I don’t like to criticize someone else’s reading as tarot card meanings are not fixed, and it is an art, not a science—but there’s a lot of confusion in the four minute reading for Whoopi Goldberg on The View—watch it here. I thought I’d clear up what I can.

First, I was shocked that the reader, Sandy Anastasi, knew nothing true about the history of tarot when there is so much documented and written about it. As a tarot author and spokesperson, it is incredibly irresponsible and unprofessional for her to spout such nonsense. She lost a good opportunity to inform the public that the tarot originated in 15th century Northern Italy—most likely in the courts of Milan or Ferrara (and not with the gypsies!). Also, that while originally used for a card game similar to bridge, the allegorical figures of the “Triumphs” were well-known as standard, everyday images representing a Christian cosmography—a mapping of humanity’s place and experience in the cosmos. (Perhaps that’s a little heavy for TV.) Sure, the tarot can be used to train psychics, but Anastasi implies that was the original purpose rather than a modern one.

Yes, the Seven of Cups can mean a lot of choices. The “two properties” thing must have been a psychic or intuitive hit as that’s not a standard meaning. In fact, specific details like this are often part of a psychic tarot reading, not found in books and verifiable only by those who know the circumstances.

Things become really confused when the interviewer starts moving the cards around – although I don’t see why it was such a big deal – just keep on reading! Anastasi gets sidetracked. She says one orientation of the Seven of Cups means the decision has already been made, but it is unclear whether it was upright when facing her or facing Whoopi. I  assume that “a decision already made” refers to an ‘inverted’ card, since the upright version clearly shows multiple choices up in the air and the person is in the dark. However, that makes the next card really confusing. The Ace of Wands originally was oriented the same as the Seven of Cups. Upright the Ace of Wands is one of the fastest, most dynamic and passionate action cards in the deck (what I call the “Yes!” card). It indicates delays when reversed (oops, ‘inverted’), but Anastasi says the decision is still open, and there will be delays—maybe til the first of the year. Now I’m really confused.

All-in-all, I’d say this was a valiant effort, in incredibly difficult circumstances. The reading probably contains some relevant information for Whoopi, but was hampered by unnecessary distractions and, to me, an unforgiveable lack of knowledge about the origins of tarot in the rich ferment of the early Italian Renaissance. I invite all those who are interested to read the TarotL History Information Sheet, and tarot teachers, please pass it out to your students in the printer-friendly version here.