Articles - Tarot
Storytelling and the Tarot
First Published in "Sybil's Voice"
Tarot reading stories bring the art of the story into a personal
and particular context. In our own society today, oracle reading
serves much the same purpose it has long served in traditional
cultures, offering a chance for dialogue, for sharing, for
objectification, for hope and drama and revelation.
Tarot reading offers the opportunity to cultivate our natural
narrative abilities and endow them with deeper resonances
and broader meanings. Tarot is a means of evoking stories
latent in the readers and clients' that may well lack a conventional
form but that reveal the processes of the unconscious. Archetypal
words permeate the Tarot - King, Queen, Knight, Princess -
Mother, Empress - you elevate the client's "small"
story into the realms of the archetypal world so they get
a sense of how important they and their stories are on a grand
Keys to remember in storytelling a Tarot reading,
- How does the big story of the card depict the person sitting
across from you?
- Who is the character in the card and how is that a snap
shot of your client?
- The meditation exercise of carrying yourself into the
card in a three dimensional way must be now applied to seeing
your client inside the card.
- Observe the action - what action is going on and where
does the client fit into that action? In other words, "What
is the client doing in that card setting?"
- Think about the cards in your layout being like frames
that make up a movie - How are the characters, and action
unfolding from one card to the next? What is the difference
between one scene and the next?
- Look at your elements - is the client drowning in water?
(cups) are they on fire? (wands) are they floating around
in the air? (swords) or are they stuck to the ground? (disks)
- Think of your layout like a photo albumn you are going
through that belongs to your client - what are you learning
about your client's life in this albumn?
- Think about your language - "this is you.."
I always begin – this is where you have been in your
past and this is your future – keep your language
immediate to the client - "I see you have" or
"this card tells us you.." or "The oracle
has revealed you in this situation, doing this, feeling
- A good story is always emotional - make it funny and sad,
joyous and fearful.
- Build your story to a climax - know which card in your
layout will be identified as the climax. Take your time
to build suspense.
- Build suspense and anticipation up to your climax then
in your summary you are lowering the emotional intensity
so your client goes away calm, and satisfied.
- Consider; "What is the moral or lesson of the story?"
This is the point of the reading!
- Practice making a story of your own life using the cards.
- Leaving your client hanging up in the air - how does this
story end? (Everyone wants to know how a story ends.)
- Verbalizing everything you are thinking.
- "Thinking out loud" and falling into the pitfalls
of "umms" "uhs".
- Fidgeting - be conscious of your body language - are you
waving your hands around to express yourself? This can be
very distracting. Are you moving your body to the movements
of your story? Keep this consistent.
- Staring at your cards so long you forget to make eye contact
with your clients especially at times in your story when
emotion will be elicited.
- Being boring. Indeed this may be the 20th story you've
told to someone that day, but remember this is their story
and they expect you to be as excited about it as they are.
What out for "monotone".
- Not breathing!
Storytelling is a vital skill to develop as a Tarot reader,
and those that become great readers are above all else great
storytellers. Like all complex skills it takes many hours of
practice to perfect, but the reward is possessing a rare gift
to heal, inspire, and yes, change the world.