Sunday, March 4, 2012

"What's wrong with my soul?"

I've been reading tarot for over 20 years, and I'll admit that I've had my share of interesting questions from friends, family members and clients. When I say interesting I really mean offbeat, oddball, or otherwise goofy. And that's understandable--a lot of people don't know what how the tarot works so you can expect some of it. 
This one, I must admit, really threw me for a loop. How in the hell to you answer "What's wrong with my soul?" in a way that doesn't belittle the client and isn't dismissive or condescending? 

If you read tarot you may come up against this problem at some point in your practice. Here are a few things I did to turn this potentially uncomfortable situation into a positive one for the client. But it started with changing the question.  
On the surface, there's an assumption in this question. It implies that there IS indeed something wrong with the client's soul. So let's begin there. This particular client placed him or herself into a very dangerous situation with it. A charlatan or crook may have tried to say something like, "Oh yeah. I see it from here. Your soul is as black as coal, and to make it pure again you will have to sacrifice $3000 in hundred dollar bills to me, and I will buy the supplies and perform the spell to do it." Anyone who uses psychic ability to harm others and/or for their own personal gain in any way is a person for whom I can have NO RESPECT. So luckily the client was safe from that. 
Without giving away any details of the person's reading, I can honestly say there was nothing  that indicated that the client's immortal soul was in danger. Considering that in all my years I've never seen a set of cards that made me fear for a client's soul, I thought that was a pretty safe bet I wouldn't come up with that.

Just consider this fictional exchange: 

Client: So, Johnnie, what's wrong with my soul?

Me: Ummm, you have your affairs in order? Because your soul is in grave danger and I wouldn't be surprised if tomorrow you were in Baal's throne room, bowing down to him while writhing in everlasting agony.

Client: Oh CRAP! Can I pay you next week?  

Anyway, back to the question. After seeing the first card I realized what to do. I treated the reading as a general overview and told the client what I saw, focusing on overall spiritual ideas that may help in the coming months. I'll admit that I improvised on that one. It was at the beginning of my professional practice and I probably could have handled it better, even though the client went away very pleased.

If this happens to you, then it's time for some questions. What is the client expecting to know? What is most important to him/her? Once you get some answers, you can pick the right spread and get to reading. But take the time to interview the client a little bit. 

Occasionally, clients will not want to tell you what is going on. It's kind of a test. They want to see how good you are, so they'll provide no other information other than the occasional yes or no. While I really don't like this game, do your reading and tell the client what you see. That tactic ends up hurting the client in the long run because the more they share, the more likely they will go away with the insights they desire. But there are always skeptics.

The bottom line is the more you focus on the question and get at what the client really wants to know, the more effective the reading will be and the more the client will be satisfied with their reading. On the reader side, the more spreads you know, the easier it will be to customize something for a client with very specific needs if necessary, so it's important to know a whole bunch and have easy access to a whole lot more. I usually have a spreads book called "Power Tarot" when I read just in case I want something different and/or exotic. 

The question defines and shapes the response, so it's imperative to pick the right one when you're starting out. And try to do your best for the client, no matter how odd the question may seem. 


  1. I love this John. I have come across so many dangerous and even frightening questions and mostly because you wonder what could have happened should this person have ended up with the wrong reader. I often see this type of question from people who have spent a lifetime of hearing belittling things from families or spouses and have developed such a low self esteem they would believe anything. You are a good man.
    My scariest question in the first month I started reading was "I am a drug addict on Heroine, can you please tell me when and how I can get more money because I really need to get more". I was stunned and promptly tried to steer her towards help and refunded the money. But dang! I think you handled it very well, sometimes it isn't even about the cards but just helping people and you did that. :o)

    1. You are very kind, Pandora. Thank you! :)