Last week, we talked about the Myths, Tall Tales, and Out Right Fallacies potential clients face when seeking out a tarot or oracle reading. If you’ve read our Tarot 101 series, you know there are a lot of myths about reading cards as well. How to acquire a deck, how to treat it, who you can and can’t read for–it can be overwhelming.
When I first started reading, a lot of people tried to tell me what I could and couldn’t do. As a person who generally does not like being told what to do, I got really defensive really quickly. As I continued reading, though, I began to unravel some of these myths and traditions and eventually form some of my own.
About the Deck
You should never purchase your own decks. They should be a gift, especially your first one.
Funny thing about this. Looking back on it, my very first deck was a gift–a Rider-Waite deck my dad brought me back from New York when I was very young. WTH my dad was thinking giving a 10 year old a tarot deck with no guidance, I do not know. But I do know that that first gifted deck was used once and never again, lost in favor of stuff I actually enjoyed.
The “never buy your own deck” myth has been rightly debunked over the years as a relic of the esoteric past. The reality is, this deck is going to be very personal to you, and it’s a rare friend or family member who is going to know you well enough to choose precisely the right deck for your needs, energy and personality. So don’t worry about buying your first, third or twentieth deck. It’s all good.
Your should always wrap your cards in silk.
Again, a remnant of tarot’s magical history. Silk is considered a protective fabric, able to deflect magic as well as protect the magical energies of its contents. Since it’s also a luxurious fabric, many practitioners use it for prosperity and wealth. So if your tarot practice has a magical bent, then silk is a great fabric to use to protect your cards. But your cards aren’t going to implode if you wrap them in cotton or some other natural fabric, or even if you keep them in their original box.
You should sleep with your deck under your pillow to bond with them.
Now, a lot of people follow this rule. Heck, I did it with my first deck. I can’t say one way or another if it worked. But in my opinion, the best way to learn about and understand your cards is to get in there and use them. Pull a card a day. Read for anyone who’ll let you. Touching them physically every day will infuse them with your energy, which is the very best sort of bonding you can get.
You shouldn’t let anyone else touch your deck.
Once again, esoteric past, magical energies, yada yada, your mileage may vary. Many people are very particular about who handles their cards. Given that a lot of intuitive readers depend on energetic signals to do readings, this makes sense. But it’s not a set-in-stone rule.
I’ve asked a lot of different readers and have gotten a lot of different answers. Some will want the client to shuffle the deck to infuse it with their energy. Others don’t think that is necessary. Still others are in the “touch and die” camp. None of these points of view is better or worse than the others. You should just do what makes you feel the most comfortable.
Note: You should never handle another person’s cards without permission, even if they are okay with other people handling them. That is like grabbing the spatula out of Gordon Ramsey’s hand–not a good idea…ever.
About Reading the Cards
You must never read for yourself or your family and close friends.
I have heard this “rule” many times, and I have to say that it’s (mostly) bunk. Of course you can read for yourself. For a long time, the only people I read for were myself and my closest friends. It was great practice and helped me get comfortable with both the cards and with my interpretation of them.
The reason there is such a pervasive myth about reading for yourself is simple–it’s freaking hard to read for yourself or for people close to you. Doing a good reading requires a certain distance from the topic at hand in order to get the required perspective. I know that when I read for Kat I have to dig deep to weed out my own personal biases and points of view. It’s even harder reading for myself. The cards will pick up on my wishful thinking and will either tell me what I want to hear, or I will bend the interpretation to my own bias. It’s fine to read for yourself to get practice and advice on daily things. In fact, pulling a card for yourself daily can be an exceptional practice. But for the big things? The questions that require perspective and a certain degree of hard truth? Best get someone else to read for you.
You must use specific spreads in order to read properly.
I have written before on my mildly antagonistic relationship with the Celtic Cross spread. Over the centuries, readers have developed many different spreads to meet the needs of their clients. There are spreads for relationships, jobs, health, and every other topic under the sun. These can be extremely helpful when you want to dig deep into the causes and underlying factors of a situation.
That being said, if your personality works better with a simple free-style reading, that’s nobody’s business but your own. Work with different spreads as you develop your own style. You may strike upon one that works great for you. You might just develop your own spread. The most important thing is to work with the cards in a way that gives the best results.
You should never ask the same question twice.
Okay, let’s start with a little story, shall we? When I first met my tarot mentor, Miss Dawn (aka The Pug Lady), I would get several readings from her a month. (She’s was affordable, and I was eager for permission to change my life.) One day, she just put her cards down and said, “No. I’m not taking your money. The cards have told you what you need to know.”
When you go to the cards, asking the same questions over and over again, looking for a different answer, you’re the metaphysical equivalent of the child that keeps asking “are we there yet?” on a long car drive. It’s annoying to the cards. There’s a difference between asking follow-up or clarifying questions, and just asking the same thing twenty different ways.
My deck will just start spewing gibberish when this happens. (They’re very snarky that way.) If you must ask the same question over and over again, try doing it from a different perspective. For example, if “will I get a raise this year?” isn’t giving you the answer you want, try re-angling it as “what must I do to get a raise this year?” Remember, you’re having a conversation with the cards. Better questions reap better answers.
You must be psychic to read cards.
What? Aren’t we all psychic?
All joking aside, the truth is that everyone can learn to read cards adequately. In fact, they are a great way to reclaim the natural intuition so many of us had drummed out of us in childhood. Now, is every person going to be a great reader? No, of course not. Just like not every kid who picks up a basketball is going to be as good as Michael Jordon, not every person who buys a deck is going to be an exceptional reader. Some of it is aptitude–various forms of divination resonate differently with different people. Your thing might be runes, or scrying, or reading astrological charts.
More often, though, it’s just a matter of how hard do you want to practice to become good? A lot of people have tons of natural talent but aren’t willing to put in the hours it takes to get practiced, confident, and accomplished. But if you’re willing to learn the basics, yes, you too can read the tarot cards.
You can’t read over the phone.
Of course you can. Or Skype. Or email or whatever you want If you can ask and answer questions, you can read cards for someone. I will tell you that, in personal experience, it’s much easier to read for someone in person than it is over a long distance. Just having the person in proximity can affect your energy and perception, which makes for a more accurate reading. Also it makes follow-up questions and clarifiers much easier as well.
Some people think reading tarot is scary, like you’re going into some dark hidden place where magical being lurk and demons are just ready to pounce. Others, once they’ve realized that they really can use the cards to understand the world around them, become afraid of that gift.
Let’s face it, being able to “pull stuff out of thin air” can be a sobering talent to have. Learning to read the tarot or oracles cards requires a commitment of time, effort and faith that a lot of people simply can not or will not give. It’s an act of trust, letting go of your ego to tap into a place deep within you that knows things. And it’s an act of trust, sharing this gift with others.
You’ve got your deck. You’re ready to learn.
But are you brave enough to go there? Is this something you really want? Most people buy decks, put them in the drawer, and only take them out once in a while as a novelty. Becoming a tarot or oracle reader means using your cards, getting in there, asking the deep questions and trusting the deep answers.
It’s not for everybody.
But it may be for you….
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Peace and Love,