The Fool card from the Lifeline Tarot

I am not psychic, though recently I’ve been telling myself that I should stop saying this so much. I’ll admit that here have been times, especially when I didn’t overthink things and just let them out of my mouth, that I thought or said something only to realize there was no good reason I had had that information. Still, I think I should stop saying this kind of thing to myself in the same vague way that I try to avoid negative self-talk in general. Anybody can be a little psychic if they try, but It’s true that I’m not unusually or reliably psychic. I’m a tarot reader, but in general I will not know what’s going on with you unless you tell me.

When I first started talking about reading tarot, a friend asked me if I did it by cold reading. Cold reading, if you’re not familiar with it, is the art of making vague guesses and seeing how people respond to them, then proceeding with more of the same until people start to think that you have psychic powers. This is not entirely dissimilar from the was we intuitively perceive what might be up with other people, but the answer is no, I have never consciously done any cold reading, except for maybe once.

I was reading at a festival and after several very satisfied customers, I ran into a problem. I laid out a spread and saw…nothing. I don’t know about you, but this does happen to me from time to time. Still, the cards have meanings, I know what they are, and this is actually my job as a tarot reader. If nothing comes up intuitively when I look at the arrangement of cards in your spread, I start to look at them one by one and talk about their traditional meanings. You, the querent, usually respond to something there, or eventually something will grab my eye. As I said, it’s a little like cold reading, but more importantly it’s a little like a conversation. There’s a lot of good stuff to talk about in the tarot.

In this case, I described the major cards in my client’s reading and still got nothing. No novel insights from me, and more importantly no real acknowledgement of anything I was saying from her. I had no backup plan and started to get pretty nervous. “Um,” I said, searching for neutral territory, “Well, I see a lot of green in these pictures, a lot of outdoor spaces. Maybe you could stand to get outside more?” That’s when she pretty much laughed in my face and told me that she had just been talking to her friends about how she spent too much time outside (a general sentiment I don’t think I had never heard another human being express). I told her I had nothing, and offered her her money back.

When I finally started thinking about promoting my tarot business more actively, it’s this kind of possibility that held me back for a long time. I’m not sure if tarot is ever wrong (though, really, the more I think about it, the more I think that one of the beautiful things about it is that a set of pictures can never really be wrong), but I know for sure that I’m not infallible. I also know, though, that I keep going back to the tarot again and again myself, and the fact that the cards don’t always make sense to me certainly hasn’t stopped me yet.

I have started telling all my potential clients that I don’t read predictively. This is just the truth, in general, though since I’ve started making more space for my psychic skills, I’ve also noticed that there will be times when I’ll say things like, “never mind, it actually does look like you might be meeting a man some time soon.” Setting that expectation clearly helps, but so far I’ve found that the most important thing is to trust the tarot itself, and the fact that other people get a lot out of it just like I do. In the end, even the client who had been spending too much time outside still wanted to pay for her reading, and while I’m not sure exactly what it did for her, she seemed to go away happy.