Come as You Aren’t
Part of what I teach is “how to lie at Tarot,” and someday I’m going to put it together as a workshop. Sometimes in teaching and in reading tarot, you need to adopt a persona so you can make your point. I did that several years ago and, voila, Madame Zelda was born.
I was teaching beginning Tarot with a friend and we wanted to do a session on how not to read Tarot. “We should role-play it,” I said. She agreed as long as I would take the lead. I chose to be the reader. I chose the cards for the reading, choosing some of the most challenging cards in the deck. You know the ones: nine of swords, ten of swords and the like. I chose some provocative ones like the Devil and the Lovers, too.
By that time in my tarot life, I had developed my authentic reader self to be compassionate, listening, intuitive and collaborative. I had to figure out a way to move out of that mindset. So I gave myself pep talks about what a “not reading” would feel and look like.
So we sat down to do our role play. I opened my mouth and a deep, faux-mid-European accent emerged. I asked for money upfront, bargaining and quibbling about the amount. I introduced myself as Madame Zelda who proceeded to deliver this reading. Madame Zelda always refers to herself as “Madame Zelda” and is supremely confident and complimentary of her own wisdom, power, and pyschic ability. That day, Madame Zelda actually gave a good reading in terms of the cards and delivering a message. However, she took center stage and the querent was over-run with information delivered with majestic condescension. I’m sure one of her antecedents is Lady Catherine from Pride and Prejudice.
Over the years, I have become very fond of Madame Zelda and so have many of my friends. She is flamboyant, gaudy, arrogant, honest to the point of rudeness, and very, very funny. I do know that when I sit down to read for people for real, Madame Zelda must fall away. She complains about that at all. It’s hard, she says, to get her message out when she has to go through all that caring and listening.
A few years ago, a friend mentioned that she took Mary Greer and Rachel Pollack’s workshop at the Omega Center in Rhinebeck, NY. These two wonderful, knowledgeable teachers had asked people to adopt another persona as a Reader. To think about costume, character, accent and such. What a genius I am. Just kidding.
Madame Zelda has taught me a lot. She helps me shake up my “business as usual” reading style. She is astute when it comes to the business side and the less than pleasant side of life. Everyone I read for knows I like to put a “pretty face” on things while Madame Zelda reminds me that sometimes you need to tell the hard truths.
Speaking of pretty faces, I think Madame Zelda really looks like this.