June 29, 2017

Wealthy parasites are still parasites

Nematode erupting from the abdomen of its host.
Image via Alex Wild, h/t Popular Science.
 
People who dismiss the unemployed and dependent as "parasites" fail to understand economics and parasitism. A successful parasite is one that is not recognized by its host, one that can make its host work for it without appearing as a burden. Such is the ruling class in a capitalist society.
-Jason Read

Death to parasites

This is something I've said before, but I'll say it again if only because I want to: parasites should be either literally or figuratively killed with fire.

I may be a permanent resident of Canada, but I'm a US citizen and care rather deeply about the direction my native country is taking if only because I may someday wish to return there. Or, you know, I've got friends and family who live there and I don't want to see them suffer as a result of severely poor public policy.

If you've followed me on social media for a while, you might know that I care rather deeply about the state of health-care in the USA and the plus eight-year campaign waged by the Republicans to eliminate Obamacare the Affordable Care Act.

Nobody but me!

If you're a Satanist who cares to do so, you can make the argument that nobody deserves anything. Everybody is an individual! Nobody's truly responsible for anybody else! Community is an illusion! And you know, I mostly agree with that argument: I am myself, I'm not responsible for anybody except myself, and I'm not a part of an arbitrary communities. But then, what happens when a bunch of individuals get together and decide as individuals that they'd all be better off if they created a system to look out for their mutual interests? You know, like... roads to aid free commerce; plumbing to deliver potable water; or law enforcement to preserve hard-won social order?

Individual support

I'm a really big fan of the luxuries that come with modern living, and part of the individual responsibility that comes with all of that is the individual support that comes from paying taxes. Some people pay more taxes, and some people pay less taxes, but everybody pays taxes. I agree that successful and productive members of society should be subsidized, so I'm not against people having millions or billions of dollars in personal wealth.

But I am against people who have millions or billions of dollars in personal wealth crying poor and insisting that they can't afford to pay their fair share of taxes, and I'm against it because money is figuratively like water: the financial ecosystem depends on fluidity, and if all the fluid is being hoarded in ever greater quantities by ever smaller numbers of people who are all insisting that they should release ever smaller quantities of fluid back into the ecosystem, then the system as a whole dehydrates.

Self preservation

To be sure, I understand that money is also literal and figurative power, and nobody wants to give it up without a fight, but at what point do people who have more money than they can ever spend on themselves on a single lifetime begin to realize that they're destabilizing the very environment in which they live and are supported by? 

So when I see legislation like the American Health Care Act being pushed by the US senate which is taking tax money from the people who most need it and then giving it to people who don't need it, yeah - I call bullshit on that.

Thinning the herd!

And yeah, you can make the argument that this policy is just a manifestation of "Might makes right!," and that all the people who would suffer and die as a result of losing their health coverage is necessary to thin the herd, but I think such an argument is severely misguided if only because poverty is expensive.

Poverty is consistent with higher crime, which drains tax money to support police departments. Poverty is consistent with disease, which drains tax money in combatting the spread of disease and public health concerns. Poverty is consistent with drug use, which itself is consistent with crime, the spread of disease, and public health concerns.

Need I go on? I'm not saying that you have to care about everybody - it's impossible to care about everybody, so don't pretend that you do - but I am saying that public health policies and national health insurance policies are simply good math, and people who deny their individual responsibility and refuse to pay into the equation are parasites who are damaging the system. Kill them with fire.

June 21, 2017

I Love Disney Villains

... said somebody, somewhere.
I've always sympathized and identified with the villains in Disney movies. At their core, they're the only characters who are ever willing to be honest with themselves about what they want and how they're going to get it. Sure, they're dissatisfied with their lot in life, but what's wrong with seeing that your life could be better and doing whatever's necessary to achieve it? Disney villains are driven.

The only reason Disney villains ever lose is because they get greedy. Which is fine - greed is a powerful motivator and I think that so long as it pushes me to do better, that's a good thing - but every Disney villain loses everything he or she gained for the sole reason that he or she reached his or her hand further than he or she could take it back.

Imagine if in "Aladdin" that when tempted to wish to become a genie, Jafar had said, "Why? I'm already the most powerful wizard in the world, and I control the only known genie." Aladdin would have been snake-food; Jasmine would have been his royal bride (which was her fate from the beginning of the movie, and which she still didn't escape when she married Aladdin); and he'd still be the ruler of his strangely amalgamated India/Babylon. 

Or if in "The Little Mermaid" Ursula would have just let Ariel have her voice back, but kept King Triton in her mushroom collection and the magic trident in her own hands? She could have been queen of the entire ocean, but she over-reached when she tried to be queen of the land, too.

Or if in "Frozen" Prince Hans had contented himself to marry the princess he ensorceled and bide his time to over-throw the queen who clearly didn't even want the job? He'd be king of his own kingdom, and with control of what's probably the only warm-water port for leagues in any direction he could have made a big profit on docking fees for every ship passing through his waters and toward his brothers' kingdom.

People say that Disney movies teach valuable lessons, and I absolutely agree, but I don't think they're seeing the same lessons that I'm seeing.

The Satanic Tarot is almost ready!


10 months, 60,000 words, and 200 pages later, I've completed the first draft of The Satanic Tarot!

This is big news, and I'm so happy to be able to share it with you. My blog and YouTube channel have been quiet for a few weeks now, but it's been time very well spent and I look forward to resuming my usual schedule of weekly conversations with you.

At this point, I've turned the first draft of the manuscript over to alpha readers who'll give it first eyes-on and provide valuable feedback regarding the order, tone, format, and quality of the content. Naturally I'm hopeful that this will be completed quickly, but - seeing as they're going through over 60,000 words with a fine-tooth comb - the alpha-readers may not be finished providing feedback until the end of September. 

Assuming the back-and-forth with my dedicated alpha-readers takes that long, the entire month of October will be devoted to implementing their feedback, making final revisions, and formatting the second draft into a printable manuscript at which point I can submit it for copyright protection and then market it to publishers including Red Wheel/Weiser, HarperCollins Canada, Nephilim Press, and a few others.

I anticipate that it could take several months to find a publisher, and a few months more than that to get it into production, but at this point all the hard work has been finished - all that remains is to put it in front of the right agents' or publishers' eyes. The rest, so I hope to be able to say, is history.

June 20, 2017

Tarot Blog Hop: Thesis vs Antithesis

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Position Statement

The assignment for this blog hop is based in the Wiccan myth of the Oak King and the Holly King, who - like the Christian myth of the trinitarian Father, Son, and Holy Ghost - are one and the same. Because the waxing, generative Oak King takes turns with the waning, degenerative Holly King, participants are asked to discuss "the cycle of the self." I'm choosing to approach this assignment in terms of thesis, antithesis, and synthesis.

Thesis

Among the pieces of Tarot lore I've learned over the years, few have been as impactful on my understanding of the Tarot as the concept of a septenary, or something that is composed of seven parts. To see what this is, take all 22 trumps out of the deck. Set the Fool aside - who is unnumbered - and lay the remaining numbered 21 trumps in order as three rows of seven cards. From left to right, each column of three cards tells a connected story. If you follow a standard interpretation of the cards, then this can reveal intricacies in your method that you might not have realized were there. Consider the following picture:


In this layout, the blue bottom row is our starting point - the thesis - which informs everything that follows. If you care to do so, you can align the entire bottom row with mind, body, or spirit - it's up to you - but I find it more productive to consider each of first seven cards to be indicators of direct action upon others. When these appear in a reading, they reach out and touch other things and people. Their waxing influence expands, grows, inflates, or elevates whatever they touch.

Antithesis

The natural development of the thesis is the antithesis, the top orange row which stands in opposition to the thesis. Oak King and Holly King, light and dark, yin and yang, up and down, Justin Bieber and Selena Gomez. You know, frenemies - two things that don't particularly like each other, and yet can't seem to exist independently. Consider the following image:


In this image, you see that the Magician, Strength, and the Devil all share the same column. Like most things in life, the way you interpret the Tarot is up to you. Speaking for myself, I regard the Magician - our thesis - as an agent of creative destruction and violent yet expansive force. The antithesis to the Magician is the Devil, who is also violent, intrusive, and destructive, yet unlike the waxing Magician is a wane force that leaves everything it touches barren, scarred, and disordered. The Magician and the Devil are sympathetic enemies: although they agree that violence is necessary, they disagree regarding its application and will forever oppose one another. But what would happen if they found a way to get along...

Synthesis

... and synthesize something useful? The green middle row are those which perform their essential nature upon themselves. If the Devil (which shows a subject being acted upon) and the Magician (which shows a subject acting upon something else) can cooperate, then they're able to be synthesized into Strength (what I call Chaos) which destroys and abuses itself in order to recreate itself. Wanton destruction creates random patterns, and from this ever ravishing dance potential beyond counting may emerge. Invoke the mythical ouroboros or phoenix, or if you prefer the regenerative power of a forest fire - that is the synthesis of the Magician and the Devil.

But is this a true synthesis? In the search of open and secret faces as they relate to the cycle of the self, and what emerges from the play between them, we can observe the result of their blending. But this process is purely internal - do you see? It exists only within the group of the Magician, Strength, and the Devil. If you dare expand your gaze, then you can find the true and complete cycle of self.

Transpolarity

In order to see this true and complete nature, you must expand beyond the immediate group. This isn't a limited matter of three cards, but of 21. What happens when we use a transpolaric approach to thesis, antithesis, and synthesis? Consider the following image:


In this way, it's revealed that the Magician and the Devil are in fact complimentary opposites. To return to a previous example, the Magician may yet remain Justin Bieber, but instead of The Devil (Selena Gomez) as the complimentary opposite, the polar opposite is played by The World (which could be vested corporate interests who want to sanitize his work for mass consumption by teenaged girls and boys.) The intrusive, disorderly, yet innovative and ultimately generative force of The Magician stands in polar opposition to the heavy, oppressive weight of The World which while stable and fully formed is ultimately orthodox and authoritarian. It seeks to impose smothering peace (devoid of liberating conflict) on everything that it touches.

Standing exactly half-way between them, the synthesis of the Magician and The World is Justice - what I call Inequality - which seeks its own level of stratification and succeeds according to its own definition of the rules. As it happens, Justice is the ultimate synthesis of any two cards measured transpolarically on the grand tableau, with its meaning changing depending on the thesis and antithesis measured against it. As it relates to the tension between Justin Bieber and his corporate stake holders, then Justice is probably Perez Hilton.

Applying this pattern to the remaining cards, we see illuminating patterns of mutual antagonism emerge:

  • The High Priestess =/= Judgement
  • The Empress =/= The Sun
  • The Emperor =/= The Moon
  • The High Priest =/= The Star
  • The Lovers =/= The Tower
  • The Chariot =/= The Devil
  • Strength =/= Temperance
  • The Hermit =/= Death
  • The Wheel of Fortune =/= The Hanged Man
  • Justice is opposed by nothing, influenced by everything
Isn't that fascinating? A simple exploration of opposition within the grand tableau of the 21 numbered trumps changes everything. And while it's fine and well to recognize complimentary and polar opposite relationships in the cards, how can they be practically applied? If we consider that polar opposition brings negation, dissolution, and censure, then we can name and measure the degree of opposition between trumps in a reading. Consider the following image: 

via http://serennu.com
Randomly generating some cards in a Celtic Cross spread just to put something on the table, we get a selection of trump cards all in the vertical arm of the cross. Read them as you will, but I read them from bottom to top as needs, habits, and desires. In this case, the High Priestess as habits are the key significator card for the reading and show the actor in an extroverted state in which he or she is seeking to both influence and expand people and events around him or herself through the use of either greater magic and ritual or simply deceit, falsehood, and illusion. But an actor in a position of power, none the less! But what's the motivation?

Looking at this actor's desires, we see a failing reluctance to confront what he or she already knows to be true: that no matter of chicanery will dissuade others of the actor's true place he or she has earned for him or herself. Straight away, this reading tells us that the actor is afraid to take the place circumstances have given to him or her since Justice/Inequality - which is opposed by nothing, yet influenced by everything - and is almost certainly avoiding responsibility through smoke and mirrors used against those who would hold him or her accountable yet also reward him or her for doing what he or she is called to do. 

But we can see from the actor's needs filled by The Star - an antithetical card with a waning influence - that he or she should abandon deception and accept the encouraging and even optimistic promptings of others who want what's best for the actor. Because The Star is very close to The High Priestess's antithesis (The Tower), the degree of opposition between them is quite minor. Were this Judgement, we'd have a more severe discussion on our hands, but the gentle advice of the star to move in another direction unburdened by the weight of unproductive dishonesty is secretly welcomed by the actor who's probably getting tired of the charade.

Final Solution

The High Priestess is our thesis. The Star is our antithesis. And while Justice happens to be present as our synthesis, it doesn't build a bridge between the actor's habits and the actor's needs. How are the two reconciled? Consider the following image:


By forming a bridge between The High Priestess and The Star, I judge the most natural synthesis to be the Wheel of Fortune. Not only because the Wheel stands in proximity to Justice (the actor's secret desire to live at his or her level of stratification without fear of insecurity within the hierarchy), but also because it moves the actor closer to The Star while moving the actor further away from the fantastical, deceitful group of The High Priestess, The Hermit, and The Tower.

Embracing The Wheel of Fortune, the actor is able to synthesize his or her habits and needs into a solution which requires a rediscovery of personal optimism (even if it is unfounded) and decide for him or herself why he or she has reason to expect glad tidings and can encourage him or herself to voluntarily accept the necessary path forward instead of inflating the discussion with bullshit reasons that he or she isn't exactly who he or she is known to be.

The Oak King and the Holly King

If the Oak King is our waxing thesis, and the Holly King our waning antithesis, then what's the synthesis? If you find value in the Wiccan myth of the cycling seasons, then you would probably name the trinitarian Goddess who waxes as the maiden, is full as the mother, and wanes as the crone - imposing the growth, glory, and decay of her phases upon herself. How might similar cycles of the self be revealed elsewhere in the Tarot - such as in the pips?

The world may never know.


June 14, 2017

Why I'm not an occultist


My rejection of and disdain for occultniks is not based so much on ideological or philosophical grounds as it is on personal boredom.
-Anton LaVey
(Satan Speaks!)
You may find this difficult to believe, but I don't consider myself an occultist. Before I tell you why, let me start with a definition of the term: Generally, I consider occultism to be hidden knowledge. Specifically, "occult" does not in my mind automatically imply either "valuable" or "powerful." Surely, it can be argued that engineers of nuclear warheads or spymasters of national intelligence organizations are occultists because the kind of knowledge they possess is deliberately hidden, deeply powerful, and can pose vast danger to the world if exposed to the unworthy. 

But I think more often that knowledge is "hidden" because it was discarded as rubbish or proven by the progression of time to be irrelevant. In the contemporary sense, the occult - which would include all manner of esotericism and spiritualism - is a fascinating reservoir of hidden, forgotten, and simply discarded information because it is either composed of early attempts to describe natural phenomena which are now properly understood through science, or are personal or cultural fantasies which attempt to either perform or explain both the unknowable and the impossible.

Because I am a Satanist, I am not bound to cultural paradigms which would obligate me religious or spiritual norms and mores. Nor am I bound to counter-productive pride which would lock me into my own personal deceits. Because I am a Satanist, I stand in the place where I am able to acknowledge the passage of history and objectively see that every variety of occult woo-woo that has ever been is frequently an echo of something that came before it, and sooner or later is invariably forced into the burning rubbish pile of Gehenna by the steady march of scientific advancement. 

Stephen Roberts, a person who in his words had the good fortune to say something rather profound in the right place at the right time in the development of the Internet, made the following argument to theists who wanted him to accept Jesus: "I contend we are both atheists, I just believe in one fewer god than you do. When you understand why you dismiss all the other possible gods, you will understand why I dismiss yours." Likewise, I believe that neither you who read this nor I are occultists; I just follow one less occult paradigm than you do. When you understand why you dismiss all other occultisms, you will understand why I dismiss yours.

I am not an occultist because I truthfully have little interest in forgotten, discarded, or hidden knowledge in the sense of contemporary occultism. Instead, my interest lays in dramatic, stimulating, and just plain useful knowledge. Fortune-telling is steeped in occultism, and while I enjoy its dramatic and alluring qualities, I don't believe in so much of the spiritual underpinnings. Past and future lives; spirit guides; ascended masters; summoning demons; angel communication; secret numerology; natal charts; channeled languages; and more - it may contain some attraction to me for the way I can use it as a tool to substantively enhance my life or the lives of those I care about, but I have yet to be convinced of the metaphysical realities or spiritual philosophies which attempt to address things which I think are either unknowable or impossible.

Because I have no use for the elaborate spiritual or metaphysical fantasies which inform so much of occultism, I find little difference between people who summon demons and people who summon Pokemon; people who quote from the Bible and people who quote from Star Wars; or people who collect haunted relics and people who collect sports memorabilia. For all these reasons, so much of the occult is simply boring to me.

But I won't stop calling myself an occultist - it's a useful word, after all.

June 12, 2017

In search of a better horror movie



Many of the allegedly "horror" movies that I've seen come out over the last ~20 years are really just highly formulaic ghost stories for Christians. All the (Haunting/Possession/Exorcism of _______) movies exist within a thoroughly Christian world paradigm (God vs. Satan) and God is always presumed to be the "good" and natural victor of the contest. Which makes sense - if the majority of your audience is Christian, then you're going to make a movie which plays to their most overt fears - but for the rest of us oh so jaded horror fans, it's just silly.

Remember Rob Zombie's "Lords of Salem?" That wasn't a horror movie - that was a Christian movie stuffed full with messages of the opportunity for redemption, the choice of salvation, the "good" vs. the "bad" (with "good" God positioned as the preferable default.) There were lots of creepy, scary, and weird visuals, but it never really went anywhere.

And of course, there's the flood of Saw / Hostel / "naughty white girl gets brutally tortured" movies. To my eyes, those are derivatives trying to follow on the lurid fascination with Hannibal Lecter / Dr. Evil / Mad Scientist archetype. And to my eyes, they just weren't very good. They were full of disgusting gross-outs and scattered jump-scares, but ultimately were nothing more than poorly executed exploitation films.

Believe me or not, but one of the most memorable horror movies I saw was The Human Centipede. I went in with very low expectations, but I found it to be rather captivating and deeply unsettling. I feel like horror movies ought to be movies that you feel drawn to watch, yet aren't sure you want to do so because of the way that they unsettle you.

The Jasons / Freddies / Michael Myers of the 80's don't unsettle anymore - if they ever did. You know how this pattern goes: man stalks woman, fight ensues, people die. These are the kind of movies you can play at a Halloween party and everybody can have a good laugh while carrying on their regular conversations.

But put on a movie like Human Centipede, and people stop talking. They either stay and watch, or they find somewhere else to be. To my eyes, that's what horror should be, and I haven't seen much of it for a very long time.

June 10, 2017

In Defense of Individual Expression

Picked up this essay from the Church of Satan today, "In Defense of the Feared Religion." Huzzah for people who are willing to fly and defend the black flag, but I surely struggle to understand why some Satanists see Satanism as a zero-sum game. Aren't we a little old to be playing "with us or against us?" It's possible to both love and criticize Satanism. 

You know, it's like how your favorite restaurant attracts shitty guests and the head chef just can't seem to make a good creme brulee but they've still got an awesome wine selection and cook the best steaks in town. I'm not going to say, "Ugh, I refuse to expose myself to these minor irritations, so I'm not going to get my favorite steak and paired red wine anymore." How about, "I really like a lot of what's happening at this restaurant, I just wish they'd fix the other stuff?" 

This is what happens when the Church of Satan claims absolute authority over the definition of Satanism: criticism of, or disagreement with, parts of Satanism become a criticism of, or disagreement with, the Church of Satan. As it happens, I'm an active member of the Church of Satan and I think it's a pretty cool organization: It's got a lot of history, and I feel like I owe a debt to them for promoting a religion and philosophy which has done a lot to improve the quality of my life. 

But just because I'm grateful to the Church of Satan for keeping the black flame lit doesn't mean they get my unconditional support. I'm going to have independent thoughts and occasionally disagree, you know? I'm going to white-wash Satanism interpret the fundamental tenets of Satanism through my individual lense. I'm going to be a detractor talk about the things that I think are silly because I didn't sign a loyalty pledge it's my prerogative to speak freely and share my thoughts.

What can I say? I think that differences of opinion make organizations stronger, not weaker, and I'm genuinely baffled why it's so important to squash divergent views.

June 08, 2017

Order a Tarot Reading

So said Anton LaVey, "In matters of significant concern, there is invariably another alternative: a third side, a Satanic side." Order today and I'll give you a powerful Tarot card reading in which I'll reveal a third-side perspective that shatters your problems with brutal honesty and scathing clarity. Together, we'll grab reality by the horns and confront your life head-on. 

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June 05, 2017

Satanic (In)Tolerance


Let it be known that my personal opinion is that laws are arbitrary and that what is legal may be wrong, and what is illegal may be right. I believe that laws are imperfect substitutions for individual responsibility - something which every Satanist ought to cultivate.

Let it be known that I personally don't endorse the use of violence as a means to censor and silence opposing points of view. You're welcome to your opinions and beliefs, but don't make the mistake of confusing freedom of expression with freedom from consequences.

If you express an opinion or belief, you had better be prepared to defend it. If somebody has an opposing viewpoint and argues vehemently for their position, that's not censorship or a hostile attack - that's freedom of speech.

Having said that, though, there are limits to free speech. Nearly every freedom is in some way limited. Freedom of speech means you can voice your opinion in a public space and not be asked to leave, but it doesn't mean you can express it in a private business and expect to stay. Freedom of speech means you can speak about dangers the world faces, but you can't shout "fire" in a crowded movie theater. 

There are people who like to shout, "No tolerance for the intolerant!," and they're welcome to shout it. As it happens, I myself have very little tolerance for the intolerant. Why should I agree to listen quietly and nod politely to somebody who wants to deny individual choice and chip away at personal liberty? It's the thin tip of the wedge, and I have no desire to see the fat end of the wedge. But unlike those people I just mentioned, I am not willing to do the thing I think is wrong in the name of preserving what I think is right.

I think that the only way to genuinely defeat intolerance is to not punish the intolerant behavior, but to dismantle the intolerance words. This might look like rational dialgue, but it might also look like cowbell. After all - cowbell is just as much a method of free speech and expression and arguably makes as much sense as using a loudspeaker to initmidate women and advance public policy which would deny a woman's right to bodily autonomy. Cowbell is nonsense? Well, I happen to think that forced birth is also nonsense.

All of which is a long way of saying, there are limits to my tolerance. Push hard enough, and I'll push back.

June 03, 2017

How to be an Awesome Tarot Reader

From Monty Python and the Holy Grail

Picked up this essay from Jessi Huntenburg in which she talks about ways to give better Tarot readings, and it sparked a few thoughts. If you're a Tarot reader and your readings are not-good, there are a few reasons for that. Surely, some of the reasons may simply be that you're not listening to the client's question; are steering the client; using a deck or spread that you're not familiar with; are distracted; or are feeling burnt-out, but I think there are other reasons. Here are three of them.

#1) Show vs. Tell

The #1 and most important reason that I see perfectly good Tarot readers giving terrifically bad Tarot readings is because they're telling the cards instead of showing the message. I sincerely believe that many Tarot readers would instantly become better at what they do if they took a few courses on creative writing for the sole reason that reading cards is a lot like writing fiction: the Tarot reader has to use creative prompts to form a powerful narrative with very little time to prepare. A great exercise to help you become a better Tarot reader is learning to write flash fiction. Trust me on this: better writers are better speakers, and vice versa.

We've all had this kind of reading (and if you're a reader, you've given this kind of reading) where the reader tells you the names of the cards, explains the elemental associations, goes to great length to point out important connections, and generally treats you like a student learning to read the Tarot cards instead of a client who's starting to get impatient about hearing a straight-forward answer.

A good way to stop showing the cards and start telling the message is this: at any time you start to say the name of the card, just stop yourself. The names of the cards don't matter. Your client doesn't read Tarot and genuinely doesn't care about the fancy names, suit and pip values, or any of the elaborate connections. Just stop talking. Time is precious, so don't waste it by showing the cards - just tell the message. If you want an idea what a showy reading feels like, watch this scene from Monty Python's Holy Grail and pretend that King Arthur is the client, and Tim is the Tarot reader. That's a perfect illustration of what it's like to work with a reader who can't (or won't) just tell you the message.

#2) Lack of Competence = Lack of Confidence

The second reason highly capable readers give deeply flawed readings is because they lack confidence and competence. But, I repeat myself. This is going to rub some of you the wrong way, but the simple truth is that giving readings for yourself is a different skill from giving readings for other people. When you read for yourself, there's no pressure: you don't have to say anything, there's no time limit, and you don't have to second-guess what you say. 

But when you read for another person, you have to use your extemporaneous public speaking skills, choose your words carefully, think about the impact of the message, consider the client's perspective, and form a cohesive narrative within 60 seconds. There's nothing wrong with pausing to think during a reading, but you should be pausing because you're choosing your words - not because you're still trying to figure out what the cards mean.

If you want to be an awesome Tarot reader who give awesome Tarot readings for other people, then you must practice giving readings for other people. It's a skill that can be learned, and the only way to do it is through practice. If you feel like you lack confidence in giving readings for other people, this is indicative of a lack of competence which can only be remedied through attentive practice. My experience is that live readings (face to face, or voice to voice) and audio recorded readings you can't pause will teach you more in a week than you'll learn in a year doing written readings.

#3) Consistency is Key

The third reason very inspired readers give very uninspired readings is because they're not familier or comfortable with their tools. You're welcome to have as many decks as you like - I've got a few, myself - but you should have one deck that's as familiar to you as your lover's body. You should know what every part of it looks like. You should know your deck's mood and be able to anticipate the kind of themes that it will present in a reading. You should know what your deck is good at, as well as what it's bad at, and strive to magnify its strengths while avoiding its weaknesses. Know your deck inside and out, and be able to say without even looking at the deck exactly what any one card means. 

If you're not willing to give you deck the same kind of devotion as you give to your romantic partner, you'll find that it provides an inconsistent experience during a reading and you've only got yourself blame. Trust me: reading Tarot is a lot like managing a long-term, committed relationship. Pay attention to how you use the deck; make sure you understand the occult philosophy embedded in the cards; don't argue with the deck's message (that's why it's called cartomancy!); and don't bring your own shit into your client's reading.

And to a lesser extent but in the same pattern, you should have some staple arrangements that you've thoroughly memorized and use in nearly every reading. Speaking for myself, there are really only five arrangements that I use and they're all quite small. Like many readers, I enjoy playing with novel or elaborate arrangements, but I only use them when I read for msyelf. When I read for other people, I only use arrangements that I've memorized because if I don't know the dynamics of an arrangement, how it works together, or simply forget the positions during a reading, this distracts me from the message and pushes me into an awkward position where I'm no longer telling the message, but showing the cards and trying to recall how they're arranged on the table.


Parting Shots

The last thing I'll say is something I learned from my days in the Marine Corps: slow is smooth, and smooth is fast. You must learn to slow down enough that you can learn each individual step. Giving a Tarot reading for another person has a lot of moving parts, and if you don't take the necessary time to slowly and smoothly master each of these parts, you'll find that when you try to go fast your readings will have a rough, jagged edge to them. Lean to flow slowly and smoothly between all the necessary skills required to read for another person, and you'll find yourself flowing fast and smooth before you know it.