A manuscript becomes a book a year or so after it is completed. Because of the length of time that has passed between when my book was submitted and when it was published, I have thought of things to I would like to add to Professional Tarot. For instance, in Chapter 4, "The Business of Tarot," I wish I had written more about the office as a place to conduct readings. Office space, whether in your home or outside, is important, and it needs to be mutually healing to yourself and clients. The basic rule in office design is: Appeal to the majority of your clients while being inoffensive to all.
Things we don't even consider can sometimes affront clients. For example, I had a painting of a full-breasted woman at the peak of her sexuality in my office. She looked wild and charming to me, much like the Kathy character of Wuthering Heights. Yeah, she was almost naked. Imagine my surprise when a client told me she was offended by my pornographic picture! Yes, I believe my client had a problem with her body image, and the shame so often associated with sexuality, but it wasn't my place to judge her. A paying customer was offended by my choice in art—I replaced the painting with a nature scene and hung the beauty in my own bedroom.
The main sources of offense are forcing your personal or religious beliefs onto others, and invading a person's sense of smell, sight, or sound. Most people accept one or two religious symbols in an office, but will be ill at ease if the room is cluttered and filled with icons they don't understand or appreciate.
Keep your reading space client centered by creating a place that is comfortable for your client. Some people are scared by new age artifacts. In order to stay in business, you want to increase your client base. Why frighten someone and scare off potential customers? Find a way to balance your personal preferences with your clients' needs. Dark and mysterious isn't always better.
If you read in your home, remember that a lot of people are allergic to pet dander or are frightened of cats. (I know...How can anyone be scared of kitty?) If you have dogs or cats, be sure to tell your client before the appointment. Keep your pets away from the reading area when your client is there. Vacuum and dust your reading area, and groom your pets on a regular basis.
Be careful with incense because your client may be allergic to smoke, or find a heavy fragrance nauseating. Ask before you light incense. Use caution with your own cologne or perfume for the same reason: commercial cologne is made of chemicals and can cause unpleasant respiratory reactions in some people such as watery eyes, sniffling, and sneezing.
Sound creates a mood, but low volume is always best during a reading: you want your client to focus on the reading, not the music. Invest in a good system that has an auto function so the music doesn't stop halfway through the reading. Purchase a wide variety of music to suit a variety of clients, preferably without distracting vocals, and make sure you can easily adjust the volume.
Lighting is another important consideration. Avoid glare and harsh lighting. Natural light from a window or skylight is great, but you may not have access to it. In this case, place lamps in different areas of the room to give balanced, indirect lighting. You can now buy pink light bulbs, which cast a soothing glow.
Assess the books in your reading space. Which ones are on eye level? Try sitting at the reading table where your client will be. Look around. What do you see? Place appropriate books related to the tarot, or your specialty, in the client's line of vision. For example, my nursing texts and psychology books are all at eye level when the client is sitting. When she stands up, she sees my tarot and therapeutic touch books. Astrology and business books are on the bottom shelf.
Continuing with sight and visual effect, choose your paintings, mobiles, wallpaper, knick-knacks, and furniture with the client's comfort in mind. How do you do this? Review your client base and identify your target market. (Please refer to Chapter 2 of Professional Tarot for information on target markets.) Then consider what an ideal space is for them, and balance that with the image you wish to project as a professional reader. Decorate accordingly.
Nothing detracts more from a pleasant atmosphere than clutter and dirt, especially in the bathroom! Keep your reading space and bathroom clean and free of clutter: No old McDonald's wrappers and half-eaten food, please. (I really saw that the first time I went to a new reader. It looked and smelled disgusting. I didn't go back.)
Here is my list of "Reading Space Nos" when it comes to cleanliness: No trash cans overflowing with garbage, no dirty dishes in the sink, no dust bunnies under the table, no coating of dust on furniture, no scum in the bathroom, no empty tissue roll, no disintegrating bar of soap, no dirty towels. And as obvious as this is to most, no dirt under your fingernails! Hands are important in your work as a reader, and people will look at them. Please keep your hands clean and well groomed.
Consider the image you wish to project and the characteristics associated with it. Do you want calm and quiet? Mystery? Do you prefer the clinical therapist atmosphere, or something entirely different? Regardless of the atmosphere you desire, you always create a mood—intentional or not. Choose with care.