February 8, 2021
Episode 202. If you’ve been reading for a while, you’re going to encounter someone who is freaking out at some point. This can be challenging, especially for a new tarot reader. I’ve got a few tips for you - but I also want to share a few thoughts for folks who want a tarot reading and are in a state of panic.
Let’s start with that.
If you’re having a meltdown or are experiencing extreme anxiety, this is not the time for a tarot reading. Here’s why: you’ll have a hard time remaining grounded - and that may make it hard to receive an accurate reading.
From my own experience, I can say when I’m tripping out about a situation, I struggle to remain objective. I’ll tend to hear what I want to hear - or hear what I fear the most. I can assure you that even if I get a great reading that says “everything will work out,” that tends only to hold me for a minute when I’m in a bad state of mind about a situation.
If you feel frantic, I recommend prioritizing working with a therapist, healer, or health care practitioner. Extreme self-care needs to come first. A tarot reading can be part of your self-care, but it shouldn’t be the first thing you turn to, nor should a tarot reader ever take on the role of a licensed health care professional.
Now, if you’re a tarot reader and someone comes to you in a state of distraught, here are a few thoughts on that.
Your job is to deliver a kind, helpful tarot reading. That means you must remain calm, centered, and objective - even if the person sitting at your tarot table isn’t.
I will recommend that you have self-care practices that you do every day because that will help you remain grounded. For example, meditation is excellent for finding your calm. Physical activity such as yoga or a brisk walk before you begin work can also get you in the right mood for working with clients. Tarot readers need to practice great self-care to care for their clients without getting their own lives impacted by the work.
A soothing backdrop is essential for both client and reader. I always have gentle music playing in the background. Your working space should be clean and peaceful, whether you see people in-person or do your work over the phone. A tranquil atmosphere can make all the difference for both parties.
Ideally, you’ll have good boundaries in place so your clients can’t just show up at your door and demand an emergency reading. However, even with strict boundaries, there will still be times when your client has a rough situation creating anxiety. They may want to see you immediately. I’ll let you determine how you feel about that. But I will say this: if you are going to offer on-demand services without any boundaries, you risk burning out. And a burnt out reader isn’t able to help anyone for long.
When you’re working with anyone, you’ll want to establish control of the experience. This is especially important when you’re working with people who are freaking out.
Begin by doing something that helps the client take a moment to center themselves before you touch the tarot. I like reading an oracle card first. The one I use is the Power Deck by Lynn Andrews. Each card has a different spiritual meaning written on the back, and taking that minute to read the card will set the tone for the reading. Sometimes clients wonder why I begin with that oracle card. This is the reason why. It creates a sacred moment, so we’re both in a good place before starting to work with the cards.
You may have a different process to set the tone for the reading. Perhaps you pour a client a cup of tea if you see them in-person. Or maybe you take a moment for a little light meditation or prayer. An invocation over the cards could also help bring the room's energy into a still, chill place.
Next, you’ll want to practice slow, deep belly breathing. People will link their breathing to someone else’s. If you focus on deep breathing, often the client will tune in and slow their own breathing down too. This will pull them into a centered place and may take the edge off.
Another breathing technique I use is “color breathing,” where I breathe slowly but visualize inhaling a radiant white light and breathing out a cobalt blue ray. I envision that cobalt blue surrounding the client and calming their aura. This is another way to cool the energy and soothe the client.
Next, it’s time to listen. Give the client space to tell you what’s going on - and why they want a reading at this time. What is their goal? What are their expectations on how this reading will serve them? Sometimes allowing them to flesh out what’s going on and what they need will help take the energy down a notch. This reflection will also give you and them input on how to proceed.
Once you’ve established a relaxed mood, begin your work. It would help if you remained calm at all times. Sometimes a person who is feeling anxious needs a person to talk to. If that is the case, again, let them have the floor. In fact, I find that this is a good practice in general when people are approaching tarot in a panicky way. Talking it out will help process feelings, plus it can lend well to finding good, helpful questions.
I would recommend that you refrain from “will I” questions. These are disempowering and do not serve to help the client. Instead, you’ll want to reframe questions with the “what do I need to know about” or “how can I” so the client is in the driver’s seat of their situation. Often, panic sets in when we don’t feel in control. You always want to help the client find ways to take their power back.
Never take the person’s pain lightly. Even if you think they are dramatic, do NOT judge or dismiss them. That is not only disrespectful but also unhelpful. It leads to shame, and the client might approach the reading with timidity instead of being open to the help the cards may have to offer. Think about it: if your reader just diminished your concerns, how open will you feel discussing anything with them? A reader should never pooh-pooh what the client is feeling.
Never end the reading on a hopeless note. Help the querent find the hope and power in their situation. That needs to be your goal.
I also recommend keeping a list of referrals such as therapists, hotlines, free text services for mental health, and, in some cases, local social services to help the client get the proper assistance. Again, your tarot work should never take the place of a licensed mental health expert or doctor.
Once the reading is over, you’ll need to practice good spiritual hygiene. That may mean taking a walk, meditating, or something simple such as washing your hands, a practice my friend Brianna Saussy recommends.
I’d also recommend that you encourage the client to put space between each reading. Sometimes a person who is stressed may want multiple readings on the same subject. This rarely does any good. It’s like picking at a wound. Time is needed to gain perspective. You don’t want to encourage dependence because that’s never good for the client or the reader.
If they insist, I always refer to a health care practitioner or mental health expert. This is to protect the client, which is ultimately the goal.
These are a few of my tips. I hope this helps you, whether you’re the client or the tarot reader.