Friday, March 25, 2011

Advice for New Readers

Earlier this week, I read for a friend in exchange for a sushi dinner. Once we had glasses of plum wine in front of us, she shuffled and I laid out the cards on the table and proceeded to read, hoping that I would finish her reading before the food came out. I did not. What followed was our waitress seeing the cards laid out and getting so excited about the cards and me reading them. She wanted to know how I did it, and I felt it was almost like asking a magician how he does his tricks. Not because reading tarot is in any way a magic trick, but because I was being asked to explain the process of how I read the cards. Much like, "How do you solve a problem like Maria? How do you catch a cloud and pin it down?"

I think it was a very needed question to ask. If we start to do something by rote, the thought starts to go out of the process. So I broke it down for our waitress to the following (simplified) process: I learned and memorized the meanings of the cards first. Once I was done with memorization, I felt comfortable using the pictures to form my own interpretations of the cards. The memorization was the foundation on which I built upon.

What follows is a few tips I'd like to share with new tarot readers, gleaned from my own practice with the cards and combined with some advice that was given to me.
  • Do not be afraid to say what you see, no matter how odd, obscure, or seemingly unrelated. YOU don't know how related or unrelated a seemingly random song popping into your head as you are in the middle of spread is to the person you're reading for. So say it. What's the harm?
  • When I read, I relate situations I'm seeing in the cards to my life as a way to explain what I'm seeing to the client. For example, I once saw the Five of Cups in a reading I did for a kid (no pressure or anything!). I was using the Llewellyn Tarot at the time, and the card portrays a cloaked figure standing on the shore of a river, with his head down, a castle in the distance, and three of the five cups at his feet are spilled over. When I looked at this card, I remembered my best friend that moved away and I lost contact with from my childhood. So that's when I said, "Has a really good friend of yours just moved away?" Sure enough, that's what happened.
We see life through the lens of our own perspective. So do tarot readers as they're reading (at least THIS tarot reader does). Don't be afraid to make mistakes. You're going to make them; you're human. Start slowly, be gentle with yourself, and find some supportive guinea pigs who are willing to be read for. Grow from there. Not all tarot readers want to become professional readers who do this for a living. Some just read for themselves exclusively. Some just read for family and friends. Some take the leap of going pro. But however you come to the cards, come with humility and respect.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

The "P" Word

Do I consider myself a psychic? No. Do I consider myself intuitive? Yes. What's the difference?

To me, it's all about what labels people are comfortable with. Me, I'm not comfortable with the word "psychic" in general. Any time anyone calls me one, it gives me pause. I feel that label is taken to the extreme in both a positive and a negative way. In the positive way, if you're labeled "psychic" you either do it full-time as your profession and you're always "ON". In a negative way, "psychic" to some people equates directly to "charlatan", which is extremely unfortunate, and a generalization of a group of people. There are phonies in every line of work; in every walk of life. Those that think psychics are a crock based on experiences with the crooked minority are closing themselves off to the psychics that are there in the service of growth of the human spirit.

So based on the connotations of the word "psychic", I choose to identify myself with the word "intuitive" instead, something I believe everyone is, some more than others, and something that can be cultivated and developed with practice. Not all tarot readers read intuitively. There are some that memorize the standard meanings of all 78 cards and their reversals, and then read based on that. When I began reading, I memorized. Memorization is a great thing for a beginner. As they say, you need to learn the rules before you break them. As I read the cards more, I began to trust in what I was seeing in the pictures more than what I had memorized for a card. From then, I associated the memories from my own life that the cards evoked to what my client was asking about when I read for them.

My sister once introduced me to a friend of hers as psychic. It was possibly the ONLY time I've ever felt comfortable with the designation. So call me a psychic if you want to, but I might look at you askance.