OK, to be more accurate the title of this article should be: The Idiosyncrasies of This Tarot Reader.
The idiosyncrasies of a tarot reader are as personal as the way one interprets the cards. Even if the idiosyncrasies of one reader would make my skin crawl, if it is right for her or him, then it is right.
I feel I have had a great advantage in the way I learned tarot, which was being self-taught. There were no online tarot resources with 'authorities' imposing thought on me, very few tarot books in suburban Philadelphia mall bookstores, (and not too many in the local library either), no sage auntie in my family though my paternal great grandmother was known to be a reader of tea leaves (but she died decades before my birth). So I have had the great advantage of being from a generation of readers able to learn and establish our own routines and well, idiosyncrasies of tarot.
It will be interesting to hear from you, the reader, to know if we share any common habits, or if there are any that you adhere to that I have failed to mention.
Here goes my list!
**I wash my hands before touching the cards. I wash my hands because I respect my tools. Washing my hands signals to me that I'm about to handle something very special. When I used to work in the corporate world, the first thing I'd do after walking through the threshold of my home after a day at work was to take a shower. It symbollically washed away that outer world and all the 'stuff' that clung to me. I have always felt that my home was my sanctuary, and that 'stuff' had to go down the drain. So that is part of my tarot routine; a cleansing ritual that ensures my hands are cleared of other stuff not related to the reading I am about to do. (It also means I will not soil my cards with residual food or grease etc.) I admit to being a bit of a fanatic about clean hands.
**If I am reading for a client in person, I request she/he to wash their hands as well. No one has ever refused this which fascinates me. I ask this of them to signal to them that something special is about to happen. Naturally, this only happens when I am reading from my own home, or go to theirs. It is far more difficult to request hand washing at an event or public location but I don't do those much anymore so it's a non issue for me. (Back when I did do them, I always had baby wipes on hand and I only used an inexpensive deck designated for event readings.)
**I used to allow my querents to handle my cards. I used to invite them to shuffle and mix them. Then it went to only having them cut the deck or choosing the cards from a fan. For the last decade or so, I do not invite anyone to handle my cards and I will explain my reasons if asked:
My cards are my instrument, just as my paint brushes are to me as an artist. An artist can create a portrait of an individual so personal and meaningful to the individual without the person ever handling the brushes or mixing the paint. The subject trusts the artist to capture their essence without ever expecting to handle the tools of the artist's trade. There is no interference between the artist and her tools. A musician can create music so personally meaningful that it can bring one to tears, and yet no one would request tuning the musician's instrument for him. Both the artist and the musician has an audience, as does the tarot reader. When I read the cards for an individual, I am trusted to use my tools to interpret the cards for their personal benefit. I am very clear on this point.
(In the event that someone gets all excited about a particular card and reaches for it during a reading, I have already had them wash their hands before the reading so there is no risk of soiling the cards or getting potato chip grease on them, etc.) Along these same lines there is no eating or drinking in my tarot area. I keep this area clean and sacred and there is no place for cookie crumbs and spilled coffee.
**Before the reading I ask my client to articulate their question, in fact, I ask them to write it down exactly as they want to ask it. It is irrelevant to me if they share their question with me or not. I do this because it is more important for them to know exactly what it is that they want to know! I make them commit to paper what they want to know. Some will tell me their question and others will not. At this point I tell them to apply everything I say to an aspect of their question. Naturally, it is easier for me to know the question so that I may apply the cards as it relates to their question, but sometimes without knowing the question, influences and hindrances appear that might not be part of the initial question. Sometimes a reading is more insightful if I do not know their specific question. I only need them to know it.
**If I am doing a remote reading, and I do a lot of those, it is important for there to be a palpable connection between the client and myself. I request that they prepare themselves for a reading by taking deep breathes, shaking out tension and isolating what it is that they want to know. Within my tarot space (and I have an entire room dedicated to only tarot so there are no distractions), I take a meditative posture, literally shake out all distractions, and read and speak the client's question while handling the cards. I breath in and out until I fully grasp and connect with the client's question and need.
**The following idiosyncrasy goes back to my roots. Back when I started reading, the primary spread available was the Celtic Cross, which is awesome, and maybe a three card past, present and future spread which I always though was kind of lame. So, I created my own spreads for just about every category. When a client told me their question I had multiple spreads for it. If a client doesn't tell me the specifics of their question but they do tell me the general category, I have spreads for that too. I keep these spreads in my Little Gold Book that has been with me since the beginning. When a person requests an online reading I choose which three, four, or five card spread I will use from this book. The more detailed eight, ten or more card spreads like the Celtic Cross, are also in my Little Gold Book, some are mine and others I have modified from other sources.
**I invite my querent to sit anywhere around the table that they prefer. Most sit to my side.
**Before the reading I focus on the nature of the question, repeat it over and over in my mind if I am told the specifics, and take my mind to a place where all I think of is the individual and what they need me to understand in order to give them the best possible interpretation of the cards. This is done internally, the querent may or not be aware that I am doing it, but they probably suspect I'm up to something because my eyes are usually closed.
**When I feel that I got it right in my mind, and when the cards feel rightly mixed, for some unknown reason, I tap the back of the deck twice, and lay the cards.
**As for my spatial idiosyncrasies (as illustrated by my photo) my reading cloth or mat is always a solid color unless I'm traveling and have no other options. My table always has representations of the four realms upon it: air, fire, water, and earth. I no longer read in the living area of my home, I have my own remote reading space in my studio where I am surrounded by things of beauty that make me happy. I sit in a grid defined by objects, stones, and words to promote clarity, wisdom, and love.
**I'm not sure if this qualifies as a tarot idiosyncrasie, but I'm a deck addict. I don't read from one deck. I read from all of them based on which one feels right for the occasion. I kinda have a lot of decks. This is an asset becasue I can instinctively choose a deck most alligned with a client's question if they do not prefer to choose the deck themselves.
I think that covers my tarot eccentricities. :) What are yours?