Peter D. Cowen began studying Tarot in 1969, and Runes shortly thereafter. He is a 1978 graduate of Southern Illinois University, where he majored in English Literature, primarily of the Renaissance. He has published numerous short stories and poetry, while working as a graphic design specialist in typography. His preferred decks are the Jean Dodal, Oswald Wirth, and Pamela Colman Smith Tarots, and he makes his own Runes from natural materials. He and his wife Christine, a native of Scarborough, England, operate Flora Tarot from their home in Belvidere, Illinois, and both are readers for the ATA's free reading networks.
Since joining the Free Tarot and Free Reading Networks as a volunteer, I have come to have the highest regard for the people involved in keeping this service going as a working reality. And it has been very educational for me, more than can be expressed, as I feel that no matter what beliefs or opinions one has about the Tarot, there is an underlying veracity that becomes increasingly evident the more actual readings one does. Serving as a fellow volunteer, Fulgour Prentice has now completed 1,230 one-card readings for the FTN. I have Fulgour here with me now for an exclusive Tarot Reflections interview.
PDC: You also volunteer your services for the Free Reading Network, having completed over 200 readings there, as well as contributing as a mentor for new readers. How does it work?
Fulgour: Readers new to the Networks are paired with experienced mentors, and have the opportunity to gain practical public reading experience while volunteering their time on the Free Tarot and Free Reading Networks. The ATA maintains these two networks offering free Tarot readings to the public at large, though the reading staff is small, and so can only offer a limited number of free readings per day. Both programs abide by the ATA Code of Ethics and offer great opportunities to build your reading skills while working with experienced mentors. In this way both programs are able to deliver authentic readings, conducted first hand by real people.
PDC: Ah yes, all very familiar sounding (laughter). How do you authentically deliver a reading, since you have no other direct contact with your clients than their e-mailed request?
Fulgour: Working directly from each request exactly as received, and specially preparing it for every client using a pre-set format I created, my method is to then concentrate on their question while mindfully shuffling the cards before cutting the deck at an acutely sensed midpoint, and then finally turning over the single card drawn.
PDC: What sort of questions do you get, considering that people from all around the world submit their personal requests, in their own words as they choose, directly to your mailbox?
Fulgour: Questions cover the entire spectrum of possibilities. I include the following note for my clients with each reading: "You alone know what is in your heart when you ask for a reading, and I respect your choice of the words for your question. After all, it is difficult to trust a stranger to understand what you truly feel. Our brief encounter is based on mutual trust, and my responses are always done with your personal integrity foremost in my mind. Likewise, I always read exactly the card drawn, and will never substitute with a 'nicer' card, or hold back an interpretation, but I do feel very strongly that the Tarot is meant for good, and I will always emphasize the best and most positive meanings in your reading." Questions might lean toward seeking predictions, or may ask for something like an either or response, but I always remind my clients that while Tarot cards can be a powerful tool for personal and spiritual development, "the final authority in your life is you, and personal responsibility should always remain your highest priority when making any decision."
PDC: What about the one-card format?
Fulgour: The one-card format used here at the FTN has proven to be amazingly accurate and informative, providing lucid insights even for the most complex questions. After all, in a one-card reading the card drawn is speaking for the entire deck of seventy-eight, and each card will provide all that is needed for us to complete a reading with it.
PDC: What would you tell someone just starting out?
Fulgour: Here at the Networks, in every sense, we are international professional Tarot readers. There isn't a formula, and the requirements are all very simple and direct. What I think most people will discover is that these readings are truly unique. A request comes in, you receive it and then set up your reply to be sent. The readings are all once in a lifetime events, they will never happen again, and we in fact cannot know if they will be welcomed, understood, or even read. So much of what is involved is out of our control, but for our part, what we do, our personal involvement and actions, is what is finally the most important result. We take up the cards, and with their guidance we search our hearts and minds, and then we set to work to try and provide that energy and inspiration to the clients. It all becomes physically real.
PDC: What have you found to be the most rewarding aspect of your participation?
Fulgour: Giving back some of what the Tarot has so generously helped to bring into my life, and that of so many fellow sojourners through the ages.
Those interested in reading for the Networks can apply here. This service is free with ATA membership; others are welcome to join for a $10 annual adminstrative fee.
Receiving readings is free, on a first-come first-served basis, through both FreeTarot.us and FreeReading.us.