I saw an article in the news. I won’t say what news or what article or when or who because, well, because like my other readings, I protect the confidentiality of my clients. But just to give the circumstances, the story was about a death, one that so far seems a little mysterious. It’s being investigated by the right people, apparently. And there’s also something about not interfering with an ongoing investigation. I won't.
Still, I had questions. I didn’t know the person and as far as I know I don’t have any connection to the person other than noting the story and the pang of sorrow I felt at hearing news of someone dying under a cloud, even a little cloud, of mystery.
There’s a lot of discussion in the tarot readers community about the ethics of doing a reading for a third party. You can imagine the kinds of questions that are common among the very young, the very heartbroken.
“What does X think of me?” “What did X mean when they said that?” “What will X do?” “Will X ever leave Y and be with me?”
These are common questions, like I said. And they have the characteristic of being, well, at best, snoopy. Generally, if you want to know what X thinks, ask X yourself. Of course, it isn’t that easy. But at least it is fair to you and it’s fair to X, whoever they are.
My ethics for privacy don’t just extend to my client. Hunting down Ms. or Mr. X, recording their thoughts with a tape-recorder or their actions with a video recorder or just spying on them with a home-made periscope is a violation of X’s privacy too. And if it’s important to you as my client to have privacy, think how important privacy is to your buddy X. After all, you came to me and asked for information in a reading; X didn’t.
I usually try to rephrase the question, occasionally to the disappointment of a client who really does want me to snoop on X’s most intimate thoughts or feelings. After all, if you really knew what people thought and felt, you might change your actions. Since you’re the client, I reframe the question to something like: How will things work out for you or will you be happy if X takes a certain course of action versus another? It’s pointing the focus of the question back on you without spying on the third party.
And really, it’s your reading, so it makes sense that the reading should be about you, not about anyone else. After all, what is the best thing for you to do in case of one action or another? What if the worst thing should happen, whatever scenario that is?
It’s my own belief that you can’t make anyone think or feel anything unless they decide to do it. Some belief systems augment that with a warning message, “…at least, not without some pretty severe consequences.” So, that old R&B song that goes, “I’m gonna make you love me, yes, I will! Yes, I will!” is at worst unrealistic fantasy and at best, well, the wrong response. If you have to make someone love instead of their choosing to do it themselves, is that really love? There’s a point where your fondest wish could be the other person’s feeling of oppression and worse. So, that’s not love.
Garth Brooks’ country song that says, “Some of God’s greatest gifts are unanswered prayers,” goes a long way. That’s probably the nicest way of putting the warning to be careful what you wish for. I usually say at the very least, next time I’m going to be more specific. Often what we want is our fantasy, and not the reality of the situation for any of the people involved. Fantasies are fantasies for a reason. They are often unrealistic, unsustainable, short-lived. They often serve their purpose and dissolve, the parts rearranging themselves into a new fantasy.
Fantasies serve a wonderful “what-if” scenario purpose for us to imagine outcomes. But you wouldn’t want someone else barging in on your fantasy to take photographs, at least most of the time. Fantasies are different from having a goal and a purpose for yourself. Fantasies are like reading the funnies in the newspaper. Visualizing yourself as achieving your own goal is much more like pre-planning, like figuring out your next steps towards your own changes.
Just in case the client’s question is about another person and that situation dissolves into something less meaningful than it might have been had things turned out a different way, well, it’s just plain rude to snoop. I have to respect their privacy as much as I respect my client’s privacy.
But when an event is reported publicly as part of the news and, filtering out speculation from facts, you might ask yourself why? There is no way to know first hand what that stranger in the news story was thinking or feeling that led to what appears to be a tragic end. At least, not for me.
I was still moved to wonder what happened though. Since I read tarot, I shuffled my deck and drew three cards. And my first reaction to them was, “Ah.” Ah, I see the sadness and heartache, the realization of truth that was so difficult but taken to heart.
I drew the 9 of Swords, a realization, a wake-up, a truth revealed that dispels all illusions, both good and bad. I drew the 10 of Swords reversed, an inability to end a train of thought or to bring a situation to its logical conclusion, and often with a sense that the truth has somehow betrayed rather than released. I drew the 3 of Swords, three swords of truth piercing a heart in the rain, sadness, sorrow, the need for comfort and succor in difficulties.
Taken all together, I hear the cry of the unhappy person who realizes that in fact this sorrow was not going to end, which renewed the sorrow all the more.
I don’t know if this person’s life ended by their own choice, by accident or at the hands of others. For one thing, that’s what other people are paid to find out and are much better at doing than I am. But in my reading, I read for myself in the end. I wanted to know what happened here and got an answer that was, for a tarot reading, the equivalent of the 2x4 between the eyes.
They’re gone, is the answer. They’re gone. And I’m sorry about that, for a stranger I never knew.