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The Quick Reading

I am a big proponent of long readings. I often spend two hours contemplating the cards as they are laid out, and will continue to ponder their meanings in my life for days after. When I do readings for others I give just as much serious attention, and often write long, in-depth reports, so the reading can be turned to again for further insight.

But sometimes (perhaps more often than we would like), it is necessary to do a much shorter reading. Can we get as much meaning from a reading that lasts only ten or twenty minutes? It may be condensed, but I have found that a short reading can be just as effective, and in fact might help us understand our first impulses about an issue better than one we dwell on for several hours.

In doing a quick reading, it is important to know our cards - or whatever divination tool we are using. It's not the time to try out an exciting new theme deck, one that we haven't learned or studied yet. It's beneficial to use cards we are well familiar with. We hear the meanings of the cards in an old favorite as readily as we might recall long-remembered prayers or poems. Symbols and keywords immediately come to mind. The cards form messages fairly quickly, without us even turning to their full range of interpretation.

We can get the message of a short reading as fully as we can gather the message of a television commercial or short song. Often, all we need from the tarot is that short message, something to carry around with us as a reminder, lesson, or affirmation.

Let's take a look at an example. Let's say I am concerned about visiting an old friend whom I haven't seen in a long time. I'm concerned that old conflicts might arise, there might be uncomfortable silences, or simply that we have grown too far apart to really connect anymore. I decide to hurriedly pull a few cards . one card to represent our past together - what defined our friendship before? A second card points to where things presently stand - which might be purely material or alternately might be purely emotional. And a third card to give an idea of the potential for this friendship in the future. The cards in this example are the Six of Cups, the High Priestess, and the Three of Cups. Right away the Cups show an emotional involvement - we can be sure there are feelings on both sides, and they are long-lasting (indicated by the past and future cards). The Six of Cups immediately points to the past by its very nature, as well as to childhood memories. We can say, "My friend and I share many good memories from the past," or even, "this friendship has a strong emotional foundation." The High Priestess might seem trickier, but our first impression might reflect a few main elements: we are presently alone or solitary, have gained wisdom, and are coming from a place of feminine depth. Does it apply to one or both friends? In this case, I would assume it would apply to myself, the person doing the reading. So, we might read it as, "I am currently coming from a place of well-earned feminine wisdom; this is what I will bring to this friendship today," or, we might assume that both friends can connect because of this sense of shared feminine wisdom. And thirdly, the Three of Cups cannot be mistaken - it shows a celebration among friends, a happy gathering. From this we simply say, "Our visit has the potential to encourage renewed friendship!" Granted, these are rather easy cards to interpret, especially within this context, but they act well in demonstrating how effective a quick reading can be. Even if all they have done is shown us something we already knew, they have provided us with encouragement about the visit, and given us some added hope that the friendship will grow strong again.

I don't do quick readings like this terribly often, and wouldn't suggest making it a habit to be relied upon. But, they can certainly provide some guidance, some encouraging words, and quick insight.

by Nellie Levine

You might also be interested in Tarot Tips for Beginners.

Illumination Tarot has been publishing articles, reviews, tarot spreads, and personal reflections for tarot enthusiasts and followers of alternative spirituality online since 1999.
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