Tarot and Judgment: What Does It Mean to Be a Non-Judgmental Reader?

XX Judgement leaning against mug of hot chocolate
The Girlfriend's Tarot
To error is human, but so is to judge. Our brains compare and contrast things all the time, like when making decisions, or just with other people around us in general. Seriously, I’m not making this up. Monsieur Google or one of his fine associates, say Lady Bing, Madame Library, or Mr. Science Channel, can tell you more. The point is we are inevitably wired to judge. It is a fact of life, so what does it mean to be a Tarot Reader and not “judge” the person who comes to you for a reading?

There can be this contradiction in heart-centered, soul-based and spiritually-minded lines of work- as I’m sure there are in other similar professions/paths- between exercising good judgment and remaining non-judgmental. To put it bluntly, it’s the client that comes up to us and says, 
“Hi, I just killed my Aunt Mabel; I know, but she kept eating my pancakes every morning, and that was supposed to be mybreakfast. Anyhow, I’m not sure where to bury the body, and I’m wondering if the cards had any ideas. And if they don’t… well, let’s just say I’ll be burying two bodies. Mwahahahaha!”
Okay, this might be an extreme example, but you get the idea. There are going to be times when you have to make a judgment call. My fellow honest practitioners and I can’t very well go around getting involved in illegal and nefarious activities, or risking our personal safety- or the safety of our clients! For the love of tarot, that is SO not happening!

And therein lies the contradiction I mentioned. I have, in effect, just “judged” this person from our example. So then, what exactly is a “non-judgmental” Tarot Reader? I can’t speak for everyone, but here are few things that come to mind when I say don’t judge you when you have a reading with me:

1. I don’t discriminate! It makes no difference to me what gender you are, what country you’re from, what your skin color is, or even if you dislike pie. (But seriously, how could you not? I understand not every kind of pie; however, no pie at all simply eludes me.) Regardless of our varying perspectives on pie, or anything else, I read for all my clients the same. Granted, there are other ethical considerations that may be a factor, like reading for someone under the age of 18, or someone who creates an unsafe situation (Didn’t you hear what happened to Aunt Mabel?!), but generally, it’s all gravy, baby!

2. I check my personal biases and opinions at the door. I may not personally agree with something you do, or be into it myself, but as long as you’re not, say, a danger to yourself and/or others, or infringing on the human rights of someone else, it’s whatever floats your boat.

3. I will treat you with respect, whatever your reason for seeking a reading. This one almost goes without saying. I recognize the fact that you are a fellow human being worthy of respect, and I act as such. Even in the event of murder over pancakes, I will try my darnest to stay respectful, although I am human, and no one is perfect. If I ever am unintentionally disrespectful, I am sorry. I will work with you to return to that place of respect and understanding. No matter what, we are all just people. No one is inherently above or below anyone else.

4. I genuinely care and listen. One of my goals as a reader is to help you make sense of your situation, or offer you a fresh perspective. I want to help you, whether I’m simply being supportive, or giving advice (although NOT telling you what you should do! You make your own choices, honey.) This means I listen and care to what you are saying. I simply couldn’t do this work if I didn’t.

However, please understand that I cannot adopt your concerns and feelings on as my own. This would be an unhealthy practice for anyone, and a one-way ticket to burnout. I also have to take care myself so I can be at my best for you. So while I’m not going to be your exclusive stand-in or a crutch, I will be a friend, a life preserver, or a shoulder to cry on in a professional capacity, similar to how a Counselor or Life Coach might be. A tarot reading is a brainstorming session, and one has to effectively listen and care to bounce around good ideas.

5. I empower you with my readings. This is the other part of listening and caring. I do my best to help you to walk away from the reading ready to make decisions, able to connect with your own intuition and inner self, have a better understanding of forces at work in your life, or prepared to mull over your situation feeling more secure and confident, even when the news may not something we want to hear. This doesn’t mean I’m going to do a bunch of hand-holding or get all fluffy bunny on you. It means I will be sensitive and offer positive encouragement while also being realistic. 

Sometimes in a reading everything is coming up roses, and other times, the roses have thorns, but you are a master gardener, and the tarot is your hoe. (Wait, that doesn’t sound right. On second thought, the tarot is fertilizer…although that might make it poop. Um, potting soil! Yes, the tarot is definitely potting soil.) And I’m the nursery employee that knows her dirt. Together, we can figure out how to make the marvelous grow.

Now with everything said so far, there are a couple other things worth mentioning:

1. I am going to wonder why. This one ties in with being human and needing to use good judgment. Let’s examine a woman who is visibly upset, tissue in hand, and who comes for a reading about Christmas sweaters:
“So I’m meeting my boyfriend’s family for the first time on Christmas. I thought it would be cute if we wore red and green sweaters, but he insists upon wearing matching ugly sweaters. We’ve been fighting about it for days. It’s so bad, I’m afraid we’ll break up over it. What should I do?”
It is at this moment one would hear the proverbial record scratch. Something seems to be amiss. As the reader, I might initially be thinking:
Um…what? Is this really about Christmas sweaters?! What’s going on here? Is there a communication problem? Could her boyfriend be controlling, or even abusive? Perhaps she's abusive or controlling. Could she be feeling insecure? Has she been or felt abandoned in a past relationship? Is this the only thing they are fighting about? Are they actually fighting, or are these feelings one-sided? What’s the boyfriend’s take on this? Have they tried counseling? Etc.
And this, my tarot-lovelies, is even before I start pulling cards! Heck, I may think, 
Are we seriously doing a reading on Christmas sweaters???? (Gasp!) 
But this does not mean I think that this woman- or anyone- is stupid or silly for asking such a question. I am simply wondering why. For myself, and many others, a tiff over holiday attire wouldn’t be that big of deal, and for her to be so worried by this makes think something more is going on and I am concerned for her.

I am not judging her, but rather the situation and I can’t ignore the warning signals my intuition and logic are giving me. To do so would be unethical. If it is something more serious, or it requires seeing a different professional or specialist, then that needs to be addressed. 

And although I may think these things, it doesn't make any of them true; therefore, I would also refrain from jumping to any conclusions. I mean, for all we know, this woman could be a secret dominatrix who whips her boyfriend anytime he disagrees with her in the slightest, and he doesn't much appreciate it. And that’s why they are fighting, but she’s too embarrassed or ashamed to admit it! Making assumptions is also not good. Like I said before, once I lay the cards out on the table, my personal opinions get the cosmic boot.

So, I may choose to go ahead and draw cards, seeing what they say and tackling things as they come up, or I may ask her for more information or for clarification. Ultimately, I would interpret the cards and do what I can to help. And if all the fuss is honestly about Christmas sweaters, I respect that. If something is important and relevant for you, then it is for me. That’s all that matters.

2. I’m also going to level with you. Every once in a while we all need a reality check or an objective perspective. That’s why we often consult the tarot and seek out readers in the first place. I can best help you when we’re honest with each other and work to develop trust. So I am going to be straight with you. To the woman of the mistletoed mayhem, I may say:
“Thank you for coming to see me for a reading. I understand you are fighting with your boyfriend over Christmas sweater styles, and you’re afraid it could end the relationship. I’m sorry to hear that. I’d love to help you explore the matter, but I feel like there is more to this situation, and that this isn’t just about Christmas sweaters. Is there anything more you’d like to share, or are there any other reasons why you’re seeing me today?”
It’s getting real with respect and compassion. She may decide not to tell, but at least we have opened that door. When we take the first step and are honest with ourselves, we receive clear and honest answers from the tarot.

Want to learn more about my ethics as a Tarot Reader? Click here.

For additional reading, I highly suggest this post from Biddy Tarot on what makes for an ethical Tarot Reader. Now it’s your turn: Tell me in the comment section below what you do to remain non-judgmental while still practicing good judgment. And for the record, it was Madame Library with the bag of potting mix in the tarot parlor. ;) 

Happy Taroting!
Chani <3