To be an effective reader, I feel like you definitely need a particular skillset.
That’s not to say I think that everyone needs the exact same balance of qualities.
That would be boring and ridiculous.
Each person brings their own wonderful individual blend of experience and insight when they read cards.
Unique perspectives aside, I do still feel like there are some fundamental skills that you’d do well to hone that will make you a better reader (and arguably a better person).
I’m not going to attempt to outline all of the qualities that I think make for a good tarot reader here, or this would probably be a stupidly long post.
Instead I’ll be meditating on two key skills that are arguably equally important for anyone reading cards for themselves or others: Objectivity and empathy.
Objectivity is the ability to look at a situation without pre-conception or emotional entanglement.
Empathy is the capacity to understand and identify with another’s emotions.
In tarot terms, objectivity would best relate to to the suit of Swords and the element of Air.
Empathy aligns with the suit of Cups and the element of Water.
My personal opinion is that true emotional objectivity is ultimately a myth.
Even a scientific worldview can demonstrate that we are never truly separate from other people or the world around us.
However, I can also roll with there being a pretty damn realistic separateness that we do experience and so that also makes complete and total merge with another as impossible in our current everyday experience.
It is a paradox that needs to be reconciled in a way that makes room for both truths to co-exist; we are all part of the same totality and consciousness but you are certainly you and I am most definitely me.
You have your own identity, hopes, histories and mysteries. I have mine.
One reason that developing objectivity is necessary as a tarot reader is this: if someone comes to us with a prickly issue that happens to resonate with something within our own experience, and we don’t have a great handle on that thing ourselves, it can be all too easy to project our feelings and opinions onto that situation.
We can pass judgment too quickly.
A friend or client is often seeking sage and impartial guidance (or at least that’s my expectation – some people are definitely looking for someone to tell them what they want to hear, but that’s a whole other article!).
To be able to provide this, we need to take personal responsibility and ensure that anything that needs to be left at the door is left at the door.
On the other hand, the ability to be able to comprehend and relate to another person is golden and tapping into your personal experience in order to do this is not invalid.
It doesn’t matter if you’ve never been through the exact set of circumstances.
As human beings we are graced with the potential to live an enormous spectrum of emotion.
We’re also being blessed with the ability to compare and contrast.
We have flexible intelligence and massive imaginations.
We can think symbolically.
We can use this to write poetry.
Contribute to a scientific breakthrough.
We can use it to open the door to enabling a deep feeling of validation in another.
Often times people do bring their big dilemmas and questions to a tarot reader, and the more you are able to listen, connect and reflect where a person is really coming from, the better advice you will be able to offer them when you marry this up with your interpretation of the cards.
In even everyday non-tarot situations, being able to hold space where a person feels understood and heard can often be enough to manifest a miraculous transformation.
Ideas for how (and why) to consciously level up
Regular self-reflection is good practice for basically anybody living around other people.
This can take the form of journaling, meditation, reading your own cards, or any other practice that helps you to get to know yourself and get clear about where you are coming from.
Note that this might not just be about your own emotional complexities.
It also includes getting clear on your history, morals, ethics and opinions on all sorts of things.
Reflective alone time is good. But interacting with others and being able to really listen and reflect other people’s stories, opinions and beliefs (even outside of a tarot or personal development context) is also important to practice getting good at.
Get curious about other people’s lives.
Listen to their stories.
Learn about the world.
It’s about humbling yourself, developing better communication and fostering good relationship with yourself and others.
And better communication doesn’t just make you an awesome reader.
It can help to create a better quality of life for yourself and everyone you come in contact with.