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Fear of doing a reading

June 5, 2010

A friend of mine recently asked me for my thoughts on a problem she is having with her Tarot reading.  She told me that so many problems have cropped up in her life lately that she is afraid to do a reading for herself for fear of what else she might see coming her way. For example, if the Death card were to come up, she feels that she might jump to the conclusion that it meant someone was going to die, even though she knows that this card’s meaning is symbolic.  The problem is that my friend is concerned, and reasonably so, that in her current state of mind her fears will overpower her intuition during any reading she tries to do for herself.  However, there are a few ways to overcome this, which I’ll describe below.

First, instead of a reading, she can do a visualization with a card, which is like a waking dream where the setting is a Tarot card and you interact with the people in the card.  To choose the card with which to do this exercise, I would suggest using an intuitive method in this case rather than a divinatory one where you deal a card, since that might get you a card such as the Death card, which will cause the bad reaction noted above.

In the intuitive method, you look quickly through your deck with the cards face up while considering the issue at hand until you see a card that “feels right” for this situation.  You should thumb through the cards as fast as you can, relying on your instincts and gut reactions to them. If you find that you are staring at a card, wondering if it is the right one, then you are letting your rational mind have a say in this selection process instead of relying on your intuitive mind to choose the card for you. When that happens, discard that card as not calling to your intuition and move on to the next one. Alternatively, there is the logical method in which you consciously choose a card that seems well suited to your needs. For example, if you want to know how to find a relationship, you might want to use either the Two of Cups or the Lovers card.

As for what a Tarot visualization is and how to do it, that’s a whole blog post in itself.  I’m sure that many of my readers know about this, but for those of you who do not, you might try Mary K. Greer’s wonderful book Tarot for Your Self — pages 21 – 25, 44 – 46, and 168 – 170, or you can check out my blog post about doing visualizations with the cards.

Another suggestion is to swap readings with a “Tarot Buddy” or find a friend with some amount of Tarot knowledge to sit with you while you do a reading for yourself. This friend can give you a reality check if your fears run away with you during your reading.

Finally, you can do a reading with a totally non-predictive spread. What I mean by this is a spread that does not have any “future” positions in the layout.  The advantage of this is that you won’t have to deal with wondering what a scary card might be predicting for you.

Here are a couple of examples of such a spread:


You can use a simple three-card spread with the following positional definitions:

Card 1:  Background information about the situation

Card 2:  Insights into the problem in this situation

Card 3:  Advice about how to deal with this problem


For this four-card spread, use the following layout:

CARD 3Card 4

CARD 1Card 2

The positional definitions are as follows:

Card 1:  What am I doing wrong in this situation?

Card 2:  What am I doing right in this situation?

Card 3:  What do I need to know about this situation?

Card 4:  What do I need to do in this situation?


As a tangential postscript, let me say that there are many people who refuse to get a reading for this same reason—fear of what a reading will reveal. What I tell them is that if you’re approaching a pot hole in the road of life, it’s better to see it in advance so you can avoid it or at least prepare for it.


Addendum:  Although doing a reading for yourself with a Tarot Buddy being there with you is a good idea, you may want to be wary of reading for yourself in front of someone who is generally negative or unhappy because they might inadvertently add fuel to the fire of your own fears. So choose your Tarot Buddy carefully.






From → Readings, Spreads

  1. Genii permalink

    Not being grounded and prepared for a reading can be problematic as well. This can trigger incorrect responses to certain cards.
    Proper preparation helps overcome fears.

  2. My fear of doing a reading right now (for anyone) is more a case of being anxious about getting it wrong (the downside of being a perfectionist). One technique that may help doing readings for oneself is to pretend that you are reading for someone else, i.e. ask questions and give answers in the third person.

  3. My major concern with doing my own readings is that it’s difficult for me to be objective. I either read too much into a negative result or I want it to go a certain way or see things the way I want to see them. I have found in the past that if I want something bad enough, I will interpret the reading favorably.

    A lot of what you mentioned above, James, makes a lot of sense. I look forward to other posts where you can offer other suggestions on how to “get out of my own way” in my self-readings.

    Bright blessings!
    Gina 😀

  4. Helen and Gina —
    Yes, reading for yourself is never easy. What I was addressing here was what to do when it becomes even more difficult due to having anxieties in addition to the normal hopes and fears that get in the way.
    Helen: Good suggestion.
    Gina: Ah, yet another idea for a post.

  5. I almost never do predictive readings for myself (or anyone else, for that matter) because I feel there are simply too many variables that influence the future. My readings tend to be along the lines of the examples you gave. However, one approach that might take some of the stress out of predictive readings would be to explore “energy” (for lack of a better word) that is influencing a situation at the moment and, if the energy seems negative, to explore how one might counteract that energy (and if the energy seems positive, how one might take advantage or capitalize on that).

    • I understand where you’re coming from, Zanna. When I use a spread that has a “future” position in it, I call it “probable future” or something like that. I tell people that the future is not etched in stone.
      Like your “energy” description, I talk about where this person’s path is heading, and if they don’t like where it’s going, they can choose another path.

  6. I find when I feel a little apprehensive about a situation and decide to do a reading for myself……I take a very slow deep breathe,prepare with Reiki or a Chakra Realignment….. then choose several cards about “What is the issue behind the situation?” and merge 3 cards into a sentence……..
    I then look at each cards as individuals and walk beyind the surface of the card…..The first time I tried this I was really pleasantly suprised in how much better I felt after this reading…..Like I had got to the Root of the Problem……and was able to face whatever was ahead of me at this time…….. even though it still seemed unknown…

    Hope this helps someone further on their journey when reading for self……Journal reading I find very important aspect……..

  7. Some really helpful ideas here, thank you. Maybe pulling a ‘bias’ card to externalise and clearly see any distortion being introduced by our emotional involvement. Maybe it’s a case of just being a bit tired and needing a small rest from Tarot if committments permit.
    Re: Death in the Tarot, if this isn’t to take it too far off topic, I’ve found the Death card CAN sometimes go beyond the symbolic and signify an actual bodily death. And if I’ve tried to wriggle out of it, talking about symbolism, the client’s insisted that yes, it’s real death, and they want to talk about it, straight down the line. Help. Well, I won’t forecast death, but being faced with it, the challenge is how to ethically and helpfully respond without either exceeding my limits, or chickening out of an issue of legitimate concern.

    I acknowledge the reasons for Death’s later reinvention as the concept of transformation, and they’re good ones. But Death’s part of life. Tarot is a microcosm of the totality of the human condition and beyond. We mourn and it’s probably the greatest distress we ever know. Meanwhile we have our own mortality to accommodate. Say, you’re facing a terminally ill person, who’s receiving all the appropriate professional help, but is asking the Tarot for words and thoughts to comfort their loneliness, facing that last leap. The Tarot’s not afraid to reach out if you’re not, and it will find words that seem to help. Maybe somewhere along the line, it’s seen Grace.

  8. Your post Death Is On The Cards handled it very well and wisely, I thought.

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