When reading for people who aren’t tarot-savy, nothing seems to throw them as badly as getting The Devil, The Tower, or Death. Now, these guys aren’t my particular favorites either, but it’s all about context. I see no need to panic until I have all the details, and I try to assure the querant of that as well. In my not-so-humble opinion, when you’re in the reader’s seat, it’s part of your responsibility. Don’t let them panic… It can throw the reading. I’d rather say something to them before they say something to me.
"I know what you’re thinking. This gnarly goat-guy with pentagrams and two people in chains may not mean what you think it means. Let’s get a few more of the details, shall we? No need to rush to judgement until all the facts are in!"
I’m not saying you have to sugar-coat everything, although I have a bad habit of doing that. Looking at the positive aspects of a bad situation is not sugar-coating, and rephrasing the power-packed punches in the gut with a little bit of semantical magic isn’t such an awful thing. I don’t like to scare people, and many I encounter still regard the tarot with a bit of aprehension and awe. Maybe they have the right idea. Maybe I could learn a lesson or two from them. Those three cards really hit people on a visceral level, partially because of imagery and partially because of conditioning. When it comes down to it, most of the people I’ve read grew up in the US and still hold on to many of the societally-driven Christian mores that can be so prevalent here. Whether you’re thumpin’ up a Bible-beating frenzy, or keep a small lock of Richard Dawkin’s hair in a locket (and if you do, you might want to seek help.)… The images are powerful. They can strike a person right straight where it counts without a wink or a nod.
Is that such a terrible thing? Yes and no. Tarot is a fantastic conduit towards the non-Mun-Danish world. It’s not all Sweetness & Light & Glittery Lipgloss… I’d totally opt for lipgloss that is shimmery with tiny reflective specks, that wasn’t stick with big dollar-store glitter chunks if it was me, but… Dayum. Someone needs to make a trip to the MAC store! A deck just can’t run the gamut of the human experience without the Biggity Bad cards. The look on someone’s face when they get Death says it all. A wide-eyed look of "WTF?!?! This is exactly why I’ve always been afraid to get a tarot reading! OH MY GOD(S) I AM GOING TO DIEEEEEEE!!!"
Yes. You are going to die. So is everyone else. Frankie says relax and so do I.
I look at it objectively. I look at the story that is unfolding in front of me. It’s a process. Maybe Symbolic Death As An Archetype means literal death, but more often than not is does not. People ask "But how do you know?". The story often tells itself, and doesn’t take a lot of effort on my part to interpret (Shhh… don’t tell them that. They still think it’s spooky-ooky magic or some shit like that). I’ve never had it come up for someone else where I could see very clearly that Death=Death, but it’s come up for me personally on several occasions. Not pleasant, but it’s part of the process.
All you can really do is take it one reading at a time. If a Tower comes up and someone is panicking over it’s appearance without seeing for themeslves where it fits, I’ll just flip a few extra over. How can we avoid this? How can we make the best of this? There are always options. I’d hate anyone to worry needlessly because of something I said or pulled during a reading. It’s an ethical issue to me. People must understand that these are just possibilities, and that they do have choices. Do I choose to freak out during Tower Time, or do I make the best of my resources to weather the fiery-brimstoney storm? The cards and I can give ideas, but we can’t do it for you. I am contemplating calling PMS "Tower Time", as it’s alarmingly apropo in my case. How many alarms? Oh… I don’t know… probably… THREE!
Death… Well, transformation is never easy but sometimes it’s neccessary and good. On the RWS, those people look awful relieved to see the skeletal man in black though, don’t they? Maybe he has candy for everyone! Maybe they want to sell him some chicklets! Maybe he is there to rape, pillage, and burn that mother down. Maybe he’s there to ask if they’ve accepted Jesus Christ as their personal savior. Maybe he thinks the whole Grim Reaper thing looks cool. Because it does.
The Tower… Yeah. It’s all kinds of fucked up. You can leave town, stock up on supplies and weather the storm, call a contractor in to reinforce the masonry, take a fistful of Xanax and sleep through it, jump through the window like those other folks, or make a rescue plan. There is water at the bottom. Get a boat. CHAOS! PANIC! DRAMA! FIRE! AHHHHHH! THE BEES, NO! NOT THE BEES! Just chill, bro.
The Devil… No, it’s not Satan Pants McBeezlebubbles. It’s probably your personal Devils. You got some. I got some. Everybody’s got some. Ever had a monkey on your back? This monkey’s got horns, biatch. Let’s take him to the zoo and leave him there. Devils can be useful. Lust, avarice, bondage, and greed aren’t all bad. They make for a really fun Saturday night if you ask me, although I’m pretty sure that you didn’t.
It’s not so bad. They’re just plot points in the story. Sure it’s the querant’s story, but a good story teller knows how to spin a narrative that gets the protagnist safely to Happily Ever After at the end.
I’ll empower you with what you need to help you make a decision or choose the right path. It’s on you to not get mired in the specific appearance of a card that makes you feel icky, and look at the big picture. Yes, you feel icky. We can address that. Baby + bathwater + throwing= DON’T. That is really hard for some people. They see that Devil, and they are done.
It doesn’t have to be that way.
If it makes you feel icky, it’s trying to tell you something in the strongest way possible. Let’s shuffle, flip, and see if we can’t find out why.
You know what’s really icky? Goatse tarot. You’re flipping through a normal RWS deck, and… SUPRISE! QUEL HORROR! I’ve never seen anyone do that, but it would be totally hilarious if it happened to someone else who wasn’t named Eris Hilton.
Sure, I am probably over-simplifiying it, but I’ve had more and more of these situations come up as I read for people. It’s a whole different wagon of waffles than reading for yourself. I’ve had several people tell me that I was spot-on a previous reading, which simply tells me that whatever I am doing as a reader, it must be working. At least for me.
Let the 6 of WIN begin!