30 Days of Tarot — Day 25: What was the most dramatic/meaningful reading you ever did? (Not necessarily the most accurate.)
Most dramatic would be when the cards said not to read for a person but the reading went on anyway. Most meaningful would be when I made the meanest mofo in town cry like a baby.
When I used to read at a local bar, I had regulars, and I had regular skeptics. One in particular was always accusing me of scamming the Querents, even though I did not take money for reading there. (There was a prior agreement involved.) He watched over every reading I did, and would actively try to scare Querents away by telling them I still had the Death and Devil cards in my deck. Eventually, everyone else got used to him being a pain, and he became background noise.
Until the day he insisted I read for him. After haranguing me for not removing the Death and Devil cards at his request, I told him to either submit his query or get out the chair. “You’re the card reader, you tell me.” Great. One of those. After having a third party spectator shuffle the cards to prevent him from accusing me of stacking the deck, the spectator put three cards on the table. I told the heckler to point out what order to turn the cards over. He did. The first card turned over was the 7 of Pentacles, which is my personal Stop Card. When that card appears as the first card on a multi-card pull, that is my indicator not to proceed with the reading. Refund any monies paid (if any), apologize politely, and disengage.
He wasn’t having any of that. As I bowed my apology, he quickly turned over the other two cards on the table. Death and the Devil. Everyone froze. He sighed, looked like he wanted to cry, and finally explained himself. He used to be a tarot reader himself, until he started scamming his clients. His own deck warned him to stop or there would be severe consequences. He didn’t. He was caught by the law, and paid his civic price. But his decks turned against him. And his skill was blocked. When he sought the advice of another on how to break through the block, he was told that his pantheon had marked him. He would never be able to read tarot again, for himself or for another. And if anyone tries to read tarot on his behalf, he would always receive the Death and the Devil cards to remind him of his betrayals.
He complimented me on my skill and my tact as a professional cartomancer. He said he heckled me because he has seen many readers come through the bar and nearly all of them were just trying to make a quick buck off drunk patrons. When I didn’t, he thought I was running a larger scam and wanted to chase me off before anyone got hurt. He never heckled me again, nor did he request a reading from me again. But if anyone openly questioned my readings, he was the first to back me up.
The most meaningful happened when I was reading at an independent coffeehouse. The crowd varied during the time of day from university students needing a comfortable place to study to roving gangs of various affiliations. So there was a lot of “We’re not in Kansas anymore” moments when I first started reading there.
A very mean, very spiteful, and very agitated man came in. He spied a person he didn’t like and tried to start a verbal argument. After being called out by everyone, he ordered his drink and tried to calm down. Someone suggested to him that maybe he should get a card reading from me to tell him how to pull the stick out of his nethers.
To my chagrin, he decided to take up the offer.
I will admit, he physically intimidated me. His body language was jerky and erratic, giving the impression that he is easily angered and is looking for someone to justify his abuse on. His choice of adjectives implied the whole business of cartomancy is bullshit, that I’m bullshit, that as a woman of color I have no good business there, but he’s just killing time before he gets his drink and leaves for more entertaining activities that may or may not involve finding someone to beat up.
I told him that if he wanted me to read for him, he’s going to have to find his manners and use them constructively or he could get the hell out of my face and leave me in peace. He blinked in surprise, laughed, visibly brightened, and declared that the day was going to be fun after all. He admitted to not having the brightest of ideas, and formally asked where to find better ideas for his life.
One Celtic Cross, two coffees, one stack of napkins, and forty minutes later, the aggressive and hostile man that had sat down before me was now crying like a lost child and expressing remorse for some of his life choices while expressing thanks that his life’s path wasn’t set in concrete just yet. He had received the answer he thought he wanted, and it turned out to be the answer he needed. I had identified certain people in his life that he had taken for granted, but now that a third party was describing them, he realized he had access to help out of his predicament all this time. He was just too angry and arrogant to see it.
He thanked me for taking him seriously with the reading and thanked the smart-ass that suggested it to him to begin with. He left with several notes and reminders scribbled on the few napkins not soaked with tears. He apologized to the person he threatened as he left. As emotionally moving the sight of his transformation was, I was not convinced he had learned anything meaningful from the experience. I felt as soon as he walked outside, he would stop being caught up in the moment and resume looking for “better entertainment”.
A month later, he came back in the coffeehouse looking for me. I only recognized him because of his tattoos and his personalized leather vest. His demeanor had changed so greatly, he appeared physically different. He wanted to catch up with me before leaving. He told me when he left the coffeehouse, he went straight to his uncle and started the process of making amends. Long story made short, he started putting his life back together. Since there were too many temptations and bad friendships in the area, he was moving out of the state to a different branch of his family, where he could start living a clean life. The reading had not only identified what he said he wanted to hear, but also identified his part in his self-destruction. He was leaving in a few days, but wanted to give me his thanks for standing up to him and reading for him.
There are many, many readings where I just want to look at the Querent and say, “Really?”. And then there are readings like these that remind me just how serious the game of tarot is.