Behind The Fortune Teller’s Tent –
A Complete Guide to Fortune Telling
At Parties And Events
Author: Jay DeForest
Foreword: Carrie Paris
Living Magick Publishing
This is a book that has needed to be written for a long time now. It is one that I wish had been available when I first started as a professional reader. Fortune Telling (working with the Tarot, Runes, Palmistry, and other modalities) as defined in the author’s note is the reader’s ability to use their own tools, skills, and intuition to help their client examine their present circumstances, reflect on what got them there, and consider their options for moving forward. This is a profession, and takes professional skills and know how.
I was very pleased to see that one of the most creative lights in the world of cartomancy (fortune telling) wrote the foreword. Through a lovely personal story, she makes the point that we are all born to our calling. If we feel uncomfortable in whatever field we are working in, perhaps we need to look elsewhere for our true path. She makes a major point when she notes that a professional Fortune Teller must be able to balance magick with business.
Before I talk about the book, I want to talk for a moment about the author. I know Jay personally, and he and his wife Jadzia are stand up people. Together they have written many books and created a wide array of teaching material. They read locally (in the Portland, OR area) on all levels (privately for individuals and parties, at fairs, and at corporate events. Jay owns and operates a company (Portlandia Fortune Tellers) that employs a large team of readers that cover events throughout the year. He and Jadzia founded the yearly Northwest Tarot Symposium (NWTS), which is in its fifth year in 2019.
I love the tone of this book – it is that of personal story, of personal experience. And it works! I felt immediately at one with the material, and could not put the book down! Jay talks about skills, mindset, and ethics – and the willingness to put in the work. It is work in a business sense, and it is work in an ethical sense in that there is still stigma attached to doing readings of any kind, and anyone who wants to be a reader needs to know how to get past that. Jay also notes that before getting licensed as a Fortune Teller (using this explicit terminology), check out the laws in your area. It may well be that if you want to call yourself a Fortune Teller that you may face more legal restrictions than if you simply called yourself a reader.
The book starts at the beginning … literally! The reader is asked to look at whether this occupation is right for them. They need to understand that they will be working and that they have to respond to the questions that are being asked. And that they may be doing “cold readings”, where no questions are being asked.
I loved the story about the Portland Women’s Expo! Jay and Jadzia were booked the entire day, and came away with the wisdom that it is important for a reader to take care of themselves: to keep water and/or juice handy, as well as snacks, and to take frequent, quick breaks.
Jay also goes into the role of the reader at an event. He points out that the reader has been hired to cover a certain number of hours, and that they need to be there to do just that the entire time. It is also important to understand and follow the rules that the event organizer(s) have set down. I do not do events myself, but I have friends who do, and they emphasize asking questions up front, rather than assuming anything.
Jay spends an entire section of this book describing different kinds of events so that an individual that wants to read professionally can determine what their personal niche might be. This will save a lot of time and angst! Bottom line here – be open to business opportunities!
When I first started looking at reading professionally, I had no clue where to begin as far as setting up a business, local licensing, etc. Quite frankly, I was scared to death! Also (whispers) … the Internet was just getting started, and I did not have the resources that are available now. The chapter on setting up a business (including a business bank account) is a must read for anyone wanting to become a professional reader. Included is information on setting up a professional website (you do not want to know what my first website looked like!). There is more – items like “booking agreements” (contracts), insurance, and what to charge.
Now that you are in business, how do you stay in business, as well as grow your business? Jay talks about having a vision for your business, being dedicated to succeeding, and being resilient. He addresses marketing and advertising (usually not easy modalities for any of us), how to attract clients, how to manage bookings (as in remembering to show up for them!), keeping your accounting straight (and getting paid), and finding fairs and festivals to read at.
There is an entire section devoted to you as a reader and your attitude about yourself. You need to be confident, dress the part (not necessarily in costume), knowing your place (you have been hired to do a job), understanding what different events want from you, and getting “in the zone” for doing readings. Important things that we may not think about are setting boundaries around our reading area when doing an event, and how to deal with people like drunks, skeptics, deniers and more.
If you are someone who has not done fairs or events before, then the section on tools of your trade will be an important one for you. Here Jay discusses how to develop what he terms a “reader kit”, including such things as a tablecloth, a reading cloth, a set cushion, promotional materials, tissues, and pen and notebook.
I highly recommend this book to anyone who is at the beginning of their journey as a professional reader, as well as to those already walking the path. There is something here for everyone!
© March 2019 Bonnie Cehovet
Reproduction prohibited without written permission of the author.