Cards used by permission of Nicole Piar — please see her URL below.

First, let's clear up one thing about "psychic readings." There are two types of psychic reading. Many people think that all psychic readings are fortune telling, which tries to tell what is going to happen as if the future were fated and we have no choices. But there is another kind of reading, which I think is much more useful. It's psychic and spiritual counseling, which assumes that, if we really understand a problem, our possible choices, and the likely outcomes, we have a good chance of handling the situation better.

As a reader, a healer, a teacher, I do not do fortune telling as if the future were fated. I have my own reasons for believing that it often isn't, especially regarding personal stuff. My own understanding and philosophy tell me that spritual counseling is far more useful, especially in personal matters. Ironically, we each get to choose which we believe in — fate or choice. The following discussion is about psychic reading as spiritual counseling, not as fortune telling about ones fate.

One day recently I found myself preparing to do a reading over the phone for a friend. My Faeries' Oracle was in the other room, so I lazily reached for the nearest deck. It was the Spirit Cat Oracle by Nicole Piar, though that doesn't matter to this tale. (Yes, I do like this deck very much, and I recommend it, especially if you have an affinity for cats — or faeries or interesting oracle cards.)

The cards were difficult to get out of the box. All but one finally came out, but that last one was firmly stuck. I was fumbling with the loose cards, the stuck card, the box, and the phone, needing four hands, all the while being watched by Marzipan the Cat Who Reads Cards. She had been awakened by the kerfluffle. Instead of helping, as she often does, she just sat there with her head tilted, saying, "Well?"

(Rethought: perhaps the fact that it was this deck does have something to do with the reading. Cats use body language and pantomime a lot to communicate and they love their boxes, so being stuck in a box and unable to come out should have told me that both the stuckness and the box were important. But I was being obtuse and slow.)

Eventually, I thought, "Wait! Why is this card so hard to get out? Why is it being such a big deal?" I put everything down and actually thought instead of blundering blindly. I must have told students over a thousand times, "When you are doing a reading, when you are trying to see and speak the truth, everything matters. Every "distraction", every obstacle, every sound, every thought. Some of them may not matter much, but all of them need to noticed by the reader and examined for relevance.

IF A "DISTRACTION" CALLS FOR ATTENTION, read it as you would the read the symbols on a card. Read the traffic sounds, or read the pattern and marks in the carpet, or read the movement of the wind, or the grain of the wood in the coffee table. In actual fact, you might read the clothes the client is wearing — the colors, the style, the way the wrinkles fall. Cards are just tools to bring out intuition — just ink and paper. All of those otherĀ  ordinary worldly "distractions" matter too. They are often our intuition trying to tell us something in the Universal Language of Action & Reaction that we all use — cats, trees, and others. Even humans use it, although often unconsciously. Body language, movement, patterns, symbols — they are all important ways that O Universe and our own inner wisdom choose to speak to us.

Once you have set your intention to do a reading and defined the question, everything matters. Be awake! Be aware! I've said that to students so many times you'd think it would be engraved on the inside of my eyelids. So here I was with a stuck card shrieking for attention so loudly that it woke the cat up — and it took me much too long to be aware!

The topic for the reading was "What next?" My friend had decided to stop doing her former career. She felt she'd been doing it for too long and was burned out. But she couldn't seem to to work out what she wanted to do next, what really mattered to her. She knew that it needed to be something that mattered to the world as well as to her. But she couldn't figure out what she truly wanted to do.

So, at last prompted by that stuck card, I asked my friend. "What is it that's stuck? Let's think about this for a moment."

As soon as the question was asked, she knew the answer at once — what was stuck was her! She was in a box, didn't realize she was there, and therefore couldn't get out of it. That was what was stopping her from finding her new path. Her box was that she felt there were many things she couldn't do because the people she had worked for in the past would disapprove of her new choices. The new direction had a conflict with her old work — which may have been part of the reason she no longer wanted to do the old work any more. It was holding her back from exploring and learning more about things she wanted to know and do herself. Although the box had served a purpose before, it was quite superfluous now. You can't find a path if you are stuck in a box before the path even begins.

The crucial thing about this reading was to realize that she hadn't yet let go of her old restrictions. Even though the currents of life wanted to take her along new directions, she was still unconsciously holding on, still judging how doing the new things would impact the old things even though she didn't want to do the old things anymore and she couldn't move. So the reading became about getting out of that mental box — looking at each issue and deciding what to let go of and what to keep. She really already knew where she wanted to go and had been making forays in that direction and then stopping herself because of these habitual restrictions.

It did strike me, even then, that the cards we read didn't matter nearly as much to the reading as the fact that one card couldn't get out of the box so that we could begin. The most vital part of the session happened before we drew a single card.

Sometimes the essential, critical, necessary part of the reading happens when we're figuring out the question, and by the time we understand what the real question is, the answer may be quite obvious. A psychic reading is not just the cards or the runes or the crystals or whatever your favorite tool is. It's a process that begins when you decide to do the reading and are working out what the focus of it needs to be, what the question really is, and it finishes when you feel satisfied that you understand the answer well enough to go forward and take the next action that will help you reach your goals.

In a way, we can "read" the world just by paying attention to what calls to us. Every morning when I check my Facebook page, I look for the things that hit me, make me sit up, make me pay attention, ring my internal bell, make me awake and aware. Sometimes I repost them, but often I just sit with them and then try to be aware of what they are teaching me throughout the rest of the day. I suppose one could call this something like "conscious living" but it's really just awareness, noticing these things that speak to us — that's what omens are.

Does that make sense?

You can see, read about, admire, and purchase Nicole Piar's Spirit Cat Oracle.

Copyright © 2018 by Jessica Macbeth. All rights reserved.

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