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Ten Tips for Romance Readings

If you are a new or intermediate tarot reader, doing readings for yourself or your friends, romance readings will probably be a mainstay of your tarot practice. Everyone wants to know when love is in the cards.

Romance readings are fun - and you can make them even more meaningful with just a few simple techniques.

1. Set the stage for romance. Instead of the new-age music that seems to have become standard for many tarot readers, play a few of your favorite love songs in the background. Replace your regular white candle with one that casts a romantic light on your subject - pink, for a misty, rosy glow, or red, to reflect the fiery passions of a full-blown love affair. And tuck that traditional black silk spread cloth into a drawer: for a truly romantic presentation, try spreading your cards on a satin pillowcase, an evening gown or a flowing bridal veil.

2. You might even want to turn your readings into multi-media events. Scatter a few rose petals on the table. Display a volume of romantic poetry, a collection of Valentine's Day cards or a pair of champagne flutes. Collect tokens that symbolize an evening out, like theater tickets and restaurant menus. And instead of choosing a significator straight from the deck, ask if you can use something from your client's wallet or purse. Try placing a photo at the center of your spread, or a phone number or a business card. If you have time to plan ahead, you could even ask your client to bring a significator from home: a love letter, perhaps, a wedding invitation or a framed portrait.

3. Use a romance-friendly deck. The cards you choose for romance readings should feature people on every card, rather than repeating patterns of wands, cups, swords or pentacles. I highly recommend the Universal Tarot - which, not coincidentally, was used to illustrate my book. It features a wide range of people of all ages, pictured in the romantic costumes and settings of medieval Europe.

4. Refine the questions. Instead of yes-or-no inquiries, which can lead to stilted, dry responses, try phrasing your questions in terms of "how" and "why." "How can I be more open to romance?" is a better question than "Will I find love?" And don't forget to include a time frame in your questions, so the answers will be relevant right away.

5. Work with simple spreads, so you can spend your time looking for insight and inspiration, rather than simply interpreting a wide array of cards. Try laying out three or four cards in a row - to represent the strengths of an individual or a relationship - and follow that with three or four cards to represent weaknesses.

6. Once you have laid out all of the cards in the spread, imagine that the people pictured in the cards are engaged in dialogue with each other. Look at their facial expressions and their body language. Who is facing whom? Who is looking away? Who's coming into the spread? Who's leaving? Who's interested - or interesting - and who's not? As you study each card, try to determine how the people in the cards reflect the people in your client's life, and how they depict your client's own personality.

7. Look at the people pictured in your spread, and try to imagine what advice each of them would offer if they were questioned individually. Go with the first thing that pops into your head, even if it seems ridiculous. The Hermit card, for example, might suggest that your client should skip social events for the time being, and stay home for a few nights. The Five of Wands might be telling your client to stop fighting over every little thing. The Queen of Pentacles might tell your client to get to the mall and buy some new clothes.

8. Keep ethics in mind. Remember that most romance readings should focus on the one person you're reading for - unless, of course, you're doing a relationship reading with both partners in the room. Don't try to do readings for people who haven't given permission, and don't use the cards to try to get into someone else's head. Without another person's full knowledge and cooperation in a reading, your results will be muddled and unclear, anyway.

9. Learn to take no for an answer. Many romance readings seem to fall flat because romance isn't always the most pressing issue in your client's life. Sometimes people need to focus on self-development, career, family or health issues before romance can come into play.

10. Always end a romance reading on a note of optimism and hope. If you seem to get an especially negative final card - like the Tower, or the Three of Swords - ask how you can get a better outcome, and draw a clarification card for even more advice.

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