(Originally appearing in THiNK! Magazine.)
Ever have those difficult Tarot card readings? You aren’t having an off night, at least not psychically, but you are having difficulty getting it across to your client. Some people refuse to see things without their rose colored glasses. If you completely sugar coat it, are you really doing a service? No, I don’t think so. But if you tell it like it obviously is, the seeker gets upset with you because of issues they haven’t dealt with. What’s a self respecting Tarot card reader to do? Double your decks, that’s what.
You heard me. Start using two decks instead of one. I got this great technique from an online pagan friend who made the suggestion. By using two Tarot decks, you glean more information than you normally would. Use one deck as usual, to determine the events in the seeker’s life and what energies and situations are affecting her. The second deck determines the seeker’s outlook on these situations. The outlook could be much different from the reality. Knowing the client’s perception gives you a good reference point to explain the situation better and be an asset in making life changes rather than another person causing trouble. People seeking Tarot readings often have enough trauma in their lives. I know I do when I seek out a psychic.
I use the Thoth deck, with the oversized cards, and the size does matter. This is my main deck and was the one I started using. The smaller deck, in my case the Rider-Waite-Smith is put over the larger cards. It can make reading much easier if you can see a bit of both cards at once. I ignore the traditional rule of not touching the cards once they are down. I pick them up and point things out to my clients. If size doesn’t matter to you, then use the most comfortable decks for you.
I would suggest using two different decks. First it’s easier to mix up the batches if they are the same. If you dedicate one deck to the actual situation and the other deck to the perceptions of the seeker and the deck’s get mixed up, you may have some problems in your cards. Besides, it can be a fun challenge to learn a new deck. Even though each card has meanings going across the different decks, each has it’s own style. The style and character of the deck can change your opinion about a card. In the Thoth deck, I see the Devil as more benevolent, the good god giving advice or support. A Pan-like goat sits in the realm between worlds. In the Rider-Waite deck, the Devil card seems darker, implying some forced labor or subservience to another. A demon holds a man and woman in chains. Depending on which deck the Devil puts an appearance in will determine how I feel it applies to the reading. I believe in strongly following your first intuition rather than relying on the classical meaning of cards. Look to see what the cards, new and old, are telling you.
Now explain to your clients how the two decks work. Most are very open and intrigued by the idea, since not many people read Tarot this way. Start by explaining the card dealing with their perceptions. Often the seeker will identify strongly with it, so you have a greater confidence in the accuracy of the reading. Often the underlying card will be of a similar nature, indicating the seeker sees the situation clearly. Suppose you had the Sun card over the two of cups in a present or future position, they would be in agreement. Both can represent a strong relationship, love and happiness in your life. But if you had the Sun over the Seven of Cups, you have a new story. The seeker probably thinks they are in happiness, or starting a good relationship, but there is something hidden. They are not thinking straight. Thoughts are muddled. Perception is clouded, perhaps by a substance. The new lover may not be as he appears, but the seeker is either in denial or deceived. Either way it’s trouble to tell someone they are muddled when they don’t think they are. Starting from their perceptions gives you a good launch pad for discussion and may cushion the blow. If someone is coming to a reader, they are looking for answers. When told in a comforting and supportive way, they are usually receptive to the truth once the initial shock and denial is over.
Using two Tarot decks can be more difficult and time consuming, but I think it’s well worth it. If this is your craft, expand your horizons and break new ground. If you can communicate your second sight to the seeker in a gentle and more accurate way, then do so. It makes it easier for everybody. The double deck technique has helped me greatly in my own practice and greatly improved my own understanding of the Tarot.