There used to be a TV quiz show called “The $64,000 Question.” Accounting for inflation and devaluation, let’s up the ante and call this the “$100,000 Question:” What are the key qualities that make for an exceptionally competent and effective tarot reader, those that separate the best from the rest? (Hint: It’s more than just “being right” most of the time) Needless to say, these are all things I try to bring to my own practice.
My personal list of superlatives, in no particular order of preference, includes:
Exhibits both honesty and kindness: Doesn’t beat around the bush but also doesn’t inflict undue pain when there is a more agreeable and constructive way to deliver discouraging testimony.
Cultivates a light touch: Keeps the reading lively and interactive, making it an engaging dialogue rather than a monologue.
Empowers rather than enables: Expects the seeker to take ownership of the advice given by the cards, offering useful suggestions for action rather than letting the sitter off the hook by presenting inevitable conclusions that can’t be avoided or altered.
Remains sensitive to subtleties: Makes use of all the shadings present in a reading, including reversals, card combinations, elemental harmonies and dissonances, other prominent dignities by rank and number, dominant and missing suits, story-telling “tropes,” alternate interpretations and intuitive insights. As Yoav Ben-Dov once said, “Everything is a sign.”
Wields imagination, inspiration and ingenuity to good effect: Can read between the lines of a literal interpretation to flush out its less obvious nuances, those that may defy logic but present a compelling non-linear argument for their inclusion.
Understands the history: Has a grounding in the knowledge and wisdom found in traditional methods and their underlying body of literature, without having to quote them “verbatim.”
Commands a superior vocabulary: Has a knack for quickly finding just the right word without having to fumble over making a point.
Is both diligent and nimble: Doesn’t miss the big stuff but also doesn’t dwell overlong on the minutiae.
Has mastered versatility: Maintains more than one arrow in her (or his) interpretive quiver (practical, psychological, spiritual, etc.) and can shift easily between them as needed.
Plies both the craft and the art of reading, and can segue seamlessly between “nuts-and-bolts” literalism and fluid extemporizing from free association.
Values building client awareness over dispensing “unvarnished truth:” Appreciates the difference between being truly helpful and being correct at all costs.
Exemplifies both boldness and modesty by turns. To know what one doesn’t know is the beginning of wisdom.
Feels the magic: Harbors an infectious enthusiasm and love for the practice of cartomancy. It’s not something that can be faked.