Learning the Art of Writing

Festival Tarot reader

Table 1 tarot reader at festival

If you have ever been to a psychic fair, you’ve probably seen tarot card readers hard at work, giving readings from tidy little tables and rows of booths. You might even have thought about offering tarot readings yourself at a new-age festival or a fundraiser for your favourite non-profit group.

It’s a lot of fun to read tarot cards in public. The atmosphere is charged with excitement. Clients are enthusiastic. What’s more, your talents as a tarot reader will be tested, stretched, and ultimately strengthened. You will probably develop techniques in public that you would never discover in the comfort of your living room.

At the same time, public readings can also be very demanding. You will be expected to be clear, concise, accurate — and fast. You may be giving readings to people who have never had a tarot reading before, and who don’t know what to expect. You will probably have to work in a noisy, frenetic space, often in full view of onlookers.

If you would like to try your hand at reading tarot in public, here are some tips.

1. Be prepared. Gather everything you will need the day before you plan to do public readings.

2. Be yourself. You don’t need to wear a costume (unless you want to), or talk in an accent, or pretend to be someone you’re not. Just read the cards for strangers as you would read them for a friend.

3. Feel free to ask other tarot readers what they charge, and price your readings accordingly. One rate to start with might be $1 a minute.

4. Decide beforehand how you would like to manage your time. You may want to set a ten-minute minimum, for example, or a twenty-minute maximum to prevent long-winded clients from monopolizing your time.

5.Dress comfortably. You might be doing some heavy setup work, and then find yourself sitting for hours on end once your readings start.

6. If you can, recruit an assistant to help you with crowd control. Otherwise, post a sign-up sheet.

7. Bring business cards and brochures, and hand them out between readings. Also, be sure to hand a business card to everyone who gets a reading from you.

8. Offer free one-card readings if business slows down. You’ll get more customers — and you’ll have more fun — if you keep busy.

9. Don’t pressure anyone, but don’t be afraid to ask people passing by if they’d like a tarot reading. Some people just need to be invited to the table.

10. Use a tarot deck you really like, and make sure you’re comfortable with all of the symbols and images on the cards. If you are starting from scratch, get a copy of ‘Learning the Tarot: A Tarot Book for Beginners’. If you need to review basic meanings, try ‘Tarot Plain & Simple’. Another good choice is ‘The Complete Book of Tarot : A Step-by-Step Guide to Reading the Cards’.

11. Try to use a deck that depicts people from a range of ethnic backgrounds, so that every client can identify with the images. And remember that you’re in public, where sweet-faced children and little old ladies can see your cards. Make sure your deck is “G” or “PG”-rated. ‘Hanson-Roberts Tarot Deck’ is a good choice for clients of all ages and sensibilities.

12. Bring along an alternate deck or two, so you can switch if the spirit moves you. ‘LS Univrsl Tarots (Waite)’ is an elegant version of the familiar Rider-Waite-Smith deck. ‘Renaissance Tarot Deck’ is a beautiful, classic-looking deck. People who might be a little intimidated by traditional tarot cards are often drawn to ‘Voyager Tarot Kit: Intuition Cards for the 21st Century’.

13. Learn some spreads that you can do quickly. I recommend ‘The Heart of the Tarot : The Two-card Layout: Easy, Fast, and Insightful’.

14. Post a sign that advertises your services and prices. Be specific, so people passing by can see at a glance what you offer, how much it costs, and what they will get out of the deal. One weekend, at a Spring Wholeness Festival in St. Paul, I used printed up a sign that read, “Tarot Readings: $20. Your career/Your love life/Your friends and family.”

15. You might want to keep contact information for people who get readings from you. If so,include a space for names, addresses, e-mail, and phone numbers on your sign-up list.

16. Drink water or tea while you read, because your throat will probably get dry.

17. Bring breath mints. If your throat is dry or you are a little nervous, you might need them.

18. Take a break every two hours.

19. Eat well before you leave home and stop for lunch or a snack if you are reading for extended periods.

20. If you find that you are especially sensitive to other people’s moods, do some shielding and grounding meditations before you begin your readings.

21. Personally, I like to keep public readings light and uplifting, and I keep that intention in mind the whole time. Offer to follow up with a private session if you meet someone who needs a more intense reading.

22. Set a time to go home. Don’t feel compelled to stay until you have worked for everyone who wants a reading. Bring along your appointment book to schedule additional readings for your waiting list.

The Traveling Tarot Reader’s Checklist
You’ve got your favorite deck of cards, a table, and a table cloth. Are you ready to head off to a festival? Maybe … but then again, you might want to pack up the gypsy wagon ýwith all of your tarot tools. Here is a checklist of the “tarotphernalia” that many readers take along to public readings.

– Tarot cards
– Reading table. (At most psychic fairs, a table is included with your space rental.)
– Likewise, if you need to bring your own chairs, try a couple of lightweight camping chairs or plastic stacking chairs.
– Banner, signs, and easel
– A nametag for yourself
– Clock, watch, or timer
– Sign-in sheet
– Sign-in table
– Appointment book
– Moneybag or cash box
– Receipt book
– Calculator
– Change
– Business cards
– Brochures
– Mailing list
– A raffle bowl and raffle slips, if you want to grow your mailing list by raffling a free reading or gift
– Tablecloths, spread cloths, scarves, and fabric to drape over tables, chairs, and dividers
– Candles and matches, if open flame is allowed, or a small table lamp.
– Crystals
– Flowers
– Decorative figurines
– A portable stereo, with new-age CDs or tapes
– Chair cushions
– Flowers and plants
– Kleenex
– A tape recorder with a clip-on microphone.
– Blank cassette tapes.

Don’t forget the tools you might need to set up and maintain your space:
– Extension cords
– Scissors
– Scotch tape
– Masking tape
– Duct tape
– Tacks
– Safety pins
– Staples
– Wire
– Hammer
– Pliers
– Removable stick-on hooks
– Blank paper or poster board
– Permanent marker
– Spray cleaner
– Paper towels
– Trash bags



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