I often wonder what people expect when they sit for a tarot reading. Is it encouragement (aka “empowerment”) regarding their chosen course of action? Is it affirmation of their assumptions or suspicions? Is it entertainment? Is it a glimpse of future events or circumstances? Is it a psychological snapshot of themselves or another person? Is it cautionary advice regarding something or someone to avoid? Since I approach every reading from a neutral posture in which I don’t want to know the querent’s question or topic of interest at the outset and just let the cards speak their piece, what I typically deliver is a kaleidoscopic view that touches on many subjects until a definite direction emerges in the ongoing narrative. But what I really think most of my clients are after is a glimmer of hope in the darkness, whether their present circumstances are dire or merely uncertain.
There is a widely-held opinion that every reading should end on a positive note. As a realist, I don’t go quite that far but rather hold to the idea that each session should produce constructive insights to the extent the cards support that objective. I’m not a therapist dedicated to making people feel content and fulfilled, just an interpreter of symbols whose goal is to shed light on their apparent significance in both general and specific terms. To those who find happiness in eye-opening illumination, my intent is to serve them to the extent of my ability as a “seer.” I’m less attuned to satisfying the “feel-good” crowd that only seeks the silver lining and chooses to ignore the gloomy wrapper. Just as every life is a mixture of highs and lows, nearly every reading is a composite of obliging and difficult indications from which a useful projection must be fashioned. Where the spread tosses only “soft balls” at the querent, my job is easy unless alarm bells go off about the danger of complacency, while the more challenging testimony makes me earn my pay. To be perfectly honest, winnowing the often slender “good” from the overwhelming “bad” of a tough card in a sensitive or demanding spread position is where I find the most enjoyment in reading the cards. The same can be said for recognizing the latent sour notes in an otherwise perfectly upbeat card in an auspicious position, although I tend to offer them as an aside or mild caveat.
The second half of the post title refers to the fact that my practice began many years ago with the understanding that a reading will take as much time as required to get the message across. With the de rigueur Celtic Cross spread of that era, a session generally spanned 45 minutes to an hour, during which considerable dialogue occurred to bring the focus down to actionable particulars. We talked until it was all talked through and there were no unanswered questions. I still think the best result is achieved by thoroughly exploring all avenues of inquiry presented by the cards with continuous validation of key points by the sitter, but the realities of professional reading, at least in a public “walk-in” setting, usually prohibit being so effusive. I could have called this post the “Happy Fifteen Minutes” to be precise, but the analogy would have been less than perfect.