I did a tarot reading for a new person the other day and it got me to thinking about the nature of a good tarot reader and what differs a poor reader from a competent one.
There are three things a tarot reader could do that would annoy me personally and turn me off the reading. The first is demonstrating a lack of confidence in their own ability. This type of tarot reader constantly stops to check "Am I right? Am I doing ok....?" Basically they try to get the querant to validate their skill as a reader. Now yes, it is important to keep your querant engaged and interested and to check that you are answering the right questions for them. But the Tarot isn't about telling them what they already know and getting praised for it. You are giving guidance that you believe, through your experience with Tarot as a method of divination, is right for them. They cannot validate this for you. If you don't believe you can read the cards with confidence, don't read for other people until you can.
The second type of reader who I believe gives a poor experience is the one who either relies entirely on the generic meaning of each card or who contrarily informs you that they do it their way and don't use any of the traditional guidance. To me, a good tarot reader doesn't need to memorise each card but if they choose not to then they do need a reference to jog memory close to hand. A good tarot reader will take a mixture of traditional wisdom, personal interpretation, intuition and perhaps if they know the person for whom they are reading, personal knowledge. A good reader will explore the links between cards and interpret each card in line with the flow of the reading and the relation to the position of the other cards. Beward of the reader with twenty reference books on their desk but also beware the reader who believes they need know nothing of traditional tarot meanings....
The third thing that would annoy me is the reader who uses their insight to try and get more information from the querant than the querant is willing to give. Several of my readings have caused me to have some very curious questions about my querants! But I don't probe. I offer the opportunity for them to tell me anything they would like to but the value of a reading isn't just what I interpret for them, the further value is when they go away, think about the spread and draw their own conclusions. You may never know if your reading has shaped or changed their life in any way and that it how it should be. As tarot readers we are gatekeepers to knowledge but only the querant can stride through that gate and choose whether to use that knowledge or not.
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