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What is the most important moment of a Tarot reading?

I always thought the most important moment of a Tarot reading was the splitting of the deck. After shuffling I split the deck - as a moment of pure focus- before bringing the deck back together to start laying the cards. This one moment of total focus is really important to me as a reader.

I also think it's very important to end a reading well. To create a sense of closure and check in that my client feels as if their session is understood and has been helpful.

But as I plan to teach a Zoom workshop that includes a section on "when not to read Tarot" I have come to respect that moment at the very start, before I even pick up my cards, when I consciously decide whether to read or not. (This blog is very focused on reading for others, rather than yourself.)

There are so many subtle reasons not to read Tarot, I have come to realise I am hyper aware at the opening of a session, checking in on so many factors. I also keep an awareness throughout the reading- checking in for various "red-flags"

  • When you (the reader) don't feel safe about this situation.

This can cover may aspects of safety- as a woman reading from an office (caravan) in my garden I do take safety seriously. I don't have any particular rules about who I read for, and as yet there have only been two incidents where I felt at all uncomfortable. But safety can also be about the state of mind of the querent- feeling perhaps that they need medical, or mental health support rather than a Tarot reading (or - as has been the case for me several times, practical advice on leaving a domestic abuse situation). So, tuning in to "does this feel safe" is defiantly an important part of any Tarot reading for me.

  • If a querent is in "shock" or a state of severe agitation.

The problem with being a Tarot reader is we are often the friend or professional that people turn to in moments of desperation. I have had a couple of occasions where clients have reached out to me in desperate moments, and I have chosen to hold space without my cards. Tarot is a wonderful tool, but just sometimes a person needs human compassion, to have a space held for them, to feel safe.

  • Alcohol and drugs.

We all have different boundaries around alcohol and drugs. As a professional I do not read for clients under any influences (except caffeine), I certainly have read for friends after a glass or two of wine. my rules may not be the same as yours but being aware of how you feel about alcohol/drugs is important.

I would not read for someone who presented as being under the influence of drink or drugs, I want someone who is engaged and compos mentis.

  • Having the right time available.

My Tarot readings are booked on a calendar, and to pay my rent I need to earn a certain amount each week and month. This means that I cannot drastically over run an appointment, otherwise my whole day is out of alignment.

Before I start a reading, I often check in with what a client's needs are. I work as a shaman as well, so I need to try and gauge if a client wants a Tarot focus, or to include a healing as well.

A big part of my job is to manage the time well- if a client has a 30-minute slot and wants me to look in-depth at multiple areas of their life it is my job to be upfront about what I can reasonably cover - and to not start a reading that I know I cannot finish well.

  • Confrontational or aggressive clients

Now I have to say I do love a challenge! I don't really have an issue with confrontational clients who are quite openly sceptical, or even asking my questions that really challenge my ability. But I will not stand for aggression towards me or rudeness.

First impressions count. However, upset or traumatised a client might be- I still expect them to have respect for my boundaries, and there is a difference between aggression towards me (not acceptable) and expressing anger.

I have had clients lean across my table in a sudden flash of anger because what I said triggered them - but they have always apologised immediately and understand that it was unacceptable. It's a fine line, as a therapist I am comfortable with raw emotions, but the line between emotional expression and aggressive towards me is unbreakable.

  • Third parties present or skewing the reading to be all about others.

I am happy to read with other people present and have serval people that prefer to have a friend or loved one with them. One of the most difficult situations I have had to deal with and has caused me to stop reading on two separate occasions, is when I feel my reading is being used to control or manipulate another person.

Once it was a partner recording the reading, but it became very clear he was asking closed questions to create a narrative that suited what he wanted his partner to hear. I stopped the reading and expressed discomfort at the nature of his questions. He chose to leave rather than continue and focus more on him. Once it was for a couple, and I quickly saw in the cards that he was being quite controlling, and that she was quite agitated about how "truthful" I was going to be. He stepped in at every point to try and reframe everything I was saying to fit his narrative, I brought the reading to an end quite quickly.

I have learnt to really connect to why someone has bought a companion with them, to gently feel into if this is support or if there is a manipulative edge to it- very rare, and I know many readers deal with this by not allowing any companions.

  • To engaged with the outcome.

I think one of the main reasons going to another person for a reading works is because they can act as a clear channel, they are not engaged in the outcome of your situation.

There's been a couple of times where I have really had to check in with myself, where I realised I was emotionally engaged with an outcome. These were readings with friends- I decided to start with chatting it through, airing my personal thoughts before working with the tarot to connected with a clearer channel.

If you are emotionally engaged with a situation I think it's really important to be honest about that, to be clear as to how neutral you can be.

At the start of every reading the first few moments are packed. Me opening scared space in my mind, taking a clear breath, finding my focus. Then tuning in to my client- checking in that this feels comfortable, that I feel comfortable with them.

A gentle chat for a few moments, checking in as to why my client has booked in - how I can best help them. Then that almost imperceptible moment, when I consciously decide that I will read the cards.

I'd never really thought about it before, but it's there. That moment of pure focus as my hand reaches for my deck- that choosing to read is always my choice, and perhaps that is the most important moment of any reading.


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