The Doctor Is Out

. . . but the curmudgeon is always in!

I’m inclined to approach a tarot session as I would a surgical emergency room rather than as an updated 19th Century parlor pastime: “We’re going to perform a little triage here, not just exchange polite pleasantries. It could get bloody!” But I’m suspicious that many newcomers see reading the cards as an amiable extension of social networking. At least until they encounter its incorruptible core (assuming they ever do), they are likely to treat divination as a light-hearted diversion that may earn them a little celebrity rather than as a serious “calling” the way many of us old-timers do. I’m not being categorically dismissive of the young here, just conscious of the “fast-food” superficiality of so much of the social milieu they navigate. Some may rise to skilled professional status but the vast majority won’t, and this isn’t necessarily a bad thing; I don’t do parties where five-minute “snap” readings are the norm, but there are those who thrive on it and therefore fill a niche in the “instant gratification” marketplace.

This doesn’t mean I can’t have a little fun, but I usually do so through inspired word-play of the M*A*S*H* variety during the reading rather than via idle chatting with my sitters. If they’re paying by the minute, I’m going to waste as little of their time as possible.  UCLA football coach “Red” Sanders (not Vince Lombardi, as is commonly but wrongly assumed) once said “Winning isn’t everything, it’s the only thing.” I might steal that thought as it applies to economy and precision in reading the cards. I never did appreciate  the twittery “Friday-night sleep-over” ambiance of reading at social gatherings, no matter how many drinks I’ve had. Party-goers may think they’re being daring and a bit naughty (as in sacrilegious) by entreating the cards, but I don’t have the surface-skimming mentality for it. I’m a gourmand, not a grazer, and I prefer to dig for gold rather than pan for it. (See, word-play rules!)

Although I was in on it near the very beginning, the New-Age solipsism of the “Me Generation” hasn’t left much of a mark on me, so I don’t cater to narcissistic expectations when reading the cards. (Translation: I won’t always tell you what you want to hear.) Unlike Bob Barker, I don’t end with “Hoping all your consequences are happy ones.” This is not the Law of Attraction. A “spade is a spade,” no matter how much we would like to re-imagine it as sympathetic to affairs of the heart, the ego or the wallet. I’m not going to pretend that “bad” cards are “good” when the context of the reading doesn’t support it, nor that “everything is for the best” when my sitter knows full well that it isn’t so. If they’re trying to pick up the pieces after a failed marriage, I can help them puzzle out their next move with the cards, but if they only want to hear that their “ex” still loves them and wants to come back, they’re on their own. Like Ray Charles in the song I Don’t Need No Doctor, I’m not here to “fill their prescription;” they don’t need “no medicated lotion, no aspirin, no vitamins pills, and no babysitter.” Most of all, they “don’t need no (witch) doctor,” and they wouldn’t listen to one anyway. But psychotherapy might help, or maybe, like Stephen Gosson in 1579 (and later, Jonathan Swift), they should just acknowledge that they are “seekinge … too make a silke purse of a Sowes eare” and get over it.

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