Creator Profile: Tarot reader Liz Worth on writing books and becoming aligned with nature

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Liz Worth is a Toronto-based tarot teacher and reader, astrologer (currently Flare's resident Cool-Girl Astrologist), and poet. She's written and published five books spanning nonfiction and poetry, including my go-to tarot definitions book, Going Beyond the Little White Book: A Contemporary Guide to Tarot.

This multi-talented Aries lady has a Sunday residency at Likely General from 1-5 p.m., but you can also find her speaking at events at Inner Arts Collective and the New Age Healing Centre, and in and around mystical communities online.

We talked to Liz about learning tarot, how she runs her business, and who she looks to for inspiration. 

What did you ‘want to be’ when you grew up?

When I was a kid, I really, really, really wanted to be a vet because I loved animals so much. That was my main dream as a child. I had heard somewhere that vets needed to know Latin so I would actually borrow library books about Latin and try to study it. What a keener.

But I also had this other side to me. I'm an only child, born to parents who were 45 when they had me, and I was bored as hell because I had no one to play with. So I have a very active imaginary world and one of my imaginary friends was a magical black cat. I remember sitting in the playground at lunch, trying to hold seances with my invisible pet.

As I got into adolescence, I realized I was really, really weak in science and math and that pretty much ended my quest to become a vet. But I was really into reading and writing, and by my early teens I was deep into poetry, zines, and vampire fiction. I felt called to become a poet and decided to make it so. Throughout the rest of my teens I created my own poetry zines, went to tons of open mic nights, and got really involved in spoken word here in Toronto.

How do you describe what you do to other people?

When people ask, "What do you do?" I often say, "I do a lot of things. What would you like to hear about first?" 

Because I read and teach tarot and astrology, but I also still write and publish. So really, I have a dual career.

Usually, mentioning any one of those paths opens up a whole host of questions when I first meet someone, so I don't worry too much about having an elevator pitch. I just let the conversation go where it needs to.

I just kept going with it and kept pushing myself to understand the cards and really connect with them.

How did you discover tarot and how did you start to learn? 

My mom was always very drawn towards mystical practices. She believes in the supernatural and has had some interesting experiences with spirits. So I was raised in a way that encouraged me to be open these things, too. 

My mom bought me a palm reading at the Canadian National Exhibition when I was maybe 11 or 12, and I loved it. It was so accurate and I thought it was so cool. We also went to some psychic fairs together and I had some really great readings at those, and some not so great. Either way, I was drawn into the idea of divining, and was also very drawn to witchcraft and related practices, so I would actively seek out books where I could learn more. 

I was 13 when I spent a summer trying to learn how to read regular playing cards. In my later teens, I bought a tarot deck and dabbled in it, but I was very impatient with the process. I think I expected to be just be able to get an answer from the cards right away. I didn't appreciate the fact that tarot is something you have to learn, and that it takes time.

In my 20s, I went to an astrologer and he saw a number of things in my chart that indicated I could be good at something like tarot. He asked me if I read cards, and I said no, realizing I'd totally left that part of my life behind in my teens. Inspired, I decided to revisit that part of myself and went out and bought a tarot deck - the very one I still use today for client readings.

I was more patient then, and decided to really commit to learning tarot. At first I learned on my own, through trial and error, reading books, pulling cards for myself, and practicing on friends. As time went on, I took a number of classes, including two programs through Biddy Tarot, and went to some meetup groups here in Toronto. 

I just kept going with it and kept pushing myself to understand the cards and really connect with them.

I wanted to begin to live by my own rules. So I started to make changes in my business hours, which are updated each season to reflect the energetic flow and themes that every season brings. 

What does a typical day look like for you? 

I don't know that there is a typical day for me at all. 

My business operates on a lot of creative and intuitive energy, which means I need to be in flow as much as possible. Over the past year, I've been making some big changes to the way I work. I used to be someone who would get up at the same time every day and push myself to the limit every day. 

But that's not what I teach. And I wanted to begin to live by my own rules. So I started to make changes in my business hours, which are updated each season to reflect the energetic flow and themes that every season brings. 

I also started to plan my projects to be more aligned with the ebbs and flows of the lunar cycles, rather than work against arbitrary deadlines that take me out of my body's natural rhythms. 

Day-to-day, my schedule can change. I like to book up to three client sessions a day. If I am working with clients, that's usually all I focus on that day, aside from answering a few emails in between, or updating my social media. 

On days when I'm not reading for anyone, I spend time writing new blog posts, creating a new workshop or seminar outline, or I work on a bigger writing project. At the moment, I'm working on a second tarot book. It's very hard to shift gears from writing to one-on-one client work, because they require such different headspaces, so I try to keep them separate as much as I can. It's not always possible, but that's the ideal.

On days when I'm teaching a workshop or I have a speaking gig, those usually happen in the evenings, so I try to keep a lighter schedule throughout the day. I might do one client reading or something, or write a quick blog post, but I am careful not to use up all my energy throughout the day. I need to conserve it for my class that night, so instead, I might just hangout, do some reading or go for a long walk and think about my intentions for the evening ahead.

A huge portion of the population thinks that tarot and astrology are BS. So to be able to believe in something, and to bring it forward for others who believe in it, too, or at least want to try, is very special.”

What are some accomplishments in your career that you're most proud of? What do you *still* want to do? 

Honestly, I'm most proud of just being here and having found a way to do what I want to do. I have moments where I catch myself thinking, "This is it. I am where I wanted to be." A huge portion of the population thinks that tarot and astrology are BS. So to be able to believe in something, and to bring it forward for others who believe in it, too, or at least want to try, is very special.

As a writer, I am really proud of all the books I have written. They are all different, but they are all reflections of me. Being able to work so sincerely is special. I never felt I had to compromise on any of my creative visions. That may mean that as a writer, my work is more obscure, but I also have done things that were new and different. 

Like my first book, Treat Me Like Dirt: An Oral History of Punk in Toronto and Beyond. I was still in my 20s when that book was published, and no one had done such an exhaustive piece of research on that subject before. It felt good - still feels good - to be first.

There is always so much more I want to do. I really want to finish the tarot book I'm working on now, which is about tarot spreads, but it's also more than that. It contains a lot of my philosophies on how to approach different topics with tarot. Part of the reason I want to finish it is because I have at least four more book ideas bouncing around and sometimes, the motivation to finish one project comes through the promise of starting the next. But I don't want to rush the process, either, because this current book deserves as much care and attention as any other.

I would also love to do more teaching on bigger stages, and beyond Toronto. I do run some online classes, which helps me reach beyond boundaries, but I would love to be able to travel more to teach workshops or give talks. 

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Who are some other tarot and astrology blogs or brands who are inspiring you now?

Oooh...that's a tough one. Here's the short-list:

I love the way Chani Nicholas writes horoscopes.

Mecca of My Life Created is eerily accurate and I always make a point to check in with her latest updates throughout the week. 

Rebecca Gordon is another astrologer that I totally love. I have taken Rebecca's astrology classes and they were such a game-changer for me, personally and professionally. Rebecca has a book about health and astrology that is very cool, too. 

I've been a long-time reader of Phil Booth's horoscopes, too. Phil is the one who gave me my first natal chart reading.

For tarot, there are so many people who inspire me all the time. I'm currently enjoying Michelle Tea's book Modern Tarot. 

I also regularly check in with the blogs over at Little Red Tarot, Biddy Tarot, and The Tarot Lady (Theresa Reed) because they are always sharing insightful, informative perspectives that encompass the diversity and brilliance of the tarot community.

Of course, there are so many more I could name. I think the beauty of this kind of work is that there really are so, so many avenues to explore. If one website or writer doesn't resonate with you, you can always find one that will. 

What advice do you have for other emerging tarot readers or astrologers?

Spiritual practices, which is what tarot and astrology are to me, don’t have finish lines.

Practice, practice, practice. I think I say that every time I get asked this question, but it's true. There are some very questionable business practices out there right now in the spiritual community that offer short-term classes, or that promise certification programs that will teach you how to make money doing readings. It can give the wrong impression that you can become a reader in a single afternoon.

Spiritual practices, which is what tarot and astrology are to me, don't have finish lines.

You can make money as a reader, but you won't become a professional overnight. These are practices that take a long time to learn, and to understand. So don't rush it. It took me eight years before I decided to start charging for readings. 

Time is on your side with this. Diviners only get better with experience, and no class, teacher, or program can turn you into a pro. Practice is the only way that will happen.

I know it's hard in these times when so many of us are looking for fulfilling careers, or feel pressured to figure out a calling, but when people go to see a professional reader, healer, medium, or other intuitive, they will hang on to your every word. And that is a huge responsibility to take on. So it's really, really important to know how to handle that, and to be confident that you know what you're doing.

I also say that if you are ready to start a business, give the business time to grow. It can take a long time to turn a profit with service-based work, because you really are building a business one client at a time. So be ready to commit for the long-haul, and don't get discouraged if you aren't flooded with clients as soon as you announce you're open for business. People take their time in choosing a reader because they don't want to be disappointed, or put their trust into someone who doesn't meet up to their expectations. So let your business breathe, and let people get to know you first before they buy.

Photos of Liz Worth courtesy of: Keidi Janz of Tom and Keidi Photography