The Land of 1,000 Chances

Some of you (but I’ll bet not many) may remember the old Wilson Pickett song “The Land of 1,000 Dances.” I’m stealing his song title, slightly modified, for this post to reflect the  observation that “There are no negative cards, only opportunities.” So every card in a reading, no matter how dire it seems, always represents a chance to learn and grow from the experience. In fact, rather than “1,000 chances,” I found by calculating all of the possible permutations of any ten cards (the size of a Celtic Cross spread) out of a total population of 78 that there can be over 2,000,000 such unique opportunities.

What this means in practical terms is that the worst possible scenario in a reading can always be approached in ways that present facets of the situation that invite constructive engagement and a path to resolution. The obvious meaning may not be the one that has the most relevance to the client’s subconscious awareness of the circumstances and ability to cope with the challenge. Before opening our mouths, we as readers must think deeply about other layers of interpretation and settle on one that offers more useful insights than the first thing that springs to mind. It also comes down to a matter of finesse in presentation; in the interest of honesty and full disclosure, we must avoid gratuitously “sugar-coating” our pronouncements while remaining sensitive to the client’s feelings. After all, this is not what Monty Python would have termed “being-hit-on-the-head lessons.”

I’ve found that the best way to accomplish this revelation is to give the client a chance to weigh in on how an unfavorable card can be recast in a different light. I will tactfully explain the traditional meaning of the card and then say something like “But there is usually more to the story than meets the eye.” Rather than beating ourselves up over trying to come up with a positive take on what the “silver lining” might be, we can throw it open to the client’s instinctive sense of what is “right or wrong” for them and let them find the best route through the apparent dilemma. This can involve helping them step back from a literal view of the card and rethink it in more psychological or even impersonal terms. It may in fact be showing them how to anticipate and position themselves for absorbing the likely consequences of less-than-desirable developments. We like to talk broadly (and vaguely) about “empowering” our clients, and it is in these cases that we really earn our pay. It also turns the reading into a true dialogue rather than a one-sided conversation, and can give the client a “leg up” on making the best use of the forecast.

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