The Scientist and the Mystic: two cynics sit down for a tarot reading

I’ve been interested in astrology for as long as I can remember. The first time I saw a depiction of the solar system in primary school, I felt a strong connection to the vast universe I can’t even begin to describe. 

Having grown up Asian, I also am no stranger to superstitious nonsense. A big part of my upbringing consisted of a visit the local astrologer – who made a lot of flawed predictions that never seemed to bloody come true. 

So when I first decided to dabble in tarot – I had my own reservations about what that would mean and how people would view me. Well – who cares. The haters gonna hate hate hate hate hate. The first person I did a tarot reading for was my good old friend Charmaine Yam. She’s also the one who encouraged me to blog about this topic. A doctor by profession, Charmaine shares her thoughts on her first tarot reading with me. 

Dipa: What preconceived ideas did you have about tarot?

Charmaine: I thought there would be some peculiar lady in a tent with lots of weird jewellery and a crystal ball who reads out cards and predicts the future. Having said that, I’ve always been kind of curious about tarot. I’ve generally thought it’s something that predicts the future, but that’s not what it is.

Even though I’m quite scientific-minded, I was fascinated by tarot. I didn’t previously think that there is any scientific basis. But since there is a link to astrology, I realised there is more to it than some lady with mystical power. Let’s be honest – how many people actually do believe it’s that? Out of 10 people, I think nine people think it’s like that. 


Dipa: How did you feel about your first tarot reading?

Charmaine: It was profound and surpassed my expectations. I was quite surprised that tarot is not about predicting the future, but more about interpreting life as it now and suggesting future direction. It gave me an insight into what my current life issues are.

It shows some of the patterns of behaviour in one’s life and gives a guide as to how to get out of those bad habits. Because of its link to astrology – it is quite scientific-based. But there is still some mysticism to it. Like why do the same cards come out for me over and over again? We’ve done so many readings now that it can’t just be by chance. 

Tarot taught me about things I didn’t really know about myself. I felt like some of these issues, I knew superficially but after the reading I had more depth with which to view those issues. It gave me a bigger insight into what I already know. 

For example – things like my sleeping pattern and insomnia – these are not things I would tell someone or think there was a real issue. I don’t know how you knew that or how that particular card came out. 

Dipa: What surprised you the most?

Charmaine: I was surprised that a lot of it was based on the reader’s intuition – rather than some mystical power. I think some of it would be influenced by the fact that we’re friends and you know me so well.

But then again there were some things that I never told you. Your reading is quite objective, ‘You’re attracting this into your life because of XYZ’. While some of it you knew because we’re friends. Some of the other stuff – like my problems sleeping, you wouldn’t have known cause I never told you. It’s just the card that popped out. 

Concluding Remarks

I don’t have a crystal ball or lots of weird jewellery. I’m just a curious girl who likes telling stories. Tarot is an incredible tool with which to tell a story and shed light on issues which might otherwise remain repressed. I’m glad that Charmaine encouraged me to do this. 

The haters gonna hate hate hate hate hate. But I’m just gonna shake shake shake shake shake. Just shake it off. Shake it off.

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