The Near-Sighted Tarot Reader

AUTHOR’S NOTE: No, this isn’t an allegory about a cartomancer with defective vision, it’s an elaboration of my previous thoughts concerning the reliable duration of a tarot reading. The title was just a clever ploy to grab your attention.

It’s a given that “things change,” especially when more than one person is involved in a situation, each with an independent point of view and maybe even a private agenda. Unless a spread has been specifically designed to account for such developments, a typical tarot reading can lose precision and credibility over the long term. Perhaps without intending to, one party to a divination scenario may completely overstep the boundaries of the original forecast while the other party refuses to accept that fact and behaves (or misbehaves) accordingly. In some cases the errant individual fulfills the prophecy (for example, following through on a hinted-at divorce), but at other times one or both people can go completely off the page at some point within the proposed “outcome” range of the reading. The more time that passes before culmination of the matter, the more pronounced this shift in direction may become, eventually making the reader’s solemn pronouncements seem patently absurd.

In Lenormand reading, the Grand Tableau neatly dodges this dilemma by putting up a panoramic overview of numerous areas of a querent’s life, not all of which will receive equal emphasis as he or she navigates the period in question. This long-range outlook is typically a generalization of prospective circumstances and suggested responses, not an enumeration of specific events and their anticipated consequences. The reader is on fairly safe ground here when talking about influences that may drive certain attitudes and behaviors for up to a year ahead. Even with smaller Lenormand spreads, the pragmatic nature of the cards speaks convincingly to “what” might occur but doesn’t invite much speculation as to “when,” mainly because – at least in my experience – time in Lenormand is a function of distance and there isn’t much of that to work with in a small spread.

On the other hand, a tarot reading is often narrowly defined by the sitter’s expectations. They usually have a particular result in mind, and that often comes with a hoped-for time of arrival (i.e. “soon”). Take, for example, the case of a love interest who has no idea that our querent is even alive, and is completely oblivious to the fact that said querent is nursing a crush. Unless the lovelorn individual makes the first move, the target of affection may abruptly pick up and relocate across the country without warning (of course, they might also do that immediately following such a heartfelt but unexpected confession of love). This is the classic situation where the seeker wants to know “Does Joe or Mary like me?” when in fact Joe or Mary isn’t thinking about the person at all, in either a good way or a bad one. The reader must walk on eggshells here because the answer may not be “Yes” or “No” but “Other.” The reading becomes open-ended because it is impossible to pin down an arrival date for a likely non-event.

The advice for the “near-sighted reader” is to keep all projections tightly focused and of limited scope regarding the timetable for resolution of the matter. Setting one’s sights well within the horizon will produce the reasonable assumption that steady-state conditions will prevail up to a rational deadline for closure, the uneventful passing of which might merely mean that it’s time for another reading to refresh the perspective. A good example of how this can be accomplished comes from the venerable Celtic Cross spread, with its two time-based projections, the “Near Future” and the “Final Outcome.” In my own practice, I assume that the “Near Future” will unveil itself within a couple of weeks or less, while I typically hold the “Final Outcome” to an end date of three months from the reading, which gives me a generous span of time to work with for pinpointing any “milestone moments” that could emerge from the three intervening cards. In very rare circumstances I may extend the time-frame to six months, but there would have to be a legitimate reason. Human beings are unpredictable enough without giving them more rope.

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