by Ptah Paradoxia
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: For somebody who has never had a tarot reading, is there any sort of etiquette to it?
On the part of you the querent, only that etiquette you would extend to any other person offering you a good or service, I suppose.
Whereas you should expect from a Tarot reader the basic decorum appropriate to someone offering a good or service to another, etc.
I impose no particular formality to it.
Q: Is there anything that I should do or think about before a Tarot reading to prepare?
While I could give guidance according to the traditional teachings as such (which goes along the lines of nigh-meditative clearing of the mind prior to receiving a reading proper, etc), personally as reader I would advise only that querents come with an open mind for what may follow, along with some expressible notion of what they hope to get out of the reading.
Q: What sorts of question(s) should I bring to the Tarot?
There are two basic ways I read cards for querents, as such.
The first is for querents who simply want to see what the Tarot has to say to them, as in they pose no question.
The second is for those with a question or concern they bring to the table.
As to the latter, I advise querents to phrase their questions in whatever way is most natural and feels most appropriate to them, but in a way that is complete enough for me to select an appropriate spread (if they haven't selected one in particular already) and/or for me to properly interpret the reading toward their concern.
Even rather general, opaque questions can be "complete", as such.
I entertain Yes/No type questions, but I do advise that the Tarot rarely gives straight answers as such. Same for "when", "where", "who" and other questions seeking specific details in time, space or outcome.
I find Tarot best approached as something which can offer a new perspective, perhaps even counsel, but rarely if ever particular details. (That said some readings do strongly indicate this or that particular time, place or outcome -- but they occur on their own, as supervene upon very particular cards in very particular configurations subject to particular details of the spreads shaping them, and the question driving their interpretation).
Q: How long does a Tarot reading take?
Generally, anywhere from 30 to (at most) 120 minutes, depending on the question posed (if any), the spread selected (# of cards and complexitiy of interpretation involved), any ensuing discussion/back-n-forth (over card/spread meanings in reference to posed question(s)), etc.
A "quick reading" (say 3-5 cards) could be over in as few as 10 minutes, stripped of deailed elaboration and/or discussion.
I'm willing to accomodate whatever size or pace of a reading that a respectful querent finds appropriate.
Q: What deck(s) do you use?
By default (and with a strong degree of preference/recommendation), I read from a
particular one deck, which is a special variant of the fairly cosmopolitan
(and traditional) Rider-Waite deck.
However, I am open to reading from one of the many other decks I possess, per a respecting querent's request and as appropriate to certain other circumstances (and subject to certain disclaimers and qualifications).
Q: What spread(s) are on offer?
I am familiar with dozens. From the traditional (celtic cross, etc) to spreads of my own design/adaptation.
Here I welcome knowledgeable querent's requests, otherwise I offer to select the spread used to match the querent's reasons for approaching the Tarot (ie, their question).
Moreover, I'll entertain requests for spreads unfamiliar to me, if the querent respects that I'll need time to learn that particular layout to the extent and in the way appropriate to use it in a reading proper (ie, fluently and with mastery).
Q: How did you start reading Tarot cards?
My Tarot status began as research for a short story I was writing (I don't like to write about things I am entirely ignorant of, so I set out to learn about Tarot since I intended for a character to make use of it). A few years later, I was collecting decks, reading cards, learning and developing spreads, etc --- it had taken on a life of its own.
Q: How long have you been reading Tarot cards?
For others, over ten years. Prior to that, I studied the Tarot by reading on my own (for myself) for about three years.
Nowadays, I read at parties (for fun/entertainment) -- my own and by invite to those of others (to read at both public and private events), by request (online and IRL), and for myself here and there (to keep my skills sharp, for amusement, etc).
Q: What can I get out of a Tarot reading?
At the very least, perhaps some ephemeral amusement. Perhaps some useful food for thought. Perhaps some introspective fodder. Maybe even a small insight or two.
Q: Do you hold any occult or mystical belief concerning to the Tarot (or otherwise)?
No, none whatsoever.
Q: How seriously do you take this stuff?
Seriously in the sense of a practice/skill, in the sense of tradition blended with personal experience. You could call it a "serious hobby". I'm a student of the symbology, practice and (real) history of the Tarot.
Q: So what is your overall take on Tarot?
Inspiration and/or insight can be gained from even the simplest or lowest or most chaotic of random things, if you ask me.
This is the essence of potential value I associate to Tarot. Not any occult or mystical belief. Not any hard factual correspondence, except by accident and/or mental association. At the very least, an enjoyable entertainment/diversion.
Just as we can gaze at the clouds and find images among them, just as we can listen to random sounds and find rhythm therein, we can find a kind of enjoyable if not necessarily useful introspective prompting from some cards on a table, in terms of some traditional meanings, if you ask me.
It is an occasion for a kind of introspective exercise if not also a seeding of further introspection to come.
What differentiates the Tarot from tea leaves or die rolls or just a good old brainstorming session if not raw daydreaming? Well, in the essential value as stated above, little. But in content and form, Tarot offers an interesting assortment of archetypes and universals which are broad enough to cover most of human life yet narrow enough to each have relatively unambiguous meaning/import in a reading.
I don't mean to speak for all Tarot readers/querents/enthusiasts, only to explain my approach and evaluation of it's nature and value, which amounts to: it can provide somewhat nontrivial food for thought, or at the least intriguing entertainment.
I proffer nothing more than this: to read the cards in the manner of a certain occult tradition (which prescribes certain meanings to certain cards in certain positions in certain spreads, and also in certain patterns among the cards arranged as such) in a direct, honest, and non-manipulative manner. I'm not trying to sell you on anything, just read you the cards as they are traditionally meant to be read, with the hope you may find something of whatever value to take away from it, even if only mild amusement.
"Appreciated the time and preparation, the detailed explanations, also the careful consideration given to the choice of words and the neutrality he evidenced throughout.
"He has a startling gift. The way he could use the cards to lay open possibilities and perspectives, is a gift I've seen only with highly developed intuitives..."
"For me, the Tarot combines a number of personal interests - from symbolism, to finding meaning in patterns, to self-indulgent introspection, to playing with something that evokes a primitive part of the brain that developed in our ancestors when they explained the world around them through magic.
"Ptah is an excellent guide through all of these aspects of the Tarot, detached and rational, yet enthusiastic and knowledgable, he embodies understanding that is gained not only through research and autonomous analysis, but also through experience. He's comfortable and (believe it or not) comforting in his role of guide and interpreter, and most importantly, he will not indulge you in false interpretations. He will not sugar-coat the meaning of a card, but neither will he make a mountain out of a molehill. He's also very clear about his own conceptualization and appreciation of the Tarot."
"Ptah was very thorough explaining the cards, the shuffling, the deck, symbolism and card placement relationships.
"He had an extremely professional demeanor, came across as both proficient and educated and answered any question I had in a clear and helpful manner.
"One word to describe the reading: Comprehensive."
"I went into it seeking purely entertainment. Got such an interesting reading of cards that I was prompted to ask a directly related question to the first spread and got some food for thought in the second. In addition, I was certainly entertained.
"Everything was very well explained so that I would understand it, and I received a rich amount of detail so that rare was the occasion that I had any follow up question. Ptah was very receptive to questions and was politely insistent that if I had a question that I should feel comfortable to interrupt and ask right away. Overall, it was an enjoyable experience and one I'd recommend to others with interest and would repeat, should I have any other interesting questions in the future."
"I appreciated Ptah's knowledge, clarity and neutrality. Despite no input from me (or so I think) I was surprised at the degree to which the interpretation of the cards could fit to describe something I have been going through for the past couple of years now. Ironically, the very things I wanted to know about were what the cards were not saying, or leaving to forces beyond my control...
"So all in all a very enlightening and reccomendable experience."
"The analogy that comes to mind is happening to meet someone in a museum who is exceptionally knowledgeable about the paintings you are viewing. He points out the symbols and significances that have been associated with the work of art, highlights how those works have affected other people he's talked with, and ultimately invites you to create your own meaning for yourself. To clarify: at no point did I get the impression this was anything other than an intellectual and imaginative exercise.
"Yes, he has flashes of intuition - but I imagine they are the same that occur when anyone with a similar mind brainstorms. Ptah acts as a guide, but ultimately it is a personal experience, where you're using the Tarot (and the guide) to tell a story about your life or a particular circumstance. "