I am often asked, “What's the right way of reading Tarot?” (Am I shuffling the cards the right way? Have I got the right meaning for the card? Am I doing it right even If I don't read reversals? And so on…)
My response? “There is no right way – that's the beauty of Tarot!”
While we are often brought up to believe that there's always a right and a wrong way of doing something, the beauty of the Tarot is that there is no right way. It's all about going with what feels right to you and knowing that if that's different to what other people might be doing, that's perfectly OK!
In fact, it's wonderful that there is such diversity in reading styles amongst Tarot readers. It's what makes a Tarot reading special and unique and it allows for clients to find the perfect fit with their reader.
To celebrate diversity, I invited Sherry and Shelley, both Biddy Tarot Endorsed Tarot Readers, to share their unique reading styles. You might find that you're a little like Sherry or a little like Shelley – or something completely different!
How would you describe your style of reading?
Sherry: My style of reading involves untangling balls of energetic thread. When I start a reading for someone, I receive what looks like a ball of information from their photo. Hanging from it are threads of energy and if I pull one, there is information along it. This usually has a format – or I have developed one with my guides so they know the order to present the information to me.
First I’m shown a little tiny piece of the past. Then we start to move along to the present and I’m shown how the person I’m reading for feels and what factors are looming large over them. Then I start to wander into the future and how things are going to play out for them.
I’m only ever given the next step on their journey and never too much information for people to handle. Sometimes, the ‘future’ isn’t relevant to the reading and so I might be given information about the ‘now’.
I literally never, ever know what I’m going to be shown and it always surprises me too!
Shelley: If I had to sum it up in a succinct phrase, I'd say humanistic and narrative. Humanistic, from the practice of humanistic astrology which I've practised for many years, and which takes into account the overall person and their innate creative talents and ability to direct their own lives.
My style is down-to-earth and no nonsense, in that I am very grounded and rely primarily on the visual language of the cards for my interpretations. Although over the 13 years I've worked with the Tarot cards, I do have an intuitive grasp of messages that the cards transmit, I'm more interested in sharing the story of the cards with my clients, and showing them that tarot is a vehicle for generating myriad solutions to their concerns and issues. My clients see for themselves the answers that the tarot is providing; I merely help to narrate the story for them. That way they feel a part of their reading and it resonates with them, and they don't need to feel that I'm the one with “special talents” that they have to rely upon in order to access the wisdom of the tarot.
For me, this style of reading offers choices back to the client, and allows them to gain resources for evaluating their situation in a new light. It creates a mutual participation on the part of the client and reader who look together at the story the cards present.
Ultimately, tarot cards help us generate our own solutions from within.
What skills and talents do you bring to the table when you are reading?
Sherry: I have an in-built understanding of energy. I can see it around people and I can read it as clearly as if it were written in front of me (which to me, it is). It has taken me the last 30 years to come to an understanding of why I was given this ability – to bring comfort to other people as they journey along their lives and to act as a ‘witness' to their energy (because I feel it too on their behalf) and recognise where this energy is taking them.
Shelley: My formal background and training is in communications and in social work, so it's quite a unique and wonderful perspective to bring to the practice of reading tarot. I combine my years of working in high-level communications environments (communications coordinator for a large financial institution, director for a study center in Rome for the US's largest public university system) as well as training in a masters in social work. My social work background gives me a firm grounding in the belief that every individual has the ability to change and improve his or her own life, given the appropriate resources, and that every individual has inherent dignity and worth. Therefore I can work with my clients from a professional background in human services and counselling, as well as a strong foundation of over a decade of study and practice with the tarot.
Sherry, your readings tend to be more ‘predictive'. Do you believe in ‘free will’ and shaping your own future?
Sherry: Most of the time my readings have predictive elements in them but it depends on what upstairs would like passed along. Let me explain my point of view. I believe that before we incarnate into this lifetime, we plan out our purpose for incarnating. This usually revolves around learning things that we need to master as a soul in order to progress forward.
In order to learn those lessons, which we may or may not master in a single lifetime, we choose events to happen and people to enter our lives. I call these markers or flag posts. Everyone recognises them because all you have to do is think back to the moments and people that shaped you for better or worse.
My job as a reader is to see the next flag post and alert you to the quickest way to get there. Why the quickest? Well, there’s a lot to get to in this lifetime and your energetic map always has the most direct route. But, we as human beings juggling Ego and free will often like to take the scenic route. So you will still get from A to B, but how you get there is up to you.
In my readings, I will always give the quickest route, but I also advise clients if I see them about to take a long-cut! To me, it’s all good and part of the fun of life right?
Sherry, can your readings become ‘wrong' if you predict a certain outcome and then they choose another path?
Sherry: I believe that my readings will always predict the next marker or flag post but of course we are dealing with free will of humans and yes, they can go right off course if they so choose.
I’m shown not only the quickest route to get where they, as a soul, planned to be but also what they will do with this information. So I may say “Ms X, there is a new job coming up for you in a few months’ time (the marker), but I believe you are going to try to stay where you are and sort things out with your boss first if you can (your free will). However, this may result in some financial issues for you (the consequences) as your company is about to go through retrenchments (which is why upstairs wanted to move you in the first place).” So this allows the client to exercise their free will completely – because hey, who am I to tell anyone what to do – but also shows them what that longer path looks like as well if they want to go for a wander down it.
So I respect their decision and show them both outcomes, knowing full well they are going to end up in that new workplace one way or the other!
Shelley, your style is more consultative. How do you deal with clients who want to know their future?
Shelley: Part of the beauty of reading tarot professionally has been the ability to share my style with clients who may not have been aware that tarot can be used as a tool for something other than predictive answers. I absolutely respect the right of clients to ask whatever question(s) they wish. No good reader would ever judge a client's question, because everyone's individual concerns are unique and important to them as individuals.
However, because my style is not predictive, I usually take a predictive-oriented question (for example: “Will we get back together?”) and work with the client, if he or she is open to doing so, in expanding the root of the question into more open-ended inquiries.
For example, a simple yes/no answer to that example of “Will we get back together” is, in my opinion, limiting, because it doesn't take into account the client's ability to direct their own lives through free will and choice.
A consultative reading would peel back that question to get more at the heart of the matter underlying the question: the relationship itself, the client's doubts/worries/fears regarding the relationship, and what resources could help the client achieve their desired outcome.
Therefore, “Will we get back together?” becomes “What do I need to know about this relationship?” and “What is the best advice for me regarding actions I can take now regarding this relationship?” etc.
I've found that tarot gives us much a lot of information and insight when we allow it to speak to us from an open-ended perspective.
Sherry, do you think that there is a right and wrong way to go about a predictive reading?
Sherry: Sure – don’t be so fixated on an outcome for your client that you lose respect for their free will. As a reader, it isn’t about us. We are used as vehicles to pass information from upstairs onto people and that is all. I am not the one making things happen for them and some readers can lose sight of this.
But also, so can some clients. We need to understand that what is done with the information is the responsibility of the client (the one who wanted the reading in the first place!) and they can use it or not. As Dr Phil would say ‘don’t substitute my judgement for your own’ and that means taking responsibility for your own life.
The Tarot isn’t the be all and end all and it should be treated as you would treat advice from your best friend – listen, thank them and then make up your own mind.
Shelley, do you think that there is a right and wrong way to go about a consultative or counselling-based reading?
Shelley: In general I like to approach tarot from the stance that no one has the right to judge what is right or wrong, because all readers have different talents and skills to offer, and all clients have different needs and are looking for different things from their readings.
However, it's important for a tarot reader to know his or her boundaries professionally. For example, this is not counselling in the traditional sense, by any means. This is not psychotherapy and not legal mediation and not a health consult with a medical professional. I like to think of my approach as a way of generating ideas similar to what a person might find in any number of other ways they might get ideas for problem-solving, from journaling, to talking with knowledgeable friends, to even visiting an art museum or spending some time walking in nature. There are lots of ways to access inner knowing, and tarot is one of them.
So, in a consultative tarot approach, there must be a clear distinction between professional counselling with a licensed therapist and a tarot reading. A tarot reading is a vehicle for brainstorming possible solutions, but it isn't therapy and shouldn't, in my opinion, be presented as such.
Over to You…
A huge thank-you to Sherry and Shelley for sharing their different Tarot reading styles. What can you relate to? And what makes your reading style different? Share your comments below.
More About Sherry & Shelley
Sherry has over 30 years’ experience working with the Tarot cards. She also draws on her natural psychic talents to help tune into your specific situation and give you the information the Universe needs you to know.
>> Experience a reading with Sherry here.
Shelley has been working with the Tarot cards since 2001. She is a talented Tarot storyteller, combining her professional writing skills with her intuitive abilities to create in-depth and insightful Tarot readings.
>> Experience a reading with Shelley here.