The Performance Aspect of Tarot
Recently I found a blogpost from Ethony, headmistress of the Tarot Reader’s Academy, suggesting that tarot readers consider avoiding allowing anyone other than the querent in the room during a tarot reading.
She makes some good points in empowering readers to say no to an audience, and to say no to controlling, skeptical or overtalkative friends or family members who can make the reading more difficult, and therefore less valuable to the client.
Ethony also mentions the possibility of psychic leak. That is, moments when the reader can pick up energy from a person in the room who is not the client.
She also allows that there are times when it’s appropriate to welcome groups into the tarot room. As one who has over the years managed to master the psychic leak problem, I enjoy reading for groups.
I’d like to share some circumstances under which group readings have worked for me, and some advices on how to make them work for you.
Before I begin, though, please understand that every reader, and every reading, is unique. Let me echo Ethony here in saying that we all have the right, and responsibility, to say an emphatic no to anything that makes us less able to provide the best experience for our client.
But, if you want to try group readings, here are some of the circumstances in which they work well for me, along with some hints on how you might make them work for you.
First, you need to decide if you might be good at this sort of work. Folks who do performance-style tarot typically have a stage presence, are comfortable with public speaking, and understand and enjoy the performance aspect of tarot.
I was a theater major in college and have done a bit of community theater over the years. Here’s a picture of me playing Miep Geiss in a production of The Diary of Anne Frank way back at the beginning of my pro tarot career. The truth is, I’ve been too busy since then to take on any more roles, but the role of tarot reader is keeping me happy.
Christiana Gaudet appears as Miep Geiss in The Diary of Anne Frank.
Readings Around the Table
I’ve worked many parties of close friends or family groups who want to sit around a table together and hear each other’s readings. I even offer this sort of reading at the conference table in my office.
To make this successful, everyone needs to fit around the table, and pay attention. There can be no side conversations. Readings should be short, usually about fifteen to twenty minutes. Everyone has the opportunity to ask questions for each other, and can comment on the readings, but I keep very firm control on the conversation. I also tell people that this is not a spectator sport. If they are at the table, they are part of the experience, and need to stay present and focused.
Much like the parties around the table, this is when a friend brings a friend, or two friends, to witness their reading. Sometimes the friends also plan to have readings, something not. However, after hearing their friends’ reading, they almost always make appointments for themselves.
I have very clear instructions for the supporting friend(s). They are to ask questions that the querent, their friend, may not think to ask. They are to listen, and if something isn’t resonating with their friend but makes sense to them, they should help the friend own their truth.
This invitation does sometimes cause a friend to try to highjack the reading. If you, as reader, keep control of the energy of your table, they won’t get very far when they do.
Typically, a couples reading is for a romantically-involved couple. Yet, it can also be sisters grappling with a family issue, or bereaved family members getting closure to, and messages from, a deceased loved one.
If you are reading for more than one person having the same issue, it’s easy to read on the issue for both of them. If you are reading for a family group, the mediumship aspect is easier because more people offer more energy to assist in the focus and communication.
A reading for a romantic couple, however, can be tricky.
The times I have refused having someone sit in on a reading have been when I perceive a controlling romantic partner, and that my querent may need to hear some hard things about that partner.
The problem of the abusive or controlling spouse doesn’t crop up often in couples readings, though, because typically abusive partners won’t consider putting themselves in that situation.
Yet, relationship problems can show up in the readings of even the happiest couple. The skill here is to present those problems in a way that offers solutions, normalizes issues and treats those issues with good humor and compassion.
The goal of a couples reading is to foster understanding, not create bad feelings. If you see deeper issues in a couples reading, you are ethically bound to refer them to a good counselor.
Psychic Gallery at Soundings Lounge in Mystic, CT, 2004.
I have performed psychic galleries with tarot in nightclubs, churches and living rooms. The key here is to move quickly from reading to reading. Keep readings short and make them entertaining and accessible to everyone.
The energy of a gallery can be very conducive to amazing psychic work.
Very often, the biggest problem with readings that require a performance aspect is that the reader lacks confidence. It takes confidence to command a table, and it takes confidence to command a room.
Sometimes confidence comes with practice, and sometimes it comes with personality.
I do think that we need to sometimes stretch a bit to do our best work. There is a lot of focus on the idea that we readers shouldn’t have to do anything doesn’t make us comfortable. I scoff at this idea. If I didn’t do anything that made me uncomfortable, I would still be in my pajamas right now. Sometimes we must get out of our comfort zone in order to grow and learn to do our best work.
If the performance aspects of tarot don’t resonate for you, or really aren’t in your wheelhouse, just say no to the group readings and gallery sessions. If you are comfortable reading tarot with an audience, know that the practice is valid, helpful and very much appreciated by the clients you serve.