Tarot cards and, more recently, oracle cards are outstanding tools for psychological and spiritual work. Each year they become more and more a part of the common vernacular and readily available in mass-market venues, especially the online retailer, Amazon. The number of decks available in and out of print is mind-boggling, easily in the thousands, especially if you go do a search for decks on eBay.
Once shrouded in mystery and a “tool of people with questionable character, dark intentions, or acolytes of heathen beliefs”, tarot and oracle cards are enjoying widespread, if still hesitant acceptance. In this article, I will discuss the value of getting a tarot or oracle card reading from a professional reader.
Weaving the Narrative
Imagine that all the individual cards in a tarot or oracle deck represent a chapter of a novel. Then imagine that every chapter starts with a transition sentence and ends with a transition sentence, allowing you to arrange any chapter in front of or behind another chapter. Chapters can even stand alone, by just drawing a single card and interpreting it on its own.
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But the real power of a tarot or oracle card reading shows up when you have to weave two or more cards together into a narrative for the client. The professional tarot and oracle card reader does not just have complete command of each card’s meaning, but they should be able to have complete command of telling every narrative variable as they emerge when cards are drawn and turned over.
A professional tarot and oracle card reader is a professional storyteller. The better the reader is at storytelling the more effective the reader will be helping the client. One truism of professional writing, fiction or non-fiction, is to be a voracious and avid reader. To be a successful tarot and oracle card reader you have to be a scholar.
Scholarship is the Standard for Professionalism as a Reader
Whether you are a trained scholar, having earned a degree from an academic institution, or you are a self-made scholar, it is impossible to be an effect professional reader without learning as much as you can about a wide variety of disciplines, including but not limited to: mythology, history, poetry, science, politics, psychology, philosophy, popular culture, and so on.
A Fully-Lived Life is a Necessity for a Professional Reader
I bought my first tarot deck when I was 21, in 1989. I did my first reading for payment when I was 24 in 1992. Between 1989 and 1992, I earned a Masters in English and just started a PhD program. I had a good bit of training on the scholarship side and a few things on my life resume that certainly helped when I was doing readings for people for pay.
There was also a lot of life I had not yet experienced. In front of me was marriage, infidelity, divorce, completing my PhD, getting my first full-time job, finding my birth parents, having a daughter, quitting my career to stay home and raise my daughter, and on and on. In short, I would have to say the reader I am now, with some age and experience, makes me very capable of providing seamless readings no matter which cards get drawn and how they fit together.
A Professional Method
A professional reader will have a professional method. Like many beginning readers, I tried various spreads (ways of laying the cards out), including the most common one, the Celtic Cross. There are a number of books offering 100 or more tarot spreads, but I still find the 10-card Celtic Cross to be the best default layout.
Over the years I developed my own method that helped me read cards in a certain professional way that I now use for all my clients. Instead of the classic Celtic Cross positions, I have come up with ten questions that I ask clients. After I ask one of the questions, I have the client draw the card they want from the deck that is spread out in front of them.
They hand me each card face down and I collect them until I have all 10. Once I have them all, I begin the reading and repeat each question as I turn the card over and explain its meaning based on its placement and the question I asked. If the public setting is quiet enough, I encourage clients to record the reading on their phones. At the end of the reading, I also encourage the client to take a picture of the cards.
Before we start, I also guide clients about how to approach the reading. They can ask a specific question like, “I have a job offer in Dallas, Texas; should I take it?” Or they can ask about a general area of life, like career. Or they can be open and see what comes up. Everything from the beginning of the process to the end of the process should be handled with confidence and a seamless delivery regarding the meaning of the cards and how they fit together.
A Professional Can Help with the Hard Cards
Recently I wrote two articles for Ask Astrology about the two most difficult cards in the tarot deck, The Tower and Death. Too often people will approach tarot as if it is a clever amusement, that is until they draw one of the hard cards. The Tower and Death are not the only ones, there is also the 5 of Wands (Conflict) and the 10 of Swords (Ruin) and the 3 of Swords (Sorrow).
Even a person sitting down to make a joke of the experience can have the humor drained out of the experience if any of these cards show up. If a person is more aware of the seriousness of the cards, he or she may face even more profound reactions to the hard cards, which is why you want to get a reading from a professional.
When all the cards work together into a narrative, the hard cards can fit a context without leaving the client so focused on the challenging card that he or she cannot hear the entire reading. Professional readers will help you get the most out of the tarot and oracle card reading so the experience will be helpful and valuable.