Today we’re absolutely thrilled to be talking to our friends Kim Arnold and Steven Bright, two of the UK tarot community’s best-known tarot readers – and, as you’ll see, they do much more than that!
Kim Arnold has been on her tarot and divination journey since the early ‘90s. In 2003, she founded the UK Tarot Conference, which brings together the world’s most respected Tarot authors, artists and teachers. Kim also runs the Psychic Café and is the author of books Tarot Made Easy and Tarot Masters. She is widely known for her articles, broadcast appearances and film consulting work on all things tarot.
Steven Bright has been involved with tarot for over 25 years. As well as being a professional reader, he writes about tarot for magazines and is designer and author of Spirit Within Tarot (one of our ‘Top 5 Decks of 2018’!) and the author of Tarot: Your Personal Guide. Steven mentors online and via public classes, helping new and established readers with their tarot development.
You’d think these two were busy enough, but there’s more: Kim Arnold and Steven Bright are also co-founders and editors of the brand new Esotoracle magazine, launching on 10th October 2019! (Read to the end for information about the magazine launch.)
We’re delighted to have Kim and Steven in conversation with us, giving you insights into their work as tarot professionals and offering some early info about Esotoracle magazine.
Hi Kim, Hi Steven, thanks for talking with us today!
To kick things off, can you tell us about the particular moment or time period that led you to the world of tarot and divination? How has tarot benefited your life?
Kim Arnold: As a teenager, I attended a clairvoyant evening and was picked out by the speaker to demonstrate psychometry. I had never done this before and gave a message so accurate the lady nearly fell out of her seat. She came from the Spiritualist Association of Great Britain. I was invited by her to go and study there, and that is where Tarot was introduced in my life.
Steven Bright: Since I was a child, I was both clairaudient and clairvoyant, yet it took me until my teens to realise that not everybody received the kind of visions and voices that I was experiencing. Funnily enough, it was not this that drew me to tarot. Instead, I happened upon a deck and book set when I was doing the grocery shopping one Friday evening in the 1990s and a seed was planted. At that point, I could never have dreamed how big a part of my life tarot would become.
How has the tarot community changed in the past 10 to 20 years? And how would you like to see it change in the near future?
KA: I feel we are becoming more open about Tarot, it is no longer seen as the ‘Devils tool’. It has helped that Tarot images are being used more commercially (i.e. designer collections, perfumes, etc.) – it is becoming more mainstream. I hope the positive image of Tarot continues to thrive.
SB: I agree with Kim. Tarot has become fashionable again and this has brought it into the living rooms of more people over the last twenty years. When I tell people I work with tarot I get less strange looks than I used to. I would like to see the tarot deck become a reflective tool in more people’s lives. Studying the tarot cards helps people to learn about themselves and gain personal insight, which can’t be a bad thing. It can provoke discussion about a range of different topics between people.
You both do a lot of work within the tarot world, from writing and educating to running events to reading for others. How is that work broken up? Do you have any tips for people considering a career using the tarot?
KA: Most of my time is taken up writing, whether it is articles or meditations for my groups, and of course my event planning. Behind the scenes there is always something which needs dealing with – from venues, marketing, queries, schedules – it really is a full-on job, but I love it. Readings are not so prevalent now, but that is through choice. But without my clients over the years I would not be where I am today. For anyone starting out: build your client list, use social media, be seen… the rest will come.
SB: Like Kim, my time has also been taken up with other aspects of the job, such as writing and designing. I still receive a flow of clients which helps with keeping my bank balance topped up! I love to design and writing will always be my first love, but there is something very enjoyable about helping clients to see more clearly and feel more empowered by reading for them.
Building yourself up as a professional takes time. Running a new business alongside an existing job is a good idea to begin with, since replacing one for the other can put a strain on your business. Showcase what makes you an individual reader, offering something different from other readers already out there, and your clients will find you! Individuality can really set you apart from the competition.
One for Kim! As the founder and organiser of the UK Tarot Conference, you’ve made huge strides in bringing the community together and helping to make tarot more mainstream. What has been the greatest challenge in running the conference over the years, and what do you feel has been your greatest moment so far?
KA: When I started the conference 16 years ago, it was only meant to be a one off, but it seemed the universe had other plans! The greatest challenge has been my own fear of failure, that no one would come, that the event would be a disaster. However, the reverse has happened. Attendees have become friends, word has spread and the conference is bigger and better than I dared have dreamed. For me the greatest moment was our 10th anniversary event, for some reason it just felt a momentous milestone has been reached, just like the Wheel of Fortune. The Wheel turned for me that year, and I found my confidence. Last year we moved to a bigger and better venue, I am sure there may still be great moments to come.
One for Steven! What are some of the challenges in mentoring new and developing tarot readers? What do you find most rewarding about your mentoring and educational work?
SB: Guiding someone on their new tarot journey is exciting because it reminds me of the excitement I felt when I began my own journey twenty-something years ago. It is likely that new students have some experience of tarot, and trying to clear their minds of superstitions and previous bad teachings can be difficult. What is most rewarding is when it begins to click and you can see them joining the intuitive dots in their first small readings. People feel such an achievement when they finally ‘get it’ and this is a wonderful thing to witness.
There are hundreds of amazing new tarot decks coming out every year. What are your three favourite decks to read with at the moment?
KA: I am a traditional Rider Waite girl, but I also use the Gill Tarot and the Osho Zen Tarot, each are unique in their own way.
SB: I also lean to the Rider Waite and have probably used the original version in most of my public readings over the years. My other workhorse decks, other than my own, are the Victorian Romantic Tarot and the Robin Wood Tarot. A new favourite is the Bianco Nero Tarot.
Can you tell us a bit about Esotoracle magazine? What inspired you to create it, and what can readers expect to find within?
KA: This is such an exciting venture. Steven and I just felt that Tarot magazines were lacking in the community, and we came up with the idea of creating our own. Esotoracle is a mixture of everything, from the serious side of Tarot, to problem pages and TarotScopes. There are lots of reviews and ideas for spreads, and we are really proud of the dedicated space we have created for self-published decks. All will be revealed in October!
SB: Kim and I knew that we would end up working together on a project, and the idea of a magazine came to us over coffee. There are some amazing writers, readers and illustrators out there and we want to celebrate the wonderful work being created in this community. We are also extremely excited about showcasing a new generation of creative and talented people from within the tarot and oracle world. The magazine will be a fusion of old and new, the serious and the lighthearted, and the use of both traditional and modern forms of divination. We hope that everyone will find something of interest within its pages.
Finally, can you tell our readers how they can get their hands on a copy of Esotoracle?
There will be a London workshop, dinner and launch party on 10th October, and details can be found here.
You can also download a copy or order a hard copy from esotoracle.com nearer to the October publication date. Announcements will be made nearer the time, so be sure to follow us on social media (details below).
Thanks so much to Kim Arnold and Steven Bright for chatting with us!
We hope you’ve enjoyed getting to know Kim and Steven a bit better. For more info on each of them, visit psychiccafe.co.uk and stevenbright.co.uk. You can follow Kim Arnold on Instagram and Twitter, or join the Tarot Conference Group on Facebook. Keep up with Steven Bright on Instagram, Facebook and YouTube.