I have been seeing a lot conversations around how tarot readings work and how to best learn to read the cards lately. Often these conversations come with strong feelings on some peoples part that their way is the best way. Reading the cards for me encompasses many tools, techniques, skills, and abilities. I want to share this series as a non-dogmatic exploration of all the answers to the question “Where do great tarot readings come from?” All the posts in the series can be found here.
So over the summer I have been talking about where a great tarot reading comes from. The final, and perhaps most important piece of the equation is the delivery. How you say what comes up in a reading is the key to giving someone a reading they will never forget.
First we need to talk about relating to the client. Having spent years working to open my heart and be compassionate with people I find myself caring deeply for the people I work with in the moment of the reading. We have talked about the ethics of reading for people, but this goes beyond just good conduct. Working to be in a deeply compassionate state when the cards come out so that you can listen and be present will be noticed by the client. Your openness will create more space for them to share and feel safe. People long to be seen and spending some time with a genuinely compassionate person is powerful.
Second, great readers are also great story tellers. A tarot reading can been looked at like a play. Each card has a motivation derived from its nature, a set based on its context or location in the spread, and dialogue between itself, the other cards, and the client. Together it can be an award winning dramatic affair. Work to pull it all together so that the reading is cohesive and makes sense. Good plays rarely have unnecessary dialogue or scenes. Be mindful to stay on topic and check in to make sure that the client is seeing the connections.
Third, control the reading. Do not forget that you are the one reading the cards. I have been known to use all sorts of techniques from shushing to standing up to regain the focus in a reading. Sometimes people need to speak, but sometimes talking is just avoiding what they came in to read about. Over time you can tell the difference. It can be as easy as just saying “I am aware of the limited time we have – shall we get back to the cards?” but if someone is really keen on avoiding what comes up a dramatic gesture or statement can often break them out of it.
Fourth, be specific. Choose your words and say what you see. Be wary of embellishing or going on tangents. I hear a lot of people complain that some readers don’t actually say anything. I also hear newer readers worry that they are not saying enough. It is a balance that takes time to hit. If in doubt stick to what you are confident about and use questions to work towards what you suspect or feel, but aren’t as sure of. If I am off in a reading it is most often because I have over-talked a simple message like “The cards say you are not happy at work.” into “The cards say you are planning on quitting your job.”
Sixth, have fun. Look for where your joy is around tarot. If it is in reading obscure french books on the subject do that. If the history is grabbing you dig into that. Feel like painting some cards? Go do that. Where you find your joy you will also find growth and likely ease around learning.
Seventh, don’t take it too seriously. Being a great reader is as wonderful as being great at knitting socks. We all have the possibility of being great at this or that in our lives. Being a great human is better. Be kind and generous in your readings. Take care of your life, love and money. Work to be a person that you would admire. It will make you a better reader.
Eighth, practice some more.
Ninth, Melinda, my guide, says, “The cards themselves will help you be a great reader, a delightful human being, and successful in your life. Stay close to them. Spend time with them. Do not betray their trust in you. Ask them powerful questions about your life and the challenges you find. They will guide you to the highest potential you have in this life. Never think you know better than they do. If they seem wrong you have asked the wrong question–it is not their fault.”
Finally, enjoy the mystery. It will surprise you either way.
Thanks for going on this journey with me and Melinda.
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If you would like to get some personal attention from Andrew you can book a reading in person in Toronto, or from anywhere by phone or Skype. Just contact me to set up an appointment.
“Weaving” image by Fauxto Digit Brenn used under Creative Commons License.