Making your Sessions Actionable
Being a Tarot practitioner means conducting your sessions in a way that can authentically improve and enrich the experience of you and your clients.
In essence, what this means is making the core aspects of the session stick with you or your client, so that the reading has a constructive & practical effect.
Sounds pretty cool, right?
In this post, I'll share some of the core elements of why this is a key principle in conducting effective & ethical sessions, regardless of whether you read for yourself, friends & family, or professionally. I'll also drop some tips, so that you can start applying this perspective in your own practice.
Self-care & Client-care
Caring for yourself and your clients means promoting positive changes as they're needed.
If we don't do our best to empower our clients, to help them envision how they can "play their hand," then it's possible that we wind up doing more harm than good.
Tarot doesn't happen in a vacuum
The truth behind this is simple: A Tarot session has depth & subtlety. It's capable of leaving a lasting impression on ourselves and participants. Once a session has happened, it has happened—we can't take back what we've said and we can't estimate how a client will treat it going forward, or what that will mean for their experience.
In beginning to incorporate this approach more into your process, you'll get a lot of mileage in the simplicity of paying honest, authentic respect to yourself, your clients and the process, in equal measures.
Frame the session
What we're talking about here is a different style of approach to the process. What this means is, in order for it to work effectively, both you and the client need to be aware of what the process will entail.
In practical terms, it means you need to work with the client in framing questions that prepare them to act and to use a spread that provides the context for action.
To clarify, a spread like "Past, Present, Future" doesn't work in this approach, because it doesn't contextualize the cards in the spread into action. We simply read it, and go about our day or send the client on their way.
Instead, use or develop some spreads that focus on actions. Those spreads should include supporting context for those actions (Why & how, for example).
A Language of Change
Many cards in the Tarot identify motion or changes—in respect to these aspects, my general approach entails the following:
- Majors: These are like railroads of life. They can move us from one state of being to another. They're transitory and mythological.
- Minors (or Pips): Generally I view these as like states & situations of an earthly kind. I see these as showing the "stuff" along the journey—obstacles, opportunities, fruits, sign-posts, interactions and so forth.
- Courts: These are like personalities, with their own perspectives & approaches to the journey. Each of them have different strengths & weaknesses that may help or hinder the process.
Of course, you have your own relationship & association to the Tarot. If you want to make your sessions more actionable, my advice would be to go through the deck and identify the cards you think inspire motion, and what that looks like. If it doesn't inspire motion, then how would you describe its relationship to motion—i.e., does it block motion, is it something that happens during motion... You get the idea.
Start by reviewing your perspective on the images and how they, in your personal interpretations, can be communicated to enable positive changes.
I'll provide some examples, focusing on some of the trickier cards to work with in this approach.
The Hermit: The standard interpretation usually goes along with time with oneself for the purpose of growth & development. Making it actionable means giving a series of possible choices & directions for yourself or the client.
- "Have you ever considered a meditation course?"
- "Is it possible for you to take a vacation?"
- "You might find it worth taking a few hours a week to put aside to reading, or a hobby you can do by yourself."
The 3 of Swords: This is one of those difficult cards, which on the surface, doesn't appear to give way to action. Its standard range of interpretation includes heartbreak, emotional suffering & grief, painful understanding, trauma, and similar tones of "ouch."
Including this card (and similar conflict cards) in an actionable spread will vary depending on context. If it's not in a direct action position, it may support the action position by indicating how the action card might alleviate some pain in oneself or another. If it is in a direct action position, then you can work with it in helping yourself or the client face some difficult facts.
Usually, when this card comes up, the client knows where it is in their life. It's one of those cards where, just by looking at it, it stimulates the feelings, memories or circumstances that pertain to its imagery. When it arrives in an actionable position, take the time to explore how this card relates to the client, and then consider how it could be made actionable. Here are some examples:
- "Given the circumstances, you may find it necessary to ask for help. Do you have a support system?"
- "I know of an excellent therapist that may be able to assist you."
- "Here is a piece of paper—I encourage you to take 15 minutes in writing down why everything sucks." After you or they finish, "Now, write down three ways in which this experience is helping you grow into a more understanding person."
The final tip here is to incorporate clean, positive language. Frightening clients never helps, and some clients can be very sensitive or vulnerable. Regardless of what cards come up, there is never a reason to leave your client buried in their issues, or condemning them to some future disaster.
Approaching the Tarot in this way serves your clients, your professional reputation, and the reputation of practitioners everywhere.
Incorporating this approach in your style will likely take time, consideration and practice, but I'm certain that you'll find it to be well-worth the investment. Despite how lengthy this post is, this is by no means a complete guide—these are the simplest aspects of this style in conducting sessions.
As your friendly neighborhood Tarot jedi, I'd like to remind you that my services include mentoring and consulting for both aspiring practitioners and professionals alike. I love to get people working with Tarot in awesome, life-changing ways, and approaching it as a psychic (mental-emotional) art.
If you're looking for real, authentic support in developing as a practitioner or are an aspiring professional, I'd encourage you to swing by these relevant services and see if they're right for you.
Until next time~