Saturday, June 21, 2008

On The Bias

In sewing, to cut on the bias means to cut across the grain of the fabric. When you create bias tape, the pieces of fabric are arranged diagonally to form strips. Bias is slanted. We form these diagonal lines in our opinions, our biases, that draw lines that tend to be rather slanted. We each have our opinions and hopefully they are based on fact and experience and not being randomly pulled out of our asses or other people's asses. They make for good discussions, debates, conversations and even the rousing argument or two, but they do not benefit the tarot reader. One of the most challenging aspects of reading tarot for others is leaving one's biases entirely out of the exercise. That can be really difficult especially when you're not even aware of your own biases or if you tend to think your biases are universal truths.

Biases and preconceived notions have no business in a good tarot reading. I have what I think to be a pretty open mind and accepting outlook regarding other people and their choices and lifestyles. I learned a long time ago not to pass judgement. I try not to censure. However, my most embarrassing readings as a tarot reader have come when I have allowed my own preconceived notions and biases color what I see in the cards.

Working as a professional tarot reader on the online equivalent to a 900 line makes it easy to start making a lot of assumptions. After reading for so many who seem to all say the same thing such as, "He came on strong but he's not calling anymore, what happened?" and seeing the cards say, over and over, "He's just not that into you," it becomes way too easy to begin to give canned responses and presume this reading, this situation, is just like the twenty before. This is a surefire way to eventually make an ass of yourself. Assumptions tend to do that, don't they? I'm not saying there's no place in tarot reading for common sense and mundane wisdom. I don't think we can completely separate ourselves from our own life experience so much that we don't draw on it, nor should we. However, I've learned that I need to treat each and every reading as a new experience, a clean slate, and not to think any situation is "just like" one before.

The cards have often surprised me with their seemingly off-the-mark advice. They tell querants to do things I would never tell them to do. Though I've never seen them advise anything criminal, I have seen them advise pursuing relationships, careers, and other courses of actions that seem untenable. Still, I have to remember that with the very limited information I am given with which to do a reading, it really is quite presumptuous of me to draw conclusions about that person's life and circumstances. Sometimes it seems so ridiculous not to draw on common sense. I mean, hello! The guy is married with three kids and tells my querant he loves her, his wife "just doesn't understand him" and he plans on getting a divorce "soon" but it's just not the right time now...

Um. Please. Take your line of bullshit elsewhere, right?

As a tarot reader, though, you have to resist the urge to slap your querant upside the head saying, "Wake up and smell the lies!" As useful as that advice might be for your friend over Manhattans during Girls Nite Out, it really gets in the way of an effective tarot reading. If you approach any reading with your mind already made up then your mind has shut tight. No other alternatives can enter in. Each card will then be read on the bias, with slanted interpretations towards your foregone conclusions. Even if what you tell them is your standard Good Advice, and it very well may be very good advice, no harm done, right? Wrong. They aren't coming to you for that, they are coming to you for a Tarot Reading. If they wanted Good Advice, they'd ask Dear Abby. If you fall back on handing out prepackaged advice, you may as well toss the cards in your bag and buy them a Manhattan.

I'm not quibbling over the quality of the advice. You may be a very fine counselor with sage wisdom. More than likely, though, the querant already has enough people in their life that are more than willing to hand out unsolicited advice about her choice to hook up with a married man. She also has her own board of censure yelling at her in her own head. Her girlfriends a busy clucking their tongues and rolling their eyes. She doubts him, wonders if he's telling the truth. She doubts herself. Hence...the tarot reading. Querants want objectivity most of all and objectivity is what we need to do our best to give.

So you read the cards. Just read the cards. And they tell her to wait, to hold on, he's on the verge of a big decision and she should wait and see. The cards say he does indeed love her deeply. He needs more time.

WHAT?!?

Great. Now you feel guilty. You feel like this is very Bad Advice and sharing this would be giving her false hope. Now you, as a reader, feel compromised between what you believe to be the right thing to do and what the cards have instructed. I sympathize. There have been quite a few times I have looked blankly at the cards in disbelief and have thought there is no way in hell I can, in good conscience, tell this querant to wait for her lying, cheating scoundrel of a lover to come around. But then I do and what unfolds is often amazing. It never comes out the same way twice. If I am fortunate enough that the querant returns for a follow up reading or writes me to tell me how things worked out, it is usually for the best. Whether she uses that time to better understand her own feelings and decides to kick him to the curb, or whether that big decision he finally makes is to reconcile with his wife, or if they do indeed begin a legitimate relationship after he initiates divorce doesn't really matter. What matters is that the time the cards advised was crucially necessary for the situation to come to its natural conclusion.

5 comments:

Anya said...

Ginny, this is really astute. I haven't done much thinking about the division between what the cards advise, and what I would advise as a friend or as a counselor. It's so interesting when there's a discrepancy between those two, especially since as a reader, it's so easy to "make" the cards say what seems "right." Definitely some food for thought.

And it's nice to see you posting again!
: )

Teresa said...

You're so right. I taught an entire class about this at the Reader's Studio because I thought it was so important. You just HAVE to go with what the cards tell you, because there's that 1 out of 50 chance where the guy really does love her, and they really will be perfect with each other, given the time to make the necessary changes.

Here's a fun exercise to try with a class. Write down the bare minimum about a situation like this, which brings all our natural counseling biases into play. Ask people what they would tell the person. Then write three different scenarios that add more detail to the situation, as different as you can possibly make them. Then reveal these, and see how their answers change. If nothing else, this will help them see how the information they may not have might have changed their "counseling" interpretation - but the cards will stay the same, and that is all they can really rely on to give them the right answer for that particular person and their unique situation. Tarot, like life, is all about balancing cycles and patterns with uniqueness and individuality :)

Anonymous said...

Very recently, a friend of mine had a reading where the reader told her to hold out for her married man. In a couple of years, they would be a happy family. Even though he has said several times he would not leave his family.

I didn't think a reader would tell someone to hold out hope for a married guy/gal.

Plus it makes it harder for her to listen to reason (me!) since she's had that reading. Especially since I was the one who urged her to go figuring (ok, hoping) the reader would tell her to move on there was someone out there for her.

Jennifer said...

One time I did a reading for someone who had just gotten dumped by her shiftless boyfriend. The fellow's behavior of late was reminding me of my own shiftless ex. I said, "no, you're not getting back together," though there was hope.

They're engaged now, of course.

*sigh*

Ginny said...

This is such a conundrum, isn't it? So hard to betray our own common sense in favor of what the cards say, but I am convinced it is MORE irresponsible as a tarot reader to ignore the cards and give a different response to the querant. While telling someone to wait for a married lover who appears not to be doing anything but enjoying his cake and eating it too seems like irresponsible advice, we just do not and cannot know the invisible and underlying forces at work. We don't KNOW these people, honestly, so how can we presume to give blanket advice, no matter how wise?

Besides, we're tarot card readers. That's what we do. We read tarot cards. And all who seek a tarot reading must always, always remember that though the cards are in the reader's hands, your fate and destiny are in yours.

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