When I returned to professional tarot reading in 2014, my second client was a young man who clearly had some preconceptions about how his session should proceed. His wife had bought the reading for his birthday from the proprietor of the shop where I operated, but the owner is an oracle-card reader who is less confident with the tarot so she tapped me. The first words out of the sitter’s mouth were a slightly annoyed “But I thought ‘C’ was going to do it.” He was obviously flustered that his fortune-teller wasn’t the anticipated young lady but a straight-looking older guy who is neither gay nor ambivalent about gender, something of a rarity in my experience with the fringe culture that is modern divination. But he sat for the reading anyway.
He maintained his skeptical demeanor but soon warmed up to the subject of his question. He had just taken a job in what he called a “good company” in town but already had it in his head that within a year he would try to move up to a more rewarding job in an even better local company. He wanted to know how well-positioned he would be to do that. We worked our way through the Celtic Cross and I explained the variables he might encounter on his chosen path. He paid close attention but eventually stopped me by blurting “But are these good cards?” I told him that the Ace of Wands in the near future position showed that he would muster the necessary initiative to pursue his objective in the short term, and Judgement in the outcome position – “the taking of a definite step” per Aleister Crowley – indicated that something significant could be the result (I may even have called it “an offer you can’t refuse”), but that it may not be of his own making. There would most likely be an opportunity but it could be different from the one he was actively seeking. I told him the cards were “good” for moving him along – I called them the “little fire” and the “big fire” (I restrained myself from likening them to a “hot foot”) – but the Universe could have something in store for him that he should be alert for and seize if it appeared worthwhile (or even merely prudent at the time). If he let it overtake him unaware he might not be delighted with the consequences (the notion that it might mean “getting his walking papers” briefly crossed my mind, but I wanted to keep it constructive). I didn’t exactly give him two-thumbs-up on his stated ambitions but, with enough warning and the right attitude, half-a-thumb is better than none. I’m not entirely sure he believed any of it, but I never heard anything more from or about him.
Since that time I’ve had many other clients who were less critical in their engagement, but I’ve occasionally thought back to that early encounter with the feeling that, if you’re going to confront the reader with thinly-veiled hostility based simply on first impressions, you’re probably better off taking your business elsewhere. I don’t think he was trying to trick or test me the way some skeptics do, but he was clearly reluctant to just go with the flow. Trust plays a big part in establishing a comfortable rapport, and – although I’m self-confident and thick-skinned enough to tolerate its absence – obvious mistrust can hobble the reader and sabotage the reading.