And it's an easy trap for a new tarot enthusiast to fall into: here's this amazing new tool for self-reflection, this beautiful pack of cards, each one a work of art all on its own, this incredible new skill you're so proud of and ready to share...pretty soon you and your favourite deck are attached at the hip and a couple of your cards have beer on them from whipping them out at your local watering hole one time too many. (Ok, truthfully, the tarot readings that happen several rounds deep into a drinking session tend to be the best. Bring a deck you know you can replace cheaply and easily, and get in on this.)
It's great to be excited; it's normal to see every twist and turn of life as an opportunity to lay out the cards. It's also bad. Because the tarot should never be a crutch. And when we do something all the time, without considering whether or not we should, we get dependent on it. While the Tarot is a tool to help us lead more successful, purposeful lives, it shouldn't become something you can't live your life without. It's a good idea to leave that tarot deck in its place while you deal with day to day turmoils.
After all, if the Tarot only helps you when you're using it, it's not really all that useful. By using it regularly, you learn to detach and see your situation from a bird's eye view. You learn to recognize archetypes at work in the people around you, without your deck having to spell it out for you. Over time, you internalize the wisdom of the Tarot so that you can handle more and more complex problems on your own. It's sort of like how you internalize the advice of your parents, so over time, you need to ask for their help less and less. That's growing up. In the case of the Tarot, needing it less and less with time is waking up: becoming enlightened.
Someone who can't handle life's ups and downs or big decisions without calling Mom past a certain age is considered a little...stunted. Someone who can't decide which movie to see or which job to choose without consulting their deck after a certain point is a poster child for why people think the Tarot is bad. Don't be that person! We need all the good press we can get!
You have to decide for yourself the best way to put limits on your own Tarot use: maybe you only do a full spread on yourself once a week, and you only draw a card for a little extra insight after sitting with the issue yourself for twenty-four hours. Maybe you just keep a loose eye on what situations you feel the need to use the tarot for, and continuously work to 'level up', not letting yourself use the Tarot for the same type of problem after a couple months of study have elapsed. It's a really personal journey, but it's important to be cognizant of how often you're using the Tarot, and why.
As you get better and better, you're going to hit a point in your Tarot study where you stop having to beg your friends to let you read for them, and they start begging you. Again, this is really cool! You deserve to give yourself a pat on the back. You've acquired a skill that allows you to help others on their personal journey. That's awesome! But just like reading for yourself, you have a responsibility to make sure doing ANOTHER reading on ANOTHER failed relationship for your friend is actually helping him or her.
At least once in your Tarot career, you're going to have to cut someone off. This is a really sensitive situation, so it's important that you lay it out for this person as gently and clearly as you have for yourself: the Tarot should over time be teaching you to make better decisions on your own. You have enough information and perspective about this issue to make the right choice without help. It's time to spread your wings!
When your friend (or client) is paying you fair market price for your readings, it can be tempting to keep laying out the cards every few days, and parroting the same things over and over (because if you haven't figured out this has gone far enough, the Tarot will. If the same messages keep coming up, that's your cue), but when you're dealing with the kind of energy-sharing, healing, growing craft that Tarot is, you can't throw up your hands and blame the free market: you have to take responsibility for caring for your clients as best you can. They may well go find another source for their readings if they aren't ready to hear it from you, but they'll get the same second opinion sooner or later, and it'll sink in.
What if this frequent customer doesn't seem overwhelmed by her or his life and desperate for advice? What if he or she just really loves the Tarot, and is using your readings as a way to learn more about working with the cards? If that's the case, it's time to suggest your client change tactics. Tutoring sessions on learning how to read the Tarot are available, and your client will learn a lot more in this setting than just gleaning what they can from personal readings over and over. You might not feel prepared to teach someone else the Tarot, and you may hesitate to hand your client over to someone who does, but remember: ethics are everything, and so is building customer loyalty. Doing the right thing is paramount, and by doing so, you're letting your client know you care more about him or her than making a quick buck. He or she will still need readings from time to time, and you can bet she or he will come to you. It's nice if you can refer them to another reader you know, someone you're happy to be helping out, as well.
If you or a friend feel like you're in a place where it's time for some tarot tutoring sessions, e-mail me (see my website) or message me on Facebook, and we'll meet up and discuss. The informational meeting is free.
Any other times when you should turn a client down? Absolutely! If they want you to do a reading on a subject you can't be objective about, you have a responsibility to back away from the cards. Whether it's spousal fidelity, animal cruelty, or something as small as a client who just seems whiny, we all have hot button issues and pet peeves that are potent enough to keep us from being clear channels for wisdom. Hopefully, with time, we can learn to put aside our personal feelings, and just give this person the wisdom the universe is offering at this time, but that's not something to rush or try to force. If you don't think you're the right reader for a client, just say so, and if you can, recommend someone else. You don't have to go into detail. Client-reader confidentiality is a big thing, but so is your role as a healer and protector. If the situation warrants it, don't hesitate to contact the police or other proper authorities to keep you, the client, or a third party safe. If it's possible to do so without compromising safety, let your client know you're passing this information along to professionals before you do it, as a gesture of respect.
There are certainly other situations where a Tarot reading isn't what's called for, so perhaps we'll revisit this topic another time. For now, I think you've got enough to chew on! Enjoy!