Reading tarot can be hugely rewarding. I never take it for granted, and never take my job lightly. Every person who comes to see me for a reading is unique, and I always take care to honour where someone is at.
Tarot can be a deeply, spiritual experience. It can also be fun and uplifting.
But it is work. If you’ve ever had a job where you had to deal with the public before, you know that it takes a lot of flexibility.
I work hard to connect with people’s needs, energy levels, and communication style.
Every day is different, which is part of the magic of it all.
It’s not always easy, though. Especially when clients come with rigid expectations, or high demands on my time and energy that I can’t meet.
Theresa Reed, aka the Tarot Lady, wrote a great blog post called “How To Not Piss Off Your Tarot Reader.” Inspired by her piece, I’ve added a few thoughts of my own.
If you’ve been thinking about getting a reading – tarot or otherwise – or you already employ the services of tarot readers, astrologers, or other diviners, keep these guidelines in mind for your next appointment.
The better we can do our work, the better your experiences will be.
1. Don’t get mad if your question can’t be answered.
I don’t speak for every tarot reader, but tarot doesn’t give anyone the power of omniscience. We can’t see every single move you’re doing to make. We are not gods (though it would pretty cool if we were).
Coming into a reading assuming that you are going to get exactly what you want isn’t really how tarot works.
Why get a reading if you only want to hear one kind of outcome, or answer? Why ask about something if you only want to assume there is no other possibility than the one you are hoping for?
The same goes if the answer isn’t exactly what you expected.
Sometimes, the cards might tell you to wait before you make a decision. Or, they might not provide a definitive outcome about a situation.
Sometimes – and I have seen this come up often – the cards will put a decision back on you: “You can go in either direction,” the cards say sometimes. Meaning, it’s totally your call on what comes next.
And even though it might not be the answer you want to hear, it is an answer all the same.
Sometimes, life hands us certain decisions as rites of passage. We need to make grab onto them. Tarot, or your tarot reader, won’t do the work for you.
There are some readers who promise to be able to answer anything, but personally, I don’t believe that it’s possible to know absolutely everything. Anyone can promise to answer your question, but you’re better off working with someone who will be honest with you about the information they can deliver.
So don’t pressure a reader to give you more details if they aren’t able to. Let honesty shine through the experience.
Reframe your session, or your question, and stay open to exploring other options if your topic of choice is hitting a dead-end with the cards.
Personally, I don’t want anyone to leave feeling disappointed after a reading with me. But I also have to do my job, which is to read the cards. I can’t control what messages they bring, and I can’t make things up just to give you the answer you want to hear.
2. Don’t try to ask “one more question” when the session is over.
I used to have a client who, about ten minutes before our session was up, would ask, “Do you have anyone booked after me?”
She always wanted to go over time, to keep asking questions, and would try to feel out whether we could. She thought if I didn’t have an appointment after hers, then my schedule was fair game.
But it doesn’t matter if I have anyone booked in after an appointment or not: I always, always have something else to do. I can’t book an appointment for an hour and then spend ninety minutes fulfilling it.
Which is why I stick to my schedule. Besides, since I moved my practice out of my home and into a shared office space, I have to be mindful of the other practitioners I work with. If they need to use the space after me, I need to boogie out of there.
If the time on our session is up, it’s not a point of negotiation. People will sometimes try to squeeze out the very last minute with, “I just have one more question.”
If you were having a massage and the RMT started to wind the session down, you wouldn’t say, “I have one more muscle that needs to be worked on” and expect them to keep going. It’s the same with a reading. It has to end eventually, and a reader’s schedule needs to be respected like any other.
Before coming to a reading, think about what you most want to explore and be mindful about what’s realistic to cover in the length of your appointment.
A shorter session – twenty to thirty minutes – might be good for one or two questions. If you have a lot of questions, you can always book a longer session, or a follow-up appointment.
3. Don’t forget that tarot readers are people, too.
We have to go work when we are tired, worried, sad, or a bit under the weather.
We have good days and bad days.
We need breaks to eat, rest, go the washroom, and get some fresh air.
And just like any other service provider, we have a lot expectations placed upon us that may or may not be warranted.
As consumers, a lot of us are used to businesses that will make all kinds of exceptions to the rules. To some extent, we have come to expect that, as customers, we’ll get whatever we ask for.
But remember that while many shops and restaurants have staff that can support and accommodate a range of customer needs and requests, most tarot readers are running their businesses solo.
Reading tarot takes a lot of energy. Tarot readers are not puppets that can be pulled at and played with.
Which is why I can’t make exceptions to my office hours. Or to my payment policies. Or to my classes or events schedule.
Just as I need to be a responsible professional by honouring my commitments to my clients, I need to be a responsible adult by ensuring I leave enough time in my schedule outside of work for other things that keep me healthy and whole.
Like taking myself to see my dentist, chiropractor, or doctor. And working out. And taking care of my aging mother when she needs me to. And making time to clean my apartment. And having dinner with my partner.
Boundaries and self-care go hand in hand. There is a reason for every policy I have in place. It’s not to be mean, or inflexible. It’s all to help me offer my services in the best way I can, without letting the rest of my life fall to the wayside.
And my work is better for it.
Which is why, if you hire me to read at a party, I need to know how many hours you are booking me for, and how many people will be there. I can’t read tarot until three in the morning for a guest list of a hundred of your closest friends.
And why I don’t take last-minute bookings. And why I don’t do business via text message, ever. (Things get so disorganized so quickly that way.)
So if you are at a party and the tarot reader in the corner hasn’t had a moment to themselves in the last three hours, ask if they need to take a stretch, or offer them a snack or a glass of water.
And remember that you are part of the experience when you have a reading, no matter what the setting is. Ask clear questions, be honest about what you hope to get out of the experience, and be open to what your tarot reader is able to offer you.
Be respectful of the process. If you’re not sure what’s appropriate to expect from a reading, then just ask.
And above all, remember that your tarot reader is a person, too, who is just trying to do their best in this world like everyone else.
Until next time,
p.s. And if you’re a tarot reader, too, or in a similar line of work, feel free to take inspiration from this if you are struggling with blurry boundaries.
Photo by Keidi Janz, 2018