A Bad Memory (and things that help)


Hello, all!

I haven't seen this topic come up much, but this is related to needing professional advice.

I have a condition that affects both long- and short-term memory, therefore making it impossible to memorize many things (with a few exceptions). I love tarot with all my heart! I've been doing it for years, especially with the "Legend: The Arthurian Tarot" deck.

I have a journal that I've made with a page for each card in the deck that has been assembled by studying the cards and simplifying their meanings to use for quick reference. Once I read the short meanings, my memory is sparked and I can feel the meanings of the cards in relation to the others in the spread. It's far more personal than reading straight from a book.

This journal is literally a tool that I use to get over a disability.
That being said, would this method being used in a professional reading bother someone?

I know that being "professional" includes looking like you know exactly what you're doing... and I feel like reading off something can be seen as "cheating". This is beginning to make me anxious, as I'm going to go through a series of trial readings soon to be a reader at my local metaphysical store. I'm worried that this method will prevent me from getting the position, despite the technique being quick and easy to do when carrying on conversation with a client.

tl;dr: I have a tarot journal I use as reference, and am worried about not being viewed as professional enough."


Well honey, how about writing a few key words on the deck itself?

There are decks that include key words anyway (and the decks by Doreen Virtue have entire sentences!) - would that help?

Here in the UK we had a Tarot reader who was involved with the arrest of a murderer - whilst doing his reading, he confessed to the crime. In the photos afterwards, when she was interviewed, she was holding The Starter (?) Tarot, which has several explanatory words printed on it - (that's not a Doreen Virtue one btw).

Finally, I have known several readers - usually 'traditional' readers from the travelling communities, who wrote their own idiosyncratic meanings on their cards.

I'd not use a book. Because it does suggest amateurish-ness (IMO). Unless you want to explain to each new client why you have it - would you want to do that?

page of ghosts

I don't think it would have been a problem for me personally, but then again I'm also disabled and think there should be a place for us in the tarot world. However I'm no professional, I don't have plans to become one, and I know the world can be unkind to disabled people, so it's hard to know how others would feel about it. Some are just not that understanding about things like this.

Still there should be a workaround for this issue. You could be upfront about it if you're comfortable with that when you talk to the shop, so then you know if it's ok for them or they might have ideas. Maybe, if your keywords don't take up an extreme amount of space you could write them on the borders of your deck.

Working online is also an option if it doesn't work out. Doing your readings via text, as in get a question, do the reading and write it up, send it as an email with it attached as a text document - there are many people doing this and I don't think they all have the same memory issue.


I think that as long as you explain to your sitter before the reading begins, it really shouldn't be a problem. If you find that it is, maybe cater your services toward other people with disabilities or allies of the community (we need our readings too!) or offer online services instead, so you can sit with your notebook and nobody is the wiser. I do a lot of my reading online because I have some executive functioning issues and associated medication that will sometimes give me bouts of aphasia or just completely blanking on my thought entirely.

There are also decks like the Tell Me Tarot, which has received really good reviews on here, that have card keywords on them, which might help you jog your memory. Or write a few keywords on the borders of your cards (or enlist someone with beautiful handwriting to do so, if you have chickenscratch like me).


speaking as someone with a bad memory also, which I'm being treated for, I would not stay for the reading if someone pulled a book out.

I would though if there was a little placard that said readings were free, that you were practising.


I like the idea of drawing on your cards if you are doing a reading for someone that wouldn't care for your 'cheat sheet'

I think if you got some metallic markers, and modified your cards with keywords, or small pictures, or decorations/sitckers in general that would help you remember the meaning, that would be really neat. make the card itself your journal...

plus it would make that deck really special.

also, you could write it all out on the backs of the cards, and just make sure you shuffle 'up' and lay the cards up...then, lift each card and show it to the person and while they are looking at it, read the back of the card. with some practice, it could work. I'd still use fancy markers though, and decorations, if you did both the fronts and the backs, it wouldn't look so much like you were hiding your 'cheats' on the back, it would look like you just decorated and wrote all over both sides.

Holly doll

Rather than trying to memorise, look at each card & ask what it is trying to say; perhaps make up a story of what's happening in the card - like what the character is doing - which way are they looking? Are they looking behind them at the past, directly out of the card into the present, or neutral about the situation, or are they looking ahead of themselves at the future? How are they interacting with the previous & next card...is there a story? Don't forget - no meaning is hard & fast in a spread - context is everything.

Have a look at Tarot by Seven's site - you'll see decks with keywords printed on them for both the upright & reversed positions.


So according to Equal Opportunity and ADA laws if you can perform the job with or without a reasonable accommodation they can't discriminate against you for the position. I'd assume a little key guide (if you can get it down to one or two pages, that's better than a journal) should be ok.

If you have competition for the position though.... well.... I would say here the deciding factor here will be how accurate and relatable your readings are, as well as your "bedside manner."

What I recommend you do is provide some special little touch to your reading to make it memorable in a positive way, i.e. Writing an affirmation related to the reading on a piece of decorative cardstock along with an individually wrapped herbal tea bag with corresponding meanings? (i.e. chai for a money reading, cinnamon tea for protection, chamomile for emotional readings etc.). Something like that combined with an accurate reading,... people wont even remember that you used a keyword guide. (bonus, they'll ask to book with the reader that gave them the tea. Yay repeat clients!)

Hope this helps!


Thank you all for the advice!

I do like the idea of making the reading a little 'different' to be more memorable.

I never thought about writing on my cards! It seems like it would be a "taboo" thing, but hearin that many others do it is kind of relieving. I might take a day or two aside to fancy up my deck, hahah

Again, I appreciate you all for trying to help me find solutions :)


Zoebirb, I too felt that it was somehow ... wrong? ... to write on the cards, but now I have a collection of very old decks with meanings handwritten on them. It's a real tradition.

I've used metallic markers to good effect. If you do this, wipe the card gently with a very slightly damp rag first, and let it dry, so there's no hand oils to interfere with the marker.