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Saturday, December 4, 2010

How I Conduct a Tarot Reading

Before the Reading
I start the session by telling the seeker a little about the Tarot, what it will and will not tell them. I explain that the Tarot is simply a tool and that it has no power in and of itself. A reading is like a road-map, it provides information so that you can make the best possible choices for yourself. I explain that the future is not fixed or fated and that the power to make positive changes in life is within the power of the individual through the choices that they make.

Pre-Reading Ritual
My pre-reading ritual consists of my spreading out a cloth to lay the cards upon. In addition I light a candle and set out a clear glass of water. As I do this, I silently ask for guidance in order to give the individual the best possible reading. I take out my cards and pass them over the water to cleanse them. Then I ask the client to cut the cards and put them back together. This card usually gives me an indication of the persons current mood, outlook, the issue they are dealing with, etc and I use this as the persons signifier (see below).

Formulating the Question

I talk to the seeker about asking the right questions and this is often the most difficult part of any reading. I tell the person to avoid asking such questions as Will I ever get married? Will I lose weight? Will I find a soul mate? Will I get pregnant?

Instead of asking questions such as the above, I usually advise the seeker to restate them like such: My partner seems to lack a sense of commitment, can you tell me if I am making the right choice by being with him/her? I am on a weight loss program, can you tell me if I am making wish choices that will help me reach my goal? I can seem to meet a compatible mate, can you tell me what I am doing wrong? I am trying to get pregnant, do you have any advice for me?

If the person has never had a Tarot reading before, and are unsure about what they want to talk about, I usually do a general reading and then if they have further questions address them in a separate reading.

Choosing a Signifier

A signifier is a card that is meant to represent a person who is either posing the question or who is the subject of the reading. Before reading the cards, remove the card from the deck that represents the individual, or subject of the reading. There are many different methods which have been used to determine a person's signifier, or calling card, the most traditional of which concerns itself with matching the individual's age and temperament to the pip, or face, cards in a tarot deck. For example, adult males are Kings, adult females are Queens, whereas young adults and teenagers are Knights and children are pages. Other methods include:
  • Some readers determine the suit to use for a person's signifier by using the element associated with the person's Sun Sign. Using this methods Wands represent the fire signs (Aries, Leo, Sagittarius), Cups represent water signs (Cancer, Scorpio, Pisces), Swords represent air signs (Gemini, Libra, Aquarius) and Pentacles represent earth signs (Taurus, Virgo, Capricorn).
  • Some readers determine the suit by considering the person's temperament. Wands are driven, over achievers, Cups are emotional and empathetic, Swords are the intellectual types, and Pentacles are earthy and creative.
  • Some readers take into account the individual's coloring. For example, Wands represent blonds, Cups represent dark blond to light brown, Swords represent Red heads, and Pentacles represent dark brown to black hair.
  • One of the simplest method of determining a person's signifier which I know utilizes the Magician for a Man, the High Priestess for a woman, or the Fool for anyone. In other instances, you may wish to take a more literal approach and use the Empress for a pregnant woman, the Emperor for a male authority figure, The Hierophant for a Priest or member of clergy, the Chariot for a race car driver, The Moon for a psychic, the Sun for a person with a "sunny disposition", The Death Card for a mortician, etc... However, keep in mind that you are not limited to the Major Arcana when choosing signifiers. The same creative vision can be applied to the Minor Arcana for this purpose. For example, the Six of Swords can represent a sailor, or ferry worker. The Nine of Pentacles can represent someone with a green thumb and a love for animals. In addition, depending on the deck you have, there may be cards that are not in a traditional deck.

Shuffling and Cutting

The cards are to be shuffled in the most comfortable manner either by riffling them or shuffling them hand over hand. If you are reading for yourself, you shuffle your own cards, but if you are reading for another, they are to shuffle the cards. Some readers prefer to have the client hold their signifier while shuffling the cards themselves, however, this is not my personal practice.

While the cards are being shuffled, the person shuffling them should concentrate on the specific question or issue that they wish to know more about. If while you are shuffling the cards, any cards which fly out of the deck are collected and placed aside face down. After the reading, these cards can be consulted for extra information.

There is no certain number of times the cards are to be shuffled, just shuffle them until they feel right to you. Once you are done shuffling the cards they are cut into three stacks to the right and then placed back together again to the right, or some prefer to do this at random

The Reading

The cards are then collected by the reader and arranged according to a spread. A Spread is a term used to describe the pattern in which Tarot-Cards are laid out after shuffling them and prior to reading them. Usually, but not always, each position in a spread signifies an area of life, a feeling, one's thoughts, or a specific time period such as the  past, present, or future. The meaning of a tarot card is read according  to its position in the spread. The cards are read in relation to the position it occupies within the spread. As you read the cards, you attempt to weave the reading into a cohesive story, being specific as you possibly can.
If after all the cards have been read, and the person needs more clarification on the matter that I usually take a card from the bottom of the deck and read it as I would any outcome card.

After the Reading

Often after the reading, the person will want to discuss some of the things that you have said during the reading, giving you confirmation on your insights. When given such information it may help you to further guide the individual and set them on the right path. However, if the person does not offer you any feedback, don't pressure them. Often during the reading, the person may not be able to connect what you are telling them with the question asked, but later, after much thought, it may make sense.

Payment for Readings

I never charge brother or sister witches for readings, or even close friends or family members. However, when reading for the general public, I advise them to pay me what they feel the reading is worth. The reasons for this is not that I do not have confidence in my abilities, but simply to get around the fortune-telling laws in many states which forbid charging for fortune-telling.

When I read for a paying client, I normally have a plate on the table for the person to leave their offering as I prefer no to touch the money until they have gone.

Carolina Dean

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