How to deliver the “bad” readings?


I have nothing but love for my job as a professional tarot reader, but I would be lying if I said there weren’t nights where I stayed up by my altar, praying on behalf of someone I laid cards for. There have been times where a person has eagerly looked into my eyes, wondering if the love of his life would ever return, and the cards lock my jaws and fill my chest with pressure. When the glamour of self-employment and living the dream all goes away, I remember that I really do have one true job: Deliver the message.

I have been asked, “Is he cheating on me?” even by family members and close friends. “Is she still alive?” “Will my child ever forgive me?” “Will I ever get out of debt?” “Is my loved one’s addiction going to kill him?” Most readers turn away these questions, especially those that don’t “do fortune telling,” but I always give my client the option- “Are you sure you want to know?”

Honestly, if I don’t answer, the client will just ask the next reader who may not be as gentle as I am with painful news.

Sometimes, I get sunshine, rainbows, and lots of glitter. Everyone leaves my table happy. Other times, I am not so lucky. So, when it is time to deliver those heart wrenching news, what do you do?

Read the cards.
This sounds so obvious, but when that Tower and Death and Ten of Swords is glaring at you right in the face, in that order, you will most likely lock up. Instead of keeping your client in deafening suspense, begin with the first card and tell the client what you see. Then move on to the others and tie it all up. Whatever you do, don’t sit there, dumbfounded, with a deer in headlights look on your face. Also, don’t tell your client you “just can’t do it” and send them away. You will do more harm than if you just said what you saw.

Lower your voice.
A gentle notion of speaking softer, maybe a little slower, will ease the intensity of the way the message is being presented to the client.

Do not judge.
One of the things that tick me off is when I hear other tarot readers say, “Oh my gosh, if I get ONE MORE QUESTION about is he coming back… Im gonna…” It’s not our place to judge. Understand that. If our client wants to obsess, wants to cry, wants to cling, wants to deny, it is never EVER our place to make fun of them behind their backs. Furthermore, never force a client to do something that he or she does not feel comfortable or ready to do. We are not here to conform them to what we feel is “right.” It is not our shoes to wear, not our lives to live. They have given us the privilege of reading their cards, divining into their most intimate parts of their lives, and respect must always be there.

Offer options, but not hypothetical scenarios.
Honestly, when I’m in tears over a break up, I don’t want to hear about the hypothetical great man that “might” come into my life in some hypothetical time in my life in the hypothetical future. I doubt my clients do, either. Instead, have some support groups (for those suffering from addiction, violence, etc.) Ask the client what they love doing and pull some cards on some outlets they can use to ease the pain- is it the spa? Maybe getting some ice cream? Walking barefoot on the beach? Don’t leave them with hypothetical scenarios. Give some options. Pull “one last card” to tie up the reading for them, even if they are over their time limit.

Deliver the message.
This is the most important part of what we do. We deliver the message. We don’t put sugar and honey on top of it and tie it up with a nice bow. With tact, we read the cards, explain what we see, and then offer some advice, as well as options. But ultimately, you must deliver the message and answer the question that is asked. That’s why you’re being paid. It would be a disservice to lie about what we see and quite frankly, unethical.

Take the time to understand what questions you do not feel comfortable answering. I personally will never read about whether or not a child will be carried to full term and I will also not read on how/when someone will pass away (unless the person is dying of terminal illness.) If someone asks you to read on a subject that makes you uncomfortable, politely decline. “I’m sorry, that’s not something I’m comfortable doing.” Perhaps, “Sorry, that’s not my area of expertise.” There’s no shame in that.

It’s the nature of the job… and it’s a beast… but hopefully the messages that we divine through the cards can help those that seek us… maybe it will set them free.

Reading tarot for people you already know


On occasion, I get this question: “Is reading tarot for people you already know hard to do?”

In most cases, having a strong, deep relationship with someone can lead to greater tarot clarity.  Because each card has many different meanings, knowing the sitter well may help you determine exactly how that card applies to their situation or question. You don’t have to play guessing games with a loved one or long term client. Also, when you work with someone for an extended period of time, you can get some profound healing happening.  Lastly, a long relationship builds trust.  This is essential for a good tarot reading.

BUT, in some cases, if you are unable to detach from your emotions, the reading can become biased – or you may have a harder time being honest should you see something “bad.”  (This is called being “emotionally invested in the outcome.”)

Another possible problem: the querent may feel as if you didn’t really read for them because you “already know” what’s going on.  These types may play games or sit there mute, waiting for you to tell them “something they didn’t know.” They also may downplay the reading and pooh-pooh any true insights you are sharing (“oh she just told me that because she knows me blah blah blah”).  I never read for someone once they come with that mindset.  It’s disrespectful and no matter how spectacular and accurate the reading may be, they will continue to dismiss it.

It all comes down to this question: can you be objective?

If you cannot, then it is better to refrain reading for that person.

The next question: will they treat the reading with respect or are they coming with a skeptical attitude?

If it’s the latter, you may want to say no.  It’s not worth your time or energy.

On reading:

Always have a grounding practice before reading for ANYONE.  Meditation or energy work before a reading gets you in the perfect tarot headspace.

Establish the energy immediately once they sit at your table.  For example, I like to have people pull a card from The Power Deck and take a moment to read the back.  This little ritual stets the tone that it’s tarot time.

Next, simply focus on the cards. Concentrate.  Tune out distractions – including looking at the querent for confirmation.  Do not seek validation or contradiction.  Just read.  This is NOT easy, especially if you’ve been trained to ask for confirmation.  But sometimes “just reading the cards” is the best path to keeping your emotions out of the way.

If you find yourself beginning to read in a slanted direction, pause.  Take a moment. Breathe deeply. Look at the cards as if you reading for a stranger.  What would you say to someone you didn’t know?  How would you interpret those cards?  Go from there.  See if that puts you back on track.

If you cannot get out of your own way, it may be wiser to refer them to another reader.

But if you can detach from your own inner emotional chatter and move forward, you may just find that these readings are the most meaningful of all.



© Theresa Reed | The Tarot Lady 2014

What about you?  How do you read for someone that you know well?  Or do you take a pass? Share your thoughts with me on Twitter @thetarotlady

image from stock photography

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VIII – Strength

(8) VIII - Strength


This card represents humanity taming its wilder instincts and channeling them to useful purpose. You have the ability to harness your thoughts and to use them for your – and everyone else’s – highest good. Not only do you have the ability; you have the responsibility.

Determination, Strength, Courage, Patience

Success will happen through meeting problems head-on and overcoming them by strength of will. You have great stamina and persistence, tempered by an underlying patience and inner calm. You are focused on what you need to do, and you go about it in a way that demonstrates great composure and maturity.

Weakness, Self-Doubt, Failure

Your inner strength and courage is lacking right now and you are feeling inadequate and vulnerable as a result. While these feelings may seem very real when you are in the moment, you will soon come to realize that they exist only to remind you that you are only temporarily out of touch with your inner strength.

Meanings of numbers in Tarot


In the Minor Arcana (and to a lesser extent in the Major Arcana) numbers play a significant role in the meaning of the card.  As always there are many ways to interpret everything so if you have a different interpretation of the roles numbers play on the cards please tell me.

Ace – The Ace of any suit embodies the meaning and power of the suit; all of the raw power and meaning of the suit. Power.  Can also be a beginning or new beginning.

Two – Two’s are all about balance.  This could refer to finding balance within your life or the natural balance of life and nature; Duality, opposition, equal and opposite reactions.  This can also refer to relationships.

Three – Threes are often full growth and potential; creativity and birth.

Four – Fours are reality, logic and reason, stability and structure.  Like a strong foundation.

Five – Fives can be uncertainty as things change and shift.  They can also represent conflict and loss.

Six – Sixes are equilibrium and harmony.  They can also represent pivotal points of communication and harmony.

Seven – Sevens are sometimes wisdom and completion of cycles; other times they are reflection, assignment and evaluation and still other times they represent Karmic influence.

Eight – Movement, power and progression.  Balance and regeneration.  Moving on from the past.

Nine – Three threes, compromise and compassion.  Spirituality.  Contentment and completion.

Ten – Transcendence, completion, the end of a cycle.  Perfection.

There is a distinct difference between the Number Cards and the Court Cards.  There the Number Cards are just symbols and ideas, the Court Cards are people with goal and desires of their own.  They have distinct desires and skills.

Page – The Page is the student of the suit, they study the power of the suit and through the suit seek power, knowledge and enlightenment.  The Page can also act as a messenger.

Knight – The Knight is the protector of the suit, The Knight knows how to wield the power of the suit to his advantage.  The Knight represents movement and action.  Once he knows what he wants he will seek to take it and may even be willing to hurt others in the process.

Queen – The Queen possess full knowledge and wisdom of the suit.  Her energy is distinctly feminine.  She will rarely take action herself but will often counsel others with her wisdom and experience.

King – The King rules over his suit, he is able to channel the power and potential of the suit fully and completely.  He is a leader and a protector.  He is ultimate power and energy.

VII – The Chariot

(7) VII - The Chariot

The Warrior

Like yin and yang, they represent qualities that are neither good nor bad in themselves, but which naturally tend to clash and get out of balance. The Chariot indicates a lot of energy but not free-for-all energy; it is directed, controlled, and has a goal in mind.

Hard Work, Control, Willpower, Victory

Triumph through the careful balancing of opposites and courage in the face of danger. In general this card points to determination and ambition, getting things done, and testing and proving what you’ve got. Remember, though, that you’ll need to use both your intellect and your heart, in order to be truly successful.

Lack of Control and Direction, Aggression, Discouragement

The Chariot reversed suggests that you are collapsing under pressure and losing your self-control. Do not allow yourself to be worried about what is out of your control as there is nothing you can do about it. Instead, focus your energies on what IS in your control. Don’t allow yourself to engage in movement just for the sake of movement.

Tarot Tips

1. There are no “bad” cards; each card can be meaningful to you

2. Your intuition is your strongest ally.

3. Don’t feel constrained by spreads.

4. If you have to look up what a card means, don’t feel bad. There are a lot of cards and memorizing what they all mean takes time.

5. Take time to develop a personal relationship with your cards.

The Major Arcana in One to Two Sentences

The Fool: Now what?

The Magician: You should really do the Thing

The High Priestess: You should think about what happens when you do the Thing

The Empress: Here are the means for you to do the Thing

The Emperor: Here are the rules you need to follow to do the Thing

The Hierophant: You probably shouldn’t do the Thing

The Lovers: I’m going to decide for myself if I should do the Thing or not

The Chariot: I’m gOING TO DO THE THING

Strength: Whoa there friend have some self-control while you try to do the thing

The Hermit: Observe how other people do the Thing and learn from this


Justice: Maybe I deserved that for trying to do the Thing

The Hanged Man: Trying to do the Thing has fucked my life over what the shit

Death: Trying to do the Thing has changed me beyond all comprehension. I DON’T LIKE CHANGE

Temperance: I’m trying to get back how I used to be before I tried to do the Thing


The Tower: Everything I knew before I tried to do the Thing was a lie. I am completely changed

The Star: Maybe there’s hope for me to actually do the Thing


The Sun: Wow I may actually be able to do the Thing

Judgment: Looks back fondly on the Journey that I took in order to do the Thing

The World: I did the Thing

The Fool: Now what?