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Therapeutic Tarot with The Tarot Diagnosis

Shannon Knight and Luna Hammond are Johns Hopkins trained therapists who host The Tarot Diagnosis - a weekly podcast that highlights the intersection of mental health and the practice of Tarot. Each week on the podcast, they pull cards, talk psychology, and help listeners better understand themselves and those around them.

INTERVIEW TRANSCRIPT: 

Dayna Schmidt-Johnson
Hello everyone and welcome. My name is Dayna Schmidt-Johnson. I'm the community manager of the Writual Society as well as our house astrologer. And today we're going to be talking about Therapeutic Tarot, how to utilize the cards to facilitate a journey toward a deeper understanding, growth and healing. Now, some people may just call that reading the cards right, but we call it therapeutic tarot, because our guests today are mental health counselors, and they highlight the intersection of psychology, mental health and Tarot through their podcast, the Tarot Diagnosis. And with that said, you may already be familiar with our guests, especially as Sheila was recently on their podcast. But please welcome Luna Hammond and Shannon Knight to the table. Ladies, it is so good to have you here today.

Shannon and Luna
Thank you so much for having us.

Shannon Knight
As we said at the same time, thank you. It's really exciting.

Dayna Schmidt-Johnson
And that's what happens when we get to on the call at once. It's very exciting. So tell us a bit about the Tarot Diagnosis Podcast for those who are unfamiliar.

Luna Hammond
So the podcast really started as just kind of a fuzzy thing that we were doing it was pandemic and we had a strike of inspiration Shannon and I went to graduate school at Hopkins together now many, many moons ago, and had stayed in touch and would call each other or text each other over the years. And Shannon texted me out of the blue and was like, 'Hey, do you you do that Tarot thing, right?' And I was like, 'I kind of do the Tarot thing. Yeah.' And we started talking about a new deck that she had gotten for her birthday. And we said, this would be fun if we started just recording our conversations. And we thought maybe that'd be fun as a podcast, and then we thought, well, maybe we'll just do 12 episodes, and see if it gets any traction. And it got some traction. So here we are.

Dayna Schmidt-Johnson
Very cool. I love how it started with you do that Tarot thing, right? I think it's something that you know, a lot of people, especially on the professional side of things don't discuss much. And so I'm curious how you both started your tarot journeys.

Shannon Knight
So we have I always forget what episode it is. But we go into this in one of the podcast episodes, I think it's like something about like life journeys or something. But it's always been around for me. I was the goth kid. I liked all the occult stuff. I hung out at the metaphysical shop, I had a witchy aunt who would read my cards and it was more Tarot was more of a maybe twice a year thing for me for many years. And then yeah, like Luna told the story. When I got this new deck for my birthday, it was, I don't know, it opened up a whole other gate and I was like, wait, I can use this way more than just twice a year. So it's become a daily thing now. But it was one of those things, it was kind of just always around, which is exciting, too. It was kind of like foreshadowing all this fun tarot podcast stuff that was that was to come.

Luna Hammond
Mine's kind of the opposite. I never touched a deck until actually until just after graduate school, when I was seeking some sort of guidance or help in my life. And I found that at that point in my life going to therapy was difficult, because I was fresh out of my training. And I was like, I see what you're doing there. So I was looking for something different. And a friend of mine connected me to somebody who is an intuitive who I talked to a couple of times, and she said maybe you should try this. And so I picked it up really late in life. And it did quickly become just sort of something I did at first, but then I developed a daily practice pretty quickly. So mine's kind of opposite of Shannon's.

Dayna Schmidt-Johnson
What's very interesting, and yet, you can still both come together with these totally different journeys, and discuss how tarot and therapy are kind of connected or interconnected. And I'm so curious about that. How, how are they connected to one another?

Shannon Knight
Yeah, so the way I describe Tarot, or my Tarot practice is that it's a thought exercise. And I think in that way, it's really connected to therapy because it can act as a mirror or even a level of confrontation that we can avoid when we pull a card. And that's what happens a lot in the therapy room, you develop this really intimate relationship with your, with your therapist, and it's vulnerable and they may gently nudge you a little bit and challenge you in ways that you wouldn't have been able to challenge yourself by yourself. And I think Tarot can also offer us that because you know, we can pull a card, we can have a thought process or think one way about a situation and then pull a card and it opens a door to a totally different thought or path that we hadn't considered. So in terms of it being connected, I think for me, that's probably one of the the main foundational connection things that they share.

Luna Hammond
Yeah, I think that they're so similar in that they're both a form of self reflection. And they're both a way for you to get to know yourself and understand the world and an opportunity to be reflective. That said, I actually, personally, I don't feel like they're the same thing. Like, I feel like they're almost sort of like the difference between taking a shower and taking a bath. They act differently in my own life. Now, I know that there are some therapists who feel like they're deeply connected. I think that's one of kind of the more interesting things about our work is that we're not therapists who read tarot in sessions, typically, unless somebody brings it in, which I think does bring it a little bit of a different edge. But to me, it's almost like, you know, apples and oranges. They're both fruits, but not exactly the same.

Dayna Schmidt-Johnson
Yeah, and you both kind of answered, you know, how we can utilize that in our own practices, right. But maybe we can go a little deeper with that on that, like apples and oranges kind of concept, right? What would you, you know, do with cards that you wouldn't do in a therapy session, or vice versa? Maybe?

Luna Hammond
I'll do that one. Because I could see Shannon was like, say that one Luna, I was thinking about this this morning, as I was driving, I feel like it's almost the opposite. When I'm reading cards, I'm given a prompt, I'm given an image, I'm given an idea. And then I work from the idea when I'm doing therapy. What, as a therapist, at least, what I do is I'm the one who's providing the prompts. So when I'm talking to a client, I have the whole universe of ideas, like I might reference a friend's episode, or I might reference a book or I might reference like a photo that like, there's a million things I can reference. It's catered directly to the client. So I'm sort of like here, here. Whereas Tarot is like, here's an idea, you do the work now. So I, I feel like they really approach weirdly, in a very different way. Both are powerful. It's just a different thinking skill, almost.

Shannon Knight
I think that's a really good description. I like that you use the phrase thinking skill, because I think one of the differences is it goes back to how I describe it as a thought exercise. Whereas in therapy, we take it beyond a thought exercise. And Tarot, it can, if you use it a specific way. But typically how we all tend to use tarot, it doesn't give you kind of a nudge that a therapist might or when you're in the therapy room to take it beyond just a thought exercise. So I think that's where, where the difference comes in between, you know, using Tarot for self reflection, versus therapy. But, you know, the way I describe the maybe the relationship or how you can utilize your knowledge of Tarot to add a deeper layer to your practices, you know, when you go to a museum, and you're looking at art, and you sit and you look at the image, and you pay attention, like what am I focusing on? What details do I see? What does this bring up any memories for me? What do I feel when I look at this? That's how do I describe Tarot to folks who maybe don't have a relationship with it? Because Tarot offers the same experience that that does. And I think that's what's really exciting about it.

Dayna Schmidt-Johnson
I love that comparison. Now, I suddenly feel like I have like, not 10 decks, I have 10 art museums in my house, right? How very cool and appropriate because these different cards bring up different feelings inside of us. And it's going to be different for every person who's interpreting them as well. Right? So that makes a lot of sense. Yeah. Um, so here's the question, you know, you guys are talking about the difference between, you know, using cards for yourself and being in your, your practice with clients. And what point should we stop using tarot cards and asking like the same question over and over and over for ourselves, and instead, maybe seek out a licensed practitioner? What, what's kind of maybe that tipping point or something that would help us be like, okay, like, Let's go beyond the cards now.

Luna Hammond
Yeah, I mean, I think that it's almost it's like I would almost say at the beginning, almost it sort of, that's exactly what you described. There was exactly right. That's what people do is like when you're stuck and you keep reading the cards and like you're in your own head about it. No, you're no longer doing a thinking exercise. Or maybe you're doing a thinking exercise, but you're like walking instead of running. And so I think that that's what is helpful about seeking a therapist is that you're getting direct feedback from another human being whose entire job is to focus on you, and know you and to know exactly what question to ask you. Now that doesn't devalue what tarot does, what tarot does is really valuable, too. It's just slightly different in that Tarot is, it's like working out at home versus a class almost. And sometimes when you're working out at home, that can be amazing because you can stay on the one exercise where you can cater the workout to you. Or you can really focus on a muscle group that you want to focus on. But if you're in a class, the instructor is going to push you in a different way. So I think that it's just a kind of a question of, 'Am I getting a good workout here at home? Or do I need to be going to a class?'

Shannon Knight
That was a brilliant way to describe that I like the work the workout class description, we actually kind of dive into this a little bit during one of our episodes, it's the magical thinking episode where we explore the difference between spirituality and cognitive distortions. And a lot of people responded really well to that episode, because they were like, Oh, I had no idea like this was going on. Or I was experiencing this cognitive distortion, or I maybe had a slightly unhealthy relationship with with my tarot cards. And I think that episode really goes into and highlights the boundaries that we should have in terms of thinking about, you know, what our relationship is with Tarot. Regarding whether it's beneficial versus is it maybe headed down a path where we are just stuck and not making progress? And like Luna said, if you find yourself being stuck and not making progress, that's when you need to sit down the cards and say, okay, maybe I do need this extra professional care or treatment, it doesn't mean you have to stop using them altogether. It just means you need someone else there with you.

Dayna Schmidt-Johnson
Yeah, cause sometimes you even just need that little extra stretch, right? I think it can be really easy to get, like you said, all up in your head. And you're continually asked either the same questions or you want answers, and maybe the answers don't exist within you. You need like someone else to bounce some things off of right?

Luna Hammond
That's exactly right. We had a professor in school who would our very first class actually would have a say like, what you're waiting for is for the client to say, I never thought about it that way. And so if you're by yourself, thinking the same thoughts, you've always thought like, yeah, you're not going to think that other thing. Again, not to say that we can't do amazing personal work through tarot, because we really can. It's just a question of what do you need a little bit more right now?

Shannon Knight
Yeah, I think what Luna is saying is once Tarot becomes your own personal echo chamber, it's time to set the cards down and say, Hey, I need some assistance. And I think that's why social media has been really great too there's such a great tarot community on social media that really challenges the way you think about the cards or different spreads or different interpretations. So yeah, there's a lot of great information out there.

Dayna Schmidt-Johnson
Yeah, definitely. And that's certainly part of what the Writual Society does. For our people, too, right? We can come together once a month, we're pulling cards together, and everyone's saying, Oh, I got this. So I got that. And it's very interesting to see like, when we get similar cards, or we're like, vibing, with each other's energies, right? Or somebody says, Can you helped me interpret this? I totally don't get it today. Right? And then you get some extra feedback and some additional ideas. So that makes a ton of sense.

So what do you guys love so much about tarot and your own practices that you decided to come together and form this very cool podcast that covers a whole different space of thinking?

Shannon Knight
I was waiting for Luna.

Luna Hammond
I can go if you want. But yeah, that one's for you. I don't know why, but that one's for you.

Shannon Knight
You know, I was thinking about this and what really everything that you said I feel like kind of highlights why we love Tarot. For me personally, I feel like you know, there's 78 cards, yet there's endless potential and possibility regarding what could happen with the cards or what could come up for you. And for me, it's such a it's like a gateway into creativity that I had been lacking personally for a long time. It's almost like when you have writer's block or artists block and you're not really sure where to go or what to do or how to break free of that. I feel like the cards offer the antidote for that and not just for creativity for a lot of different aspects of of your life. So that's my that's why I love it so much and it made sense. was to apply it to what Luna? And I do, because, you know, the cards really mimic the human experience. And we were, you know, Luna and I were having these fun conversations just together on our own. And, you know, you add in the layer of cards, and it's like, oh, wow, this opens up a whole other universe. And, you know, it made sense to apply them to the topics that we, you know, explore in the therapy room. So it was just really exciting. And it still is, it doesn't ever get old.

Luna Hammond
So glad I let Shannon talk first there, because I really needed to hear that. I think the creativity piece is huge, that it's it let my brain work in reverse. And I loved that. I think that the other thing that I personally love about what we're doing is that it allows us to talk about mental health. And it allows us to talk about the therapy that we do. I mean, like, we're both like, I don't mean to like toot our own horns, but like we're both like pretty successful. Like we run private practices, we have a full caseload like, and I love that we can give people a glimpse of what that looks like, without ever getting into weird like talking about our cases or breaking confidentiality, it gives us a tool to talk about humanity or the human experience in a way that I just can't imagine being able to do otherwise. So I like the venue, it works really well in terms of being able to offer a glimpse at therapy without doing therapy.

Shannon Knight
That's exactly right. I Luna and I have had so many messages of people reaching out to us and saying, I started going to therapy, either again, or I just started going for the first time because I listened to you all. And I felt comfortable doing so which I can't even describe how that feels. It's such an incredible experience. Because, you know, there's a lot of stigma attached to mental health. So I feel like by just being ourselves and talking about the experience of being a therapist, or the types of issues we explore in the therapy room. And then we add this layer of tarot, which I feel like it's just kind of like this natural creative connection that, you know, I guess maybe evens the playing field because it can be intimidating when you are listening to a therapist or you're thinking about going to therapy. And now suddenly you have this, this tool that makes you equals. And it's been really amazing to see people say, Yeah, I reached out and I started therapy again. And it's because I felt comfortable listening to you all. And if that's like the only thing that ever comes out of the podcast, that's amazing, because everybody deserves that experience of therapeutic healing.

Dayna Schmidt-Johnson
That's so beautiful. Absolutely. And I like how you you're saying, you know this, this, it makes us equal? We're both we both understand this, this tarot thing. And so we can we have a good starting point and a good reference point of understanding one another before we even start talking therapy. Hmm, wonderful. So, Shannon, Luna. Thank you, first of all for being here today. We are going to have you guys in the Society in February. I can't wait for this. This is going to be called Therapeutic Tarot for Self Reflection and Self Love. What an awesome February topic because we all need it. And we can all bring that into our own practices. So we can't wait to learn more from you over there. But in the meantime, where can people find you?

Shannon Knight
Yeah, so anywhere you listen to podcasts, you can find our podcasts on Apple, Spotify, Audible, Amazon, Google, anywhere you listen to music or podcast, you can find us. You can also find us on Instagram. That's where we are most active. So at the Tarot Diagnosis on Instagram, we have a Facebook account. We're not really active on there, follow us on Instagram. That's where you can hang out with us more. You can also check out our website, the Tarotdiagnosis.com. We have a lot of really cool stuff on there. You can download free Shadow Work guides, you can check out our shop, you can learn more about our community, the symposium. So yeah, there's lots of cool areas and avenues to connect with us and hang out with us.

Dayna Schmidt-Johnson
Perfect, we cannot wait to do so and we can't wait to see you again in February. Thank you both so much for being here today. Have a terrific rest of your day.

Shannon and Luna
Thanks so much for having us. Have a good one. Bye
 

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