How to be a S.H.A.R.P. tarot reader
October 3, 2011 § 1 Comment
Look, I made an acronym!
When I grow up I want to be a tarot reader even though, at the moment, I am not a very good one. Even so, I am perpetually fascinated by the concept of “a tarot reading” – this strange consultation between two strangers and some cards (and maybe something else besides) – and the ethical questions it raises. If I am ever to be a tarot reader (one who reads face-to-face, and who maybe also gets paid) I want to be a Good one. What is Good? I don’t know – someone who is competent, professional, ethical and compassionate, someone who provides a service of value to another person. And so, over the course of my day-to-daydreaming about my one-day tarot-reading self, I came up with this acronym to remind me of what sort of reader I’d like to be.
S.H.A.R.P. stands for:
First and foremost, I want to be sensitive. If someone goes to the trouble of seeking out a reader and shells out their hard-earned cash for a tarot reading, the least I can do is take them seriously – regardless of whether their question is “Will Brad call me tonight?”, “Why does my cat hate me?” or “How can I bring about world peace?” Being sensitive means thinking about how someone might be feeling, and treating them with respect and kindness. It means not judging and not forgetting that I’m there to help them. Even with the most straight-forward seeming readings, there’s always a story behind the story and as tarot readers, we hardly ever know the half of it (even though sometimes we might think we know all). People ask for help when they’re scared, hurt, or vulnerable.
As a “real” tarot reader, I’d have the opportunity to help people in all sorts of different ways. I could help them understand. I could help them make a decision or find a solution to a problem. I could help them take the next step. Maybe I might help just by reflecting their situation back to them – or even just by listening. However the means, I’d like my readings to be helpful, so that afterwards the sitter is in a more positive place than they were before. It sounds a little obvious, but what I don’t want is to just read the cards with no consideration for the sitter. I need to remember to ask myself “Am I helping or am I just talking?” And of course, it wouldn’t hurt to ask, “Is that any help?”
I don’t mean, “You’ll meet a man at 3.30pm on Wednesday afternoon. It’ll be raining and he’ll be wearing a dark blue Mackintosh and carrying a black umbrella.” I mean, I want my readings to be specific (but SHSRP doesn’t spell anything). I want to answer the question that’s asked – not just vaguely rehash my favourite interpretations. I want to pay attention to position meanings and how they interact with the cards and the question. I want to choose my words carefully. (Hmmm, interesting – tarot cards are predominantly visual, but a tarot reading is all about accurately translating those visual symbolic messages into words.) I don’t want to just blaze through the reading thinking I already know what the cards mean. Each individual reading is an unrepeatable moment in time: an alignment of random forces and deliberate intentions – a unique mix of sitter, reader, question, spread, deck, and cards drawn. I must interpret accordingly.
Tarot cards are powerful things. Of course, I know they’re just bits of printed cardboard, but they have this habit of dispensing uncannily accurate observations. It’s easy to understand how mere mortals might believe such observations are messages from a higher power. 😉 The problem with messages from a higher power is…they’re very difficult to ignore.
I don’t want to be one of those readers who says, “This reading is for entertainment purposes only (yeah, right), I just read the cards and tell you what they say, it’s up to you whether you choose to follow any advice given and hey, it wasn’t me giving you the advice, it was the cards, so I’m completely off the hook.” (Yes, I know readers don’t actually say that, but sometimes it feels that’s what they’re saying. It’s like a nurse saying, “Now, I’m giving you this jab, but it’s really up to you how your body responds to it.” A professional accepts responsibility for the service he or she provides.)
When I read tarot for others, I will essentially be interfering in their lives. Influencing their decisions. Putting thoughts into their heads. I must be aware of the awesomely huge responsibility that bestows on me. I’ll say that again – AWESOMELY HUGE RESPONSIBILITY. A tarot reading is not an isolated event; it will have consequences. I want to make sure they’re good ones. I think part of doing this involves using the cards as prompts for questions that the sitter can answer for him or herself, rather than giving them the answers. I have a bee in my bonnet about this particular point, which is why I’m labouring it. 🙂
Wow, that came out left field (I was just trying to decide between Professional or emPowering). Why do I want to be a proud tarot reader? Well, actually, I want to be proud to be a tarot reader. This last point is kind of a sum of all the others, because if I’m sensitive, helpful, accurate and responsible then I should have something to be proud of. I want tarot reading to be recognised as having value, instead of being this kind of novelty thing that a lot of people dismiss. I want to be a skilled professional. I want to keep improving as a reader, yet be consistent. I want to bravely say (because this would be a huge deal for me), “I’m a tarot reader” instead of saying “I’m sort of into tarot, it’s my thing, nah I don’t really read”. I want to have a sign outside my house that says, “Tarot Readings, Come Inside”. I want to come out of the tarot closet smartly dressed holding my cards and some sort of appointment book. I want tarot readers to be respected and to conquer the world!
Aw, I just want to be a good reader. Do you think I’ll ever make it now I’ve set myself all these impossible targets? 😉