The Wrong Truth: On Knowing When To Lie (Which Is Never)

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What do you do when one job ends & you need to eat? You apply for another job! As I want to be a fulltime tarot reader from now on I decided, more or less on a whim, to have a go at a spiritual chat service. You know, one of those things where you can get a reading from a number of different psychics, mediums & fortunetellers, via phone or chat. As I like to write I reckoned that chat would be the best option for me. Never mind the New Agey website that talked about Twin Flames a lot (don’t get me started), a job is a job.

So I filled out an application, and the next day I got a phone call inviting me to do a test reading then & there, without even asking me if that would be convenient for me. I put that down to a flattering enthusiasm on my prospective boss’ part. We settled on an hour later.

In a brief preliminary Lenormand line, without a specific question, I got this: Man, Key, Coffin (see picture above). Uh-oh. Something ending, with a man turning the key. It looked like I would have to deliver some tough news.

My test client was a woman working at the spiritual website. She asked for a general reading for the next three months or so, with an emphasis on work & relationship. The cards showed a choice to be made, a change and/or an ending. This could apply to her work as well as her relationship in my view, but bearing in mind the Lenormand preliminary I decided to focus on the relationship. I did a second line specifically about that, and it became clear that the relationship isn’t that healthy, they keep each other bound, and the man will indicate he wants out first.

The To Do card was actually Death: best sever the knot yourself instead of waiting for him to give you the news! It won’t surprise you that this second spread was with the Noblet Marseille. Blunt as fuck. It brilliantly pointed out that that first general line of five wasn’t about the client’s job after all. So in total I now had THREE readings all saying the same. Clear as crystal, if not as pretty.

And so I told her what I saw, matter-of-factly but not especially insensitive. The thing is, when such a strong issue comes out of the cards, especially without even a question asked, almost always the client will admit they already know that things aren’t right. I therefore assumed that my sitter would at least have a feeling that her relationship wasn’t going all that well.

A complicating factor was of course that this was all a test. So when my client asked whether she & her partner weren’t Twin Flames after all, then, I wasn’t even sure if she was serious. With her relationship so plainly in trouble, could anyone calling themselves a spiritual counsellor really believe she & her partner were meant to be forever eternally?

But test or no, for me there was still only one answer possible. I therefore explained to her exactly what I think of Twin Flames, Soulmates etc.: which is NOT that they are meant to stick together all their lives. On the contrary, such significant others usually give you a Learning Moment (i.e. they break your heart) & then move on, leaving you to lick your wounds & grow tougher skin.

I refrained from pointing out that it’s downright irresponsible & dangerous to tell people they should stick it out with whichever Soulmate they are encumbered at any given point. From my own experience & what I have seen from other couples this is a recipe for disaster. Like I said, DON’T GET ME STARTED. Especially when that website actually makes money of this whole concept it’s better not. I thought I was being pretty diplomatic. Haha ARIES.

Okay, says she, apparently accepting my answer, my colleague will call you back & give you feedback. So the man I spoke to earlier calls, and of course it turns out that my boss-to-be is also my CLIENT’S PARTNER. Oopsie.

What then followed was a bewildering & slightly unpleasant discussion, in which I was told the following things:
-You are simply WRONG
-You don’t ask enough confirmation questions
-You don’t care enough about how the message may affect the sitter

When I cautiously questioned his impartiality (after all, he didn’t really need to tell me he was the partner in order to evaluate this reading! Also he sounded & felt upset to me), and that I got the same message THREE FUCKING TIMES (well I didn’t say fucking), he says that CLEARLY something is off in my energy or that there is some interference or other, making me ALL WRONG.

It was just all so absurd to me that I quickly ended the conversation for fear of laughing at him, which would have been unkind. I admit I was a bit rattled as to my accuracy, so I grabbed the Vera Sibilla for some extra confirmation :

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Obviously in three months time he’ll offer me the job again at a double rate…

The spiritual counsellor feels attracted to the idea of going away; the union will come apart. Sad, but nonetheless true. Interestingly the Sacerdote, being the King of Spades, can also mean an ex. So he’s attracted to becoming an ex.

I also gave the points he made some consideration, as this could well be a Learning Moment for me (oh dear gods IS THIS MAN MY SOULMATE). It is true that I am used to working mainly unilaterally, via audios & written reports, so I considered it possible that my customary directness might not work as well in this bilateral medium. As for not caring enough, believe me I do. I’m not good at the whole detachment thing AT ALL. I just don’t let it influence the message itself.

Of course I asked the cards: Should I change my style of delivery?

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Showing some tough love…

The answer is, a big NO. You shine a clear light with great authority, even if you bring an uncomfortable truth that forces people to make tough decisions. DO: keep everything as it is. DON’T: change a damn thing.

It would seem that if I had lied, or modified the message, I might have been hired. Is the lesson, always lie to your future boss? NEVER. In fact, at the moment I feel reaffirmed in my task of being a teller of Truth. I should toughen up more, not less.

Because, as long as we’re being brutally honest here: I do find it difficult to deliver this kind of devastating truth when sitting next to an unsuspecting stranger, and having to deliver this kind of message to their face instead of safely from behind my computer. Definitely something to chew on. After all, the Dutch word for ‘fortuneteller’, waarzegster, literally means ‘truth teller’. It’s all in the job.

What else did I learn? Well, not to work for this kind of channel which is aiming to keep people chatting endlessly! To which end giving such straight answers would be counterproductive. And that I may have been needed to deliver a Truth out of the blue…

As for those initial Lenormand cards: a man is the key to an ending. His relationship, but as it turns out, also my chatting career! See, and that’s why reading cards never gets boring…

Need some Truth Telling of your own? Visit my shop to book a reading!

How Tarot Cards Play Out in the Real World

If you’re new to the cards and haven’t built up much experience yet with readings, it can be a bit difficult to see how they relate to actual happenings in the real world. At least in terms of how I taught myself tarot, the images on the cards and the stories they could create when placed together all seemed theoretical and impersonal until I had years of real-world experience to relate to each and every one of them.

In an attempt to add a bit to the overall knowledge base regarding how readings play out in the real world, every once in a while I’d like to let you have a peek into my own personal tarot journal. The internet didn’t exist when I started teaching myself tarot, and I would have really liked to have been able to get a look at how experienced readers interpreted the cards and applied them to actual practical situations.

So, in the spirit of learning, I’ll let you in on one of my most recent practical uses of tarot for myself.

As you may or may not know, I am a single, divorced, working mother of three elementary-school-aged children (9, 7, 7). Needless to say, my romantic life has been stalled to non-existent for quite some time. Now, however, I feel happy and serene as a single person and I’m no longer looking for someone to fill up a void in my heart or emotional life.

Some girlfriends encouraged me to try online dating. So I put up a profile and started chatting with some men. One of them was really funny and attractive. We made plans to meet for a coffee. And then it occurred to me (I’m an American living in Italy, btw) – I had forgotten to ask if he was married or had a girlfriend.

Although I certainly don’t want to generalize, in my own personal experience in Italy, I’ve learned that men often don’t have any qualms about taking a lover on the side in addition to their steady girlfriend or wife. While I don’t pass judgement on their choices, I don’t want to be anyone’s other woman. 

Here’s where the reading comes in.

When it occurred to me that I hadn’t asked him, I figured I might as well perform due diligence. So I asked him outright in a message if he had a girlfriend, wife, lover, or was otherwise engaged with a significant other.

His immediate response was a flippant joke, which struck me as a way to deflect and avoid. 

That was suspicious to me, and no answer was forthcoming, so I turned to the cards. Situations like this, when you have a “hunch” but there’s an information gap, are excellent practice readings for learners. When and if you get more real-world information, you can compare it to the information you obtained from the cards and your interpretation of their message for you. The more you make these comparisons, the more your confidence and knowledge will grow.

I drew three cards: 1) What I need to know about Marco; 2) Advice/guidance for me re: Marco; 3) Outlook.

Here’s what came up:

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Three of Wands, Death, Seven of Swords

[Practice exercise: If you had to simply make a sentence out of this string, keeping it in context with the questions posed, what would it say?]

Here’s verbatim what I wrote in my journal:

“Oh, see – now that’s a real shame. I had this feeling smth was going on – like he’s not really single. This spread says he has his eyes elsewhere, let the whole concept and idea of him die, and you’ll see he had smth to hide. Boo! Now let’s see how it plays out…spill the beans, Marco.”

I left it at that and decided to follow the advice of Death – let it go, close it off, leave it behind. It wasn’t easy to follow this advice because my initial impulse was to respond to his jokey message and gloss over it and explain why I had asked. Instead, I stayed silent as a tomb. Death doesn’t utter a word, not even an emoji. Total crickets. 

It was only a matter of hours before I had my answer!

He later spontaneously sent a message admitting that yes, he has a girlfriend; but, and I quote: “she lives abroad and I hardly ever see her.”

Ah, tarot. How I love thee. Let me count the ways.

Let’s now look specifically at two of the cards that, in my own experience, have shown up repeatedly in specific real-life situations.

The Rider-Waite-Smith Three of Wands has come up repeatedly in my readings for clients in situations where there are long-distance relationships and in situations where one of the partners is contemplating a move overseas (or in any case across water or a long enough distance to require relocation) in order to be with the other. I didn’t touch on the overseas part in my own brief written analysis of this reading (because I already knew that part in my head), but I did make sure to note what the figure is doing on the card: he has his back to me. Thus, what I needed to know was that he certainly didn’t have his eyes on me, but rather elsewhere, across the water. In fact, I came to find out that his girlfriend lives in Spain.

Secondly, the Seven of Swords is a card that I’ve seen repeatedly for clients when there is a situation of cheating or getting away with (or attempting to get away with) something secretly. I generally dislike assigning specific keywords and situations to a card, since it’s better to be fluid enough to interpret every card uniquely for each unique reading. However, the Seven of Swords is rather difficult for me to extricate from the context of cheating when it shows up in a relationship reading, especially as it regards trust issues or secrets.

If you’re learning how to read the cards, I can’t stress enough the importance of keeping a journal. I’ve been reading now for nearly 20 years and as you can see, I still physically jot down notes with an actual pen on an actual piece of paper every single time I do a reading for myself. Documenting your readings has immense value for your learning, especially further on in the future when you have real-world findings, information and results of the situation that you can bring to bear on your initial interpretations.

As you grow in experience, you’ll begin to amass a substantial collection of actual situations that you can link back to particular cards, and this becomes a really important toolkit you can draw upon if and when you decide to start reading for others.

Your thoughts?

If you want to experience the power of a tarot reading for yourself, please visit me over at Sparrow Tarot (sparrowtarot.com) to learn how the cards can serve as a road map to help you navigate your life’s journey.

Do Expectations Create Reality?

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One of my close friends is convinced that nothing good ever happens to her. She didn’t always used to say this. But over the past year, she’s been saying it more and more, and for me it’s become a bit of a chicken-and-egg situation. One thing would happen (getting injured, not getting a job, or any other number of unfortunate things that happen to all of us in the normal course of life), and immediately after, she’d say, “See? Nothing good ever happens to me.”

From the time she started making this affirmation more openly, it seems as if the “misfortunes” have increased. Perhaps it has to do with the fact that she’s convinced this is her fate, so she falls back on it whenever something doesn’t go her way. Or perhaps it seems like unfortunate things are happening more often, because she points them out more often now than she used to.

But there’s one more “perhaps”: is it possible that once you expect only bad things to happen to you, not only do they happen, but they even increase?

I come from the “everything happens for a reason” school of thought. I know that cynical people find this idea absurd, but believing it has been a real source of strength for me throughout my life. I subscribe to the idea that our souls incarnate with particular challenges built into the life plan in order to facilitate and achieve specific areas of soul growth. I suppose that’s not for everyone, but so far it’s worked for me.

Finding meaning in my life experiences, both good and bad, has helped me weather difficult periods. And when I say difficult periods, I mean even periods where I, too, could have reasonably said “nothing good ever happens to me.”

But I never believed that. I always believed, as I still do, that things happen for a reason, even shitty things, and that there’s a purpose to life events, both those within my control and those outside of my control. It’s just that I never expect shitty things to happen as a matter of course. And when they do, I don’t automatically assume it’s because good things never happen to me—even if it’s been a bad run for a while.

Do you think there really are some people who never have good things happen to them? Or is it a matter of approach, expectations, and individual evaluation of life experiences?

Let’s ask the cards a few things:

  1. How do our expectations influence our experiences?
  2. What happens when a person is convinced nothing good ever happens to them?
  3. How can we increase the number of positive experiences in our lives?
  4. What advice or guidance should we follow when evaluating our life experiences?

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The Empress – abundance, seasons of change, natural bounty

The Empress shows how our expectations influence our experiences. She is the “Earth Mother” of the Tarot, the one who creates life, and celebrates abundance. Both an expectation of abundance, and a recognition of the abundance that already exists, serve to cultivate more abundance. As she is associated with growth and harvest, The Empress also reminds us of the cyclical, seasonal nature of life. There’s a time for planting and a time for gathering. If we expect to harvest abundance, and we also expect that the world provides for us as part of its inherent nature and the natural order of the Universe (as it does in nature, even without our direct intervention), this card shows that our experiences are likely to reflect that expectation.

Knight of Swords – conquest, fighting against, charging hard in offensive stance

The Knight of Swords tells us what happens when a person is convinced nothing good ever happens to them. They live life in this posture of charging hard into battle. Life is like this – always having to fight, fight, fight, and never getting to rest. There’s a sense of injustice to this card. The Knight of Swords is a fighter for justice, and as such, a person who thinks nothing good ever happens to them is going after life as if everything that lies in their path is somehow unjust and thus must be fought against. This is someone who sees life as an adversarial conquest. This card and its approach directly contrast with the receptive posture of The Empress, who inherently trusts that all things come in their own time, directed by nature and the underlying structure of the natural world.

Page of Wands – enthusiasm, fresh start, curiosity, creative spirit, eager to explore

The Page of Wands shows us how we can increase the number of positive experiences in our lives. The pages are like teenagers in the tarot. Although teenagers lack life experience and the hard-earned wisdom that comes from it, they do have a distinct advantage: they haven’t yet become cynical. The Page of Wands is convinced that his creative energy, enthusiasm, and curiosity will carry his new project forward. He focuses on new growth; notice how he eyes the budding leaves on the wand. If we focus on what’s growing and what’s working for us, this card shows us that we can increase positive experiences in our lives. This is another message of trusting that things ultimately do work out, and also a message of making a conscious effort about where we place our focus.

The red feather in this page’s cap caught my attention. When reading cards, if a particular element strikes you, take notice. In all my years of reading, I don’t remember this element ever jumping out at me before as a message.

I went searching for red feather symbolism, and ran across this blog post written by another Shelley, who also puts stake in synchronicity like I do. No coincidence there. In her post about a red feather, she says:

I found that feathers represent angels, and in particular, Archangel Uriel. He is the archangel of wisdom and is in charge of the red angel light ray. People sometimes ask for Uriel’s help to seek God’s wisdom before making decisions, or help with creative ideas, to learn new things, solve problems, let go of negative emotions and recognize bad or dangerous situations.

This passage seemed like it directly answered the question. We can increase the number of positive experiences in our lives by actively seeking creativity, learning new things, solving problems, letting go of negative emotions, and recognizing bad or dangerous situations. In fact, it appears that Archangel Uriel is the one to call upon for increasing positive life experiences.

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Temperance – balance, head and heart, new dawn, 1+1=3, harmony

When evaluating our life experiences, we must be balanced in our evaluation. It may be our nature to only focus on the negative, but in fact, there is a balance of negative and positive in everyone’s life. No one has all bad or all good.

Temperance teaches us about a paradox I like to refer to “one plus one equals three.” As we see in the mixing of the two liquids in the cups, when you combine two different things, even two opposite things, what emerges is neither all one nor all the other, but something entirely new and unique. We must evaluate our life experiences by recognizing that in the end, we are in constant flux and nothing ever stays the same. One experience blends with another experience to create a completely new reality. We have to keep one foot on the ground (rational, logical, intellectual) and another foot in the water (dreamer, intuitive, emotional). Like the triangle on the angel’s chest, three points are in harmony.

Your thoughts?

Eros, and Why Love Happens When You’re Not Looking

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I’ve said it once, and I’ll say it again: most readings break down into two distinct categories overall. Can you guess them? Love and work. That’s it. It’s what we’re about.

Have you ever heard the saying that love happens when you aren’t looking? Frankly folks, I find it one of the most frustrating pithy pieces of so-called wisdom I know of, and yet I can’t despise it because I actually think it’s true. Every working, functioning couple I know of came into being in the precise moment when they weren’t looking for love.

And yet, can I just tell you how many of my dear, wonderful clients come to me specifically because they ARE looking for love? I mean, is this not the most dastardly Catch-22 conceivable? We’re human beings and we desire human connection, affection, and romantic love to share with someone special. People even tell us things like “get out there and meet someone” as if we could order up a significant other on demand. And yet, then we’re told that, after all, not to worry if we don’t meet anyone because it always happens when you’re not looking.

It begs the question, does it not: how can I look without looking?

I know you feel me here. I’ve asked it myself countless times. It’s like meditating and telling yourself “don’t think”. The more you do it, the more it happens. Human nature – a fairly predictable bitch.

Anyhoo, I figured, why not turn this beast of a conundrum over to our trusty Rider Waite Smith deck? Let’s let Eros speak to us directly on this one. Heaven knows that I myself don’t have any answers.

So here’s what I asked:

1) Why does love happen when you’re not “looking”?
2) Advice for those who are looking!
3) Message from spirit – Eros

And here’s what I got:

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1) The World
Number one is pretty straightforward, and I suppose I could have even told you this myself had I thought of it before. The World is all about being content with what you have, being sort of “self-actualized” and satisfied exactly right where you are. With The World, you don’t need or desire anything else, because you finally realize that all is all. Yeah, pretty enlightened stuff.

But truth be told, when I ask the couples whom I know about what was going on around them in their lives when they met (besides everyone telling me they weren’t looking), the key component almost always seems to be some variation on “I was happy with myself” or “I had finally accepted myself” or “I didn’t mind being single anymore” or “I decided not to settle anymore.”

Thus: The World.

It happens when you aren’t looking because you are no longer in need of anything.

Once you truly realize in your soul that you are all there is and you are all you need, love somehow strolls on in to put the icing on the cake. Don’t ask me to explain how or why. It seems to be so.

2) 9 of Wands
Advice for those who are looking is the 9 of Wands. Oh, no rest for the weary, eh. The poor guy on the 9 of Wands. He’s been through one hell of a battle, a series of battles, really. Refer back to: answer 1 above (ie, looking). I see this card a couple different ways. The first is: keep your damn guard up, because as long as you continue down the same road that you’ve always been down, you’ll most likely run into the same damn minefields and traps you’ve already stepped in. The second is: leave the battle.

Hence: see answer 1 above. [For effing eff’s sake.]

3) 8 of Cups
And what does Eros have to say about all this? Well, in the 8 of Cups (which in my experience comes up a lot around relationships when it’s time to actively move on because we’ve finally realized that it’s never going to be what we want or wish or need it to be), my feeling here is he is telling us: give it up! In fact, what happens when we stop looking is most likely that we walk away from that pretty little tower of 8 stacked cups because we realize that cup number 9 is beyond our grasp. That’s Eros. It’s not all in our hands. Ah, now there’s a concept for you.

And so, what can I tell you? Not much of what you haven’t heard before. I won’t say that looking is hopeless – I don’t think it is, necessarily. However, I also think that the process of allowing (which I wrote about on my own blog recently in the post We Have Forgotten How to Allow) has a lot of merit to it and brings with it some pretty surprising and great things.

I asked my fellow stirrers to weigh in. I wrote my interps before receiving theirs. I love to do stuff like this and discover how other readers see the same cards. Here goes:

Isabel:

1) The World
Oh but you *are* looking. Looking good! Do you know how hot it is when you need no one else to be happy? To make people WERK for an invitation into your life? Strut!

2) 9 of Wands
Just pick one already. If it’s not the right piece of tail there’s plenty more trees in the forest. Conversely, if someone picks you out of everyone, trust they have good reason to!

3) 8 of Cups
Leave behind what you already know. The hollow promises, the tears you shed. Make off with that one stick you picked and don’t look back. If it turns out to be a dead end, at least you’ll have something to light your fire with.

Miguel:

1) The World
You’re not looking, but the other part is. You become more centered in yourself. It feels like you’re alone, but you’re really not. You are shining under the World’s spotlight. And this makes everyone around you notice you. It makes them pay attention to you.

2) 9 of Wands
Don’t look. Let it all go. Try to act as if nothing was happening at all. No matter what it takes. I find it interesting that the guy is holding his own wand, even though there are 8 behind him. It’s almost as if the card is telling us to trust ourselves and our capacities. And not to be too dependent on finding love.

3) 8 of Cups
Again, walk away from love. Love is fleeting and happens by the light of the moon. It’s something conjured by illusions and light tricks. As such it’s best to remain grounded and wait for the sun to shine on what’s in front of you.

Paulinnhhoo:

1) The World
That’s when everything you need to find love comes together. All the elements are there and you are just dancing to your own tune.

2) 9 of Wands
Stop trying to find your prince charming. He’s locked away and isn’t coming anytime soon.

3) 8 of Cups
Love is not a trophy you get to conquer and put it on display. It’s something that should be held and maintained. When you do find love, keep it with you. In the meanwhile, stay away from trophy-hunting.

Feel free to add your thoughts in the comments!

First Readings

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There’s something particularly odd about first consultations. Two people meet. They want to make an exchange. On one side, there’s someone with a problem. Something that makes her/him uneasy. On the other, there’s someone who is there to talk to them and try to show them how to overcome said problem. Neither of them knows what will come out of that session. There are expectations to manage. The querent, wants to shed light on hir matters. The reader, wants to give something meaningful to the querent, even if at first he or she doesn’t know what or how. And so the game begins…

Each side tries to analyze the other. On one side, just how trustworthy is the reader? Is he truly capable to look into a set of drawings and draw meaning from them? To use them to say something meaningful and pertinent? On the other, what type of answer does the querent expect? A full answer? A short answer? Does he/she want to actually know what the cards have to say? Or does he/she only want to hear pretty things? Comforting things?

The first question is made. Or maybe, it isn’t. Maybe the querent just asks to open the deck and to say whatever the reader sees… As the session progresses, both parties start to loosen up. To become more comfortable in their roles. The reading starts to adjust to the needs of the querent. And things start to flow…

I’m mentioning this, because I truly find January one of the most challenging times to read cards. The year has just begun and people, most probably motivated by their recent vows to change their life, start flooding my practice. You probably know the type. Someone decided things needed to change, and he/she doesn’t quite know how. So, let’s make it easy… Let’s do a tarot reading and see what the cards have to say. So they schedule an appointment, not quite knowing what they are going to get. Most of them, won’t come back to a second appointment, even though it would be in their best interest to do so. Either because they didn’t liked what they heard, or because they lack the will, the determination to act on what they discovered. No matter how satisfied they left, they were, at best, shown a possible path to follow. Solutions might have been discussed, but nothing has been enforced. That’s the querent job. To act upon what he/she heard/found out and to make decisions accordingly.

But if they aren’t willing to act upon the reading, why do it? Do they want to feel like they actually made an effort, even when they didn’t? Or do they prefer to convince themselves that it is “not possible” / “not worth it” / “pointless” / “preferable to just let things stay as they are” / “the cards just got it wrong” ? Maybe there’s a bit of both. As any reader knows, life is not about static. It is about movement. Balance. About going forth and facing whatever problems we might have as best we can. Sure, we might have some tough times. Some hard challenges. Sometimes, we might face something so big and powerful it almost seems impossible to succeed. But as Nature shows us, if we want to evolve, we have to face these odds. We have to find a way and we can be sure there is a way!! And when we get to the other side, when we made it to the finish line and look back… There is such a feeling of accomplishment and self-development that we just can’t stop ourselves thinking about how that particular situation made us evolve and leave us with the comforting feeling that we’re now better prepared for what comes next…

I’ve come to find out that a first reading isn’t really about giving answers. For that people can have the second and the third and how much more they want. The first reading is about giving something more important: is about showing people that whatever they need to face up /change / address is not only feasible, but also within their reach. About showing them that whatever made them come to a reading in the first place actually matters and should be valued. It’s about giving them the confidence to go out in the world and face things for themselves.

I usually spend more time in a first reading than in any subsequent ones. I like to try to understand who it is I have in front of me and why they think the tarot might help. It is only after this that I open the deck and start drawing cards. Even then, my first question is just “what do he/she needs to know at this time?” I’ve felt this to be the most important question one can ask. And, if there isn’t any time to explore anything else, at least they got the main themes covered. And they can leave with something that can actually make a difference in their lives.