There are currently more than a dozen active members in the TABI team offering free Tarot readings to members of the public. We receive around 60 readings requests a month from people all over the world, and these are distributed among the team on a random basis.
ClaraZ became a fully endorsed Free Reader last December, after spending five months being mentored by an experienced member. Here she talks about her experience with the service so far….
I love being part of the TABI team that provides free readings for people, but there are one or two aspects I have struggled with occasionally since I joined.
My natural curiosity about the people I draw cards for can make the process of conducting readings by email seem impersonal and disjointed at times. In a “live” consultation — face-to-face, or on the phone — I am free to embrace my usual Tarot style: pulling cards at will as I interact with the querent, letting input from them enrich insights from the cards, and vice versa; adjusting emphasis, altering direction and narrowing or expanding focus as the reading deepens.
With no ‘beating heart’ to engage with, just a name and a date of birth to provide context, I have felt somewhat stifled; bereft of a certain organic ‘flow.’ But this is the nature of the beast: intuitive blocks have to be grappled with and conquered alone, and that can be a very useful discipline for anyone wishing to develop their Tarot skills.
As well as getting used to the solitary nature of the task, there is the problem of capturing the essence of an interpretation with the written word. Even as someone who used to write for a living, I find it challenging. Sometimes it is difficult to strike the perfect nuanced note without the assistance of body language or verbal delivery. Also, it can be an effort to resist overthinking a spread and expressing an array of possible interpretations, instead of sticking resolutely to the initial gut feeling about the cards in front of me. Conversely, there may be the temptation to oversimplify the interpretation, for ease of writing and reading, or to draw conclusions that may have been left slightly more open-ended had the client been sitting in front of me.
None of these problems necessarily make email readings superior or inferior to their live counterparts, and I hope that my skills with the Tarot make their mark, no matter what. The struggles described are borne entirely of a desire to provide something that is ‘real’ and useful, but which reads well at the same time; like the streamlined swan gliding towards its destination, with the strenuous paddling concealed beneath the surface.
The other aspect of giving TABI readings I have found difficult is essentially the flip-side of the first point: the matter of receiving feedback from querents…or not, as is often the case. Whether an opinion is positive or negative, consists of a few words or many lines, is written in perfect English, text speak, or another language entirely (as long as it is available on Google translate), is of little importance to me compared with the benefits derived from a querent opening up about what the reading may have suggested to them and how it made them feel about their situation. After all, we are in the business of trying to help people via a form of communication, and I firmly believe that the querent’s willingness to participate in that conversation and verbalise their reactions to a reading will ultimately allow them to get the most out of it. Not least, because one is able to provide clarification where necessary.
Also, part of the reason I offer my services for free in TABI is to develop my own reading skills, and that doesn’t really work if I am operating within a vacuum. Not knowing how my interpretations have resonated with querents, what issues or solutions they have highlighted, and how my delivery is perceived, leaves me feeling not only unappreciated, but as though the reading process is incomplete. I don’t need reassurance or unwarranted validation. An honest appraisal — warts and all — will do very nicely. And a little gratitude for the time and effort I have given freely. If a querent feels unable to comment when they receive the reading, they might still drop a line allowing me to know why. At the very least, I think I deserve to know whether they have actually seen the reading.
Free readers do get valuable feedback from fellow TABI members once we have anonymised a reading and posted it on our forum, having already sent it to the querent. But, being even more in the dark about a querent than the reader (forum members don’t know a name or date of birth) their input is confined to support and encouragement, along with gentle suggestions on interpretation and reading construction. Don’t get me wrong: this is really useful for all readers, and particularly supportive and affirming for those who are new, nervous or lacking confidence. But the value of a really honest and detailed response from the querent themself cannot be overestimated — ideally soon after they digest the reading, and again at any point thereafter if they feel they have more to say on the matter.
Many querents do take the trouble to let us know whether their readings resonate or not. But many don’t, and it can become wearing and slightly demoralising if a run of readings attracts no response. Meanwhile, a debate rumbles on within TABI about whether querents should agree to give feedback as a pre-condition of receiving free readings. While I don’t feel people should necessarily be obliged to respond, it would give us an indication of whether our readings have actually been read, understood correctly and whether they are valued. Nobody enjoys being taken for granted, and I believe a little more recognition and mutual co-operation would go some way towards building a better service and preventing free-reading burnout.