I have recently had to explain to several people how it is possible to do online Tarot readings – or how to be a good Tarot reader, period. I found myself describing the art of storytelling more than the art of Tarot (which is anyway deeply personal.
“If you wish to be a good Tarot reader or approach people in any other word-heavy self-development tool, be sure to understand the basics of storytelling and how to weave your interpretation together into a coherent, well-spoken message”
It doesn’t matter if you use Tarot only for shadow work, solely for predictive divination or for creative writing – the ability to tell a story is everything to a good Tarot reading. I read professionally for one website who have very high standards for written Tarot readings – they have a set character range limit, very high style standards, grammar errors get you fired etc. I can be virtually the best Tarot interpreter in the world, but if I fail to get my meaning through to the querent, all of that will be worthless.
Being a good storyteller also helps us to build confidence to be able to read to others. Beth did a wonderful open thread on gaining confidence when we read for other people, and I am more than sure that good storytelling skills help us with being more at ease when we start reading for others.
Treat every Tarot reading as if it were a story
I don’t want a LWB description on every card – I could just as well google it. What I want is your interpretation, your take on my situation. Every story has a beginning, and an end. Build up a good reading structure for yourself that you can use as a coat-rack on which to hang your reading. Make sure you base this structure on your medium – if you want to do verbal, face-to-face readings, research the art of rhetorics; what I always recommend to my students of public speaking: follow the Ancient Greek Structure
You start with exordium, which is pretty much an ice-breaker; make a short introduction of why you used that particular spread, explain the set positions, make a comment on the large or very visible patterns or anything that catches your eye. This is where you bond with your querent and grip their attention.
You move on to the narratio, which is basically the description of the reading. Briefly go over every position, describing the card. If you stuggle with explaining the cards (stressed? Chose to memorize the entire LWB and now can’t? Just don’t get the card?), just start to literally describe what you see. It is more helpful than it sounds – sometimes a clear description of what you see on the card relates extremely well to the situation.
Then you do a quick partitio, where you make your reading larger, set it in context, emphasize some parts and leave others out, basically build up the walls of your reading.
Confirmatio and refutatio are for, well, confirmation and refutation; you list all the aspects that confirm your interpretation; I have found it extremely helpful to also incorporate refutation into my readings. “It might seem that the situation is XYZ; but in fact, it could be ABC”. OR – very often, this card is perceived as such; however, all the information we have gathered, actually indicate that it is…”
And there we go, we are up for peroratio! This is the conclusion, but it is also the part of the reading that leaves the most relevant imprint (emotionally) on your reader. Give advice, make sure you are empathic and invested, make them cry or laugh.
Once you get the hang of this method, your readings will be well-structured and easy to follow.
But what about written readings?
Written readings seem scary to some, because a) we don’t see the querent, b) we don’t see their emotional response, c) we might get writer’s block. b) is definitely the scary one here, since if we go down a wrong track, our querent is unable to stop us.
I find it extremely helpful to have a template structure for my readings. In order for a written reading to be enjoyable, follow these recommendations:
- pay attention to your grammar and style: make sure your text is fluent, well-formatted, devoid of typos or duplicate statements.
- utilize the rapport of your querent (if you have any information about them at all). Even minute details like gender or age can indicate how the person would like to be perceived and addressed.
- absolutely no faulty grammar!
- nobody likes to read a paragraph of 34 lines. Use brief, concise, to-the-point sentences in manageable blocks of text
- don’t repeat your statements. Going through a period of change? Got it. Don’t tell me that the period of change will bring about great transformation. Isn’t that kind of what change is about?
- no Barnum statements! These are statements which can be true about anyone in any situation (“sometimes you might doubt yourself”, “some decisions take longer for you”, “in your life, things have changed over the past year”, “you might respond emotionally to negative feedback” etc. These are cheap, corny and make you look unprofessional
When we are reading written text, our brain needs a certain structure to be able to appreciate it. There are several storytelling tools, but just keep in mind that it is generally a good idea to offer a short introduction (e.g a description of the spread or the reading overview), build up some tension, culminate and then fade out.
Lastly, respect your querent. Put yourself in their shoes, read through your text and try to decide whether you would appreciate a reading or advice like that. Approach it with love and passion, success will follow!