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Session 180: All About Tarot

The Therapy for Black Girls Podcast is a weekly conversation with Dr. Joy Harden Bradford, a licensed Psychologist in Atlanta, Georgia, about all things mental health, personal development, and all the small decisions we can make to become the best possible versions of ourselves.
Have you ever used tarot cards or had some read for you? Have you heard others talk about using them and been curious for yourself? Well we’ve got you covered. To answer all of our questions about tarot, we’re joined this week by Princess-India Powell, LPC. Princess-India and I discussed what tarot is and how it can be useful, how she incorporates tarot into therapy when requested, how you can get started incorporating tarot into your life, and she shared some of her favorite resources.

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Join us for a live Q&A with Princess-India on Nov. 13

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Read Full Transcript

Session 180: All About Tarot

Dr. Joy: Hey, y’all! Thanks so much for joining me for Session 180 of the Therapy for Black Girls podcast. Have you ever used tarot cards or had some read for you? Have you heard others talk about them and been curious? Well, we’ve got you covered. To answer all of your questions about tarot, we’re joined this week by Princess-India Powell.

Princess-India is a licensed professional counselor, best-selling author and YouTube personality. She’s the creator of Tarot Therapy and aims to use her content to educate and inspire. She’s also the owner of Soul Culture Counseling and Healing Lounge in New Orleans, Louisiana, where she provides in person and virtual therapy sessions.

Princess-India and I discussed what tarot is and how it can be useful, how she incorporates tarot into therapy when requested, how you can get started incorporating tarot into your life, and she shared some of her favorite resources. If anything resonates with you while enjoying our conversation, please share with us on social media using the hashtag #TBGinSession. Here’s our conversation.

Dr. Joy: Thank you so much for joining us today, Princess-India.

Princess-India: Thank you for having me.

Dr. Joy: Yes, I am very excited to have you join us and share more about the work that you do. Can you start by just telling us a little bit about your background, both as a therapist and a tarot reader?

Princess-India: My background would go as far back as me being 12 years old. That’s when I got my first tarot deck and, as many people feel, with tarot being a tad bit taboo (little tongue in cheek going on there), I hid it from my mom. It was a friend of mine that found it in her attic. I was so fascinated by the imagery; that’s really what captured me. Fast forwarding more into my adult life, I've always been very interested in spirituality and religion. I was raised Catholic most of my life and my dad is a minister. When I was probably about 18, I started going to a non-denominational Christian church, then I got really obsessed with the Bible and Buddhism and the intricacies of all of them.

And during my own journey, because the thing I love to tell my clients to help them out with the stigmas of therapy, is that I myself, when I was young, I went into therapy myself to get my life together. Because it was a spiritual journey but I got to a point where I hit a plateau and I realized, okay, things have changed but there's still things that I need to deal with from different traumas I experienced in my life and I realized I wanted to be a therapist in therapy. But even with that–full circle, with spirituality, with psychology, counseling, all of these things–I still felt that there was an element that was missing and that's when I picked up a tarot deck again.

And me just kind of fooling around with it, it was crazy to me how every time I'd pick a card, it spoke exactly to my situation. When you have clients that have blocks, right? It's an inability to see like, I don't understand why I do that, or I don't know where that comes from. But tarot always spoke to that block and I’d feel called out. It’s kind of like, “so I’d do that, I might do that, I might...” you know. So I started incorporating it in my own journey and it acted as a mirror to me to more or less see what I know now to be our subconscious–the motivation behind our behavior. Those things that our conscious mind won't allow us to see.

It helped me so much on my own journey. I was given the opportunity many years later in my own therapeutic practice to be able to incorporate it, because I had so many clients that would ask about it and I'd raise an eyebrow, and this was like pre-YouTube. I'd raise an eyebrow like, you're asking me about astrology and tarot? And it's like, oh, I actually know about that. And it’s like, “You do?” And I'm like, yeah. That's kind of how everything just came together. And with my YouTube, I think it was a great medium to be able to integrate two things that are very, very important to my life and my journey.

Dr. Joy: Mm hmm. It sounds like you got your initial deck and then revisited it later, and then it was brought back up again by clients unknowingly.

Princess-India: Oh, yeah. I was terrified to speak about it because it's kind of reverse for me. Like a lot of times we think about in mental health there's a stigma with therapy, right? And it's kind of tongue in cheek and some people don't want to tell people that they're seeing a therapist or considering it. But for me, it was more or less my spiritual journey that felt kind of tongue in cheek. Of course, the mental health community as a licensed professional side, that's a little tongue in cheek and I'm glad now that it's getting more into the public eye and it's starting to become a little more normal, even though we're still kind of on the outskirts. But I myself have even struggled with that, of telling people, and I'm thankful to those clients that were like, “So what do you know about tarot cards?”

Dr. Joy: Can you tell us more about what they are? I know that it's a card deck, but I don't know very much more than that. Can you tell us more about what the cards represent and the practice of it?

Princess-India: Of course. In all honesty, tarot cards are nothing more than a playing card deck. The origins of it begin in Egypt, believe it or not. Up until the 1700s, I believe... maybe 1500s. Between 1500s and 1700s, it got really, really popular in France and it was literally a game that people played much like Spades or, for me, I only know how to play Go Fish.

Dr. Joy: Those good old Catholic backgrounds.

Princess-India: Don’t ever asked me to be your partner at Spades because you *[inaudible 0:10:13] But I’ll shuffle for you, that’s about it! It goes all the way back to there but it was literally a playing card game and it didn't start to get popularized as a divination tool until probably about 1800s or 1900s, is when tarot started being... Well, it probably was being used with divination before then, but historically is when it started being documented for it being used as a divination system.

But it's broken down into three different tiers. You have your Major Arcanas and me saying it from what I know because I literally have studied tarot like it's a whole system, but with the Major Arcana, it's all spiritual lessons and there's 22 cards. If you look at it from the very first card which would be the fool card, it goes all the way to the world, and that's speaking of the continuous lessons that all human beings learn spiritually throughout life. So it's your own personal evolution.

Then you have the second tier which is all of the court cards and I relate all of those to the 16 MBTI or Myers Briggs personality types. And then the last tier is the Minor Arcana and that's pretty much just like day to day stuff. If anyone's ever seen like a regular deck of cards, everything in the Minor Arcana is pretty much what you would see in a modern-day playing card deck. And the purpose of that is to show kind of like day to day experiences, but I've translated those more or less... I could say diagnosis, but it's more or less like traits and symptoms that are byproducts of mindsets, is how I like to look at the Minor Arcana.

But when we talk about symbolism, depending on the deck that you're looking at, and the Rider-Waite deck is the one that most people are familiar with, but a lot of the symbolism is really honestly, it's a lot of Christian symbolism that's in tarot, it's a lot of astrological symbolism, there's numerology symbolism. It's a lot of symbols that are in there that I think any person would be familiar with and, of course, there's two cards in there that everyone is terrified of and that's the devil card and the death card. And neither one of those cards mean what they literally say, I'll say it that way.

It's all symbolism and I related a lot back to Carl Jung and the collective subconscious and the importance of symbolism to all humanity, much like how a smile is the same thing in every language. I like to look at tarot that same way. It's those little figures, signs and symbols that mean those same things to us, no matter what language we speak.

Dr. Joy: Okay, and so you said that there are 22 cards. Are you picking one from each of these Arcanas like you mentioned?

Princess-India: There are some people who do. With me, typically, it depends on the type of reading that I'm doing. I don't particularly like to include court cards in my decks unless I'm doing something general like on YouTube. I kind of keep those separate usually but most of the time, people will include... because there’s 78 cards in total.

Dr. Joy: Got it.

Princess-India: Most of the time, people will put them all together and just kind of let them come out however they come out.

Dr. Joy: But you are saying if you were working with a client, you might kind of narrow the deck down depending on what their need is?

Princess-India: Yes. Because most of my clients, whenever we incorporate tarot, there's a deck that I use that’s just strictly Major Arcana. Because usually when we're doing it, it's more or less... And how I do it when I work with my clients is totally different than someone who's familiar with my YouTube would see.

Dr. Joy: Okay. Can you tell us the difference?

Princess-India: Oh, the huge difference is, for number one, in therapy I don't talk half as much as I do when I use tarot cards so my client is like in the reverse. The other thing is that I'm more concerned with what they see. We'll kind of pull the cards out, they'll lay them out and I allow them to put them in the order that they think that they need to be in, and then I tell them to tell me a story. And it doesn't have to be about them: it could be a story about me, it could be a story about their coworker, it literally doesn't matter. And like whatever you feel led to tell me a story about, tell me the story.

The irony of every time that's done, they somehow speak exactly to what their block is. Because I usually bring it up when there's a block one of my clients is experiencing and it's like no matter what they're trying, they’re trying to look at it from every perspective and can't see it. And that falls more into like the narrative therapy arena, which is really what I look at tarot as being. It's a form of narrative therapy; it gives the client the opportunity to pull themselves out of their situation. Because we a lot of times get blocked in situations because we become the situation. We become the problem and we can no longer differentiate ourselves from that problem. I look at tarot as a means to pull yourself out of the situation and give yourself an objective view of your life so you can see all of the parts that are interacting to create the said problem.

Dr. Joy: In some ways, it sounds like you're using tarot cards much in the way someone might use a projective in psychology.

Princess-India: Absolutely.

Dr. Joy: Yeah, mm hmm. For people who may not be familiar with the term projective, we're talking about like the Rorschach cards or when we have somebody draw a picture of a tree, a house and a person. You're looking for what kind of story they're basically telling you, based on what the picture is.

Princess-India: Exactly.

Dr. Joy: Got it, okay. Tell me more about how you might introduce tarot to your therapy clients. It sounds like some people approach you because they know that you incorporate this, but would there be a time where you might introduce this to a client who hasn't specifically come to you for this?

Princess-India: There's never been a time I've introduced it first because with my therapeutic approach, my main therapeutic approach is Gestalt therapy. I'm always looking at what's in the best interest of my client, prior to YouTube. I would have to speak prior to YouTube. When my clients didn't know that I even did that, it was really chance that it was brought up. Them kind of catching the vibe, like you got crystals on like tarot there, I feel like you might be into this stuff, you know? But it's never been something that I've ever brought up as like an intervention, if you will, because I always want to follow the lead of my clients. I always want to do what's in their best interest but post-YouTube, it gets brought up to me. More than anything else, it's brought up to me. But even still, whether it's tarot or anything else, I would never incorporate anything into the therapy journey with a client unless I felt it would be in their best interest.

Dr. Joy: Mm hmm, got it. Can you tell me what it might look like to do tarot therapy with you? I'm guessing you still do like a regular intake and then at some point, you transition to the tarot cards? Can you tell me more about what the process looks like?

Princess-India: Yes. That's more or less now. I had to create an entire methodology for it through my YouTube because a lot of people were asking to have private sessions. I think initially, when I first started YouTube, I was working in a heavy clinical setting. I worked with a lot of addictions and schizophrenia and a lot of things like that, so it was kind of an outlet for me, I didn't expect it to evolve into what it has. I kind of had to create this medium for private sessions as I went along but it's the same intake. I'm not gonna say a full-on psychosocial assessment type of intake, but it's a similar intake. And I have clients that book and it's more or less looking at what the presenting problem is, and what their goals are, so that same similar process.

And instead of more or less of a treatment plan that you would start from day one, it's something that evolves. It's more or less a lot of my clients that come in for tarot therapy. They're coming in not knowing what the problem is at all. It's like, I just know I feel this particular way. And it's like some of them, people I work with that are out of town, it’s like, “I actually have a therapist, but it's like I feel like this is going on in my spiritual life and I'm trying to get clarity on that.” And that's what I find the biggest difference is, is that majority of the people who come to me for tarot therapy, it's spiritual problems. That’s not really so much on that scale of something they may be struggling with in the mental health arena; it's a lot of spiritual problems of, “I don't even know if I believe anymore” or “I used to practice Christianity but it's like now I don't know what I believe.” It's a lot of spiritual conflicts I deal with on the tarot therapy side, believe it or not.

Dr. Joy: Got it. You might be working in conjunction with somebody who's seeing a therapist for other concerns?

Princess-India: Yes.

Dr. Joy: Got it. And is there ever a point at which you are working kind of jointly with the therapist? Like maybe you all are having consultations? Or is that not typically happening?

Princess-India: I do that more on just the mental health side because I love working with other people, but I think that would be really dope to do that, though. Because I always think it's funny where a lot of my clients will be like, “Yeah, so I saw my therapist yesterday, and I was showing her your video,” and I was like, are you serious? And she's like, “Yeah, she subscribed, though.” And I'm like, are you serious? And I’m like, oh, wow, this is so interesting!

But I think that would be a beautiful thing because in a lot of ways, I can see how a person's spiritual growth and evolution can be kind of left out of our process a lot of times in therapy. Just depending on the therapist, really, but a lot of people don't know that that's a place that you can bring that to us. Even if you believe something totally different than your therapist does, it's like that's one of those places you want to bring that in. But I really would love to work as a group, I think that would be amazing. Because with everything I do, I'm always thinking about the best interests of the client. Always.

Dr. Joy: Right. Specifically, you talked about how people will often feel blocked, so I would imagine that some of these blocks are getting in the way of their clinical work.

Princess-India: Yeah, absolutely. And that's where I say it's like I would love to be able to work with other therapists in that arena. Because that's something now that has been coming up, is because the astrology and the tarot and numerology and all these different spiritual modalities are starting to come into the forefront. There was an article actually in the New York Times about it, that a lot of therapists are struggling because they have clients coming and saying things like, “I don't know if I should do my session this week because, you know, Mercury is in retrograde.” It looks like a lot of therapists that aren't familiar with that side of things are rushing, trying to learn this stuff to be able to meet their clients where they are, so I would love to be a bridge for that because it isn't the easiest thing in the world. It's like spirituality.

And I even say I give the same respect to astrologers because I know a little bit about astrology but I realized when I was learning more... Like you can get a PhD in astrology, literally. I'm like, I know how much I've studied, how I've done clinicals and board exams to do what it is that I do, so I was like, I have to give y'all respect for what y'all do because I know it's not easy. You can't learn everything that any therapist knows overnight or just from reading a book. I think it's important for the spiritual community as well as the psychology community to be able to come together to kind of help each other out, but I would love to be a bridge between those two because they're one and the same, really.

Dr. Joy: Can you talk more about the training? Is there training required? Like how do you learn to read the tarot cards?

Princess-India: Well, there's a lot of different ways you can learn to read the tarot. There are some people who have intuitive gifts and they will just read it intuitively. Then you have people who have literally learned because I know some people who have learned tarot just simply by watching, like watching other readers on YouTube. But the route that I went is the long drawn out route. It's me studying the history and a lot of it is incorporated with things that I know outside of it, like different religions I'm familiar with and just the whole process of ascension and spiritual evolution and taking into account Judaism and Christianity and Buddhism and being really into symbology within itself, and *[inaudible 0:23:32].

There are so many mediums that are incorporated into tarot, so for me, I kind of went around the world and I incorporate a lot of what I know from other disciplines into tarot. But simply, if you wanted to learn, you really could just grab a deck, grab a great book on it. And I always suggest people start with oracle cards, though, because with those, it's a little easier, as opposed to learning that whole discipline to tarot. But it's really a means of memorization, in all honesty. If a person was reading for themselves, they probably wouldn't have to memorize if they didn't want to. You could literally just pick a card, go into the book and see what that particular card means.

Dr. Joy: Okay, so can you explain more about that? Because you told us before, you will pull some cards and then have the client tell you a story about it but it sounds like there are meanings behind the card. How do you marry the two of those?

Princess-India: I marry the two of them... In the sense for me, I give respect to each author of each deck and I read their books and I see kind of where their headspace is at because each deck has like a theme. But the symbols in each one, especially the more modern decks. I say the more modern decks are a little easier to learn with for someone who's new because the pictures are very literal.

It's kind of like if you see... If you think of the chariot card, for instance. In one of the more modern decks, they have like a mom who is driving her car with her kids, like looking all happy in the back seat. It’s like, oh, let's see. If I get in the car, it's like traveling, forward movement, you know, like everyone is in their seat belt and safe, type of deal. You kind of garner it from the pictures. With the older decks, which are the ones that I prefer, because it's more of that collective subconscious symbolism. And those are the ones that I use in sessions with clients, where they're speaking from a place that is greater than them, that they may not even be aware of. Because from what I know of tarot, I've never had one client who's ever done that and been wrong. And they don't know anything. They're like, okay chariot is this but they can look at the card and they suddenly see something entirely different. And I just think it's beautiful to see a person who may be a novice or maybe a person who's like a diehard tarot reader watcher, but they can still look at cards and see an entirely different narrative.

I believe it's that part of us, that greater part of us that speaks almost to that... I could say that reptilian part of the human brain, if you will, where those common things that we're naturally afraid of, like why we avoid spiders or we avoid snakes. It's like that very primal part of humanity is what I feel they're speaking from.

Dr. Joy: Mm hmm. I know that like you mentioned, you can just get a deck for yourself and kind of start doing this on your own. What kinds of suggestions would you have for someone who is maybe wanting to explore this more by themselves? Like, how can they get started and how might they use it?

Princess-India: I would always say there's one particular deck that I absolutely adore. It's not a tarot deck; it's an oracle deck. It's called The Chakra Oracle and the author of the deck, I absolutely love how she did it because the entire deck is based on the chakra system but it's all about personal development, and I think that's a great deck to start with. Pretty much all of my clients who ask me to suggest a deck, that's always the one that I suggest for them to start with because the pictures are not scary or anything like that and I love how she wrote the book because it's based on fables.

Usually, I always suggest to start with just one card, like if you just picked a card for a day. And a lot of my clients, we do journaling, so whether they're using an oracle card or they're using a tarot deck in the mornings, a lot of my clients will pick a card and those who are familiar will just go by what they feel intuitively what it means. And then others will go to like a book and see what it means, read about it and then they'll journal for probably about 15 or 20 minutes in the morning. The good thing about that is it ends up becoming like an affirmation for the rest of the day. If they end up facing a challenge that one of the characters in the story faced, it's like, “Ah, I need to not do this and I need to do that.” It helps with self-awareness.

I like to say it's like, of course, people use tarot for divination and like trying to see the future, when’s my husband coming and things of the sort. That's what it's traditionally been used for but I feel that I've stepped away from that. And the fact that with my clients, for myself on my channel, my main thing is always to use it to garner insight into yourself. Try to see something that you may not be seeing. If you feel that that card doesn't align with what you're going through right now, try to find ways that it's not aligning with you. Because if you know it isn’t, then you should know why. Because all of that starts to create this conversation I feel we all should have within ourselves, and it's almost that igniter to that self-awareness and that familiarity I feel we should all have with ourselves.

Dr. Joy: You mentioned these are oracle cards. Can you tell me the difference between those and maybe the other decks you use?

Princess-India: Oh, absolutely. With tarot–that's every deck–whether they're old ones or new ones, tarot follows a very strict system and there's specific suits, there's a certain number of cards, it would have to have a Major Arcana, a Minor Arcana and the court cards. With all tarot decks, they're usually going to follow that same system. Whenever it falls into the arena of an oracle, there are some, like the psychic tarot would be an example of this. It's an “oracle deck” they call it... and I'm using my air quotations as if someone could see me! An oracle deck but it follows the system of tarot except it doesn't have the court cards. Because it doesn't include the court cards, it falls into like oracle.

With oracle cards, they don't have a system. It's more or less whatever the purpose of the deck is and it's usually maybe about 52 cards that will be in a typical oracle deck. But with those, it's more or less very direct messages. As opposed to with tarot where you're kind of gleaning to get the message from the cards or you have to memorize the cards to understand how they combine and are put together, with oracle, it's more straight to the point. You could pick one and it'll be like self-sabotage, right? And you could flip it over and it'll have a little message on it that's like: You’re self-sabotaging. These are the ways that you self-sabotage and these are the ways that you should not self-sabotage.

The oracle is more straight to the point and I think for someone who's new, that's a little easier and it's a little more palatable. Especially because I always take into account just the taboo nature of tarot and the fact that a lot of people are terrified by the cards, period. But I always stress it is legit ink on paper. I always want to tell people! But just starting out, I would always suggest oracles until you kind of open up to graduate to tarot. And tarot is a little bit more regimented and structured, I would say, and oracle is a little bit more free-spirited.

Dr. Joy: You mentioned it sounds like a book typically comes with a deck so that you can read more behind the purpose of the deck?

Princess-India: Absolutely. And then there are some people who've written books where it's like a deep dive interpretation of cards but it usually is always going to go by the Rider-Waite interpretation.

Dr. Joy: Got it. Can you share a little bit more about this taboo? I mean, I'm sure some of it is like a Christianity religious kind of thing, but can you share more about why there is so much taboo?

Princess-India: I think it's because it scares people. Because it's a lack of understanding, is what I find. And I think even with me being a therapist, it's a lot of people who will find out I do tarot and they're shocked because it's like, “But you're a licensed professional. How do you do that?” But I really feel the root of it is like a religious kind of fear and it's one of those things where it's a conditioning, to be quite honest. We fear what we don't understand, so it's really a lack of understanding of what the cards are, what they mean, where they come from, taking things very literally (you know what I mean) that I feel is at the root of that taboo. Because it falls into that realm of occultism and demons and things of that nature. But I really feel it's just a lack of understanding about it.

Dr. Joy: Mm hmm. As with lots of things, right? But like we've already talked about, in a lot of ways, they are really kind of being used as projectives, at least the way you're describing it.

Princess-India: Absolutely.

Dr. Joy: Or that's one way you probably can use it.

Princess-India: Absolutely. Most definitely. And I say it isn't much different than... I know when I was in church, a lot of times it's like I need a word, and you go open up your Bible and flip. And the first scripture that you land on, it's like that's gonna be my word for today, you know? I don't really see the difference between the two. I just think it's the stigma, if you will, and the lack of understanding of tarot that makes people fear it.

Dr. Joy: Got it. You mentioned earlier that people are most afraid of the devil card and the death card. It's kind of like quite literally they don't necessarily mean that, but can you explain more about what it might mean for you to pull those cards?

Princess-India: Oh, absolutely. There's three cards that every person is usually terrified of in the tarot and I would say more people who don't know anything about tarot are terrified by the devil and by the death card. And I think people who know about tarot, they're terrified of the tower card as well as the devil card and the death card. But the truth of these cards is like the Tower of the Three is my absolute most favorite card to see in a reading.

But with the devil card first, that speaks to addictions and mental bondage. It's the things that we do to fill that void that we have in our souls, in our hearts, in our emotional space. It speaks to the lack of homeostasis in our lives and how when we don't stay balanced, we end up falling to one side or the other. And I always say like one side or the other of the Likert scale, so even too much of a good thing still isn't good. That card usually speaks to addictions. If you see it in the reverse and it's being freed from those addictions, meaning that you're having an epiphany or you're getting insight into realizing that you were ever bound in the first place.

With the death card, I love that card too, because it's all about transformation. Because in a very literal sense, if you think about someone passing away, it's a transition into another state of being, so it's more or less that card speaks to one's personal evolution. There's something in your life that's falling away, that isn't going to follow you into the next space. But it's also a statement of freedom, of you being better than you were once upon a time because every new beginning first begins with an ending.

And then with a tower card, I love that so much because I look at that card as mindsets being broken down. Like I spoke about what a lot of my clients experience with mental blocks, I see that as like a higher power saving you from yourself. I like to think about that with like boundaries or trauma, woundings, different things that we've been through. In Gestalt therapy, we think about it like another brick in the wall. It's like your entire life is a giant brick wall and every single experience you've been through is a brick and each brick represents a trauma or a hurt or a disappointment. Everything you've gone through throughout the course of your life, you've built up this huge tower to protect yourself from ever experiencing it again. But the thing that you cease to realize while you were building it, is you are going higher and higher but farther and farther away from people who do care, to people who would fight for you, to people who would listen to you. It's almost a prison of one's own making.

Why the tower crumbles is because the higher power, spirit god, whatever term you use, is saving you from yourself because you're not seeing that while you're trying to save yourself, you're inadvertently destroying yourself. People fear it because it's a “destruction” but it's not seeing until it's crumbled how you were actually hurting yourself. Those are the three cards people are afraid of, but the truth behind them is nothing to fear at all.

Dr. Joy: Hmm. Yeah, I can see how that would be incredibly useful in therapy to share people's stories around any of those.

Princess-India: Yeah.

Dr. Joy: And I can see what you mean by the blocks, right? Like if there's something that you're just not wanting to talk about or even consciously you can't bring it up yet, but then it gets triggered by seeing these cards.

Princess-India: Absolutely.

Dr. Joy: Which cards are people typically most excited to get?

Princess-India: Oh, wow. That would be the Two of Cups, the Ace of Cups, the Ten of Cups, and the Star card and the Sun card. Those are all the cards that people want to see. Because of course, all of those cup cards, Two of Cups, Ace of cups, Ten of Cups, all those speak to love and emotional fulfillment and happiness. And the Star card, that is like the absolute best card in the deck because that means that like hope is restored, balance is here, blessings are coming. And with the Sun card, it’s the same means. My interpretation of the Sun card is slightly different in the fact that I feel that it speaks to the art of vulnerability.

And on the spiritual side, I know they say in the Bible that in order to enter the kingdom of heaven, you must be like a little child. And I see that, more or less, of what the whole spiritual evolution process is about: it's about getting back to that inner child, that person you were before your trauma, the person you were before your wounding, that child that believed in magic, that child that believed in dreams. I feel that that's a foretelling of a person really starting to get it, really starting to evolve, really starting to grow and now their external world is starting to manifest all the work that they've done within. But most people look at that as a love card, too.

Dr. Joy: Yeah, got it.

Princess-India: The love cards are the ones that everybody wants to get!

Dr. Joy: Got it! You mentioned yourself that you had been using the tarot cards but then really figured out, okay, there's some additional work that needs to be done in therapy. I'm wondering if you can share how people might know that line. Like maybe people are kind of individually using tarot, astrology or something; how might they know that they might need to add therapy in addition to what they might be doing?

Princess-India: I would say when you hit a plateau. It’s much like when you're going to the gym, and you're dedicated to your workout plan and you drop a whole bunch of weight and you’re starting to see results. And then suddenly, a couple of months pass and you just have not lost a pound, no matter what you do. It's like when you're in that place in your growth process and I feel even people who have successfully completed therapy, people who even are therapists... Because I always tell my clients sometimes a therapist will see a therapist, I need you to know, because we find ourselves in different places in life and different experiences.

But I feel the general thing is when you start to feel stagnant and when you're not even understanding. It's when you can cognitively understand, okay, I self-sabotage and I have a block, right? But I'm still doing it, though. It looks like I understand everything around it, I understand what I'm doing, I get how I'm doing it, but why am I still doing it? Whenever a person starts to feel in that space where you have the knowledge but you haven't quite gotten the understanding, that's usually when I find that it helps a great deal. When you kind of hit a roadblock but it's not like rock-bottom roadblock. It's just like, I don’t even understand whether I know I'm doing it; I just don't know how I'm doing it. Like, why do I do this? When you find yourself saying I need to get my life together–why do I keep doing this? I think that's the time. I think that's the time, most certainly.

Dr. Joy: Got it. Are there some guidelines that people would want to kind of pay attention to in working with somebody to read tarot for them? Are there some things, questions they should ask, things to be on the lookout for? How do you know you'd be working with somebody who's reputable?

Princess-India: At the present time, to be honest, there is not any accrediting body, there isn't any guidelines or anything of the sort to know if you're working with someone that's credible. And that's actually on the back end, which is interesting. That's what I'm actually working on. I'm working on a book from both sides: for people to be able to understand from a therapeutic perspective (with case studies, all that good stuff) how you can include this with a client, and for a person who would want to use it for themselves in their own personal development journey, it’s giving guidelines for it. Because at present, there really isn't anything that speaks to how to do this.

Dr. Joy: Got it. Okay, so we just all have to be on the lookout for your book forthcoming.

Princess-India: Yes, be on the lookout for The Tarot Therapy book.

Dr. Joy: I love it. What are some of your favorite resources for people who maybe are interested in learning more or kind of want to dig a little deeper into what you shared today?

Princess-India: I would say one of my favorite resources, it's a book called Tarot Made Easy, that's a book I love. One of my favorite people that... She does like countless books on tarot, actually, it’s Biddy Tarot. A lot of people know about her. She was like the first OG to start to popularize tarot many, many years ago. But a lot of her books and even her tarot deck, which is based on the Rider-Waite, I love her interpretations because it's called the Everyday Tarot. I love her interpretations because they're very literal every day. Even with her interpretations of scary cards, it's really just like, “Yeah, so you’re blocked right now and you’re gonna be alright.”

Yeah, I love her work. And I can't remember who the author of that book is but Easy Tarot is another really great book because it's very simplistic, it's very straight to the point. Because I hate to see people get kind of bogged down with feeling as if they need to learn the whole discipline. I would only say go that route if you're an enthusiast but I think, be it Chakra Oracle Deck, The Psychic Tarot is another good one and Everyday Tarot. I think her name is Brigit but everyone knows her is Biddy Tarot.

Dr. Joy: Got it. We definitely will include all of those in the show notes. We appreciate it.


Dr. Joy: For today's Press Pause moment, I thought it would be nice to have Princess-India draw a few cards for us that you can then journal about if you'd like. Alright, so Princess-India, you've agreed to share a couple of cards for our community to jumpstart them with some journaling prompts. Would you pick a couple of cards for us?

Princess-India: Sure. Go ahead and shuffle up a little bit. All right, let's see what we got. I'm so excited.

Dr. Joy: Tell me, what deck are you using?

Princess-India: Oh, okay. First card we have is the Seven of Wands. Then we have the Nine of Wands and then we have the Six of Wands. These are all wands cards, okay. With the Seven of
Wands, that's all about standing your ground. This usually will speak to people who are in situations in work drama where you feel that you're fighting and you're desperately trying to stay above water but you feel that it's always one step forward, two steps back. But it's always feeling as if you're being attacked by other people. And the important part of this is establishing healthy boundaries, knowing that you need to stand your ground and not allowing what other people are doing to determine what's possible for you.

Now with the Nine of Wands, I call this my PTSD card because this is all about hyper vigilance. This is “I've been through so much stuff in my past.” I'm battle weary, I'm tired. I'm on my last leg and I don't know if I can continue to move forward, right? But it's making sure that you keep in mind why it is that you're fighting, what it is that you're headed towards, and not allowing anything around you, any people around you to deter you.

And lastly, with the Six of Wands, that's a card of victory, so it more or less would be speaking to a person who has fought for a very, very long time alone for themselves, that's finally made it to the top of the mountain but they’re weary. They’re on their last leg but the last card is ensuring that they should keep going because your victory is just around the corner.

Dr. Joy: I love it. So, if you do want to take the opportunity to journal about any or all of the cards that she has pulled for us, we would love for you to share that with us, if you feel comfortable. Princess-India, where can people find you? What is your website as well as any social media channels that you want to share?

Princess-India: My website is, I’m @WokeTherapist on Twitter, @TheWokeTherapist on Instagram and my channel on YouTube is Tarot Therapy by The Woke Therapist.

Dr. Joy: Perfect, and all of that will be in the show notes as well. Thank you so much for spending time with us and sharing your expertise. I really appreciate it.

Princess-India: Thank you so much for having me.

Dr. Joy: I’m so glad Princess-India was able to join us for today’s conversation. I know many of you will have follow-up questions for her so she’ll actually be joining us for a Q&A session in the Yellow Couch Collective on November 13 at 8:30 p.m. Eastern Standard Time. If you’d like to join us for that conversation or check out the resources that she shared, be sure to visit the show notes at And be sure to share this episode with two other sisters who might enjoy the conversation.

If there’s a topic you’d like to have covered on the podcast, please submit it to us at And if you’re looking for a therapist in your area, be sure to check out our therapist directory at Thank y’all so much for joining me again this week. I look forward to continuing this conversation with you all, real soon. Take good care.


Discover the transformative power of healing in community in Dr. Joy Harden Bradford’s debut book, Sisterhood Heals. Pre-order your copy now!

Sisterhood heals
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Looking for the UK Edition?
Pre-order here

Discover the transformative power of healing in community in Dr. Joy Harden Bradford’s debut book, Sisterhood Heals. Pre-order your copy now!

Looking for the UK Edition? Pre-order here