As I see it, there are two big pitfalls in doing Tarot readings for someone other than yourself: Predictions and Pronouncements.
If you’ve read Modern Oracle Tarot for more than five minutes you already know how I feel about predictions. Choice is more powerful. The role of intuition is to broaden horizons. Readings should inspire, empower, and give options, not predict the future – you know the drill.
Readings are about advice. When you do a reading for someone else, you are basically giving them advice, whether your guidance is drawn from your conscious experience and know-how, or drawn from spirit / inner knowing / intuition through using the cards.
Sometimes when people just aren’t hearing what I’m saying, I’ll put the hammer down, go into Tenth Doctor no-second-chances, no-means-no mode if someone keeps insisting on a prediction after I’ve told them it isn’t appropriate. That’s on them for ignoring the advice that is honestly given. The other half, the pronouncements, that’s all on me.
Saying ‘you should’ do such and such is just as limiting, and dis-empowering as a prediction. It plants a seed, sets the other person up for “self-fulfilling prophecy” not true choice. It is one of the most enduring and endearing premises of “Doctor Who” on TV – everyone, even the bad guys, must be given a real choice. If we pronounce what they “should” do we are asking them to learn from OUR mistakes, re-walk OUR path – we are not honoring, guiding or shining a light on THEIR path. For some people, our advice turns on the light bulb over their head, and eases the learning process. Other people need to learn the hard way (the way many of readers did). Who are we as card-readers and advice-givers to decide which is which?
Sometimes I will stray into a hair on fire “you should” mode, but I try to avoid it UNLESS it is a sitter I know well or feel very comfortable with and UNLESS the intuitive impression is strong enough to warrant the DefCon-1 red alert. Otherwise, I try to lay out the choices supported by some basic “if-then” logic. If you do X, then there is a big chance of Y happening, but if you do A then B might be possible….that sort of thing. Unless you are reading for your actual child, the advice is best left to suggestions and nudges in my opinion. Reading for kids is a whole other kettle of fish, and I’ll write a post about that if you want….but 99% of the time I read for adults. If someone is an adult, then it is only right that I respect their choice, autonomy and dignity. That’s how I want to be treated in a reading. I don’t react well to ‘thou shalt’ or even ‘you should’ pronouncements. Tell me why, give me alternatives, and I’ll consider it. Tell me what I ‘should’ do and I’ll turn into an oppositional teenager quicker than you can say Johnny Rotten. I promise to treat everyone I read for with the same respect and dignity that I expect to receive.
By the same token (funny how there are always two sides to every coin) other situations really do need the “you should” approach to get the message through. Sometimes we all need a ‘dutch uncle’ (or aunt) to tell us like it is, lay it on the line and shock us into paying attention. “Thou shalts” aren’t always bad.
The art in giving advice lies in
- Knowing when to nudge in the right direction and when to break out the frying pan in the face approach.
- Trusting the process. If we stay true to our own reading style, to our own hearts and intuition as readers, then we can trust the message will ultimately get through in the right way for each person, even if it takes a little time, trial and error, and a few mis-matched readings to get there.
- Realizing it is their path to walk, not ours. Ultimately our advice may make no difference whatsoever, and that is OK. Maybe, just maybe, we are meant to be there to help pick up the pieces after they fall, not keep them from falling in the first place.
So if you are a tarot reader, speak your truth in your own genuine way. However it goes, it is their path to walk, their lesson to learn. What matters is that you give the message honestly, openly, with loving intent, to the best of your ability. When that happens, the rest will take care of itself.
The Art of Advice: Love, speak your truth kindly, then trust.