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Although the paths may differ, practitioners and those who supply services to practitioners contribute talent to make witchcraft a personalized, enriching experience. Rendezvous at the Lily Pads highlights some of these folks and invites you to learn about your comrades-in-witchery.

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Interview with Mari Powers

When I met Mari Powers in Mimosa, a downtown gift shop in Madison, WI, I had been a nameless customer who could read the tarot to a limited point but remained curious about the ability of others who claimed they read the tarot – especially others who read for a fee. With no small amount of skepticism and plenty of time on my underemployed but not quite poorly paid hands, I shrugged oh, what the hell and marched into the softly lit room. On a corner table, eleven decks with beautiful artwork hypnotized me. Any mesmerism gave way to frustration when Mari Powers directed me to choose a deck for my reading. As it turned out, this wasn't a session in which the querent sat back and listened to what influences impacted her life in the past, present, and future. Mari expected the client to take notes on a lay-out sheet during the session, take the sheets home, and think about how the influences manifested in her or his life. The idea of doing any work hadn't exactly appealed to me. Mari impressed me, nevertheless. She seemed to care about whether or not the questioner understood the reading. She didn't shy away from offering advice on any problem area that plagued the seeker.

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Even today, Mari's talent and compassion deserves a nod. Before I roll out this interview, however, allow me to confess I'm skeptical about readers in general. Any ol' joker with a deck and a tent may hang out his tarot shingle. At one point, I compared my readings – and I trust me – with Mari's interpretations. Though we each used a different deck, our interpretations of the spreads were similar.

On that note, here's the interview.

Ms Lilypads: How did you become a professional tarot reader?

Mari: I got my first Tarot deck when I was 15. For many years I read for myself and others. I found that I was much better at reading for others, and yet, there was still a fair amount of difficulty in being "spot on". As more books were printed and I read more about the process, I learned more about following my intuition rather than going just "by the book". In fact, I stopped looking up meanings in books for the most part. I also learned that being emotionally involved in the outcome of a reading reduced accuracy. I went to other card readers and learned from them. I started teaching classes, and learned from my students. At that point, my accuracy increased. Then I felt ready to read for others professionally. When I let go of knowing a person's question or concern before I read and asked to open up to channel answers from I call the "invisible universe", I really started getting accurate answers. So it was only after learning and teaching that I began to charge for individual readings and became a professional.

Ms. Lilypads: What are the biggest challenges of being a professional tarot reader?

Mari: Holding compassionate space for people who are dealing with serious and difficult life changes. It is difficult to not feel the pain when a person needs to make hard choices or deal with difficult issues. Yet it is important for me to remain positive, to remind people of free will, and that everyone has challenges, hardships and difficult choices. So to be truly compassionate I need to stay as emotionally objective as possible.

Ms. Lilypads: What advice would you give to people who wish to go into the profession of tarot reading?

Mari: Be sure that what you do is from a desire to be of service; to people, to spirit and self. Also, you need to at all times be a professional in that you keep a person's confidence to yourself, refer people when they need more or something different than what you can provide, and share your honest perceptions. Though the field I work in may not be a typical business, in some ways it is exactly that. I need to keep good books, honor each person's spiritual path, have good customer relations and boundaries and be paid fairly for my time.

Ms. Lilypads: If you had to choose 1 tarot deck to work with, which deck would you choose? Why?

Mari: I would at this time recommend Shadowscapes Tarot by Stephanie Pui-Mun Law and Barbara Moore. I love the art and it stays close to traditional meanings of the cards so is easier to learn. The detail in the art inspires intuitive readings as well.

Ms. Lilypads: How did you become interested in the tarot?

Mari: I was given a deck when I was 15 and loved the learning and the person who gave it to me.

Ms. Lilypads: In your opinion, what is the best book written on the tarot?

Mari: That is a very hard question. Some books are written on various layouts. Some are on history. Many accompany a deck and are in that way unique. It is very hard to choose one for they come from so many different points of view. So, I will just choose my current favorite to share. It is Tarot for Writers by Corrine Kenner. She discusses the cards in detail, then takes creative meditation on the cards to a new height by suggesting that you can use them to inspire your writing. I love the idea of primarily visual art inspiring stories - from the stories inherent in Tarot. It is also a fascinating, well written and helpful book for learning Tarot, even if you are not a writer.

If you wish to learn more about Mari, then visit her site at www.maripowers.com

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Creator of the blog The Gratitude Journal of Ms. Lilypads, Amethyst Lilypads earned a BA in Arts and Entertainment Management at Chicago's Columbia College. In high school, she ran across "Witchcraft Today" by Gerald Gardner, and Sybil Leek's "Diary of a Witch," and lists them among her favorite reads.Currently she works as a video editor, and hopes future projects include videotaping and interviewing business people, artists, writers, and musicians while they go about their everyday, witchy lives.

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