The Cheerleader or the Coach

To me, the most important part of a tarot reading isn’t the cards pulled or the accuracy of their interpretation, it’s the dialogue that ensues between reader and sitter once the cards are on the table. Reading in a vacuum is like trying to play tennis blindfolded, with one hand tied behind your back: you might be able to serve, but there is no way you can effectively volley. Thus, no matter how vehemently we proclaim our absolute objectivity and integrity, the non-reciprocal reading can turn into a self-indulgent, one-sided guessing-game. This vulnerability is something I think new readers instinctively fear until, through independent and largely reclusive practice over time, they become insensitive to its draining effect on their self-assurance. The risk may still be present, but its urgency becomes blunted by the self-beguiling assumption of success.

Unless sitters close their ears and minds and refuse to hear what I’m saying, their reactions can be crucial to steering the course of the reading. Although some people say there is no real distinction between a “fortune-teller” and a “diviner/consultant” (and proudly call themselves the former), I think the essential difference lies in the degree of interaction. Fortune-tellers can flourish in an on-line setting where the impersonal and usually anonymous nature of the transaction encourages a “one-way-street” style of reading, while in the same situation the diviner/consultant can be starved for the kind of feedback that helps to shape the outcome. It highlights the disparity between simply offering information about the future and attempting to provide constructive insights for navigating it (which is where the consultant can graduate into a “counselor”). This begs the question are we merely enabling “cheerleaders” or are we empowering “coaches?”

I consider myself a “hands-on” reader. While it can be intimidating to be put “on the spot” by a sitter who can’t quite see the validity of my observations and needs convincing, that very fact can be the goad for some of my best efforts. It demands versatility, imagination and perhaps the agility to “tap-dance” a bit until meaning emerges from the fog of ambiguity. The impulse is to just keep on talking (or, heaven forbid, pull more cards) and hope that sense ultimately prevails, while the risk is that we can become hopelessly entangled in our own gratuitous rationalizing. This is where I usually stop myself and ask a question or two of my sitter, looking for signs that point the way out of the “box” I’ve put myself in. My experience has been that most sitters love to talk about themselves and the perceived woes that brought them to my doorstep, so there is no shortage of material with which to engineer a graceful escape.

Now that I’ve found a credible way to conduct on-line readings in accordance with my personal principles, I appreciate having all the time necessary to craft my narrative output but I still expect my clients to become involved in its progress, ideally by pulling their own cards but mainly by asking questions and providing feedback after receiving the text of my reading. I’ve decided to offer one “Q&A” dialogue at no additional cost to stimulate this engagement. So far it’s working out very well indeed.

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