I had the pleasure of interviewing Paul Quinn. I reviewed his book Tarot For Life just a few posts back. I hope you enjoy this chat with Paul. Don’t miss the contest at the end. You can win a copy of his book for yourself!
Arwen: What was your first encounter with Tarot like?
Paul: In the late 1990’s a guy gave me a reading that was just so-so, but I was impressed with the intent and process of the reading, and was very attracted to the cards (Universal Waite) and their potential as a tool for insight. I also enjoyed the attention – 30 minutes focused on me!
Arwen: Who do you see as Tarot luminaries?
Paul: Rachel Pollack and Mary Greer. I can’t begin to guess how many people have pursued the Tarot as a result of reading these women’s books and taking their classes, as I have. I love their intellectual rigor, humor, and creative teaching approaches. They continue to play major roles in modernizing the Tarot, making it accessible and relevant. Another luminary is certainly Christine Payne-Towler (The Underground Stream). She is certifiably brilliant, with an awesome knowledge of the esoteric Tarot.
Arwen: What motivated you to write Tarot for Life?
Paul: I was on fire with the Tarot. I received such rich insights from doing readings for myself, for my clients, and from teaching classes, and felt the need to express it all in a book. Plus, the Tarot was the perfect synthesis of my lifelong explorations in psychology, intuition, mysticism, spirituality, astrology, theatre, and consciousness studies –subjects I’m knowledgeable and passionate about. I also wanted to reveal the Tarot as a powerful tool to develop a deeper, more compassionate understanding of oneself and others, practices that I consider essential to spiritual maturity and planetary survival. The world is in urgent need of people capable of seeing through the illusions of the ego and mass consciousness. As I say in the book, “Know thyself is not a private indulgence, it’s a global imperative.” The Tarot is not the only catalyst for waking up spiritually, but it’s a very effective one, and my passion for it fueled the writing of the book.
Arwen: Tarot for Life seems to have a focus on self-discovery rather than divination. Do you see the cards as self-help tools?
Paul: I see the Tarot as the ultimate self-help tool, and a sacred one, in that we can use the cards to see ourselves more objectively – which lessens the drama — and begin to perceive our lives through divine eyes. The cards can help us discern the most authentic or energetically efficient ways to manage our energy in a given situation, making life less confusing and more enjoyable. I often ask the cards to show me what is in the “greatest good” for myself or my clients, with the understanding that if something is truly for the highest good of one person, everybody benefits. So many people are afraid to act in more empowered ways for fear of alienating those who could feel threatened by their expanding sense of possibility or purpose. And yet, when any of us expresses the gifts of our spirit, the vibration of the whole planet is raised. The Tarot is a self-help tool only if we’re using the cards with the intention to live more consciously, and willing to do the inner work that the cards point to.
Arwen: One thing that you do that I love is you give a quote for each card along with a story. Which of these stories helped kick off the idea of how to present the cards in Tarot for Life?
Paul: I love quotes too – I’ve been collecting them since high school! As for the stories, my first “final” draft had none. When my manuscript hadn’t been published after two years, I asked the cards what I could do to hasten things. The reversed World card seemed to be telling me the book was not yet completed; therefore it still needed something. A few months later a prospective publisher told me he liked the book bit that “it needs stories.” It was at that moment that I got the inspiration to mine my memory and my Tarot journals to provide an anecdote for each card, telling how the card appeared most memorably in a reading for myself, a client, or a student. Although that publisher ultimately passed on the project, his feedback was the nudge for adding the stories. As far as I know, Tarot for Life is the only book on the subject that features a casebook anecdote for all 78 cards. (Arwen, given your Tarot library, can you validate this? If not we can delete the last sentence.)
Arwen: Who inspires you?
Paul: I am inspired by the writings of Carolyn Myss, the “Judge Judy” of spiritual teachers. She offers a fiercely grounded and principled path to transformation and growth. I love the work of the late Eric Butterworth, a Unity minister who wrote about the call to live a spiritually intimate life. Sonia Choquette, a gifted psychic and author of over 14 books on intuition, has taught me the importance of trusting my gut and establishing boundaries. Stuart Wild, Andrew Harvey, Marianne Williamson — my list of inspiring people goes on and on!
Arwen: Has the Tarot ever failed you?
Paul: I once drew cards to see which of two side-by-side molars was giving me toothaches, and the card I drew wound up blaming the wrong tooth. (My inner dentist was apparently out to lunch.) Another time, a client claimed that the Nine of Swords simply did not belong in her “Current Emotional State” position, as she said that she was enjoying an especially happy, contented time in her life. I wondered at first if she was trying to conceal from me—or from herself—some inner turmoil, which would mean the card could have been accurate. I also considered the possibility that her bewilderment was genuine and that the Nine of Swords had picked up on something of which she was not yet conscious. A third possibility is that it was in her highest good not to have a reading at that time—during a noisy fundraising event, glass of wine in hand— and that it was in my highest good to learn to recover and detach from the “errant” card.
Arwen: If you could give one piece of advice to every aspiring Tarot lover in the world, what would it be?
Paul: Don’t give anyone or anything the power to claim what your future will be. Believing that your future is something you create in every moment with your thoughts, feelings and actions, gives you far more energy, creativity, and choices than passively believing that tomorrow is predetermined.
I will be giving away one copy of Paul’s new book, Tarot For Life. Please leave a meaningful comment or question for Paul. I will draw the winner on August 6th and announce it here in the comments of this post.
You can learn more about Paul at his website, The Spirited Life.