Sam, the young magician sat opposite me, was quite sceptical about tarot readings. And he wasn't really intending to pay for a reading today, but was quite happy to get a free reading from me. Even though he wasn't planning to get a comparison reading, I was darned if I was going to let him walk away and leave me staring out from behind my table. As with Psychic Malcolm, I asked Sam to shuffle the cards while calming his thoughts, etc., etc. Sam deftly demonstrated his skills with a deck of cards as he proceeded to elegantly riffle shuffle the card, squaring them neatly on the table before drawing out ten cards from various parts of the deck. Again, I proceeded to give a reading that was probably not a million miles away from what I'd said to Malcolm. Not that I was just simply giving the same stock spiel. No, I was sincerely aiming to build a reading based upon my understanding of the meanings of the cards as they were laid out in front of me. The trouble was, I found myself saying fairly similar things and being suitably vague and impersonal no matter which cards I was trying to interpret. That said, Sam did say that a few of the things I had talked about in the reading seemed to be relevant to his life. The best thing was, Sam now seemed quite motivated to go and get a reading from another reader in the hall so that he could compare it with my reading. There's a little scientist in all of us.
Even better news was that while I had been giving Sam a reading someone else had appeared. Charlotte was now waiting for a reading. And after Charlotte was Sue, and then Vanessa, and then Michael. In fact, it seems word had got out. Even without a sign people had heard about the man giving free readings. Before I knew it, I was booked up for the rest of the day! Rachel took people's names and allowed 20 minutes per reading, which meant I had to be fairly concise. The readings themselves were probably only taking about 10-15 minutes but I took a couple of minutes at the beginning explaining what I was up to and why I was here. More time was spent at the end of the reading as people gave their opinions on the reading they had received and often furnished me with some relevant details of their lives to show where my reading seemed to have relevance.
In general, I think my readings were probably fairly vague. However, much of the feedback from the people I gave readings to suggests that my readings tended to be at least as good as those they received from others at the fair! Even Sam, the magician, had gone and got himself another reading (this time with Angel cards) and said mine was just as good.
However, there were a few times where my apparent accuracy surprised even me. The first of these, and the most dramatic, was in a reading I gave to Linda (not her real name). The first two cards in Linda's reading were the Two of Swords and The Emperor. The Two of Swords was in the reversed position (i.e., it was upside down) which is supposed to relate to 'suspicion'. The Emperor can relate to a few things, but the one that immediately sprung to mind was 'fatherhood'. In the celtic cross spread these first two cards are laid one on top of the other so I started each reading with an interpretation that linked these first two cards. In Linda's case, the obvious interpretation that immediately occurred to me was that there was a difficult relationship with her father. The trouble was, I found it a real challenge to to say this. I ummed and ahhed before finally saying, "these two cards suggest to me that there is some difficulty in your relationship with your father." The reason I found this hard was that it was the first reading in which I was broaching anything that was fairly personal. Up until that point I had kept things at the safe and general level, making reference to changes in the person's life (we're all going through changes right?), success in creative projects, and so on.
But part of the advice given to me by Psychic Malcolm earlier that day, and by others, was that you should go with what you get, "Give what you get!" So that's what I did, even though it made me feel uncomfortable by daring to make an assertion about Linda and her father which was frankly none of my business! But Linda seemed quite happy to accept this. There was indeed some tension between her and her father, caused by a relationship she was having with a friend of his. What I noted about this exchange was not only did I seem to hit upon a pertinent aspect of Linda's life (even if just by chance perhaps), but also her willingness to then tell me details about her personal life which, as I say, was frankly none of my business!
All in all, the psychic fair was a fantastic learning experience for me. I learnt a lot about the challenges associated with giving readings, and ways in which I could improve the readings I give. At the very least, a tarot reading provides a fairly unique context in which to give and receive a fresh perspective on events in one's life, and can be a valuable tool for enabling us to reflect on these events. Sometimes just standing back from a situation and seeing it from someone else's perspective is enough to help us find a way through. And a tarot reading (or some other psychic reading) can help provide that alternative perspective.
I'm still left with the question of whether tarot readings provide anything more than a way of reflecting on events. That is, can they provide a way of tapping into our otherwise ignored psychic or intuitive abilities? Or is that just wishful thinking? Hopefully this project will help me to answer these questions.
Whatever the answers, I have a feeling I'm going to learn a lot about myself and learn to appreciate other ways of seeing the world. And I'm already up one laughing Buddha and one crystal. What could possibly go wrong?