One of the questions I get asked most often is "How do I know when I'm ready to read for others?"
The simple answer? You don't. I know people who started reading for others only weeks after picking up their first deck. I also know people who have made a lifetime of studying Tarot and all of its different aspects and interpretations and still only read for themselves. Myself? I studied off and on for a year before I finally felt comfortable giving free readings, and then did that while studying for a certification and continuing my study of the cards (which I continue on a daily basis!) before I felt I could charge any sort of fee. There's no definitive timeline for when you should or shouldn't start reading for others. There is, however, a combination of knowledge, confidence, and a desire to help that is essential before picking up a deck to use for anyone but your yourself.
The More You Know
Reading for others requires knowledge of card meanings, an understanding of the suits and elements, and a solid perception on those pesky court cards. Do you need to memorize every single thing you read or study? Absolutely not. You should, however, do your research.
I'm of the opinion that a good Tarot reader consults the cards with a basic knowledge as well as a finely honed intuition; what that "basic knowledge" is is up to you. Don't feel like you need to learn every modality that often comes with Tarot (Kabbalah, astrology, numerology, etc.), but be sure that you have a solid foundation on which to build off of. You should know that Wands represent Fire which in turn represent ambition, Spirit, and creativity. From there you can use your intuition, the art of the deck, and any other factor which speaks to you to help you give a sold reading.
Book Smarts Or Spirit Smarts?
Some readers are gifted with an ability to pick up a deck, tune into Spirit/God/Guides/Higher Powers and give incredible, prolific readings without much research into basic card meanings at all. That is a gift (a beautiful one at that), but not one most of us are endowed with. We all, however, have an intuition. Once you understand the basics of Tarot cards, that intuition will be easier to listen to and get to know.
For example, say you pull the Two of Swords in a reading. From your research, you'll probably gather this card means "time to make a decision, to go within to find the right choice." However, if you pull it for a relationship reading, you may feel inclined to say "You need to make a decision based on whether or not to leave your boyfriend." This could be amplified if the surrounding cards are, say, the Knight of Cups reversed and the Ace of Cups reversed. Could you have come to that conclusion without any prior knowledge of card meanings? Sure! But having a basic understanding of the Two of Swords gave you a nice foundation for the reading and allows you to use both your "book" knowledge and your "psychic" knowledge to come to a well-rounded conclusion.
Tools of the Trade
If you're going to decide to pick up a deck to read for others, whether for free, for payment, or some other form of energetic exchange, it's important to have a few "Tools of the Trade" handy so that you're comfortable and supported while doing the reading:
- It's vital to have a solid "Code of Ethics." You don't want to waste the time of you or the Seeker by setting up a time and place for a reading only to find out they want to know when they're going to die or if their husband is cheating on them. If you're comfortable answering those questions, that's fine, but you need to make sure your Seekers know and understand your boundaries, your policies, and what you will or will not do or answer. This only helps both parties, so it's recommended to get clear ASAP so the reading can be enjoyable, helpful, and empowering for everyone. You can sneak a peek at my own Code of Ethics here.
- When reading for others, I think it's important to work with a deck you know inside and out. While others may disagree, I think it's important to use a deck that you don't have to "think" about too much. I own the Thoth Tarot, and LOVE it's deep, esoteric art, but in no way feel comfortable using it for professional readings (at least yet!) as I haven't been able to sit down and personally work with it. It's helpful to use a deck from which the reading can flow effortlessly without having to look in the accompanying book or say things like "Well, in this other deck this card means 'this,' so it must mean the same thing for this deck." That statement isn't always true, and you want to honor the integrity of each deck instead of just labeling the cards with meanings you gleam from somewhere else. Being able to give your Seeker a fulfilling reading is amplified when you know how the deck reads, looks, feels, and speaks without having to give it a second thought!
- A peacful mind can also be extremely important, especially if your reading follows a hectic or stressful day. It's not necessary, but I find a little ten minute meditation helps get me calm, collected, and clears my mind of the enegetic junk of the day. This little ritual helps ground me and ensures that I'm present in the moment and able to give my full attention to the Seeker and reading. If you're unable to get much time in before, even a few minutes of mindful breathing can help calm the nerves and set your focus. Who wants a reading from someone too frazzled or burnt out? Take at least a little time to center yourself so that you can give as much as needed to those seeking you out.
Are you ready to start reading for others? Only you can make that decision. However, once you feel like you are, be prepared for some amazing connections to be made, insights to be had, and empowerment to take place.
Until next time!