The most important skill to learn (or perhaps it’s more a process of unlearning) is how to settle into a Tarot reading. Every Tarot reading is different because every client is different. They have different expectations as to what a Tarot reading can offer them. Before the reading has even begun this can be a potential conflict. If your understanding of what a Tarot reading ‘achieves’ differs from that of your client, then an unsatisfactory experience for both parties will occur. Usually, I like to spend a few minutes discussing exactly what they want from the reading. I feel this is only fair, both to them and me. There is nothing worse than doing a reading that neither of you are enjoying.
When someone visits a doctor there is a natural level of trust that already exists; when someone visits a Tarot reader there is a natural level of distrust that exists. By attempting to create a relaxed atmosphere with the client and discussing ‘expectations’ with them, you will have done as much as is possible ‘pre-reading’.
During the reading, if you remember that listening and communicating make up 90% of a successful reading then you will be well on your way to delivering engaging as well as competent readings.
A relaxing atmosphere before a Tarot reading
The first task that you will face, in terms of communicating with the client, is to find out what their expectations are. If their expectations differ from yours then it’s important to discuss those differences. If a point of agreement can be reached then continue with the reading.
At this stage of the communication process (Paul Hughes-Barlow taught me this trick) I like to develop an atmosphere of relaxation. Usually this is achieved while discussing ‘expectations’ but it can also be continued into the ritual of selecting a question, shuffling the cards, cutting the deck and so on.
I will describe how I approach this section of the Tarot reading so that you can adapt, dismiss or change my approach into something that is much more suited to you. I hope that by sharing with you what I do, it will allow you to be creative and develop your own style.
The first thing I do is ask the client if they want a general reading. I ask the question this way to develop trust. Although I have spent time discussing ‘expectations’ with them, it is still important to see this stage of the reading as separate. This stage goes a long way towards developing trust and I don’t force them to ask a question. Usually, if they have a specific question they will ask it. However, I think that by not appearing to focus too strongly on that, the client themselves relaxes more and subsequently engages more with the reading. Once we have settled on a question, a general reading or otherwise, I ask the client to shuffle the cards. Again, this helps to relax them and, in a strange way, involves them in the reading right from the start. Finally, I’ll ask them to cut the deck. I use the Opening of the Key which demands a specific method for cutting the deck which I guide the client through. This is also useful because, not only does it continue to create a relaxed atmosphere and involve them in the process, but it also signals the start of a relationship in the sense that every relationship requires activities to build trust and bonds.
After I’ve dealt the cards out I begin the reading proper. This is a critical stage, although we have done our best to discuss expectations and create an atmosphere of relaxation, this moment is usually characterised by an increase in tension. As Tarot readers, we have about 3 minutes to ‘win’ their confidence. If we don’t achieve this then it is best to abandon the reading.
I’ve written an article called How To Approach A Tarot Reading that you may find useful to read as well. This article compliments this post very well.
How to win the confidence of the client within the first 3 minutes of a Tarot reading
The truth is there is no right way to go about this. Be yourself is probably the best approach you can take. We only have a few minutes to win their trust so it’s important to feel confident with your abilities. By using the techniques that I have outlined in this tutorial you will achieve this confidence in two ways. The first way is the techniques themselves. These are the most practical and robust methods that I know; I use them with every Tarot reading I do. The second way is actually all to do with the lack of demands these techniques will place upon you. They do not ask you to learn vast amounts of information.
Why is this important?
It’s important because you will not remember complicated techniques at the start of a reading. It’s a strange an unusual phenomena but you will quickly find that the importance normally placed upon the ‘cards’ themselves, in the sense of them being critical to the Tarot reading, does not translate well into a real life reading. In fact, the client is the most important aspect of a reading and the cards become secondary in this process. With complicated techniques you will spend far too long trying to remember them, and then apply them. Those techniques are not robust. As you build experience then you will certainly want to bring new techniques into your reading, but the ones I have provided will most likely be the foundation for all further learning.
The focus being on the client and not the cards
Certainly, the most important point I want you to remember is that communicating with the client, engaging with them and talking with them, will naturally be taking up the majority of your concentration. What is left of your concentration will be applied to the cards. To have this natural division of attention balanced in the cards favour, in the sense that the cards take up more of your attention than the clients, would be detrimental to the reading itself.
By allowing the client to be the focus of your attention, you will notice something strange starts to happen. The intuition that will begin to guide your use of the cards will, in most cases, be completely different from both the techniques that you practice and the information that can be gathered from those techniques. This is a great sign that the foundations you have been laying with your practice are taking hold. The less importance you place on the cards and the more you place on the client then the more likely intuition will play a role in your Tarot readings.
A standard question that you will be asked
A standard question that people ask me is, “will my partner come back”?
That is all the client wants to know. Once you have answered that to their satisfaction, they will probably want to discuss where things went wrong in their relationship and what the cards indicate, if at all, are the motives behind their partners actions and so on.
I wanted to share with you a standard question that I get asked to give you a sense of what client’s think a Tarot reading can achieve. Not only do they expect the question to be answered but also all the other knock on questions that will occur, depending on the answer you give. That’s why it’s important to have thought out before hand what you think a Tarot reading can achieve, so you can communicated that effectively to a client. This will keep you enjoying the Tarot for much longer.
I think it’s really important to just be yourself and let your own style flow naturally. I think this simple (but hard to do) approach is actually what builds the trust more than anything. Naturally, the client wants the answer to their question but how you answer that is down to you.
Asking the client questions
This is a dangerous exercise. If you have not won their trust or confidence in the reading then they will be unlikely to answer any questions you ask. This is a great technique to make sure you have won their confidence. If they answer your questions and engage and participate in the reading then you know you have succeeded, but if they don’t do this then it’s a good bet that you have not succeed at this point to win their confidence.
It’s important to ask questions that involve them in the reading. In some senses it’s very disempowering for anyone to be told what will happen, and when. I think it’s good practice to try and involve them in the reading as much as is possible (every client is different) so that they can empower themselves to make decisions.
I’ve tried to write this post in such a way as to equip you with enough knowledge to begin thinking about how you would like to conduct your Tarot readings. In some sense this is a customer service driven business and as such it does require the Tarot reader to take control of the reading in a positive, client driven way.
However, there are really no right or wrong ways to go about communicating with the client. Whatever works for you is the best way.
Tomorrow will be the final post in this Tutorial Series. I will be bringing together everything that we have learned into one comprehensive whole. There will be plenty of practice exercises so you can see how everything fits together in a practical way.
This post is part of the Beginners Tutorial Series.