Benebell Wen author of Holistic Tarot

I recently got in contact with the lovely and erudite Benebell Well, author of the highly acclaimed Holistic Tarot – An Integrative Approach to Using Tarot for Personal Growth,  and we found we had quite a lot in common in terms of how we view the Tarot. When I asked about the possibility of an interview for the blog, she suggested we take turns asking each other questions instead. I am deeply honoured to have had the chance to chat with Benebell like this. In my mind, this is ‘The Time Lords Dialogue,’ as we attempt to tackle questions the ‘Powers That Be’ have not yet deemed mankind fit to be in the know about… But read on and form your own opinion… Oh, and don’t forget to leave a comment if you enjoyed this or have any questions for Benebell or me!

Lisa, I see that you have lots of really cool eBooks on your website. Can you tell me about what inspired you to write and publish them as eBooks? I see so much meaty content about cartomancy and metaphysical topics published by you. Any thoughts on a book someday?

Thanks for that, Benebell. Yes, I am nothing if not prolific online and when I was simultaneously running three blogs with thousands of daily visitors, people often asked me if I had other writers working for me. I don’t. It’s all me and my super power of touch typing, which turned out to be pretty much the only useful skill I learned at school.

The eBooks came about as a result of me pulling all three of my sites, Tarotize (oldest), Love Dove Tarot (most popular) and Holistic Change (the baby) into Angelorum. I had to figure out a way of making the best of my posts available in a place where people could easily find them. eBooks was one answer and quite an immediate one since a few of my readers had requested them in the past. And I’m not going to lie, it is nice to wake up in the morning and to have earned a few pennies while sleeping.

Ah yes, the book question. People keep asking and I keep saying “Probably” or “I’m working on one right now,”’ which is true, but then I get sidetracked. I have what I like to refer to as a “magpie mind,” which means I can only stay focused on a subject until the next shiny thing comes along. It is also quite easy to get addicted to the immediate feeedback you get when you blog. Writing a book feels so incredibly lonely by comparison, which puts me all the more in awe at your achievement when it comes to Holistic Tarot: An Integrative Approach to Using Tarot for Personal Growth (North Atlantic Books). It isn’t just “a book,” it is a modern classic and reference tome covering pretty much every aspect of Tarot in 800+ pages. I’m dying to know…

How did you find the time to write Holistic Tarot in between lawyering and managing a social life? Could you describe the process for us, what motivated you to start and what kept you going when it got tough? There are rumours that you don’t sleep, you know, so let’s see if we can dispel them!

the tardis
Lisa still suspects Benebell used one of these to get it all done!

I wake up every morning at around 6:30 to 7:00 a.m. (even on weekends) and as soon as I’m up, it’s go, go, go, do, do, do until midnight, and I say midnight, but usually it’s more like 1:30 a.m. Do I sleep? I do. Do I sleep a lot? Um…

The best way I can describe writing Holistic Tarot is that it was a book that needed to be extracted from my mind. Also, much of it was written when the Hubby went traveling abroad with my peripatetic cousin Ron. That meant I had a ton of time to myself for focusing on writing.

I love your reference to the “magpie mind.” I think I have it, too. Right now, I have four nonfiction manuscripts bubbling, one fiction, on top of doing tarot readings and I Ching divinations for people, cooking (one of my hobbies), pro bono legal work, and am still employed full time as a corporate transactions attorney. Let’s not even get into the many projects I started preceding Holistic Tarot that I never followed through on. I start many projects and finish very few. By dumb luck really, Holistic Tarot was a project I finished. I think the reason why is because I had something to say, and that was to address the balance (and maybe even the tension) between tarot as an intuitive art and tarot as a rational discipline.

Tarot is an intuitive art, and by that I mean very few tarot practitioners can explain to you exactly how they reach the conclusions they reach in their readings, in spite of textbook card meanings, or how synchronicities that defy the bounds of statistical probability can happen. Yet what goes on during that reading that no one can explain is accurate, is cathartic, is often visceral and yet somehow makes sense on a logical-intellectual plane, too. That last part fascinated me. How might we explain the intuitive art of tarot in a disciplined, analytical manner? I don’t think I answered that question in my book, but I asked it, and now we have a conversation.

So here’s the question as I pass that hot potato to you:

How do you explain the intuitive art of tarot in more rational terms? Also, I think a secondary question is embedded in that first: what is the relationship between space-time and tarot? How does a tarot reading done by a practitioner thousands of miles away manage to answer your question with spot-on accuracy? Why is it a tarot reading can seem to touch upon events that have not happened yet?

Hot potato indeed! The way I see it, the craft of interpreting the Tarot relies on two sets of skills: the ability to harness intuitive guidance (which every single human is gifted with) and the skill of being able to analyse and synthesise what you see in the visual clues and know about the card meanings, for instance memorised material about numerological and astrological correspondences.

That is not to say you cannot read the cards completely without knowledge about card meanings. The reason people who have never studied the Tarot still have psychic hits purely by looking at the images is because we all have a wealth of knowledge about symbols stored in our subconscious mind as well as higher consciousness – the parts of our mind which connect us with the Anima Mundi. However, as any student of the Tarot will tell you, the more they study and analyse meanings and correspondences, the more depth their readings take on – provided of course that you don’t stop relying on the intuitive component of the reading. Balance is required. Think Temperance here.

future and pastWhen it comes to that  ‘wibbly, wobbly, timey-wimey’ stuff we call time, I think it is safe to say that the true nature of time is not one we can access with our ordinary waking consciousness… yet. In this third dimension, time appears linear. Quantum mechanics is only just starting to reveal how incredibly untrue this is – a revelation that is cray cray enough to drive the scientists occupied with this field of study to the very edge of sanity. Apparently we live in a hologram and time is an illusion – a truth known to Seers and Shamans for millennia and the reason why it is possible to make predictions across the time-space continuum.

By the way, I came across a quantum weirdness article the other day that proves that events in the future can decide what happens in the past. If you pause to think about that long enough, it might just blow a fuse.

I am not a scientist so I can’t speak in-depth of time in these terms but due to the nature of my work as a Tarot reader, I have spent a lot of time analysing time in terms of predicting events. Based on this analysis, in which I have had to dig deep about fate vs free will, I feel pretty certain when I state that while the future is not set in stone there are some ‘fixed points’ which is what people commonly refer to as fate.

The interesting thing about fate is that the more people believe in it, the more of a reality it becomes to them. Where your mind and energy flow, the rest follows. So if you live your life as if most of the events in it are indeed fated, this is what you will experience. To a Tarot reader, such a person’s trajectory is already so firmly fixed by the client’s own mind that many events do appear set in stone in the reading… On the other hand, to someone who has empowered herself with the divine knowledge that they are able to co-create their destiny almost entirely (barring the entry and exit points, as well as major ‘Acts of God’), this will be her reality.

Having this bird’s eye view of destiny makes it very important for the Tarot reader to make an informed choice about how to read the cards when it comes to prediction. So this is what I would like to ask you about, Benebell…

How did you decide to put the emphasis on personal development rather than traditional fortune-telling and how do you use prediction when you do use it?

First, I love everything you just said and I was nodding my head emphatically the whole time.

As for your question, to know yourself is to know the universe. So to me, knowing yourself and knowing the future—being sensitive to any aspect of space-time—is one and the same. The two are not mutually exclusive and in fact, are so connected that I don’t believe a tarot practitioner would be able to read predictively without first having a very strong understanding of personal development. And by that I don’t mean an academic study. I mean a general clear, intuitive understanding of people and the world around us, the concord and discord of yin and yang, if you will, and how it affects us on the material-physical plane. In fact, I kind of wonder whether that’s why earth- or nature-based spirituality often go hand in hand with tarot practice.

taoism smIt’s not really a matter of predicting the future like it’s an autonomous event unconnected to the past and present. It’s through the past and present that you can project into a future event. A good card reader is simply someone who has a very keen sense of metaphysical probability. The specific balance (or imbalance) and chemistry of energies going on at the moment is most likely going to lead to X. Another interesting theory comes from esoteric Taoism, specifically from the text Yin Fu Jing, which—and I’m grossly paraphrasing here, as the original text is quite dense—before every event or occurrence, there is a window of opportunity that avails itself to human willpower to affect the outcome and transform that event or occurrence. Now that’s the crux of why I read tarot. I use tarot to shed light on that window of opportunity.

To me, when I hear the term “fortune-telling,” my impression is of someone “telling.” If this is a mere game of semantics, then so be it. However, whether we’re talking about the word in English or in Chinese (another language I happen to speak), it implies a practitioner who inserts him or herself into the life path of a seeker. That very act of insertion itself becomes a factor, a variable that ends up transforming the outcome. Ethically and karmically, I don’t think that’s a burden worth taking on. Divination, on the other hand, whether we’re talking English or Chinese, suggests that the practitioner is a mere conduit through which energy flows. I prefer the term divination.

Do you make any distinction between fortune-telling and divination? Or do you see the two terms as interchangeable? Also, how would you characterize your views on fortune-telling?

Brilliant, Benebell! Yes, I agree with everything you said here and loved hearing about the semantics of the term ‘fortune-telling’ in the context of Chinese culture. It is actually very similar to how I view it and is why I shy away from ‘telling fortunes.’ I mean, who am I to manipulate the fate of the Seeker? Definitely not a karmic burden I wish to carry!

To me, divination is the act of aligning the ego with the Higher Self, which is the part of the self that holds the bird’s eye view of the lessons we incarnated to learn. When we use the Tarot cards to hold space for the Seeker to make informed choices about the best way forward, based on where they are now and based on their soul’s desire, we opt out of manipulation and become true Oracles of the Divine.

Holistic Tarot smOf course, I believe it is possible to ‘tell fortunes’ and many of my new clients come to me expecting this and very little else. I see it as my duty to inform them of the malleable quality of time as well as their own responsibility in terms of co-creating their destiny. If it is still only ‘what to expect’ in the future they want from their experience with me, I usually inform them that it is best to stick to a limited time frame of no more than 6-8 weeks and that even then, the future is not set in stone. What we are dealing with then is what I like to call ‘trajectory-forecasting’ and this, of course, concerns only events already set in motion.

Once the Seeker becomes aware that they are on a set trajectory, they can become empowered to change this trajectory and also to make better and more well-informed choices in order to avoid a less agreeable outcome.

My final question for you, Benebell, is how do we best proceed in dispelling the time and fate-related myths about the Tarot (ideally without causing dissent within the community)?

Hmm. That is a very good question, Lisa, and one I have not been able to answer for myself yet. Right now, I don’t. I don’t try to dispel any mythologies that others hold on fate or free will. Belief—perspective—ontologies—these are funny things. We each believe what we believe and will go out into the world in search of our tribe, others who believe the same thing. Also, see, it’s not that I don’t believe in fortune-telling. I do. I just wonder whether it is truly a beneficial use of craft.

In the past, I have attempted to talk about my tarot-related beliefs by comparing or contrasting it with other tarot-related beliefs out there, and that has most certainly gotten me into trouble. People read that as meaning I think my way is superior, or I am being demeaning toward their way, and that is most certainly never my intention. To say, “Well I didn’t intend to…” isn’t enough, however. When people’s feelings get hurt, people’s feelings get hurt. I was still at fault, whatever my intention. So now I try to learn from that mistake and be mindful of the way I talk about my beliefs. I try to make sure I’m only talking about me, and do not refer to contrasting ways of thought.

Lisa, I am overjoyed about our connection here and am so glad we have had this amazing opportunity to talk. If I may end on one final question for you…

Lisa, what do you hope is the legacy you leave behind? This includes being a tarot practitioner but goes beyond that to include all of your spiritual practices, body of spiritual writing, and the lives you’ve touched through your divinatory work. What do you hope that legacy is?

Likewise! It has been an absolute pleasure to chat with you like this, Benebell. Thank you for taking the time to answer my questions and bring the light of your wisdom to show the way for aspiring young readers and old pros alike.

You are right, of course. People will believe what they believe until they are ready to do otherwise – or not, as the case may be. I often disagree with my own opinion from a year ago, so who am I to tell people theirs is wrong? But perhaps it is not so much about that. Perhaps dispelling the myth and clearing up old superstitions is about sharing our experience of how Holistic Tarot can be used to improve people’s live, mine included.

And in answer to your final question: To have made the world a little more beautiful.

Thank you again, for taking time out of your very busy schedule for this, Benebell!

Blessed be!



58 thoughts on “Benebell and Lisa Talk about Time, Tarot and Telling Fortunes”

  1. Hello Ladies,
    This was a wonderful read. I was deep into it in parts where I felt like I was actually listening in person to the conversation (although it seems it was not in person even between you two). An experience with you two together in one room would be … I don’t know. I have no words. I know that I feel such an amazing feeling in my heart after reading this because of the love that both of you clearly have for the world and the ways in which you choose to show it.

    I am in awe of your abilities and know that I am very small with my talents because I usually only read for myself. I center myself yet these seems to cause a great deal of heartache when the time frames pass and what was read didn’t happen. I often think back to “what did I do wrong?” or “what could/should I have done differently to have the desired outcome?”. Do either of you read for yourself?

    Thank you to you both for sharing your discussion and working in the ways that you do to help mankind. The world is blessed with you two here.

    1. Thank you so much for commenting and for your kind words, Wendy. I’m pleased that this was so ‘alive’ and real to you, as if listening to a live discussion… You are obviously tuned into the same channel! Yes, I do read for myself but I rarely do purely predictive readings any more. I simply do not find it interesting to know what lies ahead because I am too aware of my own power to change the outcome. If I want a different outcome, I would simply make it so. The key is ACTING on the advice and the favourite kind of reading I do for myself is almost always centred around the ‘action advice’ portion of the reading. It forms a jumping-off point for further brainstorming and planning… and still, unless I actually ACT, nothing will come of it… so yes… I have had the experience of my readings not ‘coming true’ in that sense. 🙂 Blessings

  2. Hello, ladies, reading this was quite a treat. (I can’t wait to click on the quantum physics link btw). The topics you talked about are in my opinion among the most significant for a card reader. Intuition for example. I remember how in the beginning of my lightwork practice (Tarot became soon part of it) I was trying to figure it out, to “control” it, until I learned to watch it instead, to ask and wait, and by sticking with it, to train it- like a ..spiritual muscle. Allowing intuition to work freely, is also a part of knowing yourself, and at least for me, of knowing/ “learning” others, by being open to connect to another, especially for a card reading. Which brings me toy first question:

    How do you work with a seeker (as you spot-on put it, Lisa) in terms of connection? Do you need to know about the person (name e.g) in order to individualize so to speak, or does the connection take place mainly or only through the cards?

    I also enjoyed a lot the discussion about divination/fortune telling. The issue of carmic or other responsibility in fortune telling is something that I had to deal with myself in giving readings. I see it as a matter of awareness of the seeker (as you mention, Lisa) the awareness that one creates his/her reality/future/fortune. If I see that kind of awareness in a seeker along with the intention of creating a specific experience (achievement or goal e.g) then I happily go into the area of fortune telling, because I see my responsibility as being the one to only help this person speak/plan/act upon this aware intention – like drawing a map through the cards, for a seeker who intends to reach a destination. I find this active manifestation-like process positive and assisting the seeker’s personal development (thank you for a very good point, Benebelll)

    If I may take my next question a bit further from the aspects discussed by you, ladies; I started experimenting with using the Tarot for non verbal energy work – I used it in Matrix2Point (in case you are not familiar with it, it is a quantum healing method, in which the healer connects the client and her/his issue/problem/goal (point 1) with the ideal/desired solution/outcome (point 2) using points in the clients field. It looks a bit like Reiki, since the practitioner uses his/her hands to make the connection between the points, but it is much faster.)
    I found that the Tarot cards work very well as visual points 2 symbolizing the qualities, goals etc a client wants to connect to (better said, re-connect, or even better, be reminded and therefore become aware of).

    Do you use the Tarot in ways other than the usual divination ones? Would you like to share a bit about it?

    Thank you again for this very inspirational exchange of wisdom, I am looking forward to more!

    Best wishes,

    1. Hi Katerina, thank you for your thoughtful comments – I really appreciate all the time you put into writing this! I will try to answer your questions to the best of my ability.

      1. “How do you work with a seeker (as you spot-on put it, Lisa) in terms of connection? Do you need to know about the person (name e.g) in order to individualize so to speak, or does the connection take place mainly or only through the cards?”

      I need a way of connecting with the Seeker’s energy. A reading is a three-way interaction… or four-way, if you take into account the energy of the question as well as of the reader, seeker and cards. I can do this in a few different ways at a distance as a reader: through the number vibration of the Seeker’s date of birth, a picture of their face or just their name and the wording of their communication with me. Some people transmit energy more strongly (others are better receivers) so how easy it is really depends and varies quite a lot from person to person.

      The paragraph after this question confused me, so I would like to ask you how exactly you define ‘fortune-telling’ as per how you describe it here… “If I see that kind of awareness in a seeker along with the intention of creating a specific experience (achievement or goal e.g) then I happily go into the area of fortune telling”

      Do you mean drawing up a map of likely events and circumstances that could impact the plans of your client in the near future…? What sort of time frame do you use? Personally, I believe that assisting someone with goal-manifestation using the Tarot is as far from ‘fortune-telling’ you can get… but I suspect a misunderstanding of semantics here.

      2. “Do you use the Tarot in ways other than the usual divination ones? Would you like to share a bit about it?”

      Absolutely! I have already shared more than a bit about it on the blog and in the eBook about Holistic Major Arcana Tarot card meanings. I use the Tarot to make Tarot essences (vibrational), to assist in meditation and visualisation, directly on the body, as inspiration for movement meditations, for spellcasting… I really wouldn’t want to limit the Tarot at all and love to hear how you managed to make it such a perfect fit for your own energy healing practice. Brava! 🙂

      Love and Blessings


  3. Ooh Ioved this! 🙂 I share your views on tarot so much, and it’s so refreshing to see what I call a more modern view come forward. Thank you for sharing this with us! Love, Ania

  4. I enjoyed the interview and I am interested in reading the book. Is it in US. libraries? I found the future to the past question helpful because I just read that you can literally write your future by writing down your thoughts, so then yes what happens in the future then writes your past.

    1. Hi Shell, I can’t answer that since I’m in the UK… but I do recommend getting the book so that you can reference it at leisure… it’s 800+ pages and a true gem!!

    2. Hey Shell! I do believe it’s available at some U.S. public libraries. If you don’t find it at yours, please put in a request and maybe they’ll order some! 😀

  5. More, more, more:-) Please keep talking. The idea of the FUTURE influencing the PAST – well, I am trying to truly Understand this…………it all runs down to singularity, which is very dense. Still, I loved this talk between you two, and will get even more from a second read:-)

    1. Thanks for commenting, Suzi. I can’t claim to have wrapped my head around the future influencing the past either… but it IS fun to ponder! 🙂

  6. I found this discussion very enlightening and I loved the way you both seem to be very humble as well as very grounded. The Tarot path is a very personal one and I liked the way it came across that we all need to be wary about individual’s perception of tarot – and how it can be easy to upset somebody without intention. It comforted me to read a lot of consistencies with the way I feel about tarot, its purpose, and how it seems to work so well. Thank you so much, blessings to you both.

    1. Thanks Patricia, yes we all have different views on the Tarot based on a combination of our intellectual understanding, superstitions and our own experience. Glad this resonates for you. Many blessings to you!

  7. So much food for thougth in this inteview, thank you for sharing this, i really enjoy it, specially the parts of your perception of time and divination, hope u can make a more in depth article about this in the future.

    Keep up the good work, working bees !!! 🙂

    1. Thanks Claudia, so pleased you enjoyed it. I would be very happy to delve deeper. Any ideas on which area of time and divination you would like to see explored more in-depth? I have already written an article about the problem with reading on the future from a spiritual point of view HERE. Perhaps you would like to see practical examples of readings, time frames, when and when not to use prediction…? Blessings

      1. Hi, yes! the example ideas sounds great, please do it if u have the time im sure it would be of help, specially for a daydreaming wanderer like my self.
        Thanks for the link, im defenetly gonna check it out !

        Also, thank you very much for replaying to my comment 🙂

  8. Hi Lisa & Benebell,

    Been reading your articles about Tarot and the meanings here at Angelorum and hoping to get 1 set of tarot cards but unattainable to find it here in Taipei probably I don’t know where to buy the cards.

    So I google and seen Benebell name while googling about where to buy Tarot card in Taipei and there is it I was

    Wanted to visit the place mention but due to hectic work schedule unable to visit that place but I enjoy reading regarding this topic.


    1. Thanks for sharing this link with us, Jo. I found the article by Benebell fascinating. I hope you find some Tarot cards soon. Blessings

  9. Thank you ladies for such inspiring article. What I take the most of it is assertivity about sharing my believes about holistic Tarot as my believes, Tarot reading being ‘a window of opportunity’ just ring the bell in me. I do to believe that more I learn about Tarot more confindent I become with my intuitive reading. And the last but not the least is understanding of interaction between future prediction and personal growth. Thank you again for taking time to share. Blessings.

  10. I was so excited to read in Lisa’s newsletter that this interview was going to be posted today. It was at the back of my mind all day and I couldn’t wait to finally get a reasonable amount of time to sit and read it! Well, it did not disappoint to say the least. More great tarot related material to chew on as food for thought! You’re both such inspirational tarot experts. Thank you to both of you for so generously sharing your wide and deep knowledge of the Tarot. I’m a big fan.

  11. Brilliant interview. Synchronicity at it’s finest. Incredible insights from you both. I feel as if you have worked together in another lifetime or are working together in a parallel lifetime. You resonate at the same vibratory level.

  12. Amazing synchronicity at work here, at least for me. I discovered both of your websites (and ordered Holistic Tarot and a few of Lisa’s ebooks) just this week, and now here you are interviewing each other. Thank you so much for this post. I’m looking forward to learning so more from you both!

    1. Oh wow, yes that is an amazing synchronicity, Ellen! A warm welcome to Angelorum and please don’t hesitate to ask questions along the way… Enjoy your learning! 🙂

  13. Thank you ladies for sharing this collaboration! It’s hard for me to find the right words for how happy I was when I received the WordPress notification that my two current favorite ‘tarot crushes’ had met each other and commemorated it in a blog post 😀 To clarify the tarot crushes term (lol) I’d recently been spending a lot of time on both of your sites, enjoying your insights and learning a great deal from your individual perspectives 🙂 After 22+ yrs studying tarot, one thing I enjoy is that it is nearly infinite as a subject of study and as a tool of self discovery (in addition to being able to help others). Anyway, I’ve been saving materials and taking notes from both your sites this past month or so, Benebell’s book is already on my Amazon wish list and I’m also a subscriber to your YouTube channel Lisa SO for me this was a lovely, thought provoking bit of synchronicity! Would love to see more from you two together in the future (if you’re so inclined). Thank you both for your wise and complementary contributions to this art/field- Brightest Blessings of Love & Light to each of you 🙂 <3

    1. Well dang! It’s putting a big grin on my face to know I’m somebody’s ‘Tarot crush’… and right up there with Benebell who is obviously totally AWESOME! So thanks for that! 😀 I am in no way adverse to future collaborations but I know Ms Wen is a VERY busy lady so it is not up to me to promise. Many blessings of Light & Love to you, Serena!

    1. Isn’t it amazing to get to connect with people who share your passion? That’s how I felt the whole time we conducted this interview-conversation!

    1. I’m so glad you found it to the point and concise reading! We were afraid it might be too long. This was such a fun conversation for us, or at least definitely for me!

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