A common trait that many tarot readers share is that we want to help other people.
Whether you still consider yourself a student of tarot, or you read professionally, I’d bet there’s a good chance you’ve been called to read cards out of the desire to be of service in some capacity.
But good intentions can backfire. Sometimes, the desire to help can actually leave your querent feeling insulted, put down, and unheard.
Why? Whether you’re reading tarot for practice or professionally, you’ll have to navigate the numerous perspectives and beliefs about tarot that are out there.
Some people see tarot as a predictive, psychic tool.
Others see it as a psychological one.
Some use it for self-exploration, healing, and reflection.
And some people seek out tarot readings for fun, entertainment, and curiosity.
In short, there are a lot of reasons why people seek out readings. And the more you read for the public, the more you’ll realize that your average tarot client won’t know much about tarot at all.
This is often where the chasm grows between readers and their potential querents: We see our work one way, but querents might have a different idea of what they expect from a reading, or why they want one at all.
It’s common to assume that everyone who sits down for a reading needs some kind of help. But as a reader, you don’t want to end up forcing yourself to see problems that a client doesn’t actually have.
Too often, tarot readers get stuck on this idea that they have to help.
But is that always true?
I don’t think it is true, and I also think we, as readers, need to be careful that we’re not projecting our desires to help when it’s not needed or welcome.
When I was younger, I was on the receiving end of some readings that did just that. The readers completely ignored my questions and started giving me all kinds of pep talks for problems that I don’t have. In these instances, I got the impression that these readers felt great about it: Here they were, delivering their empowering advice…which would probably be great for someone else, but had nothing to do with what I actually needed to talk about.
It’s not a querent’s job to make a reader feel validated or helpful.
And readers shouldn’t assume that every querent needs self-improvement. It’s way too easy to pathologize problems that don’t actually exist, becoming armchair psychologists in the process.
That’s not what tarot is about. It doesn’t matter how great a piece of guidance may be: If it’s unnecessary, it can leave someone feeling patronized and misunderstood, causing more harm than good.
So what can you do as a tarot reader to stay true to your reading style while being open and supportive?
Here are some tips:
1. Learn how to do different types of readings. Even though my preference is to do readings that are self-reflective and advice-driven, I also do a lot of predictive work. Why? Because a big part of my client base comes for predictive readings.
People seek out tarot for all kinds of reasons. Learning to become a well-rounded reader, who can answer many types of questions, will allow you to stay flexible in your practice and work with as many people as possible.
2. Don’t conflate tarot reading as therapy. This deserves more discussion in the future, but I’ll touch on it here briefly. While tarot can feel therapeutic, and it can be helpful to work through some things, there are a lot of differences between what tarot readers and therapists do.
Therapists, for example, probably don’t get asked about how to communicate with the ghost haunting a client’s home or predict on whether an ex is coming back soon…
But in all seriousness, there are specific trainings and certifications people go through to become therapists – and it’s very different from the unregulated world of tarot.
3. Keep your ego in check. As tarot readers, we don’t always get a lot of validation from our clients. I’ve done readings for people who’ve sat through a full hour straight-faced and expressionless, and I’ve had no idea if anything I was saying was having an impact on them.
Sometimes I’ve heard from those clients later who told me about breakthroughs they had because of our sessions together. Other times, those quiet, shy clients have left with a simple “thank you” and nothing more.
You can’t assume what someone is thinking, feeling, or needing. People come to readings nervous, shy, or uncertain of what the protocol is on how to act. Not every client will open up the way you want them to, and not everyone will follow up to tell you if your work has helped them or not.
You also can’t assume that you’ll be able to tell whether clients are into your work or not. As readers, we meet people so briefly sometimes that we never get to know their facial expressions or tells.
And sometimes, you need to accept that your work won’t help everyone – and you have to be okay with that.
We can’t control the messages we see in the cards. All we can do is deliver them.
We can’t control what someone does with the information they receive in a reading, either: It’s always up to the client.
And we can’t control what someone will find interesting, useful, or helpful at the time of a reading.
Not everything has to be steeped in self-analysis, and not every reading has to be what we, as tarot readers, find interesting or rewarding to talk about.
Until next time,
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