Last night, from 7pm, was the second annual Steampump event put together by the guys who go around to schools doing the History Up Close program.
By about 6.30pm, everyone who had either a stall, connection to History Up Close, or anyone else doing a service was inside and flitting in pre-Steampump socialising. This was lovely, and the first occasion when I happened across the hot chocolates made out of chocolate, milk, and cream. Mmmmmm.
For this event, I'd been approached to do tarot reading. Now, this was with the full awareness that it wasn't something I did professionally, yet I had more than a passing proficiency with the cards. They had this little room sectioned off and draped up in curtains, a little table in the middle of the room covered in pretty fabric for a tablecloth, and a lamp that was dim enough to create just the right atmosphere, but bright enough that I could actually see the cards I was trying to read.
Come about 7.15pm, we tarot readers were approached by the man running the event because apparently people had already started showing an interest in getting a reading. I don't know whether the first people that we read for started saying really nice things, or whether the Steampunk crowd are just open to and excited about the idea of tarot readings. In any case, a 20 minute wait in a line outside of the tarot reading room was about usual all the way until midnight. At one point, instead of switching on and off, another room was created for us so that the two of us who were reading could read at the same time. That was a real special hour and a half without break. But in a good way.
This was the first time I'd read so many people who were not people I knew at all. Of course, there was the odd person who came in that I knew; two in fact were people that I knew but didn't know well enough to know what I could get away with saying, or how frank I should be, and that created its own special level of awkwardness until I was able to move past it.
By and large, I found that the readings that were most appreciated were the readings that I was sure I was getting so wrong by the second card that I was almost ready to put down the cards and apologise that I wasn't sure what I was going on about. There were a lot of people who came in with that 'this'll be a laugh' kind of game expression at the start and, by the end, were reaching into their pockets for $10s and $20s towards the donations that we'd announced would be welcome.
The strangest thing was... I believe I got a 100% hit rate, which seems utterly ludicrous, considering the sheer number of people who came through. It seemed, long before the end, that there were three different kinds of people sitting there after readings and, somehow, the readings that I was giving were received equally well by all three groups.
1/ In this group, I would put the people who have their own working interaction with magic and/or universe. They are the types who likely do their own tarot readings to clarify moments on their own path, and are therefore coming to another tarot reader to get second opinion and/or just simple confirmation of the messages they've themselves gotten.
2/ The second group of people are those who would likely be more than happy to have a working communication with the universe and/or their own set of tarot cards if they could make sense out of what either or both are trying to say.
3/ The third are the ones who inevitably ended readings with a statement similar to 'Wow, this is what my friends have been saying to me for ages'. They are the sort who, if they don't like what they are hearing from the universe/friends/other, have a tendency to stick their head in the sand ostrich-style. I actually found myself coming out with these words to a couple of them and, by and large, they are not unaware that they do this.
In the course of the night, one of the people who came in, after receiving her reading, offered me her card and told her she was an event manager and to give her a call this week. Which was incredibly flattering, and something I have to now decide whether it's something I want to go into. Cause, if I was interpreting her correctly, this could mean I have a possibility for being a sort of carnival-style tarot reader at more than this event.
I'm not the kind of tarot reader who takes the whole thing too seriously, really. To me, the entire night was a whole lot of fun, made up largely of the amount of gratitude that was shown both in words and donations. None of the readings were incredibly in depth, purely because the line discouraged it. For most, readings went for about 15 minutes and were a crude combination of a part of the Celtic cross and the past, present, future spreads, with extra cards being drawn at need. I liked that I didn't need to fill out a particular space of time; these readings just went for the amount of time they needed to, and then it was time for the next one. In that way, this environment suited me much more than the hippy shop type tarot reading option that I've also tried out.
However, for all that, the decision is going to have to be made up on a 'do I have time?' kind of basis. Steampump was an event that I was interested in attending anyway. Being paid for being there and, in fact, not having to pay entry, was just icing on the top of a steampunk-decorated cake.