A time for tarot: Chang sees boost in demand for readings

Susan Chang feels 'that tarot is a really powerful tool for gaining a sense of agency and optimism.'

In addition to being a mom of a sophomore ARHS student and a writer, podcaster, and college professor, T. Susan Chang, who goes by Susie, has also been a Certified Professional Tarot Reader since 1999. She got her start moonlighting in a cafe in Hell’s Kitchen in NYC where she offered weekly readings and also attended a Tarot school. Her interest began as “casual,” but in 2015, she found a vibrant online tarot community that reignited her tarot fire. She “designed and trademarked the Arcana Case for tarot decks,” sold on Etsy, and started teaching six-week tarot courses. She also now reads at Inspirit Crystal Shop in Northampton, MA. She’s also the author of Tarot Correspondences: Ancient Secrets for Everyday Readers. 

LD: Tell me about your tarot business:

SC: I write books about tarot, I teach people about tarot, I read tarot, and I have a tarot podcast!

LD: What has changed in your work since the pandemic? 

SC: I do tarot primarily through Zoom instead of in person and there has been a huge surge in interest.

LD: Has being online made tarot reading any more difficult?

SC: Being online has made it easier to give more readings. I have a camera I set up giving tarot clients a better view of the cards. However, reading tarot in person is more personal and direct than Zoom.

LD: How has your daily life changed due to the pandemic?

SC: My days  have not changed much. I just do the weekly in person readings online and my teaching job at Smith College is also virtual.

LD: Has the pandemic been difficult for you? If not, why not?

SC: I’ve been very lucky; it hasn’t been too hard for me. I’ve really enjoyed being home with my family and luckily nobody has gotten sick yet. There has also been an increase in my business so I have been very fortunate.

LD: Is there anything you’re looking forward to when the pandemic ends

SC: I’m looking forward to seeing my friends after the pandemic and I’m also looking forward to going back to in person tarot reading. It’s much more personal and people are more emotionally open when in person.

LD: What have you been doing over the course of the pandemic? 

SC: I studied a number of things over the past years that I haven’t before. For example, I started studying the work of psychoanalysts like Carl Yung, and it’s helped me express tarot from a more mainstream perspective. I’ve found that it has been a very intellectually expansive time for me. I also have spent the last year reading the Iliad and The Odyssey.

LD: What do you do, mainly, to make money?

SC: Instead of having one nine to five job, I have eight or nine smaller jobs (podcasting, cookbook editing, writing, reading tarot, designing tarot decks and cases, teaching, and more) which is helpful because if interest in one drops, another usually picks up the slack.

LD: What is the process of tarot reading like?

SC: Typically someone comes to my website or sets up a reading at Inspirit Crystal Shop in Northampton. Most sessions are around 30 minutes to an hour. I like to start with a question and let them pick cards themselves. It’s a useful way to express and pictorialize elements of everyday life which can lead to recognizing and expressing them. It’s been a particularly uncertain time which probably led to the uptick in tarot readings.

LD: Did the pandemic affect the kind of cards people pulled in readings?

SC: In the beginning, a lot of people were getting the same card: the tower. It’s usually the most feared card in tarot and that means there is a huge disruption in their life. But around 70% of people got that card at the beginning of the pandemic. There’s a joke going around the tarot community about the 2022 edition of the tarot deck being all towers.

LD: Is there anything else you would like to add?

SC: Just that tarot is a really powerful tool for gaining a sense of agency and optimism. For those who would like to learn more about it don’t be afraid to start experimenting or buy yourself a tarot deck. And don’t be afraid to ask for guidance to help start your tarot journey.