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Building a mystery: Branding and Personal Mythology

Last time around, we explored the motivations and goals in regards to taking your divination practice to the professional level. If you are still enamoured with romantic penury and eager to shoulder the emotional burdens of strangers, all while dodging the side-eye that polite society habitually casts at fortune tellers, then it is time to move onto the next lesson: crafting your brand.

Being a fortune-teller and a pro in the psychic for hire game, I can feel the instinctive revulsion that reading the word “brand” inspires within many of you. It conjures up images of well-heeled marketing executives with fashionable haircuts, disingenuous motives and, well, isn’t divination a spiritual calling? While there is some truth in this, in order to be a success as a fortune-teller you need to not only have your divination game on lock, but a solid and evocative customer facing identity that folks want to engage with.


Simply put, your brand is your promise to those who come to you looking for guidance. It tells them what they can expect from a session with you and it differentiates you from your competitors'. Your brand is derived from who you are, who you want to be and who people perceive you to be. A brand is an obvious, non-subtle declaration of one’s ideology designed to capture the attention of like-minded individuals. It is your brand that sets you apart from the multitude of fortune-tellers, healers, tarot readers, astrologers (etc etc ad nauseum) that have popped up in this golden age of mystical thinking. If you are uncomfortable with having to distill your mystical personality to something as secular and limiting as a brand, I suggest taking a moment to check your ego. Remember, being a fortune-teller isn’t about “you,” it is about the person who is dropping dough for help exploring the drama of their lives. You create your brand for their benefit, to communicate with them who you are without centering the interaction on you and your story.

PERSONAL MYTHOLOGY


The backbone of any strong fortune-telling brand is a sincere origin story with the purpose of creating an authentic connection between the diviner and the seeker. Everyone who gets into this gig has their own reasons, informed by a lifetime of influences, inspirations and beats that arise organically from the fortune-tellers’ own experiences. This lived narrative, something that I’ll refer to from here on out as a Personal Mythology, is the armature that we will build your brand around.


Your Personal Mythology is a retelling of the reasons and events that led to you taking up divination in the first place. When I say “mythology,” this is not to suggest that you imagine a fanciful reason for why you felt called to be a fortune-teller but rather to look at the actual events in your life that led you to this calling. It isn’t uncommon for folks to conflate “myths'' with “lies,” but nothing can really be farther from the truth. Mythology, in all of its permutations, is a way of communicating the complex inner lives of the people who dreamed them up via symbolism and allegory. Mythology persists even after the cultures that spawned them have disappeared because the truths they allude to can be understood at a very basic level, no matter the century. For an idea on how to develop an authentic Personal Mythology, answer questions like these:

  • What first inspired you to pick up divination?

  • What were your early memorable experiences with divination that helped define your practice as it is today?

  • Are there any stories or media (fairy tales, novels, movies, anime blah blah) that contain characters or plotlines that have had a particular impact on your spiritual development?

  • What are your other passions and hobbies?

  • Any magical childhood memories?

All of these questions are important to ask yourself as one develops their Personal Mythology, so be specific. The answers will build out the core of your brand, as the introspection will allow you to find the experiences that are authentic to you and that honesty is a solid bedrock to build a successful business on. Once you have these answers in front of you, it will be easy to flesh out a Personal Mythology that rings true and informs the vibe of your brand. You will see the trail of breadcrumbs that led you to where you are today as well as the signature features that make your practice unique. Pick out a few of the more evocative aspects and make them the core of your brand identity. For example, I know a tarot-reader who goes by “the Lady in Yellow” due to her deep connection with swallowtail and monarch butterflies. She always wears yellow and rocks jewelry modeled off of insect wings. Strategies like this distinguish one from their peers and adds a level of unspoken personal connection that helps endear the seeker to the fortune-teller. DON’T DRINK YOUR OWN KOOL-AID


The reason why I put such a huge emphasis on lived experiences being the foundation of Personal Mythology is because fabricated narratives, no matter how interesting, only serve to confuse the messages you are trying to share. If the story you tell about your brand is based in reality, then the messages you impart to your seekers will ring true. If your persona is an illusion of pure fantasy than any advice that you give are no better than lies, no matter how well intentioned. It is important to stay grounded in what is real when dealing with people who feel lost.

As an anecdotal example, I will present you the story of two divination practitioners, both who started out with good intentions. One of them built their Personal Mythology on their lived reality, inspired by herbalists, village witches of olden times and their deep connection to birds of prey. The other built their narrative around a fantastical vision they had of a pearlescent flower, whose associations were loosely defined, an ever-changing icon that they believed gave them divine insight. The former is a full-time professional tarot reader and runs a successful witchcraft practice while the latter no longer works professionally in the industry. Why? It is because one of them presented their Personal Mythology, with all of its beauty and wonder, in an authentic way while the other sought to push their vainglorious fantasies on people just looking for guidance. Potential clients are perceptive and the best customers are those that can easily see through self aggrandizing delusion.


IF YOU BUILD IT; THEY WILL COME


One of the more difficult aspects of developing a brand is learning how to communicate with your potential audience and it can be nerve wracking to think of all the other people out there that are competing for attention. I believe that it is the Lord’s own truth that no matter how different we all believe we are, the fact is that we are all really the same. If your Personal Mythology is built on a foundation of honesty, then the threads of the story will ring true to people who are looking for guidance.


Rest easy, though. If your Personal Mythology is sincere, your messaging to your audience will be evocative.Seekers are looking to connect with Guides that share serendipitous similarities with them. If you are inspired by a thing, make it a part of how you present yourself, others will share that predilection and be drawn to you. Be true to your story and realize that when folks pay you money for a fortune, they aren’t just shelling out cash to see your cards, they are making an investment in *you* and your brand.

This is the second of a series of articles on pro tips for diviners, authored by our Guest Blogger Drew Clark, one of the designers behind the gorgeous deck illustrating this post! If you want to know more, check out his previous post!


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Brought to you by Maria Alviz Hernando, WDA Tarot Teacher, and Blog Coordinator.


Do you want to be featured in the blog? Send an e-mail to thesibyl@thesibylstarot.com

Find out more about Maria here.

©2016 by World Divination Association

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