Q&A: Thwarting the Grinch


Q: I did a reading for my sister-in-law over the Christmas weekend.  She seemed pretty down and I wanted to help. Now I think maybe I shouldn’t have done it since I don’t really read for anyone but myself. The cards seemed really good, and I tried to cheer her up, but everything I said just made things worse. She asked for the reading than (sic) turned around and said it was terrible. Did I get the cards wrong?

(describes the question and layout)

A: I don’t know what to say except welcome to the wonderful world of human nature. I understand your impulse to help. I really believe the desire to help is the foundation of why we all read Tarot. We do it to help ourselves or to help others – most often both at the same time.

For what it is worth, I think you were right on the money with the cards. That’s exactly the message I get too. I have some ideas about the coins card and the Four of Swords, but if she couldn’t take your YES for an answer then she was in no place to hear the darker possibilities. I’ll post about the cards some other time. My gut feeling is that it is more important to talk about this from a ‘my side of the table’ reader’s perspective. Probably because this kind of thing happens all the time.

People in throes of emotion…good or bad…tend to be a bit selective about what they hear and remember from a reading. Tarot, like the wise Sage in Taoist philosophy, is a mirror. People will see hope or hopelessness as they choose. I don’t know if was really Abe Lincoln who said it, but it seems true that “people are as happy as they make up their mind to be.” Our readings facilitate that mind-making-up process…not make the final choice for them.

This is also a good example of how Tarot is far more Rorshach test and psychology than fortune telling and predictions. The relationship between reader and sitter (learner, seeker, whatever term you use) is like any relationship. You can’t control their emotions, choices, or actions. We can only speak our best truth to their personal power and let them go along their life path. It’s a little bit like being a cosmic Johnny Appleseed. We give them seeds made of ideas, let them choose to plant the seeds or not, and then we are long gone before the seed ever yields fruit. To me, that is both the beauty and the beast of doing readings for others.

All I know to do is tell people what your intuition gives as clearly and tactfully as you can. If you know that you did right by them to the very best of your ability, then you can let go of the reading in good conscience. Even if their reaction to the reading is to flounce off in a tantrum right in the middle of the figgy pudding.