Lost Dogs

August 28, 2008 § Leave a comment

In the episode of Gene Simmons Family Jewels I saw last night, Gene consulted a psychic in the hopes of finding his missing dog. Although the psychic was able to correctly deduce that a family member was missing, and that the family member was female and a dog, she wasn’t able to tell Gene where his dog was or how to find her. Gene’s response? “For $300, that’s all I get?”

This made me think. The current fashion in tarot circles seems to be that (good and responsible) tarot readings should focus less on predicting the future and pulling seemingly unknowable information out of the air, and more on helping the client understand what’s going on in their lives and what they can do about it. Check out the Ethics page on any (good and responsible) tarot reader’s website and you’re bound to find something along the lines of “Readings aim to help the client to take charge of their own life”. (I stole that from TABI’s website). You’ll also find the word ’empowerment’ mentioned a lot.

All of which is generally accepted as good practice. Predicting the future – or fortune-telling, to give it it’s dirty, old-fashioned name – is frowned upon but tarot-guided counselling is the bees knees. As far as most tarot readers are concerned anyway.

But what about the clients? Which do they want? As a tarot reader myself, if I consult another tarot reader I tend to ask what I can do about the given situation…I ask for empowerment. But that’s just a reflection of my tarot upbringing – it’s what I’ve had drummed into me over and over again for the past five years. If Joe or Josephine Public consult a tarot reader, what do they want to know? A lot of the time they want to know the unknowable – the future, or the hidden present. (You can tell this is true by all the effort tarot readers have to put into making sure their clients ask the right questions.) Why else would they go to the trouble of seeking out a tarot reader? Or to put it another way: why on earth would they hand over their hard-earned money to hear something they could figure out for themselves without the aid of a divination specialist?

So maybe the reason so many good, ethical, professional tarot readers are unable to make a living from their skills is that they just don’t offer what Mr and Mrs Public are looking for. And maybe the reason so many seemingly dodgy, unethical, 100% accurate tarot readers continue to thrive is that they do.

What this means I don’t know. And maybe it’s all in my head anyway. I’ve made some sweeping generalisations in this post – that is, that all ‘fortune-telling’ tarot readers are unethical and unprofessional, and all ‘good’ tarot readers can’t find lost dogs. I disagree with myself emphatically on both points. But at the very least it’s food for thought.

The real question is: as tarot readers, are we giving our clients what they want, or are we giving them what we think they need? And which is right?

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