at Parties, Expos & Psychic Fairs
by Rev. Jennifer Elizabeth Moore MA, CTF
As a professional Tarot reader, I have had the opportunity to read at many parties, psychic fairs and expos. Offering readings at these events has been a valuable experience which continuously helps me to develop my skills as a Tarotist. I consider readings at parties, fairs and expos the fast food of the magical world; they are high in volume, they demand precision and an instant response to accommodate this "Wham-bam, thank you, Ma'am." style of reading.
Parties are probably not for everyone. You need to be willing to be put on the spot. You need to be prepared for scrutiny and/or resistance from skeptical or nervous querents. You must be able to adhere to strict boundaries with your time. Spontaneity, confidence and a sense of humor are useful traits for anyone who embarks on this journey. The challenges of this approach can be psychic overload, exhaustion, and self-doubt from difficult readings.
Of course there are many benefits with this kind of reading. You get to meet many wonderful people. You are entrusted with the privilege of witnessing someone's personal story. You have the opportunity to serve the world in a small way by helping others with useful information and advice. You can learn a great deal about reading the Tarot (or any other medium you are working in). You can gain insights about meanings of the cards. You can develop and hone effective spreads. You can increase your speed and accuracy, and you can improve your "bedside manner" and your negotiating skills.
In my opinion the pros far outweigh the cons in this work and, with a bit of consideration and preparation, many of the challenges can be avoided or addressed with ease. The following list of suggestions comes from my personal experience; I offer it for your consideration and I encourage you to take the parts that feel right to you. Please adapt these suggestions and create new ideas that work for you. Reading styles and Tarot systems can vary significantly, so in this article I will focus on the self care of the reader and general details.
1. Learn about the logistics. For fairs and expos find out what kind of space you will be working in and how many other readers will be there. Obviously, discuss the terms, costs and standard rates. When a party is being booked please insist (graciously of course) on a private space where you and each querent can consult individually.
2. A few days (or even weeks) before a reading event check in with a supportive loved one and see if they might be free after the event is over. Make plans to either call them and check in, or to meet and go out for a bite to eat.
3. Figure out how much time it will take to get to the event's location. Add fifteen minutes and schedule this as your departure time in your calendar.
Preparation for the Event
4. The night before, put together your "Tarot Reading Kit" consisting of the following items:
Your Tarot deck
A timer, stopwatch, clock or wristwatch to keep track of your sessions
Your business cards and/or other promotional materials
A sign-up sheet on a clipboard and a good pen to write with
A mailing list on another clipboard or in a nice guest book and another good pen to write with
When you end each session give the person your business card and ask her or him to sign the mailing list if s/he wants to receive updates from you.
An extra pad of paper and pen for note taking
A reading cloth for the table
A candle and a candle holder
Crystals or other (non threatening) magical stuff
5. Get plenty of sleep the night before. Schedule a good chunk of time before you need to leave to prepare for your work. Take a nice soothing/cleansing bath or shower. Anoint yourself with your favorite scent, but go light on the scent in case of allergies and also because too much fragrance can give the wrong message. Dress nicely in a way that conveys the kind of image you want to reinforce to yourself and prospective clients. Go over your Tarot party kit and make sure you have everything you need. Check a map and confirm your directions to the event site (nothing more discombobulating than getting lost!). Take 10-20 minutes to meditate and pray and connect to your center.
Arrival and Setup
6. When you arrive at the event take a few moments to become acclimated. Scan the environment and find out where the host/ess or event coordinators are located. At fairs and expos, after you have set up your reading space, I recommend that you take a few minutes to go around and introduce yourself to the other readers. It can be really helpful to learn the approach they offer and share a brief explanation of yourself so that you can recommend these other readers to people when you are booked or when you feel the fit would be better with someone else.
7. At a party, introduce yourself to the group and say a few things about the Tarot, yourself as a reader, and what will happen during each session. Ask for any questions. Explain that while the sessions are private and confidential, it is perfectly fine for people to discuss whatever they want about their own reading after it is done. I am adamant about doing sessions in private because I never know what will come up in the cards and it can be quite revealing and possibly embarrassing for people. In the rare circumstance where people want to look on, I explain my rule by saying that an audience will create interference during a reading because I might pick up on the other person in the space.
8. Check in about who wants to go first. Do a head count and talk about length of sessions. At events where you are being paid by the querent, explain to people that in 10-15 minutes you can cover 1 basic question, in 20-30 you can get a general overview, and in 45-60 you can really examine the whole picture with some depth (this kind of length is more unusual in these kinds of settings). For parties where you are being paid by the hour, you will want to have negotiated in advance how much the host/ess wants to pay and the total number of hours you are working. Then you divide the time by the number of people who want readings.
9. Find out if anyone needs to leave early and schedule them first. You might suggest that the people who are comfortable waiting longer go later during the party. This will give you an idea of how many people you have to work with and how long you can expect to be at the party. By calculating the time in advance you can keep track of whether or not you are staying on target or if you are losing time.
During the Readings
10. Go back to your space, take a few minutes to ground and center and then welcome your first client.
11. Keep a glass of water handy at all times.
12. I recommend that you do not eat any food from a party. I do this as a way to protect myself from literally taking in energy from the event and its participants. I usually fast for the whole time that I am doing readings. During day long events I will usually eat a very light snack that I have brought or purchased. I find that drinking only water helps me to stay clear and focused.
13. When you begin each session, calculate the time to 5 minutes before the end of the session; when you come to that time, either start winding up or check in with your client and say something like. "It seems like we are really uncovering a lot of information. We are nearly done with the time we have agreed on. Would you like to continue?" In cases where you have been hired for an hourly rate, it may not be appropriate to extend a session. In that case you can give them your business card and say something like. "Our time is up right now, and obviously there is more we could explore. I offer private readings by appointment. Here is my business card. Give me a call if you want to set up a longer session."
14. I find that it is easiest to keep going once I have started. As I send out a client I ask them to send in the next person. I usually only take breaks when I need a water refill or I need to use the bathroom. This is my personal preference; I suggest that you do what works for you.
15. If you find you are picking up too much energy, remember to breathe and release tension, worry, or your empathic concerns with each exhale. Imagine that you are breathing the energy of the earth in through your feet, and that you are breathing the energy of the sky/heaven down from your crown; release the excess energy down through your feet.
16. If you feel overwhelmed or concerned, remember you are not alone, and that each person is exactly where they need to be in that moment. If I get worried about a client I remind myself that "This person has a Higher Power in their life. And Jen, you're not it!"
After the Readings
17. When you are done with the event, go into the bathroom. Run cool water in the faucet and hold your hands under the running water. Imagine all the extra energy from the people you have worked with washing away from you and down the drain with the water as you imagine that you are releasing energy with each exhale of your breath. Go to the toilet and imagine that all the energy that is not yours to keep is being released. Flush the toilet. Rinse your hands again and shake off any last vestiges of your querent's psychic energy.
18. Clean up your space and then check in with the host/ess; thank her or him and say good bye.
19. Now that you are done, you might want to hook up with a loved one and feed yourself good food. Ask them in advance to be a support for you. Explain that you may need someone to listen for awhile, or that you may just want to chill out, but that you are going to want to be pampered. Either make plans to go to a restaurant with someone you love, or plan to have some nourishing food that is already prepared and waiting for you at home. It is really important to plan the food in advance because you probably won't want to deal after a full party.
20. Drink plenty of water.
21. Get to bed and get plenty of sleep!
The Next Day
22. Wake up and tell yourself what a good job you have done. Plan to buy yourself a token present to reward yourself for this work.
Common sense, preparation and courtesy are the most important keys to a successful reading experience. By anticipating your needs and planning for interactions with your querents, potential challenges can be avoided and you can create a space of ease where the miraculous can occur. Bottom line: Take care of yourself, and have some fun!
Reverend Jennifer Elizabeth Moore MA, CTF, RM uses the Tarot to help people explore their choices to create the lives they want to live. She is the creator of The Healing Tarot: a photographic deck incorporating masks, ritual and sacred space. Jennifer has offered her services as a professional reader since 1981.