When Positive Spin is Harmful in a Tarot Reading

Imagine that you receive a client who has been diagnosed with stage four breast cancer and knows that she has less than three months to live… Would you be able to read for her? Would you be willing to interact with her on her terms, without a need to protect your own fragile emotions… Or would you be tempted to tell her that everything is going to be fine, giving her the ‘Oh, don’t worry… Death never means actual physical death’ spin on the Death card if/when it shows up?

A great Tarot reader isn’t fearless but she knows how to show up for fear.

Are you equipped to read for someone who lost their baby or who is caring for their terminally ill spouse? Are you able to deal with the raw emotions of those types of clients?

Think about it this way… When you were in those very dark places (perhaps they have yet to appear for you but they happen to us all sooner or later)… What did you want more than anything? You wanted to feel seen, right? You wanted your suffering to matter somehow, even if you couldn’t make sense of it then and there? You wanted to know that you didn’t have to carry the burden yourself.

Now, what do you think will happen if you are unable to read with the full spectrum of meanings for each of the cards in situations like this? What might you say to someone who is struggling if all the cards are just full of positivity and nothing else? My first ever Tarot reading was for a 14-year old friend of mine (I was 15) who was being sexually abused by her mother’s boyfriend. Luckily, I didn’t know any better than to tell her what I saw. I didn’t feel the need to wrap it in cotton wool… Looking at the Emperor and the Devil next to each other, I said:

‘There is an older man around you and he is not a good man. I think he may be abusive.’ (or words to that effect)

I didn’t see her pain but the cards did. I didn’t know about her pain and suffering. Nobody did… until the cards showed us… until we let them do the talking. Had I been a bit older and a bit too smart for my own good, I may well have missed an opportunity to relieve suffering. Instead, because I simply spoke what was plainly laid out before me, my friend broke down in tears and after that, she was able to tell her mother. The abuse stopped that very day.

We must be very careful to get out of our own way when we read for people, whether we know they are experiencing suffering or not. If we have a positive prejudice and feel that we need to steer clear of anything too heavy, the potential healing space may never open up. We are not the ones doing the healing of course – that’s the work of the client… But we get to choose to be strong and compassionate enough to hold that space by not censoring what we see.

Tarot without the pain, suffering, and negativity isn’t Tarot; It’s wishful thinking.

The tarot is a reflection of all the ups and downs that we experience in life, both internally and in the world around us… or it can be if we step away from a positive bias.

Love and Blessings,

Lisa Frideborg

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Comments 4

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      Thank you so much, Lisa! Being able to hold space is probably number one. Words are so damn insufficient when someone is grieving deeply. When my friend broke down, I didn’t say much (if anything at all) – I just sat with her. I found myself in that position often, even as a child… It’s something that comes naturally to those of us who are already broken, I think.

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