So, what's new with me? I got a reading with +Benebell Wen this week. Now, usually I'm a massive cheapskate and refuse to pay money for anything that either I can do for myself or has even the barest hint that it won't live up to my expectations. What can I say? I have very high and possibly unfair expectations when money is involved. I suspect that my cheap-skate-ness will only become more severe as I get older, and that doesn't bode well for my grandchildren. At any rate, I've been stewing over a private concern that's been defying my ability to remain objective and out of long-standing admiration of her writing as well as an interest in seeing how other readers operate, I purchased a reading with Ms. Wen. Well... short answer is, I've got a long way to go in my role as a Tarot reader if I'm going to approach the level of service that I got from Ms. Wen. Absolutely top-notch reading, and quite useful, too.
The long answer is that I got this reading not only to get an impartial perspective on a stubborn problem, but also to get an idea how it is that Ms. Wen does her readings. Perspective is easy to lose and difficult to gain, so as part of my self-guided professional development I try to see what othe readers are doing. What sort of focus emerges in their readings? How do they form the narrative? How specific or general are their answers? How do they communicate a message from the information in the cards? And so on. If you want to hear about the specifics of my reading, then you'll have to watch the video above. But comparing my reading style to what I observed from Ms. Wen, a few things jumped out at me:
First, Ms. Wen is very strong at seeing the big picture both in length and bredth. She very effectively reduces large pieces into comprehensible chunks. This might just be a strength in my particular reading since I wasn't asking a question that had to do with an immediate concern, but the observation is still true: she shined a bright light on the shadowed masses moving in the darkness and gave me a good look at what was stalking just outside of my vision. Comparing my reading style to hers - or at least to this particular reading that I got from her - she's better than I am at seeing the big picture.
Second, her approach to the reading - while direct and merciless - had the slow rhythm of floating down the lazy river. She spends a lot of time explaining not just what she sees, but what method she used to get that information, why she chose that method, and even mentioning historical references to the method. Which is cool - it's a like being on a guided tour of a Tarot museum in which the final exhibit is my own question - but compared to her, my reading style is more like a barrel ride down Niagara Falls. Ms. Wen surely isn't wrong to approach Tarot as she will - after all, her reading style is a synthesis of her life experiences, communication method, and what she believes will best serve the client.
But me being who I am and how I've developed as a reader, I've become somebody who doesn't care to spend time teaching the client how I read the cards. In a way, I look at a Tarot reading like a carnival ride: the client is the carnival-goer, and I'm the ride operator. I don't think it's necessary for me to interrupt the carnival-goer mid-ride on the tilt-o-whirl to tell him about how each arm of the ride is held together by inter-locking bolts, the amount of force within the ride's hydraulic pistons, how many light-bulbs decorate the ride, and so on. I see my job as merely operating the ride, and if the carnival-goer wants to learn more, they can find me later. You know what I mean?
My reading style has been largely influenced by my sometimes-hobby writing flash fiction - short-short stories of less than 1,000 words. In this kind of writing exercise, brevity is mandatory. Every word must be essential, and any word that doesn't serve a specific purpose is ruthlessly murdered. This writing exercise taught me as a Tarot reader that pre-ambles are a waste of time. Just launch into the story and let the details emerge as I go!
My reading style has also been largely influenced by the method in which I deliver my readings: MP3 audio recordings in which I charge by the minute. Clients pay up-front, and then I have to fit their answer into however much time is available. After I finish the small-talk of greeting my client and stating what I intend to do in the reading, I'm immediately into the reading because the clock is running down. Tick tock!
What kind of Tarot reader would I be today if my practice had carried me in a different direction? I suppose there's always time to change my approach and learn to deliver my readings differently, but for better or for worse I've learned to love my rapid-fire delivery. Perhaps my greatest weakness that I've observed in comparing my work to Ms. Wen's is that I've de-prioritized methods to see broad movements and long expanses of time. So much of the work that I do is in the very short term - almost never touching the past, frequently addressing only the present, and treating the future with a laissez-faire attitude. But then, that's what I've been trying to develop, right? A Satanic approach which focuses on what's here and now - and not what's already happened or has yet to appear.