I had a reading last week with the best querent ever. Well, perhaps that’s a bit of an exaggeration, but during the course of the reading she did the best possible thing that a querent can do, and I am immensely grateful to her for it.
I pulled up a couple of cards that screamed trouble to me. The focal point of the reading was the Hermit and the inverted Hierophant; in addition, there was a smattering of other cards (including the Ten of Pentacles) that screamed to me that something was really, seriously wrong. I laid out the spread and felt my stomach tighten. A tiny voice inside my head said, “Dear God, this woman has an abusive father.”
That is not something you can just blurt out in a reading. I didn’t know this woman and was in no position to propose something like that, especially because (despite my urging) she and a friend were getting readings simultaneously and the friend was in the room.* So I approached the matter as delicately as I could.
“This first card looks like you’re drawing inward,” I said, “Like you’re turning away from the people around you and isolating yourself. This card here is meant to represent the cause of that, and it represents a conflict with authority. A good three-quarters of the cards in your spread are from the Major Arcana, so I get a strong sense that you’re at a major turning point in your life where a tough decision has to be made…”
(And so on.)
I don’t think she had expected me to take the reading in such a dark direction. After going through three of the cards and analyzing them (in more depth than what I did above), I looked up at her from under hooded eyes and quested, “Is any of this making sense?”
She cocked her head to the side, scrunched up her nose, and said, “Not really. Is there anything else the cards could mean?”
I cannot tell you what a relief it was to hear that. I stopped, went back to the first card, and reevaluated the connections in the spread. I amended my direction, started talking about her career, and delivered a knock-out reading that she said resonated with her.
Was my first instinct wrong? I honestly don’t know. Something about the layout of those cards still feels a little sketchy to me. But I certainly could have been mistaken, and it’s not my place as an outsider to insist, “No, you must be a victim of abuse. My magic cards say so!”
The take-away here is that my querent did exactly what she should have done. The reading was not making sense to her, or at the very least it was going in a direction she didn’t want to go, so she stopped me, gave me feedback, and helped me bring the reading around to something that she was looking to discuss. I could not have asked for a more responsive, more helpful querent.
Tarot readers get things wrong sometimes. It happens. But when a querent just sits across the table looking pissy and fuming about how Tarot is all a load of nonsense, there’s nothing that we as readers can do to amend the situation. Client feedback is so, so important for Tarot readers, and I’m still riding high from the experience of having a client who was so willing to engage in dialogue with me.
*I have complicated feelings about allowing something like this. In a professional reading, I would insist on a one-on-one session, but this one was pro bono, and I had grudgingly let it slide.