Sooner or later you are going to find yourself reading for a friend. Be it a best friend or a new friend, somewhere along the line she finds out that you read cards and she will ask if you would be kind enough to read for her.
For me, many of the friends I read for know what the tarot is about; there is no need to explain. Either they are not good at reading cards, or they prefer another style of divination, or they just are not familiar enough with the cards and feel they need some kind of validation for the readings they may have done for themselves. Most of the friends I read for know I am a very direct person who does not usually sugarcoat my reading for the benefit of the faint of heart.
But I also do readings for friends who have never had a reading done before, and many times never by a Witch. For them, this can be a moment of awakening, a very scary moment, or an experience they will find uplifting and magical—and they will want to come back and do it again and again.
I want to cover both types of readings—those for good friends familiar with the tarot and those for friends who are experiencing a tarot reading for the first time.
Old friends are actually the hardest to read for. Why? Because you know them the best. The information you are about to impart to them is probably already well-known between you. New pieces of information in readings like this will be few and far between. And good friends will try to hold you to your readings.
Tarot readings show the path as it stands at the moment of the reading. The intentions of the person I am reading for at the moment are captured in time, and the consequences of these intended actions are made clear in the reading. Should the person I am reading for decide that these are not the results he wants and changes the action he was considering, then the path of the reading has now changed, and what may have been discussed as an outcome at that point has also changed. For each action there is a reaction. The path changes based on your decisions and actions, and the reading changes sometimes are not as deliberate, and the desired results are not achieved. A discussion of details would be necessary at that point. And many of my friends will write down what has been talked about in the reading for future discussion. That is always okay with me; you will find lots of clients who will record or take notes during a session. Friends are no different.
If one of my friends comes to me and suggests that my reading did not turn out as we had discussed, it may be time to go over the paths outlined and the results attained. Many times it becomes clear there are variations, and the end results are skewed because of those changes. Many times, it is for the better.
Then again, some days we just don't seem to hit the mark. There are days when we are not in tune with the universe or the powers that be, and it is clearly visible in the readings of the cards. Those times you should probably excuse yourself, or you will have to explain later why you were so off the mark. Again, be honest with yourself and your friend. Friends are very forgiving when you tell them you are not feeling well, or you have had a bad day and it may affect the quality of the reading. You do not have this luxury with clients, so take full advantage here.
I will usually show off a new deck with good friends. You can use decks that may be unusual with friends, because they will let you know right away if the deck is appealing or if they are just plain uninterested. In that case, I will switch the deck, and no harm done. Friends are forging in that respect. Again, clients will not be so forgiving.
Those who know me know I don't beat around the bush when it comes to readings. If the person is having a rough time and it appears for all intents and purposes that the cause of this is the person themselves, I do not hesitate to mention this. This is sometimes easy to do with good friends as opposed to a client who steadfastly refuses to admit when they have messed up. Then again, with a friend who has really dug in deep on her own, she may not be ready to admit her fault. For the friends I read for, it is my honesty, my not-holding-back, that causes them to come to me again and again—because I lay the blame where it should be, and praise them for acts or events where they have taken control and achieved success. I am not forceful, but I am very "in your face." Style, in this case, has everything to do with it. Accuracy and style is what makes a good reader. And good friends know how to appreciate accuracy and style or tell you when you are way off the mark.
For friends who have never had readings before, I am a bit softer. Decks chosen for working in these situations tend to be more traditional. It's like reading for a new client: you don't want to scare off Mrs. Middle Class with a very bloody or gothic tarot deck. However, it may be your new friend is goth, and she may love the deck. Again, with a friend you can experiment, and many times if there is something that comes up that the friend does not like, the situation is very forgiving and the learning experience is most valuable.
First-time readings with new friends are easier to do. Unlike the best-friend scenario, where you both know all the intimate details of each other's lives, a new friend may not have imparted many life stories, and new information, when it comes up, will impress upon the new friend that you know what you are doing.
I go the extra distance to make them comfortable. While a best friend will sit on the floor for a reading, I would escort a new friend to a table in a private place and make him comfortable with a drink and some incense and candles.
I will also be a bit more relaxed with a new friend while discussing issues that may be delicate. I will not sugarcoat the truths uncovered, but I will also not force the point home as I would with a good friend. I want to establish a rapport, a level of trust with this new friend. I don't want to scare her away.
The Benefits of Friends
I don't think any tarot reader starts out by reading only for paying clients. Readers have to start somewhere. Friends are so much more forgiving of personal indiscretions than paying clients would be. People skills are developed here: learning how to handle the skittish friend prepares us for handling the edgy client. You earn which kind of person will like which kind of deck. And you learn your own personal limitations. How far do you want to go with a client? Well, how far would you go with good friend? Then measure back from that benchmark to your comfort level with a new friend, and then back further still to a client.
With friends, dressing for the occasion is optional. It is more relaxed. I feel, even though the readings might be a bit harder. You can be casual. You can laugh at funny things, or cry with the friend at sad things. Sharing and bonding with friends is enhanced with the tarot process. The need for personal detachment with a client is not necessary here, and you can have more fun with the reading.
One of the other benefits of the reading for friends is that they are the ones who refer new clients to me many times. I may not charge a friend, but I do get paying clients from referrals.
Reading for friends, I find, is most enjoyable experience, be they good friends or new friends. The more relaxed atmosphere, the ability to laugh and cry together, and the trust and love established between you overcome the awkwardness you might experience in the beginning. The ability to gain valuable life experience because of your readings with friends prepares you for better rapport with your clients. It is about learning your own limits as to what you are capable of doing and what you enjoy doing. Have fun with this, and enjoy reading for your friends.