I returned to professional public reading around a year ago, after many years away. The first thing that struck me is the number of new decks that are available now, mostly Waite-Smith (aka “RWS”) clones. As a long-time student and reader of Aleister Crowley’s esoterically profound Thoth deck, I wasn’t entirely comfortable using it across a broad spectrum of walk-in clients, so I decided to accumulate several less demanding RWS-style decks solely for that purpose. Because I like to bring a few thoroughly-randomized decks to a session, I settled on the following list (all readily-replaceable; I don’t bring any I wouldn’t want to see damaged):
RWS Centennial Edition
Gilded Tarot (Ciro Marchetti)
In most cases, the RWS model means “tarot” plain-and-simple to people who are even slightly familiar with the subject, so this group of decks serves that demographic perfectly. What they have in common is instantly-recognizable imagery and a pleasing color scheme.
Other “tools of the trade” I bring along to the New Age shop where I read are a handmade spread cloth, a small digital timer, and a thin binder with a few topic-specific spreads and some reference material. I’ve created over sixty spreads now and can’t remember them all, so I want to be ready in case someone asks to explore a particular area of life instead of seeking a general overview. In practice, though, I typically read with the Celtic Cross spread (tweaked to my own satisfaction) when I do half-hour readings, and an abbreviated seven-card version when I’m limited to 20 minutes.
I also have a one-page “Cartomancer’s Creed” (posted previously) that I bring but don’t offer to my clients unless questions come up about the act of reading, and a “code of professional conduct” document that I keep with me as a personal reminder but never drag out in public. I always have a few business cards in my deck tote as well.
I also like to bring a digital camera along to take a photo of the spreads since I offer my clients one free follow-up, e-mail dialogue on their readings.
The last essential I would be lost without is my reading glasses, since the proprietor likes the ambiance of a dim setting.
Reading out of my home or on-line would be a lot simpler, of course, but I prefer face-to-face reading where foot traffic brings the sitters to me.