FAQ BY TAROT STUDENTS
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FAQ BY STUDENTS

 

1-Do we need to be ‘psychic’ to learn the cards?

Not at all! In fact the tarot is a language to help you interpret what is beyond the surface without needing to be psychic! Through the cards, you learn a system of symbols, which helps you explore the great unknown and the only things you ‘need’’ are: trust, knowledge of the cards, and practice. These three aspects are intertwined because it is easy to say that one must ‘trust’ the cards-but how does this trust really get established? By putting into practice all that you ‘learn’ from the cards and view its tangible results!

Having said this, yes, the tarot can be a tool to activate your intuition or psychic abilities. It signals to the deeper aspects of your self, that you are ready to begin communication! And that is all that intuition or being psychic is really about.

2-There are so many meanings to each card; how can we possibly remember all of them? And how do we know which meaning applies/ to use?

My suggestion is to explore the cards at depth, spend time with them and understand them, rather than remember their meanings by rote. Once you do that, each card’s ‘meanings’- the whole gamut and yes contradictory at times, become accessible to you without needing to memorize them as such.

In analogy: It is like knowing a person, or describing that person through details on some fact sheet! For example you may read my description and describe me as ‘petite’- dark hair- impatient- cheerful’ -etc etc… but if you spend time with me you will get to know all my finer nuances and not need that printout to describe me!

And a very important consideration to keep in mind: the cards meanings, come into play(are triggered off within you) based on the ‘question and the story behind the issue’ and thus you ‘automatically’ recall the meanings that fit that particular situation! In our above analogy: you may remember me as petite-dark hair-impatient-cheerful- but if someone asks you what does she wear: you will instantly recall and add-on: skirts! If they further ask you does she color her hair- you will instantly recall and add-on an :oh yes I have seen the white roots appear and disappear’! Just the way these ‘meanings’ come up as you are asked questions about me, so will the required meanings of the cards come up as required, based on the query and issue!

For example: High priestess means inner wisdom and patience and secrets (amongst other things) and if she turns up for the query: ‘I have been rushing about to find my house, it just doesn’t happen’- you will automatically know that the meanings she offers here is patience! If the question was instead someone asking you “ I am an highly logical and rational person but somehow it isn’t helping me in this project’- you would know the answer she proffers here is that inner intuitive wisdom is what is required here, not hard logic!! If the query was: ‘do I know all that I need to about my boyfriend’ - she might well be telling you there are unknown areas involved.

Of course the above is simplistically put so that I may keep this brief, but remember that every query has a ‘story’ behind it- the facts as the client sees and offers you- and that often brings about the required meanings of the card to mind, and guides you as to which meaning fits in!

3-Different readers, books and sources give diverse meanings for the cards-are there any really really fixed meanings per card?

Paradoxically you will receive different answers here! But simply put the cards are based on a certain philosophy, plus numerological, astrological and other relevant wisdom- and in that there is a general thread of similarity – a certain sense of certain sense of parallel -running through most of the cards of any given deck. Yet these can be interpreted in different ways based on the reader’s philosophy and understanding of the symbols and thus the meanings are flexible and not ‘fixed’.

However this must be viewed as its advantage rather than its limitation- and what allows the tarot to be such a widespread tool with great results! Because while it offers the wider guidelines it yet moulds itself to your personal sense of being!

Lets also keep in mind that myriad tarot decks are now available! Some of these, designed purely on the individual needs and ideas of their creators, can be completely different to the more traditional deck ‘meanings’!

If we go back a little into time- the cards did not have visuals, but pips like the playing cards, depicting the number and suit; and thus meanings were more fixed and limiting! As Waite (through Pamela Coleman’s imagery) and others, added visuals, the ‘meanings’ were thrown wide open to personal interpretation!

Yet each creator has a certain idea-philosophy, and guidelines -which can be explored- retained or not- based entirely on you and the results you get!

4- How long does it take to learn the tarot?

The tarot is an Arabian nights journey-with there always being more to discover! Thus do not approach learning tarot with a definitive time frame- but be open to a lifetime of exploration, as far and deep as your passion for the cards take you!

However, if your question is how long can it take to get an adequate grasp of the cards, enough to do readings for self or friends to start with- then again there will be different answers by different tarot ‘teachers’ /guides /fellow explorers! Some offer to teach it within a day! Others offer a longer deeper journey. My personal system takes you through a journey over 12 weeks, in which I focus on you understanding the cards in depth and some practice therein -one without the other is quite redundant! Of course my ideal course would be a perhaps a card a week! But most new students do not have that patience;-) and are paradoxically more ready for such an exploration after having ‘learnt’ the basics!

More over, I personally feel tarot cannot be ‘taught’ as much as introduced to you…and then how much time you spend with the cards would really clinch the timing factor in reaching a basic level of proficiency!

5-Often I come across a new meanings post a reading, and worry that I missed that interpretation out!

The cards speak to you in the language, which you understand! Thus if some ‘meaning’ is not part of your understanding of the card, the cards will not try and say that through you through that particular card, even if it means that for someone else!

My guidance to my fellow tarot travelers is: Do not allow disparities in meanings and style (especially reversed cards) to confuse you. Understand that your interpretation /intent works for you! So as you grow with the tarot and add meanings/interpretations- be it through numbers, zodiacs, images, personal experience etc etc then will they come in your readings for you to use in your answers/guidance. Otherwise they do not imply anything & you miss out on nothing!

6-What do I do when clients expect me to be ‘psychic’ and thus refuse to ask questions, thinking the cards should know everything!

Volunteer upfront that you will best be able to guide them, through, not only their questions, but also the more they share their ‘story’ with you! Explain to them that a tarot session works something like going to a doctor (or practitioner of any other skill): the more symptoms and information you give the doctor/lawyer, the better diagnosis and prescription can he offer!

I have also learnt over time that the cards answer me best when they initiate a dialogue between them and the client! It is through this dialogue that the cards get more ‘material’ to work with and answer/ guide through! Thus I encourage my clients to share their ‘story’ without holding back information merely to test the cards!

I have observed that if you are upfront with the client at the beginning of a session- they usually respond to your style of reading as they too have a genuine desire to get the most out of any session! Yes there maybe that odd occasion when a client may perhaps not co-operate, and it is your call to give them what you may best, or terminate the session if you feel you cannot cope with it.

7-What do I do when the reading asks me to give the clients ‘unpalatable news’- whether it is describing something they would rather not know, or pointing to an undesirable probability?

I will explore this deeply in an ‘article’ of its own-but simply put: As a tarot reader you will often come across this dilemma, because clients often come when things are NOT all well with them and their world!

Personally I view this in terms of having freely volunteered to take on this role by offering a client a tarot reading: to give them as accurate a picture that i can-be it guidance or description or probabilities! Otherwise, lightly put and tongue in cheek please, they could well go their grandmother!

However many factors play out here: first is my personal philosophy that I am showing clients probabilities, not making fixed predictions and thus even if they are unpalatable, by the reading itself- they are enabled to handle it better, or even change it! Thus ‘bad news’ becomes an alert – a means to even avoiding it perhaps or tackling it better and thus grace indeed! I would welcome this rather than avoid it!

Of course I handle this with the sensitivity and grace that I would use with a dearest beloved of mine. Counseling, finding the right words, honest yet not harsh, sometimes even firm if required, plays a big role in tarot readings. We each find our own ways with experience.

Recently a pet lover asked me about the life span of a beloved dog, and I could sense her beautiful pet not living for long. I recall having only made her alert to the understanding that all creatures must die, and that death is not a finale, and how indeed it can usher in new beginnings; and yet I did not ‘predict’ death. She called me a few days later, and shared with me how my words had somehow opened a door of preparation for her subconsciously, even without any conscious awareness ‘and when her pet was ‘leaving’ our reading flashed through her mind and she somehow wasn’t as shocked as she would have otherwise been.

In another case, with a client who I was guiding through a divorce, and thus had gotten to understand him well- I found the cards somehow strongly suggesting that the couple could well change their mind and come back together! When I gently introduced this idea it was met with firm and complete resistance and denial. In this case, I let it be…only hinting of it as a vague probability still open…because I felt by insisting on it’s comparative strength in the readings, it could well work in reverse and close the door on that! Yet the probability was planted like a tender seed…and many many months later he called to tell me how they were back, and that he recalled this ever so slightest mention/ guidance of the cards...and it was just as well we had not explored it further at that point, but it had subconsciously made him alert when the shift had happened in their relationship to explore it further!

I am just sharing a few examples to express that each case, client, situation will be different as will each readers way of handling what we call ‘negative’ news! The main point being, if I truly believe the news can help my client, I must find ways to share it, rather than ‘save’ him from it- becasue in the longer run it works quite in reverse!

8-Is it ethical for me to charge for readings- after all I am providing a spiritual service?

This question comes up very often- and I guess it has to do with deep-rooted beliefs about ‘spirit’ and ‘matter’ being different! Again this is a personal answer you need to arrive at within you, but personally I believe that spirit reflects in matter and abundance, and one does not preclude the other. Sometimes when we separate the two, we are raising the bar on, or giving more 'value' to our spiritual work or those who do spiritual work- over and above our material work, or those who contribute through material ways/services- and i think in the long run both are equally valid and important, with none being 'higher/more important ' than the other. On a more practical level- if you are providing a service- be it legal, or medical, or consultancy or trading or any other- this question does not usually come up. And the universe needs your services in whichever areas you are drawn- and compensates you- balances the exchange of energy- rewards your time, effort etc- through ‘money’ because we live on a material /tangible plane. It is almost like the barter system of older days- where you provide a service and receive something in exchange!

And yet this does NOT mean you must charge! It only answers those who want to charge but wonder at the ethics involved! If you wish to provide a service without charging, if you do readings for the joy and satisfaction, it is also perfectly all right! Your compensation then is that joy and feeling of fulfillment or being able to reach out to another. The time to question yourself again, is if you are NOT charging, but feeling that you are using up too much time, or effort, then it might be better to reflect on it for self.

-How do i know i am ready to charge for readings? and how much?

The best answer of course is when you feel confident to charge! Initially I used to consider the ‘practice’ I got from any sessions as my 'energy exchange'-till one day I felt ready to state an amount. Often you find friends, people who have come by word of mouth so happy with a session that they leave behind a token of appreciation, gifts, offer of their services without you actually charging. That can a clue for you that you are perhaps ready to charge.

Another factor to consider, and this was my personal consideration, is how many readings are you doing? When i was reading for friends, or as a hobby or passion, i did not think of charging. But soon as more and more people came for readings, taking up my whole day and away from other activities, i felt the need to charge. My suggestion is start with an amount you feel very comfortable with, and as you grow in confidence you may automatically increase that to a higher comfort level. There is no point asking for an amount you feel inadequate or guilty about! I also made a commitment to self, and it pans out automatically - to take less or nothing from those who cannot pay. And then there are always readings, over the phone or lunch, which i do for the sheer joy of tarot. These are all personal parameters you arrive at over time.

9) Is it beneficial to explore decks, other than your starting deck?

I will answer this through my own experience, because each one can have a different viewpoint. I started with the Raider Waite deck- and till date it remains my most used deck. I use my other decks primarily to explore and add to my understanding of the cards within the Raider Waite!

However at some point, if you are a tarot lover, you will be attracted to other decks and may even become an avid collector! I use my other decks for the sheer joy of exploring a variety. My current favorites, other than Raider Waite, are: The Alchemical tarot, Golden Dawn, Elemental Tarot, World Spirit and The Dream Tarot by Ciro Marchetti. Sometimes I enjoy the creators’ book, more than their cards! It is a very personal thing, so feel free to explore. There are many websites, which allow you take a peek into different decks, before buying them.

My personal suggestion to new comers would be to stick with your deck for a while, perhaps through any ‘course’ you may undertake, to avoid confusion which may occur through myriad decks, rather than them adding to your current journey! Then most certainly different decks add tremendously to your understanding of the language of the cards! Indeed great readings come out of mixed deck readings-as the ‘rules’ or definite meanings of a given deck give way to a larger vision!

I personally stayed ‘faithful’ to Raider Waite for over 5 years, without exploring any other-but I would not recommend that now.

10) What would be an ideal reading?

This depends very much on what your client wants or is looking for! It is thus best to understand this when you are starting a session. Otherwise, in general, the basic guidelines to cover:

Do not jump straight to the outcome card as many beginners tend to! That is only one more facet of a complete reading, and often not the most vital one.

Briefly, the different components to keep in mind during a reading:

-Description (of the circumstances, relationships, where your client is coming from, what he and others could be feeling, thinking doing, not doing etc etc)

- Clarity- (often this is all that is required)- awareness of factors, feelings, thoughts unknown, unobserved or suppressed.

-Probabilities ahead (usually called the outcome!)- Choice points- what they may meet ahead- not meet!

-Guidance (based on all of this) - their strengths and challenges- what they can do in the now to enable or disable the situations they are creating! What action, state of mind may not be beneficial.

- The next step/affirmation – I find this very useful to sum up a reading, which is often made of many pointers! It helps the client to get in touch with what they can do in the now! Affirmations help towards this too/

11) What do I do when the cards say nothing to me!?

Again in brief: Reframe the question! Often it is badly framed query, which confuses the reader. In complicated cases i tend to hear my client at depth but frame the query by my self. Sometimes I work with the client’s exact words- as that makes it very precise. Sometimes I approach the situation rather than seek an exact answer. Be flexible!

- Describe the card- through image or what it means to you-and ask the client how it fits/applies to their query; this often works beautifully- as the client knows the whole ‘story’ within him and can often recognize how it applies even when you cannot- and in that sharing –you open a dialogue and receive input to continue your reading in meaningful ways.

- If nothing ‘comes’ to you, in spite of all this, it is best to share this with your client. Sometimes there is no answer, sometimes it is not in their interest to know, and sometimes you just cannot understand what the cards are trying to say-and being open with your querent works best.

12-I try to practice the cards with mock examples, but when I do this I have observed the cards do not really speak to me…and I run dry?

This is something I point out in all my workshops: a tarot reading to work optimally needs a ‘story’, which it can work with. It can best describe, or give guidance based on characters, issues, feelings, thoughts, and actions within that story! When this is missing the mock examples are static 2-d figures as different from live characters. The reading is but naturally limited by this.

More so, as I have been emphasizing all along in this FAQ section- a dialogue is also what ‘opens’ up a reading-makes it come alive from text book analysis. In mock examples, done with self, this dialogue is missing and thus too do you run dry after the initial output!

One way out (in such practice cases with examples) is to at the very least use real life cases of friends and people in your mind, and frame mock questions based on their ‘story’ as this will give you more matter to work with and indeed help you interpret in a variety of circumstances. For example if I asked you to do a mock reading based on a spread: reversed 2of cups, 8 of cups, and 3 of cups- you would come with some response. But if I were to tell you the story as the client would (I was in a relationship, I suspect another woman in my partners life- and feel his attention waning….etc) the same reading would come alive in more specific ways!

The other option is to practice in groups or with partners- so that dialogue and background can be present to aid you!

Dearest friends, if there any other queries please post them to me as I hope to constantly update this section.

Also, due to the format of a FAQ section requiring some degree of brevity, I have responded as briefly as possible in most cases, and the same is explored in more depth in my workshops. I prefer each fellow tarot traveler to understand the semantics behind every answer, rather than just accept them because ‘it has been said so’.
-Divyaa Kummar

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