We turn the reading into a living thing - something animated and exciting to behold.
So, what do I mean by a 'mechanistic' reading? I'm referring to a reading that's automatic and impersonal - a reading that lacks character and communication. It may be that it's a reading that doesn't 'speak' to the querent on a personal level because it's too focused on book definitions and doesn't allow for the scope to interpret openly according to the individual's circumstances. It may be that the reading is very doom and gloom and doesn't encourage affirmative action. It could be an interaction issue - maybe it seems like more of a pompous monologue than a supportive dialogue. It could be a reading which allows stereotyped fear mongering interpretations to dampen the mood and make the querent feel uncomfortable. A mechanistic reading can occur when there's a lack of compassion for the sitter or a lack of confidence on the part of the reader. Either way, it rarely offers a truly beneficial experience and can leave both parties feeling unhappy with the outcome.
To infuse your readings with colour and character is to give the querent something to chew on and digest. If you paint mental pictures, use useful analogies and engage the querent by encouraging them to relate Tarot's messages to their own lives, the lessons offered by the cards stand the best chance of being imparted properly and permanently. The idea of a Tarot reading is for it to be filling, satisfying and long-lasting, like a good meal. It should also be thought-provoking, enlivening, beautiful and inspiring, like a great piece of art. Reading in colour demands a few key things from you - none of them are too difficult to master but they all make a massive overall difference to the quality of your craft.
First of all, relax. Confidence is the key to avoiding mechanistic interpretations. You are looking for the perfect flow - not too hurried, not too slow. Pace is everything. The likelihood of you achieving the optimum pace for an engaging, enjoyable reading is upped massively by a good confidence level. If you're secure in your own ability and worthiness, you are less likely to babble or panic and will feel more comfortable taking your time and making your words count. Your words will come to you more easily, getting rid of awkward pauses and long silences. The only sure fire way towards confidence is practice. If you have a confidence issue when it comes to Tarot, practice on willing participants around whom you feel most comfortable. Practice on yourself. Perform dummy readings in an empty room, just concentrating on your tone and delivery when you're speaking. Recognising your shortfalls and rectifying them in your own company will make you feel more prepared to give readings to others. The dialogue you have with yourself regarding your own progress is the key to moving forward. You should be your number one fan - cheer yourself on!
Another important tip for colourful readings is to know when it's time to put the books to one side. The interesting thing about Tarot as a subject is that academic study is never going to be enough to make your readings everything that they can be. Most proficient readers would say that solid, grass roots intuition counts for at least half of their reading quality. This is because Tarot is not an exact science, it is based on perception, receptivity and instinct. As the cards deal with the intricacies of life, their messages are open to interpretation on a massive scale - each person will see different elements and warnings in each card according to their own outlooks and experiences. Don't shy away from the fact that your Tarot practice will inevitably be injected with some of your own personality and your own ideas. Sticking too rigidly to your guide book will unnerve you when the real reading process happens, because there isn't a manual for every single querent out there. Each problem will be different, each set of complexities will be unique and each spread is new, unexplored territory because it's always geared towards a different subject. There are no right answers - each reading is a unique snowflake. Of course, good Tarot books offer an excellent basis for understanding, but trying to religiously regurgitate the stuff you learned in the literature will render you unable to be 'in the moment' as a reader and your delivery will be stale and dull as a result. You need to feel able to trust your intuition and go with the messages that come out at you.
Don't stop at 'advanced'. If you know all the interpretations by heart and feel that you know your deck like the back of your hand, this is the perfect time to push yourself harder, not stop altogether! Once you've gotten all the basic and intermediate stuff out of the way and you're well versed in Tarot, you can use this stage as a spring board towards specialities and deeper study of symbology, systems etcetera. These extra areas of interest will deepen the experience for you just as much as for your querents. For example, going on to incorporate kabbalah, astrology or Jungian archetype theory into your reading practice will give you so much more to talk about and address with each card. Opening your mind up to mythology and spirituality through selecting a themed deck and studying the concepts inherent within it will help you flourish as a reader. Tarot is is a journey in which the travelling is much more important than the arrival. In many ways, reaching the advanced stage will turn you into a novice all over again! On my own Tarot journey, recognising that I had become advanced meant the doors were open for delving into deeper and more complex areas of the subject and I'm neck-deep in books all over again!
Put the right amount of your knowledge on display. Don't overwhelm your querent with complex theories, just season their Tarot experience with small, useful slices of the stuff you've learned. This provides a reading with colour and emphasis without becoming too tangled. I like to take a mythopoetic approach to readings, colouring the messages with examples from myths and stories. I also enjoy the use of analogies which can be both entertaining and profound. These inclusions are like branches forming out of the central root of the reading, leading it into unexpected pastures, making it feel like an adventure and giving the querent lots of food for thought. Enjoy the creative and story-telling elements of Tarot. The more you actively enjoy them, the more your querents will too.
Perhaps most importantly, be yourself. I know it seems like pretty obvious advice and perhaps it seems patronising to include it here, but much of the Tarot world is steeped in image, ego and atmosphere. Against such a weird and wonderful backdrop, it can be easy to convince ourselves that we need to be a certain type of reader, fill a particular niche or come across as a little more psychic or a little less ordinary. Come at Tarot from an honest place and your readers will have an experience they can trust. Tarot has a way of bringing out the truth. That's not exclusive to the querent - it brings out the true self of the reader too! So, pretence and disguises won't last long - might as well forget them and be up front.
Learn from every reading you do. Reflect on your experiences with Tarot. Change what doesn't work and keep what does. Enjoy the ride!