Client Query: “Can you read with somebody else’s deck?”

Recently a client told me about a great Tarot deck he has. I’m envious of this deck. In fact, he wanted me to read using the deck, and I reluctantly had to tell him that it’s not as simple as that.

wpid-2014-07-18-09.50.02.png.pngLike I repeatedly tell people, I’m not psychic. My skill with a particular deck comes from familiarization and contemplation. I need to sit with the deck for quite a while and experiment with it. Do the symbols mean anything to me? Am I able to quickly and intuitively draw connections between them? Sometimes I’ll get a good feel for a deck quickly, and I can perform rich and rewarding readings. Other times, it takes me months of practice with a deck before I’m comfortable reading for others. Most of the time, however, when I pick up a deck for the first time, I can’t do anything with it.

Successes and Failures

There have been a few decks throughout the years that I really wanted to use but couldn’t. For instance, the Haindl Tarot is a beautiful deck with rich imagery that spans multiple cultures and traditions. The artist, Hermann Haindl, put a lot of work into the deck. Renowned Tarot writer Rachel Pollock wrote two books about this deck. There’s a lot going on, and I’m a big fan of complex symbolic systems. I’ve read the books, I’ve used the cards, and in spite of all the effort, I just can’t work with the deck very well.

Robert Place’s legendary Alchemical Tarot, on the other hand, spoke to me the minute I saw it. It’s almost effortless for me to read with this deck. The language of the symbolism resonates with me. The next time you get a reading from me, request this deck and hopefully you’ll see what I’m talking about.

Other People’s Things

There are a lot of readers out there who get really attached to specific decks of cards. I’m not like that: I get attached to symbol sets. I can pick up any Rider-Waite deck and do a perfectly fine reading. I’m also fine with others touching my Tarot cards, trying to read with them, and otherwise doing things that some Tarot readers would probably be shocked by. I don’t find that this reduces the efficacy of my readings.

Unfortunately, if I’m unfamiliar with your deck, I probably can’t give a good reading with it. Even the best deck in the world needs practice and familiarity.

By the way, don’t forget to visit me tomorrow at the Division/Clinton Street Fair!

Featured in the image are a number of decks that I own that I rarely read with.

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