People love to ask me, “Who are the toughest clients you deal with?”
And usually, it’s expected that I’ll say skeptics are the toughest. But honestly, I don’t mind a bit of skepticism coming my way now and then.
I actually think skepticism is healthy. It shows discernment, which is a really important thing to put into practice whenever you are consulting oracles like tarot, looking into therapeutic practices, or exploring other non-traditional or spiritual paths.
I know my deck inside and out and rarely have times where I can’t read for someone. Even if you’re not sure tarot is real, I invite you to give it a try and see what comes up. I bet there will be at least one thing you can take away from a reading that feels valuable for you. I have seen skeptics soften their views many, many times.
So what’s the toughest situation for me, if skeptics are no issue?
The hardest readings are the ones where the clients are like blank slates: They have no desire to ask anything, or they have no goals or dreams to anchor a reading into.
Or if they do have a question, they have no desire for any answer beyond what they want to hear and no desire to think about a Plan B in case things don’t go their way.
I call these readings blank slates because that’s how they feel to me. The energy is static, opaque, and hard to connect with.
I was working at a party last year and a younger man sat down. He had never had a reading before and wanted to try it.
I asked him if he had a question, or an area of his life he wanted to focus the reading on. He shrugged: “No.”
A shrug is never a good start to a reading.
“Is there anything you’d like to change?” I asked.
“No,” he said.
If tarot helps us awaken to possibilities that lie ahead, then it requires some level of self-awareness on the part of the sitter. If you’re not looking for anything, or paying attention to where you’re at, you might miss out on the cues a reading is giving you.
This guy was a man of few words. I waited for him to say something else, but he just stared at his hands. “Maybe he’s shy,” I thought.
The party was for a creative company. “Are you creative yourself? Do you have any projects you want to start?”
He shrugged again. “No.”
“Okay,” I said. “What about hobbies? Or relationships? Is there anything you’re really focused on right now?”
“No,” he said.
Time was ticking. I had a tarot spread with pre-determined positions that looked at potential for growth, themes, and focus for the year-ahead. I suggested we do that. He said that sounded good.
I laid out the cards, but felt our moment had passed. Nothing I said would land would this guy.
I don’t think we always need to be striving for something, or always need to be looking for change.
Sometimes, things are good as they are, and you can just stay there.
And maybe that’s where this guy was at.
But it makes my job really hard. Because I can’t be useful.
Tarot needs a purpose, just like anything else. You wouldn’t randomly sit down at a restaurant and order a meal if you weren’t hungry, right? It can be the same with getting a reading. Why turn to the cards if you’re not actually looking for answers?
Sometimes, though, people do have questions, but they aren’t suited to a tool like tarot.
Recently, I had a woman ask about whether her job would become permanent this year.
When someone is asking about a situation where they don’t have final say – where an employer, for example, holds the power – I need to be mindful that there may be a number of moving pieces involved.
So I always start with a caveat: No matter what the cards say, there is no certainty in that answer. Because sometimes, hiring decisions rely on multiple people, and a lot of moving pieces, like budget, staffing needs, business direction, competition, and competence. We can look at any of these factors individually, but at the end of the day, I can’t get into your boss’s head, and they are not present in the reading for me to talk to.
It’s important for me to be realistic and up front about this. Because there are so many moving pieces, I like to suggest that we can look at other options as well. I also ask what the sitter want to see happen for themselves: “What is your Plan B if this job doesn’t pan out?”
“I like it there. I don’t want anything else.”
The cards showed that decisions were yet to be made. I got the impression the decision would come down between two candidates, but whether the sitter would be the chosen candidate remained to be seen.
The woman wasn’t happy with this. She wanted specifics. She wanted me to tell her yes or no.
But we need to remember that sometimes, “I don’t know” is an answer. If decisions are still to be made and something is in a gray area, that is all I can say about it.
Sometimes, the cards give a clear yes, and sometimes they give a clear no, and sometimes they give a solid, disappointing maybe. I can’t lie and say it will all work out.
“What do you want make happen in your career within the next year if this job doesn’t work out?” I asked, trying to open up the possibilities.
She shrugged. “I don’t know. Nothing, I guess. I don’t want to look for other work. Tell me about love, then. Will I meet anyone?”
“What are you doing to find a relationship right now?” I asked.
“Nothing,” she said, staring into her lap. “But I don’t want self-analysis. I just want to know what’s going to happen.”
This is the other tricky part of my job, and the other type of blank slate reading I encounter: People sometimes expect that life is just going to happen to them.
They have questions, but no intention to take action towards anything they want. They just wait and see. They don’t realize that there are times when they need to set things in motion for themselves.
It is possible for whole years to go by where everything stays the same. And again, some people can be totally happy with that, especially if they like where they’re at.
But when we bring questions to tarot, the cards challenge us sometimes to look at where we are directing our will.
Intention needs an aim. If you say you want something, the cards will remind you to work towards it if you aren’t already. Otherwise, you might be waiting a long time for life to happen the way you hope it will.
Another thing to keep in mind is that certain questions may not be right for tarot, or the timing might be off. For example, if you are worried about a job not panning out, you could ask the cards whether you should look for work – even if you feel like it.
Or, you could wait until you know for sure whether you are going to be hired on or not. If not, then perhaps a reading could help you figure out your next steps.
If you are dead-set on putting all of your eggs in one basket, or in assuming there is only possible outcome you can accept, tarot might not be right for you until you are ready to look at other angles.
Tarot and apathy don’t mix well. Coming to a reading with a willingness to be open, to talk, to share, to be inspired, and to become self-aware is really important.
Without those factors, my job becomes really tough. If a client is shrugging their shoulders all the way through a reading, the cards might decide to shrug right back.
Until next time,