`Who are YOU?' said the Caterpillar.
This was not an encouraging opening for a conversation. Alice replied, rather shyly, `I--I hardly know, sir, just at present-- at least I know who I WAS when I got up this morning, but I think I must have been changed several times since then.'
When the Caterpillar asks this infamous question in Alice in Wonderland, he's mainly just being difficult. But there's a reason such a pointed question stirs feelings in Alice - and in us. Ask any of us who we are, and there's at least two dozen ways we could answer.
Most of us, if we're asked how we see ourselves, start listing off our titles and our accomplishments. "I'm a daughter. I'm a sister. I'm a Tarot reader and a coach. I'm a Floridian." We can go on and on with the labels we attach to ourselves, right down to things that set us apart from the mainstream, put us in categories, or even just put us down.
The thing is, so many of those things aren't permanent. They're changing, and our sense of self changes with them. Jobs are lost, divorces are filed, people move across the country or even across the world. One minute we "have it all together", with the relationships and careers we're told make us capable adults, and the next something changes - as life inevitably does - and the way we talk and feel does too.
But what changed? Are you any less 'you' when you've lost the weight, converted to the new religion, or made the move to another country? Or is there a core 'you', when you peel off all the layers, that remains constant no matter what is going on around you?
I'm not saying some labels aren't important parts of who we are. Sometimes they describe an experience we only share with certain people. Or they're part of an identity that's so important, we want the world to know it.
But you ask five different people what those labels mean, and you'll get ten different answers. For a friend of mine, calling my ADD a "disability" meant I thought I couldn't do anything I set my mind to. I had to explain that for me, it meant I knew what naturally came harder to me, so I knew where I had to focus my energy - and to be patient when it took a little longer to improve.
In the end, it's what a label means to us more than the word itself. When I first went into business for myself, I researched the business style of a professional Tarot reader. Then I looked at coaching, and found that it was a huge element of what I did in my readings: helping clients take the next step towards the person they wanted to be, the life they wanted to live. But was I a life coach? A Tarot reader? How to market myself? I came to realize that these two parts of my work - the spiritual and the practical - were so intertwined they were both a part of what I did. Ultimately, no matter what the term, these were my tools as someone who loved to counsel, guide, and give.
So who ARE you?
Start writing - or talking, or vlogging, or whatever's comfortable for you. Think about what comes to mind when someone asks you that question. And then look for the meaning inside the words. What are the qualities in you that guide that huge part of your life? If you suddenly didn't have the money, the job, the spouse, what feelings from those things would still be left, shaping who you are?
And if you suddenly feel like you'd be less loveable, capable, or "together"...well, take a look at that. Where does that come from? You'd be no less loving, ambitious, or accomplished if you were still looking for a way to share it. And wanting something you feel you don't already have - well, that means you value those qualities. And that's a powerful thing all on its own.
Who are you? I guarantee you know, maybe even more than you think.
While a good Tarot reader can give you some incredible insight into your life, one of the most important things about a reading is your approach. When you're looking for some guidance, remember that few things matter as much as the question you ask.
When my clients sit with me, they're often a bit confused about what would be the best subject for a reading. I've been given several different options and told to pick, or given no options and told to simply explain what I see in the cards. Some clients even give a list of everything on their minds, even when those subjects aren't closely related.
I totally understand the confusion. There are all kinds of readers, and a bunch of different approaches. I've had readers that used an all-purpose spread to cover every possible subject in twenty minutes. I've had one who immediately began talking to her spirit guides, and only drew a single card in the last few minutes. (I confess I felt a little cheated by that one - I had paid for a Tarot reading, not a channeling!) It's easy to assume that because a lot of Tarot readers work with psychic abilities, or simply with their intuitive response to the cards, that they can pick out what you need to know just by glancing at you.
But in my experience, the best readings come from having the best questions: questions that are clear, focused, and open to a lot of different information. So here are five basic tips for asking the best question for your reading, and receiving the best results!
1) Make your question clear and specific.
If you ask me about money, there's a lot of things that could come up: your position at work, your spending habits, the results of any financial windfalls. If you ask me about the results of your business in the next six months, I'll be able to focus my reading and give you a lot of specific, useful advice via the cards.
2) Don't be afraid of not covering everything.
Most Tarot readers will read for as a little as fifteen minutes to as long as an hour. Not only is that usually time for more than one spread, and a detailed heart-to-heart about what your reading shows, but the issues in your life can be intertwined. Talking about your relationships will lead to a look at boosting your communication, or raising your self-esteem. The cards have a real knack for revealing what's hidden and bringing it into the light, so if you need to see what the real issue is, don't worry. It'll be there.
3) Don't ask about other people.
If you're asking about your relationship with another person, that's fine. But if you just want to know how they're feeling, or what's going on in their personal lives, that's not so easy. For one thing, some readers believe it's a breach of ethics to read for anyone other than the clients who've consented to it - that includes celebrities! And more importantly, there's no guarantee you'll get the answers you want. Any reading about another person will still be through your eyes, with your perspective. It might miss important details, or be clouded by your energy and bias. Try asking about your relationship with the person, or what you need to know about the situation.
4) Don't limit your possible answers.
One of the biggest things I see newbies to Tarot do is limit the scope of their answers. They'll ask a yes-or-no question, or they'll be looking for a specific result: "Will I get a boyfriend?" But part of the beauty of Tarot is how many levels and shades of meaning you can find in a reading. Depending on the spread and what cards you draw, the cards can reveal what's hidden, show different options, or tell you when you're headed for an unpleasant result so you can change your tune. The 'how' and 'why' are so much more important than the 'what' in a good reading. One of my favorite templates for this kind of question is "What do I need to know about...?" That way you can stay as broad or specific as you like, while leaving your reading open to all the detail that's possible for you.
5) Timing isn't always important.
There are definitely Tarot spreads for what will come in a specific amount of time, and how specific it can get depends on the reader. But personally, I like to keep questions of timing in a reading open-ended. The future can always be changed by our actions, so the longer you project into the future with a reading, the less accurate it has the chance to be. Tarot should be an active experience, where the path you take towards your goals is informed and enhanced by the reading. Rather than asking when something will happen, I like to ask what I can do to help bring it about, and then trust that the universe will send it to me in its own time.
Be open to all the possibilities, and your reading will surprise you by the depth of the information it will give - and all the new insight it'll open up!