Fair warning … this is a rant! If you don’t like rants, then move along. The rest of you can stay. In blogs and in chat rooms, I have been seeing more and more readers expounding on – and bragging about – the fact that they “tell it like it is”. No sugar-coating to their readings! Their clients get the absolute, unvarnished truth! Woo hoo!
From my point of view, a Tarot reading – or any other type of divinatory reading, is meant to be empowering to the Seeker. They are meant to gain insight into their issue(s), and walk away with a clear understanding of what their options are, and what the best way to proceed might be. Whatever system is used for the reading, it should be able to mirror the energy in the Seeker’s life, and tell their story.
I had the lovely opportunity this weekend to see “truth in action” reading, and I walked away very sad … and very disturbed. The reader told their client that the person they were asking about just needed to be let go, and for them to move on with their life. To bluntly announce this, which was clearly hurtful to the person asking the question, and to then immediately move on to the next caller was inexcusable. It got worse – congratulations were in order because the readings were moving along so quickly … all due to the reader giving the callers the “truth” in such a blunt manner.
A good reader will see the truth of a situation, and this truth is what their client needs to hear. You don’t have to sugar-coat anything, but you can deliver your message in such a manner that your client feels supported. Send them away with action steps that they can take to do the moving on, or at least give them things to review so that they can at least think about doing so. (None of us make changes until the time is ready.)
Rant over. I am sure that those readers that choose to read in this manner will continue to do so. Please advertise your intentions loudly, so that I do not inadvertently come to you for a reading.
(c) February 2011 Bonnie Cehovet
Totally agree *hat’s off* 🙂
Thanks for the thumbs up! This subject really gets me going! 😉
It’s very easy to sit back and speculate that a “tell it like it is” reading is harmful and not helpful to the client. Compassion must always be used in a tarot reading but sometimes people DO need to be told the truth in a blunt and unvarnished manner because otherwise they won’t hear it. This applies not only to tarot readings but any type of work where we are dealing with sensitive subjects.
Case in point: last year, when my father was very ill, I asked countless nurses and doctors about his condition because I had a bad feeling. All they did was give me the runaround and pussy foot around the issue. This gave me no end of anxiety, stress and heartache. Finally, I talked to someone who told me the hard core truth – that he was indeed dying. This put my mind at ease and I then was able to act appropriately and be there for him in a manner that was truly present. If I was being led to believe that he “might be” okay, I probably would not have been as prepared as I needed to be to deal with the situation.
Even if their intention was to be compassionate, lack of the cold straight truth actually led me to more emotional chaos and detriment.
Thanks for a thought provoking post,
Hi Bonnie, I totally agree with you and see this happening too much on the blog radio sites. I can’t listen because many of the readings are meant to impress the audience and then move on…often not even getting much feedback from the person getting the reading. This is irresponsible and possibly harmful. This is not counseling and if it is just meant to read the cards to the listener, then I cannot support. The reading or the counseling session is for the client and there must be an interaction until the client feels completely satisfied with the counseling.
I have done readings over the radio and was not satisfied with my results because there is just not enough time and it is so exposed and lacking in privacy. To me using the cards in a counseling situation is a sacred act and not for entertainment. My rant.
Bonnie, Rant away. Your experience sounds upsetting. Telling it like it is fine, but you should do it with manners and support for the client.
I remember one reading I did last year. The woman was concerned about her daughter, and I quickly picked up on an abusive boyfriend. I could see that the daughter was going to be driven away by the mother if she got too involved. It was a very delicate situation. I couldn’t just tell her to ‘butt out’. I did give gentle advice and the cards revealed the outcome. A couple of weeks later, the whole situation turned on its axis and everyone was where they should be. To make a long story short, yes I gave the truth, but I also gave alternative actions and the client was able to choose her own path and gain a great outcome.
Theresa – I honestly do not feel that a reading that is blunt – and not followed up with some kind of advice or help – is helpful to a client. Even those clients that respond best to blunt readings need to feel empowered to take some kind of action when they leave the reading. A reader can be compassionate and tell their client the truth that they need to hear.
Toni – I find radio readings difficult for the same reasons that you do. I am not necessarily against them, I would just like to see them done a bit differently. It would be difficult for me to hear personal advice that was being given in front of a roomful of people.
I love the way that you worded your story – it is something that all readers need to be aware of.
Bonnie, I never said that there shouldn’t be follow up advice – of course, there should be advice to guide the client! Delivery of advice, the reading, etc. is ultimately going to depend on the client, the situation, etc. and no one way is the “right” way for every client or situation.
I also agree that radio readings are difficult – I’m sometimes a bit taken aback by the personal things that people will bring on air.
The issue I had with the readings this weekend is that there was no follow-up advice given. And you are right – how we deliver the advice is going to depend on what kind of client we are dealing with.
I am curious…was this a tarot reading, or some other kind of psychic reading?
The reader was reading psychically, but Tarot cards were also drawn by someone else.
Hi Bonnie –
If there is no follow up advice, that is a problem. You have to give SOME direction, not just tell someone they’re screwed!
Being as I didn’t hear the actual reading, I wasn’t totally clear on that part – thank you for clarifying!
That is what happened – no follow-up advice given. However, I should have been much clearer about that in my rant. The whole thing still bothers me.
Here! Here! I think it is SO important that we, as professional Tarot readers, not only tell it like it is but also provide a way for our clients to empower themselves to create the outcomes they want. I think we need to remain true to the cards and let the client know what we see in those cards, but I also think we need to balance this with being sensitive about the client’s needs and responses and to have them walk away with a good understanding of what they can personally do to improve the situation. If it’s not in the reading, then draw another card to ask, “What do you need to do to improve the situation / achieve XYZ / feel happy again / etc.?” It’s awful to just leave the client with a negative or unwanted outcome and not even cover what they can do to change things.
Tarot readings need to be both truthful AND empowering!
That sounds pretty abrupt – yikes. I think it’s possible to be straightforward, but maintain empathy and compassion – this is what I try to do. I hate the idea of a *ding* going off at the ‘end’ of a reading. Geez.
I hear you on that “ding” part. As readers, we have to create sacred space to work in. We also need to gauge our readings so that they end close to when they are slotted to end. We don’t want to enable our clients to misuse our time. Having said that, there are times when a reading will go a few minutes past when it should.
Very well put! And I also agree – if it is not in the reading, then draw an extra card or two to help your client find a “way out” for their situation.
Tarot reading do need to be both truthful (or why get a reading anyway!) and empowering.
Bonnie I like a rant! It livens things up!
I agree with Theresa for the most part. Sometimes people need or want to have someone put it straight to ’em. Especially if they’re unwilling to take it in the first couple of gentle times. I start gentle (but not too sickly) and then step it up gradually to a maximum of three clarifications 🙂 There should never be a complete lack of customer service though.
I find that seekers need someone impersonal to talk to , and this is a good part of the therapeutic value of Tarot reading. I think when people realise that there isn’t anything else going on behind the scenes, they begin to see things as they really are. I am happy to engage unless I become worried that the Seeker is becoming dependent.
I would guess that if the seeker was displeased about the bluntness of the reader, then they would avoid them in future and the Reader would end up having to have a rethink about their bedside manner!
Follow up advice is good. But sometimes it may just drag out an ordeal that might be better left as ‘case closed’. It all depends on the issue at hand.
There are always both good and bad effects in any action. I wouldn’t get yourself down too much.
I believe what you describe is part of a much wider problem – that of tarot readers or psychics dispensing quick, consumable advice or worse (sweeping statements made to sound like fact), acting like they’re some kind of all-seeing oracle. I’ve seen examples of this on TV and it infuriates me. it smacks of showing-off, and does more to boost the readers ego than empower the client.
I did email readings for a short time (a few months) but soon realised it wasn’t for me for two reasons. The first being the lack of dialogue between myself and the client – I would just email their reading and in most cases hear nothing else. The second reason was the HUGE burden of responsibility I felt because I was essentially interfering, for want of a better word, in those people’s lives. Given the context of a tarot reading (its “unexplained” nature) and the fact that many clients seek a reading when they’ve exhausted all other options, the reader has to be extremely aware of how much weight their words carry. I found it caused me too much anxiety. Any reader who doesn’t approach a reading with a full awareness of the POWER they wield risks doing more harm than good. Especially as it’s often not possible for a reader to follow-up a reading and see the effect it has had.
[…] about that episode after recently reading a thought provoking post by Bonnie Cehovet called “Tell It Like It Is” where she discusses how a bluntly honest tarot reading could be harmful to a client. Bonnie made […]