 years when I turned 26 years old. Now at 33, he has helped me to understand the concepts of MAAT. I started reading tarot when I was 18 off and on. When I started my journey to become a Kemetic Priest I re-connected with Tarot as I never have before. I was able to understand it with such a deeper understanding after studying the alchemy of Egypt for so long. All of these paths have allowed me to walk into the light of my own business Worthy Tarot. There are so many beautiful and talented readers out here right now. My energy and the path I traveled to truly find myself sets me apart in the spiritual world. I have been able to clearly define my brand and how I want to communicate with my clients.

When did you start reading professionally?

I started reading when I was 18 years old. I launched Worthy Tarot in 2015, really long time in the making!

What does Tarot mean to you?

Tarot means so many things to me. I do not know where I would be without it. It is a beautiful spiritual language that speaks to us at different times in our lives, in different ways for different reasons. I find it to be a compass that helps us to navigate difficult terrain. It has become more and more apparent to me that our souls must mature just as we do in a lifetime. So, they incarnate through lifetime after lifetime all in different bodies, sexes, races, sometimes on different worlds to resolve those things that we must learn to reach illumination. Once we are truly illuminated we have no more use to incarnate and can start to focus on our true spiritual work in greater focus. However, we do have those examples of those advanced souls who have made the decision to incarnate although they have not needed to so they can change and inspire on a global level. Tarot helps me to navigate this terrain and always serves as a compass to find light even in the darkest of situations. I would never get in a car and just blindly drive to Cincinnati, I would use a navigation system. Tarot for me is that navigation system and does it with such beautiful art and symbols that even after all these years I continue to discover new things in.

What are your favorite decks and cards?

I have about 60 decks, I think that decks are like people, all different with very different energies. The thing that I love about the time that we live in is that with the changing ages there are so many people who have turned to spirituality to truly find themselves. This has created a vast array of beautiful decks. I tend to like decks that incorporate different races, sexes, decks that are more contemporary or don’t seem to have a time period associated with them at all. Some of my favorite decks are Rotin Tarot, Alice and Wonderland Tarot (Baba Studios), Cosmic Tarot, Linestrider Tarot, Prisma Visions Tarot, Black Power Tarot, Brotherhood of Light Tarot, Edward Gorey Oracle, Starchild Tarot, Nomad Tarot, Silver Era Tarot, Sacred Symbols Divination and Meditation Oracle, Tarot of the Stolen Child, Eroteme Tarot. I could go on and on, the thing about me is that I am a reader who actually uses all of my decks. I do not get decks just to collect them, I actually use them in one way or another. If not just for myself it’s for, ritual, daily meditation, or for my clients. My professional layouts are very unique, I read with 3 different Oracles; one drawn to Sacred Feminine, one drawn to Sacred Masculine, and one in between. These I use to build a Meridian Line. I create my tarot layouts under the Meridian Line, as it opens up the way to what the tarot will say. I lay out in the four quadrants as protected by the 4 sons of Heru (Horus) in Kemet (Egypt). This ritual helps me to read into psyche. I deeply connect with soul, its shadow and its light in all of my readings. Every professional reading has me using 5 decks at one time, so when I create my Matrix (Lay-out) it is like watching a movie.
For those who like Tarot Porn, haha. Follow me on Instagram @worthytarot I post every week with a 7 day cycle of one of the decks from my growing collection. This way it takes a very long time to do repeat postings with a deck, and people can get an idea of the energy I am drawn to when I choose to work with a deck. You can also check out my site Worthytarot.com where I have been blessed to meet and write articles with many of the artists who have created the decks I use on a daily basis. I post these articles once a month and am always giving much love and thanks to the caliber of artists who have agreed to interview with me.

You can check my site out at www.worthytarot.com
You can follow me on Instagram @worthytarot

Interview with Steven Bright, Founder of Tiferet Tarot

Steven Bright is a seasoned Tarot reader, teacher and mentor. As well as writing about the subject online daily he has read professionally for ten years. Steven is currently taking his knowledge and experience with the Tarot into the classroom, teaching and mentoring beginners. Tarot-Tshirts.com talked to Steven recently about his beginnings with Tarot, what Tarot means to him and about some of his favourite decks and cards.

When did you first become interested in tarot?

Eighteen years ago, I bought my first tarot deck in London. While my first real reading deck was The Rohrig Tarot, my first introduction to tarot was a cheap set I found in a supermarket.

I began to learn the basics of tarot reading before I had an internet connection, so I spent a handful of years learning in my North London flat with the book in one hand and the deck in the other. I didn’t realise that the book was Waite-based and that my deck followed the Thoth tradition, so it was confusing but also a very magical time. I leaned on my intuition and read as much about the tarot as I could find. In those days, I’d read for friends at dinner parties and scrawl notes about the cards in a journal. It wasn’t as easy to access information back then and I didn’t know or have contact with anyone else who was interested in the cards, but that time spent alone with just the one deck was important. I could have easily given up, as many do when it gets difficult, but I persevered.

Tarot is a tool which I use to help people make sense of the present moment.

How long have you read professionally?

I have read professionally, on and off, for around ten years but I only began to read full-time in the last year, when I built Tiferet Tarot. Prior to this, I’d frequented online forums and had written a tarot-related blog for over five years. I stripped all of that down and created a new blog a year ago, built around my teaching of the tarot, articles, and deck reviews. The blog also became a place for me to showcase my own tarot illustrations, which I initially designed to accompany my writing.

Since the beginning of Tiferet Tarot, I have taught three beginners courses and have read at fairs, public places, and regularly in a Kent Reading Room. I now read for people every week and put together daily tarot-guidance videos, which I share on social media.

What does tarot mean for you?

Tarot is a tool which I use to help people make sense of the present moment. It allows them to examine relevant issues in their past, look at the bigger picture in the present, and see which direction they are heading in. Of course, nothing is set in stone, so a reading provides options and opportunities which can be acted on. When I read for someone, I want them to feel empowered and more in control of their life. The tarot cards are prompts, which help them to see what is important and suggests ways in which they can get the most out of their life.

I have a strong intuition and I enjoy to help people. The tarot assists me with that, providing images which arouse my intuitive skills. I love the messages which are stimulated by the combinations of cards. Every reading is a new journey of discovery with a client.

What are your favourite decks and cards?

I have a few hundred tarots here. I like Tarot of the Hidden Realms (Julia Jeffrey), The Intuitive Tarot (Cilla Conway) and The Shadowscapes. However, it is always the original Rider Waite (and its variants) which I come back to. Along with Llewellyn’s Classic Tarot, it is my main reading deck. I have looked into all of the traditions and while I stick mainly to the Waite pattern, I do love my Marseille sets – in particular, the Hadar.

Within the tarot, there are cards which I always look for in a deck – in particular, The Hanged Man, Knight of Cups, and High Priestess. I particularly like The Hanged Man in The Cosmic Tribe Tarot, The Druidcraft Tarot, and it was the illustration of Rosario’s Hanged Man which drew me to Tarot T-shirts.

www.tiferettarot.com
Photo by Darren Burt