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Making Querents Comfortable
Consulting tarot for someone can be viewed as a form of therapy or counseling. We are working one on one, ourselves and our clients, and together we must create a relationship of trust; for what is at hand is personal, intimate, and often of great significance. Since most people seek readings when they are feeling uncertain and in real need of guidance, it is important that we offer them a feeling of comfort and security. It is these clients I am going to be referring to most in this essay, although the points I make should apply to all.
In my Reiki class I learned to avoid specifically offering Reiki, and to instead allow people to ask for it when they felt they needed it, or intuitively knew they would be open to it. Similarly, though I never read this in a book or learned it in a class, in over fifteen years I have rarely suggested a person have me read tarot for them. I have felt this simple but true awareness that when a person will benefit from a reading, she will seek one out, and she will most likely find the reader and reading most helpful to her at that time. I have experienced this myself, and have felt a sense of synchronicity in my life at those times.
I am speaking about the moment before a person comes to you for a reading, because I am pointing out that the process begins before she steps through your door, or sends you an email; and I think this needs to be taken into consideration. Understand that your client's problem, issue, or question has been on her mind. She may have been discussing it openly with friends, or she may have been keeping it a secret. To her, it has weight, so it should have weight to you as well. If you show her this respect and concern for her and her issue, she will begin to feel secure that what you are going to offer through the cards will be of genuine help.
Another aspect to keep in mind is the general mainstream opinion of tarot and tarot readers, which are lumped all together into a category that includes fortune-tellers, charlatans, and scam artists. We are becoming more accepting of the intuitive arts, especially thanks to a number of very good movies and books, but the general reaction is still a laugh at such "silliness" or "nonsense." People like to believe in their intellectualism. The tarot draws them away from the rational and they become uneasy in this new, misunderstood territory. Even if your client has an open curiosity of tarot or divination, bear in mind her husband, sister, best friend, or coworker may be making light fun of her for getting a reading. Be calm and confident, and do not get defensive in response to such attitudes. If you sense such hesitation, set her mind at ease, without going into a spiel about tarot's history or its legitimate use as an aid to psychological reflection. Your reading will (hopefully) validate the use of tarot. Avoid acting mysterious, speaking in tarot jargon, or being aloof. Tarot isn't a game we play at to impress or amuse ourselves. We shouldn't leave our clients guessing or scratching their heads, and worse - too uncomfortable to ask for clarity.
Another allusion to Reiki might help me finalize this point. It is generally believed in Reiki that the person being healed is an active participant in the healing. He must be open to this healing energy, in order for deep healing to take place. So too in tarot, it is best when the person we are reading for is comfortable, relaxed, and open. A true interaction between reader and client makes it more likely the reading will be wholly comprehensive and specific.
I was once at a local mystical shop on a day it was giving free tarot readings. As I stood in an aisle looking at books, I overheard a reading that caused me to feel quite sorry for the client, who walked away looking dazed and upset. The reader had glibly read the cards, explaining each so perfunctorily I didn't see how anyone could have gleaned any real meaning from them, and when the client questioned her on various cards, she simply responded, "Like I said ." repeating her first explanation. I tend to believe most readers are not nearly so cold, but maybe I should just mention that if you feel you are being put out by reading for others, don't do it.
This brings me to the more obvious aspects of making your clients comfortable. Let them know you care, without being patronizing. For each person, gauge how much caring they are looking for. Some clients become active in their reading, pointing to cards, voicing their impressions, sharing additional facts about their question or issue. Others are looking for a guiding hand the whole way through, worried that the cards will point to an impending catastrophe, and looking to you to reassure them.
Beyond this, always be yourself, from your choice of cards, to your style of dress, to your overall approach to reading. It is important that you develop your own unique style, as long as it is truly you. If you dress like a Gypsy, a Goth, or a "New Age Guru," don't change it; just don't dress to play a part. For in-person readings I don't keep a room too dark, or have incense that is overbearing. Absolutely most of the people I have read for are mainstream, of a Judeo-Christian background, and have no interest in the occult - though they do often enjoy some sense of the mystical or New Age. Make your choice of music carefully, but again, be yourself. Find a balance between your own image as a reader, and what you feel clients will be comfortable with. For distance readings, be sure you are as professional as you would be in a face-to-face reading, and don't blow people off. Make your written reports attractive, in-depth, and thorough, and be sure to offer follow-up work or at least a reply to further questions if the client needs more clarity or information. Distance doesn't diminish your clients' needs.
If you are reading for others and continue to do so regularly, you will eventually develop a certain routine style or approach, and ultimately may establish for yourself a real, professional practice. Just always keep in mind that your clients are your practice.
Illumination Tarot has been publishing articles, reviews, tarot spreads, and personal reflections for tarot enthusiasts and followers of alternative spirituality online since 1999.
All writing and photography © N Levine - Illumination Tarot, unless otherwise noted. 1999-2021