Hear no Evil, See No Evil

PRIESTESS CARTOONWhat do you lay your trust in?

What you can see? Or what you feel?

A woman is sitting in front of you. She’s petite and has dark straight hair, which is loose and rests on her shoulders. She’s pretty, you think, and is dressed in a charcoal skirt and jacket with a plain white blouse beneath. She notices you looking and with a smile,  says ‘I must apologise for how I am dressed .. it’s been a mad afternoon .. I had to rush from work to the child-minder and then sort the kids out before I came here .. I didn’t have a chance to change out of my work clothes’. 

Sometimes, we make assumptions. You might presume that this lady has a good job. You notice her wedding ring as she scratches her forehead, so you guess that she is happily-married too. You admire how selfless she is around her family. If you chose a significator for this lady, surely she’d be a Queen of Pentacles, wouldn’t she? Instead, you shuffle up and get her to pick one randomly. She receives the Knight of Wands. That doesn’t seem right, you tell yourself. You usually have a strong connection with your cards, so do you question what you see staring up from the illustration in front of you or do you question what you think you can tell about the hardworking mother-of-two on the other side of the table?

One thing I have learnt is to just read the cards. People often think that readers draw a lot from what they see in a client and use it to form their reading. If only it was that simple. Many times, I have fought against my instinct and what the cards are saying, because that ‘Queen-of-Pentacles-type’ across the table just doesn’t look like the kind of woman who might be disappearing for midnight rendezvous with guys half her age or banking her elderly neighbour’s pension in her own account.

I believe that a good tarot reader uses an equal measure of learned meanings and gut-reaction in their readings. The cards will not let you down if you lay your trust in both. The more confusing the stories which unravel, the more important the message usually is. It is not for us to edit somebody else’s reading or to decide what might apply or what might not.

I read for a woman some time ago. She said she’d been dropped off by her husband and told me that the two of them were going out for his birthday a little later. So when the 2 of Cups and the Knight of Cups turned up in the centre of her reading, I was a little apprehensive about telling her what I saw. Rather than give it to her straight, I tiptoed around it, hoping she’d fill in the blanks. Eventually, she smiled and said There is a reason why these cards have come up .. a young man, who is not my husband, has shown some interest in me recently and I am undecided about what I intend to do’. I’d known that a new romantic relationship was important in her reading, but rather than relying on what I felt, I’d been tricked by what I thought was true, which had initially prevented me from giving the woman the reading she really needed

Over the years, I have learned to never assume that I know a person better than the cards do. I have known people for over thirty years but have still been surprised in readings. ‘Why are the cards telling me that you are considering leaving so-and-so after a fifteen year relationship?’, I have asked. ‘Because I am’ has been the reply.

Trust is a very important part of reading the tarot; if you want to give good readings, you must lay belief in your tool and certainty in your interpretations and not allow your ego to step in. Many people will second-guess spreads because they believe they ‘know’ better, but often, if something is glaringly obvious in a run of cards or you feel a nasty-big-hunch in the pit of your belly, there is probably a pretty good reason for it. Rather than sidestepping and trying your level-best to ignore the elephant-in-the-room, you must find a way to deliver these messages sensitively. This is where reading becomes an art. Nobody wants to be slapped around the face with the truth like a wet fish and in some cases, people might be in very deep denial with regards to a situation. I have found that explaining what a card means in a general manner can be helpful during those times, rather than winking at your client and saying Who’s been a naughty boy then?’ when The Devil turns up in the middle of his relationship reading. The penny will eventually drop, even if it is after he’s left your table.

The thing about the court-cards is that each is just one ‘sixteenth’ of who we are. Every one of us has the potential to be loving or deceitful, a homemaker or a home wrecker. And most of the time, we can be many of these things at the same time. Don’t assume that the 70-year-old next door is getting less sex than you are or that the young mum with the new triplets doesn’t have the time to start-up a new business. That is not for us to call. If the cards tell you something which contradicts what you believe to be true, keep schtum and let the tarot do the talking.




© Steven Bright Tiferet Tarot 2014

Illustration by Steven Bright


16 thoughts on “Hear no Evil, See No Evil

    • Absolutely, Ellen. I have been tempted many, many times to do just that, but I know that the cards we pull (whether they make sense or not) are the perfect cards for the situation.


  1. I struggle with telling people the “bad stuff” when I read for them, but the thing is, most of it is only bad until they do something about it. For instance, one of the last readings I did had to do with a person who owed the IRS back taxes (due to a divorce). She was a successful business woman, so this didn’t seem to “fit” her. But I did tell her what I saw, and she confessed she had been putting off dealing with it because she was afraid. But I could also tell her it would be okay IF she would stop putting her head in the sand and deal with it!


    • Absolutely!

      Often, good will come from bad. And acknowledgement is often the beginning of that. In some situations, perception is often the first thing which needs to be changed. Some people will only focus on the bad of a situation, rather than try to see how what is happening could be used for change and growth.


  2. Indeed some cards seem so out of place in a reading that even we, the neutral reader have trouble at times giving them credit. I once did a reading where a guy was asking why his girlfriend kept giving him the cold shoulder and the cards clearly indicated that she was having a covert relationship with another woman whom he thought was just a bad influence talking his girlfriend into dropping him because he didn’t have much money…it was in the early days of me reading for others and what I saw in the cards was so improbable to me that I kept that information to myself. The funny part is when he left, the shaman who was training me, and who happened to be puttering around in the back room, came out and said “So, did you tell him his girlfriend is a lesbian?” You could have bowled me over with a feather lol. I was so mad at myself for not saying exactly what I was seeing that it cured me forever.


    • I found some of my very early readings to be extremely intuitive and overwhelming. I once had a woman ask about a party and whether she should go. She spoke about distance and expense, but throughout that reading, I continued to get these flashes in my mind of people having sex. I eventually said ‘I cannot see any reason why you cannot go to this party, but I get a strong feeling that expense and distance are not your real concerns. Is there something else about the party which is making you apprehensive?’. The woman then leveled with me and told me it was a swingers party that her boyfriend was interested in taking her to. She’d not been to one before and was actually scared of going because she thought she might enjoy it even more than him. Her final question was ‘Can the cards tell me what I should wear?’. I looked down at the Rohrig Empress and replied, ‘something with fur on it’.

      I love your story about the relationship reading. I think that all readers have ones like that which we remember fondly. And I know that feeling of not saying something you wish you had. I think that we can learn to find ways of delivering information in ‘not so many words’. Surprisingly, in that very early reading of mine, I did do that by bringing the information out of the lady without blatantly describing what I could see.


  3. That “what should I wear” is hilarious 🙂

    This can be such a difficult situation, as sometimes people are so deeply in denial. I had one regular client who was in a real pity party, but kept doing things to make her situation worse, and wouldn’t acknowledge her own role at all. She kept giving someone ultimatums, and the result kept going against her, and the cards said it’ll go against her. What can we do as readers? I kept saying that the other person wasn’t going to back down or change their mind. That one was hard, as her situation really was bad, but she had made her own bed (I read for her over the course of about 10 months!)


    • Yes, I can imagine your example as being a difficult place to be in.

      We are the messenger. We can hand them the directions, but whether they choose to use them is a completely different story. People often come back for readings, time and again, without implementing anything from the reading before. They recoil in horror when they see a card like The Devil or the 8 of Swords at the end of their reading, and then sail towards that outcome in life with their eyes wide open. I was explaining reading to a lady at the weekend. I don’t think people realise just how much control they actually have in their life.


      • I think some people don’t want to acknowledge the control they have – they’d rather be a “victim” than have to take responsibility for themselves. It’s a shame, as I believe people can achieve more than they give themselves credit for, if they give it a go.


        • Yes, this is very true. And in some cases, I am not sure that people really want to change. I can think of examples when people who are doing something which gives them momentary pleasure, which they know will cause trouble and upset in the long run for others. The cards tell them that it will end in tears and they know this already but they don’t change their actions. They only want to know if they will get found out.

          I completely agree with you and that is how I use my tarot readings – to help empower people and give them more opportunities. It really is a shame when people are not willing to access their full-potential.


  4. I think you captured the essence of why we must set aside the ego and just read the cards. “Just.” As if it’s always that easy to set aside our own thoughts, assessments and judgement calls!

    Funny also to see this topic, as I was considering writing something along these lines today with an example of my own. Although now I could be lazy and point people here. 🙂


    • Thanks Jason. It is difficult. I think that it is a case of acknowledging them and the clash between gut reactions. I think we often can tell the difference but wive some practice, we can let assumptions go.

      Haha, re being lazy. Well, it you want to use this post as a springboard or for a bit of Guest Bloggery over at your place, we could always collaborate 🙂


  5. I saw you post this link on Monica’s page! I love how you described this scenario. I do this almost every time I read. I see something then hesitate, or leave things out because I fear they might be irrelevant or too shocking. But when I don’t do that, things flow better. Self trust is a hard concept to learn–and reading tarot is a good way to practice, I suppose! I always freak out when someone pays for a reading and then I send the reading off (if it’s an e-mail reading)…I’d say almost every time I get a response that says how relevant it was. But I always worry anyway. Well! Hugs to you! xoxoxx


    • I completely hear you with the email readings …

      I have had the same experiences and the responses are always really warming. People often find face to face readings the most daunting but I find email reads make me the most nervous. You never know how someone has responded to them until they reply, if they do. I think that out of all the kinds of reading experiences I offer, in-person ones will always be my preferred method. I can sometimes replicate that through Skype, even though I think there is something really special about buying or being gifted an email reading and being able to go back to it time and again.

      Great to hear from you, Hannah!


      • I think that’s exactly it with the e-mail readings. Because you don’t have that immediate understanding or feedback from seeing them in person you don’t have any idea what to expect. However, I guess this is a good way to practice that whole self-trust thing! Just press send and go make yourself a cup of tea. Hehee. Have a lovely weekend! I hope you’re well. 🙂


        • Absolutely. Haha, I love the ‘press send and make yourself a cup of tea’ comment.

          I guess that worry is often built around care. We want to give the best reading we can and for someone to feel good about them self afterwards. I always get a ‘feeling’ about the person while I am reading and I always get positive feedback afterwards.

          I would think that if we were becoming complacent about our readings, we would probably lack the care and attention that our clients need.


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