At this point, I’ve been around the cardslinging block a few times. In my tenure as a tarot reader, I’ve given some pretty mediocre readings (especially when I was first starting out), some “fair, but needs improvement” readings, and if client feedback is any indication, some pretty awesome readings. I think I have a pretty decent handle on what distinguishes a poor reading from a banging one, so I figured I’d share the wealth and wisdom with you to help you fine-tune your tarot game. This post is a response of sorts to Ethony’s 7 Surefire Ways to Make Sure you Get a Great Reading, and although I can’t promise seven tips, I can promise a nugget of cardslinging gold here and there.
Honor the Question
The importance of this element cannot be overstated–remember to answer the question! As Ethony mentions in her post (and as I recite as a mantra), people come to you for a reading because they have a specific obstacle or situation that they need help understanding or processing. If you provide the card meanings without speaking to context (read: regurgitate the traditional meanings of the cards without relating them to your querent’s experience), you’re doing nothing to bring clarity to your querent’s experience.
Imagine if you asked your friend for advice on your relationship. You tell her that you’re afraid that your partner is cheating, but you have absolutely no evidence to back it up. She responds by giving you statistics on partner fidelity, then claims that unless you have evidence, she can’t proceed. She’s given you something, but she’s missed the entire point: you’re feeling insecure in your specific relationship. Unless she explores the dynamic between you and your partner and your relationship with self, chances are her advice isn’t going to be very helpful (or empowering, for that matter). Speaking of empowering…
Design Your Readings to Empower Your Querent
The topic of empowerment is given a lot of lip service, and for good reason–it brings our querents into the reading by making them the active agents of their personal transformation. To empower your clients, it’s important that you don’t just shed light on what’s not working, but provide guidance and actionable advice on how to fix it. By introducing (or re-introducing) our querents to their innate capability to bring about positive change, we connect them with their inner power. As you can probably guess, that experience is pretty powerful.
Choose A Good Deck and Choose (or Write) a Good Spread
Now, there are plenty of kickass tarot readers out there who use the same deck for every reading and throw the Celtic Cross every time. If you know what you’re doing and you’re damn good at it, it doesn’t really matter what deck you use or what spread you throw. Yet, if you’re just picking up the cards, have a penchant for deck collecting, or dig tarot spread creation, put your resources to the best possible use by making choices and decisions that are relevant to the person sitting across from you.
Say you have a sitter who’s attracted to the gothic aesthetic. A goth deck will probably speak to them more deeply than, say, a deck filled with butterflies and unicorns. Likewise, if there’s any indication that your client’s going through a particularly rough time (and actively reflects it), perhaps it’s best to use a spread that’s designed to provide words of strength and encouragement rather than one that’s going to be a no-frills heavy hitter. Our ability to feel out our clients and to make choices according to the information we gather increases the chances that our clients will a) be fully engaged in the reading, and b) take the insights it provides to heart.
Distracted over a recent break-up? Achy from a bout of the flu? Feeling despondent over the general state of things? Please–do yourself and your client a favor and reschedule. If you’re not in the proper mindset to devote your entire attention and energy to your client, it’s going to come across in your reading (believe me–I know). This person has made themselves vulnerable to you. They’ve handed over their hard-earned dollars with a hope that you’ll help them achieve clarity. And when you don’t deliver, it’s a bummer for both of you. Better to be better and later than sooner or poorer!
Love What You Do
If you’re not in it for the love of the game, there’s going to be a limit to how well you read and how much you can improve your skills. The amount of study, skill, and experience it takes to become a good reader can only be undertaken if you’re a) seriously passionate/obsessed with the system of tarot, and b) totally dedicated to helping others navigate life’s challenges and transformations. If tarot’s something you enjoy as a hobby, that is completely fine. Enjoy the uncanny ability to partake occasionally and not become completely sucked into the vortex. If you want to go pro or be your friends’ consistent go-to for guidance and advice, however, it’s better if you feel deeply connected to tarot’s archetypes and are endlessly curious about its relationship to the human condition. Like anything else, practice makes perfect, and you’ve gotta love it to continue with a consistent practice.
Much Love and Happy Cardslinging,
Want further guidance on becoming the best tarot reader you can be? Register for my Tarot Summer School Course.