Sunday, 18 March 2012

5 ways to be a better reader

Reading Tarot is a process of evolution. There are always techniques we can adopt to improve, to deepen our understanding and to grow with that understanding in order to use the psychological tool of Tarot to the best of our ability. Here are five quick reminders for readers to sharpen their skills and to utilise the lessons each new reading offers.

1. Acknowledge the beliefs and character of each querent.
If the querent is a Christian, try to place spiritual advice in that context, for example, by saying, 'listen to God' rather than 'listen to your inner voice,' 'spirit guides' or 'the energy of the universe.' Helping the querent relate to spiritual advice in the way that's comfortable for them will make it easier for them to use that advice and put it into practice, as well as allowing them to feel that you, as the reader, respect their beliefs. Spirituality is a broad spectrum, and not all of your querents will define themselves as spiritual. If a querent asks you for a straight forward reading about money and work, don't pepper your language with spiritual jargon unless you feel that the querent will be receptive to that. Likewise, if you're reading for a neo-Pagan querent who places great spiritual stock into the messages of the cards, it's appropriate to discuss matters like inner energies and guides if that's what they pertain an interest in. This is not about changing your character and reading style in a way that would show up as fakery, it's just about being empathetic to an individual's needs and outlook.

2. Address specific questions and focus areas.
Even general and mini readings can be geared towards an intention. The querent is usually not only asking for a reading out of pure curiosity, but also has some deeper issues that they feel could be dealt with through the use of therapeutic tools like Tarot. If the querent simply asks for a general reading, by all means select a non-descript reading with the intention of helping in a general way, but it's useful to always ask the querent before beginning if they have any specific concerns they'd like to consult the Tarot about. A querent should leave the reading with more than they arrived with. This is how the Tarot will build up its reputation as a good tool for guidance and support, as well as to help you feel useful and productive as a reader.

3. Never make the querent into a passive observer.
In my view, a Tarot reading should be an offering of genuine advice and wisdom from the archetypes and stories that make us all who we are and help us to deal with the myriad of challenges life throws our way. Merely telling a querent what is inevitably going to come to pass is like opening and closing a book without reading it. In order to generate positive change something has to happen. The querent has strategies they need to put in place, things they need to consider and situations they need to clarify their feelings on. Encourage the querent to play an active role in the making of their own future. Give the querent different options and pathways, explore the probability of success down any chosen route and empower the querent to make the necessary changes for positivity.

4. Never stop learning.
It's easy to feel we've seen and done it all once we've been reading for a while. Even though the cards offer endless combinations, insights into every area of life and boundless advice on every conceivable issue, even I have thought of the cards as tired and old from time to time. This is mainly on account of how frequently I use them and how familiar they are to me now. The only way to forge forward and keep gaining and updating your knowledge is to keep exploring, keep reading contrary opinions, keep studying. Learning a new deck is a good option, as is immersing yourself in the Tarot blog world or joining a study group. The cards never stop giving and we should never feel that there's nothing left to take. I think Tarot is a life's work. Finding a new perspetive on each card meaning or on the use of Tarot overall is a great way to put new blood into the proceedings.

5. Use feedback to improve your skills.
Every single piece of feedback you receive from a querent is important - the good, the bad and the ugly. Compliments, whether they're sprawling or short'n'sweet, will help to boost your confidence as a reader and let you know that you're on the right track and that the skills you've acquired are helping people. Criticism can steal your will as well as give you insights into what you could have done better. (I have only ever received one piece of criticism as a reader. It was from a woman who asked for a reading to focus on why love wasn't coming her way. I suggested a range of ways in which she could attract positive energy for a new romance, as well as picking up on the cards messages regarding her changing personality, her interest in personal growth rather than interconnectedness etc. She was quite terse in her feedback, stating that she did not need advice about how to find love - that she'd been in the romance game a long time and was sure it was nothing she'd done that had hindered her chances. Although I felt that she was merely unhappy at being told that connections are something to be worked at, I also accepted that perhaps I was too simplistic in her reading and could have come across as patronising. The criticism was valuable to me.) Ask querents for feedback where ever possible (particularly when doing free online readings - it's only fair that they should let you know what they thought if they've received free work from you). Keep a log of interesting comments.

Tarot is rather a never-ending story and sometimes it's important to drive yourself forward by picking your feet up and making a list of the small ways in which you'll strive to improve, even when you've been reading the cards for a long time.