Principal phases

Given that readings vary according to personal style, and are generally improvised rather than scripted, there is no one way to 'put it all together' and fashion a psychic reading. However, the majority of normal one-on-one readings can be said to proceed through the same five main phases:

- Launch

- Bridge

- Expand

- Tidy Conclusion

I will describe each one, and add some notes from my own experience of giving readings.

Set Up and Disarm

To begin with, the psychic employs whichever 'Set Up' techniques are appropriate to the psychic's style, the client, and the context of the reading (see 'The Set Up'). It is obviously up to the psychic to choose the techniques she feels will be most effective, based on her own experience. She must also be on the alert for any potential problems - such as a very hostile or sceptical client -and defuse them.

In my own readings, I generally tend to focus on just two 'Set Up' techniques: encouraging co-operative interpretation, which I regard as more or less essential, and establishing the belief system. In addition, I always watch for signs of either nervousness or scepticism.

If the client seems nervous, it is clearly important to set her at ease. I try to ascertain why she is nervous, simply by asking, and provide whatever reassurances she requires. Not only is this conducive to a successful reading, it can also yield good clues as to the direction the reading should take.

If the client is suspicious or sceptical, I tend to play down the belief system (since this can only invite confrontation) and talk about the reading in more down-to-earth and rational terms. For example, I might suggest that readings are akin to the exploration of psychological trends and archetypes, or that they constitute a form of intuitive counselling and advice in which the props (tarot cards, astrological data etc.) are just a means to an end. It is really just a case of saying whatever I feel might disarm, or diminish, the client's sceptical stance.


Next, the psychic has to actually start the reading. It is important for the reading to get off to a good start, and for this reason few psychics rely purely on improvised cold reading at this early stage. Most have a few phrases they have learned to trust, or an introductory framework they have polished over time. These tried-and-tested opening lines help the psychic to sound proficient, experienced and, most importantly of all, supremely confident.

Confidence is contagious. If a performer is confident, the audience sense it immediately. They relax, because they can tell the performer knows what she is doing. They also feel confident they will enjoy her work. This makes for a very relaxed and supportive atmosphere, so the performer can relax and enjoy her work more. This expectation builds rapport between performer and audience, which helps the performance to go well. When the performance goes well, this further enhances the performer's confidence, and so the circle goes round.

Lack of confidence is also contagious, and has precisely the opposite effect. The audience become tense (or bored), and anticipate having a rather disappointing time. This kills rapport, and the performance suffers accordingly. This undermines the performer's confidence, so forming a vicious circle.

This is why confidence is vitally important to any kind of performance, including cold reading. Unfortunately, confidence is not to be had just for the wanting. It only comes with experience. But it does come, and brings many rewards.

In terms of starting a reading, my own preference is to find some pretext for going back in time, and starting with the client's younger days. More or less any pretext will do, so long as it is vaguely appropriate to the context of the reading. Having started in this way, I then rely chiefly on a partially pre-set spiel which includes Fuzzy Facts and Childhood Memories to provide my first few minutes of material. If it difficult or impossible to go back in time, I tend to rely on a very safe yet potent cocktail of Jacques Statements and Fine Flattery statements to get things under way.


Next, the psychic has to find a way to bridge from the start of the reading (only partially improvised) to the main body of the reading (almost entirely improvised). In this respect, she has two main goals. The first is to touch on each of the Principal Themes to see which ones appear most important to the client. The second is to include two or three elements aimed at extracting information if she has not already done so.

Establishing which main theme to pursue is obviously important. Many clients come to a reading wanting help or advice about one specific matter. If the psychic manages to focus on the right area, this makes a good impression. On the other hand, if she talks at length about matters of little interest to the client, then the client will naturally be dissatisfied.

When it comes to extracting information, my two favourite elements tend to be the Veiled Question and Jargon Blitz.


The psychic is now well-prepared to improvise the main body of the reading, using whichever elements she prefers. She knows which theme(s) to emphasise, and she has extracted at least one or two crumbs of information which she can put to good use. With any luck, she has already successfully conditioned the client to co-operate with the process and to accept unquestioningly the strange rules by which the game is played.

In my own readings, I tend to rely chiefly on the Rainbow Ruse and Greener Grass statements. I also try to hit specific names, numbers and other details likely to impress the client, using Fuzzy Facts and the Good Chance Guess. In every reading, I usually chance my arm with at least one Lucky Guess and at least one Push Statement.

As the reading unfolds, the psychic gains feedback from the client all the time. This of course greatly influences the direction the reading takes. At any time, the psychic can try to extract more feedback information from the client, thus obtaining further signposts for the reading to follow. In this regard, I prefer the Russian Doll and the Jargon Blitz, which I find great fun to spin out of thin air.

This process of ongoing improvisation may sound rather risky and insecure. It is as well to bear in mind that psychics give readings all the time, whereas clients only have readings once in a while. Hence in any given reading, all the experience and readiness is on the side of the psychic. It is her game, and it is played by her rules. If a particular part of the reading is not going well, the psychic knows she can always cut that part short and start talking about something else. If the client becomes difficult or awkward, the psychic can spot this at once, and deal with it effectively.

Tidy Conclusion

As you would expect, predictions about the future tend to come towards to end of the reading. In this regard, I usually play quite safe and use Pollyanna Pearls. The final phase of the reading consists of summarising all that has been said, in the rather biased manner described earlier, and bidding the client farewell with every good wish for the future.

And that is more or less all there is to it. Another reading over, another satisfied client.

Progress Review

We have now covered six of Section Two's seven sub-sections. We have seen in some detail how cold reading works, from start to finish.

There are really only two ways in which the cold reading process can fail. One is if the client is well-versed in cold reading, and knows how to block it. This is the subject of Section Four. The other is if the client is thoroughly and unshakeably sceptical. However, there are ways of coping with this, which we will look at next.

The Illustrated Key To The Tarot

The Illustrated Key To The Tarot

The pathology of the poet says that the undevout astronomer is mad the pathology of the very plain man says that the genius is mad and between these extremes, which stand for ten thousand analogous excesses, the sovereign reason takes the part of a moderator and does what it can. I do not think that there is a pathology of the occult dedications, but about their extravagances no one can question, and it is not less difficult than thankless to act as a moderator regarding them.

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