Saturday, March 24, 2012

Tarot Boundaries: Significant or Insignificant Others


One of the ethical dilemmas many readers face almost as soon as we start reading for others is the question of reading about someone other than the person who requested the reading.  It really can't be avoided.  Our lives are interconnected webs of contact with others who impact our experience and clients naturally want to know how others' thoughts, feelings, and behaviors are likely to affect their situation.  There are readers who believe reading about others who are not present is akin to spying and a violation of their privacy.  Other readers have no qualms about it, while still others fall somewhere between.  If you are a reader whose ethics preclude reading for others not immediately present, problem solved.  You just don't do it.  But if you're like me, someone who views very few things in an either/or way, and a reader who takes such queries on a case-by-case basis, you could find yourself wrestling with this frequently.

Reading about others who are involved in the client's situation is tricky.  While the client is available to give feedback about the situation from their perspective, the other person is not, so you can't know for sure if what you are seeing in the cards about that person is accurate.  Because the client is biased to their own perspective, as we all are, they cannot always objectively verify the information either. I mean, if they knew the answer already, they wouldn't be asking a tarot reader.  For example, when a client asks me why their long-distance lover hasn't contacted them in two weeks, I can certainly tell them what I see in the cards, but neither of us can verify whether that information is true, at least not until my client hears from the other person.  And even then, the other person may or may not be forthcoming.


If you decide to read about others in this way, you will determine your own ethical boundaries for it.  My own line seems to reside in the practical usefulness of the information.  For example, I will read about someone's love interest, boss, friend, or relative that is immediately involved in the situation, but I often will not read on that other person's relationship with yet another person, once removed.  Even then, my decision depends on how much influence that other relationship may have on my client's situation.  If a client is romantically involved with someone who is married or partnered with someone else, my client is naturally curious about their relationship.  They often want to know if they are being told the truth, if that relationship is actually on the rocks or not.  That's a reasonable request.  However, if they want to know how that other person's partner feels or how that other, other person will likely respond, then it gets pretty far reaching and not very useful.  My perspective is that what really matters is the immediate relationship between my client and this person.  Other extraneous relationships, no matter how significant they may be to my client's other person, do not immediately affect my client.  The other person's decisions will affect my client, so we can take a look at those.  I'm not rigid about this.  If my client can explain to me why taking a look into that other-other person is important to their decision-making process, depending on their answer, I may oblige.  But I probably won't because there are few situations that truly depend on this information and it just smacks of being nosey.  Besides, I'm not infallible and I make mistakes, and I would hate for my client to make an important decision based on some potentially faulty information which can't be confirmed.  If they do, well, that's on them, but I don't recommend it. 

Other people are one of tarot reading's wild cards.  While many like to think that everything that happens to  us is something we had a say in, it just isn't true.  Other people have their own varied choices and decisions to make that may or may not ripple-effect into your life.  They also have their own reasons, known or unknown even to them, why they choose what they do.  I've also noticed that humans have a pattern of acting contrary to what they want, which may seem odd, but we're actually socialized to sublimate our desires and act according to "reason" or other socially-acceptable "logic."

I use a simple spread that examines the other person's view of the situation, their feelings about it, what they want concerning the situation and what they will likely do.  Most often the position describing what they want and the one showing what they will likely do are miles apart.  It's interesting to see whether they will act according to their view (thoughts), their feelings, or their desires or based upon something else entirely, which could be someone else's expectations, society's or their mother's, who knows?  While this spread is very revealing, it's not always useful because, again, we can't always verify whether the information is accurate.  In the instances where it can be verified it often proves accurate, because tarot is just that good, but often we cannot tell whether it really is true.  That's one of my main objection to reading about others not present for the reading.  I do it, yes, but I will always include an overall advice card to help the client make the most out of the information provided.  Because whether the information is accurate or not, it's not empowering or healthy to approach a situation in an entirely reactionary way, leaving the results in the hands of someone else's choices.


This information is usually very useful when a client is simply struggling with trying to understand another significant person in their life.  It's helpful because sometimes even when we ask the other person why they do this or think that, they may not be aware of their own motivations or subconscious goings on, so the answers we get don't always make sense to us.  I've done many readings that have brought peace out of confusion for a client who was genuinely stumped by someone else's behavior.  Using the information from such a reading, my client can then open up lines of communication between themselves and their significant other, approaching the stalemate from a different perspective, asking more relevant questions, and acknowledging the other person's point of view.    I've received feedback from clients to that end and it is very satisfying to know they used our reading in that very productive way.  Because I've seen this kind of reading put to such valuable use, I will continue to read for others about others, with my own limitations in place.

18 comments:

André said...

I never thought about that Ginny...probably because I never had to decide...
What always happens to me is that if the focus of the reading wouldn't like to share a specific information, the reading becomes fuzzy and I can't tell anything about it.

The feeling of "transgressing" comes immediately to my mind.

Ginny said...

I've heard other readers say they believe tarot won't tell them what they're not supposed to know. I come from a different view on how the cards "work" so I don't really buy that, but in the same way, if reading for that "other-other" isn't clear, what use is it? Not much.

Katrina W said...

I tend to be from the "I don't read for people not present" camp, but am also open to when they show up in the reading on their own volition.

With my counseling skills, I steer the client back into questions and guidance that will help them best navigate their own feelings and concerns in a given situation for focusing on the other can be just a distraction from facing those difficult feelings in many readings.

When the other shows up in the cards, it's as if the Tarot, or the other person's spirit, has given us permission to explore their material, in which case I feel ethically clear on including the other's presence.

Interestingly enough, the other rarely appears.

Another great blog Ms Ginny!

André said...

I self learned most of what I know about tarot. Some beginners books and internet searches, of course! But because of that, I don't share much of the "pre concepts" people talk about.

I truly believe tarot information comes from ourselves, the deck is just a tool to focus. Therefore I must conclude this moral line was determined naturally by myself.

Ginny said...

Katrina, that's a very natural way of being open to "the other" but not intentionally prying. Even though I will intentionally ask about the other when a client wants me to, I tend to focus more on what the client can do in his/her own thought process and life that moves towards making the other's thoughts/feelings/actions less significant.

Yes, Andre, as we must all find that moral line on our own. And that is precisely why I wrote this post. :)

Real Magic Spells said...

I used to worry a lot about ethics at first and started having trouble that could probably have been avoided if I wouldn't have worried about ethics. There're things one simply should do.

Tarot reading said...

Thanks for sharing this information.Tarot card is the good choice for knew about some information about our future.

Zanna Starr said...

Great summary of this issue. I have tried all of the approaches you described at one time or another (i.e., no readings about third parties; basing my decision on the situation; or answering any and all questions about third parties). I appreciate your comment about not being able to confirm the accuracy of a reading about "that other person." Many Tarot readers will say, "The cards don't lie. Everything I see in the cards is accurate, of course." Really? Wow. It concerns me that some clients seem to be willing to base their actions toward another person on what a reader sees in a few cards, especially when (in my experience) the cards often simply show the querent's mind set and fears about that person.

Ginny said...

Exactly, Zanna, unless something revealed as "truth" in the cards can be verified with another source, I don't think it's wise to accept it. It MAY be true, or it may not be, but one may never know. And if you can't verify it, why should anyone make a decision based upon it? So I think even if one has no ethical bias against reading for third/fourth parties, one should at least question whether doing so is at all useful. In my experience, it depends on the unique situation of the client, but often it really isn't very useful at all.

Dennis Perez said...

This is a very good discussion on reading for someone that the sitter asks about. I have always found it difficult, since the cards really want to address the person that is before them, but it is not impossible, it just has limitations. Thank you for the Tarot insight!

Dennis Perez
Denver Tarot Reader
http://www.privatetarot.com

AugustoCrowley said...

This post is very important, i like it!

The Four Queens said...

Great article. I've never understood the very hard and fast rules many have about not approaching the thoughts, feelings or behaviours of the other, absent person in the situation being addressed. I mean, how is a relationship reading supposed to work without some reference to the absent significant other? I use readings about absent parties in order to give the querent food for thought and fresh perspectives. I don't believe I'm psychic anyway - merely intuitive and good at using the messages and archetypes to tap into situations we all experience. I think that the 'invasion of privacy' idea is possibly more for readers who believe they can read minds and therefore don't want to give away the other person's position. I do not believe I can do that anyway, but I believe I can read situations fairly well and I believe that the cards can guide the querent towards more objective thinking..

Ginny said...

I tend to agree, Four Queens, because I'm not convinced of my own psychic abilities. I mean, I know I have them, I know it when "it" happens, but I can't call them up at will and I can't be sure that what I'm relaying IS psychic or just my finely tuned intuition -- which is DAMN good, I must say, but I can't go s far to say I read minds or get visual images of the other person. I just know stuff. So all that to say yeah, I agree :)

Brigit | Biddy Tarot said...

Ginny, great post. I couldn't have said it better myself.
It really IS a blurry line between what's 'ethical' and what's not. I like how you distinguish between what is helpful to the client and what is not. And it does need a case-by-case perspective.

Ame said...

I tend to be in a grey zone with this, too. I used to never read for people who weren't present, but as you said sometimes it helps the querent understand the relationship better and is a very helpful thing to do.

If people ask questions like, "will so-and-so ask me out?" or will they call, I use the reading to explore things like why don't you call that person or is this really a good relationship for you (i.e. what do you want in a relationship)?

If people ask, "is my husband cheating on me," I turn it around and ask why they think he's cheating. Usually we can get to the heart of the matter which always seems to be one of two things: 1. he's leaving tell-tell signs such as staying out late, spending money on unusual things, smelling different, etc. or 2. the person asking is extremely insecure and is in danger of pushing him away, so we explore that.

Every once in a while I'll break these rules. The last fair I went to, a guy who obviously had some mental issues (I was a psychologist) wanted readings on people who he thought were "up to no good."

Rather than turn him away, I charged him less and used the time to try to reassure him and assuage his fears. I feel that was a better choice for his particular psychosis, and maybe even helped him battle the voices for a bit.

Christiana Gaudet said...

This is a great post about an important topic. I will make this required reading for my students!

Ginny said...

Brigit, yeah, I'm definitely a case-by-case kind of reader. I think we can tend to lump clients together based on the type of situation/question or reading requested and that's a dangerous pitfall because we assume so much when we do that. Each person's situation, no matter how similar it sounds to another's, is unique and deserves a unique and fresh perspective.

Ginny said...

Ame, I understand the desire to reframe the question to deliver the most helpful reading you can. However, I think we can overdo this sometimes and assume we know what is best. Nowadays, I try to both address their stated question as it stands AND offer something that will empower/help.

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