Last fall and winter saw me doing public readings in a number of settings -- a Haunted Halloween party at the Sammons Arts Center here in Dallas, several rituals and circles hosted by friends where we traded readings, here at dw_divines
. Over the nearly 20 years I've been reading Tarot, I've read in settings ranging from private homes to dorm parties, ritual circles to psychic fairs. One thing that never ceases to amaze me is, no matter what the setting or how different the venues are, there are some basic "types" that end up at my table. Some of them are amusing, some are irritating, and some are challenging. I've always been curious to know if other readers encounter the same personalities.
There's the Skeptic
, who's there because he or she (and in my experience, more often she) is with friends who encourage him/her to get a reading. The Skeptic thinks that all this Tarot business is a bunch of bullshit, and really wants to trip you up or have you prove him/her right. You know you have a Skeptic when the person sits at your table and tells you "I don't believe in this stuff." The Skeptic will also tell you throughout the reading that what you are saying makes no sense or doesn't apply to them. They will not answer any questions you pose or will give you vague answers. (Me: "Hmmm...are you a Taurus?" Skeptic: "Maybe...." Me: "Did you recently change jobs?" Skeptic: "I don't know, you tell me.") The Skeptic will continue this even when his or her body language tells you that you're onto something. My favorite moment with the Skeptic is when you hit something right on and he or she can't hide it.
And then there's the twin to the Skeptic, the True Believer.
The True Believer is not merely someone who believes in the power or usefulness of Tarot. No, the True Believer believes in the inherent truth of anything a person holding any New Age or Pagan tool tells them. My personal feeling is that True Believers are looking for meaning, and so they grasp on to whatever they can find. These are the people who get fleeced by Miss Cleo and spend $150 for a magic healing rock from Peru (that's actually gravel from your driveway). An ethical reader poses no danger to the True Believer, but the unethical see them as goldmines. You know you have a True Believer from the look of wonder that comes over their face. They may also tell you what all the other psychics they've seen recently have told them. The True Believer will nod in agreement no matter what you say. (Me: "So, who's the Leo in your life?" True Believer: "Leo...that's August, right? Well, my boyfriend was born in September, so that's almost the same...OMG, you are so right on.")
Beware the Expert
. This is my least favorite type of client, because I don't get to actually do much reading! The Expert is someone who reads Tarot themselves (though not always well) and, rather than wanting to hear what you have to say, wants to show how much more they know about Tarot than you do. Please note, not all people who read Tarot are Experts in this way -- I've read for any number of other readers who were respectful, thoughtful, and wanted to hear my take on a situation. The Expert will interrupt you to tell you "Well, I
interpret that card that way." The Expert will exclaim the meaning of a card as soon as you turn it over: "Oh! That means that I'm going to [insert their desired outcome here]!" The Expert will talk over the top of you, and will also refuse to answer any questions you might have or to clarify any information. Much like the Skeptic, the Expert is wanting to trip you, the reader, up. But for the Expert, this is not born of the desire to disprove Tarot -- it is simply the desire to disprove you
. I have yet to come up with a good strategy for dealing with an Expert. I'll usually deflect by saying, "Well, the way I interpret that card in this deck is..." However, I have had a couple encounters with Experts where I bluntly asked them if they would prefer to do the reading themselves. I love reading for other readers in general, so it's always disappointing to encounter an Expert. I take every encounter with an Expert as a reminder to be open and listen when it's my turn to get my cards read.
No public reading event would be complete without a visit to my table from the Scaredy Cat
. The Scaredy Cat is terrified of Tarot. He or she might be afraid of going to Hell for consulting a psychic. He or she might be afraid that you're going to raise demons or call Satan by reading the cards. But the fear isn't enough to keep the Scaredy Cat away from your table, oh no. You'll know you have a Scaredy Cat because he or she will sit down with wide eyes and clutch the edge of your table with white knuckles. He or she may tell you they are scared or frightened to have a reading. Sometimes the Scaredy Cat is terrified of what the cards may reveal -- in this case, there are shades of True Believer mixed in. Woe to the reader who pulls the Death, Devil, or 10 of Swords card for a Scaredy Cat. It helps to have your "the Death card usually signifies change, not physical death" spiel ready. Scaredy Cats who come from a fundamentalist Christian background will nearly crawl under your table or flee in terror if you pull the Devil. (I once pulled all three, plus the Tower, for a Scaredy Cat. It was not pretty.)
In addition, there's the Seeker
, who will probably ask you for your card and if you offer lessons in Tarot; the Mystic
, who (like the True Believer) believes in the infallibility of the cards (and the pendulum, and the runes, and the scrying mirror...) but who also wants to impress you with how spiritual he or she is and responds to everything you say with a "mysterious" "Iiiiiinteresting......"; the Giggler
, who (as the name suggest) giggles uncontrollably throughout the entire reading, no matter what you pull; the Good Sport
, who's only getting his or her cards read because everyone else in the group is, or because someone (usually a girlfriend/boyfriend) has goaded them into it; and the Withholder
, who offers you nothing in response -- no body language cues, no verbal feedback, no answers to questions -- and who appears torn between a desire to know what you have to say and a desire to flee. (Many Witholders are also Skeptics, Mystics, or Experts.)
What types have you encountered? What types have you been???