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Updated 7/18/11: See Mic update at the end and helpful recommendations in the Comments.

Imagine that a client comes to you for a premium reading. They spend an hour and a lot of money, but when they get home they can hardly remember a word of the deep wisdom and insights they just received. I like to trust that their subconscious is making use of it, but I know from experience the value that comes from reviewing a reading in depth. What to do?—No one uses audio cassettes anymore.

I got myself an iPad 2 and it’s one of the best things I’ve ever done. I’ve been waiting a year for the next generation and I’m thrilled to have it. One of my main intentions was to use it as a fancy digital recorder for tarot consultations. And by fancy, I mean FaNcY! Nothing else offers the bells and whistles this does [except the iPhone, which can do most of these things, too].

In one, relatively small package, you can record a reading, take notes on it, create an annotated sketch of a personalized layout, and include photos of the completed tarot spread and even of the grinning querent and reader. And, at the end of the session, you can instantly email the reading to clients so it’s waiting for them on their computer when they get home (or on their iPhone or iPad for their immediate viewing and listening pleasure). Talk about moving into the 21st century! Now, there can be a few glitches in this otherwise perfect scenario. Occasionally an app crashes. Audio files can get really big and cause problems with mail. And one app even caused my whole iPad to crash (boy, is that app going to get a thumbs down!). Additionally, you can’t email unless there’s a WiFi connection or you have G3, but even if you have to send the file later that’s hardly a deal breaker. Here’s a couple of apps that make the whole process irresistable.

Click for larger image

NOTABILITY – This app does it all and the new price of $2.99 is a still a steal. Since I originally wrote this post, Notability has been upgraded, and they added all the features I asked for (thank you very much!).

  1. Type notes such as the question or subject of the reading, aspects of the issue that could be the basis of a personalized spread, recommended resources. You can use a variety of fonts & colors and can indent to create outlines.
  2. Record the conversation. The audio recording will continue even while you perform other functions within the app and outside of it, and you can pause it.*
  3. Insert a photo of the actual spread. You can resize the image and move it on the page and now place images side-by-side.
  4. Create a sketch of the spread or layout (basic shapes included as well as freehand drawing and text). You can also draw on a photo to circle important symbols or lines of sight and emphasis. No other app that I know includes all these features.
  5. The Send options are excellent since you can mail as a zipped PDF + separate Audio file; or, to other Macs only as an RTFD (opens in TextEdit). It also works with Dropbox (cloud computing).

*If you are recording your own readings—talking to yourself as you look at a card or spread—this app can be fantastic. Just type a few keywords as you speak to indicate ideas you want to return to, then, when playing back the audio, if you tap on one of those keywords or phrases, the audio will jump forward or backward to that part of the recording! This would be a great way to journal the exercises in 21 Ways to Read a Tarot Card!

AUDIO MEMOS 2 – Free for the basic app, which is adequate; pay for upgrades.

This is a professional level audio voice recorder. You won’t get the photos or the notes, but you will get great recordings even with only the built-in mic (either .wav or for smaller files – .aac). You can do button or voice activated recordings and you can pause and restart. You can also do some basic editing. When played back on Audio Memos it can jump to annotatable position markers that you set when recording. Unfortunately, the position markers don’t work if you playback via a different application. End the recording and email it in seconds (if you are net-connected) or save it to mail later. CONS: Photos and sketches have to be created in another app and sent separately; you can only mail up to 15mb and the best quality files are BIG. You should be able to record an hour on .aac setting. If you want .wav use the included timer and start a new recording when the file gets too big. You can export to Dropbox or Evernote.

GARAGEBAND – $4.99. I don’t use this myself as I find it overkill for simple recording, but others love it. Great editing features.

EVERNOTE – Free with limited space on its server; a monthly charge for more space.

This note-taking app saves everything on its own server, making it accessible to you from any computer or mobile. You can also give others access to some of your files. You can type, record and take a photo without leaving the app and it’s designed to easily insert webclips (like a spread from tarot.com). CONS: You can’t sketch; if you stop the recording you have to start a new one; the emailer crashed the app and froze my iPad! PROS: I discovered, after recording a Skype interview with someone in Italy, that I could transfer the giant AudioMemos .wav file to Evernote and then access it through my Evernote web account on my home computer and mail it via SendThisFile—problem solved.

Added: A MUST HAVE for Professional Tarot Readers who do face-to-face or phone readings is a Credit Card App (PayPal works well for internet consultations). A credit card app will work with both the iPhone and the iPad. It allows you to accept charges and the money is then deposited in your bank account (or a check can be mailed to you). The most handy and reasonable app, that has no hidden fees or monthly charges, is Square, which is perfect for those who only need to take credit cards occasionally. See recommendations in the Comments section by people who have used it.

There are other Notes+Audio apps that I haven’t checked out yet like AudioNote, SoundNote, Sundry Notes, ClassNotes, PaperDesk, some of which may be better if you prefer handwriting and sketching to typing. If anyone has any suggestions, please let us know in the comments. Added: My Notebook! app has all the functions I’ve recommended, including a great handwriting/sketching option—smooth & with the best arrangement for color choosing I’ve seen. But the interface is unnecessarily complicated and the free Lite version has quite a few limitations, like not being able to try out any of the many Send features.

And, of course, iPad/Phone comes with FaceTime, which, like Skype, gives you the option of face-to-face calls for readings at a distance. Read suggestions for Skype recording in the Comments.

UPDATED note on External Mics:

Under most circumstances the little mic in the iPad will do okay for face-to-face readings if you don’t mind the hollow tone and a bit of a lisp in your voice. Don’t speak directly into it.

If you want an external, portable mic, then I highly recommend the Samson Go Mic. It’s very small (though surprisingly heavy), clips onto your iPad or stands alone, and works with the iPad USB camera connector. You can also plug headphones directly into the mic. It’s good enough for podcasts-on-the-go, although a pop-filter helps for optimum sound when in uni-directional mode. This video review is very helpful for understanding the three sound settings and hearing it in action.

Some Blue USB Microphones work through the iPad USB camera connection kit. The Blue Yeti is supposed to be the best of its class (+/-$125) but requires a powered USB hub. The Snowball and Snowflake are cheaper, more portable and don’t require the powered hub, but the quality goes down. If you are doing podcasts then go with the Blue Yeti (I would). I understand Blue is working on more portable mic solutions for the iPad/Phone.


See the Comments for other great suggestions for recording, including internet video and audio recording via Skype and Conference Calls.

Wonderful tarot interpretation of Bono reading Charles Bukowski, with a tarot question at the end. Brought to us by Carrie Paris at thetalkingtarot.

Webinar: Mary K. Greer on “An Analysis of the Role of Cartomancers through Western Art” Part 2. This Thursday!! It’s okay if you missed Part 1 (or purchase the video recording).

Marie Aimme Eliane Lucas-Robiquet, Young Woman Drawing Cards - 1890

Sign-up here for the live “Webinar” through Linda Marson’s Global Spiritual Studies program.

from the website:

“Bravo!”, “Thanks so much for organising this”, “Wonderful stuff – great to have the images”. These are just a few of the enthusiastic responses to the first of the two sessions from internationally-renowned Tarot author and teacher, Mary K. Greer. In these webinars, Mary takes us on an exploratory journey into the role of card readers over the centuries. Purchase access to the recording of the first session NOW and register to join the live audience for the second session on Thursday 7 April at 6pm US Pacific time. Only a few places left, so be quick!

Little is known about cartomancers before the 20th century: who were they, who were their clients, where did they practice, what decks were used? Written information is scarce beyond basic instruction books and accounts of Mlle. Lenormand, who was famous for doing predictive card readings for Napoleon and Josephine in the 19th century.

An historical record does exist in genre art that depicts ordinary people going about their everyday work and recreations. In this slide presentation and talk, Mary analyses the visual content of paintings, prints and postcards showing cartomancers from the 16th through early 20th century. She brings to light both the professional and recreational characteristics of those people who practised cartomancy and reveals their largely unseen and under-acknowledged role in everyday Western society.

It’s an empowering experience for card readers to see themselves as part of a long-lived profession that ultimately goes back to the oracles and diviners of ancient times.

Live webinar requirements

All you need to participate in live webinars is a broadband connection. Only 23 places are available in the room, so sign up now to participate in the live sessions where you have the opportunity to ask questions or make comments through the room’s text chat function. Depending on the number of participants, audio interaction may be possible. If so, this requires you to have a headset and mic plugged in before you login into the room.

The webinar will be recorded for later sale, and participants in the live sessions will have free access to recordings: here.

Here are a couple of clips from an independent feature length documentary on tarot by Chris Deleo and Kimmie Naughton that’s currently in process. It was inspired by Enrique Enriquez’s Tarology approach to the cards of the Marseilles deck that you see in this video. They will be filming other approaches to the tarot:

http://vimeo.com/21418482

Please, stop by the filmmakers’ IndieGoGo page to learn how you can contribute to their campaign and help make this film happen.

Here’s the Omega Institute faculty video of me discussing my research on cartomancers. It’s a preview of what I’ll be presenting in my upcoming webinar on the “History of Cartomancers.”

Go to the Events page for information on this summer’s Omega Tarot Conference and the five-day workshop with Rachel Pollack and myself.

I stumbled onto this rather strange video presentation of Brian William’s Renaissance Tarot Deck. I have no idea where it came from although it mentions, at the beginning, “tarocon,” which was the name of Brian’s website:

Brian died almost nine years ago. He was the creator of four tarot deck & book sets: the Renaissance, POMO, Minchiate and Ship of Fools, plus the Angel Journey cards and the book to Michael Goepferd’s Light and Shadow Tarot. I had also taken a tarot journey with him to Italy in 2000, and he’ll be coming along with us (in spirit) on the upcoming Italian Tarot Tour this September. During Brian’s memorial service I pulled a card from his POMO deck, seeking a message directly from him. He responded with The Hermit: 9-Out of It. Description: “The bearded old guy on card 9, ‘Out of It,’ points a flashlight into an empty corner,” thus confirming, to me, that Brian had moved on. On page 22 (an auspicious number) Brian had written about the card:

“Our character is Out of It, like all these venerable incarnations, but also out of the game, out of the loop. . . . There are consequences of absenting oneself from the world, from the scene, from the rat race: delightful consequences and otherwise. There is peace and quiet, inner calm, perspective, detachment.”

It was clear that Brian was letting us know that, although he was “out of the game,” he was more than okay.

Afterwards, over pizza and wine, about a dozen of us taroteers inaugurated our first Patron Saint of Tarot – Santo Briano (there is no such name as Brian in Italian – so that’s the name they made up for him in Italy). We also came up with the following prayer that contains many oblique references to his holy symbols and sacred acts. Eros and Thanatos (see below, also known as “the cabana boys”) were his imaginary sidekicks who kept him in as much trouble as possible.

Santo Briano, full of Grace,
To bring a blush to the Oracle’s face,
Tie us up in leather and lace.

Lying in the lap of Eros,
Surrendering to Thanatos,
You whom the angels hold close,

Guide us in wearing wisdom’s glove,
Look down on us from above,
Lead us to the door of love,

Living in a house of trees,
Tempting Mephistopholes,
Possessor of the handsome knees,

Delight in beauty, joy in pain,
Pour your blessings down like rain,
Santo Briano, tie me up again.

[And bless my oracular ejaculations.]


A short animation by Trepaned Productions in Flash featuring music from the Portland band Polly High. Just another example of what can be done.

This video by “Nisamohi” uses images from the Rider Waite Tarot deck, animated and brought to life using Adobe Aftereffects, to part of the song “Break the Spell” by Ellis.

There are only three days left to listen to a 20 minute BBC broadcast of a reading of the newly discovered tarot short-story by Anthony Burgess – here. Burgess wrote “Chance Would Be a Fine Thing” in the early 1960s but couldn’t find anyone willing to publish it. The story is about two middle-aged women and their ill-fated experiments with Tarot cards. Otherwise, you will have to wait for it to be published in 2013. Burgess appeared to have a deep interest in tarot, owning several decks and having designed one of his own. He is known to have read cards at a village fete in the 1950s disguised as ‘Professor Sosostris the famous clairvoyant’ (an obvious reference to T.S. Eliot’s poem “The Wasteland”). Read more about the story here. (Thanks to Fiona Blount.)

Check out Woody Allen’s new movie (opening the end of September) that features a tarot reader (even if she is bogus, it’s great humor). (Thanks to Jennifer SwampWitch Johnson).

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Mary K. Greer has made tarot her life work. Check here for reports of goings-on in the world of tarot and cartomancy, articles on the history and practice of tarot, and materials on other cartomancy decks. Sorry, I no longer write reviews. Contact me HERE.

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