An Interview with Dan Pelletier, Author of The Process: The Way of the Tarot Reader

Photo from the cover of The Process: The Way of the Tarot Reader. Copyright (c) 2008 by Dan Pelletier

By Terri C.

My Mother used to always say, “What if the Queen comes to visit?” ...It was years before I realized we weren’t even English.” Dan Pelletier, opening statement for our interview.

I arrived at the appointed time. We had agreed on a small family owned restaurant in the heart of Lynnwood, Washington. I scan the parking lot and think to myself. “Hmm, I don’t see his truck, not like him.” I make my way inside and find him sitting at a booth by the window reading the newspaper. He glances over the top of the paper and greets me with a smile. 

We order our breakfast and I discover that he has chosen to walk to the restaurant, despite the damp and gray weather. He is dressed in typical "Seattle Business Casual."  While waiting for our breakfast to arrive and some friendly chat, he reaches into his jacket pocket and pulls out a zipper pouch. I sit wondering what deck will emerge. He unzips the pouch slowly.

The deck that emerges is one I’ve not seen before. It is a Lasenikův Tarot.  [ed. note - the card images shown are from this deck.]

TR:  How does one transition from reader to professional reader?

DP:  When we want to make the jump from just reading, to reading professionally, the problem is...what does it look like? Remember, I always ask that evil question, ‘Why do you want to read Tarot for others?’ Once you start answering the question, you kind of figure out what it looks like for you. You can’t read about what it looks like for you, that happens inside your own heart. What does it look like to be a reader? What does it feel like? What are your surroundings like? Why do you want to read? Talk to me. Talk to yourself. That helps you find the goal.

The big thing right now with The Secret is. What does the goal look like? They will tell you not to worry about the details. That’s your inner voice that’s always trying to mess things up...DETAILS. Mind the goal. What does the goal look like?

TR:  Why do you read?

(He shuffles the deck and pulls the Page of Cups.)PofCr1

DP:  That’s personal and it changes from week to week, day to day. You have to be aware of what reading looks like. 

Why do I read? It’s what I’m supposed to do. Because I’m supposed to deliver the message. I think of myself quite often as a postman for God. Sometimes we get busy and we don’t hear what it is we are supposed to hear. Tarot is a great way to plug in and listen to what it that we are being told. 

TR:  You mention in Chapter One, 'The ATA or some such silliness.' Are you opposed to Tarot associations?  Would you please clarify this statement? 

(His skeletal fingers reach over and turn over a card, The Magician.)Magicianr1

DP:  I love groups, I hate groups...groups over time gain power, and powers try to regiment men. Tarot is an endeavor of the individual. I don’t know so much about the ATA except from what I’ve read on various threads on electronic forums and what I once read on their own website; and it seems that the world is split in two halves. Part of the world loves groups; part of the world hates groups. I disparage groups because of the political dogma that inevitably issues from groups. I like the freedom of self determinism, probably the wrong word...

TR:  What is your book about?

(The Knight of Cups appears.)

KnofCr1DP:  An odd term. we think of books, we think of textbooks, novels, show me how, teach me the facts, give me the history. Anything from that old dried, dead stuff, wasting away on the library shelf...or in some posh library. could be a science fiction novel. I resist the word, book. This is a little more experiential, which is why it is in the audio format. I think it’s almost akin to radio-theater. 

There are a couple of different story lines that occur throughout the telling. Some are obvious, some are hidden.

TR:  What’s it about?

DP:  It’s about mastery. It’s about Tarot, but it’s about mastery. It’s about learning Tarot, but it’s not like your Great-Grandmother’s Tarot book. I am sure everyone already has shelves full of Tarot books; I know I have shelves full, because I collect books. The Process was written to fill the void that is in everyone’s shelf of Tarot books. There is this big empty area and that is really about the mastery of Tarot. Then, it’s a little more there than mastery; you can get mastery of your whole existence, if you want. 

I want to go back to the Magician and talk a bit more about groups and The American Tarot Association. As I say I am only familiar with it through what I read on electronic forums and their own website a couple years ago; now I know they used to do certifications and some other organizations perhaps still do. I really have a problem with certifying a reader. I’ve been reading since ‘72, I doubt I could pass the test. How do you measure? How do you weigh? If a person studies Waite but doesn’t study Crowley is that going to weight their test one way or another? What if a person studies Lévi? There are so many schools. So many people are hung up in the American/English School of Tarot. Lévi was important. I follow more of a Lévi attribution. Sometimes I follow the Spanish school. It all depends. So I have a problem with certification. I have a problem with testing. It has more to do with the political dogma, than has to do with groups. And think about “certifying.” It becomes a thing of ego, it becomes a crutch. 'Oh, I’m certified.' This put your ego into reading, which is exactly backwards and wrong.

The American Tarot Association no longer certifies, and they do perhaps provide good services. I choose to be apart of it, not a part, but apart.

TR:  What inspired you to write The Process: The Way of the Tarot Reader?7ofSr1

(The 7 of Swords appears.)

DP:  That void on your bookshelf. That was kind of the inspiration. It was very soon after 9/11 and I’m on the bus heading back to Seattle, actually on the bus to Sacramento, where I jumped the bus and rented a car. I knew I had to share what I’d learned over the last 29 years. I had to write it down. I started writing. That was my inspiration. It’s that little voice in the back of your head that says 'You will write it down.' 

TR:  Did your professional background assist you in writing The Process?

(He turns over the 4 of Swords.)4ofSr1

DP:  Absolutely, when I was a corporate trainer, I had to write lesson plans, lectures and tests. In some cases the passing of a test measured the difference in a pay grade.  Yeah, I used to write tests and lectures. Standing up doing public presentations, helps.

TR:  How did you get involved in Tarot?

(He turns over the Emperor.)

DP:  I often say, that I started with Tarot so that I could be popular with girls. That’s partially true. It’s also true that it’s all the way back in 6th grade that I got the Gypsy Witch Fortune Telling deck. Now I don’t refer to them as a Tarot deck, it didn’t even have a Little White Book. I would do 2 or 3 card draws and make up little Gypsy Witch Fortune Telling stuff with friends. Emperorr1

My sister and I used to play mind reading games, back when we would go, what my parents would call camping, where you drag some travel trailer around.  We sat in a 19 foot tin can in the rain while Dad would go fishing. We had fun with mind reading games; we also had our own sign language, because we were not allowed to talk while we were dragging this trailer around. We still know this sign language, by the way. We can converse in a crowded room and no one knows what we are saying. Karen is a great receiver and I can send really well. We’ve always had this. Occultism and that whole kind of thing came naturally.

My sister uses it in her work. She works for this company, where she has to get into her truck and drive to a certain venue to find trouble. Inevitably, she will receive a trouble report that says 'It’s here' and she will say, 'No, it’s there.' 

TR:  How did you decide what information was crucial to include in The Process?

(The Justice card joins us.)Justicer1

DP:  Well, now somebody has just pegged on one of the subplots. How many chapters are there...and why?

Next question please.

TR:  Are you working on any current writing projects?

DP:  Yes, we lovingly call it The Son of The Process Returns.  It’s going to be a musical extravaganza with music and dancing.

TR:  Will we see this on Broadway?

DP:  Why not? I’m thinking of selling the movie rights to Mel Brooks.

TR:  Which writers inspire you?5ofSwordsr1

(The 5 of Swords appears.)

DP:  Love Dickens. Love Bradbury. I prefer the Dune series over The Lord of the Rings.  Tim Powers, love Tim Powers, The Fault Line series. Drawing of the Dark is the prequel to The Fault Line series. Brilliant stuff! Great stuff!

TR:  Why are you drawing so many swords?

DP:  Because of the questions you are asking.

TR:  What are you currently reading?10ofCoinsr1

(He turns over the 10 of coins.)

DP:  Reading a lot of Crowley, which is just a riot. Especially when you understand the world that he was coming from, who he was, what he was, and the times that he lived in; and how things were done. Great stuff.

TR:  Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?

(The King of Wands joins them.)

DP:  Yeah, I do. There was this guy I know. Peter Gilmore, who was a brilliant guitar player and also played a mean keyboard. Peter wasn’t a writer, he was a musician. One night after we closed the pub, there were a few of us hanging around consuming free alcohol until 4:30 in the morning, when the cleaners came in and kicked us out. Peter Gilmore was asked, 'Why are you so good?' His response was '30 minutes a day.  Doesn’t matter how you feel. Doesn’t matter if you’re dying. Thirty minutes a day. If you love your art, you do your art for 30 minutes a day.'KofWandsr1

If you want to write, you got to write 30 minutes a day. If you want to be a musician, you’ve got to play 30 minutes a day. It doesn’t matter what you’re doing as long as you are doing it 30 minutes a day.

TR:  Does that apply to readers as well?

DP:  Why not? It’s what you love. 30 minutes a day. I read or write at least 30 minutes a day. It’s all about discipline. It’s that King of Wands. Discipline is the only God that money and power bow down to. 

TR:  Explain your writing schedule.

DP:  My schedule varies, sometimes I may not get to reading or writing until late at night and I’m dead tired, but I can’t go to bed. I have words to use.

TR:  What is your favorite part of The Process?KnofSwordsr1

DP:  I’m not going to tell. 

(He reveals the Knight of Swords.)

DP:  There is a reason why I won’t tell.  I have to wait for someone to fully grasp the book and come back and tell me. Ultimately, I will get the last laugh.

TR:  One of Aecletic’s members would like you to talk about timing.

DP:  What card is that? What card is that?

(He turns over the Devil.)

DP:  Only on this planet do we have 24 hour days, 365 day years, and 7 day weeks.  Only on this planet, our time is not a cosmic truth. Ever been to the islands? If so, you know what they mean about “Island Time.” I’ve never been to the islands, islands are surrounded by water and I don’t like water. I have been to Africa though and “Africa Time” has a lot in common with “Island Time.”Devilr1

You have friends, that it doesn’t matter, no matter what, they will show up 20 minutes late. We all have this different idea of time. Everybody wants a static system. It doesn’t work.

If I’m doing a horseshoe spread and this is your future...I might have this loosie-goosie idea that this is two weeks and this is four weeks (pointing to the 6th and 7th position of the horseshoe). Or I might look at the spread and say this is tomorrow evening at 3:30 and this is six weeks from now. Then you have to go with that. Timing is loosie-goosie and you have to learn your own timing by listening and paying attention. You may want to do a reading for someone, take the last two cards, put them into an envelope face down, without anyone looking at them. Thinking to yourself, two weeks and four weeks. In two weeks you open up that card. In four weeks you open up that card. Test yourself. Come up with your own timing. Keep in mind, that as soon as you lock yourself into 24/7/365, then timing becomes a crutch.  Timing is an invention of man. It doesn’t exist in the world of physics. 

TR:  What do you want us to know?

(The Queen of Coins appears.)QofCoinsr1

DP:  Notice in this particular deck, swords are earth and coins are air, cups are water and wands are fire. Think of the physical things that we care about, money, jewels, an Audi 6000. Their value is nothing, they are things of air. 

Swords are a thing of Earth, they are a thing of steel. You might use them to hoe a row of vegetables or spill a man’s blood and fertilize the plants. This is the Queen of Coins, think of the gestation of air, what do I want you to get out of this? 'Grow your thought.' 

All submissions remain the property of their respective authors.  All images used with permission. 

Tarot Reflections is published by the American Tarot Association - Copyright (C) 2008

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