Leviathan 15: Ten Tips for New Fortune Tellers.

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So, you’ve decided that you're ready to practice fortune-telling. Good for you! You'll always get more of what you take in life as opposed to what you wait to be given. If you just want pick up a few tips and tricks to become a cold reader, then I recommend Anton LaVey's "Satanic Witch," but if you want to learn how to employ the occult maze of the Tarot for the purpose of esoteric exploration and exoteric fortune-telling, then here are some tips for you.

1) You're going to be bad at this for a long time.

Be honest with yourself: nobody ever got good at a new skill overnight. Even if you crash-course your way into fortune-telling, it's still going to take time to develop your voice and style as an entertainer, and believe it or not, but making mistakes is a big part of the learning process. Being new is no shame. Revel in your mistakes. Folly is an indulgence. The error of your ways is the best instruction you'll ever receive, so don't be in a hurry to escape the perceived stigma of ignorance. You must accept that being a bad fortune-teller is the first step toward becoming a good fortune-teller.

2) You don't have to be a professional fortune-teller.

When you start learning to tell fortunes, you're going to feel like you're surrounded by titans and giants, and no matter what you say now, I promise you'll catch the money-fever and start having really serious thinks about fishing for sitters. And you know, that's okay. Every fortune-teller has to decide for him or herself whether he or she wants to advertise paid services.

But you also know, for every professional fortune-teller you see, there are at least a hundred fortune-tellers who are happy to perform for only themselves or their friends. Maybe you'll love being a professional fortune-teller? And then, maybe you prefer to treat fortune-telling as an amusing pastime? Whichever you choose, it's just that: a choice that’s entirely your own.

3) Read Everything.

When you first start telling fortunes, you're going to be overwhelmed by the amount of information available. You're going to feel like it’s impossible to understand where you should start, but don’t panic because you don’t have to learn everything at once. To start, just read something. When you're done, read something else. Read anything and everything you can find from published books and online classes to blogs and newsletters. Everything you read will teach you something, and this process of comparing and evaluating different literature will be fundamental to shaping your understanding of the Tarot. 

4) Try Everything.

On the same vein of thought, try everything. You don't know what you don't know, and the only way to discover what you don't know is to try everything. Reading about fortune-telling will only take you so far, because the rest of it is practice, practice, practice. There are a lot of things that look good in theory, but don't work in practical application, and there are things that don't sound very well conceived, but once you start doing them you'll find out what the noise is about… but you won’t know what’s what until you give it a try.

5) You're not wrong if you're different.

When you start telling fortunes, you’ll naturally want to follow the established routes because well-worn pathways are the most welcoming. And that's okay, because well-worn pathways are going to be most forgiving of your missteps. Plus, there's a lot to be said about preserving successful and meaningful traditions. But if you ever feel like taking the path less traveled, or even cutting your own path where none exists at all, that's okay, too. Going your own way can be lonely, but it can also be liberating. 

And if you do go your own direction, that doesn't mean you're doing it wrong. People have been doing new and different things with fortune-telling for as long as fortune-telling has existed. Tarot in particular is frequently an individual practice unique to the fortune-teller, so if you see things differently, that's okay: so long as it works for you, your approach is no less valid than any other. 

6) Don't put the Tarot before the Reader.

The method of fortune-telling is less important than the person telling the fortune. After all, if fortune-telling were just a matter of repeating set keywords and stale definitions, then why do you need to learn how to read Tarot? If that's all it takes, then you can just download the latest, greatest Tarot app to your phone and be done with it. Tarot is a tool used to divine and interpret the ever-changing affairs of human lives, which means that it's also a tool which requires a human mind to interpret and apply it to human concerns and interests.

Don't make the mistake of putting the Tarot before the fortune-teller. Likewise, don't give all the credit to the Tarot: give the credit to yourself, because you're the one who used your skills, knowledge, abilities, and lived experiences to interpret and apply the Tarot to your performance.

7) Hack your Tarot.

Don't fall for the trap of thinking that you have to tell fortunes the way it's always been done, or that you can't ask questions about matters that others think are best left alone. Hack your Tarot. Cut it to pieces and put it back together however you see fit. In the fictitious world of Mary Shelley, nobody believed Dr. Frankenstein could do what he dreamed, yet even so he created an awesome and terrifying monster because he dared do what none others would even discuss.

If you like the established traditions and find value in them, then it's okay to follow them. But if you feel the itch to start dismembering bodies and building your own monster, then do it, because only by daring to stand among the gods will you ever surpass the bounds of mortality... just be careful that your monster doesn't come back to haunt you.

8) You don't have to commit yourself to Tarot.

If you start using Tarot and find that it's not really what you wanted, that's okay! There are many tools available to the lesser magician and you can always branch into Lenormand, numerology, astrology, pendulum dowsing, bone reading, palmistry, mediumship, i-ching, and more. Or, maybe after some investigation you learn that you just don't enjoy fortune-telling very much and would rather invest your time into other hobbies? You're not trapped in Tarot, and are free to depart at any time for more satisfying horizons.

9) Consent is important.

You can dig into the morals and ethics of it if you’re so inclined, but for practical reasons you should never attempt to deceive anybody who didn't consent to your performance or who is unable to give consent. At best, the sitter will be irritated and will lose respect for you, and at worst you're going to lose a friend or gain an enemy. Just say "no" to deceiving sitters without their consent.

10) Have fun.

There's nothing noble about wearing a hair shirt. Well, I mean... if you like to wear hair shirts, that's your business, but I think most of us who tell fortunes do so because we find it to be enjoyable and fulfilling. If you're not having fun, then you're doing it wrong.