Memorizing Isn’t The Answer

I recently purchased a tarot reading on eBay. As I opened the email containing the reading, I was originally impressed with the length of the document, considering I paid less than $15 for it. The reading itself was introduced by a couple of paragraphs from the reader – how she apologized for the delay, how she did two spreads, and in the second one, she had noticed a positive career change. She then went on to notice that I had sold a few tarot readings on eBay some time ago, and one particular card in the reading reminded her of this.

The reader set up the first reading which was advice from my ‘angels’, or a spread done largely with an angelic oracle deck. She listed the 5 positions and their meanings, and then proceeded to list the cards and their meanings – without any reference to their position. At first, this didn’t concern me. Until I noticed that the second spread was a 12 card spread – done the same way, just reciting what the cards mean and not working off of how the combined cards worked together. In fact, several of the cards contradicted themselves; one card in the second reading said ‘You are in communication with your Angels, and the messages that you are receiving are very real indeed. Trust them,’ and later on it said ‘(this) …is also a sign from your angels. They are trying to get through – please notice!’ With no narration from the reader, I was (and still am) stumped at how I’m supposed to use this to help me. Either I’m paying attention, or I’m not. It’s possible that I’m listening to them but not trusting them, but this is a distinction I would have expected to be shown to me, not one I’d have to suss out myself.

Tarot reading – or, in this case, oracle reading – is not about merely pulling cards from the deck and parroting what the book says about the cards. Relying on definitions from the book won’t help you answer questions, and they certainly won’t help you answer the querant’s questions if they’re the least bit complex. The books merely serve as a guideline for interpretation. It’s also important to consider the surrounding cards, because they can influence the meaning of other cards. And, to top it off, the position in the spread plays a key role in the meaning of a card.

How does the Archangel Michael card in the ‘what I’ve learned’ position relate to my question about what I need to know about my career? “I will help you” doesn’t exactly make sense. I’m ‘currently learning’ about a ‘move or new job which is in the works and will usher in a positive new energy’. And the last card in the sequence was supposed to represent my life’s purpose, but I was told the card ‘represents a deceased loved one who loves me very much and doesn’t want me to worry about them’.

I don’t mean to ridicule because she does have the makings of a great reading here; she has all the pieces because everything she said COULD be applied to me. I mean, let’s be honest; I have recently gotten a new job, I have been wanting to move; I am studying mediumship, I have been told by several that I have ‘an ear for the dead’, so to speak.  However, because she was vague and didn’t pull that one thread joining everything together, to pull that thread tight and keep everything centered around my question, she fell short. The reading felt cold, rehearsed, and disjointed. It’s all just information, observations; nothing substantial.

My point isn’t to ridicule the reader, because I do think there is hope for this lady and it’s possible she doesn’t know any better. (And let’s be honest – the reading was cheap. I didn’t expect it to be life-changing.) But I am really, really glad that I set myself up for this opportunity, because it’s given me a lot to think of in terms of how to keep customers happy. I’ve recently started to set up my online business, so I’ve been trying to focus on a system I can follow to ensure I’m doing the best job I can to help the people who turn to me.

Here’s a few things I wrote down for myself as I as going through this reading. You might find some of these helpful.

  • Always help the querant ask the right question. Tarot is a tool for insight and information, so it’s best used that way. When you formulate your questions with this knowledge, you are setting an intention to receive information that will help you with your decisions.
  • Tell/show the querant the cards. Provide an opportunity for them to see the same thing you’re seeing, so they understand how the visual appearance of the card is integral to it’s meaning.
  • Share your internalized process. I always remember one of the first readings I did, and how I explained why the Strength card made me think of a friend of mine; how tough this friend of mine is, no matter what comes her way, and how sometimes she was so tough she couldn’t back down. The amazing thing is that the woman I was doing the reading for understood exactly what I meant when I shared a story about how I saw my friend turn prideful one day because of her inability to back down. Turns out the woman was in a similar situation thought that resisting was the only way she could survive with her dignity in tact. She walked away with a new curiosity about what it really meant to be strong. Would reading the book to this woman about that card had the same effect?
  • Communicate well. It doesn’t matter how well you read the cards; if you can’t communicate their meaning to the querant effectively in regards to their question, you negate the point of the reading. The querant doesn’t have their question answered, and you have an unhappy customer on your hands, which is certainly not good for advertising.
  • Don’t over draw. We’re often tempted to have a really long, drawn-out spread to search for our answers, but resist the urge to draw card after card. This tends to taint a reading because it becomes more about looking for a specific card than being open for guidance.

…or maybe I’m wrong about what it means to be a tarot reader? Mm, unlikely. Possible – because, well, even though I don’t like to admit it, I’ve been wrong before – but not likely. What do you think?


7 thoughts on “Memorizing Isn’t The Answer

  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Theresa Reed. Theresa Reed said: RT @Constantine319: #tarot Memorizing isn't the answer to every reading: […]

  2. Cheri Gaudet says:

    Of course you’re right! If you wanted an unsophisticated reading without nuance or, as you mentioned, even a common thread to pull everything together, you could have gone to any of the dozens of free online reading websites. What people pay for when they buy readings is the reader’s intuitive, intellectual and artistic perspective.

  3. Catriona says:

    I definitely agree. I had a similar experience in a face to face reading when I first started out and it was very off-putting. I’ve also had an experience recently where a reading was sent with only a few sentence fragments for each card and while it did say what each position was, again, there was no real thread tying things together and everything was so disjointed that I was extremely confused.
    When I read online I will take notes on each position and each card and then go back through and examine each card in turn before typing up my notes. Every card has several meanings and those change depending on the cards drawn around it.
    Another reader once told me, “Each card is like a page in a book. You have to find the story.”

    • You had something similar in person? I hope it wasn’t a pricey reading. It sounds like you do the same thing I do! (in regards to when you do online readings) I’ve never heard that before, about tarot cards being pages in a book and connecting them, but it makes a lot of sense. Thanks for your comment!

  4. Helen says:

    This is a great blog post. I agree 100%. It pains me to see card readers doing copy and paste readings in learning forums and never progressing to the next level, and unfortunately some of them are professional readers in the sense that they offer readings for a fee. If the querent can look up card meanings in a LWB and get the same reading on their own, why would they pay a reader for it? They may as well spend their money on their own deck of cards. I believe that a divination reading should be a blending of science and art. The science relates to accessing the relevant symbol dictionary in the context of the question and the spread positions and the art relates to accessing one’s intuition (personal insights) and telling the story in an “entertaining” way (for want of a better word).

    • Thanks! I’m glad you enjoyed it (and agree with me). I agree with your observation; if one is paying another to tell them what a book says, they may as well save their money and invest in their own deck/book. I love how you described divination as an art and a science – a cool thought, and an accurate representation of how the process should work. Thanks again for stopping by!

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