Satan 3: Look Over Here, not Over There.

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Considering my cynicism, it's easy to label me a cold-reader who makes educated guesses about other people based on what can be learned from their age, physical appearance, attire, hairstyle, speech, and other personality clues. I understand why you think so, but you’re wrong: I'm not a cold reader, I'm a Tarot reader. It's easy to perform cold reading during the performance of fortune-telling, but the vast majority of what I do is to simply read the cards and flatter my sitters. I'm a shameless flatterer and include a great deal of ego-stroking and soothing compliments in my performances. What can I say? My sitters love it.

So I'll say again what I've always said: I don't consider myself a psychic—I consider myself an entertainer. But me being the kind of entertainer that I am, I don't insist that my sitters enjoy my performance from a strictly theatrical perspective. If my sitters prefer to see something else in my performance that I didn't intend, that's their business. I'm happy to indulge their fantasies so long as they're enjoying themselves and cross my palm with silver before the end of the performance. All of which is to say, I'm not a sensitive, a medium, a psychic, a seer, a prophet, or anything else. For me, there's absolutely no intuition involved in my performance. Instead, I'm an entertainer and I've learned through trial and error how to play my part in the performance which my sitters so earnestly desire.

There was a time in my life when I tried to be ethical and responsible in my work. I went to a great deal of trouble to ensure that my sitters understood that I wasn't psychic, couldn't really predict the future, and was only an entertainer, but this always ended one of two ways: either the sitter became very sad but still paid me for a reading, or the sitter thanked me for an interesting conversation and then went to hire another fortune-teller. Either way, the sitter insisted on getting a reading and I believe that this is in no small part because they believe in the power of the Tarot.

Do you see what happened? Even if I wouldn't believe the magic, my sitters would believe it for me. They'd believe that if they could just get me to go through the motions of shuffling the deck and laying down cards, the magic would would still be there. Do you see? No matter what I did, these sitters insisted on being deceived and if I wouldn't take their money, they'd find somebody else who would.

And this because they believe in the sanctified power of the Tarot. In the eyes of many sitters (and fortune-tellers, too) a Tarot deck is like a Holy Bible, but sentient: it's a divine body of universal wisdom yet is also imbued with the psychic energy of spirit guides from beyond the veil. It's treated by many as a holy relic and is frequently valued as being more important than the fortune-teller him or herself.

So considering the perceived gravity of the Tarot deck, don't neglect its role in a successful performance! Even if you're not employing cold-reading techniques during your performance, it's imperative that you make the Tarot deck the star of the show if only because your sitters expect you to. Keep it wrapped in silk or stored in a unique box. Hold it reverently, and pass it gently to the sitter so he or she can shuffle it. Ask the sitter to lay down the cards, and find reasons for the sitter to keep touching the deck. And for the love of money, use your fingers to point at different cards as often as you can during the performance!

You can never go wrong in a Tarot reading if you speak with your hands at the same time as you talk with your mouth. Use the command to LOOK and direct your sitter's attention to the cards. Spin your sitter's head around by expounding upon the complex web of interconnected threads in the elaborate arrangement of Tarot cards that have been laid down on the table. Show your sitters an amazing fantasy of occult correspondences, connect number with number, suit with suit, and look continuously for ways to split ever more hairs into ever more intricate messages.

If you do these things, your sitter’s attention will be so closely focused on the cards that they won't even notice that you're not nearly as invested in the performance as they are. If you choose to employ cold-reading during the performance of a deception, this will give you all the time you need to study your sitter's body language and get all the information they didn't know they were revealing. For the sitter, the deception will truly feel like magic, and this is so effective that it will unsettle even the sitters who think themselves too savvy to fall for such a simple trick.

But me being the fortune-teller that I am, I rarely have to do any of this during a performance. The fact is, I'm actually really lazy and I prefer to let my sitters do the heavy lifting. I wish I could say that there were motivation for me to invest more effort into creating ever more elaborate performances, but what I've encountered is that the majority of my sitters want so badly to be deceived that they very nearly play my role for me. If I'm wrong, they'll step in to provide an explanation. If it doesn't make sense, they'll insist that the truth will be revealed to them. Even the ones who come right out and say that the reading was a miss almost always allow me to return them to the fantasy of the performance by simply saying, "Please think a little harder about the message." How incredible is that? They can tell me to my face that the reading was bogus, but when I tell them to try a little harder, they'll change their minds. Wonders never cease!

And all this is possible for the sole reason that the sitters nurture a deeply held belief that while the fortune-teller can be wrong, the cards are always right. If you fail to build on this belief, you will fall short of the performance's full potential and disappoint your sitters who insist that you share this fantasy with them.