Wednesday, 28 October 2015

A reader of cards

I’ve read with great interest two recent posts by my friends Lisa and Chloe about what it means to be a tarot reader. All of this comes as a result of Camelia Elias’s book, Marseille Tarot, a book that I for one am truly grateful to have read, and look forward to reading again and again…

Both Chloe and Lisa have discussed predicting the future in readings, which is interesting to me because Camelia doesn’t have much to say in her book about predicting the future. She uses the term ‘fortune teller’, though, and that does bring to mind the idea of making specific predictions -- if ‘fortune’ means ‘a person’s fate or future’, then it follows that ‘fortune teller’ could be taken as making predictions of outcomes. But ‘fortune’ can also mean where you are right now, and that’s the sort of telling that I mean when I use the name ‘fortune teller’. Fortune has brought you where you are, I can take a look at that as it is written in the cards, read it out to you objectively, and maybe this objectivity will serve to jolt you out of whatever rut or blockage brought you to me for a reading in the first place. Or maybe it won’t. Your reaction to the reading is entirely up to you. All I can do for you is tell you what the cards say. That’s Camelia’s take on fortune teller (and I’m sure she’ll correct me if I’ve gone astray!). There may be some element of prediction in the short term, which is a projection of outcomes if you continue on this course. The answer that a person gets is entirely dependent on the question they ask. What they do with the answer is entirely up to them. As a ‘fortune teller’, my job will have been done – which was to read what the cards say in response to the question.

Chloe no longer reads cards for individuals but has decided to teach tarot and coach people in life-enhancing methods and techniques, including tarot. Thus she styles herself a ‘magical life coach.’  --  ‘ My personal choice is to focus on teaching other people to read for themselves, so they can find their truths in their own time and way.  ….  I read for people, but within the context of a deeper relationship, an understanding of that person, so that we have the best chance of using the cards in the most empowering, enlightening and growthful way possible.’ For Chloe, tarot has a spiritual element in a counselling approach. And so, a method that espouses, ‘This is what the cards say, take it as you will,’ has no place in her practice.

Lisa most definitely reads cards for individuals, calling herself not a fortune teller but an ‘oracle’. She believes that as such she has been chosen by the gods to deliver messages to people. ‘I do what I do because I have no choice. Had choice figured in my equation, I would have gone down a path more respectable in the eyes of society. I would have used my intelligence to earn more money. It turns out that [what I am meant to do] is anything the gods want me to do. And now I’m finally in a place where I can say that I am happy and at peace with that.’ And so, ‘This is what the cards say, take it as you will,’ as a reading philosophy rings true for her. She says that Camelia’s book has given her a ‘profound understanding’ of the path she must take.

For myself, I am not a counsellor or coach. I am not an oracle. I am a card reader. Someone said that the term ‘card reader’ sounds impersonal and reminds her of the little thing she needs to use in order to make an online purchase with her credit card. That’s fine. I like it. I want it to be impersonal, objective, straightforward. Sensitively worded and judicious in detail, yes, of course. But otherwise, ‘This is what the cards say, take it as you will’ is an approach that fills me with peace.

No, I’m not a mystic, not a coach, not an oracle, not a tarot diva, not a tarot ninja, not a sybil. I am a reader. I personally do not believe that I have any special powers of perception beyond the normal intuition inherent in everyone (like a muscle, some people choose to exercise it and make it stronger, some choose not to, so it goes flabby and weak).  I have the interest and inclination to learn how to read the cards, I have done it, I am good at it. I continue to study and learn and I always will. I have read cards in the coaching style, I have read cards in the straight reading style, and I have even read in the predictive style, and I have to say that the method that feels most comfortable and right for me is the straight style. I just never talked about it much because it has been looked on unfavourably by some other readers. Camelia’s book has given me permission to own it. Card reader. That’s it.

None of this touches on the bigger role tarot plays for me, in my spiritual life. I have likened tarot to a gigantic iceberg and a tarot reading is not unlike scraping a tiny bit off the surface and handing it to someone as a snowcone. Sure I can do a reading for you; it's a fun and useful side effect of my tarot study. There's more to tarot than readings. But that's not what we're talking about here. :) 

9 comments:

  1. Thanks Carla, I totally understand where you come from. Your writing is very clear. I only covered prediction today in my post in respons to what Chloe said, not in response to Camelia's book which is wonderfully centred around what is rather than what will be, even though, as you say, she does use the term fortune-teller. She also uses the term oracle. Because of the life-changing nature of my first ever Tarot reading, my reading work could never be evaluated separately from my life-path or my spirituality. Tarot is, more or less, my Path in life... and I suppose that is why it is also the only thing besides healing that anyone has ever mentioned prophetically when addressing me. Both these prophetic statements were made when I was between the age of 15 and 21 and had no idea how my life would turn out. I studied this and studied that... and then it all came together in my Tarot and Healing work... a true home-coming. I am glad that you feel confident about your approach, Carla. I totally respect your Path... and Chloe's... and I find it absolutely fascinating how what we do with the Tarot brings us together on so many levels. The power of symbols! Blessed be!

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    1. The tarot is the framework around which I have built my spiritual path. Or rather, it's the springboard that has led me to my path. I'm glad I feel confident about my approach, too. For a long time I have not been sure what to think or feel about where my responsibilities begin in and end when reading for others. It's something that has weighed so heavily on me that at times I stop offering readings at all. I'm glad to find assurance that it's okay to let other people be responsible for their own feelings when they get reading.

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  2. Ha ha, love that bit about scraping off a bit of the tarot iceberg in a reading and offering it up like a snow cone! And as Lisa says, it's great that we can each find our own path with this, incorporating all kinds of knowledge and skills, to do what we feel most comforable with in respect of the cards. Hopefully, that way each person gives their best, and finds the people who will most benefit from their particular approach :)

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    1. I can see how it could be most enlightening and beneficial for the same person to get readings from all the different styles of reader. Though probably not on the very same topic on the same day!

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  3. Brilliant post, Carla. And I love the snowcone analogy, too.

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  4. Love this post! Tarot means something different to all of us who use and explore it. Until we can clearly define what our personal role is, it is difficult to pass on it's benefits to others. I enjoy your straightforward approach!

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    1. Thanks, Paula. It is evolving over time. It may have something to do with my approaching crone years (which I actually have decided to go ahead and claim, even if I am technically still in the 'mother' phase of life!) :D

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