Seekers who have never had a reading often approach the tarot as an all-knowing oracle in the hope that a rosy future will be revealed. They believe that being assured of a certain outcome will help them in the present. Personally, I can’t think of anything less helpful.
Imagine a person being told he’ll win the lottery in two years’ time. What will he do between now and then? Nothing, probably. He’ll lose interest in his work, time will pass slowly, and he will be so wrapped up in daydreams of spending his forthcoming wealth that his relationships will suffer. And what if the fortune-teller was wrong?
What if the fortune-teller gives out the information that a terrible accident is going to befall our gullible victim? What sort of nightmare will life become for him? Granted, he might spend some time getting his affairs in order, but his whole life will be geared up to expecting the worst: a living nightmare.
I can’t see what good predicting the future is for anyone. Having said that, tarot’s ability to highlight possible outcomes based on current circumstances is invaluable, “If you carry on like this, then that could happen.” This gives the seeker the opportunity to change direction and to forge a new path.
Stressing the fact that no one’s future is mapped out helps the seeker to be proactive in shaping their destiny. Of course, none of us knows if we truly do have free will or whether we are walking a pre-ordained trail – and isn’t that something to think about?
There is a fine line between fortune-telling and indicating outcomes, especially as some cards naturally point toward a future event – like the Tower, for example. So how does a reader stay on the right side of predictive readings?
It is helpful to explain to the seeker that Tarot is a mirror – a powerful mirror; one that can reflect what is present in the seeker’s subconscious. It can only tell them that which they already know but are not consciously aware of. When certain influences and energies are pointed out to them, there is a dawning of clarity. They have been given useful advice that they can work with.
Benebell Wen, in her book, Holistic Tarot, says, “The signs and symbols of the cards facilitate retrieval of information from the unconscious and move it to the forefront of the conscious plane of the mind, which can help us form creative solutions, present a different angle to a problem that we have been looking monotonously at, or offer the breakthrough that allows us to move forward.”
Image source: Eric Vernier on Flickr
Tarot is like a good friend – someone to share worries and confidences with. A good reader will be able to get out of the way and allow the seeker to express whatever she needs to. A tarot reading should provide a safe environment for someone to explore information that is held deep within them. The goal of the reading is for the seeker to leave with one or more tools or ideas on how to move forward.
What about when the tarot seems to accurately predict events in the seeker’s life? Events that could not have been known beforehand? I gave a friend of mine a reading that included the Tower, Death, the Emperor and the Ten of Swords. Within the following week her father passed away, her dog died, and her long-term relationship foundered. Were those random events? Probably not. Her dog was 14 and not expected to live much longer. The relationship was in constant flux, and her father was in his eighties. She almost certainly knew in her heart that these things were going to happen pretty soon. Incidentally, I did not specify any of the above, only that she might be facing up to a tough time in the near future. My priority was to offer ways that she might deal with any blows that were headed in her direction. The Tower is a great card for that, clearing the way for energy to flow freely like breaking through a debris jam in a stream.
Was the reading helpful in those circumstances? I like to think so. Once the full-on impact of that week passed, my friend was able to gather herself together armed with the advice the Tarot had offered and soldier on. She mended the relationship (it eventually ended anyway) and managed to deal with her grief in small steps.
Image source: Johnny_boy_A on Flickr
Tarot points out the obvious and the not so obvious. Sometimes our minds are so preoccupied with the problem that we cannot see the solution right in front of us. Or maybe we dismiss the answer without even giving it much thought because it is so obvious.
We are predisposed to ignore the simple in favor of the complex. It is the job of the tarot reader to open up these solutions, to cause the seeker to re-examine them more closely. It is not our job to predict lottery wins and fatal accidents.
Despite all that, tarot can be a great way to have some fun. Stressing the readings are for amusement only, and connecting to your deck with that intention, tarot can offer some delightfully quirky and often very accurate predictions.
Make sure you have some pat answers prepared should any “difficult” cards show up. These kinds of readings are useful at parties and corporate events. They should be light-hearted and witty. You could specify that you are doing “character” readings or “what’s happening at work next Monday” readings.
If you read for other people, or even if you don’t, I recommend Benebell Wen’s blog for advice on reading tarot professionally. She is a Tarot consultant and a lawyer.