A Piece of My Mind:  It's Always Something

By Jeanne Fiorini

It makes no sense to preach to the choir about the numerous and varied ways the Tarot informs, clarifies, teaches, validates, and otherwise enhances a person’s understanding.  And yet, there will always be something more to learn and understand about this system, its meanings, its relevance, and its relationship to other ways of thinking, metaphysical or otherwise. With this in mind, I’d like to share with you a phenomenon recently brought to my attention, one that shows that the Tarot works even when it’s not working.

It’s happened to me twice, actually, in 20 years of reading Tarot professionally, this “not working” thing. And it has happened under similar circumstances.

After several years of reading for people at local bookstores and subsequently at my own office, requests began to pop up, for various reasons, for telephone readings. Either because the weather was awful and someone didn’t want to be out traveling, or a child was sick and the parent couldn’t leave the house, or it was during a work day when it was difficult (or unacceptable) to leave the office, the challenges and the opportunities of telephone readings became available. 

These days, between the internet, Skype, cell phones, and other technologies, it has become practically imperative that a Tarot reader be comfortable with some sort of remote reading. It truly is a beautifully easy thing to dial a few numbers and be able to get a little guidance from the Tarot. Sometimes a bit too easy. 

Readers always have had to guard against enabling client reliance upon the cards for the minutia of life. It’s much easier to draw the line against this kind of dependency when protocol requires that a client takes time and energy to get themselves to the same location as the reader. The multitude of electronic gadgets we now have at our disposal has provided readers with a hugely-increased client base, and at the same time has made the delineation of personal boundaries a much more difficult task. 

In each instance of the “Tarot not working” phenomenon, I’d found myself being contacted by the same person several times a week for consultations. Teetering precariously on the line between being accessible to paying clients and Tarot overkill, questions were asked and then addressed in what felt to me like a clear and authentic interchange. 

But soon I was getting this type of feedback: “The cards usually steer me in a good direction but things have been way off base lately” or “I don’t feel like the cards are really addressing my issue” or “You usually hit the nail on the head but things haven’t been accurate at all lately.” Ouch. Was the Tarot was working its magic in obtuse ways, using a method with which I was not familiar, or was I simply missing the boat?

After getting over a bruised ego, the method behind the madness became clear. The Tarot was acting (without my conscious participation) like a parent implementing “tough love” on a child by pushing them off the couch of dependency and habit. It was as if the cards were saying to the client: “Why don’t you listen to you own advice for a change? What makes you think this woman--or any person for that matter--has the answers for you? What makes you so mistrusting, or worse yet, so lazy, that you’ll pick up the phone and pay her rather than pay attention to your own knowing? Well, I’ll show you…. I quit.” 

And, not to be left out of the loop of culpability, the Tarot was saying to me, “If you don’t know when it’s time to quit, we’ll show you.” 

Both client and reader had officially been pushed off the couch!

Who/what, exactly, did the quitting? I suppose that answer would come from who/what you believe is the source of the information that comes from the cards. Of course it’s not the square pieces of paper themselves, but something behind the images that works the Tarot’s magic: our “higher” knowing, the power of intuition, the source-waters of the unconscious, the potential in the unified field, our spirit guides, the Tarot fairies, whatever. In the case of the quitting, some part of consciousness (either within the client and/or myself), somebody or something somewhere stopped participating.

Why would the Tarot “stop working”? Apparently, the client’s best interests were no longer being served by these continuous and/or repetitive readings. There are plenty of reasons why we might look to (and put our trust in) the advice of another person, but in these cases the Tarot process was no longer accepting that responsibility. In the instances as I experienced them, the Tarot took over where neither the reader nor the client had the insight to understand that it was time to back off. 

In the first instance of the “not working,” the client and I suffered a messy break up; I don’t know if the larger purpose of our faltering ever became clear and not-personal for her. On the second go-around, however, the client asked me outright if there was a reason for the cards being off the mark, hinting that there was some personal reflection going on and providing an opportunity for a very useful discussion. This client and I continue to have an on-going professional relationship, now with a more defined sense of how much is too much and who is responsible for what.

What could be indications that readings are heading toward Tarot overkill? 

Keep your eyes peeled for these cues: an increased frequency of readings out of proportion to the intensity of a client’s issues, the reiteration of the same issue without a change in the client’s approach to the problem, the recurrence of familiar dynamics and problems that appear in “new” situations, clients reaching out by phone when they are bored or restless, and this bigee-- a client’s inability to make even a minor decision without first consulting the cards. If/when a client doesn’t have the wherewithal to restrain themselves, it then becomes the reader’s responsibility to do so.

The biggest red flag to Tarot overkill is the overall sense that the client is putting much more faith in the reader than in his/her own judgment. If the reader lacks the objectivity and discernment to draw the line here, one can hope that the Tarot process itself will somehow right the scales of responsibility … as it had to do for me twice before I got the message. Without this adjustment in the reader/client relationship, the tangled web of projection and blame will eventually ensnare its weavers, and nobody wants to be caught up in that. 

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Tarot Reflections is published by the American Tarot Association - Copyright (C) 2010

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