It’s Called A Reading For A Good Reason
Thoughts on the
art and science
It’s a funny business, life. Sometimes we have all the wrong ideas about something and it turns out just fine, anyway. Sometimes those wrong ideas lead us to disaster.
Other times we did everything right and it still turned out badly, no fault of our own. Luckily, we can sometimes do everything right and have it actually turn out right, as well.
We use divination (tools like tarot, astrology, pendulum, dice, bones, geomancy, augury, dreams and runes) to sort out what a situation looks like in advance. We call it a reading.
The only problem is that too often, people accept whatever a reader says as some sort of royal decree. People have a bad habit of being in a state of either total disbelief (incredulous) or ready to accept anything the reading as being pre-certified by the Divine (credulous).
Just because someone bought a tarot deck and memorized some of the meanings for them, it doesn’t mean that this person knows all the ins and outs of how to read the oracle properly. Likewise, it does not mean that this person is wise or savvy in the ways of the world. It doesn’t mean that they understand the situation that you may have found yourself in. And it doesn’t mean that they are sympathetic about your issue.
Still, some people will swallow whatever is put in front of them. It’s as if, once the cards were shuffled and laid out, the heavens opened up and God said some dope ass shit, yo.
These days, we have GPS and automated instruments that keep our vehicles (planes, trains and automobiles) on track. It used to be that if you needed to sail somewhere or move through open terrain, you used the stars, a sexton, a map, ruler, pencil and a bunch of math to take a “reading”. Then, you’d trudge forward and do your best to stay on course. Then, you’d take another reading, adjust course and go again.
So, each reading is only good for a time, because ideally, you’ll be making important adjustments, steering you away from the rocks and safely into the harbor. A navigational reading is a merely a measurement of where you are now, in comparison to where you want to be and what lies in between you and the stated destination.
I assert that this is all any divination should ever be. At least, any single divination. If you get consistently bad or good readings then maybe stop asking? Never mind, that’s just crazy talk. You’ve already asked 24 times… one more won’t hurt.
If you want to get accurate readings, here are a few points that may help you get more of what you want out of the tools you’re already using.
I submit them now, for your consideration.
* Surrender to the process – To get a clear reading, do whatever you do to empty your noggin’ first. Run around the block, meditate, pray, mantra, banish and invoke, drink tea, go to Fight Club if you need to. Pluck a single nose hair… that will wake you up.
Just do something to get all the excess ya-ya’s out.That’s probably the best plan, anyway, for things that are highly, emotionally charged for you. If you’re not going to get rid of the skeletons in your closet, at least dust them off a little bit.
If you cannot distance yourself, then get a trusted friend or a professional, quality, experienced reader to help you.
* Realize there are some things that cannot be known – There is (in my opinion) plenty of room in our great, big multiverse for both Divine Order and Random Chance.
Even though I am a serious occultist, I do not believe that everything happens for a reason. I just don’t. Sorry.
I believe that most things happen for a reason… but not everything. Feel free to disagree.
* Realize there are some things that should not be known – I personally believe that many things are just above our pay grades and clearance levels, we don’t get to know.
If you have Deities, ancestors, Spirits or magickal dust bunnies working for you on the astral, they might just help you out (in their own, special way) by occasionally giving you a false answer (or three), just so you don’t royally fuck up a good thing for yourself and stumble blindly past the pot of gold and right into that dark alley full of zombie ninjas.
* Don’t insult the oracle – Don’t be rude or obtuse to your oracle and/or your Spirits, Demons, Angels, Guides, Scooby Doo or whoever you ask for help. You can insult them by second-guessing them too often. The rest of it is basic common courtesy. Don’t be flippant, arrogant and don’t expect them to perform like circus monkeys, every time you have a problem.
Donald Michael Kraig says in his seminal work, Modern Magick, that credulity is a disease in the occult community and I heartily agree. We need to be aware of it and guard against it. Don’t believe everything, just because it came from an oracle or a Spirit.
Conversely, don’t burn your bridges by being incapable of taking yes for an answer (or no, for that matter). Incredulity is the other side of that disease. Have a reasonable amount of faith. It’s not healthy to be incapable of accepting the answer.
Ever had the experience of a child asking you something so many times that you start making up ridiculous crap, just to see if they’ll believe it? If you haven’t, then try it, it’s tons of evil fun.
I assume that the invisible entities (and perhaps your own unconscious) might do something similar; keep asking and they’ll start responding with ridiculous answers.
* Some things are spelled out perfectly, you just don’t get it… and you probably never will… and that’s OK.
There are more things in
heaven and earth, Horatio,
than are dreamt of in your philosophy.
With some matters, you cannot possibly conceive of how it will actually play out, due to your limited worldview, experience, belief systems or other limits to your current thinking habits, structures, etc. You might be lacking imagination (not you, I’m sure… but other people!).
Or maybe you just couldn’t possibly have foreseen that particular event, even though the oracle is doing its best to explain it to you in clear, simple terms. It was just too out of left field for you to have understood.
Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition!
You might think that you know all the intricacies of a given situation. You might be an expert in that area. You may have known that person for years and can predict their behavior, most of the time. You may just know in your heart that taking that job at the lemonade stand in Greenland is the right thing to do.
But if your ideas about yourself, other people or the world around you don’t line up with the reality of the shit that is actually about to go down, then you will literally not be able to comprehend it, no matter how perfectly someone explains it to you.
Lon Milo Duquette says that we should imagine that there is indeed an Angel of the tarot and this Angel will answer any question and answer it faithfully and honestly. The problem is, the Angel can only talk through a set of 78 color illustrations in an old book.
It takes the pages and throws a few at you and it’s up to you to interpret the truth that hides in that message. Perhaps easier said than done?
Here’s an example. My friend Shawn Shadow was reading for me about an outdoor event I was having. The reversed 2 of Swords showed up and he suggested that some unpleasant people might show up. It sounded like a reasonable interpretation to me. I hired some security.
I ended up not needing the security, because that’s not what happened. Instead, unusually high winds and lots of rain made us have to take down the tents and move everything inside. My tent was destroyed.
As I said, the weather was unusual for that time of year. So, neither of us could have really understood what that meant, except in hindsight.
You would have to ask specifically, will the weather be favorable? Then, the inverted 2 of Swords could answer you with a “No”. But we didn’t even think of that, because of the time of year. We didn’t know there would be a freakish storm that suddenly whipped up. We just didn’t expect the Spanish Inquisition to show up and start throwing tents around. How could we?
But the card did make total sense. The 2 of Swords is Elemental Air. The esoteric title of the card is Peace Restored. So, if it’s reversed, that’s a lack of peace, in the air.
Reversed 2 of Swords = storm.
Sure, it makes sense but it’s an easy thing to miss.
* The Universe shifts constantly – The winds change (sometimes violently) on a dime.
It’s called a reading for an excellent reason. The reading is how the situation looks, from this vantage point, at this particular time.
Meteorologists get paid big bucks to predict the weather and they are frequently wrong. We don’t fire them or hang them from the highest tree, for being wrong. It’s really not their fault that the wind shifted. I suppose that weather forecasting is as much art as it is science, too. Divination is the same way.
So, if you walk around saying things like “I just know because I saw it in my cards” (or your dreams, scrying mirror, your mood ring or your alphabet soup), then it’s time for an attitude adjustment.
And I say that with all the deepest love and respect that there is to offer. No judgement but still… stop looking at it like that.. seriously.
You may indeed KNOW with a capital GNOSIS… but don’t be surprised when it turns out backward once in a while.
Nobody gets it right, all the time… nobody.
* You might be having a bad day – If you’re the one having the bad day, maybe you’re just not hearing what the reader is trying to tell you. Maybe your intuition is actually screaming at you but you’re just not getting the hint. Be gentle with yourself and remember, it was worth a shot to ask.
If the reader is the one having the bad day, then have a little compassion and exercise some patience. Even the very best readers have off days. Doctors with the very best training and the purest intentions make misdiagnoses all the time. We don’t toss them on the street. Instead, we politely say “Doc, can you just take another look? Do another test. Pretty please”.
* Learn your fucking correspondences, already! – This one bugs me, in case you couldn’t tell. People want the secrets of the Universe revealed and they will shell out $20-30 for a pretty deck of cards but can’t be bothered to read the books and treat the tarot cards like flash cards. Study the damn things, if you want them to give you more right answers than wrong!
This is me, scowling at you, for not studying:
When other people read for me, I try to flow with what that card means to that particular reader, rather than the way I usually interpret that card.
If they say something like “Well, I just feel it out”, that can sometimes be a red flag… sometimes. Some people do have strong, true gifts and they can go quite a long way on that, alone. But you wouldn’t trust a doctor who just had a knack for picking the right medicines; I hope not, anyway. You want a doctor who has gone to medical school and has a good intuition, on top of it.
You at least want a doctor who has read a ton of medical books, attended lots of trainings, and who has shadowed other doctors, for a long time.
When you draw a rune or a tarot card or a geomantic glyph, or you see an astrological transit, don’t wing it and guess at the meaning. Look it up.
Make flash cards.
Take a course.
Read a book.
For example, what does the planet Venus represent? What about when Venus is in the sign of Libra? What about Venus in Virgo? What about Venus in the 4th House or Venus squared to Jupiter? What about Venus trine Saturn? If you’re content to keep reaching for your mouse to google these things each and every time you do a reading, please smack yourself for me.
By all means, google what book to read next, or what teacher to study under, or what course to take.
Pick a particular divinatory art and dive in. Study hard. Follow through to the end. It will pay off.
* Don’t shoot the messenger – For the love of Hades, don’t be mad at the person reading for you, just because they had bad news to deliver. If it’s clear that this person is not only telling you that it will be bad but they are also trying to help you solve the problem, then they’re just doing their best. If they are good people, they will tell you what they see, not what you want to hear.
Being mad about that is just foolish. You don’t have to like what they say. You don’t have to believe it. You certainly don’t have to act on it or follow it blindly. But don’t be an ass about it, either. Smile and say thank you… and mean it.
Of course, if they are being all doom and gloom and they have no suggestions as to how you can make things better, then shake it off as a bad reading. A good reader will always have a suggestion about how you can either avoid the trouble or (if it’s too late to avoid it) at least learn from it and not have the same problem again in the future.
We could write forty two shelves worth of books about tarot, astrology, pyromancy, geomancy, hydromancy, bone reading, runes and so on and we’d still never get to the end of this discussion. You’ll never learn it all… but try.
Keep studying. Rock on.
My name is Magus (aka Kevin Trent Boswell) and I am a Conjure Coach. I help people get the ideas and skills they need to get to where they are trying to go. I also do a little bit of juju behind the scenes to give them an extra push.