Snickerdoodles: A Delicious Metaphor
At the Minnesota State Fair, there are lots and lots different categories for entering your best efforts in the arts, baking, knitting, crop art, and more. In each category, there a many different lots, or subcategories, you can enter. In the baking category, there is one that I always find interesting. Each year, they pick a different recipe--this year it was Snickerdoodles--and each entrant bakes the cookies using the exact same recipe.
The picture above is just a few of the many cookies entered. As you can see, even though they all supposedly used the same recipe, the results are all different. I'm sure there are lots of reasons: quality or specific types of ingredients, relative humidity, technique, tools, the type of oven used, timing. Even if they controlled for all of that, I think the cookies would still come out differently because each baker adds something of him or herself to the mix, something that is uniquely themselves.
Besides making me want to eat many cookies, looking at them reminded me a lot of tarot readings. In some groups or on Facebook, sometimes people will do a reading for themselves and ask the group for input. I always wonder about the usefulness of that, because I think that you can put the same, say, three cards in front of a dozen readers and even using the same question and positional meanings, you will get different conclusions. The reason goes deeper than tarot education and experience. Underneath all of that are our personal beliefs about what tarot is, how it works, where the answers come from, the role of the reader, etc.
These are all questions (and there are even more) that I have my students answer before we even get into "what the cards mean." Because what the cards mean depends on your core beliefs about how the world works. Good bakers understand that baking is more than measuring ingredients and following directions. Just like a good artist doesn't simply make a painting that looks like a photograph; they make a painting that expresses a core truth that lies in their heart or mind or soul. There is an alchemy that happens in the creation, an alchemy that starts from within.
In fact, the alchemy starts from within and affects the reading before it even begins. It will influence what kind of sitters you read for, how you handle their questions (including type, wording, and approach to the reading), how you interpret the cards, and how you present the information (as well as how, if at all, you "edit" the information you see in the cards). These are all things that new readers want to know the "rules" for. But unless the rules come from their core, it's not really their most authentic reading.
Many readers tap into that core accidentally, because they are trying to access their intuition or something "more." I think that cultivating a firm understanding of your beliefs will help a reader tap into that place of alchemical wonder more easily and more consciously, and, in the long run, it will help them become a better reader.
My wish for you, my friends, is that you are always able to access the divine core within you and add your own unique magic to whatever you create, whether it is cookies or a tarot reading.