How can we talk to people in language they can understand? Or: What should be our philosophy? (830 words)


We all probably know a motto or two: A stitch in time saves nine, for instance; or, It is wrong to serve the ungrateful.

Your motto might be: Look before you leap, and so you value safety and precautions, and taking time to get organized before acting. Someone else with the same motto might ask you for advice. He or she is likely to agree with your suggestions, and can see the sense of what you are saying. You are talking in language they can understand.

On the other hand, the other person's motto might be, not: Look before you leap, but instead: He who hesitates is lost. This is different thinking. You don't want to hear about preparation and forethought; you are more concerned that opportunities could be lost, perhaps never to return, if you don't act decisively right now. The look before you leap person may offer excellent advice, but you will not hear it. Or worse. you may get annoyed by being given information that is alien to you and your thinking.

If you are reading Tarot cards for someone else, how can you make sure that you talk to them in language they understand?

What is good advice?
Is good advice actually good if it can't be followed? Or can it be good if it doesn't lead the questioner to the desired outcome because he or she was having to do something that was not natural to them?

This is an important consideration since Tarot card use mostly revolves around developing understanding of a situation, or figuring out the best way to deal with a problem.

A reader - let's call him Bob - may like the Jungian take on living that sees four types of behaviour, with one that is dominant and another that is in shadow, as they say. Bob sees people as being built this way, and is comfortable with this model.

A questioner, however, may think that this basic format is wrong, or incomplete, or biased in one direction. He or she may not like or understand this way of looking at people, or may not have a degree in psychology. It can therefore be difficult to follow any advice that might be given, even assuming that the advice is correct or relevant.

Infinite knowledge, but finite human beings
There are problems, I think. when we take our current (and incomplete) understanding of mankind and impose it on the Tarot, trying to make its - the Tarot's -infinite possibilities fit our limited knowledge.

They say that if you go shopping for groceries when you are hungry, you'll buy more than you need or want. I think it's true. Our state of mind at the time causes us to see and behave differently. If we are reading cards for someone else, will we be able to keep ourselves out of the answer? Can we, or how can we, keep our own idiosyncrasies or prejudices out of the reading?

Being aware that we don't want to impose ourselves on the questioner may be enough.

A card as a Significator
If we want something practical, we might choose a card to be the significator of the questioner; we can keep this card in mind as a guide to how we should interpret the cards, or for information on what state the questioner is in. A card chosen at random is probably best. It will be relevant for that person at that moment.

If the questioner is represented by The Fool, for instance, we can safely talk about new beginnings, and basic changes in behaviour, and life-altering decisions and actions. We might know that the questioner wants to make a fresh start and is willing to leave the past behind.

Two of CupsSomeone represented by the reversed Two of Cups, however, would be a very different kind of person. We would probably want to soften what we see as the message or advice of the cards.We could suggest general ways of handling stress, or we might recommend avoiding difficult decisions for the time being until the person is stronger.

Let's say these two people - a Two of Cups-type and a Fool-type - are presented with a similar future; their reactions and expectations would be different. If the future situation is represented by the 10 of Batons, then we are being shown the end of one cycle and the beginning of a new one because it makes sense that 10 = 1 + 0 = 1. Such an experience might be welcomed by The Fool, but be regarded with suspicion or unease by the reversed Two of Cups. One is looking for opportunities; the other is wary, and might prefer the devil he knows, instead of the devil he doesn't know.

If we choose a card to represent the questioner at that time, then we are going to be better able to choose the right tone for talking to him or her. Some books recommend picking a significator based on the questioner's hair colour. A card chosen at random is better.