Expressing Psychic Readings with Compelling Narrative
First Published in Sybil's Voice: Speech, Action, and the Renaissance Idea of Conversation (Deal, Kenneth Lee, 1979):
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 scale.
Tarot-Telling: Bringing Psychic Readings to Life
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, "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 album 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 - I always begin "this is your..."; "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 this..."
- 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.
Things to Avoid When Storytelling the Tarot
- 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" and "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. Watch out for and avoid monotonal speech.
- Not breathing!
Storytelling Skills Heal & Inspire
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.