As it tends to happen, many events and thoughts converged recently and prompted me to think about the distinction between being right as a tarot reader and being insightful. There is an irrational and immense pressure on readers to be right, and insufficient attention to whether they are being insightful.
Think on the times a know-it-all has said to you afterward, “See? I was right. I told you so.” And was what they had said helpful to you in any way?
By extension, I dislike it when clients pressure me to tell their fortunes. If something has taken place already, but the results are not yet in, coming to ask me or any so-called fortuneteller or psychic what the results will be is a waste of everybody’s time. Am I pregnant? Was it the right decision? By the same token, if you haven’t done a damn thing about a situation yet, asking me how it will turn out is just as silly. Will I become a millionaire? Such lines of inquiry are precisely what religions discourage, and for good reason. It overrides both faith and free will, and I don’t even mean faith in a greater divine, though I do mean that, too. I mean faith in yourself.
That kind of fortunetelling also causes lazy thinking– it tempts you away from analyzing facts or applying logical reasoning.
The role of a reader is to be insightful, not “right.” My role is to supplement what you already know consciously with information from your subconscious or the collective unconscious that could further help you with your analysis and reasoning.
What spiritual oracles do, the true spiritual purpose of divination, is to illuminate, hence to offer insight. Sight. At every turn in our lives, there are two forks and we must make a decision to walk one of the two forks, and that decision single-handedly governs what other forks open up for us on our path… and, of course, which forks close as a result. It’s about asking for guidance from another who is able to shine a slightly brighter light than the one we have on hand so that we, the seeker of the oracle, might see our own garden of forking paths with greater clarity. Then with that vision, we must take informed action. That is what a spiritual oracle does. Asking me to do anything but that with tarot, with any divination method I study, is equivalent to asking me to do something morally reprehensible, something divergent from my own spiritual path.
I write this because I know I have caved in to the pressures before, and I feel guilty about it. The funny thing is most people in the divination arts are very soft at heart, and when we see somebody hurting, so obviously in need of help, it’s difficult for us to say no. We risk it and try to play the hero, the heroine. We try to help. In the immediate sense, we think we are doing good. However, for me at least, it always ends badly, and for good reason. I’m glad it ends badly. If it continually ended well, I might not learn from the errors and would diverge even farther from my path. I know such uses of divination are not right for me, and harmful to the seeker. What’s more, it results in bad karma for me. It is an active learning process toward wisdom. The purpose for any of this should be to help start the healing, not to tell. We should never be the revelation. At most, we are but a catalyst for that revelation the seeker reaches on his or her own.
Instead of asking “Am I pregnant? Was it the right decision? Will I become a millionaire?,” let’s talk about the subconscious root of why you’re asking these particular questions in the first place. Let’s talk about how you might find success, happiness, and fulfillment. Even if I am right about whether you are pregnant, whether it was the right decision or your future financial status, if I cannot illuminate a path for you toward your success, happiness, and fulfillment, then I have failed. What I strive to do is far more ambitious than fortunetelling. And it isn’t me, it’s what every reader should strive for.
Being right does not help the seeker. The only thing it does is stroke the reader’s ego. And if the reader’s ego needs to be stroked, then the reader is doing something very, very wrong with tarot practice. We help by providing additional information someone can use in rendering a decision. We never provide the decision.
3 thoughts on “Being Right vs. Being Insightful: The Role of the Reader”
i was always in doubt of whether my readings will be right, what i will do when faced with such tricky questions.. now i know.. i am not supposed to read the future; i am supposed to clear one’s confusion.. i do not hold a search light; just a small candle…
Arunkumar: Every tarot practitioner has those same feelings about their readings, and anyone who denies that to you is not being candid with you. We all face those insecurities and doubt. The difference between the ordinary and the great is in how we deal with those insecurities and doubts. You will for sure find your path to becoming an amazing reader! Thanks for chiming in!
Benebell Wen, thank you for saying this. Not many readers would be comfortable showing their clients the hard way of owning their responsibility. Most just cave in to the pressure of providing ‘value for money’ which is a reading that makes them ‘feel good’ about themselves. They have good reason to do so, majority of the seekers do not wish to confront the truth about themselves but the exact opposite, something that would enable them to hide from the truth. But this reason is not strong enough to continue the safe practice of giving them what they want. If we really want to make a difference we need to start practicing the tarot in a more authentic, empowering manner even if it is unpalatable to most at first. A bitter pill to eradicate some ills is the need of the hour. And like you said “..it isn’t just me. It’s what every reader should strive for.” Only then will tarot get its due.