Elaine Mok / @tarotonthemoon
Tarot Reader / Linguistics Undergraduate / A Moon
“Most of my time is spent studying. Aside from reading tarot, I’m a content creator for The Moon’s social media. I also host Women’s Circles and Full/New Moon Circles at The Moon.”
ELAINE IN A SENTENCE :
“The Fool on a journey to understand the World.”
STAR SIGN :
Gemini Sun, Aries Moon, Sagittarius Rising
“My ego, my pride and my joy.”
“TO SEE WITH THE TAROT IS TO SEE YOURSELF AS YOU ARE… WHATEVER YOU NEED TO HEAR, THE TAROT WILL PROVIDE. WHAT HAPPENS NEXT IS UP TO YOU.”
KARMAN TSE : Hi Elaine, thank you for saying yes to this interview. This is my first time interviewing a Tarot reader, so I’m quite excited. My first question is something I have be curious about since I discovered your Instagram — why is Elaine a moon?
ELAINE MOK : Personally, I’ve always been entranced by the imagery of the moon. A teacher once told us the legend of Chang’e, the Chinese deity who flew to the moon after a forbidden taste of an immortality-granting elixir. My teacher probably meant to tell it as a cautionary tale, but I was enthralled by this act of rebellion. Later on, I would read Eileen Chang’s Love In A Fallen City, where the moon overlooks intimate conversations repressed in daytime, and I would fall in love all over again. To me, the moon symbolises solace, companionship and the courage to surmount enforced expectations.
In the Tarot, The Moon card deals with illusions and anxieties, but I’ve always embraced it as a prompt to look beyond the surface. Just as the moon reflects light, I mediate messages offered by the Tarot. Ultimately, I carry the label of the moon with me as a reminder to trust that truth will always light the way. It’s a stroke of synchronicity that the bookstore/café I work at is called The Moon.
No one has asked me this before, so thank you!
KT: I love that. How and when did Tarot cards come into your life?
EM: The Tarot has floated in and out of my life before, but it only dominated the centerstage of my world when I was 19. It was a tale of two cities: New York City and Salem, Massachusetts. I bought my first deck — the Prisma Visions Tarot — tucked away in the basement of The Strand in NYC. This was a deck I had admired for a long time but never dreamed of physically owning it. It felt like pure serendipity that I came across it, and this chance encounter gave me the push to finally have my own deck.
When I returned to my hotel room, I laid out all of the cards sequentially on the bed. Everything clicked as I realised what so many people had gleaned before me: The Tarot is a narrative. It felt like it’s something I could learn.
That summer, I would hop on a train to Salem on a whim to get my first professional Tarot reading done. I don’t remember any of the cards I drew, but I do remember the advice I got and the rapport shared with the Tarot reader. We were separated by a couple of generations, but we talked and laughed like we had known each other for years. It was there that I began to see the potential of reading for other people. I wanted to draw them into that safe, warm space that I’d entered in Salem. I wanted to help them feel heard.
“Ultimately, I carry the label of the moon with me as a reminder to trust that truth will always light the way.”
KT : So how did you learn to read the Tarot?
EM : I taught myself. One of the biggest boons of this digital age is the availability of resources: Books, blogs, apps… Once I fixed my mind on deepening my practice, I read, made notes and journalled. Another perk is that there will always be people out there for you to practice reading for. For every skeptic, there’s a genuinely inquisitive soul. If you can’t find them physically, they’re online. It also helps that the general zeitgeist of this generation veers towards openness — new-age notions aren’t quite so newfangled anymore.
Above all, I believe that the cards are the best teacher you’ll ever have. There’s nothing that can replace your connection with your cards. Everything else plays a supporting role.
KT : What do Tarot cards mean to/for you?
EM : As an internal structure, I view the Tarot as its own language system. The symbols on the cards are like words, while the connections we forge with each symbol mirror semantics. Reading Tarot cards feels like a lesson in syntax and literary construction all at once. We’re crafting narratives and writing our own endings. This makes the Tarot extremely learnable for anyone who puts in the requisite work, no matter how intuitive they deem themselves to be.
As a whole, the Tarot is an exercise in reflection. Stretching back to its Latin roots, the word “reflexion” literally means to bend backwards. To me, the Tarot lets us look into the past more than the future. It enables us to plumb past and present knowledge for informed decision-making, or simply to introspect. Truth be told, divination doesn’t quite sit right with me. I don’t believe in fortune telling, nor do I consider myself a psychic. At most, the Tarot lays out future possibilities and potentialities, but nothing is set in stone — to do so would disenfranchise the power of personal agency.
KT : How did you begin Tarot-reading for others?
EM : I began reading for others around the same time I joined The Moon’s retail team in 2018. The Moon’s community is an earnest mishmash of creatives and spiritual seekers. It wasn’t long before I started slinging cards for co-workers and customers between shifts. From then on, it felt like my professional growth escalated astronomically. Naturally shy and self-doubting, I used to only read for myself. Now I am reading for complete strangers at full-scale events. I discovered I had a knack for leading workshops. I always knew I was a good listener, but somewhere along the way (through the Tarot), I found my voice.
“I don’t believe in fortune telling, nor do I consider myself a psychic. The Tarot lays out future possibilities and potentialities, but nothing is set in stone – to do so would disenfranchise the power of personal agency.”
KT : How do you think you’ve helped others through the cards?
EM : At its heart, the Tarot teaches us to listen and pay attention to intuitive connections around us. It’s a form of mindfulness that anybody can benefit from. In particular, I think it can help those of us healing from anxiety, body disorders, trauma, et cetera, to articulate our hopes and fears.
To clarify, the Tarot is not a solution in itself, but it is a starting point for growth, both on an individual and a community level. I’ve witnessed this most intimately in my Moon Circles, where I incorporate the Tarot into group-reflection activities.
As a Tarot reader, I’m always open to collaborations with other practitioners so that I can bring the Tarot to marginalised communities and beyond. Tarot + sound healing, and Tarot + yoga are some recent collaborations I’ve been involved in, and I’m excited to develop new ways for people to resonate with the Tarot.
KT : For anyone who has never tried it and is curious, can you give some specific examples of what one may consult Tarot cards for? And what are some essential things you feel people should know and be prepared for before a session?
EM : Whether you’re asking about love, work, health or a general forecast, the Tarot is a way into self-reflection. You are the focus of a reading: Your experiences, memories and traits. To see with the Tarot is to see yourself as you are, without bells and whistles. More often than not, the cards tell you what you already know. There have been countless times I’ve feared drawing The Tower or Nine of Swords, only to draw those exact cards. Sometimes the cards can feel like a slap in the face. Other times, they’ll cradle you in a nurturing embrace, urge you to take time off for yourself or to reconvene with loved ones. Whatever you need to hear, the Tarot will provide. What happens next is up to you.
So let go of preconceived notions and be open to receive all messages, desirable or not. Recede into a blank slate. Breathe, and pick a card.
KT : What can one expect at a session with you?
EM : Face-to-face readings — virtually for now — are my preferred medium. Harkening back to folk-oral traditions, there’s an intimate quality to spoken interaction that transfers to a Tarot setting. Crucially, I strive to create a safe space for my querents, and speaking face-to-face helps to foster trust in the long term.
My readings typically flow like a conversation. Instead of relying on fixed spreads, I prefer to address questions as they crop up in each session. Since every individual is unique, every reading follows its own distinct path. No two interactions are numerically similar.
“Whatever you need to hear, the Tarot will provide. What happens next is up to you.”
KT : Complete the sentences: Self-love is…
EM : A liminal space.
KT : My self-care is…
EM : A balancing act.
KT : And finally, what are your top self-care tools?
EM : 1. Pulling a Tarot or Oracle card with the intention of bringing self-care into my life, and journal about it. Never underestimate the catharsis of penning down your thoughts. Draw and doodle freely.
2. Harmonising my outer environment with my inner state — light a candle or incense, surround myself with objects that retain happy memories and uplifting vibes. These could be in the form of keepsakes from my travels, or some interesting-looking rocks I find in my neighborhood park. Some of my most prized possessions are random trinkets I’ve picked up off the ground.
Pick a card from these four options. If you’d like, I invite you to use the crystals as guidance. Don’t dwell too long on this – follow your instincts.
Done choosing? Before you proceed, I encourage you to journal your thoughts towards the selected card, from initial reactions to deeper contemplations. Let your eyes rove across the artwork, taking in every detail. Then, let your inner eye wander into your mind, fleshing out every thought. No idea is too small. If you wish, you may even use your card as a prompt for intention-setting.
The Magician forms the bridge between the physical and spiritual realms. It gives colour to our vision, and form to our thoughts. Under the influence of this archetype, gear up for a month of manifestation. Use this opportunity to implement a passion project, or any idea that you’ve been sitting on. Whatever it is, push forward with confidence and gusto. Just as The Magician synergises all of the natural elements, you have all the tools you need to build your future. Go make some magic.
The Hanged Man
The Hanged Man calls for respite and surrender. At its core, there lies a mature understanding that inaction is sometimes the best course of action. For this archetype, patience is not only a virtue — it’s necessary. When you draw this card, think about how you might use your time to introspect and gain a new-found perspective of your life. Choosing to let go hurts, but not all attachments serve us well in the long run. Sometimes, we lose in order to gain.
Don’t freak out — The Devil here is more of an archetype than a living, breathing figure. Drawing The Devil reminds us to evaluate our current behaviour with regards to bondage and freedom: Are we latching onto unhealthy attachments? Are we experiencing an illusion of freedom, or the real deal? How can we regain control of our actions without compromising on another person’s sovereignty? Crucially, this archetype pushes us to confront our inner demons so that we can heal and learn how to enact healthy boundaries.
If The Magician represents the start of a journey, The Chariot embodies the force to see things through. The Chariot is not the promise of a smooth journey. In fact, there will be times you might feel as if you’re split into two heads, torn in two directions. But if you hold on to focus and discipline, nothing can derail you from your goals. Gather your mind to assert your willpower. Remember that where you go from here relies on persistence and perseverance.
Photos: ELAINE MOK
Tarot deck: ANTIQUE ANATOMY TAROT