THAI-tarot card reader extraordinaire Khuntong Asunee Na Ayudhaya is coming to Phuket to read the future for a select group of ‘believers’.
During the three days he will be here, he will lay his cards on the table for 30 prominent Phuket businessmen and women, and will teach six prospective Tarot teachers the finer points of fortune telling.
Khuntong’s passion for the magic of Tarot cards was born when he discovered a dust-covered pack of cards in a pawn shop in the US town of Huntsville.
While studying biochemistry at the University of Alabama, he would make regular trips to
Huntsville when he had free time.
“One day, I felt an urge to go into the pawn shop,” he said.
“Inside, I found an old set of dust-covered Tarot cards on a bookshelf in the shop.
“The art work on the cards interested me, and I felt I had to buy the pack,” he said.
Khuntong began giving readings to his university friends, and he gradually developed a passion for fortune telling.
“I felt such a bond with the cards, but they never told me that one day I would be a professional fortune teller,” he said.
When he graduated, Khuntong returned to Thailand and started work as a music critic for a popular Bangkok-based arts and culture magazine.
In the 1980s, he began giving private Tarot readings at the Montien hotel in Bangkok.
He was paid 200 baht for each reading, half of which went to the hotel in return for letting him have regular reading sessions with the hotel’s guests.
“Back then, no-one in Thailand had heard of Tarot reading, and most people were very skeptical,” he said.
Khuntong said Tarot cards transcend all religious ideologies, and that all religions can access their powers.
Tarot, which is also known as tarrochi or tarock, features a set of 78 cards, including 21 trump cards, one fool, and four suits of 14 cards each.
The cards are used for divination (to be inspired by a god) by seeking guidance from what can be perceived as contact with a supernatural agent (the cards).
“Readers of Tarot cards can disjoint themselves with their perceptions of their life journey to make life choices aided by the dealing of the cards,” he said.
The origins of Tarot cards are shrouded in mystery, but date back to the early 1400s in the northern Italian towns of Milan, Ferrera and Bologna, but there are no historical records proving Tarot cards were used for divination before the eighteenth century.
Tarot card fortune tellers can now be found in most major cities around the world.
Some sit as buskers on street corners, or at local markets, reading the cards for locals, while others, like Khuntong, read for the rich and famous.
“The musician, Ad Carabao, is one of my clients and also one of my closest friends,” he said.
“When Ad set out to tour the US with his band, immigration officials refused to let him into the country,” said Khuntong.
“Before then, he had always been skeptical about having a Tarot reading, but after he was refused entry into the US, he had readings whenever he planned to travel,” he said.
There is now a Thai version of Tarot cards which uses Thai-Buddhist imagery, which has opened up the practice here, but Khuntong says he still uses his original set
“The cards have their own magical powers, but people have to control their own lives by taking from the cards whatever they need,” he said.
Jessy Smith, who organized Khuntong’s trip to Phuket, is a true believer in Tarot cards.
She first met Khuntong in 2003, and he taught her about the magic behind the cards, the mystery of their origins and the intricacies of how to channel their predictions.
She said the latest tour date, from April 17-20, was determined by the cards.
“When I pulled the Queen of Swords card in a recent reading, the connection between the clients, who were mostly women, and the card that was guiding me in my business decisions, it told me this was the best date for the tour,” she said.
Jessy said the cards influenced everything she does in her life.
“Recently I drew a moon card, which said a change in my relationship was coming for the worse,” she said.
“The next week, I had a huge fight with my boyfriend which changed our relationship.”
Khuntong said he only rarely saw ‘no future’, meaning death, in his clients’ cards.
“But I have seen things that may happen if a course of action is not taken to change their lives immediately,” he said.
“I read my own cards, and it was predicted that I would go to prison.
“A few weeks later, I was caught up in a misunderstanding with the law, but I didn’t go to jail.”
Khuntong said most people were looking for positive guidance from a Tarot card reading.
“I try to help them see that positive choice,” he said.
Khuntong visited Phuket two years ago, but Jessy said he had a special reason for coming to Phuket this time.
“He said ‘Now is the time, Phuket needs guidance, Phuket needs a fortune teller’,” she said.
Jessy said many of her clients had asked to see the ‘Taro master of Thailand’ after a dismal financial year.
“Most of my clients are prominent business people, and right now they are searching for guidance for the future of their businesses and they feel the cards can help them to make the right choices,” she said.
For information, call Khuntong direct on 0818 113 267, or email firstname.lastname@example.org