It’s time to visit the subject of “third party readings” once again. An eternal topic of discussion on the tarot forums is whether it’s ethical to perform readings about someone who isn’t present or who hasn’t consented to examination of their affairs. There is a broad span of professional opinion on this, ranging from “it’s totally out-of-bounds” to “it’s no different from reading about a public figure” to “anything is fair game.” My personal position has been that it isn’t especially effective anyway if the querent’s objective is “mind-reading” rather than action-and-event-based inquiry (that is, asking what someone else “thinks or feels” and not what they are likely to “do”), but I’m shifting around to a different stance on the main point of contention. It comes down to “Who is the third party anyway?”
Conventional wisdom has been that a reading normally consists of two parties: the querent and the reader, and the typically-absent third party is anyone else of significance to the querent, often but not always an unsuspecting love interest. When we think about it, though, the reader is essentially a disinterested observer who – while certainly a party to the reading – is not in any way a party to the querent’s situation. So the second party would be the querent’s “person of interest” and the third party would really be another individual beyond the two who are of immediate concern in any personal relationship. It could be a parent or sibling of one of the participants, a mutual boss, or anyone else who might conceivably interject themselves in some way between the two.
An excellent example would be the “other person” in a love triangle. Let’s call the parties to the situation “X, Y and Z.” Party “X” (the querent) loves “Y” (the second party) but “Y” is already in a solid relationship with “Z” (the third party). Is it legitimate to try to figure out what “Z” is up to in the hope of somehow destabilizing the existing arrangement? If the question is “Will ‘Z’ be going out of town this week-end so I can move in on ‘Y’?” the ethically-responsible conclusion is “It depends on your motive in asking.” Since the focus is on an independent action of “Z” and not about anything to do directly with “Z’s” emotional engagement with “Y,” I wouldn’t have a problem with it at least on the surface. But if the goal is to figure out a way to “blind-side” the third party with the intent of creating friction between the two and thereby opening up an opportunity for the querent, I would consider it entirely unacceptable. In that case the matter isn’t about affirming the outcome of random events, it’s deliberate mischief-making, plain and simple.
I can’t take credit for a personal epiphany on this subject. In the aforementioned forum discussions I encountered an opinion to the effect that the reader isn’t an active player in the circumstances of the question and therefore isn’t a formal “party” to their development. This makes perfect sense to me.