“The Kettle’s On Boil!”

I’ve written in the past with curmudgeonly intent about the practice of adding “clarifers” (extra cards) to a positional spread when the meaning of the original cards is unclear, as if that is going to brighten the waters instead of muddy them further. In my opinion, an artist with too many colors on the palette can wind up like Jackson Pollock, flinging paint around and producing a “Where’s Waldo?” tableau. The most likely result (although I don’t think it’s supposed to work this way) seems to be to completely disregard what went before and just go with the “new, improved” version. Although I’ve always done it his way, when I encountered Jame’s Ricklef’s recommendation to let ambiguous cards “simmer in the consciousness until they make sense,” I latched right onto the idea and have been promoting it ever since. I’ve also likened the act of deciphering the nuances in a card to “peeling an onion.” There may be many layers to penetrate if one wants to get down to the meaning that responds most precisely to the context of the question. This takes finesse and sensitivity to subtle shifts in the thrust of the reading, something that merely adding cards can dilute and ultimately defeat.

For me, the “rub” comes when trying to apply this principle in the heat of battle (that is, in the middle of a reading). I usually say the first thing I can think of that offers useful insights about the situation. I might work it around out loud for the sitter’s benefit, but I usually don’t have the time (or the inspiration) to deconstruct all of the salient details of any card. Only later, when I’ve had a chance to contemplate the reading, do I come up with all the “woulda/shoulda/coulda” observations that might have made the presentation just a little more convincing. Unless I have an ongoing relationship with the sitter or we communicate after the reading, those insights are lost except to my personal knowledge base. This happens all too seldom, although I always offer limited post-reading support.

This brings up another point that I think is underappreciated in the social-media world of remote reading: the querent’s role in guiding the interpretation in the most productive direction. Obviously, if we don’t have face-to-face contact with the sitter there is little opportunity for a meaningful dialogue about the unfolding narrative. We may have absolute confidence in our ability to interpret the cards but, unless we ask the seeker for validation, our pronouncements may have nothing to do with their circumstances or understanding of the situation. In our pride we may feel that we have the right answers, but nobody knows better whether we’re on-target than the person we’re trying to help.

This is why I say I “just read the cards;” my role isn’t to give specific advice about the best way to deal with a problem, it’s simply to provide information that the individual can use or not as they see fit. I find the word empowerment a bit too “vanilla,” so I put a sharper point on it by proposing to give them the ammunition and the aim to hit the mark (and hope they don’t shoot themselves in the foot with it). I expect my clients to bring their subconscious awareness to the table by shuffling the deck, which focuses their attention on the arrangement of the cards for the deal. I want the psychic “engine of destiny” to read their mind, not mine. My own inner comprehension (I don’t call it “intuition,” which can degrade into guesswork) is only the conduit for the wisdom of the oracle, the link between the querent’s latent self-knowledge and the Universal Consciousness that is tapped via the cards.

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