You may know that I read at a lot of Medieval and Historic Feativals and I’ve just returned from a 5-day stint at Leeds Castle, preceded by a couple of days at Herstmonceux. The latter was not a hectic event and I found myself having two slightly odd conversations about reading the past. Now this is curious because most Tarot “virgins” usually want to know about the future (will they succeed/win the lottery/find love/get better) and I spend a lot of time explaining about my approach not really being predictive in that sort of fortune-telling way*.
*I do look at the future in context of a progression from the rest of the reading, just as I look as the past as a contributing factor, but I don’t make random predictions.
The first was a client, who upon my drawing the reading to a close (entirely to her satisfaction afaik), decided that she wanted to test me.
Client: But can you tell me about my past?
Me: I expect so, but surely you already know about your past?
Me: but I don’t? Does it matter if I know about your past? Do you need me to know?
Client: (conceding) No, not really.
So there we left it. I do read one card about the past but tend not to dwell on it unless it is particularly pertinent to the situation in the rest of the reading. I guess she missed that part.
The second instance was a MoP (member of the public) who wandered by as I was standing outside the tent, wondering whether I could reasonably start to pack up as it was almost the last hour of the last day and MoPs were very thin on the ground. The conversation ended up being quite a lengthy debate about ethics, so this is just a summary of the key points.
MoP: Are you psychic or do you just read the cards?
Me: I just read the cards. I don’t admit to being psychic.
MoP: Ah, because some people just use the cards as a prop….(continued about psychics just making things up etc)
Me: No, I just read the cards as I see them and use the deck that I do (RWS), so that clients can see for themselves what I’m telling them.
MoP: so can you tell people about their past?
Me: (amused and slightly taken aback that this has come up again) Funnily enough, I just had this conversation. Why would you want me to tell you about your past?
MoP: I mean, if someone had done something that had really messed up your life, would you be able to tell them why they had done it.
(Explanation/discussion about third party and why that sort of direction would be unethical)
Me: I mean, if someone asked me to look inside your head to find what you were thinking, you’d be ok with that?
MoP: (still not really seeing it from my perspective) Yes, I wouldn’t mind if they really needed to know…
Me: (incredulous) Really?
MoP: …but if you couldn’t contact them and really needed to know why they had done it?
Me: it would still be unethical and what difference would it make? If I told you that they had a really good reason for messing up your life, would you say “oh, that’s alright then”? Or if I told you their reasons had been frivolous or that they had no reason at all for screwing up your life, what difference would that make?
MoP: (not really getting it) I see, but what if you really needed to know in order to get closure?
Me: but knowing the reason wouldn’t help you move on with your life. It wouldn’t change what had happened or the impact on you in any way. Knowing they had a good reason for messing up your life wouldn’t make you feel any better and knowing that they didn’t would hardly help either. Besides, it is not my concern what motivated someone else, only what I can do to help my client. I try to focus on what my client can do to rebuild and move on…. (And so we continued with him eventually conceding that it was mor important to deal with the fallout than know the reason)
He was clearly speaking from a personal viewpoint but he didn’t ask for a reading and at 5pm on the last day I was not inclined to offer one (and I have no interest in trying to persuade the reluctant), so we parted company and I continued to muse on this issue. Although I am very aware of the importance of the effect of the past, I had no more considered this aspect than the MoP had considered the ethics from my point of view.
I subsequently recalled having seen a quote to the effect that once a plate was broken, you could glue it together, but it wouldn’t ever be the same plate. Nothing was said about the reasons why the plate broke in the first place – it simply wasn’t relevant to the present state of the plate or your ability to mend it.
Don’t get me wrong, I totally understand the need to know the reasons and why people fixate on that. “If I know why, then I can get closure” or “If I understood what they were thinking, maybe it would make sense” and so on, but actually, it doesn’t really. People do shitty things to one another, monstrous things sometimes, but just as that doesn’t necessarily make them all bad, it doesn’t really help the victim to know that. I expect even the most vilified and “evil” characters still loved their mother or their dog or had someone who didn’t see them as a complete monster, even if the rest of the world did. Perhaps just putting it down to “it must have seemed like a good idea at the time” and moving on is the best approach.
I would welcome your thoughts though, so feel free to comment 🙂
On a lighter note, here are the views I’ve been enjoying for the last 10 days or so 😀